The summer months are always a stark, deserted landscape of new video games releases as game developers assume that everyone will be outside soaking up the sun. While that may have been the case last week, this week sees the return of the clouds and the rain, so us game players end up returning the sanctuary of our video games. But with not much on the horizon over the next month or so, now sees a good time look back over the year so far and check out the top games you should be playing and might've missed, and the top games that you should avoid like the plague.
5. THE WALKING DEAD
While this won't be everyone's cup of tea, as it really resembles more of an interactive story than a video game in the definition we might be accustomed to, it's also a perfectly realised tie-in to that super successful TV series, while capturing the comic-book look of the graphic novel it's all based on. The fact that you dictate the actions, consequences and life and death of nearly every character only makes you even more emotionally involved than most other games could dream of.
4. STEALTH INC.: A CLONE IN THE DARK
A truly addictive 2D platform puzzler that borrows heavily from the likes of Portal and Metal Gear Solid, Stealth Inc. stands out from the crowd thanks to its massively addictive gameplay, very subversive sense of humour and that joyous feeling you get when you finally beat a level that has had you stumped for hours on end, standing up and screaming "I'M A GENIUS!" before sitting down and getting stuck on the next level for hours on end.
3. TOMB RAIDER
The Uncharted series borrowed heavily from Tomb Raider, so it's only right that when the time came for Lara to be rebooted, she borrow heavily from Drake. Telling the story of how our favorite archaeologist (sorry Indy!) came to be the double gun toting, back-flipping superhero we all know her as, this game is gritty, violent and incredibly fun.
2. BIOSHOCK: INFINITE
A more expansive sequel than Bioshock 2 was, Infinite takes us out of the underwater failed city of Rapture and places us in the still working but quite troubling city of Columbia, a city above the clouds. Racism and murder are rife, and it's up to you to find a young girl with unique powers that could potentially change the course of history. One of the most visually unique and thematically huge games ever made.
1. THE LAST OF US
It's going to take something special for this not to be the best game of the year come December, given its just about the best game ever for the PlayStation 3. Set in a post-apocalyptic world were a virus has killed most of humanity, you travel across several US states with a young accomplice with the possibility of finding a cure. The story is so involving, the game is so engrossing, at times action packed but most of the time tense to the point of your spine snapping in half... If you haven't played this yet, do yourself a favour and rectify that right now!
5. REMEMBER ME
There are other games that are technically worse than this game that should probably be on this list, but Remember Me deserves its place here for not living up to its massive potential. An in-game feature allows you to delve into other people's memories and remix them however you like, but unfortunately this is only used four times over the course of the game, the rest of the time spent with dull platforming and confusing fist fights.
Marvel's funniest, edgiest and most self-aware character is dropped into a game that is not funny, not edgy and seemingly unaware of how dreary it all is. The character work itself is pretty solid, but the game is a mish-mash of badly controlled brawls and very poorly designed gun fights, broken up with pointless mini-games and dreadful platforming. Even the good dialogue gets weary after you've heard the same one-liner for the 1,000th time.
3. FAST & FURIOUS: SHOWDOWN
A cash-in if there were ever a cash-in, this was released to coincide with this summer's Fast & Furious 6, but looking at the very basic graphics and even more basic gameplay, it wouldn't surprise us if this was actually the tie-in game for Tokyo Drift. Racing games are difficult to get right, as there needs to be something special to make them stand out from the rest of the genre. Showdown's only defining feature is just how badly it handles, like a shopping cart with a mind of it's own.
2. STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME
This SHOULD have been good, having got the thumbs up from movie director JJ Abrams, and the cast all show up to do voice work and have their faces put mapped in and placed on the bodies of the characters you'll be controlling. However, the story is beyond abysmal, the shooting is like trying to aim for a piece of a straw in a hurricane, and the game is liable to just glitch out and have you run into a wall for no reason, forcing you to reboot the game without warning. But even this doesn't have the title for both Worst Game AND Most Disappointing Game of the year so far...
1. ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES
Movie producers 20th Century Fox allowed it to happen, even going so far as the events of this game would now be accepted as part of the Alien mythology. Some of the original movie's actors came back to do voice work. The trailers were all phenomenal. But Christ on a pogo stick, was this game TERRIBLE! Late 90's graphics, enemies that either stand still or run directly into your line of fire, no real atmosphere to speak of, even the story was confusing and retroactively infuriating, (SPOILER!) as Hicks – who you'll remember survived Aliens but was promptly killed off at the start of Alien 3 – shows up and explains away his death by saying "Oh no, that was some other guy." What? WHAT??
Just ...... no.