Overlooked Games To Survive The Summer Drought, Volume II

Overlooked Games To Survive The Summer Drought

Volume II

by Nicholas Laborde

©2012 Nicholas Laborde

It’s hot.

And I mean REALLY hot.

My English friends complain about the cold, rainy climate of England all while I’m sitting in Louisiana’s subtropical climate, with a “comfortable” 93 degrees Fahrenheit today (which translates to around 34 on the Communist scale) and 70% humidity.

In summary, you really shouldn’t be outside.

And we at OXCGN are here to offer a reprieve from the boredom that may ensue.


Alan Wake/American Nightmare

Last year, I wrote about how Alan Wake was completely eclipsed upon its launch by the mammoth that is Red Dead Redemption.

I’m proud to once more recommend the adventures of Mr. Wake, and this time we have two offerings available, whether you’re on PC or console.

The main game, Alan Wake, arrived on the PC via Steam this February.

Alan Wake is a “psychological action thriller” from Remedy. It’s a third-person action, and somewhat horror-based title following a writer named… you guessed it! Alan Wake.

Alan and his wife are going on vacation, and it turns out to be just a little bit more than that. Wake is a very successful author, but hasn’t written a single word in two years. To beat this block, he journeys to Bright Falls with his wife in order to gain much-needed inspiration.

Not long after arriving, something interesting happens.

It turns out he’s trapped in-between a living nightmare and his grim reality, unable to determine what’s real and what isn’t. His wife is being held for a ransom: the manuscript to his next book, which Alan never actually wrote… or did he?

This nightmare is the living version of his story, and trying to remember what happens next is Alan’s only hope of surviving.

Alan must fight “dark” apparitions using his trusty flashlight and any weapon he happens to find. It sounds a little dull, but once you get your hands on it, you’ll be in for a wild ride.

Alan Wake can be found at a very sweet price on the Xbox 360, or for $29.99USD on Steam. I highly recommend it to while the summer hours away, whether you’re getting the expanded PC version or the original 360 release.

Once you conclude Alan’s story, though, you’ve only participated in half of the battle. You’ll immediately want to pick up the follow-up, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare digitally via either Xbox Live or Steam.

While not a sequel, American Nightmare is the next title in the Alan Wake franchise. It doesn’t require playing the first title in order to delve right into the madness, but it does help in understanding characters and context.

American Nightmare follows Alan Wake as he attempts to hunt down his dark doppelganger “Mr. Scratch”, created by the dark forces that he fought throughout the first game.

While not as lengthy as the first title, many new items, weapons and mechanics come into play that make it more than worth the entry fee of $14.99USD.

You can find our reviews for the main game and Nightmare here and here, respectively.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

You may be thinking to yourself, “How in the world could an entry in the Metal Gear Solid franchise go unnoticed?!”

Well, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection released on the same day as Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Saints Row: The Third.

The package comes with five whopping games, which are:

The first two titles were the very first releases in the franchise on the MSX system many moons ago, both of which are worth playing if you’re a fan of the franchise.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is the updated version of the second main game in the Solid series, chronicling the story of Raiden, sent in on a mission after Solid Snake was presumed dead. The game is absolutely beautiful in its redone state, and even if it’s just to see how it looks, the game is one of the best in the franchise.

Metal Gear Sold 3: Subsistence is, as with 2, a completely remastered game, gorgeously presented in 720p and running at a silky-smooth 60 frames per second.The game, which released in 2004, could easily stand up as a new release and is the crown jewel of the Collection.

Finally, we have Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a cooperative take on the Metal Gear Solid franchise that is a canonical sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3. If it weren’t originally on the PSP, it would have been called Metal Gear Solid 5.

The story chronicles Big Boss as he uncovers a nuclear plot in Costa Rica, and the entire game can be played cooperatively with another friend (with some instances allowing up to four players, but not throughout the entire game).

Overall, it’s an extremely solid package, and what I called the best deal since The Orange Box. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer, this is one of the best package deals out there.

