Quick time events: are they a useful gaming mechanic or unnecessary pain?
Summer Video Games 2013: No Drought This Year
It’s summertime! Some start it earlier but finally for everyone now is the time for vacations, relaxation, pools, parties, and eternal 5 o’clock bliss. The bliss and happiness of summer doesn’t always translate well to the world of video games, however. We’ve all had to deal with some very lackluster seasons when it comes to summer video games. Each year we always say, “it won’t be the same again. We’ll get some good releases!” Yet, nine times out of ten that just isn’t the case.
Thankfully, this year we can safely say that we’re looking at a pretty healthy case of summer video games. While July is somewhat weaker than August and September, we do have two straight months of greatness lined up before the leaves start falling and the sun hides for an extra hour or so. August and September are filled with not only late vacations and “Back to School” sales but with a number of high profile releases.
This is a fairly weak month overall but that’s to be expected. July usually is a down month every year as we come off of E3 and let all of the news and speculation from that trickle down to a slight noise. Let’s look at the prominent releases first.
Dark – July 5th/9th – PC/360
Dark looks like a title that should be talked about some more. It may not do higher than some 8’s and mostly 7’s on the review scale but there is like zero information about this game. You play as a freshly turned Vampire and you have to search for the one who bit you before you turn into a mindless drone. Furthermore, you suffer from amnesia and along the way you uncover things about your life that make the turn into vampirism even harder for the main character, Eric Bane, to deal with. Dark will launch on PC first on July 5th and then the 360 four days later.
NCAA Football 14 – July 9th – 360/PS3
It doesn’t look like EA Sports is putting much effort into this year’s annual college football release. NCAA Football 14 has better presentation and refined gameplay but aside from that the new feature list is sparse. The main website even lists “play a season” as a main feature. Ouch.
Still, football fans will be football fans and NCAA will sell a boatload of copies as we lead up to the yearly Madden release.
Shin Megami Tensei IV – July 16th – 3DS
This game is being praised for its ability to let beginners to the franchise play without feeling a need to backtrack to other games to get the “full experience”. Shin Megami Tensei IV is a story about a middle ages samurai going on a quest to stop a book peddler from dealing out tomes that change people into demons in exchange for knowledge. The story uses many religious tones and lore as it takes you through a fantastical adventure through ancient and near-modern times. As with all Shin Megami games, expect this to take you through tons of swerves and plot twists as you head towards your “proposed” final goal. It’s never that easy in these games.
Shadowrun Returns – July 26th – PC/iOS/Droid
For fans of Shadowrun, like myself, and games that give you near full control on how to complete your quest then look no further than Shadowrun Returns. This title is a work of love from Jordan Weisman and is going to be a cyberpunk fan’s wet dream once it releases. The game reached nearly 1.9 million dollars over on Kickstarter and its story and characters will carry over into the upcoming Shadowrun Online MMO. There’s plenty to love if you’re a fan, it won’t be too difficult to get into if you aren’t, and you can’t beat the level of customization you will find in this title.
Other July releases:
- July 3rd:
- Limbo – iOS
- Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine – Mac
- Mortal Kombat – PC
- Napoleon: Total War – Mac
- July 9th:
- Civilization V: Brave New World – PC/Mac
- Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection – PS3
- July 11th:
- Toki Tori 2+ – PC/Mac
- July 16th:
- Dynasty Warriors 8 – 360/PS3
- Time and Eternity – PS3
- Turbo: Super Stunt Squad – Wii U/Wii/3DS/360/PS3/DS
- July 23rd:
- The Smurfs 2 – Wii U/Wii/3DS/360/PS3/DS
- July 31st:
- Rise of the Triad – PC
This is where things pick up as August is a huge month for gaming. There are a ton of releases including some heavy hitters. Each console gets some love in August, including the Wii U which has 5. That’s nice to see.
Pikmin 3 – August 4th – Wii U
This is a huge release for the Wii U as fans have been waiting a long time for another sequel to the crazy yet fun series. In Pikmin 3 you control up to 100 little creatures in a quest. You use the Pikmin to complete goals and in the latest release in the series the way you do so has become more complex. Instead of controlling just two types of Pikmin as you go on through the adventure, you can control three. That may sound trivial but when you factor in two new types of specialized Pikmin -rock and sky – added to the five types that are already known from previous games then the challenge becomes apparent.
Tales of Xillia – August 6th – PS3
It has taken two years but the record breaking Tales games is finally coming to territories outside of Japan. Tales of Xillia holds the theme of “RPG of Unwavering Convictions” and won many awards when it debuted in the Land of the Rising Sun. The game tells the tale of two characters finding out about a horrifying military project that threatens the safety of the world. The project involves spirits and a terrifying mission that will send the world into all-out war. It’s a story mixed with fantasy and sci-fi elements as half the world is dependent on spirits and mana and the other thriving on machinery and tech.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team – August 11th – 3DS
I have a soft spot for these games as I’ve always been a huge fan of Super Mario RPG. They aren’t exactly the same but they are the spiritual successors to a game that took so much of my childhood. The fourth addition to the Mario & Luigi saga sees the two heroes journeying through Luigi’s dream world to rescue Peach, who of course gets sucked in there and needs help. This woman… Anywho, the new game will feature plenty of touch-enabled puzzles where Mario and Luigi have to manipulate the dream world to get past obstacles.
Saints Row IV – August 20th – PC/360/PS3
Can any game get more ridiculous than Saints Row: The Third? Why, yes! The sequel, Saints Row IV, throws your main character into the role of President of the United States at a time when aliens begin an invasion.
