The Infamous Summer Drought – unless you’re a PC gamer who has recently obtained StarCraft 2, you should have noticed that there haven’t been many new releases lately. It’s odd, but it’s also an annual occurrence, once E3 dies down, the talk of new games goes down significantly and there’s very little ‘main’ titles being released. I like to call this time of the year – The Catch-up Months. As there is no better time to backtrack on the classics this year has already provided for us. It’s been a fantastic year for games and expect a whole platoon of titles to be awakened in the winter season, in the meantime though, let’s reflect upon the cream of the crop that’s been growing since January. Here’s the 10 games you should aim to get before the summer sets (all of which are brilliant), there’s at least a game for each format and probably enough to keep you busy ‘til next year. Admittedly I should have done this last month, but we need something to get us through August, eh? In other words, here’s your ‘to-do list’ to keep your fingers nimble in preparation for the next wave of big hitters.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
It’s rare event when Nintendo release something genuinely amazing for this generation due to their technical disadvantage, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 is proof that shows Nintendo still knows how it’s done. It’s a masterpiece. Retaining the traits that built up its legendary predecessor, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a magnificently designed, beautifully polished and extraordinarily varied adventure, which makes spending all those hours getting the 242 stars absolutely astonishing and a complete joy. Trust me, even when you own every single star, there’s still part of you that wants to do it all over again. Simply put, if you only ever buy one Wii game for the rest of your life, please, oh please, make sure it’s this one.
Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360, PC)
There wasn’t any delay this year with the sequel to the epic Mass Effect as most ‘faithful’ 360 owners blasted through this back in January. That’s not to say it’s not worth a mention however, Mass Effect 2 is regarded as being extremely engrossing and superior to the original in almost every way. It’s a perfect excuse to buy a 360 or upgrade your PC, with almost faultless dialogue and characters, stunning visuals and tons of content, Mass Effect 2 is without a doubt one of this year’s finest games.
Red Dead Redemption (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Last week I did an article on neglecting Red Dead Redemption and ever since then I’ve been constantly playing it. It’s incredibly immerse and really brings the Wild West to life. A shining example of not only the videogame potential of the setting, but also to an open-world in general, it’s almost organic in the sense that it feels like a living, breathing area. Unfortunately a few bugs and glitches spoil it, but apart from that, there’s not really much more Red Dead Redemption can do; a beautifully structured sandbox containing a whole host of single player and multiplayer features. Ideally, if you want to get tied to a game this summer, there’s little better than Rockstar’s western sensation, I implore you.
StarCraft II : Wings of Liberty (PC)
As I may have illustrated in my opening paragraph, I’m not much of a PC gamer and didn’t hear about StarCraft II until recently, for a good reason as well. Once again, expanding upon what made the original a classic, StarCraft II seems to have nailed its genre for a second time and as a result of this it’s the fastest selling strategy game, well, ever. While it may have somewhat spoiled the “summer drought” theme I was going for here, I can’t finish the list without mentioning Blizzard’s newest phenomenon. Another timeless classic.
God of War Trilogy (PlayStation 3)
Like the people who rebel against him, Kratos’ journeys are usually pretty short-lived, so it’s somewhat hard to recommend God of War III alone to keep you busy for the remainder of the summer. However, that’s not say the whole trilogy can’t get my kudos. All of the God of War games are bloody good and are among some of the best exclusives the PlayStation 3 offers, their quality is extremely consistent, therefore it would be a shame to not experience the entire trilogy in its HD glory. Of course, the taste of blood is pretty similar three times round, but it’s also much sweeter if you enjoyed it originally.
Super Street Fighter IV (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Regardless of the fact that most Street Fighter fans would have got this on day one (despite whoring the primary version), I believe Super Street Fighter IV should get some recognition for being absolutely kickass. Personally, I don’t like the concept of traditional fighters, although even I have to admire the raw ambition this game processes. There’s so much content and so much to learn, it’s a game that truly requires real dedication and skill. Sure, the learning curve is a steep and painful climb, but each step of the way is infinitely rewarding. Anyone could quite easily just pass Super Street Fighter IV as just another fighter, but they’d be missing out on a game you could probably spend years practising, perfecting and enjoying.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PlayStation Portable)
It’s been said that this iteration of Metal Gear Solid is like a console game put onto a handheld, which is a mind-blowing concept. When there’s such astonishing graphics for a handheld though, 6 player online and a single player campaign that’s co-op enabled as well, it’s hard to question too. One of the main reasons to still own a PSP and another fantastic Metal Gear title, masterful stuff once again Kojima.
Bayonetta (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
One of this year’s hidden gems, Bayonetta follows up the directional talent of Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe creator) and it doesn’t half show. This game grabs the rulebook, sets it on fire and then makes art with the ashes. Bayonetta is more or less just a love letter to the people who like something completely mental and that’s exactly why it’s so brilliant. Its ‘over the top’ cut scenes and lush sense of style make it a pleasure to play through. There’s really nothing like it and it’s difficult to summarise how brilliant it actually is; from every reference to a videogame to every shot to the face with a gun-mounted boot, Bayonetta is just plain awesome and no matter what you think of it, the game will always leave an everlasting impression.
BioShock 2 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC)
Although it’s arguably weaker than its 2007 classic, BioShock 2 is still a great game. Some may say it’s an unnecessary sequel to one of the most inspirational, unique and wonderful games of this generation, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth visiting Rapture for a second time. With generally refined elements of gameplay from the original and even a multiplayer online mode, BioShock 2 stands tall despite its flaws and at the very least, it’s damn cool playing as a Big Daddy.
Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver (DS)
I must admit, HeartGold & SoulSilver was my last grab into the Pokémon straw box, but it was also one of the best. It’s packed to the brim of features and additions, so much so that despite the fact I’ve grown rather bored of its formulaic nature, I still managed to clock up 50 hours playtime. Honestly, there’s a massive amount of depth and potential hidden with such a small game cartridge, it’s uncanny. My Pokémon training days maybe be over, but I couldn’t be happier about how I ended it – playing a remake of (in my opinion), the best versions in the series.
Anyway, I best wrap up now (both the article and Red Dead Redemption). Of course, there are several more games that deserve to be on the list and some shorter classics like Limbo, but you can’t please everyone. I’m interested to hear your thoughts though, what games have you been playing over the summer? What games would you add to the list/recommend? Have you even noticed a lack of game releases recently?