10 underappreciated current generation gems

What are the games around at the moment that are being unfairly overlooked? Harry puts forward his choices...

With so many games flying out every week, it’s surprisingly easy to miss a few that you should play. Don’t worry, though. We don’t blame you for it. You’re busy people, and we’re here to help. Here are ten games that you can, nay should, pick up on the cheap if you get the chance. We’re so good to you. Got your own suggestions? Whack ’em in the comment box below.

10. The Bourne Conspiracy

It’s not as tight as Gears Of War, not as much fun as Halo 3 and not as well put together as any of the Splinter Cell titles, but Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy is still well worth a look. The combat is heavy and satisfying. Environmental takedowns, finishing moves that involve smashing your assailant’s head against a wall/table/window/fuse box, will always illicit an evil grin, and the shooting is better than most. It’s a bit restrictive in places, and the story is pretty poorly told, but The Bourne Conspiracy will still keep you entertained for a few hours if you’ve already finished everything else in your collection.

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9. The Club

Multiplayer focused shooters often sit comfortably on the ‘not quite there but nice try’ fence. There’s few out there that are true classics, most of them buggy and broken and not as good as the multiplayer content shipped with other, bigger games. The Club is no exception, but, unlike its far from illustrious ilk, it still manages to be riotous fun. Bizarre Creations have somehow managed to take the ‘just one more go’ gameplay of Geometry Wars and transfered it to a shooter where angry men try and blow the crap out of each other. It contains little in terms of depth, but for a combo focused arcade blast, it’s still a good old laugh.

8. Sonic And The Black Knight

A three dimensional Sonic game? Am I on drugs? Have I suffered severe head trauma? No and no, but Sonic And The Black Knight is that rarest of things, a three dimensional Sonic game that doesn’t make you want to pull off your arm and beat Sega to death for ruining your childhood, Lucas style. It may have another seemingly random gimmick levered in, but this time, it actually works. Lord knows how anyone thought sword fighting would make sense in a game predominately about speed, but it does. Ignore the half-a-game travesty of Sonic Unleashed and pick this up instead.

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7. The Darkness

A first person comic book adaptation that more than lives up to its subject matter, Starbreeze Studios proved themselves the master of the move from page to game in one fell swoop. Amidst a sea of half-arsed FPS games, The Darkness sets itself above the rest with an incredible story, some ingenious gameplay elements and at atmosphere that’s almost second to none. The multiplayer leaves a little to be desired, but otherwise this tale of wise guys and demons is an offer you shouldn’t refuse.

6. Dark Sector

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Gritty third person shooters are all the rage, ever since Marcus Fenix swallowed a bucket full of gravel, gaffer taped a chainsaw to his gun and started hiding behind chest high walls. Dark Sector is reasonably formulaic, but adds a deadly three-pronged boomerang thing into the mix. It’s not a classic, but it definitely deserves a second look, mixing a decent enough story with some good-looking graphics and a strong aesthetic style. And the lead character has hair, which is strange for a modern game, as the crew cut seems to be de rigueur nowadays.

5. Sega Rally

Simply put, Sega make the best arcade racers. You can argue until I tell you to be quiet that Ridge Racer is better than AM2’s output, but it’s not, so be quiet. Sega Rally eschews any concept of engine tweakage or suspension balancing in favour of pedal to the metal, power sliding joy. You can pick it up for next to nothing these days, but it’d be cheap at twice the price. It may not be as refined as your Forzas or your PGRs, but refinement isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes you need a blunt object to get the job done, and Sega Rally certainly does that.

4. Disgaea DS

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A strategy RPG so enormous that it boggles the mind to try and work out how it fits on a tiny DS cartridge, Nippon Ichi’s hilarious tale of spoilt demons and insane penguins is one of the most compelling, spectacularly detailed and playable SRPGs out there. A technicolour mix of Saturday morning cartoons, Tim Burton’s fevered cheese dreams and Japanese mythology, Disgaea is a delight for the hardcore, a game so deep that it’s easy to lose yourself in it almost entirely. With item manipulation, a brilliant battle system and a story that only really reveals itself after multiple play throughs, Disgaea is a bargain wrapped in a bargain wrapped in a deal.

3. NBA Street Homecourt

Sports games are ten-a-penny, and sports game with ‘extreme’ stylings to make them more ‘street’ and ‘hip’ and other words that make me sound like I have no idea what I’m talking about are becoming increasingly more common. At first glance, Homecourt might look like another cash in on street slang attitude, but I can assure you, it really isn’t. The game plays out with an oddly elegiac tone.Yes there are insane dunks and trash talking, but it’s a love letter to the back street courts, not an insidious money making ploy. The gameplay is focused and exciting; three on three games mean plenty of flow as well as some frantic scrabbles for that last basket. It’s a tragedy that more people haven’t played this game.

2. Okami

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Videogames don’t have to be eighty shades of grey and brown. They don’t have to be about burly space marines stomping through corridors slaughtering grim mirrors of our own humanity, and Okami is one game that proves that without a doubt. The visuals are simply stunning, like art come to life, and whilst it’s not technically a current gen game, the Wii version qualifies it, in my opinion. Developed by the now defunct Clover Studios, the vast majority of whom went on to form Platinum Studios, the people behind the upcoming Bayonetta, Okami is a gem that everyone should play.

1. Dead Space

Dead Space is one of the best survival horrors of all time, let alone of the current generation of consoles. Dead Space was horribly overlooked in the raft of triple A titles released at the end of last year. A mix of Event Horizon and Resident Evil, it does everything you’d expect it to do, but it does it all spectacularly well. There are more shock moments than the more action orientated RE5, and more atmosphere than the damnably disappointing Silent Hill: The Room. The dismemberment system is delightfully over the top, the creatures pure sci-fi horror and the overall universe well designed, built and maintained. Dead Space is a game that you need to play, and you need to play right now.

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