We love the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade. An annual event since 2008, it’s delivered some of the Xbox 360 console’s finest downloadable games including Braid, Limbo and Shadow Complex. More often than not, it delivers games to bother the AAA blockbusters at pocket-money prices, and shows Microsoft’s continued commitment to sourcing the very finest in indie and downloadable games for their console.
The Summer of Arcade 2012 looks set to be no different. Mixing familiar names like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in with brand new titles like Deadlight and Hybrid, it looks set to be another stellar line-up. And yet, there may still be a dud tucked away in there, so over the coming weeks we’re going to rate each of the games with a BUY IT, TRY IT orLEAVE IT verdict based on our play time with them to make sure you’re picking the very best available.
Keep in mind, if you grab any three of the games, you’ll instantly be credited 400 Microsoft Points to your Xbox Live account too.
As we’ve yet to get our hands on Hybrid or Dust: An Elysian Tail, we’ll be updating this post as we receive code to test them. Scroll down for our verdict on the Summer of Arcade 2012 games so far!
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD (July 18, 1200 MS Points)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD goes back to the skateboarding series’ roots, pulling together classic courses and racers from the first two games, and giving them a HD makeover. If you remember the first two Tony Hawk’s games you’ll be right at home here, racking up combo trick scores, finding hard-to-reach hidden secrets in each level and bopping along to 10 year old pop punk tunes. As an exercise in nostalgia it’s ace, and returning fans should definitely buy it. However, in the years since the original games’ launches, SK8TE has taken the skateboarding crown, offering a deeper, more rewarding system. While the gameplay behind this HD remake is showing its age slightly, we’re going to leave this one as a BUY IT nonetheless. We’ll bite our tongue over there being no split-screen multiplayer for now…
Wreckateer (July 25, 800 MS Points)
Wreckateer is a Kinect physics puzzler, playing a bit like Angry Birds set in a world similar to that of Fable. You’ll take command of a catapult, with the sole purpose of the game to take down castles run by goblins. For once, the Kinect controls work well, with precision not all that important to knocking down the fortress walls. You’ll still look like an idiot while playing though. In short bursts, it’s genuinely good fun though, and will be well suited to the little ‘uns in the family. It may be the cheapest on the list, but we’re going to have to knock this one down as a MISS IT.
Deadlight (August 1, 1200 MS Points)
Deadlight was our most hotly-anticipated Summer of Arcade title this year, and it doesn’t disappoint. A moody, side-scrolling zombie game, it takes its cues from the likes of Castlevania and Super Metroid, and is a genuinely fresh take on the zombie genre. It’s presented beautifully too, with a muted colour palette recalling the movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and comic book style cut-scences. Definitely BUY IT.
Hybrid (August 8, 1200 MS Points)
Jetpack deathmatches would be enough to pique the interest of any shooter fan, but Hybrid has more than just that single trick up its sleeve. A multiplayer-only sci-fi shooter, it uses a persistent faction system which sees you battling against other gamers around the world for control of the in-game universe. The third-person, floaty cover-based mechanics take some getting used to, but Hybrid has some truly unique features tucked inside it. It won’t convert the Modern Warfare masses, but open-minded gamers will certainly want to TRY IT.
Dust: An Elysian Tail (August 15, 1200 MS Points)
We love Dust: An Elysian Tail. A beautifully animated side-scrolling adventure, it mixes the best parts of the Castlevania and Metroid series’ penchant for exploration with visuals that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney movie. Throw in a fast-paced and surprisingly deep combat system and this long-awaited indie gem ticks all the boxes for a downloadable game, with the game lasting seven-odd hours even if you don’t hunt down all of its many secrets. We’d say definitely BUY IT.