6 Perfectly Average Games You Should Still Play
In an industry which seems to accept nothing less than a near perfect score on its Metacritic rating, there’s a lot to be said for games that don’t exactly break the mould; those that simply are what they are.
It’s these kind of perfectly average games that act as snacks in between main meals, a neat little experience to chew on as you wait for the next big thing to come along. They themselves might have once been vaunted as the best thing since sliced bread, but when they actually arrived, they were more like croutons: great little distractions to tide you over. I feel like that metaphor got away from me there as I am technically still on Christmas break and have food on the brain, but I’m sure you get what I mean.
In no particular order, here are five games that aren’t going to change your life, but still have plenty to offer and interest you for many hours. Bear in mind that average does not mean bad: they’re just solid, decent games that won’t blow anyone’s mind, i.e. perfectly average.
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1. Just Cause 3
It performs like a jittery donkey in a theater full of Scottish football fans on consoles, but once you can look past that and appreciate the lovely escapism of attaching mines to cows, Just Cause 3 will win you over.
Once again taking control Rico Rodriguez but this time in his birthplace of Medici as a civil war erupts, JC3 has a plot (of sorts), but it’s really just an excuse to kill a bunch of bad eggs and do a lot of badass things. It doesn’t do much better than its predecessor and really feels more like Just Cause 2.5 than a fully fledged sequel, but Avalanche’s explode ’em up still has its moments. It’s weirdly cathartic, too: turn your brain off and zip around a sparse open-world whenever life gets too much.
2. Mad Max
Another effort from Avalanche that has plenty of merits but certainly won’t go down as a classic, their adaptation of the Mad Max license is an open-world adventurer that will suit lovers of lush landscapes down to the ground. Just like Just Cause, Max’s playground is often empty, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Stick with the hours upon hours of grinding and collecting items to help you collect more items and Mad Max becomes a bit of a rough gem. The combat system is lifted (poorly) out of the Arkham series, Max is unlikeable as a character, and repetition might set in all too quickly, but if you dip in and out of it over a long time, the game very quietly comes to life.
Nobody, no matter how fond they were of it, ever thought that the original Homefront was a Call of Duty killer or Halo beater. Both of those franchises and, indeed, many others, have done a lot better in the FPS realm over the last decade and yet, Homefront is still a charmingly competent little shooter that might slowly but surely creep its way into your heart.
If you’re tired of the current-gen’s FPS offerings, take it back a few years and try Homefront. It’s the very definition of average and I can’t help but love it. Just don’t mention The Revolution and my heart will remain intact.
Lacking almost anything to fall in love with, whether that be an interesting storyline or any form of captivating gameplay, Thief may be a slog too far for some, though anyone looking for a stealth actioner which ticks plenty of boxes cannot go wrong.
Thief came and went in the blink of an eye without as much as a shrug from the gaming public. I’m not saying that it deserved much better than what it got, but it still has a hard to place something that kept me going for more hours than I realised. It was almost made for lists like these.
5. The Swindle
Utterly unbalanced and infuriatingly finicky, The Swindle‘s concept is infinitely better than its end product. Set in a Steampunk world, you must pull off heists and rob the rich to eventually make your way to its final mission within the 100 day time limit.
After toiling and cursing my way through it for almost a dozen hours, The Swindle served as a refresher during one of the most congested release schedules in gaming history. It’s impressive in small doses, though it’s likely to make you break out in hives due to how unfair it can seem at times. Absolutely worth a look, but don’t say I didn’t warn you – this game might break you if you go all in too quickly.
Zombies are cool, right? What do you mean they’re overdone and now possess about as much menace as peckish koala bears? Here, look: zombies in London. That one’s wearing a bearskin hat!
Originally released and subsequently doomed as ZombiU on the Wii U, Zombi made its way to other platforms last year and scratched an itch for plenty of people. Sure, it lacked the mayhem of the Dead Rising series and the RPG-lite elements of State of Decay, but Zombi served a purpose.
Without the gamepad, it lost some of its charm, so why recommend it away from its “native” console? Because the Wii U is dead and talking about it makes me very sad.