Cure for the Summertime Blues
Summer is the unofficial off-season of gaming. Most publishers are busy putting the finishing touches on their big fall releases, while gamers are presumably spending more time enjoying the sun. The end result of this behavior is a dearth of new releases. The last new game I played was Max Payne 3, which was released in May, and presumably won’t touch another new title until Borderlands 2 in September.
Though we may be going through a new release drought, that doesn’t mean we need to take a break from meaningful gaming experiences. It’s a time to play through games that have been sitting on the shelf for ages. An opportunity to purchase titles of interest that have been heavily discounted. This also could be the right occasion to try something outside of your comfort zone in hopes of discovering something cool.
By expanding my horizons in previous summers, I’ve discovered some awesome games that I would have missed otherwise, such as Vanquish, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and de Blob. So far this summer, I’ve worked through a dozen backlog titles, and plan on taking a few more off of the queue before the avalanche of AAA releases hit store shelves.
One of the standout games from my current backlog is Bulletstorm. Making great use of its whip-and-kick gameplay mechanics, this arcade-style first person shooter is a wickedly fun alternative to the glut of military-based shooters in the marketplace. To my surprise, its story was more interesting, and sophisticated than its ‘dick tits’ marketing campaign would have you believe. Though its single player campaign is relatively short, and its multiplayer suite won’t hold your attention for long, it’s easy to justify a purchase when most retailers are now selling it for dirt cheap. If you’ve got a weekend to spare, reserve it for some quality Bulletstorm time.
Another title that has worked its way into my rotation is Trine 2. Though I’ve heard good things about it in the past, it went overlooked until it went on sale. What I found was a charming puzzle platformer with a gorgeous 3D art style that takes me back to the first time I laid eyes on Donkey Kong Country. With the addition of local, and online co-op – a feature absent from the original – this is well worth checking out, whether it’s on sale or not.
While the previous two titles are relatively safe picks, the slower summer season is the most opportune time to gamble on games of interest that didn’t garner the critical acclaim of a AAA release. Asura’s Wrath, Capcom’s cinematic-heavy approach to the God of War formula, is my most recent stab at finding a diamond in the rough. While its emphasis on cutscenes over gameplay will rub some the wrong way, you may miss out on one of the most interesting attempts at interactive anime yet. In particular, kudos are in order for its bombastic Quick Time Events, in which obliterating a Galactus-sized boss with one haymaker punch to his index finger is on the lower end of absurdity. This isn’t a title I can wholeheartedly recommend to everyone, but if you find the act of battling on the moon against an opponent wielding a sword long enough to skewer a planet appealing, Asura’s Wrath could be worth a look.
Even though the new release calendar is as dry as this season’s weather, I’ve managed to stay busy by exploring a backlog of older titles. If the current trickle of new games isn’t doing it for you, now’s a great time to do the same. The aforementioned titles are a good starting point, though the possibilities are endless. What do you plan on doing with your gaming time for the remainder of the summer?