In Celebration Of Perfectly Average Action Games

We don’t do scores on RPS, but sometimes we mourn for the inability to deploy a 7/10. The ur-score, the most double-edged of critical swords, the good but not great, the better than it deserves to be, the guilty pleasure, the bungled aspiration, the knows exactly what it is, the straight down the line. One score that can mean so much.

There is one particular type of 7/10 game that heralds joy, not disappointment: the solid, maybe ever so slightly wonky action game with no interest in being anything more than a solid action game.

You know the sort. Bit of shooting, bit of jumping, exaggerated explosions. often a war-torn sci-fi setting (for fantasy ones, substitute shooting and explosions for stabbing and magicking). Maybe a car or two. Pantomime villains. Collectibles. Protagonist who would fit the name ‘Jack’ even if he (and sadly it is almost always as he. I really do hope the stalwart developers of stalwart 7/10 action games will diversify their stalwart 7/10 output) is not, in fact, called ‘Jack.’ Bit wonky, but not enough to spoil the show. They are legion, and some of them are brilliant even though they could not, in good conscience, be scored higher than 7/10.

There is Good 7/10 and Bad 7/10, you see. A bad 7 is a game that was much-hyped and much-anticipated but fails to live up to early promise. A bad 7 is a game made with the expectation of 9s and 10s but is either too flawed or too routine to pull it off. I’m going to be mean and suggest the majority of the Assassin’s Creed series for that, or the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. (A bad 7 doesn’t mean the game is bad; it just means it’s not the game it thought it was).

A good 7 is one knowingly made to be a 7. (Paradoxically, this may mean it scores 8, but let’s stay pure for now). An action game with no ideas above its station, no attempts at Big Messages or narrative ingenuity or post-modernism or groundbreaking mechanics. A Solid Good Time. You dig? Good. These, then, are RPS’ favourite Good 7/10s. Brilliantly, perfectly average action games, this hobby as unadulterated adrenal escapism.

Mad Max

Avalanche, 2015

The game which inspired this feature, as I only just began playing it in earnest. Avalanche’s sandbox post-apocalypse title suffered somewhat at the time for standing in the tall shadow of Fury Road, the preposterously propulsive fourth Mad Max movie, but now it has a chance to breathe it stands out as the best contemporary example of the Perfect 7 I can name. Tons of space, crunchy fights, fast cars, great environments, wonderful skyboxes. Mindless destruction writ large. By and large has a strong understanding of how not to waste its players’ time. A game you cannot necessarily justify playing for dozens of hours, but a game you don’t feel awful about yourself playing for dozens of hours. Go forth and destroy.

Score: 7/10

Rogue Trooper

Rebellion, 2006

The other game I had in mind as the ur-7 when writing this. Rogue Trooper never quite excels, but it never meaningfully fails. As a straight-up action adaptation of a war-themed sci-fi comics character (from 2000AD), it’s hard to ask more. A couple more missions, more escalation of difficulty, yes, but what’s there is a true-blue Good 7, with a solid mid-line of open violence and stealth, fun toys, appealing characterisation and an appropriately lean story. Rogue Trooper feels like the work of 7/10 Action Game experts, and I honestly do mean that only as a compliment. I feel real sadness that I’ll never know where Rogue Trooper might have gone with a sequel and a bigger budget.

Score: 7/10

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

Relic, 2011

Possibly cheating ever so slightly with this one, as there’s a strong argument to be made that it’s a Bad 7. Expectations were high, and many stars seemed to have aligned: Dawn of War dev Relic making a third-person action game in which you got to make a Warhammer 40K Space Marine squish a gazillion Orks was the wish-dream of a great many PC gamers of a certain age. What we got was probably more humdrum and certainly more repetitive than what we fantasised about, but despite its somewhat hollow nature it’s achieving much of what a good Good 7 should: meaty combat, ceaseless appetite for destruction, a certain amount of escalation, non-cerebral sci-fi setting (Only War!) that fits the mindless nature of the game and, yeah, that simple joy of making pretend monsters fall over forever.

Score: 7/10

Timeshift

Saber Interactive, 2007

Our first first-person entry here – third-person is the 7/10 norm, but FPSes with the same sort of ethos and execution absolutely count. I’m going on memory and can’t guarantee that it hasn’t aged appallingly, but certainly at the time this was yer quintessential Pleasant Surprise. Timeshift had seemed as though it could only be a mess from afar – delayed, redesigned, a (to me) memorable press briefing in which a brash developer had bellowed “who the fuck cares about puzzles?”, and a stylistic hodge-podge of generic-looking sci-fi. Somehow, it all fell together, having dispatched its higher-minded time-control ideas in favour of simple, slick pauses, slo-mos and rewinds with which to get the drop on tricky enemies. It is a Good But Not Great Shooting Game With A Gimmick. In a way, it was a precursor to the slick, focused, modern-yet-old-school action of Machine’s latter-day Wolfenstein games, although it’s simply too ordinary to hit those games’ high notes.

Score: 7/10

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

2k Australia/Marin, 2013

I know, I know! Bear with me on this. I was as disappointed as anyone that 2K’s initial attempt at an X-COM reboot went through various vague and didn’t-quite-get-it designs before settling on a fairly straight-up third-person shooter. Move past the sense of insult and the Bureau is not, in fact, anything like a disaster. It’s a 7/10 action game with many of the traditional problems of a 7/10 action game – perfunctory story, thin characterisation, repetition – that is harmed by being associated with a noble bloodline. Don’t think of it as X-COM (a sting lessened in any case by the fact we have XCOM, which is at least turn-based strategy game even if it does depart hugely from X-COM) and you get a third-person shooter with strong retro-sci-fi visual style, some absurdly elaborate environments (clearly leftover assets from earlier, more ambitious designs), oddball weapons and a nice line in simple squad controls which make surviving incredibly tough enemies feasible. As an XCOM game, this is Bad 7. As a third-person action game, it’s Good 7.

Score: 7/10

Sleeping Dogs

United Front Games / Square Enix London, 2012

Or “that GTA one in Hong Kong, wossisface, y’know, there’s kung fu and lots of sunglasses”, as I tend to describe it, which rather reflects the fact it’s a perfect 7 and nothing more. Sleeping Dogs is a sandbox shooting, punching and driving game which is both hard to outright praise and even harder to complain about. It’s just there, being perfectly adept at its city-sprinting and gangster-tussling, without ever conjuring up a solid-gold reason to recommend it over anything else. If you want a GTA-like that isn’t characterised by the mean-spirited characterisation and humour of Rockstar’s titles or the whack-to-the-max excess of Saint’s Row, can’t go wrong here.

Score: 7/10

Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron

High Moon Studios, 2012

There are so many terrible Transformers-themed third-person action games, so a Transformers-themed third-person action game which can be summarised as “yeah, fine” is the Citizen Kane of Transformers action games. (Something something Orson Welles’ final performance, etc). Fall of Cybertron has a clear love of 80s robot toys, tempered somewhat by overly sombre tone and dark’n’spiky aesthetics, but most of all it just gets on with being a shooty-thumpy game about pew-pewing bots who can turn into vehicles any time they like. Though being set on the Transformers’ home planet of Cybertron costs us a sense of scale, at least it spares us the disappointment of another Earth-set game in which you’re not allowed to squish puny humans with wild abandon. (See also last year’s Transformers: Devastation, but I found a little bit too fiddly to truly scratch that 7/10 dumb shooty itch).

