8 Games From Last-Gen You Have to Play (but Never Did!)

1 of 9

As brand new next-gen-only games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Star Wars: Battlefront, and Batman: Arkham Knight approach, we forget that there are still easily dozens of great games we've missed on last gen. Here are a few old and even fairly recent ones that fell under the radar.

Assassin's Creed: Rogue -- PS3/Xbox 360/PC

Yeah, it came out in 2014. You wouldn't know it though, given how hard GameStop and Wal-Mart are trying to sell it. Not only did Rogue finally ask some questions that critics of the titular Assassin order have been yelling for a while, it also featured some drastic new wrinkles to the series as a whole.

By becoming a Templar, you get some crazy new gear like a grenadier rifle, in addition to being able to kill civilians and otherwise break the Assassin code. Assassin's Creed: Rogue also realizes that enemy variety has gotten a bit stale in Assassin's Creed, so it finally gives us some AI Assassins to fight. While far from the online multiplayer of the core series (sadly absent here), Assassin's Creed: Rogue is the closest offline players get to trying out the mechanics and ideas of Ubisoft Albany's masterpiece online mode.

On top of that, you get a larger open world than Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, with more genuinely fun things to do than Assassin's Creed III's wilderness. While the PC price is a bit high for a better frame rate and a few higher graphics options, Assassin's Creed: Rogue is definitely a game worth playing. It is a fitting conclusion to a divisive but nevertheless fun saga in Colonial America.

Red Steel 2 -- Wii

Despite basically being a Jedi Knight game on the Wii, with rock solid scores and a lengthy story campaign with challenge mode no less, Red Steel 2 is kind of unheard of these days. It was a genuinely good, hardcore FPS/sword fighting game on the Wii, with a beautiful Western meets anime meets Borderlands art style. It is honestly one of the most literally colorful shooters in years. It also remembers you have ears, and treats them with some utterly stellar sound design, especially for the sword attacks.

As you progress, you fight increasingly complex bosses, and gain special powers, one of which is literally a straight up Force Power, just given a unique name. Toss in some solid gunplay that is finely balanced to encourage you let your sword do the talking, and Red Steel 2 is just a ridiculous amount of fun. This is the kind of game you wished the original Red Steel was at launch, and it makes up for its predecessor in almost every regard.

The only real downside, besides some backtracking and a bit of a grind to unlock all the in-game gear, is a mediocre story. Everything else about Red Steel 2 works amazingly well. The motion controls are the closest to 1:1 the Wii ever had, and it's clear why Red Steel 2 was the game that sold a fair amount of Wiimote Plus attachments. So why not give it a shot? Unpack your Wii from the attic (or turn on your Wii-U), and give it a whirl.

Lost Planet 3 -- PS3/Xbox 360/PC

You know, everyone had every right to be skeptical of Spark Unlimited's Lost Planet prequel. I mean, a studio who is most notable for creating some of the worst rated Call of Duty games ever and a one-off fantasy shooter that went nowhere? How on earth could they make a great follow-up to one of the weirdest launch-era titles for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Well, I'm not sure how, but they did.

Your RIG might not be a gun-toting mech like in past games, but it feels strangely even more powerful. On foot, the game takes a distinctly Dead Space-meets-Lost Planet feel, emphasizing careful movement and observing your enemies. All the meanwhile, the game brings you along for a surprisingly well-told story. The plot itself is as unsurprising as can be, but the core cast are written and acted better than many films.

The level of detail to everything is also impressive. Every new gun unlock has an a unique comment from the Quarter Master, that techie in a hallway will have something new and funny to say every time you pass him, and E.D.N. III's inhabitants feel real. Just as real is how clear the threat and danger of Akrid and flash blizzards can be. As the game's conspiracy unfolds, you can't help but feel genuine concern for Jim and the rest of the colonists working for N.E.V.C.

If you like Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions, Dead Space, Alien, or just want a great sci-fi game, then give Lost Planet 3 a try.

Remember Me -- PS3/Xbox 360/PC

Dontnod might be popular now for their mini-series Life is Strange, but before they were exploring high school with time travel, they had a much more ambitious project. Part brawler, part adventure game, with a sprinkling of ideas from puzzle games and third person shooters, Remember Me is a curious combo (excuse the pun).

You can customize your fighting combos to have unique effects: some drastically decrease recharge time for your abilities, do extra damage, or even heal yourself. In between brawls, you hack into people's minds and can remix their memories. It doesn't actually change the past, but the person will believe the memory as being correct, and this leads to some surprising, table turning plot twists.

Remember Me also features some truly amazing sound design and positively gorgeous visual design. The story might be a bit too whimsical for a 'hard core' sci-fi fan, but combined with the almost fantastical-meets-Cyberpunk art direction, it all sort of weirdly clicks. While the sum of its whole leaves some greater depth and replay value to be desired, Remember Me should at least be experienced once. It's a rare beauty with just enough brains to keep you racing through to the game's conclusion.

BioShock 2 -- PS3/Xbox 360/PC

If there were ever a poster child for under-appreciated sequels, this would be it. BioShock 2 is a perfectly serviceable direct sequel to BioShock. In fact, it does a number of things better than the original, offers a great deal more depth to the original's story, and feels like a much more organic follow up than BioShock Infinite.

You play as the first Big Daddy, resurrected and on the search for your Little Sister. All the while, you contend with the collectivist psychologist Dr. Sofia Lamb, and the remaining survivors in Rapture after the events of BioShock. Along the way, you make or kill new friends, and save or harvest other Little Sisters. You also get to finally play as a Big Daddy protecting Little Sisters, and it feels like a fun new survival meta-mode within the campaign.

