Mediocre third-person shooters are somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine. There’s something about these types of games, coupled with their less-than premier accolades received from the general crowd, that just makes me wanna find the best in these underdogs. In actuality, many of them are really good, while others are pretty terrible but their obscurity warrants the inclusion on this list as it’s not so much the quality as just being eccentric and quirky. Let’s put it this way: some of these are so bad that they are good… in a sense. Anyway, be prepared for a lot of gun-metal grey and dog-shit brown color-palettes.
A very stylish shooter with an almost acrobatic combat system in a heavily destructible environment. If you’re a fan of John Woo films or enjoy the gameplay of any of the Max Payne titles, then this is a no-brainer. The game is a direct sequel to the 1992 movie “Hard Boiled” and as we all well know, making a sequel to a movie in video game form isn’t quite something that is commonly seen.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
One of the few good Ghost Recon games worth playing in my opinion. The 3rd person camera really serves the combat and movement well and the futuristic tech, while somewhat gimmicky, adds the necessary extra ‘oomph’ to differentiate it from the rest of the crowd. Story is however quite dull and generic, as is the case with most of the Tom Clancy titles and due-bro games in general. Its got a F2P online spiritual successor that’s not half bad.
Spec Ops: The Line
This can surprise a lot of people who decide to pick it up. Looks like a generic shooter, right? Well, you’re not THAT wrong. On the surface it follows a common mediocre action-movie plot but the story is full of social commentary on somewhat current worldly events, though some conveniences have been taken obviously. Expect a good amount of anti-war sentiment. Think Call of Duty with a bit more gloom and doom. But hands down this has one of the best and tightest 3rd person shooting and character navigation you will ever get to experience in a video game.
A co-op equipped action-packed shooter with a strong emphasis on out of this world weapons from the legendary Insomniac Games. Though originally a much more cartoonish title aesthetically, Fuse still holds up as a solid and fun game that sadly received very little attention and praise post-release.
Gears of War: Judgement
I’d hardly consider myself a fan of the Gears franchise. In fact, I have very little love for the series, which is exactly why this title alone is on the list. It manages to steer the furthest from the original trilogy and through that actually manages to be an enjoyable and engaging entry. But I believe this is also a treat for the long-time fans of the series, as it’s probably the most polished one there is and with GoW4 not being the phenomenal release everyone was expecting, what else is there?
Binary Domain may look like a generic sci-fi shooter but its gameplay is actually quite well thought-out and the combat is seamless. Though keep in mind that this is Japanese-produced, so the story and dialog are super cheesy, as is common. That shouldn’t undermine the rest of it though, especially if you’re just looking to mindlessly blast away some murderous robots.
For many of you this is probably completely unknown. Understandable, considering it is basically a bland Gears of War clone with one saving feature: gravity-altering weaponry! It’s one of those simple 3rd person shooters where the story doesn’t matter and gameplay is king because you get to mess around with its mechanics and it does get progressively better both narrative and gameplay-wise as the game progresses.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
A title that got completely undeserved heat, much part due to its predecessor which was a below average game no doubt, but this one was all-around much better. Decent gameplay, good co-op but most importantly the style and atmosphere were right on the money! For many at the time, it seemed to be a turn-off but in reality it had some fantastic cinematography that I suppose was just underrated.
The Club has nice fast-paced multiplayer battle arena action with an interesting array of characters to choose from. The story serves only as to justify why a bunch of guys from very different nationalities end up running around in mostly abandoned warehouses and try to kill each other. A perfect game for anybody who’s looking for a compact team deathmatch experience that rewards skillful playing above grinding.
A game that has an interesting premise and ideas but doesn’t really do a lot with ’em. Using the talents of Nolan North (he’s voicing multiple protagonist on this list) coupled with decently executed flying and combat mechanics, it’s pretty solid. However, visually it is probably one of the most generic-looking games I have ever played. There’s also a retro version available that’s actually really good!
One of the higher-rated games on this list, Vanquish is one of those games that might look like any other sci-fi title out there but is in fact a superb shooter and a fantastic looking one at that, although with a cheesy (but comprehensible) plot. This one is from the fellows who also gave us such fine titles as: MadWorld, Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, to name a few.
Vampire Rain: Altered Species
This is most likely the worst game on this list. Visually appalling, UI and character design close to plagiarizing the Splinter Cell series and overall being a lackluster gameplay experience. In all honesty, this is a title that everyone should steer clear of. However, it is good for a couple of laughs, not with it but at it, mind you. This is some Uwe Boll caliber bull right here.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
Can you believe this is actually a decent game? Well, as far as the gameplay is concerned. Maybe it was due to the fact that originally it was a stand-alone game without any Curtis James Jackson III, unlike the 6th generation game 50 Cent: Bulletproof, which was built from the ground up as basically an ad for the famed rapper. So while the shooting and all is solid, the story is still a load of bovine excrement.
A technologically advanced cowboy in a dystopian world. It could have been a real contender but again it’s just a game that follows the mid 00’s Gears of War-train with it trying to look edgy and gritty by using a depressing monotonous color-pallet. Just like some other titles on the list, it doesn’t really manage to pull it off though. Also, the plot is really dull, so keep that in mind.
Shadows of the Damned
Another one of these over-the-top crazy Japanese titles, with the talents of Suda and Mikami. If you’re familiar with their work then playing this will give you a good feeling for both their influences in this overall great game. A good shooter in all senses that seemed to go under most people’s radars though. Lots of penis jokes, keep that in mind… or actually, don’t.
Boy, there’s a lot of Japanese games on this list! Huh, I guess that is saying something but it’ll take a smarter man than me to figure it out. Anyway, a another Gears of War clone as plain as they come. The plot’s a bit more convoluted and stylistically it tries to be of a Gothic tone but once you start shooting, it’ll look and feel exactly like playing as a Gears grunt.
