Reviewing games is a tricky business. There are multiple ways to handle them, but no right style. Do you input personal feelings into the matter, or should it be written like a bunch of checkboxes in a technical sort of summary? If you’ve never played a game in that genre how do you know what good and awful is? Should price, or lengthy factor into the conversation? You get the idea. The simple question I always ask myself when reviewing a game is: How much fun am I having? A game can be badly designed, and still manage to be tremendously fun. That's a hard thing to 'score.' Let’s look at the Dynasty Warriors series as an example. It’s repetitive, every game looks a whole graphical generation behind, and not much changes between each new release.
Tedious gameplay aside it’s also just plain fun to turn your brain off and slash through hordes of enemies especially if you have a buddy to back you up. These games are some of the best couch co-op experiences that still exist in our modern culture. That’s the sort of mentality I went into writing this list. Are these aggregate review scores wrong? Yes and no. Regardless of which there is value past a review score, and sadly a lot of people probably see anything dipping into the yellow on Metacritic and put that game out of their mindset. If it's not green, I'm not keen. I imagine it going something like that. Anyway, before we begin, I want to make one thing clear. Numbers are just numbers. Good, or bad, if you like, or dislike something contrary to another opinion that's awesome. Just be mindful to respect one another. Good vibes aside let’s get to it!
20 Star Wars Battlefront - Metacritic Score: 73
Underwhelming is probably the best way to summarize people's feelings regarding Star Wars Battlefront. The long wait between Battlefront II on PS2 and this reboot created a lot of expectations; after the series had been dormant for more than decade and hopes were high. There were two portable games, but they pale in comparison to the console iterations, so again, it felt like a longer delay. Yes, I wish it had a proper campaign, or even a conquest mode. Frankly, the content on the disk was minimal for the cost of entry. What was there was good, though, and it still looks and plays phenomenally well despite its lack of variety. Hopefully, hype can be better met this November with the sequel.
19 Binary Domain - Metacritic Score: 72
Despite the fact that there are an armload of Terminator games, none of them are good. For those itching to destroy Terminator-like robots, Binary Domain is the next best thing. Made from the team behind the Yakuza series, this delightful little tale pits humanity against the rise of a robot apocalypse where something is turning our mechanical friends against us. It's nothing new, and it’s cheesy as hell, but it's the best kind of goofy deliciousness. Now that people are starting to appreciate Yakuza for the hidden gem that it is with the fifth game on PS4 I recommend going back if you liked that Japanese humor applied to a third-person cover shooter. Actually, I think this is better than any of those games as a single focused narrative.
18 Final Fantasy Type-0 HD - Metacritic Score: 72
Unfortunately, the Final Fantasy name doesn't earn as much respect as it used to. Final Fantasy XV's launch last year —alongside the quirky little spinoff World of Final Fantasy— finally picked the franchise back up (flaws and all). As well received as these two games are, I still don't think that the series has reclaimed the throne is held back in the heyday of the series. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is an HD remaster of a PSP game, which had never released in the West (until now). And, as it turns out, it is a spinoff that’s actually good! Again, because of the series' clout, I don’t think it was given a fair chance. Imagine if Final Fantasy Tactics' mature plot line was melded with the school setting of Final Fantasy VIII but as an action RPG. The story isn't quite as good as its inspiration, since it decides to forgo character progression for the central plot. And unfortunately, the camera can be sickening, literally, but the battle system alone is worth a peak. Take a peek at my video review if you’re curious to learn more.
17 Dead Island - Metacritic Score: 71
There's a lot wrong with Dead Island and some of those issues lie in the premiere trailer. You know the one that plays in reverse and is framed dramatically? Off the bat, this trailer set the tone for a moodier game.
Dead Island is a much sillier game that the trailer would have you believe. It's a super janky game with glitches galore, is repetitive, and has an awful story. That said, it's still a lot of fun butchering zombies with random objects and in turn crafting better ones. There's nothing like adding shock power to your machete. This hack and slash RPG is fun alone, but infinitely better with friends. If the trailer was more frank with what audiences were going to get, I think it would have reviewed better. It's not like being in the 70s is bad, but again it probably didn't help either.
