Sniper Elite V2 (PS3/Xbox 360/PC/Wii U)
The world isn’t exactly short of third-person shooters, stealth-based shooters or shooters set during World War II, and Sniper Elite V2 is all of these things. But, and this is key, it’s also a game that lets you shoot Nazis in the testicles – and shows the results in gruesome x-ray slow motion. Sniper Elite V2’s AI leaves a lot to be desired, with the Germans veering confusingly between eagle-eyed perceptiveness one moment and an inability to walk around a lamppost the next, but the bone-shattering, organ-piercing bullet time that accompanies every long-range kill makes it grimly satisfying to play.
Prototype 2 (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
An open world free-roamer in which you play a shape-shifting vigilante taking down the wicked organisation responsible for unleashing a plague upon the planet, Prototype 2 got strong reviews and solid sales but never really entered the public consciousness in the same way as rivals such as Saint’s Row 3 and Red Dead Redemption. Still, that means you can pick it up now for a song.
Endless Ocean 2 (Wii)
Not every game has to cast you as a killing machine, of course, and the second Endless Ocean title is all about exploring the cobalt blue depths of the sea, interacting with wildlife, checking out shipwrecks and seeking out lost treasure. Soothing and drenched in atmosphere, its sedate pace and lack of blood-spattered action might account for it being somewhat overlooked, which is a real shame.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
If you’re an RPG fan who has tired of wandering the wilds of Tamriel, Amalur might be a welcome destination for your next foray into a fantasy universe. Designed by Elder Scrolls veteran Ken Rolston, Reckoning takes place in a vast open world and blends exploration, crafting and character-building with combat that wouldn’t shame a purebred hack-and-slash title. Since its release, developer 38 Studios has folded in somewhat controversial circumstances, so the planned MMO based in Amalur has been put on semi-permanent hiatus.
The Darkness II (PS3/Xbox 360/PC/Mac)
As with many “second tier” shooters, The Darkness II has arguably been overshadowed by the big-name Goliaths – but it’s a very solid FPS that blends strong gunplay with intriguing supernatural powers, lightweight RPG elements and a compelling plot – much like the first Darkness game, in other words.
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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PS3/Xbox 360)
With motion capture performed by Gollum actor Andy Serkis and a story written by The Beach author Alex Garland, this third-person platform action-adventure has been pretty much forgotten already (and it sold only around half of what publisher Namco-Bandai was hoping). The plot and characterisation hold up nicely, the vibrant art style makes for a nice change from the brown-greys of most action games and the gameplay is above average – if perhaps a little hampered by clumsy controls. Still, well worth a look.
Spec Ops: The Line (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
A third-person cover-based shooter? Set in the Middle East, you say? Where you play as a Delta Force special ops soldier? Yes, on paper Spec Ops: The Line looks like a million other games, but it’s notable for a number of reasons. The “Heart of Darkness”-inspired storyline explores the idea of video game violence in an interesting, not to mention subversive, way, while the single-player game is fun and the setting (Dubai, post catastrophic sandstorm) compelling. And despite only coming out a few months ago, it’s dead cheap.
Just Cause 2 (PS3/Xbox 360/PC)
Long before Far Cry 3 was nailing the “single-handedly taking down a vast organisation on a tropical island) genre, Just Cause 2 was defining it – albeit in a slightly less serious way. You’re an agent dropped into a huge country in the grip of a dictatorship, and have to bring down the corrupt government by causing chaos: destroying military outposts and property and completing missions. The sheer silliness of Just Cause 2 is its strength: in how many other games can you attach a grappling hook to a jumbo jet, then hook it to a tree so it plummets into the ground? Brilliantly bonkers.
Midnight Club: Los Angeles
Rockstar’s “other” free-roaming city-based driving game, the fourth Midnight Club title is a pretty fantastic street racer that passed many people by. Set in a compacted version of present day LA, it boasts top notch car handling, hundreds of miles of blacktop to tear up and almost 50 vehicles to do so in. It’s not an easy ride by any means – but the fact that you can pick the game up for less than a tenner should sweeten the challenge.
Earth Defense Force 2017 (Xbox 360/PS Vita)
Earth Defense Force 2017’s lacklustre level of polish can shoulder most of the blame for its lack of success, but look past the lumpen visuals and horrible voice acting and you’ll find a treasure trove of fun beneath. A third-person arcade shooter in which you tear through hordes of aliens using a massive variety of weapons, it feels like a distillation of pure gameplay – something of a rarity these days.