The plasma rifle isn't crappy.
It's one of the better weapons to dual weild with. Dual plasma rifles will take down a VIP's overshields in a heartbeat. I've used that "noob" combo countless times on Sownbound VIP.
Ever tried the SMG, plasma rifle combo? It is the best dual-wield combo in the game (aside from the SMG + plasma pistol...but that's just noob).
The plasma rifle roxorz, man.