16 Asura’s Wrath - Metacritic Score: 71
Dragon Ball has had a ton of games, and while there have been some action games and RPGs, most of them are fighters. Beating the crap out of memorable characters in a one on one match is great, but I’ve always wanted something more and yet couldn’t articulate it. Like Binary Domain, is a great Terminator facsimile, Asura’s Wrath is a perfect modern analog to Dragon Ball. Think of it as a cross between DBZ and God of War, where the Gods are more centered on Asian mythology than Greek. While there are action segments, most of the game progresses through quick time events —almost 2/3 of the game. All of the QTEs may seem like a drag, but somehow the balls-to-the-wall attitude found in Asura's Wrath makes it work it in this context.
15 Disney Infinity 2.0 - Metacritic Score: 71
This second iteration of Disney Infinity was my jumping on point for the series (and Toys-to-Life genre in general). Even though the game was designed for kids, it is a tremendous Marvel game in its own right. It was nice to actually have a Marvel game on a console since these properties have been locked to phones for what seemed like decades. Plus, these figures are gorgeous and in my opinion, the best designed in regards to the others out there like Amiibo. That said, I can see why reviews dinged the price as the best experience would have cost a lot, but now that Disney Infinity is dead, tragically, you can get this set, the others, and the toys at alarming cheap discounts. I have a video review up for this as well if you need any more reasons to buy in.
14 .Hack//G.U. Vol. 1: Rebirth - Metacritic Score: 69
CyberConnect2’s .hack universe is an amalgamation of so many things it's hard to narrow down. The first saga began with .hack//Infection and was such a unique experiment that bridged a story is this pseudo MMORPG across four games that carried over data and also had an anime episode packed into every game called .hack//Liminality. It's such an underappreciated gem that hadn't been revisited in ages.
.hack//G.U. Vol. 1: Rebirth. is not as good as that original quadrilogies, but it improved a lot of the gameplay elements that were lacking in that first chronicle. The game looked better too thanks to the cel-shading approach. The story was less engrossing due to its less likable cast, and it was repeating a lot of the same themes. I still liked it despite these setbacks and telling someone to play through three games to get the complete story, or more like seven with both sagas, is understandably a heavy undertaking.
13 Earth Defense Force 2025 - Metacritic Score: 69
EDF! EDF! EDF! How could a chant that infectious be in a bad game? For those unaware this quirky little series began as a budget title in Japan and has since been transformed into a cult classic. At its core Earth Defense Force is about giant bugs invading Earth and you, as an EDF soldier, vaporizing them from existence. While it’s not great to look at, has extremely slow load times, and the frame rate dips on the regular, the biggest issue with the game is its controls. In this iteration, there are four playable classes: Ranger, Wing Diver, Air Raider, and Fencer. The Fencer is a big tank, so he moves slower than molasses, but so do the other classes on foot. The only good class is the Wing Diver because they can fly giving players more maneuverability in combat. Again there are some other technical issues, but aside from those and the maneuverability, it’s a really fun game especially with a co-op partner. If you’re of age, alcohol also helps too.
12 Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. - Metacritic Score: 69
Reviews were all over the map for Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. One issue that plagued critics was the game's difficulty. Maps are huge, and enemy aliens far outnumber your outfit. Worst still, S.T.E.A.M. is a tactical RPG, but there is no leveling up aside from acquiring new guns. Not upgraded guns, just different ones. So there’s never any sense of progression. Battles are hard from the start all the way to the end.
That said, it is also an amazing debut for a new series from the Fire Emblem team. It builds on old mechanics, while introducing a bevy of new ones. Bad press has kept this one in the dark, but hopefully, it will make a return on the Nintendo Switch. If you’re evened the least bit curious, challenging or not, it’s rather cheap now, or at least I often see it fluctuate online.
