Microsoft has revealed this week's selection of Xbox Live deals, both in terms of gold-exclusive discounts and free-for-all XBLA savings. Some seriously big Microsoft Studios-published titles are on offer, including the Gears Of War and Halo series, but XBLA brings the real bargains. From Battleblock Theater and Charlie Murder to Iron Brigade and Wreckateer, expect to pay somewhere between £3.29 and sixty-seven pence.
We've got all the marketplace links below, courtesy of Major Nelson, but I'd like to give due credit to thinreaper and Eelectrical @ HUKD, who posted about the deals earlier today.
Xbox Live Gold Member Deals:
XBLA (open to all):
Games On Demand (open to all):
Xbox Live's Games With Gold initiative was a great idea. Giving Xbox Live gold members free games every month as part of their subscription provides a welcome extra perk, but now that PlayStation Plus has levelled the playing field, the service finds itself at the sharp end of many a criticism. However, we reckon that Microsoft might be missing a fairly obvious trick, at least in terms of what games to give us.
No, I'm not talking about big blockbusters. Games with Gold definitely needs more in the way of juicy triple-A titles to give Sony's service a run for its money, but Microsoft already knows it. We already know it. Considering that making a huge pricey game free to download and keep forever requires an enormous amount of financial finagling behind the scenes, it'll be interesting to see how Microsoft goes about their unenviable task, but there's not much point retreating old ground.
Instead, I'd like to point out another interesting use for Games With Gold, and a potential new avenue for the service to tap into alongside its big hitters. Namely: underrated XBLA games with dead or dying multiplayer communities.Click here to read more...
George Osborne's latest budget closes off a key tax loophole that Steam exploits to provide cheaper games.Click here to read more...
Developer: Double Helix Games
Strider is the best game that Double Helix have ever made.
The bar was admittedly scraping along the ground, since their mediocre past form includes the likes of Battleship, Front Mission Evolved and that shocking Green Lantern tie-in. But be in no doubt: their suitably challenging and respectful remake of Capcom's classic slice & dice platformer is very good indeed, and worthy to bear the name. As soon as master assassin Hiryu goofily cartwheels over a crowd of robotic rifleman, flips off a wall and carves his first foe into tiny pieces, its pedigree is unmistakeable.
When Strider is content to be a faithful reboot, it's really rather brilliant. Having arrived in the sprawling city of Kazakh to murder its evil 'Grandmaster' and bring peace to the world with ultraviolence, Hiryu is as spry and blisteringly fast as we remember, barrelling through the corridors in a blur of precisely-aimed steel and perfectly-timed wall jumps. Packing a climbing sickle that can scale any surface, robotic combat enhancements and even a teleporter, he's a force to be reckoned with, but the Grandmaster's robot army and mercenary henchmen will give him a retro-tough run for his money.Click here to read more...
About time too. After the exceptional first episode of The Wolf Among Us left us with a truly shocking cliffhanger, Telltale left us hanging for three months. Three months I've spent gnawing on my newsdesk and clawing at my hair in closure-less anguish. Three months that I've spent desperately pining for any new info while daydreaming of foulmouthed cockney frogs.
Thankfully Telltale are finally ready to release Episode 2 - entitled 'Smoke & Mirrors' - next week, presumably Wednesday and Thursday across multiple platforms. Since the PC version can only be bought as a season pass, we're keen to see if Telltale can keep the quality up. Expect subplots to thicken, more revelations, plenty of raw violence and about a thousand more unanswered questions.
In case you didn't know, The Wolf Among Us brings classic Fairy Tales into a gritty and complex 80s setting, and does so majestically. Be sure to read our spoiler-free 9/10 review for our verdict.
Platform: Xbox One (£11.99)
Developer: Press Play
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood may look like a throwaway kids' platformer at first glance, but it plays like a colourful gameplay hybrid of Trine and Limbo.