Score: 7/10

Brutal Legend

Double Fine Productions, 2009

The first in our Hall of Average that’s more about thwacking than shooting. There’s also a case to be made that it’s Bad 7 not Good 7, but I think it’s hopped categories over time, now the massive expectations around The Next Game From The Folk Behind Psychonauts has died down. Also, what keeps it a 7 is that it’s a very much a game of two halves: a joyful, metal-themed, cameo-littered button-mashing romp with wild visuals for the first few hours, then a well-intentioned but misjudged sorta-strategy game in later stages. Have a wonderful time for a couple of days then slip away, basically.

Score: 7/10

Earth Defense Force: All Of Them

Various developers, 2003 onward

I’m surely putting words into developers’ mouths here, but I am convinced that this is the only 7/10 Action Game that sincerely wants to be a 7/10 Action Game. Profoundly stupid, impossible to defend on any meaningful artistic level, always, always the same, and with a rich streak of self-awareness about it. EDF is the game you play when you just want to shoot a load of things and not be interrupted by anything else – or feel that the game wants you to be thinking about anything else. The series has seriously suffered for doing the same thing over and over again, but it remains a go-to 7/10 for mindless co-op mayhem.

Score: 7/10

Enslaved: Odyssey To The West

Ninja Theory, 2010

Admittedly something of an oddity in this list, as I rather suspect Enslaved desperately wanted to be a 9/10 breakout hit. High culture inspirations, beautiful art, layered characters, Something To Say – but all attached to a wonderfully fluid jumpy-thumpy game which essentially impeded its other intentions. But it is beautiful and it feels great in the hand, so to speak, and a fine example of standard action game concepts being wielded by master craftsfolk.

Score: 7/10

Red Faction: Guerrilla

Volition, 2009

One of the working titles for this feature was ‘THQ action games, 2007-2013’, as the now-defunct player was for something of an avatar of perfectly adequate 7/10 shooters for quite some time. 2009’s Red Faction: Guerilla is an exemplar of that: a sci-fi third-person shooter with loads of destruction, an open world with vehicles and strongholds, and a brown environment peppered by explosions. It doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is, and as such could never suffer from the ‘wait, is that really it?’ issues of BioShock: Infinite or ‘alright, alright, you’ve made your point’ emotional blackmail of Spec Ops (to name two games that are 7/10 shooters wearing 10/10 clothes). Rest in peace, THQ. You 7/10ed so very well.

Score: 7/10

XIII

Ubisoft Paris, 2003

Sadly – or perhaps mercifully, as my memories might be way off – this early-noughties shooter isn’t available for legal download yet. Despite being perfectly ordinary in most respects, it made waves at the time for its then-striking cel-shaded, faux-comic art style (doing Telltale long before Telltale) and for starring the bemused voices of David Duchnovy and Adam West. I must admit, I feel a slight nostalgia for more innocent times, when we didn’t expect quite so much of our videogames and a fairly rudimentary, entirely linear, vaguely Bond-esque shooter with prettygraphics and loads of environments but nothing to say about anything seemed like a big deal. Naturally, I would go mad if all our action games were like this today, though.

Score: 7/10

Hard Reset

Flying Wild Hog Software, 2011

Something of a prototype for Flying Wild Hog’s later Shadow Warrior remake (which is a 7 to me, but Adam unabashedly loves it so I’ll pretend it’s elevated above this category for his sake), Hard Reset is mindless robo-bothering in pretty places, with half a mind on old-school shooters in the Nukem idiom. One of those games where you sort of forget what you’re playing and what your objectives are as you play it, but you keep playing anyway because shooting robots is shooting robots.

Score: 7/10

The Darkness II

Digital Extremes, 2012

This is 2K doing a THQ. A lesser sequel to its sadly not-on-PC forerunner, which attempted ambitious environmental design and some freeform structure in addition to its ridiculous tale of a demonic gangster who could summon ethereal tentacles from his body. The Darkness II is a more straight-up power fantasy wearing particularly lurid bodypaint, one you play through to end in a couple of pleasantly-diverted sittings then fail to remember anything specific about afterwards. Totes THQ, even though it’s not.

Score: 7/10

Iron Brigade

Double Fine Productions, 2011

And here’s Double Fine, in their second appearance in this feature, doing a THQ too – although, as it happens, it’s the only one of their triumvirate of games published around that time, the others being Costume Quest and Stacking, that was not published by THQ. Iron Brigade is the third-person shooter meets loose tower defence, and that means it’s primarily about making a walking tank mow down tons and tons of aliens while vague quips play. Not a lot to it, but every battle feels tense and tricky at the time, but entirely meaningless when thought about afterwards. Shooting and smiling and nothing else.

Score: 7/10

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

IO Interactive, 2007

Looked upon somewhat poorly at the time due to preconceptions about what kind of game Hitman devs IO Interactive should be making, and indeed due to the scoring’n’firing scandal that rocked Gamespot, in fact the first Kane & Lynch was a grungey, nasty, tight shooter which borrowed liberally from the movies and did the openly hateful protagonist thing long before GTA V shat out Trevor. Sequel Dog Days amped things up into a deranged nightmare, which seems to evenly split players between love and hate, but the first is yer classic 7 Shoulders’n’Guns affair.

Score: 7/10

Darksiders / Darksiders II

Vigil Games, 2010/2012

Another Classic THQ 7, this is from the hack-slashy fantasy side of things rather than the shooty family, but it has the same compulsive, propulsive, Gotta Slay ‘Em All ethos. Vigil’s RPG-tinged monster-basher is a game you wouldn’t beseech anyone else to play, but one that you have yourself a damned good time with then never think about gain. God rest ya soul, THQ.

Score: 7/10

Singularity

Raven Software, 2010

To some extent, Raven are the quintessential 7/10 studio – Activion’s go-to team for branded action fare and the shooter sequels id didn’t have the bandwidth for. To be honest though, much of their output was either Bad 7 (Quake IV, Soldier of Fortune) or actually rather good (Return To Castle Wolfenstein, Jedi Knight 2 & 3), and not that solid-gold average I keep banging on about. Singularity was their last attempt at the big leagues before being reduced to an odd job team for Activision – these days Raven mostly contributes bits and pieces to Call of Duty games – and is for my money the cleanest-cut 7 of their output. Singularity was an own-IP shooter With a Twist, that being a time manipulation device. I’d argue that it didn’t manage to be the good, clean fun of the ostensibly similar Timeshift, partly because it didn’t feel as sparky despite trying to achieve more but mostly because I suspect it wanted to be so much more than a Good 7, but it’s certainly got a whole bunch of silly ways to relentlessly kill pretend people.

Score: 7/10

The Suffering

Surreal Software, 2004

‘The Suffering’ – I mean, come on, it might as well be called ‘7 Out Of 10.’ Never has a title been more profoundly average. Prisoners, violence, horror, monsters, shooting, and an abundance of tropes from all of those things. Morality and insanity meters provided the required twists to straight-up action and all told it’s fine, albeit in that somewhat distasteful way that characterises the glut of 00s games that seemed to revolve around incarceration and retrograde interpretations of mental health.

Score: 7/10

Dying Light

Techland, 2015

Adam’s a big fan of Techland’s sandbox zombie survival knees-up, though is at pains to point out that it didn’t achieve true greatness until The Following DLC / Enhanced Edition. I’ve only played the original, and would stick an ‘I’M A 7/10 VIDEOGAME KISS ME QUICK’ boater onto it in a heartbeat. Awful characters, reedy story, collecting’n’killing frenzy, keeps you busy, disproportionately high-fidelity art’n’tech for what it actually is. I’m not entirely convinced it’s got that raw joy factor that some of my most beloved entries in this chart do, but it’s certainly the right kinda dumb.

