Ah September – ‘Silly Season’ as we like to say in the industry has well and truly begun. It’s not quite as bad as what October and November will bring, but it’s still a fair indication as to how much emphasis the game’s industry puts on the months leading up to winter. It’s a shame really – there’s plenty of weeks in summer that get no attention whatsoever, but as of yet our favourite hobby has yet to man up and take on the movie industry as far as releases go.
This month was a tough one to call – there were a lot of games out, and a lot of what would technically constitute as ‘good’ games, but we had to draw the line somewhere. Bar one, all of the games in this month shortlist received an overall score of ‘9’ or higher. That’s not to say that the others aren’t as good – there are some personal favourites of mine that I would have loved to include, but it’s simple to play by the numbers. So, without further ado, here’s the September six:
Joe Danger 2: The Movie (Xbox 360, Playstation 3)
Our favourite Hollywood stuntman is back, and this time his racing is going to be as dangerous as ever. A racing/platform with a lot of spunk, it has similar gameplay to the original (being “kind of a sequel”, and all) but will take place on the set of a film about the daredevil; players will complete objectives unique to each level set by a "mysterious director". More stunts, more explosions, more Joe Danger, essentially. As Jennifer Allen puts it:
"Bundled together and it's clear why Joe Danger: The Movie is such a great purchase. There's the disappointment of no online multiplayer again, yes, but even amongst the occasional frustration and swear words as you try for yet another attempt at completing a level, you'll be keen to see what else is on offer here."
Torchlight II (PC)
The Diablo-like game that everyone forgave for being like Diablo, Torchlight II has impressed a lot of gamers for its compelling gameplay, and the fact that it can be played offline (hur hur) and for actually succeeding to exist in Diablo III’s shadow. The first one merely scratched, but Runic made sure they upped their game for the sequel to give a bigger and better experience. Still doesn’t really have much of a story mind, as Chris Capel can tell you:
"Torchlight II is addictive, imagination-fuelled goodness. It never gets boring and its “just five more minutes” value is second to none. It may not have an engaging story but I don’t think anyone twatting a zombie pirate called ‘One-Eyed Willy’ with a giant wrench will miss it. At its price point there’s almost an absurd amount of value for money here, even before you take the co-op and huge randomised levels that change every time you play it into account. Let me finish with the two big questions: do you like Action RPGs? Buy it. Is it better than Diablo III? No, but it’s cheaper, you can play it offline, it has pets and more imagination, and there’s no sodding chat window that you can’t turn off. For many people, that’ll be enough."
Double Dragon Neon (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
I’ll be honest, when I first saw this game it just seemed a lot like a really naff Street Fighter, but newcomer Spanner Spencer apparently thinks otherwise. A reboot of the Double Dragon series, Neon tries as much to emulate the old '80s beat-em-up games whilst sneaking in modern gameplay design where possible. Also, a very liberal use of the word ‘Bro’. Our review says more:
"Double Dragon Neon is evidence. Evidence that my misplaced obsession with a classic coin-op wasn’t misplaced after all. It’s proof for those who weren’t there – or weren’t even born – who believe themselves gaming experts because they remember when the first Deus Ex game came out. It’s a return to gaming ancestry that confirms the retro gamer’s assertion that it actually was better "back then." And, finally, gaming is good once again. See you in 25 years for the Double Dragon 50th anniversary? In the meantime, I’m not playing anything else. There’s no need."
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (PC)
No we get to the good stuff – whilst I personally reviewed (and loathed, but in a good way) the console version, we had someone else look at the PC edition. Basically, it’s the still the Dark Souls game that hates you to your very core, but with a wad of new content including new bosses and enemies, equipment, NPC’s etc… that will be released as a separate DLC but PC buyers get for free. Kyri Patarou had this to say about it:
"You are a gnat that after many squashings will fell giants. Dark Souls twists the typical power fantasy that many videogames operate by and actually makes it constructive. Through hard work and perseverance can you break from insignificance and make a mark on a world that wants nothing more than to stamp you into dust. Underneath the port inadequacies is a masterful piece of design; intricate and drenched in woe. Dark Souls is infuriating, but well worth the investment in time and shattered patience. There’s only one way to know for sure, and that’s to experience Dark Souls for yourself."
Guild Wars 2 (PC)
The long -awaited Guild Wars 2 finally graced our desktops to much fanfare and celebration, and boy did it live up to expectations. Attempting to break tried and tired MMO conventions, it brought players back to the world of Tyria in spectacular fashion with the dynamic quests, the interesting classes and epic PvP. But don’t take my word for it… take Manny Brown’s instead:
"In reality, Guild Wars 2 will likely only get better in the coming weeks and months whilst players settle in, features mature and the long-term content plans reveal themselves. It’s not often you can say that about any MMO in this day and age, and even if this is one of the final death rattles for the template we’ve come to know and love over the past decade or more, what a hell of a way it would be to say goodbye. Guild Wars 2 is a fast, slick and beautiful community-driven MMO experience featuring all the content and mechanics you’d expect from a game with a monthly fee, and a good deal more besides. With that in mind, I cannot recommend it enough."
Borderlands 2 (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Even to Gearbox, Borderlands 2 was a pleasant surprise – thanks to the unexpected popularity the first game got, the team were able to take all of that Firefly-esque craziness and make another game. And boy, what a game – with all the guns in the games industry ever, fun co-op gameplay, and a great ensemble cast full of, well, nutjobs, it’s definitely something that will keep you entertained. Here’s what I said in my review:
"Say what you want about the original Borderlands, it sold enough to bring us another one – for the most part the second game has fixed or improved the things about the original game that let it down. Beyond that though, this is one funny, entertaining game that should hopefully provide you with plenty of entertainment over the coming weeks, especially with DLC already planned and on the way. Alone it can be a bit grindy (you could say that about a lot of games mind) but even if you just have one friend to play it with, you’ll find your money well spent. Just don’t try taking on Terramorphous by yourself. Seriously. Don’t do it."
And the winner is….
No one. Seriously, I’m not picking a winner this month. Too much to choose, too many reasons to pick one over another. What I will do though is give special mentions to some of the other games that also deserve a mention: War of the Roses, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, I Am Alive (PC), and Pro Evolution Soccer 2013.
Stay tuned for next month, as you know shizz be getting real.