The summer months are usually the time of year when all is quiet in the gaming world, and the only really exciting moments we get are from E3, which merely gives us a glimpse of games we won’t have the pleasure of playing until the fall. This year has already proven itself to be different, with appearances by some of the biggest names in gaming, such as GTA IV and Mario Kart Wii. But just as the temperature outdoors is beginning to rise, the line up of great games is simply getting warmed up, as publishers are learning that like blockbuster season at the movies, there’s money to be made in the summer. There are still plenty of games to spend the upcoming months indoors with, including more returning franchises, so join us as we preview what looks to be the best summer in this history of videogames.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Release Date: June 12
GTA IV may have provided a good sales boost for Sony’s PS3, but the latest Metal Gear is the true system seller that the company has been waiting for. In what is said to be the final game in the series, (yeah right) players will enjoy new features, such as an octocamo suit that blends into any surface it touches, greater camera control and revamped close quarters combat. The game will also come with a starter kit for Metal Gear Online made for 16 player sneak fests that will continue to be updated and expanded via the PlayStation Network. All of you MGS fans that were holding out on a PS3 will on June 12, officially have no excuse.
Systems: Xbox 360
Release Date August: 19
Developer Silicon Knights may have been taking their sweet time with getting Too Human out the door, but the title finally has a date with gamers, and the extreme amount of hype from the community is probably enough to warrant a summer release. Mixing ancient Norse mythology with futuristic cybernetics, Too Human is the action RPG that might make longtime Diablo fans consider purchasing a 360. Featuring item collection, in depth character and weapon customization, as well was online cooperative play, Too Human has all the intricate tooling that role playing fans enjoy, but also enough combat to satisfy action gamers.
Saints Row 2
Systems: PS3/Xbox 360
Release Date: August 26
The summer of 2008 is full of free roaming fun, and Saints Row 2 has us excited for the sequel to the game that stood out as a well bread copycat of the GTA series. The game will contain enough customization to delay actual gameplay for some time, with deeper character and vehicle options that even lets you choose how your gangsta holds his, or her, piece. The city of Stillwater is now 150 % larger, and you’ll need to make use of all the new aerial and sea vehicles to explore it either alone, or with a friend in cooperative play. The only question is that in light of GTA IV’s recent release will comparisons and criticism be more easily drawn at the familiar gameplay?
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
Systems: PS3/Xbox 360
Release Date: August 31
It may be yet another free roamer, but Mercenaries 2 has earned itself a certificate of originality by dropping players into a Venezuelan warzone ripe for business rather than another criminal urban environment. Along with the expected gratuitous destruction and new ability to scorch lovely rainforest foliage, Mercenaries 2 will contain a new hijacking system that makes you work harder for those stolen tanks and helicopters. Players will also get a chance to be their own boss by running a recruitment centre for mercs of varying abilities or even call in the services of a human friend with jump in cooperative play. Remember kids, being a mercenary isn’t about money, it’s about a s**load of money!
Release Date: May 20
We’re sure the irony of a game whose title implies an aggregative environment, which has amassed so much confusion isn’t lost on anyone, as Haze’s shifting status as an exclusive title has been so drawn out and perturbing that it’s made us want to watch coverage of the US presidential race instead. What is crystal clear is that Sony needs more shooters to show you don’t need a pair of offset thumbsticks to enjoy FPS action, and Haze’s use of high adrenaline gameplay, infused by the strength and vision enhancing nectar is getting us all juiced up. With four player online co op, and 16 player multiplayer that includes the sinister drug that’s supposed to make warfare “fun” for the soldiers in it, Haze is looking like one fully loaded first person shooter that is a welcome addition to the summer line up.