Score: 7/10

Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor

Monolith Productions, 2014

Oh come on, it’s a 7. Yes, yes, I know it’s got the nemesis system and a smashing melee combat system, but come on, the purest distilled essence of 7/10 beats through the veins of the delightfully dumb Lord of the Rings combat game. From Evil Ghost Elf advisor to mad psychic powers orcs’ WWE-style intros, it’s like a grimdark celebration of the solid killing and high concept twists of all the best seven-squadders. Between this and Mad Max, we have proof positive that the perfectly average 7/10 action game is still alive and well to this day, despite Assassin’s Creed’s best attempts to sap the life out of it. Long may it reign.

Score: 7/10

And now, quite naturally, I open the floor. Give me your average, your ordinary, your adequate masses yearning to breathe free.

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198 Comments

  1. MetalShadowChaos says:

    What a piss-boiler. Quality stuff.

    But yeah, Sleeping Dogs is the best GTA game ever made and should be replaced on this list by every GTA ever made, fight me.

    Also Space Marine is amazing. Also fight me.

    • Andrew says:

      Not gonna, ‘cause you right.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      OK. Sleeping Dogs did some things better than GTA, but there are two things it did notably worse…vehicles and map design. The vehicle handling was just boring and there was an extreme lack of variety in the vehicles. Sports cars, luxury sedans, bikes and that tuktuk, that’s your lot.

      And the world was just too flat, too repetitive, too devoid of landmarks.

      All the good it did elsewhere was completely pointless when, in a game where a good 75% of your playtime is spent driving around the city, those two core elements were so poorly done.

      • lokimotive says:

        Sleeping Dogs’ map is kind of a weird thing. It looks massive, but because it doesn’t let you traipse around the landscape as much as other open world games, it has pretty big inaccessible holes in the map. That also forces you to have to plan fairly circuitous routes, which gets old pretty fast. The fighting can still be pretty energizing, though. In general it’s a good, game, though the story is straight up stupid and probably has the most idiotic ‘dating’ mechanic in any game. For some completely unexplained reason successfully ‘dating’ the women in the game (this essentially means showing up), you get some icons marked on your map. “Hey guys, what’s the reward for dating people?” “Having sex?” “Well yeah, but we can’t show that… I mean, why do you date people other than that?” “I don’t know…” “Hmm… well maybe we could just put some icons on the map.”

        • Victor A Yorke says:

          I’ll defend some of the map design in Sleeping Dogs – Locking off pretty much any rural terrain helped drive home the intensely urban (whether cramped or overdeveloped) feel of the map regions.

          The repetitive nature of navigating the island’s circumference was good too, I thought, since you learn to recognise certain landmarks. You can be travelling from anywhere in the city, but the moment you see that intersection with those roadworks, you know you’re nearly at the undercover police HQ…

      • Ragnar says:

        Sleeping Dogs had poor vehicle handling compared to GTA? I have to completely disagree.

        Every car in GTA IV feels like you’re driving a bus or a flatbed truck. Sleeping Dogs driving feels much tighter and faster. In SD I was able to thread between cars at speed, which is what I want from a power fantasy. In GTA, driving fast seemed discouraged, and NPC cars would constantly swerve to cut me off. And the motorcycle in SD was fun, in GTA it was a catapult waiting to go off at the first dime you roll across.

      • rockydock08 says:

        +1

    • draglikepull says:

      I don’t know if I’d take Sleeping Dogs over Vice City or San Andreas, but I had far more fun with it than GTA IV or V.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I disagree! The best GTA is either Saints Row 2 or Saints Row 3.

    • LexW1 says:

      Indeed, GTA V is far more of a 7/10 than Sleeping Dogs. Morder and Sleeping Dogs are basically just on the list for purified troll value.

    • asthasr says:

      I thought I was the only one. The density and “feeling” of Hong Kong was precisely what I wanted in a GTA-style game, and just exactly what none of the Saint’s Row or GTA games really gave me. It’s not a 7/10.

    • thedosbox says:

      “What a piss-boiler. Quality stuff. ”

      Indeed. And I’d like to see the steam page say this from now on:

      “RPS. Boiling piss since 1873.”

    • paddymaxson says:

      Yeah, feels a bit unfair on Sleeping dogs and a bit too fair on The Darkness 2, which was overlong and dull and JACKIEEEEEE

    • Ragnar says:

      Sleeping Dogs surpassed GTA IV in everything except marketing and hype.

      I played the much lauded GTA IV and wasn’t having any fun. I thought I just didn’t like open-world action games. Then I tried Sleeping Dogs based on people’s recommendation, and had a blast with it from start to finish. Turns out I just don’t like boring, tedious open-world action games.

  2. LordBeavington says:

    Shadow of Mordor and Mad Max lend at least some of their 7/10ness to the Arkham series, though Asylum and City I’d say managed to pass above that. Origins, though, I would place firmly in this category.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      If only for still being broken, I would put Origins firmly in the 6/10 labour camp.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        Funny, I’d say Origins is the least embarrassing of the lot: the least poorly written, with the most not-boring villains (at least until Oh No Who Ever Could It Be, Certainly Not… shows up.) And I thought its city managed to feel the closest to something actually maybe resembling a city.

        But yes, the first three Arkham games are all basically the platonic ideal of a 7/10. Don’t know about Knight because… eh. Who cares.

  3. Recurve says:

    Marlow Briggs and Binary Domain should be added to that list. Both solid (good) 7’s. Neither of them great but both fine for what they are.

    • KingFunk says:

      I was just thinking the exact same thing about Marlow Briggs – although I also noticed that the majority of comments on the HYP were pretty negative.

      Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of it – kept me very entertained, especially the scenes where you have to shoot down ALL the helicopters EVER made etc…

      • Baines says:

        Marlow Briggs was designed to be a 7. But just because you aim for a generically acceptably flawed 7/10 game doesn’t mean that you’ll succeed. Marlow Briggs was arguably a 7/10 attempt at a 7/10 game, which makes it something like a 4.9/10?

        That’s something that Sandlot is at risk at with Earth Defense Force. The original EDF actually looked pretty amazing as a PS2 title, and more so that it did it as a budget title. EDF2 was more of the same, but the addition of Palewing changed how you played the game, and some new enemies were added.

        Then EDF 2017 was released for the Xbox 360, and it… Was an okay effort? A remake port of EDF1, lacking additions made with EDF2, it was given slack for being a next gen appearance with slightly better graphics and better framerate (which is good for a game that takes pride in level destruction and large enemy counts). Then 2025 came out, a remake of EDF2. 2025 did make some quality of life improvements, but its big deals were online four player and two additional classes. (Unfortunately, class and gameplay additions were largely focused on that online four player, which means not all that new content necessarily translates as well to local split-screen and single player.) Sandlot moved to the current console generation with an updated port of 2025… The series that started as something that looked amazing for a budget price has become something that looks like a budget game released at full price. I still like the series, but Sandlot really needs to up their game for their next game.

        • KDR_11k says:

          I suspect it’s their publishers being greedy more than their own flaws, e.g. their two Nintendo-published games Zangeki no Reginleiv and Chou Soujuu Mecha MG were quite unique but D3P and Namco demand more of the same and publish it at full AAA price.

        • Ragnar says:

          I’d say Marlow Briggs absolutely nails the 7/10 that they were going for. I had way more fun with it than with the many other God of War clones. I thought it nailed the solid, fun, GoW style combat which so many of its AAA peers failed to do.

    • Ragnar says:

      Marlow Briggs was a very pleasant surprise. I picked it up on sale for $1 based on people’s recommendation, figuring how bad could it be? Turns out, not bad at all.