11 Deadly Promotion - Metacritic Score: 68
Deadly Premonition is the poster child for a game that’s so bad that it’s good. Deadly Premonition's kooky story makes it work playing. It’s practically Twin Peaks (the game), except with even crazier characters and dialogue that almost seems mistranslated at times. It also has awkward animations, and bad directions overall. It’s pure madness, and I love it! There are mannerisms that I’ve taken from this game and apply to everyday life, like tapping myself in the collarbone when someone is talking to me, or asking an imaginary Zack what he thinks.
There’s no better time to play it now that the reboot of Twin Peaks is right around the corner. It’s a short bumpy ride into obscurity, and you’ll hate every minute of actually playing it, but you’ll be glad you tried it by the end. I know that doesn’t make sense right now, but all will become clear.
10 Broforce - Metacritic Score: 68
Frankly, I'm flabbergasted that PS4 version of Broforce is sitting at a 68 on Metacritic right now. It’s way better than that and (on PC it’s actually at an 83 so what’s the deal here). Glitches seem to be the culprit of the game's low ratings, but anecdotally, I thought it was fine.
Technicalities aside, Broforce pays homage to classic 80s and 90s film buffs like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, Van Damme, while riffing on nostalgic side-scrollers like Contra. It begins as a slaughter fest, against soldiers in bloody pixel mayhem and then transforms into one against the forces of hell and aliens.
9 Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories - Metacritic Score: 68
Kingdom Hearts’ deluge of remakes and spinoffs when fans have been clamoring for a proper sequel. Most of these spinoffs are actually good too, but I digress. Chain of Memories originally came out on the Game Boy Advance to bridge the gap between the first game and Kingdom Hearts II, which was set to debut a year later. This PS2 remake was originally included in a definitive version of the second game in Japan called Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories was released over here years later as this standalone game. Confused yet?
The original designed as a 2D game, and featured beautiful SNES era graphics. Chain of Memories is still an action RPG, but cards were instituted to carry out actions instead. The whole card thing was a bit hard to get used since it was still an action game, but the biggest fault was going through the exact same worlds again as in Kingdom Hearts. The additional stuff regarding Organization XIII is good though. It’s a weird chapter, but not terrible.
8 Parappa the Rapper 2 - Metacritic Score: 67
Both Parappa the Rapper games, in my mind, are hard titles to review because different players will enjoy them for wildly different reasons. Parappa the Rapper 2 is largely the same experience as the first game with less interesting music. Not bad music, mind you. The tunes just aren’t as catchy. Graphically, it’s technically better, but the most significant difference. Taking all that into consideration, the biggest gripe most reviewers dogged this sequel for is the $50 price tag. So let’s rewind. It didn’t innovate, the music wasn’t as good, and as it could be finished in about two hours, that price seemed like highway robbery. While most of those sentiments I agree with to some degree it’s still a good game, and now you can have a slightly remastered version on PS4 for just $10. Listen to me spin some mad review rhythm in another one of my videos. You gotta believe!
7 Lollipop Chainsaw - Metacritic Score: 67
Hey, Guardians of the Galaxy fans! Did you know the director, James Gunn, helped write a video game? Two years before the first Guardians of the Galaxy he worked on Lollipop Chainsaw with Japanese director Goichi Suda, or Suda 51 as he is more recognized by. Combining these two minds, which are quirky alone, seemed like a genius idea, but when you think about the language barrier, well, that may explain how the game turned out. Gunn was only a writer after all, and the repetitious zombie killing, as stylish as it was, couldn’t be saved by a stellar script. It certainly improved the game’s charm in this Buffy-inspired school with a heavy dose of 80s music. The juxtaposition between the zany story and the mundane combat is a good enough reason to dock this game in the reviews, but again I disagree. Suda 51 always has good ideas, but struggles in the gameplay department. It's all about expectations.
6 The Order 188 - Metacritic score: 63
Oops! I totally forgot to add this game to my unannounced PS4 games article, because The Order 1886 leaves on a cliffhanger and deserves a sequel. I was flabbergasted with Broforce, but I am appalled at this game’s extremely low aggregate score of 63 on Metacritic. I’m not exactly sure what part of the advertising behind The Order 1886 gave people the impression it was something more than a pretty third-person cover shooter. It doesn’t do anything new for the genre, but it plays well regardless, looks fantastic, and has a unique twist for a narrative, even if it doesn’t stick the landing. Like Parappa, the game’s short length was bothersome. Yet if the team artificially lengthened the campaign into sloppy segments, it would get dinged for that instead. That’s a classic catch 22. Look. I’m not above factoring price into a review, but I try not to. It’s another reason why scoring games can be so difficult. Regardless of my writing woes, the point is The Order 1886 rules overpriced, or not.