After our improbably-coiffured hero banishes his annoying brother to an evil realm with a spell he found on the internet (one weird trick to cast your sibling into another plane of existence?), Max sets forth to save Felix from the evil Mustachio and save a bizarre world in the process. A Saturday morning setup to be sure, but the puzzle gameplay is surprisingly serious business.
Things start out simple, easing players into the extremely basic moveset. Max can waddle at a slow jog, jump over small obstacles and drag objects around, much like the Limbo lad, but is otherwise completely defenceless. A couple of nicely choreographed chase scenes set the tone nicely, before introducing Max to his magic marker, the only object he's thought to bring with him from the real world. As a sort-of-sequel to unappreciated WiiWare puzzler Max & The Magic Marker, Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood uses his Sharpie to twist reality in some excellent brainteasers.
Well, it is a magic marker, after all.
Click here to read more...
If you're an Xbox Live Gold member, you can now pick up Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon on Xbox Live Arcade. It's ridiculous, bombastic and thoroughly nostalgic in all the right ways - and you'll save twice as much as you'll pay.
Ubisoft aren't messing about with this week's XBLA sale, which will last until next Tuesday. We're talking about some seriously big deals on seriously big games here, such as snagging Call Of Juarez: Gunslinger for less than £2.50 or Ghost Recon: Future Soldier for a fiver.
Special mention also needs to go to Scott Pilgrim vs The World, which is one of the only truly great film tie-ins ever made. Final Fight fans should buy it, love it and play it in local co-op for the full effect. Here's the list of links and prices:
When fate closes a door, it opens a window. Specifically in that the PS4's PlayStation Plus freebie lineup has lost its token racing game, to be replaced by a innovative puzzle-platformer from Focus Home Interactive. This, we feel, is a change for the better.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Behold, some new screenshots, which I've compared to DriveClub directly along with some useful commentary.Click here to read more...
If you're an Xbox Live Gold Member, you can now pick up some seriously awesome games at seriously cheap prices. See what I did there? Yeeeah.
But don't let my awful attempts at Tuesday morning humour put you off from getting involved, seeing as you can get Serious Sam 3 or Double D XXL for £1.68. Also Castlestorm, which was surprisingly good fun. Links to the marketplace and our reviews below - but not before giving due credit and thanks heatlight @ HUKD, who posted these deals long before we did.
Microsoft has revealed the next two games to be featured in the Xbox 360 'Games With Gold' programme. From today, Halo 3 and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes will be replaced with A World Of Kelflings and Iron Brigade - one of which is a charming avatar game while the other is a Double Fine-developed tower defence mech 'em up. I'll let you guess which is which.
I personally like the fact that Microsoft are featuring slightly niche XBLA games that a lot of people probably haven't tried, but they probably ought to be offered alongside something meatier. What do you make of the November update?
Platforms: PSN | XBLA (£6.75, reviewed)
Developer: Kung Fu Factory
Girl Fight was never going to be a good game. The clue's in the name. It's called Girl Fight.
Yes, this tragic throwback subscribes to the 'if you can't make it good, make it sexy' philosophy of game design, existing solely as an excuse for an array of scantily-clad "sexy fighters" to touch each other for our titillation like a tawdry downloadable peep show. Just pop in the £6.75, roll back the curtain and watch some "fierce femme fatales" duke it out before unlocking some mucky pictures for your trouble. The formula worked so well for BMX XXX and Dead Or Alive: Paradise, after all.
No, wait, the other thing. Most gamers are savvy enough to spot opportunistic exploitation when they see it, and Girl Fight immediately fell off the radar when it launched last month. Having been asked to critique Girl Fight by Microprose, I can report that this lack of excitement and interest is thoroughly deserved.
Click here to read more...
