“Hated” may be a strong word. You won’t find Big Rigs and Superman 64 on this list, but you will find games that were criticised, ignored or unappreciated – unfairly, in my opinion. These are the ugly ducklings of the gaming world that only turned into swans once everybody else had left, dying beautiful and alone.
As always, share your own unappreciated games in the comments, or just swing by to tell me I’m wrong.
Poor SiN. Desperate to beat Half-Life to release back in 1998, Activision rushed SiN to market in an era where releasing buggy messes wasn’t considered the norm.
This resulted in a pretty mixed reception, and a massive (wait for it) 31mb patch that had to be mailed to people on CDs. It was a simpler time.
All that said, SiN was a pretty great shooter, and a staple of my childhood LAN parties for many, many years. It was a fantastic deathmatch title, but the single-player was nothing to scoff at. SiN was actually pretty groundbreaking, introducing a level of interaction with the environment that hadn’t been done before, with much of it being destructible.
What really peeled my carrot about the campaign however was that the levels weren’t linear – there were often multiple different ways to complete them, and what you did in one level could impact later ones. This meant that you could replay the game and have a quite different experience each runthrough.
Unfortunately for SiN, it was broken in a time when broken was unacceptable, and released just a couple of months before the most revolutionary and innovative FPS ever made.
South Park (1999)
Now I’m going to level with you – this is not a good game. The single-player is about as fun as dry-humping a woodchipper, about as indefensible as a dead hooker in the boot of your car, and as aesthetically pleasing as Gary Busey on bath salts, so I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise.
The multiplayer deathmatch, however, was a treat. Sure it may lack the finesse of Counter-Strike or the frantic action of Quake, but it makes up for it by being able to turn your friend into a chicken and shoot him with a cow bazooka.
This whole game was clearly a lazy attempt to cash in on the show’s rising success at the time, but somewhere in the utterly bullshit multiplayer the developers managed to straddle the line between incompetence and genius.
Max Payne 3
This one feels like a bit of a cheat, because the critics were always on board with this one. The gamer community, however, was appalled to see their beloved anti-hero sporting a bald head and a Hawaiian shirt, shooting gangsters on cruise ships and arbitrarily prowling the streets of Brazil.
I have to confess, I was one of those people. Max Payne is one of my most beloved franchises, and it looked like Rockstar had turned it into some kind of crude GTA knockoff. In fact, I only played this game several years after release.
And, as you already know if you’ve actually played it, it’s great. In spite of the makeover and decidedly different environment, it still manages to pull off the Max Payne feel and does eventually link itself back to the originals. If you haven’t ever given it a chance, this one still holds up. Go find it on special somewhere.
Call of Duty: World at War
Well. We all owe this game a big apology now, don’t we? After Infinity Ward made our brains leak out of our ears with Modern Warfare, World at War was kind of a disappointing follow-up.
At the time we were all into red-dot scopes and calling down helicopters, we just weren’t ready to go back to bolt-action rifles and clanking machine guns. Now, ten years later, Battlefield One blew Advanced Warfare away by catering to the exact opposite – we’d had enough of heartbeat sensors and laser guns, we wanted the visceral feel of iron sights and stick grenades back.
In spite of being the wrong thing at the wrong time, World at War was a really good game. It kept all the improvements that Modern Warfare introduced, and created the zombie spin-off which remains a CoD mainstay to this day. We’re sorry Treyarch, it wasn’t you, it was us.
Hey remember Quake 4? Neither does anybody else. Which is a shame, because it was a pretty damn good game.
After Quake 3 Arena became a global phenomenon, a lot of the interest in Quake 4 was from the hardcore competitive guys who were looking for something new to sink their teeth into. What they got was a much slower, less frenetic, more calculated deathmatch experience. This caused most of that crowd to dismiss it pretty quickly and go back to 3.
What people seemed to have missed, however, was the pretty excellent single-player campaign. Sporting beautiful environments, an immersive feel and a decently crafted story it was really, really good. After Q3A I believe most didn’t pay much attention to Quake 4’s campaign, but if they had they would have found a hidden gem that feels a bit like the bastard child of Half-Life and Doom.
So NAGites, what games did you love that didn’t get the respect they deserved?