Release Date: May 19
Regardless of the change in weather, there’s no need to go outside if you’re looking to get some exercise. As reported, Wii Fit won’t lie to you about your image, and should make for an interesting fitness routine for anybody with muscle workouts and aerobic exercises, as well as some mini games utilizing the balance board such as ski jumping and head butting soccer balls. Perhaps it’s better for Wii Fit to come out in the summer months so you can get that beach body back, along with the fact that it probably wouldn’t make such a flattering Christmas gift to a wife or girlfriend. As a side note, remember NOT to be honest like Wii Fit when it comes to weight issues, as it may not be able to feel physical pain but you can.
Ninja Gaiden 2
Systems: Xbox 360
Release Date: June 3
While Wii Fit may whip you into shape, Ninja Gaiden will just straight up whip your ass with its intense action driven gameplay. Fortunately things are a little more forgiving this time around for all you ninja dogs that broke a few controllers trying to play the last game, as four difficulty levels will be present including a regenerative health system. You’ll also get to inflict pain on others as the game contains enough gore to call the previous title tame and provides plenty of new weaponry and ninpo attacks to cleave your enemies in two. Ninja Gaiden, despite only having one other original Xbox title, has an infamous legacy for its hardcore nature, and it’s great to see such a title get unleashed into the open arms of fans well before fall.
Soul Calibur IV
Systems: PS3/Xbox 360
Release Date: July 29
SC IV is showing that the fighting game genre is still alive and kicking, punching, throwing and whatnot and will be making its way back into the hands of both Xbox and PlayStation gamers this summer. Character customization is back, along with new additions including a critical finishing system called Soul Gauge, which will allow players to weaken or potentially kill an opponent with one hit, changing up the series’ balance of gameplay. The best part is that players will be able to take these new features online, a first for the Soul Calibur series. If that wasn’t enough, Star Wars characters Darth Vader and Yoda will make an appearance to settle an argument that only the internet could create, can a lightsaber best the Soul Edge?
Alone in the Dark
Systems: Xbox 360, Wii,PS2 (note: PS3 version delayed to fall)
Release Date: June 24
Get ready to close those blinds and shut out the sunshine as it’s nearly time to get absorbed in the terrifying fifth installment of the Alone in the Dark series. The upcoming title looks to be the best in the franchise yet, with its unique episodic approach to Edward Camby’s incursion into the mysteriously paranormal Central Park of Manhattan. The team at Eden Games is preparing a very interactive world where any flammable object can be ignited, allowing players to light your way through the creepy recesses of the park and fulfilling any pyromaniac’s most combustible fantasies. Throw in an inventory system that has you literally looking in your pockets, and Alone in the Dark has enough interesting gameplay features, let alone a great setting, to make us far too impatient for Santa’s own delivery.
Battlefield: Bad Company
Systems: PS3/Xbox 360
Release Date: June 23
Bad Company’s image may have been a little tarnished by some poor marketing decisions in the past, but we still can’t help our excitement for DICE’s first real foray into console game development. In a 180 degree shift in focus, DICE has created a single player campaign riddled with as much humor as free form destruction and Bad Company is heading into interesting new territory. But you don’t have to worry about DICE forgetting their roots, as the game includes online multiplayer for up to 24 players, which contains all the destructible functionality found in the single player game. Bad Company should make for the large scale multiplayer shooter that this generation of systems has been waiting for, and the first Battlefield experience on consoles that doesn’t carry the stale taste of a half assed port.
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway
Systems: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: August
With Infinity Ward moving onto modern day warfare, the people at Gearbox have been promoted to the position of general over the WWII shooter market, and they seem to be living up to their new rank with the latest BIA title. The game follows the 101st Airborne’s entry into the Netherlands during the ill fated operation known as Market Garden, so get ready for a story of tragedy as Gearbox is already referring to Hell’s Highway as the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Brothers in Arms saga. The tactical gameplay has been expanded, with the addition of a third fire team to control, and each time you do pull off a brilliant strategic headshot or grenade kill the game will switch over to a cinematic slow motion camera. But don’t expect a Matrix version of the war, as all of the realistic AI and weapon sound effects are back, helping us overlook revisiting such a popular setting when no other game has brought us so emotionally close to it.