Summary: Summer may be a traditionally slow season for games, but JCal digs around and finds some gems slated for release during the sun months.
However, the period between June 1 and the end of August isn’t completely barren for gamers, and we here at FiringSquad are looking forward to a number of upcoming titles in the next three months. Here are our picks for our 10 most anticipated games of summer along with a list of honorable mentions. Without further ado here are our top 10 picks, in order of their anticipated release date (please note that release dates for these games in this article could change)
Hitman: Blood Money (June 1): The summer season starts out with a bang with developer Io Interactive and publisher Eidos release this latest game in the long running spy action game series that in the past has even had some sci-fi elements. While previous games in the series have been mostly on foreign soil this time the mysterious, bald and bar coded Agent 47 is heading state side in this new game to investigate the assassinations of a number of his fellow hitmen from his organization. In addition to all the shooting, sneaking and garroting, Agent 47 now can use cash (the Blood Money of the title) to upgrade his weapons and accomplish other tasks.. There are also new ways of engineering “accidents” that will take out your enemies. You know … “accidents” … Look for this game on the PC, PS2, Xbox and Xbox 360.
Half-Life 2: Episode 1: (June 1) In 2004, Valve took a big leap of faith by providing their first person shooter sequel Half-Life 2 via both retail stores and on their Steam Internet content delivery service. Now everyone is getting in on the digital distribution bandwagon, so now Valve is doing something else that’s somewhat different, an episodic continuation of their best selling game. Details about the plot are still secretive but we do know that it takes place immediately following the events of Half-Life 2 and that Valve is promising a richer gameplay experience than the first game, even if it will only between four and six hours in gameplay length. Like Half-Life 2, Episode 1 will be available via Steam and in retail stores, and Valve will also provide developers commentary inside the game. Cool.
Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War: (June 12) Midway releases its first PC only game in quite a long time with this latest entry in the historical RTS game genre. This title has had just a little bit of drama in its development since the original dev team, Stainless Steel Studios, shut down last fall in the middle of making the game (the circumstances surrounding the shutdown have yet to be detailed). Instead of canceling Rise and Fall, Midway formed their own internal team to finish the game off. Set during the early days of human civilization, Rise and Fall has you controlling the fates of ancient empires like Rome, Greece and Egypt and Persia. You can control whole armies and even historical figures like Alexander the Great, Achilles, and Cleopatra (no you can’t control her that way … pervs), and it even has support for naval battles as well.
Titan Quest: (June 26) First time developer Iron Lore finally releases their long awaited first PC game via publisher THQ on this date. This fantasy action-RPG has some Greek and Roman mythology as its basis and that means you get to tackle the big boys and girls of those pantheons like Cyclops, Medusa and more. The already released demo gives you an idea of what to expect and Iron Lore is promising full mod making support for Titan Quest as well.
Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Warlords: (July 3). Gee, this PC expansion pack shouldn’t do well at all. I mean, it’s only adds to one of the best selling PC games of 2005 with developer Firaxis putting in new civilizations, leaders and units. There’s even a new warlord unit that’s supposed to be very powerful for use in the expansion’s six new scenarios. Nope there is no reason at all why the millions of fans for this turn based strategy franchise should spend their money on this game.
Prey: (July 10) Perhaps the most anticipated game of the summer, this first person shooter has certainly taken a while to get completed. 3D Realms took a stab at making the game just after Duke Nukem 3D in the mid 1990s but cancelled the project, only to have it be revived by developer Human Head Studios with 3D Realms’ blessing and assistance. The storyline has you taking control of a Cherokee Native American who finds himself being abducted by aliens with hostile intentions towards the Earth. They apparently didn’t count on your character to mess up their plans. This game uses the Doom 3 engine in some new and cool ways, including warping to different locations via portals, running on walls and the ceiling and some wild looking organic locations. Oh and the bad guys are huge….really. This game shows up on the PC and Xbox 360.