Along with this, you get the absolutely excellent multiplayer developed by Digital Extremes (who made another little game called Warframe. Yeah!). BioShock 2: Fall of Rapture incorporates all of the core ideas of the two games, making hacking, clever plasmid/weapon combos, and maze-like levels all work together. The inclusion of playable Big Daddys in multiplayer even gives the game a bit of a Titanfall feel.

Considering the game also has a Protector Trials challenge mode and the highly praised Minerva's Den DLC expansion campaign, BioShock 2 just about offers anything a fan of BioShock could want. The combat's better, the moral choices are better, the storytelling is top-notch, the level design is fantastic -- heck even the hacking game has been made fun. You owe it to yourself to pick this one up.

 

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories -- Wii/PS2/PSP

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the Silent Hill game almost no one seems to have played. Everyone other than Dan Ryckert loved it, and it got high marks for being a great reimagining of the original Silent Hill. It may have also released on PS2 and PSP (and subsequently got an HD Vita version in Europe), but Shattered Memories is best experienced on Wii.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories eschews away from the combat focus of past games and instead emphasizes adventurous exploration levels and stealth. The adventure game side of things feels great, with all the puzzles and interactions feeling genuine and giving the world a sense of tangibility.

You feel like you are really pulling nails out of a window or messing with a puzzle device. Your flashlight follows the Wiimote's point, following it elegantly and accurately. Your smartphone lets you take pictures, save your progress, and neatly keeps all of the game's HUD compact and out of view unless you need it.

Every bit of control is built around giving you the most control you could want over what you can do, and even some bonus elements to help add to the atmosphere. Try hitting the A button when you first start walking from the car crash, and you'll see what I mean.

The Otherworld sections are great, making the lack of combat not simply a cheap gimmick but a core element. You can find road flares to ignite and give yourself some breathing room, but they go out and prevent you from carrying your flashlight in the meanwhile. The rest of the time, you'll be hiding, trying to creep in the dark and not get caught by one of the monsters hunting you.

As if all of that wasn't enough, there are also intermittent therapy sessions that influence the Silent Hill world you're playing in. The game's tagline is that it will analyze you and make the world apply to your fears. While I wouldn't say the game did a great job of adding personal fear, there is a fair amount of variability in how characters behave and appear, depending on your choices.

The story, graphics and voice acting are all incredibly high quality here as well. Shattered Memories pushes what a Wii game can do, and for that, it deserves some note as well. The endings are also all very well done and conclusive, giving a nice sense of closure and succinctly explaining the events of the game.

Have you been waiting for a good modern Silent Hill game? Or do you just like horror and happen to have a PSP, PS2, or Wii? Then you should totally look up Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.

Binary Domain -- PS3/Xbox 360/PC

Binary Domain is a game that, by all concerns, should not be that outstanding a game. It has a voice command system that doesn't really work at all, literally registering "yes" as "no" when critics first reviewed it. It is a Japanese response to Gears of War, made to be silly and weird, with overly long cutscenes and the pacing of an anime. At one point, a story decision leaves 90% of your squad unavailable for several hours.

Yet, when you fight a frigging motorcycle robot twice the size of Optimus Prime on a giant highway.. it all feels worth it. Don't get me wrong, this game is incredibly dumb, but it is the best kind of dumb. It wants to be fun, and it knows exactly how to be the Pacific Rim of third person shooters. This is a game about oversized guns pounding all manner of robots (there's even a chandelier robot boss fight at one point) as you score in-game currency to upgrade yourself and your squad.

Your squad is also surprisingly varied, even if the trust system can be a bit awkward to use with an actual microphone (seriously, just use button inputs). However, it pays off with a branching ending sequence depending on who trusts you and how effective of a leader you've been. You also get access to small perks and improved performance by getting your squad loyal. It's handled far different from Mass Effect, but in a way that begs to be properly explored.

While the game's multiplayer is nothing substantial, the hilarious ride of a single-player campaign more than makes up for it. This is a third-person shooter for everybody out there who is tired of Gears of War rip-offs that are just dull and drained of any personality. Here, Binary Domain goes a step further and asks if we should really consider making J-Shooter a subgenre. Be sure to keep this one in mind when you need something to spice up your action gaming.

Nier -- PS3/Xbox 360

Nier is just such a hard game to describe, even more than Remember Me. It's part Zelda inspired action-RPG, part bullet hell shooter, part dungeon crawler, and even part text adventure. It is amazingly fun, weird, emotionally poignant, and silly. It hits so many "oh Japan" notes yet completely owns it and makes it work.

Sure, there's a snarky talking book, people who wear weird masks, a hermaphroditic swordswoman, and a cursed boy who looks like a character out of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Heck, your first mission requires you practice your combat skills on sheep, after a prologue that had you tearing apart demons left and right. Nier is not for the faint of heart, and you can't help but admire it for it.

This isn't some half-baked, confusing melodrama like Final Fantasy XIII. Nier is like Shadow of the Colossus. It is a game that treats every aspect of the game as a chance to enrich and deepen the experience while still keeping things very simple on an execution level. Firing off super-powered missiles of dark magic happens within hours of starting, but understanding the depth and complexity of everything takes time. The soundtrack is also amazing, harkening to a Celtic-meets-Japanese folk sound and some intensely dramatic battle scores.

If you want to be guaranteed you are playing something different, play Nier. If you want a great story with funny and developed characters, play Nier. If you want to see people in half-dressed armor fight giant monsters head-on that would frighten Nathan Drake or Marcus Fenix, play Nier.

Published Apr. 24th 2015

Featured Columnist

Grumpily ranting at this computer screen since before you were playing Minecraft. For more of my work: https://elijahbeahm.contently.com/

Related
9

Connect with us

Related Topics