      A campy, ridiculous, fun, God of War style ride from start to finish. I feel like I grossly underpaid, and it’s not often a game makes me feel that.

  4. thekelvingreen says:

    I know it is blasphemy, but Dark Souls is one of these for me. Yes, it’s fun and engaging, but it’s also slightly janky here and there.

    • GameCat says:

      It’s like saying that this hot and smart girl/guy is only ok, because she/he isn’t perfectly hot and smart.
      Come on.

      • thekelvingreen says:

        Well no, because I’m not saying it’s average because it’s not perfect. I’m saying it’s fun, and it passes the time, but it never really grabs me or impresses me, and it seems oddly unfinished at times.

        Or, you know, “the solid, maybe ever so slightly wonky action game.”

      • Anti-Skub says:

        I know exactly what he means. Dark Souls to me has always felt super low budget. Rubbish voice acting, cheap looking engine, that “every grim fantasy setting ever” aesthetic. It’s a definite 7/10 to me.

        • GameCat says:

          It’s still a hot person in bad clothes then.
          And I quite don’t agree with aesthetics. DS have a strong, coherent and unified DESIGN that just happen to be in form of rather low-poly models with low resolution textures.
          And coherent design will always beat a pretty patchwork made from every possible type of fabric.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Argue all you want, but in the end assigning scores is an inherently subjective matter. Dark Souls may be a 9/10 to you while it is a 6/10 to me.

          • LexW1 says:

            It’s not coherent, though, that’s precisely the thing. It’s notable in how it fails to cohere, visual-design-wise. There are places where it’s absolutely together for a long period at a time, and then there are areas which just don’t fit in and look utterly rubbish. Dark Souls 2 is even worse for this – it’s terrible for it in fact. Some areas just look shit.

            Demon’s Souls doesn’t have the problem, because of the way it’s structured. Areas which look different work because they’re different “worlds”, and you’re not stepping from one to another casually. Plus it’s more gothic in a good way, less ineptly grimdark.

          • Walsh says:

            Dark Souls game system aren’t coherent. They fucking change poise in every game AND DON’T EXPLAIN IT.

        • vahnn says:

          Hmm, I always thought the voice acting in Dark Souls was fantastic. The dialogue is just (intentionally) cryptic and rather silly, so it all just seems kind of.. Meh. But so many characters are so memorable because of the voice work behind them.

        • Urthman says:

          Metal armor and weapons in the Dark Souls games look better than metal in pretty much every other video game.

        • cautet says:

          DS2 is a fair 7/10. It feels like a DS clone rather than a sequel. Dark Souls has far too many original concepts designed to perfectly mesh together. It doesn’t always work, but for every moment you have just slipped off a stupid branch/walkway/ledge because of a change in camera angle from auto-targeting, there are moments of pure poetry to make up for it.

          The way the multiplayer parts of it work (when they work) within the structure of the game alone makes it at least a 8 or 9. How many games have a coherent story behind not just your game but other peoples games?

          Dark Souls does have a real soul to it. It is a piece of art. It isn’t always pretty, but it’s never a 7/10. At worst it’s a flawed masterpiece.

          Also, the X-com 3rd person shooter. Maybe I just can’t get beyond the fact that it isn’t what I wanted it to be but for me it is at most a 6. It does have a lot of generic elements though. Just that they aren’t copied particularly well.

          I would put Dragons Age I into the low 7/high 6 bracket. Every single element in the game is generic. Sometimes elements from different games that don’t even work together are somehow meshed into a complete compromise of a game. Although maybe it missed out on this list for being a bit too shit.

    • baseless_drivel says:

      The original Dark Souls? I’d say at worst it’s an 8/10 for jankiness. If you want 7/10 (or maybe even worse), I’d argue Demons Souls is more your flavor. Hell, I’d even argue that DS2 warrants a lower score than DS1, even if by a tiny margin.

      Also, Final Fantasy 6 is objectively the best Final Fantasy.

      • GameCat says:

        The best Final Fantasy that isn’t Final Fantasy 9 of course.

      • Anti-Skub says:

        Final Fantasy 7 was objectively the best Final Fantasy because it was the first time that the hardware the game ran on was capable of portraying the events of the plot.

        • Emeraude says:

          I’m thinking FF7 was the beginning of what would later be the downfall of the series in no small part because of this very reason, really.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Amen to that. The more graphically advanced an FF game is, the less your imagination can take over.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I’ll second that. I’ve given it six hours, according to Steam, and I still haven’t seen the appeal. Sure, most of the fights are challenging, but they’re Geralt-trying-to-walk-up-a-staircase challenging, not Geralt-fighting-a-wyvern-challenging. In other words, it feels like you’re handicapped by the controls, rather than enabled by them.

      • Emeraude says:

        Totally reversed for me. After around 7 hours I still have to get back to TW3. Too much “game as spectacle” for me.

    • LexW1 says:

      People will tell you you’re wrong, but you aren’t. Demon’s Souls was the clever, innovative, boundary-pushing one which wasn’t a 7/10. Dark Souls was the plodding second album where the band when mainstream, and which was, well, as you say fairly janky generally.

    • Voice of Majority says:

      Dark Souls is seminal. It cannot be given a score.

  5. haldolium says:

    Nice article. Back then when I was doing scores, I went a bit harsh on a few listed items.

    In retrospective though, some of those here remain great experiences even today. Like TimeShift, where I was upset that they didn’t do more with the time shifting mechanic back then, but in retrospective its a great shooter that aged pretty nicely I would say.

    I also remeber how Eidos wasn’t really pleased with my score of K&L (which, incidentally, was 7/10) If one must, it’s always best to rate games in retrospective, not in their time of launch.

    Quite a few here that I highly enjoyed and quite a few that I despise and wouldn’t get near the 7. And even a few that actually are a 7 :D So average it is.

    PS: Damn you for bringing back XIII memories, the game with the worst cliffhanger and the deadiest of dead IPs.

  6. Michael Manning says:

    I had completely forgotten 13 even existed, I remember quite enjoying it

    • TheSplund says:

      I might have to re-install it and try it again – I had good memories, but not much more than a borderline 8 if I recall.

      • HZCH says:

        OOOH THIRTEEN, Oh the Joy it gave me when I was a teenager…

        Quite a good FPS if I remember well… Easy enough, fairly simple story, should try to find it and try it again.

        Bad part : a short game, as it was supposed to be episodic, like the comic it’s based upon…

  7. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    If there ever was an article for “haha, only serious” trolling in the comments, this is it.

    And in that vein – Brutal Legend is too good to be on this list. Put the latest Doom game there instead.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jekadu says:

      Been playing DOOM since last night and I agree that it’s nothing more than a solid game. Maybe there’s more to it beyond the point where I’ve taken a break from playing, but so far it feels like Wolfenstein: The New Order without the story. DOOM does some clever things but the combat alone can’t carry it to excellence in my eyes. Maybe I’ve just gotten jaded to FPS games.

      I was going to argue about Brütal Legend and Enslaved being on the list, but then I remembered that I tend to overlook gameplay flaws if the story is good, which it is in both games. I’ve also yet to finish Enslaved despite buying it twice.

      I also don’t get the love for Space Marine that people have. It gets immensely repetitive after ten minutes, the Space Marines are depicted as super heroes instead of super human, and Relic used the incredibly bland Ultramarines instead of their own way cooler Blood Ravens.

      • Ragnar says:

        Wow, I literally agree with everything you’ve just said, for the same reasons, right down to buying Enslaved twice and not finishing it.

        It’s installed, ready to play, I just need to find the time and not get distracted by other games. Odds aren’t good.

