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Forget me not: The 10 most underrated games this generation

Metacritic doesn't love them, but we do

There have been literally thousands of videogames released since Microsoft kick-started this generation of consoles back in 2005.

And all of the middling and major titles released over the past seven years have each been put through the same brutal acid-test of critic reviews, user scores and aggregated numbers.

Some games, however, have had a tougher time than others - falling out of favour for whatever reason despite showing promise. So below we are celebrating the unpolished gems of this world. The rough diamonds that, for whatever reason, haven't had the big break they deserved.

A quick clarification before we begin: when people talk about 'underrated games', they tend to start rattling off games such as Bayonetta or Vanquish. Those games aren't underrated. They sold like they were N-Gage exclusives, granted, but they're not underrated. Pretty much everyone who has played them agrees they're great.

The benchmark is simple. We are hand-picking the best games that scored less than a 75 per cent average on Metacritic. Each one is likely lurking in a pre-owned bin somewhere, and hopefully with our advice you'll be more tempted to give them all a deserved home and some much-deserved TV time.


Prototype 2

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PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Metacritc score: 74

Sample critique: "The action requires little real skill to control and although gaining new powers is a strong impetuous for continuing it's all extremely shallow and inconsequential" - Metro GameCentral - 6/10

Why it's secretly a bit good: It's the epic open-world superhero game that the likes of Spidey and Superman have promised in the past, but never quite delivered.

'Shallow and inconsequential' is a pretty good summary of Prototype 2's action, but since when did a GTA clone have to be a Franz flippin' Kafka novel? While the New York Zero setting is a little contrived, gliding from skyscraper to skyscraper like a murderous sugar glider is a top laugh.


Ridge Racer 6

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Xbox 360

Metacritic score: 74

Sample critique: "Mediocre at best. If you're trying to find a simple racer to appease someone who is confused with such daunting tasks as, say, reciting the alphabet, then Ridge Racer 6 might be what you're looking for" - Game Over Online - 6/10

Why it's secretly a bit good: Namco only have themselves to blame for Ridge Racer 6's lacklustre reviews. Like a Mini on a frozen Winter morning, it takes an absolute age to get going.

Power through the sluggish opening quarter however and your reward is a pulsating twitch racer that challenges you to steer a car sideways through the eye of a needle at screen-blistering speeds. For an additional thrill, try reciting the alphabet while you do so.


Pandora's Tower

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Wii

Metacritic score: 74

Sample critique: "Pandora's Tower doesn't offer anything appealing or unique, and is not a Wii title that will find a home with many gamers" - Gameplanet - 5/10

Why it's secretly a bit good: It's no surprise that Pandora's Tower got overlooked - a Nintendo console is always going to be a tough place for a Zelda clone to make a living.

But Pandora's Tower carved a niche for itself by adding a speedrunning twist to the ponderous Zelda format. Pandora's dungeons might not be as fiendishly inventive as Eiji Aonuma's twining inventions, but the stress of a constantly ticking clock makes it easy to muff up even the simplest of puzzles.


Space Giraffe

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Xbox 360, PC

Metacritic score: 68

Sample critique: "Maybe if the gameplay were more endearing to the casual gamer, or if the visuals didn't make half of the people who play the game foam at the mouth...just maybe Space Giraffe would have been as cool as its designers had hoped" - IGN, 47%

Why it's secretly a bit good: Famously eccentric designer Jeff Minter out-weirded even himself when he decided to take a pile of Tempest grids and overlay them with a disorientating light synthesiser effect. "It's almost impossible to tell what's going on" bemoaned reviews at the time. A perfectly valid criticism, but it's worth noting that this was exactly Minter's intention.

To survive Space Giraffe's visual onslaught, you have to play it by ear - using the subtle audio cues to 'feel' your way around the grid. If it clicks, you've got yourself one of the most unique and nuanced shooters around. If it doesn't, you've just got a garish mess. An iffy tutorial section didn't help sway the floating voters.

At 400MP, it's worth a punt to see which side of the divide you fall on.


Earth Defence Force 2017

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Xbox 360

Metacritic score: 69

Sample critique: "Earth Defence Force 2017 is the action game equivalent of potato chips: no nutritional value, but tasty nonetheless" - Hardcore Gamer Magazine - 45%

Why it's secretly quite good: EDF 2017 is ugly and jerky, true, but it's absolute bucketloads of fun too. Someone once described it to us as 'Robotron in 3D', and that nails it on the head for us.

We mean, it throws you into a fully-destructible city, with a whopping great cannon and an infinite amount of giant ants/robots/spiders to test it out on. What's not to like? The lack of online multiplayer maybe, but come on. Don't be like that.

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