As the summer approaches, Microsoft releases more titles that can now be yours, and any productive enterprise you were going to complete turns to ashes. How unfortunate!
SpeedRunners is the first new free game, and it’s available for the whole month, and Assassin's Creed III will be available from June 1st to June 15th. There’s also some DLC for Phantom Dust that will be free all month long. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is still available until June 15th, and you can read that review here.
Available June 01 – June 30
SpeedRunners is a very frantic and fast paced racing game featuring a 2D platforming play area maps that you run circuits around as quickly as you can, and the objective is to make your opponents fall so far behind that they’re off the screen (and subsequently destroyed).
It looks like a very simple game, to begin with, and it’s easy to get into but very hard to master. In-depth knowledge of the best and fastest way to traverse the map is extremely useful, and then you have to contend with the other players as well.
The other players are probably the hardest obstacle to overcome, and it’s a very competitive and enjoyable game because of that. The game is based around multiplayer, in fact, and although you can practice the maps against the computer, it’s nowhere near as adrenaline inducing as playing against 3 other players.
The matchmaking is pretty good, and you don’t have to wait too long to join a game. It tries to fill up ongoing games before creating a new one so you might join while a game is still in progress. The rounds themselves are pretty fast paced though so you won’t have to wait too long to start dying…I mean playing.
Powerups from boxes on the map can give a significant boost or hindrance to players, and you can get hit by or use a multitude of different items. You can freeze, hook and pull back, boost, fire rockets and much more which just adds to the frantic nature of the game.
The camera itself follows the movement of the player who’s in front so at first, you might get a little confused as to what character you are as usually you’ll be the central figure. As long as you keep your eye on what character you are, it’s usually fairly easy to spot though as the different characters you can play are all varied and have different color schemes.
If you can learn to chain swing to build up momentum for yourself, it will help you immensely, especially when the play area starts to gradually reduce in size and you’re barely escaping being destroyed by the big black border of doom!
SpeedRunners is an awesome game for the console and promotes excellent couch-play between you and your frenemies.
Available June 01 – June 30
If you haven’t heard of Phantom Dust before, then you’re not alone. It was released a long time ago but wasn’t given the proper support needed in terms of distribution and advertising, so hardly anyone knew about the game. The gamers who did play it loved it, and it’s an excellent multiplayer game.
It’s just been released on Xbox One and is an updated version of the original Xbox 360 Classic. At its core, Phantom Dust is a game of 3rd Person PvP combat game where you pick up skills on the move and duke it out with other players.
You can get skills like Levitate, which allows you to fly over the battlefield and get an edge on your opponents, fireballs to kill them, barriers to reflect or absorb damage and a whole host of other abilities. It’s often compared to magic the gathering because of the types of skills that can be assigned, and as you progress in the game, you can customize your character and his “deck” to help determine what kind of skills and abilities you’re going to pick up on the battlefield.
The free Phantom Dust DLC for Gold Members gives you better starting packs so you can jump right into multiplayer and have the edge over other players who aren’t Gold Members.
Available June 01 – June 15
Assassin’s Creed III takes place in colonial America. It’s a time of gunpowder, cannons, swordplay, and great changes in the world. The game explores many of Colonial America’s greatest moments, through to their independence from Great Britain.
Assassin’s Creed III also opens your eyes to recurring ugly truths about humanity, as the story expands and evolves around two very different times.
Because of the emphasis on story and character development, the game can be a little slow to start, but it does add to the overall experience in a good way and helps to draw you into its world.
What’s different in Assassin’s Creed III? The controls are simpler, which helps in combat and the free running aspect of the game got a lot cooler with the introduction of using it in woodland among the trees. You might start to forget you’re an assassin and think you’re a monkey.
The woodland is where you can find and hunt animals too, and that’s helpful for building up your homestead. Characters you meet along the way can also be recruited and will join your homestead, and it gradually turns into your own village, where the people you’re recruited can act as craftsmen and make items for you to sell at a profit.
Combat has been tweaked, to make it somewhat easier to deal with multiple foes. If you’re surrounded, you’re more than likely to get a bayonet or two in your rump though…
There’s more stealthiness with auto crouching in tall grass and peeking around corners so you can check out the terrain ahead before making a move.
Another really impressive feature of Assassin’s Creed III is the naval ship combat and hand to hand fighting when boarding. It’s really cool to be a part of the ship battles, as the enemy ships slowly get closer and closer, while explosions are going off and you finally board the enemy vessel to capture it and win the day.