  8. Kefren says:

    If you have Shadow of Mordor and Mad Max you should also add the recent Batman games. I completed Arkham Asylum (but got bored before the end); gave up on Arkham City; played Arkham Origins until the final cutscene and then quit just before it, because it only let me batter someone into unconsciousness (invisible walls stopped you leaving) and it felt ridiculous and sadistic.

    I’ve completed Singularity twice. 7/10.

  9. Eight Rooks says:

    I appreciate the sentiment – God knows I cling to NUMBERS, even if it’s only in my own head – but part of me wishes you’d gritted your teeth and fed this one into the virtual shredder. So many games here which yes, granted, are in no way masterpieces by any meaningful yardstick but still do things no other games does and in their own grubby little way absolutely soar. Slapping an IGN “s’all right” on them, even in jest, and lumping them all together does most of these a severe disservice.

    (Except for Shadows of Murder, which is pants. 7/10? You wish. More like 5, tops.)

  10. Zankman says:

    I usually don’t have much to say about the List articles you guys publish from time to time, but, really…

    This article might as well be called “Great games we will pretend are perfectly average in order to make a gimmicky article”.

    There are some games that fit the description but loads of them are much better than you give them credit for here.

    Hm.

  11. Kefren says:

    I gave up on these ones from the list:
    Mad Max
    Rogue Trooper
    Iron Brigade
    Darksiders

    Completed these:
    The Suffering (Xbox)
    Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
    Earth Defense Force
    Sleeping Dogs
    Enslaved: Odyssey To The West
    XIII (Xbox)
    Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
    Singularity

    I’d be tempted to say that the one I enjoyed the most was Sleeping Dogs.

    • vahnn says:

      Sleeping Dogs was the only one on this list that I came close to completing, but I gave up even on that one. Terrific game throughout, though, I thought.

      A couple I’ve never touched. Or even heard of. Ahem, Iron Brigade.

  12. Xocrates says:

    Okay, got to disagree with Darksiders being here. That game is a solid 8/10 that people didn’t play. I could sort of agree with Darksiders 2 but that’s a stretch too.

    Brutal Legend? Dunno. That’s a 7/10 game that’s anything but average.

    Rest of the list seems right.

    • Ragnar says:

      The movement and combat in Darksiders never felt quite right to me. Too slow? Too laboured? It never felt as fast, smooth, and fluid as either Prince of Persia or God of War.

  13. Cyryus says:

    Hah, what an awesome article. I totally agree with all of it. Even though I really enjoyed Mad Max, Shadow of Mordor and the Darksider franchise. They are totally worth 7s.

  14. picollo7 says:

    I would add Bulletstorm, Saints Row 3, Just Cause 2, Prototype 2, as good 7s, and Far Cry 3 and 4 and meh 7s. Solid fun action games you play through and uninstall after you’re done. Forget the cheevos and collectibles and keep the playtime under 40 hours and they’re perfect junk food games.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I agree that Just Cause 2 fits well into this list. There’s some really great parts to it, but the plot, and pacing are a bit rubbish.
      Mind you, I’ve got 99.95% completion in JC2, so I guess my opinion is suspect.
      (Why not 100%? Because there was a bug that left a couple of collectables out of the game, so it was impossible to reach 100%, and that’s part of the reason it’s a 7/10).

      • TheLetterM says:

        There’s a fan-patch for that, although I guess the only reason to do it when you’ve already done everything is to soothe my mild completionist streak. Wait, did I mean to type “my?” Guess I did.

    • Cederic says:

      Hmm, no. SR3 was and is pure awesomeness. Good story, good voice acting, decent action and a better GTA than GTA.

      The rest, yes, although I suspect a lot of people wouldn’t go for Just Cause 2 as a 7 because at the end of the day it’s not a FPS, it’s a stunt & explosion factory.

  15. Distec says:

    Soldier of Fortune 1 was clearly a GOOD 7. Whatsamatta with you.

  16. Reefpirate says:

    For at least 5 years I moved around a lot and whenever I went digging through my CD-ROMs for games to install/play I would inevitably find the XIII CD case and take it for a spin… Get kind of bored with it after a few missions and then forget about it until I found the CD’s again and did it all over. Solid 7/10 on here I’d say.

    The only game that’s missing that I immediately thought of for this theme is Freedom Fighters. I beat it so many times that I’d be tempted to say it should be rated higher, but it really is kind of ‘average’ in a really good way.

  17. baseless_drivel says:

    You folks doing a feature on 10/10 games that should’ve been 7/10s? I’d like to see what people come up with for that.

    • GameCat says:

      Skyrim, but giving it 7/10 is still too much in my opinion (mods doesn’t count).

    • Unsheep says:

      I don’t think that will happen though, in general RPS staff tend to have the same taste in games as the more mainstream media channels.

      To be fair, I think it would be VERY difficult for a games journalist to get hired or be taken seriously if they disagreed with popular media opinion and “common” tastes.

      Hiring staff with more diverse gaming backgrounds, who’ve enjoyed games other than the typical mainstream ones, would be a good way to introduce some intellectual diversity.

    • yogibbear says:

      Super Mario. Flat. Uninspired. Hipster trash.

  18. Xocrates says:

    Man, looking through my game collection there’s so much stuff that could be added here. Of note:

    Alan Wake, and the Overlord games (although 2 is an 8/10)

  19. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    Ah yes, the games where you are just another contract killer.

    Sniper Elite V2 – I once somehow got this one for free, so I might be slightly biased in this respect, but the casually shooting people in the head of Sniper Elite V2 never really gets old, the ocasionall wonkyness of the third character movement aside. Dail in the difficulty level to your taste, and then just watch as the vessel which contains the soul of men is violently torn apart.

    Far Cry 2 – Was this for me for the longest of times, a game which tried to be many many things, had to cut that many things and in the end succeeded only in being simply a fun shooter. The endlessly respawning spawnpoints have been bemoaned time and again, but to me that simply ensured that there was a satisfying rhytm to it’s world travelling intermixed with ad-hoc murder. There was something about it’s varied arsenal and how you were limited to just three that encouraged endless permutation, just to see how it would work. Despite being a simple game, it still managed to rack up more hours then several other shooters in my steam library combined, and I’m very certain that it’s only the Arma series which I spent more time in. It’s very much a “bad 7”, but it’s still just… good. I thought about mentioning it’s sequels, but they for various reasons just fail in certain ways (I think the descriptive term is “Trying too hard”) and therefore don’t really deserve the honour of being appended to a list of titles that have gained the exclusive right to be actually scored by RPS.

    Saint’s Row: Gat out of Hell – A game that simply fails horribly at being a Saint’s Row game. There is hardly a story, there is an utter lack of character costumization and there is also simply hardly any music – all staple points of the Saint’s Row franchise. It’s ultimately game that would have succeeded far better as DLC for Saint’s Row 4 rather then a seperate game, so it’s once again the “Bad” kind of 7. But the variety of challenges it brings to the table and the wonderfull flying mechanic are it’s saving graces.

    • LexW1 says:

      Far Cry 2 is a total 7/10, much more so than several of the games here, but it took some risks so RPS won’t put it with these inmates.

  20. renzollama says:

    This is really fascinating, I had exactly the same revelation playing Mad Max recently and also went on a healthy reddit/neogaf browsing effort to find a list of other similar “average” titles I had overlooked. My list shared a good 50% with this one, and I had some others like “Bulletstorm”, “Quake 4”, “Syndicate”, and “The Crew.” This is what actually led me to a final realization that critical reviews with scores are completely pointless for my gaming tastes and I have more fun with games when I don’t pay attention to internet forums or critical reviews of them.

