"Breakdown" for the X-Box
Released only three years ago, "Breakdown" was an incredible game that received critical acclaim for its innovative design. At first glance, it's a first-person shooter game, where the player sees through the eyes of the character, often to make shooting easier. Traditionally, FPS titles have been fairly shallow, offering little in the way of storyline or character development. With the advent of series like "Half-Life" and "System Shock", this began to change. "Breakdown" takes the genre one step further, immersing you in the virtual world like never before. The game toys with concepts of reality, and the plot twists with every level. Furthermore, midway through the game, guns start to get phased out of use, and "Breakdown" turns into sort of a first-person fighter. Despite early praise, "Breakdown" never really caught on. I found my copy in the bargain bin.
"Colosseum: Road to Freedom" for the PS2
There are events that cry out to be made into video games: World War II; the Warring States Period in ancient China; the games of the Roman Colosseum. Trapped in a massive, guarded fortress, gladiators were stripped of their freedom and forced to fight for their lives. It's a wonder more games aren't set in the Roman arenas.
"Colosseum" is a difficult game. Understanding the basics of gladiatorial combat is easy enough. Putting your skills to use in the arena is an entirely different story. A single stray blow can end your career, and the end-game enemies pull no punches. The combat isn't just the focus of the game, it is the game, and "Colosseum" most definitely delivers. That may be the reason "Colosseum" has been so overlooked, but it shouldn't stop you from picking up a copy if you can find one.
"Magic and Mayhem" for PC
You don't know overlooked games until you know about "Magic and Mayhem." This game is so hard to find, the first time I played it was on a cracked CD—in Russian. "Magic and Mayhem" is an isometric role-playing game with elements of strategy. You take the role of a wandering mage who is searching for his uncle. To find him, you have to utilize the various magical reagents you'll come across to make spells and, of course, summon monsters.
The game allows strange things for being written in 2001. The levels are largely free-roaming, and it's up to the player to decide how to win—there's never a set path to victory. The plot-driven adventure rehashes both Greco-Roman and Celtic mythology, and that's about as far as I know, seeing as I can't read Russian. If you manage to find an English version, don't just buy it—send a copy to me!
"Ogre Battle 64" for the N64
"Ogre Battle 64" is the greatest game ever. You'll notice I didn't add in "one of" or "in my opinion," mainly because on this little page, my word is law, and "Ogre Battle" reigns as king of the strategy genre.
Everything about the game is incredible. The characters are some of the most likeable (or in the case of the villains, execrable) in gaming history, and the plot is deeper and more interesting than most of today's games, much less the games of its time. Taking place in Palatinus, a country subjugated by the evil Holy Lodis Empire, "Ogre Battle" tells the story of Magnus Gallant, a soldier who faces impossible odds from both sides of a massive civil war.
"Ogre Battle" is a strategy role-playing game, a subgenre that includes series like "Final Fantasy Tactics," "Fire Emblem" and "Advance Wars." The player controls Magnus and other soldiers in his battalion, and while you control almost all aspects of your party's equipment, tactics and development, the battles are fought without specific player interaction. While that may seem a bit limiting at first, it doesn't detract from the gameplay in the least. It simply makes the player a tactician, rather than a warrior. The game can be a little difficult at times, but stick with it for one of the most rewarding gaming experiences you'll find.
Hey, haven't heard from you in a while. Where ya been?