Army of Two: The 40th Day
The only one in the series that is remotely worth playing, The 40th Day has good co-op in a pretty interesting setting and the combat is not half-bad. The plot is somewhat reminiscent of those over-the-top 80’s hero movies in that it takes itself too seriously. Regardless of the dodgy narrative, the set-pieces alone make it worthwhile.
The first Lost Planet was built upon a very interesting premise: icy world and giant alien insects. Add some Mechs to the mix and your golden! Its got this arcade-like feeling to it that is quite common in these types of Japanese shooters. The later iterations, while also good, didn’t really add or do anything new that’s worthwhile, other than change the setting, which made the series feel more like a poor mans Monster Hunter than anything else.
If you’re into grindhouse or at least the modern interpretation if it, then relatively speaking, this game is for you. A fast-paced stylish shooter that takes a lot of ques from games like Max Payne in that it uses Bullet-Time excessively and makes it one of the main features of the game by not just slowing things down but also adding extra features to the aiming function.
Here’s one from 2005. It loosely ties into to the movie released a year prior and is mostly known for its prolific depictions of violence, mainly in the form of interrogations that are done by the player-character unto his enemies. The studio behind it would later go on to make the extremely fun and funny Saints Row series.
Dead to Rights: Retribution
A reboot of an early 00’s series that is actually a lot more violent that you might first expect it to be. The game is especially known for its gruesome takedowns executed by both the player-character and the players companion dog. The latter is responsible for creating some especially disturbing scenes. Overall however the game isn’t that bad or that good, just average.
Another one of those games that wasn’t particularly good in any way but didn’t really do anything wrong as well. It’s a solid title with some cheesy aesthetic choices which was the result of some core style and element changes that were made in the middle of the development cycle. This changed the tone quite dramatically from the initial concept. This is surprisingly common but usually isn’t implemented if the game is half-way done.
Now this is a title I would classify as being so bad it’s good. That mostly describing the plot and voice-acting. And while the game doesn’t look particularly bad, the overall style is just ridiculous. Silly character design plagues almost the entire cast of characters present in the game. Just look at the main character. Who though this was a good idea for an outfit? It was one of the last project that this Polish company produced, which shouldn’t be surprising looking by this game.
Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard
Here’s an ambitious one that tried to sell itself on a sarcastic story and the recognition of Hollywood actors. This is what happens when the main features of your game is the removal of the fourth wall, old-school game references and some Neil Patrick Harris. He does the voice of one of the baddies. That’s about it. While pretty comical, parody-wise, it was an overall weak game.
Another reboot that though white-guy dreadlocks look cool and having your wife’s remains be inside your robotic arm to be a deep mature plot twist… or something. Other than the wonky narrative, the biggest issue is the platforming, which restricts you to a linear path but doesn’t emphasize the maneuverable environment, which results in a lot of deaths due to trial and error being the only way to advance. It got a side-scrolling remake as well, which works much smoother.
It feels like Crysis meets Mass Effect but that doesn’t actually work out as well as you’d think. Originally released as episodic content, it was pulled after the first two episodes and remade as a full stand-alone title. It’s got a seriously boring cast and an even more boring plot but on the plus side the combat is decent and there’s four player co-op.
Front Mission Evolved
This isn’t so much underrated as it is just unknown really. It’s a Mech game that really shines in its customization department as building and upgrading your own robo-tank and taking it out to make your enemies hurt is one of the, if not the only part of the game that makes it worth picking up as the rest of it is pretty much your average schlock.
An Xbox 360 exclusive that again is rarely mentioned, mostly because it just didn’t sell and thus few people even know of its existence. Japanese games rarely did well as exclusives on this system and Bullet Witch sadly isn’t an exception. The title might be misleading as you’re excused to guess that its commercial failure might have had something to do with being similar to Bayonetta but the truth is they are actually quite different in gameplay and story.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
A panned team-based shooter that isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. Well, at least as long as you got other real people to play it with, because the partner-AI is terrible. Aside from that, while not directly canonical, it actually covers the background events of some of the more interesting parts from the original Resident Evil games and while most enemies are no more than just bullet-sponges, there are a few memorable boss encounters. Plus the controls are quite good.
Oh boy, this is like the heavy-weight of generic third-person shooters with its clean-cut brown-haired Caucasian muscular lawman, with his sexy blonde sidekick, battling it out with all kinds of robots and robot-types imaginable. Again an interesting game on paper and it has a unique way of using enemies as playable characters but it’s unlikely that many will manage to stand the aesthetics.
What is it with these mediocre-to-bad Japanese third person shooters that I find so bloody appealing? It was another anticipated title that failed to live up to its hype, while it seems that this time around it was less to do with the corporation side of things and more to do with the developers, who just screwed up the core gameplay, while apparently still believing that they did a good job. Still, it actually had an interesting premise and wacky enemies, mainly the boss battles.
Resident Evil 6
“What the hell?” I hear you say? “Another Resident Evil title, and the worst one in the series? Not a survival horror game?” You are absolutely right, but from a purely gameplay perspective, RE6 is a joyful, decently made shooter with loads oh cheesy over the top action segments. If you treat it as such and not go in expecting the true successor to RE4, then I guarantee, you will not be disappointed one bit.
And lastly we have something somewhat different. Good accessibility for newcomers, tongue-in-cheek humor, linear team-based survival action, this online shooter has it all. This is what you get when you combine Serious Sam with Left 4 Dead. Fun fact, R.I.P.D. The Game is basically a reskinned version of this title. Keep in mind though that this is a F2P game, so certain annoying restraints do apply.