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*SPOILERS* I will usually include a section at the end that may contain spoilers. If you don't want to know, don't read that part.

My opinion is not yours, nor should yours be mine. If you want to know for yourself, do for yourself. If you disagree, that's fine - you can make one of these for yourself for free.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spots in the Ink - XBL Summer of Arcade '11

So that time of year has come and gone again, the time when XBox Live strips away our free time with weekly releases of their biggest titles. As with last year's event, there were some games before and after the main push that are worth mentioning, plus the official "S-o-A" titles. I'm going to give a quick rundown of all of them, then talk about what I played.

Outland - Purchased, 75% Done

Trenched - Purchased, Beaten

Ms. Splosion Man - Purchased, 5% Done

*Bastion - Purchased, 75% done

*From Dust - Purchased, Beaten

*Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet - Purchased by Bama, No Personal Progress

*Fruit Ninja Kinect - Not Purchased

*Toy Soldiers: Cold War - Purchased, 50% Done

Crimson Alliance - Not Released, Purchase Status: Unlikely

Renegade Ops - Not Released, Purchase Status: Certain

The ones with a * are the official titles, and if you bought all of them, you get Crimson Alliance for free. It's not a bad deal, since Fruit Ninja was only 800 and CA will be 1200. But I much preferred last year's method: the more of them you bought, the more points you got as a reward after it was over. I didn't enjoy feeling like I was being railroaded into buying a game for an accessory I don't own yet. Anyways, let's talk about the games!

Outland - From the ever-inspiring minds at Ubisoft, Outland is like a mix of Metroid and Ikaruga. You travel a huge map, gaining new abilities to access new areas, and there is a light/dark mechanic used for combat and puzzles. The controls are solid, the gameplay is easy to get into, and the art style is stylistically pitch-perfect.

Trenched - Those boys over at Double-Fine have done it again, men! Trenched is a mech-builder / tower defense game with some of the best theming I have ever encountered. The four-player co-op is a must, and there's enough unlocks that my regiment played all the way through it at least four times. DLC better be coming down the pipes!

Ms. Splosion Man - Twisted Pixel really delivered on this one. What could have been a palette-swap rehash turned out to be a genuine sequel: the puzzles are more complex, there are genuine new mechanics, and the game has a difficulty curve that almost demands having played the first one. If you need any more incentive, just try to skip a checkpoint and endure "The Curse."

Bastion - The nostalgia factor pulled me into this one before I even stood a chance. Rendered in beautiful 2D and with a camera angle reminiscent of FF: Tactics, if the music and art don't get you, the narrator will. On top of all that production value, the game plays solidly, and there are way more side-quests, collectibles, and other replay-value factors than I expected.

From Dust - Ubisoft may have signed some kind of questionable soul pact to put out this many good things. This was by far my favorite single-player arcade experience this summer. A "god game," the mechanic of moving elements to reshape the world has amazing results. Plus, beating the game unlocks a free-play map where you literally shape the very world before you.

I.T.S.P. - Metroid meets Limbo meets Asteroids, this one I didn't pick up, but watched Bama play, and played some of the co-op with her. The game looks like immense fun, if you like the whole "huge map where new abilities = new areas unlocked" formula. The co-op has up to four of you running from a giant beast, and the rounds we played were the perfect mix of intense fun.

Fruit Ninja Kinect - This gets old on my phone, and I don't see how waving my arms around would change that. I had a Wii, and the sword parts of Wii Sports Resort were all I'll ever need of this kind of gameplay. Like having to pay for Angry Birds on Windows Phone 7, this one just confuses me.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War - I love Toy Soldiers. I bought every DLC if for no other reason than to give Signal Studios more money. And it payed off. A tower-defense formula at heart, the new game requires you to get adept at using the turrets, but the payoff is much bigger: plastic-melting, package-ripping, point-of-articulation snapping barrages. The co-op is a great addition, and the new challenges, commendations, and mini games are icing on the cake. I wanted a war, I got a war!

Crimson Alliance - A four-player co-op dungeon crawler, I'd have been more interested in this if Dungeon Siege III hadn't come out earlier this summer. I'm sure I'll play the demo, but this is low on my list.

Renegade Ops - Pulling on the nostalgia heartstrings once again, this is an aerial-perspective vehicular shoot-'em-up straight out of my childhood memories. If the upgrades, explosions, attack choppers, and four-player co-op weren't enough, the trailer shows your team speeding along a giant bridge that is collapsing behind you.

So there you have it, my take on the past few months of XBLA. I know I missed a few, the biggest being W.H.40K: Kill Team and D&D: Daggerdale. But I hope this list helps the next time you got some spare points burning a hole in your virtual wallet.


Bryant Burnette said...

Say, what're ya hearing about this game "Rage" that's coming out at some point soon? A character was playing it on a recent episode of "Breaking Bad," and it looked pretty cool.

God, I'm so out of touch with games...

Xann Black said...

We're all buying it. Go to GameTrailers and watch some developer's diaries on it, and I think you'll know why.