Every summer, Microsoft does a promotion for their Xbox Live Arcade series of games. It usually consists of 4 or more titles that can be purchased for download and if you get all of them, they'll kick you back a little bit of credit at the end of the summer. This years releases come with a higher cost than last years. Last years titles were $10.00 each, this year, the cost has gone up to $15.00. I'm not entirely sure every title deserves that price tag, but since it seems to be the new pricing model for all their arcade releases, I guess there won't be a choice. This summer I decided to splurge a little and I ended up picking up a few, which is what I've been playing lately.
Limbo, the first to be released, is a dark, mysterious puzzle platformer similar to last years summer hit, Braid. I've played roughly about an hour and my main reason for purchasing it was because of the art style. The game is dark with shades of grey. Everything is in shadow as your character a little boy in search of his missing sister must traverse this strange world by over coming monsters, traps and difficult puzzles. The game has no music only the sound of your character as he runs through the world encountering obstacles in his path. I was certain I had made the right decision when my poor little character was running through the dark world and met his untimely death by stepping on a bear trap. It was so sudden that I actually jumped off the couch. lol That was when I saw the only color in the game, a dark blood red that squirted as my characters head was lopped off when the trap closed. Pretty gruesome, but that is was so fantastic about this game. Its filled with moments of certain calm greeted by moments of sheer horror and death. The other great thing is that you death is pretty fast, gross and you start not far from where you die, so when you do die, and you will, you don't have to travel back through a large portion of the world to get to the spot of your previous death. Which is nice. Not sure it was worth the price of $15.00, but if it goes on sale, I would certainly pick it up.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane was my second purchase. It happens to be a remake of a classic arcade game that had been previous ported to the Dreamcast. I don't actually remember seeing it in the arcade back in the day, but I was busy playing Pinbot and Gauntlet II. This game is an arcade style racer, but instead of cars, karts or motorcycles, its speed boats. Each track, or water course, is different with it's own set of obstacles. The trick to posting the best time and winning is to capture boost along the course and to find the short cuts that will propel you ahead of your opponents.
This game has me hooked and not in a good way. Why? Because I love competition and one of the wonderful things about this arcade racer is that as you race you can see the completion times of people on your friend's list that have the game even if your not racing against them. Your not only competing to win the race, but in my case, I'm racing to beat my friend's times. I can't tell you how often I've restarted a race because I already knew 5 secs into the game that it wasn't going to be my best time and that to keep going would be a waste. The game is fun, addictive and looks fantastic. You really get the feel of being on the water in a speed boat. The music isn't the best, but it's not as annoying as it could be and that's a plus. In my opinion it's worth the cost of admission.
The last title I picked up was Monday Night Combat. This is the four summer arcade release. I will mention that the fourth release was Castlevania: Harmony of Despair which I didn't pick up because I'm not that big a fan of the series and I had been hearing reports that it wasn't worth $15.00, so I skipped it. Maybe if the price comes down, I'll grab it, but for now, lets talk about my third purchase.
Monday Night Combat is Team Fortress 2 created using the unreal engine with a twist. There are 6 different classes to play Support, Tank, Assassin, Sniper, Assault, and Gunner. Each one is different with different skills that are completely upgradeable by spending the cash acquired by killing your opponents and their bot army. The game play is pretty simple, defend your base. Currently there are a few issues like not being able to cue up for matches as a premade group. I could get into plenty of matches if I soloed but if I was in a Live Party that wanted to join as a group, getting people to pug in was an issue, so we ended up playing against each other in a private game. The maps are pretty limited. Not sure exactly how many maps there are because they pretty much all looked the same. I do hope this gets upgraded with some DLC in the future otherwise the community for this game will die a quick and horrible death. However, if your wanting to play Team Fortress 2 on the console and don't have it, this is an inexpensive alternative and although I'm not sure as of yet if its worth the price of admission, I do like the game a lot.