  21. Geebs says:

    Future Cop: L.A.P.D. is possibly the greatest 7/10 game of all time.

    • Papageno says:

      Ha, no kidding about FutureCop LAPD (from 1998 or so). Good stuff. In fact, many credit its skirmish mode as being an early inspiration for today’s MOBAs.

    • Premium User Badge

      Dorga says:

      the multiplayer elevates it above and beyond.

    • MercurialJack says:

      I loved that game! I still have the disc and my PS1. I might break it out again soon and give it another play through. The skirmish mode was a big favourite of mine – I sunk many hours into that.

  22. Snarkman3 says:

    This is a beautiful article. I think a better way to think about it is that these games can be great/bad based solely on personal experience. You know, they don’t deserve any awards or anything, but when they click, you’ll always defend them.

    Also, no Wolfenstein (2007)? Might as well have been named “Wolfenstein: The Okay One”

  23. renzollama says:

    I’m convinced at this point that scoring above 7 is almost entirely dependent on zeitgeist and internet hype. Far Cry 4 and Shadow of Mordor are both samey, cookie-cutter open world games, yet they achieve top scores and huge critical success while games like Mad Max get dinged for “following the open world formula too closely”. The phenomenon is entirely obvious; you can literally watch almost any “BEST EVER 10/10 GAME OF THE GENERATION” game for 4-6 weeks after release and see the tide shift when people start looking at it objectively finally.

    • Emeraude says:

      Definitely marketing hype over proper criticism most of the time. Style over substance.

      Hell, I might put the Arkham Batman games in this list. The only thing that might elevate them higher is presentation (I’m being harsh on second thought, level-design of Asylum was pretty tight). But from a gameplay standpoint? Definitely belong I think.

      • Emeraude says:

        Thinking back on it, there’s many games that have been huge top-score, marketing hype titles I would definitely put in that category really.

      • lglethal says:

        I disagree with the Arkham Asylum call. It really was the first to give us that wonderful type of mob combat! That alone lifts it much higher then a standard 7/10. Yes every game nowadays has that, but very few do it as smoothly and originally as Arkham Asylum!

        I cant comment on the other Arkham games (haven’t got around to playing them yet), but Asylum definitely tried some new things!

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      I rate this comment 5/7

  24. Phantom_Renegade says:

    Have to disagree with Brutal Legend. The story was funny and good, the music was as well, and voice acting was on point. I liked most of the art. But my god, the level design and gameplay was absolute dogshit. It controlled like something satan himself might have thought up and hugged himself afterwards.

    Any game with controls this bad cannot be allowed a passing grade. 5 tops, because of the soundtrack.

    • Baines says:

      In a better world, Brutal Legend would have been a solid “good 7/10”. But you are right, the game is just so flawed mechanically and in its design that it drops below even “bad 7/10”.

  25. espenhw says:

    Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is the perfect example of a 7/10. It is technically adequate, entertaining while it lasts; but in the end, utterly forgettable.

    • KingFunk says:

      Overall, I agree – but a couple of points I disagree with.

      Technically capable: at least for me, it tore screens all the time and it tore them hard. Couldn’t stop it so I just got used to it.

      Forgettable: it was the first thing that popped into my mind as soon as I started to read the premise of the article and I doubt I shall ever forget the ludicrous fun I had with what is essentially the sort of game I would never usually play.

  26. Unsheep says:

    I would rate these ones 7/10 and add them to the list:

    Far Cry 3
    Saints Row: all of them
    Borderlands: all of them
    Watch Dogs
    Deus Ex: Human Revolution
    Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
    Deadpool
    Batman Arkham City
    BioShock Infinite
    Crysis 2-3
    Dead Space 2-3

    I enjoyed playing them and would play them again, but I wouldn’t rate them higher than 7/10, as there was something about each of them that was very disappointing.

    • picollo7 says:

      This. So much. Except BInfinite as a 7 is verrrry generous. It’s a prefect example of the primacy and recency effect. Only the first and last 20 minutes are worth anything, and it’s mostly cutscene. The middle 10 hours wasted are you wondering when it’s supposed to get better.

    • lglethal says:

      I totally disagree with you on Deus Ex:HR – it had a terrific story and great level design. It gave great opportunities to do things how you wanted (total pacifist, only takedowns, going in heavy and guns blazing, every style worked!). That’s hardly cookie cutter stuff. Its a 10/10 game for me I have to say.

      Would also like to disagree with Watch_dogs, but it probably does rate a 7/10 – but not for being a cookie cutter, but for trying to do new things but not doing them as well as it should have. The story, which although told in an at times ham fisted way, deserves some kudos for actually bringing up topics which no other game will go near with a 10 foot pole! Still unfortunately, it got a few too many things wrong in implementation to score much higher than a 7 or 8/10. But it certainly isn’t this type of cookie cutter 7/10…

      • PanFaceSpoonFeet says:

        Strange but true… I [cleanly] commented that I thought deus ex was a 7/10… The comment disappeared. Last year I made a comment similarly dissing deus ex hr and my account was deleted.. it’s your website guys but… Really?

        • Papageno says:

          Definitely something wonky going on with the comments on this story. All original ones (not replies to ones on the first page) that would normally end up on page 2 are going into the void as far as I can tell. There’s a Page 2 button but you click on it and, hey presto, no comments there.

      • Premium User Badge

        keithzg says:

        Eh, Deus Ex: Human Revolution didn’t really get anything right that the original didn’t do better, at very least for the time (and sometimes still, even without handicapping for engine and computing power differences since 1999). Having recently replayed the original before starting on HR, I found HR to be a lot shallower and less detailed-seeming, and didn’t even finish the game in the end. HR does especially poorly compared to Dishonored, which felt more like a proper followup in Deus Ex’s trajectory than HR did even though it was mechanically mostly aimed more at Thief.

    • Jerykk says:

      Some weird choices there. Crysis 2-3 are average but Crysis 1 isn’t? Dead Space 2-3 are average but Dead Space 1 wasn’t? Most of these sequels improved upon the original in various ways.

      People have weird definitions of “average.” Call of Duty is average. Slick presentation, solid but unremarkable gameplay, completely forgettable experience. Bioshock Infinite is better than Call of Duty. DX:HR is better than Call of Duty. All of the Crysis and Dead Space games are better than Call of Duty.

  27. infovore says:

    Second Sight.

    Damned to come out at the same time as Psi-Ops – which looked like it’d be a 7 but turned out to be one of those “Surprise 8!” games (see also Metal Arms: Glitch In The System), I really liked Free Radical’s cartoony, wonky, weird psychic drama. Great double-narrative with a strong twist, great implementation of a sniper rifle in a third person shooter, and I really liked the chunky cartoony style, using their TimeSplitters style art to convey story through raised eyebrows and big mouths.

    And yet: meh combat, meh settings, and all a bit over-ambitious. It’s so seveny from the outset.

    (From Alec’s list, the first Darksiders is a really strong seven for me: definitely seveny, so derivative, and yet made with care and love and giant shoulderpads. I’m very fond of it, but it’s hardly great art).

  28. Paul says:

    Sleeping Dogs and Dying Light are both clear 9/10, some of the best games of their respective genres. Agree with the rest.
    Sleeping Dogs has is well written, immensely atmospheric action brawler with one of the best soundtracks ever put into a videogame. Also, better and more rewarding combat system than any GTA or GTA-like created to date.

    Dying Light is the ultimate zombie game. Perfectly tuned gameplay, STALKER-like immersive atmosphere, some well crafted sidequests (in the Old Town part). In fact I knew I liked Dying Light a lot, but when I got to Old Town, I freaking fell in love with it. Such a beautiful place, and so much fun. Oh and of course the brilliant 80s synth soundtrack by Pawel Blaczak.