The Walking Dead: Episode 1 | XBLA | £0.00
The first episode of Telltale's excellent adventure is now free to play on Xbox Live Arcade worldwide and the US PlayStation Network [CORRECTION: as stan2 rightly reminds us in the comments, it has been free on the EU PSN for some time]. If you haven't tried it yet, this might be the excuse you need.
Thanks and credit to oioisaveloy @ HUKD!
Platforms: PC (reviewed, £14.99) | PSN & XBLA versions incoming
Developer: CI Games
Publisher: CI Games
We love games that push the boundaries of this interactive art form, that challenge our preconceptions of what the medium can deliver. We gorge ourselves on experimental, radical new experiences that tug at our heartstrings, that teach us about new perspectives and even ourselves. However, every once in a while, we also love shooting aliens in the face while listening to rock music.
This simple pleasure has been all but washed away by a tide of zombies and dubstep, but here comes a new challenger. Alien Rage promised little more than an army of ravening aliens, an arsenal of massive guns and plenty of grinding metal to enjoy while combining boomstick A with enemy cloaca B. Frankly, we couldn't have been more excited about this self-styled "oldschool" proposition, even though City Interactive's past form can be charitably described as inconsistent.
Unfortunately the trailers lied and Alien Rage fails a full half of its remit right off the bat. For the vast majority of the game, you'll barely hear the plaintive cry of a guitar beneath a monotony of generic strings, synth and brass that could have been lifted from the bottom of Jason Graves' wastepaper basket. So everything rests, then, on whether it lets us shoot aliens in the face.
Well it does, and it's beautiful to boot, but the new-school music is just the first in a long list of compromises.Click here to read more...
Xbox Live Gold members will be able to freely download and play Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes as the next 'Games With Gold' title, Microsoft confirmed yesterday. The promotion will run throughout the first two weeks of October, and will be well worth a look if you haven't tried it out yet.
We heaped praise upon the "lengthy and enjoyable puzzle game" in our 8/10 review.
Alien Rage promises to be a proper old-school FPS romp: just you, an army of aliens and a massive selection of outrageous boomsticks to slaughter them with. It's out tomorrow on Steam, so to prepare you for battle, CI Games have deployed an appropriately raunchy launch trailer.
I'm always up for a bit of circle-strafing bunny-hopping metal-fuelled action, so hopefully Alien Rage can deliver the goods.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS3 | PS4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier (internal team)
Games tend to shy away from World War One as a potential setting, and it's easy to see why. The miserable, hopeless carnage of trench warfare simply can't equate to fun or entertainment in a traditional sense without totally trivialising the conflict, instead only allowing niche titles to explore it in any meaningful way.
So it's refreshing to see a small Ubisoft Montpellier team approaching The Great War from an entirely new perspective, a 2D puzzle adventure that focuses not on the battles, but on the people, teasing out the humanity behind it. Valiant Hearts is very much a labour of love for its 15-strong studio, drawing on real letters from the front lines that never made it home for inspiration, and real events and photographs to anchor players in the setting. Throughout its ten-to-twelve hours, you'll experience the reality of World War One through the eyes of five diverse characters on both sides of the trenches, whose stories ultimately conspire to bring two lovers together. Thanks, in no small part, to a heroic dog.
"We take you from 1914 to 1918," director Adrian Lacey told us during a recent preview event in Paris, "and basically these five protagonists intertwine as they go through their journey. The foundation of the story is to bring Karl [a German soldier] and Marie back together, it's a love story, and it's how all the perspectives of each character goes within that story. Their perspective of the war, why they're in the war."
Click here to read more...
Though Geometry Wars is now owned by Activision, Microsoft is still apparently toying with the idea of getting the influential twin-stick shooter and XBLA pioneer onto Xbox One.Click here to read more...
I'd almost forgotten what overdriven guitars sound like, what with all the dubstep infesting our videos these days. Thankfully Alien Rage is here to put things right, offering plenty of generic videogame metal accompanying footage of shooting aliens in the face (or extraterrestrial equivalent).Click here to read more...