Most modern gamers recognize AAA science fiction franchises like Titanfall and Mass Effect, but what about cult classics like Vanquish or Syndicate? Odds are, probably not.
With so many new titles coming out every month, it can be hard to sort through the noise and figure out which video games are actually worth playing. This is especially true for beloved older games, as each passing year makes once-revolutionary titles seem noticeably less flashy.
Unless you have endless money and free time, there are probably a few underrated sci-fi games that fell below your radar. Luckily, many of the best sci-fi titles stand the test of time, and are still fun to play years after their original release.
Vanquish fuses the cover-based, third-person shooter action of Gears of War with the unbridled speed of Sonic the Hedgehog, and tops it off with a dash of Max Payne's slow-motion bullet time. Couple that with a roaring soundtrack and an extremely cool space colony setting and you've got a recipe for one of the best sci-fi adventures ever made.
Unfortunately, Vanquish had a couple things working against it. In the late 2000s, the market was flooded with generically titled shooters, so it was hard for consumers to distinguish a gem from the pack. Even though its content is above average, when Vanquish is placed next to titles like Fracture, Singularity, and The Conduit, everything starts to run together.
On top of that, Vanquish launched on October 19, 2010, the same day as Fallout: New Vegas. Even though the games received near-identical review scores, the public flocked to the title that was bolstered by brand recognition, and Vanquish failed to crack the top 10 spots on the UK game sales charts the week it was released.
While many critics were in love with the 2017 Prey reboot, the game is generally considered a commercial failure (the head of Akrane Studios resigned just after its release). While Prey may not have sold enough copies to merit a sequel, it's still an amazingly engaging experience, assuming you're willing to put in the required time.
Prey stands tall as a gorgeous throwback to atmospheric masterpieces like Bioshock and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. After Morgan Yu awakens on a space station that's overrun with alien parasites, they have to figure out what went wrong, and decide whether escaping is worth potentially bringing the creatures back to Earth.
Compared to most of 2017's best releases, Prey is amazingly difficult. Players are given free-reign over the space station, which means it's possible to skip important story lines by killing major characters, or destroy all your equipment, effectively breaking the game.
However, these risks make Prey feel extremely dynamic, as situations can routinely be solved by thinking outside the box. When placed in the right hands, tools like the GLOO canon make it possible to circumvent some of the game's most difficult encounters, as it's almost always possible to climb up to the station's rafters to avoid combat.
Featuring gruesome, third-person action that gives Gears of War a run for its money, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine hits hard and offers no apologies.
The game is all about carving through billions of tiny green orcs, a gimmick that manages to feel fresh throughout the 10+ hour single player campaign. It's an exceptionally fun time worthy of any action-oriented player's attention, even if they've never previously cared about the Warhammer franchise.
For whatever reason, it took decades to create a quality Transformers game. The concept seems ripe for adaptation, but dozens of titles came and went without making much of a splash. While issues varied from game to game, a common complaint was that the titles never made players feel like real Transformers.
That all changed with 2010's Transformers: War for Cybertron. The game offers two massive co-op campaigns, a robust horde mode, and competitive multiplayer with deep systems to master. It plays like an arcade racer, a flight simulator, and a third-person shooter all wrapped up into one tight package.
Most importantly, War for Cybertron finally got the transformations right. Characters change in real time, and it's exceedingly gratifying to watch an Autobot go from tearing up enemies on the street to providing cover fire as a jet plane.