Bring me your tired, your sick, your unappreciated games and I’ll tell you which ones should have gotten more attention and play time. This week’s list is dedicated to FPS gaming’s red-headed step-children. You know the games you probably never played because someone told you the game sucked and we all seem to be striving to have a hive mind, controlled and steered by reviewers and critics. So work on freeing yourselves from the Borg collective while chewing on this food for thought. (It’s more like intellectual popcorn, but who doesn’t like junk food… and hypocrisy.)

5. Bulletstorm
Grayson Hunt, much like Duke Nukem, got a bad shake from critics. I’ll be the first to admit that I purchased Bulletstorm for one reason and one reason only: Gears of War 3 beta access. I came for the Gears 3 beta but I stayed for the off-color humor and the engaging multiplayer. The single player campaign wasn’t too shabby and had some really funny dialogue sequences but suffered from some pacing issues. The fact that the only multiplayer offering was co-op was an initial turn off. However, several beers and a few hours later, I was having a blast and laughing hysterically whenever someone shouted out the name of the skill shot we needed to do. For example, we needed a “Double Penetration”, which requires two or more players to simultaneously shoot an enemy, but I had to reload and the guy that initiated the combo with me shot the guy in his posterior which ended up giving us a “Rear Entry” and gave me an opening to make jokes questioning his sexuality and manhood.

4. Duke Nukem Forever
Critics duked Mr. Nukem prison style. I even read a review where poor Duke got slammed for its irreverence and disregard for political correctness. To make matters worse, the reviewer claimed to be a man. Duke Nukem Forever isn’t without its problems and shortcomings but slamming the game for its irreverence and misogyny is like slamming a cow for making milk. Did these alleged men think that Duke Nukem Forever was going to be redone in a trendy, hipster fashion for the iGeneration? Sure, slapping boobs on a wall is sophomoric and immature but man is it hilarious. I’ve seen tons of posts online from people claiming that Duke’s humor is for “eleven year-olds”. I’m a father of three who is well past the age of eleven and I still laugh when people fart. Duke Nukem Forever is worth playing for the laughs. Who goes to summer blockbusters and gets mad because they were all flash and little substance? Have some perspective, don’t take yourself or the game too seriously, and you’ll enjoy Duke Nukem Forever.

3. Shadowrun
What happens when you take Counter-Strike and mix it with Elves, Trolls, Dwarves, magic, and tech gear? You get a game with some really interesting gameplay that not many people played. It doesn’t take a lot of looking around the internet to see the general malaise that’s spread in relation to the rash of carbon copy games we’ve been seeing recently. One of the most popular FPS franchises is basically the same game every year with a new coat of paint. The reason that we’re being inundated with this biblical flood of sameness is because we’ve become a gaming nation of neophobes who run away from anything that deviates from the norm. Shadowrun brought new dynamic gameplay in spades. It even had cross-platform play. Who doesn’t like the idea of putting the old mouse and keyboard vs. controller argument to the ultimate test? Maybe it’s unfair to say that people turned their noses up at this game just because it deviated from the norm. Shadowrun was a beloved RPG franchise and many fans were insulted that the game was developed as a multiplayer only FPS. It was an awesome game and you missed out if you didn’t play it during its hay-day.

2. Planetside
Planetside is one of those games that holds a special place in the hearts of those who spent any significant length of time with it while remaining almost completely unknown to most FPS enthusiasts. I spent quite a bit of time with the game, running with the guys from Immortal Sovereigns. We sided with, you guessed it, the Vanu Sovereignty. At times we coordinated assaults and tried to mount tactical offenses but the majority of our time was spent drinking beers and spirits via satellite, telling jokes, and just doing random things in the game. Planetside was at its best when your faction’s staging area was packed and multiple hotspots were up and almost full. I always got excited when we had multiple squads in a skirmish. Planetside had it all: infantry combat, ground vehicle combat, air vehicle combat, stealth, hacking, and big hulking robots that completely threw the game out of balance and turned many people away. Big hulking robots aside, Planetside had a lot to offer and if you missed the train, Planetside 2 should be leaving the station in the near future.

1. Brink
I went into Brink remembering how poorly Enemy Territories: Quake Wars was received. I enjoyed Quake Wars and I enjoy Brink. There are so many things to like about Brink and many people didn’t even give the game a fair shake before jumping on the internet bandwagon to slam the game. Some people didn’t even bother to play the game before weighing in on how horrible it is. That’s a new trend that can’t die fast enough, but I digress. When you get right down to it, Brink plays a lot like Shadowrun: body types affect your movement speed and overall health, your weapons and gadgets load outs fine tune the roll you want to fill on your team. The stylized art not only looks good but also gives Brink a unique style and feel. Brink didn’t have the smoothest release but the team responsible for the game is offering the first DLC pack, which looks to be pretty substantial, for free to make up for it. Like its other red-headed step-brethren, Brink is not without its flaws but is definitely worth trying out.

So here we are, sifting through the wretched refuse of our teeming shore. Some of you may agree but I’m sure that most of you don’t. This is the internet after all, and where would we be without the virtual gnashing of teeth and butting of heads? So I stand ready to defend these games as Lady Liberty stands watch over New York Harbor. Someone needs to defend these downtrodden games from the disease of sameness that’s spreading across the gaming landscape. Where’s Falkor when you need him?