Opinions are like assholes - mine is the only right one!
Sorry, let me start over...
Sometimes, people disagree with each other. Sometimes, these disagreements can be over something as simple as entertainment. Sometimes, this makes people want to write a friendly blog about it, rather than argue. Sometimes, there's a man.
You probably already know what's coming up, but in case you don't, this is what you're in for: A list of games that the general public seems to dislike to varying degrees, all of which I found myself enjoying (also to varying degrees). It's not a list of "underrated" games, because that really is a bit dishonest. People might have very good reasons for not liking these games, even if I don't necessarily understand them. I do not share these reasons, though, and as I enjoyed all the games mentioned, I will do my very best to defend them.
Note that I'm basing this on general public rather than review scores, as I feel that the former is what matters most in the long run. A lot of reviewers are very forgiving, after all, while fans of a franchise are more likely to be extremely critical. Fittingly enough, every single game mentioned here is part of a series, and I have no doubt that this has a lot to do with their relatively poor public reception.
So let's get started. I like:
While easily the mildest case here, BioShock Infinite has definitely taken enough of a verbal ass-beating to deserve just a little bit of defense. It might have been praised to the skies (where it also takes place) by critics all over the world, but that doesn't change the fact that there was a period of time where people would constantly post a particularly harsh criticism video in the comment sections of pretty much every article related to it, just to prevent it from getting too much praise.
Having recently played through the original BioShock, I get it. I get that it's a completely different game, that it took away several mechanics, and that it went in a far more action oriented direction than previously. BioShock was almost more about planning ahead and preparing for the combat than it was about the combat itself, while Infinite is all about fast paced shootouts in huge arenas. Furthermore, I get people's disappointment with the story, as Columbia really doesn't even remotely compare to Rapture, and the characters aren't quite as compelling.
But none of that was enough to drastically worsen my opinion of the game. I just had a really good time with it, and nothing will ever change that. If anything, playing BioShock just made me hate Doom 3 even more, as it did something similar yet far more interesting. Infinite, on the other hand, is a completely different thing. It's a fun, crazy, chaotic shooter with a ton of neat and creative ideas, which is only made better by its beautiful art direction.
For everything it took away from its predecessor, it added something cool and new on its own, and I think the result of that is pretty great.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
I've never played Splinter Cell: Conviction, or Double Agent for that matter. Not a fan of how those games altered Sam Fisher's iconic (and fucking sweet) character design, so after starting with the highly praised Chaos Theory, I decided to move on with Blacklist. The differences were notable, but overall I'd say the transition felt pretty smooth and natural.
So why exactly do people act like the two have little to nothing in common? I get that a lot of this comes from Conviction, but a lot of criticisms against Blacklist seem pretty unfair to me. It's a bit streamlined, but the things I liked about Chaos Theory are still there, with gameplay that feels much smoother than that game ever managed. It even adds the ability to buy new weapons and gadgets that you can use in previous missions, which is a huge improvement if you ask me, because it plays to the biggest strenght of stealth games in general: replayability. New gadgets let you play old missions in new ways, and doing so is always very exciting to me. Aside from all this, it's a very polished game, full of excellent character animations and environment design.
Granted, the game does have plenty of rough spots, and it never quite lives up to its true potential, but the potential to do so is still there. At its worst, it's forcing you through scripted action scenes while telling you a really stupid story with a terrible morale, but at its best, it's an incredibly tense stealth experience with plenty of depth to it. Most of its best just happens to be Grim's missions, in which getting caught is a non-option. How that doesn't satisfy stealth purists is beyond me, especially since higher difficulties allow you to turn off the somewhat controversial Mark and Execute feature.
Blacklist is far from perfect, but I think it's still pretty good once you get past the second level. I've returned to it a number of times, and chances are I'll probably do it again in the near future.
Small roster. Unbalanced characters. An underwhelming amount of stages. Awkward jumping.
Looking back, Tekken 4 almost seems like it was designed to be some sort of weird prototype to the far more popular Tekken 5. In many areas, it seriously underdelivered in comparison to previous installments. Yet back in the day, it was still a huge deal. This was the main reason for me getting a PS2, a system with such a huge library that it forever changed the amount of games I'd be satisfied with owning. I used to be fine with about 6-7 games, but my PS2 collection grew like crazy, and all of it started with Tekken 4 (although The Mark of Kri was still the first PS2 game I played).