Metro 2033

I can’t pass up any opportunity to tell people how incredible Metro 2033 is.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit of a fanboy when it comes to this franchise. At E3 2012, when fellow OXCGN attendee Nick Capozzoli informed me that at our THQ appointment he attended they were giving out gas masks for Metro: Last Light, we near-sprinted across the convention center in our final moments together at the show in order to secure the very last one.

He ended up leaving his at the hotel, because he didn’t feel like explaining it to the TSA. Nick never was half the man that I am.

The year is 2013. Moscow is happily chugging down vodka when nuclear armageddon strikes, causing its citizens to retreat into the metros beneath the city in order to survive.

Based off of the powerful novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 is centered on a lowly soul named Artyom. Born in a smaller city before the bombs, his life began in the metro, would be lived in the metro, and would end in the metro. But fate has a funny way of changing things.

Artyom’s metro is overrun and attacked by hideous (and mysterious) creatures called the Dark Ones.

He meets an elite veteran soldier (called Rangers) named Hunter that gives him a special Ranger token, telling him to travel to Polis and get help for his metro.

What follows is one of the most fascinating and well-executed stories of this generation, and is most definitely one of the more obscure experiences out there.

Metro 2033 nails one thing that games kill for: atmosphere. The atmosphere in this title is one of the most enveloping, intense, peculiar and all around horrifying things I’ve ever experienced, and more than once caused me to break out in a sweat.

“I only want to cuddle…”

I recommend playing this title on the PC (if you have the rig to run it) like I did, because not only can it be found cheapest there, but it is a very beautiful, very DirectX 11 game.

Otherwise, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t partake in this wonderfully daunting experience.

Spec Ops: The Line

Many may question why Spec Ops: The Line appears here. It’s recent, it’s AAA, and it’s by one of the larger publishers in the industry… it even stars Nolan North!

The gaming world has been dismissing The Line as nothing more than a generic third person shooter with nothing to offer. I even scoffed at it, two different times: first, at the demo that appeared in May, and second, on the E3 show floor itself, with me giving it a “cautious” outlook after our playtime.

I completed the title a few days ago, and I’m proud to say that I’ve never been so thrilled at having been proven wrong in my life.

Spec Ops: The Line is the story of three troops (Captain Walker, Sgt. Lugo and Lieutenant Adams) as they are sent in to Dubai on a reconnaissance mission.

Shortly after, the crew discovers that an old war hero, John Konrad, is still alive and within the city.

The mission quickly goes FUBAR as the group journeys deep into the city to be confronted with the horrors of war, and faced with some of the most challenging moral choices a game has ever presented.

If I could describe Spec Ops in one word, it’d be invigorating. It starts out as your simple shooter, looking like nothing more than some good ol’ fashioned “pew pew”, but it quickly transforms into a powerful tale of how even the best of us can make bad decisions.

Save the civilians, which is your mission, or save the man who is your only way out of Dubai?

Spec Ops: The Line is a thinking man’s shooter, and is more than a little thought provoking. The game is a huge nod to Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, and should be picked up by anyone who loves a good story, or just to see how the moral choice system is implemented.

PC gamers can find the game for $25USD on Amazon here.

Bring on the games!

Hopefully you’ll find some great hidden gems thanks to this article.

For now, stay out of the heat, play games, and most importantly, stay classy.

You might want to pick up a few more hours at work, too, because the Steam summer sale is rumored to begin this week as well.

©2012 Nicholas Laborde

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I'm an American from steamy Louisiana, one of the most electronically deprived areas of the United States. I've gamed since I was four years old as a result, and plan to do it onto my deathbed. I discovered I could write in June of 2010 when I started a little site called Fans of The Genre with a few friends, and that eventually collapsed three months after due to social lives kicking in. No less than two weeks after that I discovered OXCGN via the community gamer gab competition, and become a staff member shortly after. In February of 2011 I was welcomed to the Editorial staff, then in March of 2012 I was promoted to co-owner... and here I am!

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