10 games you need to play this summer
Don't bank on the summer sunshine continuing until autumn. The rains will come, and you'll be glad you stocked up on these gaming essentials...
£40, Xbox 360
The first Crackdown was a blast, but Crackdown 2 takes things to a whole new level by incorporating four player co-op into the main campaign. That means you can team up with a trio of like-minded Xbox Live users to take on this free-roamer’s missions and huge, Godzilla-esque enemies. Equally enjoyable is ignoring the missions and messing about: the game’s Pacific City setting is essentially just a huge playground for you to get lost in, smash stuff up in and, in the case of its huge skyscrapers, climb up and throw your friends off the top of. Have fun!
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Mario is back in the sequel to one of the very finest games to ever grace the Wii. SMG2 builds on the original with incredible level design and some of the best visuals and audio we’ve ever experienced on Nintendo’s console. Well, it’s Mario, innit? Wii owners seeking AAA titles have often felt a bit let down by the console’s offerings in the past, but this is one of a handful of truly brilliant games that ever Wii user should own.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
This completely brilliant indie game (developed by a team of just four) puts you in the flame retardant suit of the titular stuntman, then asks you to ride his bike through a series of Trials HD-style side-scrolling tracks, making progress through an addictive process of trial and error – you mess up, swear loudly, then instantly hit the button to start again, remembering to ease up on the throttle on that ramp this time. But there’s more to it than simply negotiating tracks: you can complete extra objectives, which are required for unlocking new courses.
An arcade-style scrolling shooter that has been available on the Xbox 360 Live Marketplace for a while, Espgaluda II is a frenetic bullet-fest of epic proportions that simply sees you (or a spaceship piloted by you) travel vertically up the screen dodging enemy laser bolts and blowing everything you can away with your own. Different game modes and characters help keep things fresh.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
The PSP might be a little short on top notch games, but this is one exclusive it can be proud of: another outing for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’s Big Boss character (he’s Solid Snake’s clone father, yeah?), it features the potent mix of sneaking, shooting and storytelling that has made the MGS series
Red Dead Redemption
£40, PS3/Xbox 360
Grand Theft Auto in the Old West? That’s pretty much the deal with Red Dead Redemption, which puts you in the dusty stetson of reformed outlaw John Marston as he hunts down the members of his old gang. Free-roaming abounds, with lots of cowboy-related fun to be had: shootin’; huntin’; lassoin’; breakin’ horses and much, much more. And it all looks so darned purdy. A shoo-in for several game of the year awards, we reckon.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
A Japanese RPG that may initially prove a touch baffling for the Western gamer – despite apparently being designed with us gaijin in mind – Dragon Quest IX lets you design and name your own characters and then take them through a linear but compelling story, developing them and unearthing new features as you do so. The ability to enter a fairytale world where you can right wrongs on the morning commute is pretty handy: it distracts you from the snoring nappers and BO sufferers, at least.
Dragon Quest IX
£35 Wii (due September 1)
This bizarre series – part surgery simulator, part hospital-set soap opera – suits the Wii perfectly, and it’s hard to imagine playing Trauma Team on a PS3 or Xbox 360. Guiding a series of characters through various tricky surgical procedures and a number of twist-laden, interwoven plots, the Wii’s motion controls are put to good effect. And we can’t think of many other games that let you perform an endoscopy.
A hugely more-ish puzzler which sees you tasked with guiding a ball through 100 hazard-laden 3D environments. Sounds simple, right? Well, there’s also a lot of weird gravity effects that allow (and require) you to rejig your concept of up and down, as you roll the ball onto the underside of structures. It’s wonderful, brain-mangling stuff.
Angry Birds HD
You can buy Angry Birds on the iPhone and iPod touch for just 59p, so upping the price tag to almost £3 for slightly crisper visuals seems a bit of a swizz. However, the game’s utter addictiveness cannot be denied, and the simplicity of the concept – you shoot a variety of malevolent birds out of a slingshot in order smash green pig enemies over a series of puzzle-like levels – means you’ll almost certainly get more than your money’s worth out of the game.