In what has become a yearly event, Microsoft’s “Summer of Arcade” livened up the slow season with a series of high profile, not-so-bite sized releases. Last year had the incomparable Bastion, and the tongue twisting Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, while 2010 saw the release of popular arena brawler, Monday Night Combat, and moody platformer Limbo. As great as those summers were, both years had their share of duds, such as the forgettable Hydro Thunder Hurricane, and the borderline broken Fruit Ninja Kinect. How do the 2012 titles stack up in comparison? Let’s take a look.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD
More akin to a remix, then a rerelease, Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD, is an amalgamation of the first four Tony Hawk games into one package. Along with the best levels, skaters, music, and gameplay elements from the early games, some new features, and an HD coat of paint have made this arcade title a steal at 1200 MS points. Despite some new game types, Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD is basically the same game from 1999, and if you weren’t a fan then, you won’t be now. However, if you feel the tingle of nostalgia drawing you closer, you won’t be disappointed.
Verdict – 8/10
Do you love your Kinect? Me neither, but Microsoft is still trying to give you something to do with it. Wreckateer can best be described as 3D Angry Birds with motion controls. Using the Kinect, players must guide a series of catapult projectiles into a series of castles, with the goal of bringing them down. The motion controls are wonky, and the game, while pretty, feels uninspired throughout. Skip it.
Verdict – 4/10
Deadlight has the most in common with 2009 XBLA title Shadow Complex, in that they are both 2D platformers. However, while the latter focused more on action and combat, the former discourages fighting in favor of puzzle solving. Taking place in an alternate 1986, where a zombie outbreak has toppled society, Deadlight has players guide survivor Randall Wayne through the ruins of Seattle while he searches for his family. Deadlight’s gameplay is tight, and the story is well told, but it’s fairly short, and ultimately forgettable.
Verdict – 7/10
Hybrid is a game for people who liked Gears of War’s multiplayer, but hates walking. Hybrid is a multiplayer only third person shooter, where players exclusively fight from cover to cover. Each player can create, and level up a series of characters, and have them fight in a persistent online war. The raw multiplayer features in this game are expansive, but the gameplay itself is incredibly boring.
Verdict – 6/10
Dust: An Elysian Tale
What makes Dust: An Elysian Tale so great also makes it very hard to describe. It takes the greatest elements of modern 2D design, and mixes it all together in a charming yet sophisticated package. Is it a Metroidvania style platformer? A side-scrolling beat-em up? A Tales style RPG? It is all of these things and more. Gorgeous cell shaded graphics, tight controls and near-perfect design make Dust a must play.
Stay tuned for the full reviews of Deadlight, and Dust: An Elysian Tale.