5 The Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Metacritic Score: 63
Okay, now for a completely opposite reaction: How the hell is Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor sitting at 84 on PS4 (and was also Game of the Year at numerous outlets in 2014)? Sure, the Nemesis System is cool, but the story is garbage, it’s a brown world of uninteresting terrain, and it’s just Assassin’s Creed with a Lord of the Rings skin. Hyperbole aside, it’s fine, but it doesn’t deserve as much praise as it got. What is the best Lord of the Rings game? Why War in the North of course. Not sure why it received mediocre reviews, but in terms of awareness, it launched ten days before Skyrim, which basically made any game that released around there irrelevant especially since War in the North is also a fantasy-based RPG. I’d be insane to call it better than Skyrim —it’s not to be clear— but it is good. It also has one of my favourite mechanics around: co-op. Had it not been for Skyrim (and these reviews), the game could and should be remembered more fondly.
4 Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 - Metacritic Score: 58
I’ve already expressed the values I find in the Dynasty Warriors franchise, along with the series’ faults, but all of those positives are multiplied when it comes to this spinoff. For one thing, it’s gorgeous in a way that only cel-shading can bring to games, especially ones based on anime. There’s something just intrinsically fun and video gamey about destroying mountains of giant robots with other giant robots. One of my friends was into Dynasty Warriors from the beginning, but it didn’t click with me until they started making these Gundam versions too. I’m glad Koei Tecmo and Omega Force have gone on to put their formula into other properties like Dragon Quest and Zelda while also changing things up. Cool, but uh, how about another Gundam game too?
3 Front Mission Evolved - Metacritic Score: 58
Speaking of robot action, Front Mission is one of Square Enix’s most underrated properties and has a weird release history outside of Japan (but I won’t get into the nitty gritty here). Anyway, this tactical RPG legacy —spanning from the SNES to the PS2— was retooled as an action game with Front Mission Evolved with the last generation of consoles. This change in genre may have affected reviews negatively, but I was fine with it as a spinoff. A cliché story accompanied by a brown spattered world of ruined cities isn’t exactly thrilling, but the gameplay is sound. What upsets me now is that it seemingly killed the franchise based on this poor reception. I can’t prove that, but it’s within reason. Come back Front Mission!
2 Knack - Metacritic Score: 54
This is an example of a game I avoided for years because of the reviews. As a fan of the original Crash Bandicoot games, I thought it looked particularly fun. I assumed it would have been out by now as a PlayStation Plus freebie, which is why I waited so long to try it out. I somehow managed to fit in some time this year to finally play it and was amazed by how much fun I had. It’s a mashup of a brawler akin to God of War and a platformer like the Crash Bandicoot. The most jarring thing about it is the troubling difficulty spikes as it is aimed at kids primarily, or more like the whole family. I’m hoping they can fix that and some other minor issues with the already announced second game. At least Knack, unlike these others, is getting a second chance.
1 Mighty No. 9 - Metacritic Score: 52
Defending this game is hard primarily because I love Mega Man. Since Capcom has been reluctant to making any new games in the series, I thought this was the next best thing. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter goals got in the way of making the core game. Adding voices and online functionality on top of expanding the horizon into an anime was overkill for something not even out yet. Another great marketing snafu example is Final Fantasy XV.
Hey, guys, we know this game has been in development for ten years so here are a bunch of shitty spinoffs to tied you over before the game comes out in a couple months. Ahem, that’s neither here nor there. The point is, at its core, Mighty No. 9 accomplishes its goal in making a Mega Man game albeit on a lower tier. The levels look unfinished and the game’s difficulty would make the NES games blush. Enjoy and happy gaming!