To start, it was the first Tekken with walls. To me, that was the coolest thing about it back then. Stages were no longer flat. Now you could actually use walls (and even roofs) to your advantage, and the different environments were no longer just for show. As you can imagine, this changed everything, and I loved it. Some walls were even breakable. There was no better way to K.O. an opponent than using them no destroy a phonebooth or a pillar.
It's also important to mention that this game had the best version of Tekken Force, by far the best piece of single player content the franchise has ever had. Tekken Force was fun in 3 and all, but 4's version is the best. It feels like a very legit beat-em-up, but with a ton of player characters available, and everyone feels so much different to play as in this mode. Tekken Force as Bryan is a completely different experience than Tekken Force as Christie, and that gave it a lot of replayability. Seriously, why isn't this in more recent Tekken games? Imagine how amazing it would have been in Tekken Tag 2.
Oh, and it introduced some pretty great characters like Steve and Marduk (and Christie, but she was an Eddy clone), and finally gave Jin his own unique moveset. It's got a lot of things going for it once you look past the rough spots.
Sonic 3D Blast
Honestly, I don't know what everyone's deal is with this game, but for some reason, everyone seems to agree that this is one of the worst Sonic games of all time, even though this franchise has been consistently shitting itself since the late 90's. Is it as good as the ones that came before? No, I wouldn't say so, but is it as bad as some of the stuff that came after? Fuck no, not even remotely!
As long as you play it on something that has an analogue stick, it is perfectly playable. That alone should elevate it far beyond the Adventure games, and pretty much all the proper 3D games, in which the concept of "control" seems like more of an afterthought. With this in mind, there isn't much else I should need to defend. You run around a level, collect all the birds and find the exit. The levels are fun, open and well designed. The art and theming is all pretty well done. The soundtrack is very good too, and I believe there are even two versions of it, depending on the system you play it on. Overall, while not a masterpiece, I think it's a pretty decent game.
Yet, despite this, I've heard it being compared to games like Sonic '06, which is just ridiculous to me. My theory is that some people played it back in the day using a d-pad, had a hard time controlling it, hated it, and then decided to spread the hate until it almost became legendary. It seems unreal that people experiencing it the way I did would hate it so much. I don't even like isometric games all that much, but I still managed to enjoy this one a lot.
I hope people will give this game another chance one day. It is the most hated one on this list by far, even though it probably deserves it the least.
Confession time: I only bought this game because of the character creator. It's the only fighting game I know of that has this feature, and after learning about it, I knew I had to try it out. I don't know anything about SoulCalibur. Never once did I actually bother learning that much about the game, and I still have no idea how to pull off those cheap super-moves, and I don't care. Being able to make characters like Dickface, O'Deer and Ma' Suag has been worth everything. It's all I ever wanted from this game, and it delivered masterfully.
Obviously, a long-time fan will have a different perspective, and the actual fans of the series apparently despise this installment. Even the previous one seems to have been divisive, but I have never seen any fan of the series defend this one. I have no idea what it did wrong, but again, I don't care. This isn't about me straight up disagreeing with anyone as much as simply caring about different things. I never expected a great, hardcore fighting game, I expected a game where I could give a character a penis for a head, and that is exactly what I got. The actual fighting in this game will always be secondary to me.
SoulCalibur V probably won't ever sell me on the series, either, as I've never felt compelled to play as any of the regular characters. None of them appeal to me in the slightest, and I like my own fighters much more, even if many of them say the same things. I also don't like the SoulCalibur version of Yoshimitsu. His design is wank, his voice is dumb and he speaks English! What!? At least I managed to fix 2/3 of those problems with my own Yoshimitsu, one that's based on the kick-ass Tekken 3 version, with a voice that's no longer makes him sound like a 12 year old. I was even allowed to just name him 'Yoshimitsu', and that makes it really hard for me to stay mad at the game.
You're alright, SoulCalibur V, at least to a stranger like me.
If any of you folks out there have similar relationships with certain games, feel free to put them in the comments, or write another blog, or do neither. You can do what you want. FREEDOM!