Yep. That’s really all I need to say.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist – August 20th – PC/360/PS3/Wii U
Splinter Cell returns to form after a very different release in Conviction. Blacklist throws series protagonist Sam Fisher into a countdown battle against a terrorist cell looking to kill off key United States personnel. Sam is even deadlier in Blacklist thanks to the new Killing in Motion gameplay feature where you execute enemies in a quick fashion as you move from target to target.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – August 27th – PC/PS3
Square-Enix’s blunder turns magnificent as Final Fantasy XIV gets relaunched as A Realm Reborn. So much effort has been put into making this MMO highly polished, balanced, and a joy to play. This may be bold to say but A Realm Reborn is the true Final Fantasy game we’ve been waiting for since the mixed reaction to Final Fantasy XIII. There is plenty of fan service for series veterans and the game is very easy to get into if you’ve never played an MMO or even a Final Fantasy game before. Look out for this release as A Realm Reborn is sure to turn a few heads and be well received.
Madden NFL 25 – August 27th – 360/PS3
While EA Sports is about to lazily release a new college football game, they aren’t letting Madden’s 25th anniversary go to waste. Madden 25 features a brand new engine, completely redone running system, and a new online sharing feature to make official and player-made features easier to download and enjoy. This is the true next-gen football experience we’ve been waiting for since the announcement of the next gen consoles, but we’re getting it a year earlier. You can’t complain about that.
Other August releases:
- August 6th:
- Disney’s Planes – Wii U/Wii/3DS/DS
- Dragon’s Crown – PS3/Vita
- August 13th:
- Angry Birds Trilogy – Wii U/Wii
- Europa Universalis IV – PC/Mac/Linux
- August 15th:
- Payday 2 – PC/360/PS3
- August 18th:
- Disney Infinity – Wii U/Wii/PC/360/PS3/3DS
- August 20th:
- The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – PC/360/PS3
- August 27th:
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – PC
- Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F – PS3
- Killer is Dead – 360/PS3
- Lost Planet 3 – PC/360/PS3
- August 30th:
- War of the Overworld – PC/Mac/Linux
- Painkiller: Hell & Damnation – 360/PS3
- August TBA:
- SimCity – Mac
While not as jam packed as August, September brings with it a few high profile launches and a fitting end to the vacation months. As the kiddies head back to school and the young adults move back into their dorms, their consoles and computers will be filled with the final releases for the summer video games of 2013.
Diablo III – September 3rd – 360/PS3
The Lord of Terror returns to consoles as Diablo 3 comes to the 360 and PS3, and later on to the next gen systems. The console port brings with it many changes including a dodge system, enhanced loot and drop systems, and 4-player local off-line multiplayer. While the PC version will be getting enhanced loot, their drop tables will remain mostly the same due to the console port not have any auction houses at all – gold or real money. Loot will be easier to find but will also hold more value due to having to find other players that may have been lucky enough to find that rare set chest piece the old fashioned way.
Killzone: Mercenary – September 10th – Vita
The Vita gets a top tier shooter from the PlayStation’s premier, exclusive FPS franchise. Killzone: Mercenary looks to bring the best of the series to the handheld with all the pizzazz and detail players have come to expect from it. Aside from an epic story, Mercenary will also feature a ton of weapons designed to give players more options to complete missions. Mercenary also features an eight-against-eight online multiplayer mode with three different types of warfare across six, huge maps filled with objectives and open-world goodness.
Kingdom Heart 1.5 HD Remix – September 10th – PS3
What better way is there to celebrate the magic of Kingdom Hearts than by revitalizing the first entry and adding in some extra experiences? If you’re excited for Kingdom Hearts 3 but either don’t remember what happened, never played it, or just don’t understand a damn thing then take another stroll through the eyes of Sora in full HD. Not only is this Kingdom Hearts experience spruced up, it’s also the first time America will be getting the Final Mix version which includes extra content.
The Wonderful 101 – September 15th – Wii U
Think of this game as Viewtiful Joe mixed with Pikmin. The Wonderful 101 is something the developers are calling a “mass hero action game”. You control a huge allotment of heroes that can fight on their own or combine to create huge weaponry as you fight against an invading alien horde. The game also features 5-player local, off-line multiplayer.
Grand Theft Auto V – September 17th – 360/PS3
While titles like The Last of Us will push Rockstar’s latest for the Game of the Year award, there is no doubt that Grand Theft Auto V is the biggest release of 2013. This is the one title that just can’t be overshadowed by next gen system launches or a games that received over 30 perfect reviews. Every one is talking about Grand Theft Auto V and how Rockstar is pushing the boundary in terms of story, gameplay, and experience on the current gen consoles. While we all expect the world to be bigger and more detailed, the guns to be bigger, the story to be epic, and the characters to be more grandiose the one feature that has me excited is the ability to switch between all three characters at any given time while they live their lives even if you’re off playing someone else.
Other September releases:
- September 3rd:
- Rayman Legends – Wii U/360/PS3
- Total War: Rome 2 – PC
- September 10th:
- NHL 14 – 360/PS3
- Puppeteer – PS3
- Young Justice: Legacy – Wii U/PC/360/PS3/3DS
- September 17th:
- MechWarrior Online – PC
- September 18th:
- Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse – PC/Mac/Linux/iOS
- September 20th:
- Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 – PC/360/PS3/PSP
- September 24th:
- FIFA 14 – Wii/PC/360/PS2/PS3/PSP/Vita/3DS
- September 27th:
- Deadfall Adventures – PC/360