Our heroic hero...sans narratorBastion (Xbox 360)
Give Microsoft some credit: during the slowest months of the year, they know how to
turn up the heat.
The company's 'Summer of Arcade' event, now four years running, has turned gaming's
sparsest season into a smorgasbord for fans of downloadable games. Last year
brought us Limbo. The year before, it was Shadow Complex, and in 2008 we were
treated to the delicious double shot of Braid and Castle Crashers.
This year? Though the 2011 Summer of Arcade just started with this week's release of
action/RPG Bastion, we're not sure it can get much better. Currently scoring a
terrific 88 at Metacritic, it's already on the shortlist of the best games released this year, period.
In Bastion, players wake up as a kid (named, appropriately enough, The Kid) in a world
decimated by a calamitous event (named, appropriately enough, The Calamity),
and set off to make things right. That means loads of action as they hack and
slash through enemies, but the real star is the game's dynamic narrator.
"Walk one path, and the narrator tells you why the Kid chose that way. Walk the other path, and the voice might foreshadow what lies at its end," explains Game Informer in a 93/100 review.
"You don't just want to complete that challenging mission or get that elusive piece
of gear for its own sake; you also want to hear what the narrator has to say
about it when you do," they say, calling the narration "excellently written and
To Wired, the narrator (played by newcomer Logan Cunningham) is the key to the whole
"Bastion's gruff narrator is the game," says reviewer Jason Schreier, who awarded it a 9/10. "His play-by-play turns what could have been just another hack-and-slash adventure into a haunting, poignant experience."
Of course, the game's also loaded with action. Players can unlock and upgrade a wealth of
weapons, then mix and match them to their heart's content.
"All the options you're given are an incredible mix, and that variety contributes to Bastion's
addictive appeal," Gamepro says in a glowing 5/5 review.
Critics seem to agree on a few flaws - most of which revolve around the somewhat esoteric story itself - but by and large, they're loving it ("a must-play," crows Game Informer). Looks like summer is starting off with a bang.
Captain America: Super Soldier (Xbox 360, PS3)
Bored with Thor? Think Green Lantern's too dim? Perhaps you'll find what
you're looking for in a superhero in Captain America. Tied loosely to the new
film, the video game lets you hurl Cap's famous shield at all sorts of bad
guys, but so far critics aren't exactly wowed by his powers. Might be best to
rent this hero.
Amelie's Café: Summer Time (Y!)
Summer isn't about shuffling back and forth from work - it's about finding a beach and sprawling out on it while someone brings you something tasty to sip on. This
tropical-themed time-management game lets you do just that - and by that, we
mean serve food and drinks to people sprawled out on the beach. Beats working
for a living.
Just Dance: Summer Party (Wii)
In case you hadn't noticed, it's summer. And Ubisoft hopes you're so happy about this that you plan on throwing a few dance parties, as that's the perfect environment for
their latest Just Dance game. It doesn't stray far from the formula, but when a
formula is this successful (Just Dance is the best-selling third-party series
on the Wii), you don't change your steps.
Luxor HD (Y!)
One of the biggest names in puzzle gaming gets the HD treatment, and
it's looking positively gorgeous. Fling marbles at other marbles to, well, stop
the marbles! With over 80 levels and 4 separate modes to enjoy, it's definitely
worth a look.
A lonesome boy tries to find his lost sister in this incredible downloadable game. Originally
released last year exclusively on the Xbox 360, it leaps to the PS3 this week,
and if you missed it, you need to fix that. Dark, moody graphics and
simple-but-smart gameplay make it a must-play.
Agency 2: The Banker's Wife (Y!)
Carter Burton is a wealthy banker, but he just lost his most valuable
asset: his wife. It's up to you to track her down - and get to the bottom of
the family's curious secrets - in this hidden-object whodunit.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel (Xbox 360, PS3)
Old Western shooter Call of Juarez returns this week, except it's no longer an Old Western shooter. Instead, players will help a trio of undercover agents disband a modern day
drug cartel wreaking havoc on the States. Though it boasts some innovative
modes, critics are thus far underwhelmed.