Dungeon Siege 2: Broken World (August 1): Developer Gas Powered Games says “Goodbye” to former publisher Microsoft and “Howdy” to new publisher 2K Games with this expansion pack to 2005’s best selling PC fantasy action-RPG sequel. The expansion takes over directly from the end of the Microsoft publisher Dungeon Siege II, adding two new character classes, over 40 new monsters, an all new campaign and lots of other new additions and improvements. At the least, we can pretty much guarantee that this expansion will be 100 times more entertaining than the upcoming Uwe Boll Dungeon Siege movie.
Dead Rising: (August 8) Capcom is a master at zombie action games with the BioHazard/Resident Evil series. However those games usually have just a few zombies to fight off at any one time. How about when you have to deal with hundreds of them at once? That’s the premise of Dead Rising, the Xbox 360 exclusive title that has your character fighting off hordes of the undead in a shopping mall (a not so subtle nod to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead movie and its recent remake). This game not only looks great thanks to the dev team really using the Xbox 360 hardware features, it also plays great in the couple of times we have gotten a hands-on peek at press events. You can pick up almost anything you can see in the shopping mall to take out the zombies . . . yes, even that teddy bear that you made yourself. There’s nothing cuter than flinging a stuffed animal at creatures who want to eat you.
Saint’s Row: (August 29) Developer Volition and publisher THQ make it down to the wire for the summer season with this Xbox 360 exclusive title. The latest in the open world action game genre, Saint’s Row takes place in the fictional town of Stillwater where the developers are promising a true non-linear gameplay experience where you have to rise up from a small time gang member to the leader of Stillwater’s streets. Having seen live demos of the game first hand, we can tell you that the graphics put previous open world games like the GTA series, True Crime and The Godfather to shame and there will also be multiplayer support in Saint’s Row as well, something that has been oddly lacking from most games in this genre.
Of course there are other games coming out in the next three months. Here are some other titles that didn’t quite make our top 10 list but that you might be interested in anyway:
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories PS2: (June 5) Rockstar Games releases this port of last year’s PSP game to the PS2 and cuts the price down to a nice $19.99
The Movies: Stunts And Effects: (June 6) Lionhead and Activision finish off this movie studio sim game franchise with an expansion that has lots of stuff blowing up.
NFL Head Coach: (June 20) Forget those new Madden and NCAA football games. Now you can be the Mike Ditka of your dreams with this Electronic Arts sports strategy-sim game for the PC, PS2 and Xbox
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow: (June 27) Developer 7 Studios and publisher Bethesda Softworks has you taking control of Johnny Depp in this action movie game adaptation for the PC and PS2 (and no, you can’t control Johnny Depp that way either…)
Rome Total War: Alexander (sometime in June): This Internet download only expansion pack for the Creative Assembly-Sega historical RTS game adds lots of new content for a price of just $14.99.
CivCity: Rome: (July 3) Firefly Studios, Firaxis and 2K Games bring a Civilization sensibility to this historical city sim game.
Lord of the Rings: Battle For Middle Earth II Xbox 360: (July 5) Electronic Arts hopes their fantasy RTS franchise can work on a console.
Chromehounds: (July 8) Big Xbox 360 exclusive mech tactical action from From Software and Sega. And when we say “Big” we mean “Big mechs”...man, your mind is in the gutter today.
Stronghold Legends (August 1) Firefly Studios continues their long running castle sim-RTS series with Dracula and King Arthur. No really, they do.
Nighty-Nine Nights: (August 16) Can this hack and slash Xbox 360 exclusive from Phantagram, Q Entertainment and Microsoft make us forget that all those crappy Dynasty Warriors games ruined this genre for us?
Again, the summer season is usually not the time for a ton of great games, but there should plenty of titles for fans to spend time away from their loved ones to be in front of their TV or PC monitors…just be sure to get some sun during this time. Beginning September 1, when the flood of new titles rushes in like a levy breaking you may not see that odd bright globe in the sky for a while.
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