  29. Emeraude says:

    In another subgenre altogether, Styx: Master of Shadows fits that “7/10” description perfectly.

    • KingFunk says:

      Got this on PS4 and enjoyed it by and large. However, the load times killed it for me – old school stealth games like this need to load back in faster if you die or cock it up and choose to reload. As such, I’ve yet to finish it.

  30. Zenicetus says:

    My vote for a 7/10 not on the list is Rise of the Tomb Raider. And also the previous one, the reboot.

    It’s tempting to be wowed by the production values, but the actual game mechanics aren’t anything special, the combat is repetitive, and the story is dumb. Worth getting on sale though, if you’re into halfway decent 7/10 action-RPG games.

  31. MadPen says:

    I thought I was mad that Space Marine was on this list, and then I saw Brutal Legend. And now I have to be that guy…

    I hereby renounce Rock Paper Shotgun and all its works and all its lies and empty promises.

  32. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    This is a great article :-)

    Someone already mentioned Binary Domain, which is the epitome of 7/10 for me. Remember Me probably also fits–I actually loved it, but I suspect that for most people the combination of less-good-than-Arkham combat and strictly linear platforming and gorgeous sci-fi scenery would put it firmly into 7/10 territory.

    For me at least RF Guerilla claws its way out of this category by virtue of the fact that there is nothing else quite like it (in terms of combining an open world with that level of potential destruction). RF Armageddon is definitely a 7/10 though.

  33. wisnoskij says:

    Love it or hate it, their is nothing average about Brutal Legend.
    Surprised about XIII, only ever heard good things about it, and it is still remembered by most 10 years latter.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      It’s a “good” 7. Decent storyline and fantastic art direction but the gameplay itself is solid but not exceptional or doing anything ambitious.

  34. wcq says:

    For me, personally, EDF 4.1 is at least 9/10.

    Gameplay concerns aside, I don’t think it’s “impossible to defend on any meaningful artistic level”. In my eyes the game is an absolutely pitch-perfect love letter to old tokusatsu films. Even the English localization is done with just the right amount of cheese to carry it over. The style and tone of the game are not accidental, and they are very well done. This is something to be recognized.

    The supposed dumb shooting action also suddenly becomes very much about tactics and team coordination when you up the difficulty and play with other people.

    • Roald Hoffmann says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with this entire post.

    • Spacewalk says:

      Yeah, 7/10 what the heck Alec Meer it’s a 9/10 game. Don’t make us sick Kieron on you.

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      I’d add that the vast breadth of weaponry, yet two slots per person, also creates some really interesting strategizing later into the game. Or at least, that was the case with EDF2017; have only just started on 4.1, but there were definitely times with the “first” (never had a PlayStation, so it was and remains for me) game that a friend or two and myself would sit around debating strategy for a good half-hour before going “alright, I think we’ve worked this out, lets try and kill these goddamned spiders”.

      Also: EDF! EDF!

  35. rroose says:

    My absolute favorite 7/10 racing is Burnout Paradise. Lazy brainless fun.

    Btw I’m very happy to see Kane & Lynch on the list. A lotta people seemed to hate it but I thought it was nice!

  36. mattevansc3 says:

    Slight correction needed in XIII. It was available for legal download on GoG but was pulled. Saying “yet” suggests it was never available for legal download.

  37. Hawke says:

    First and foremost, I completely disagree with Shadow of Mordor being in the list – the game was brilliant.

    About all those I’ve played, they were digestible, so to speak, had nice screenshots and reviews. Never finished any Darksiders, though. Too slow and boring. And the Odyssey was a typical pretentious Ninja Theory action game.
    I guess, Bound By Flame, Binary Domain, Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2, Deadpool, Prototype 2 and Remember Me would fit the list as well.

  38. Premium User Badge

    Aitrus says:

    I followed the link to the Timeshift tag and found a 2007 article making fun of a live-action-with-CGI trailer for a game because it was live-action-with-CGI, and not footage of the game.

    “Sure there’s some CGI in there but… whatwhat? Exactly how can that be said to advertise a videogame in any way? Isn’t it just a little creepy?”

    I guess it wasn’t a trend yet.

  39. davec1 says:

    I always felt Enslaved was underrated as I really enjoyed the interaction between the characters, the writing and the good pacing of the game (including that it had a good length and didn’t overstay it’s welcome).

  40. KastaRules says:

    I know it’s impossible for everyone to agree on every single score…. BUT I would argue that Dying Light is at the very least an 8.5/10. It has been really refreshing in a genre that is stale to death! Get it?

    • Voxel_Music_Man says:

      Yeah, I’m also surprised Dying Light is here; it’s one of my favourite games of all time. I don’t think I’ve played any other single-player FPS for more than 100 hours since back when the original Quake came out. Each to their own opinion, though!

  41. Urthman says:

    Some might say Blades of Time isn’t quite a 7. I kept thinking I’d quit when I got tired of it, but I happily finished the whole game. The jump-back-in-time-for-a-few-seconds-and-team-up-with-your-previous-self mechanic was both a fun combat trick and made for some neat puzzles. The level design was quite good, and I just really enjoyed the speed and freedom of the character movement.

    • Premium User Badge

      zapatapon says:

      Thank you sir. I wanted to mention Blades of Time, which I similarly enjoyed, but felt to ashamed. Definitely in the category “guilty pleasure” — nonsensical plot, cringe-inducing representation of female characters, but entertaining gameplay, surprisingly varied with gorgeous backdrops.

      Well, now that I’m out of lurking mode, I’ll also mention Bionic Commando (the 2009 reboot). Definitive 7/10 in my eyes. Abysmal plot and writing (again), fun gameplay (especially in the more open areas where you played cat-and-mouse over the level against strong and mobile enemies). Anyone with me on that one?

      • Emeraude says:

        Bionic Commando was SO irritating, disregarding the silly plot, there’s hints of brilliance of a game that could have been, and never actually manages to actualize fully.

  42. jonahcutter says:

    Interesting.

    There’s four games I loved so much I occasionally reinstall them and attempt a permadeath playthrough on the hardest difficulty (if possible, also with some occasional house rules to overcome the inevitable overpowering of the protagonist). And all are on this list.

    Red Faction: Guerilla, Space Marine, Shadows of Mordor and Mad Max.

    Btw you’re wrong about RF:G. It’s a 9-10. The destruction speaks for itself, and remains unsurpassed to this day. The action is satisfyingly crunchy (sledgehammer finishing some EDF jackhole is ftw). And the writing and performances are enthusiastically pulpy.

  43. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    RAGE is the first of these to spring to my mind.

    • Sketchkov says:

      I’d consider RAGE to be one of those “bad” 7/10. I think a lot of people (myself included) had pretty high expectations of, considering it was made by id and they’d hyped the tech behind it so much.

      Still not necessarily a bad game, but just a very average one that was disappointing in my opinion.

    • -funkstar- says:

      Urgh. I found the actual shooty bits to be fantastic, and everything else (which unfortunately turned out to be nearly the entire game) to be naff.

  44. Premium User Badge

    magogjack says:

    Red Faction is more like a 9 in my book…

  45. zsd says:

    I have high hopes that Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, currently on sale for $2.49 and saddled with a name so dull that I’ve already forgotten it twice while writing this comment, will provide some solid 7/10 fun. The name’s got a colon in it. That’s a good sign, right?

    • Emeraude says:

      I own a retail copy, various technical issues for me with that game. Just the installation was a mess. Then it every new level came with a huge wait the first, as if if files where were getting compiled (not saying that’s what happened, but how it felt).

      Be warned.

    • malkav11 says:

      I had similar hopes and it just straight wouldn’t launch at all for me. Your results may vary.

      • zsd says:

        It launched for me okay, haven’t had any unusual technical issues so far.

        It has a kind of B-movie charm, but it’s still underwhelming even considering its age. More of a high 6 than a 7, sadly.

  46. KastaRules says:

    Well, you know what they say: YMMV.

  47. Shazbut says:

    There’s that other type of 7/10 game: the GREAT type. Games that go for broke on originality and/or artistic vision but end up with somewhat crappy gameplay as a result. They’re rare and beautiful things.

    Pathologic, for example

    • Wagrid says:

      I am going to invite significant flak and suggest Dragon Age II for this category. Like, I am well aware of the standard suite of criticisms and I agree with them. I kind of love it anyway though.

      • Emeraude says:

        I can see that happening.

        The two things that really burned bridges with DA2 was the bait an switch on Bioware’s more traditional audience, and the awful failure in execution, but it had some really good ideas, things that could have been great, and to one that can just appreciate it for that, I can see it being worthwhile.

        • malkav11 says:

          DA II is a mix of great and tedious. I figure that probably blends out to average, maybe?

          Until Act 3. Then it’s just bad.

          • yogibbear says:

            I stopped playing that game at the end of Act II and then uninstalled it in pure outrage. Are you saying it got worse?

          • malkav11 says:

            Act 3 in a nutshell: Pretty much every character in the game does the absolute stupidest thing you could possibly think of for them to do and you have little to no ability to stop them.

      • RIDEBIRD says:

        I reviewed DA2 and gave it a 7/10. Very good combat if you ask me (I guess purists hated it), pretty good main story and some excellent side story’s and characters.

        The issue is the shameless rehashing of areas and assets, in combination with the just awful mini sidequests. Geez, those are bad, even worse then in Inquisition.

        In my opinion a definite 7/10.

  48. pillot says:

    red faction is a solid 10/10

    • RIDEBIRD says:

      Agreed. With Saints Row 2 tied with it, it’s my favorite GTA-style open worlderer. It really is strange that so few games just go all out on destruction these days, it should be standard in all shooty games with some freedom.

  49. Tomo says:

    Great article :D. Wholeheartedly agree with most of them. Reckon you could easily do them one either way too:
    – 6/10: games that are crushingly disappointing when they ought to have been really special. Something so irritatingly designed, it couldn’t even stretch to Generic 7/10. Gears of War falls into this category for me! Resident Evil 5, Max Payne 3, Fallout 4 as well, ugh. Hard to think of too many as I usually read about them and then avoid them :P
    – 8/10: Generic 7/10 doing something so unexpected it elevates itself into the stratosphere of one-you-should-probably-look-out-for! Possibly Wolfenstein: New Order (although it’s arguably Generic 7/10), Shadows of Murder, Spec Ops: The Line (maybe, altho I hated the gunplay /SO/ much).

    • Premium User Badge

      kshriner says:

      @Tomo, yes to Fallout 4 high excitement but amazingly fast disappointment. Yes also to Wolfenstein: New Order for absolutely low expectations and finished with unexpectedly fun smile of enjoyment on closing credits..

    • Danda says:

      Nope. Max Payne 3 and Wolfenstein: The New Order are 9.5/10 games to me. Maybe you just don’t like shooters too much? What are your A+ references in the genre?

    • UnrealClock says:

      I think you don’t understand how rating scales work. It isn’t school. A 7/10 is not a C. It’s good.

      • Jerykk says:

        That’s not actually how review scales work. When it comes to reviews, 10 = excellent, 9 = great, 8 = good, 7 = average, 6 = bad, 5 and below = terrible. In an ideal world, 5 would be average but that’s not how reviews actually work.

  50. fearandloathing says:

    Can’t see how XIII is a 7. At the very least it was original, and that is not a feature of 7ish games, so I’d rate it 8 or idk 7.5? Same goes for Brutal Legend, yet it begs for a 6, because regardless of how goddamn fine some concepts was, it was terribly executed and game quickly became absolute chore to play. And this is coming from a true metalhead, truest of the true, heavy metaller,NWOBHM type, not some goth-emo shithead death metal fan.

    • AteBit says:

      Was pleasantly surprised to see XIII on this list. A great example of a ‘good 7/10’ game. I May agree that I remember it as more of a 8 but….nostalgia could be clouding my vision.

    • poliovaccine says:

      I donno, I think that’s one way to carve it and come out with a 7, but I’d say just as much, the other way it can go is you gotta call it a 7 cus it’s full of originality that just doesn’t totally work on a practical, yknow, “fun” level.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Also, I see it’s been pointed out here already, but deffo some fuckywucky with the comments on this particular piece, since there’s clearly a page two, but with nothing on it – and if at some point my earlier, lost comment manages to appear there, I apologize for the redundancy of this one..

        ..but I did want to say, I’ve looked thru the (visible) comments, and I think I might be the only person here who’s actually glad to see The Bureau get some love. I never even knew about turn based games until XCOM Enemy Unknown, never mind the XCOM franchise itself, so that name didn’t imply anything to me, and as such The Bureau didn’t seem like any kind of betrayal. I had no expectations for an “XCOM game,” even after playing and enjoying Enemy Unknown, and anyway I hardly noticed that part about The Bureau except as it denoted shootable aliens within. I stumbled upon The Bureau earlier this year whilst bargain-binning for something to let me shoot at aliens, or at least not zombies anymore. What I got was basically a cartoony-assed, third-person, way-easier version of the single player in Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Which I can live with.

        It’s absolutely a 7/10, and I wouldn’t even argue with anyone who called it a “bad” one, especially if that qualifier has to do with higher expectations, cus I gather that’s the big reason it receives so much hate. But like I say, I’m of an apparent minority/leper colony to whom “XCOM” was just another four letter word, and without that sense of betrayal that I’ve read about in almost every instance of The Bureau’s utterance, I find it’s actually a perfectly serviceable tac-squad-lite, a perfectly serviceable space alien shooter/3PS, and it’s even one with some rather appealing aesthetics – I like the overall look/art direction of the game for the same reasons I like Fallout. One of your squad even looks like he has a big-ass Pipboy on his arm! Big, ridiculous alien tech with bulgy tubes and wires and glowing plasma-like green bits and so forth… stuck on uptight, snarling white dudes in vests and fedoras, yeah, I’m for that.

        It’s that semi-serious rendering of Saturday morning cartoon imagery that makes the environment and the look of it distinct enough to stand out in my memory – same reasons it works in regular, full-strategy XCOM: EU/EW (just realized that phonetically the game/expansion are both different ways of saying “ew” haha – no further insight). Plus I already know I’m a bit of a sucker for the Unreal look.

        Anyway, wanted to post cus I’m half curious if there’s anyone else who even cared one way or another about The Bureau, besides to hate it for shaming its franchise. I’d agree in a heartbeat it’s certainly not as intelligent as any of the turn based strategy in even the first level of XCOM:EU, but believe it or not, I’m not always playing games for intellectual stimulation. Sometimes other forms of media are better at that than others… and sometimes I just want some mindless fun. When I’d like that mindless fun to have something distinct – if not something groundbreaking or even major within the game then at least something unique – is when I’d fire up a game like The Bureau and carve out a block of my Saturday. If I want something intelligent and affecting I’ll read The Snow Leopard… or I’ll play Kentucky Route Zero. But I don’t think at least one game about mindless shooting (and look, it even pays some lip service to tactical strategy!) is at all out of place in a franchise about shooting aliens.

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