Microsoft has released the next batch of free Games With Gold (it’s more than enough reason to invest in an Xbox Gold Live membership!), and it’s an impressive line-up this time round.
If you’re not familiar with the program, here it is in a nutshell: For Gold members, Microsoft releases a few FREE full versions of games every month: on the 1st and on the 16th. You have to grab them within the 15 day window, or else you’ll have to pay for it. They release Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, and all of the free 360 games are backward compatible for the One. Expect about $700 worth of FREE games for the year.
Got it? Good. Okay, so whether you’re looking for top end multiplayer co-op or singleplayer tension, these three games will let you sink hours into them.
Most people will head straight for Evolve as it’s a popular AAA title with great graphics and a unique game dynamic. Don’t ignore Heavy Weapon or Layers of Fear though as they’re both great offerings in the arcade bullet hell and psychedelic horror genres respectively.
Available March 1 - March 31
In Layers of Fear, you are an insane painter wrapped up in his own world of ambition. Your goal: to create the most glorious and haunting painting you’ve ever made, your Magnum Opus!
Set in your own Victorian Mansion, you explore the corridors and rooms, searching for the missing pieces of the puzzle that will help you achieve your mission. As you advance, ghostly reminders of your dark past start to make themselves known to you, slowly filling the player in on the history of the things you’ve done.
The story is the real draw to this game and gives you the drive to probe more of this dilapidated and spooky place.
There are no poltergeists trying to kill you, but your own mind is the driving force behind completing your life’s work while subsequently pulling you down and down into a spiraling whirlpool of maniacal insanity – an excellent simulation of what it’s like to raise kids!
If you’re looking for a psychedelic horror game, play Layers of Fear now while it’s free.
Available March 16 - April 15
Play as the hunters or the hunted in this epic face-off in the far flung future where mankind travels the stars and tries to save a plethora of worlds from playable monsters on the scale of King Kong or Godzilla (hey that’s a great idea for a mod - anyone?).
In Evolve, the four humans choose from 4 classes with a few choices in each class. Medic, Trapper, Support and Assault. Each class has a very specialized role in how they will help the team with their individual skills, and everybody needs to be playing for the team, or the monster is going to be leaving stinky piles of your remains whenever it needs to go to the bathroom.
Player five is the monster. Again, there are multiple monsters to choose from, and they all have a different feel and special skills. At first, the monster is the hunted one, and if you’re not careful, your head will be adorning the Hunters trophy room.
As you stalk your way through the landscape and undergrowth, you kill and feed on the wildlife which increases your armor and your evolution meter.
There are 2 stages of evolution, which make you stronger and give you some of your health back, and on evolving for the second time, it’s time for you to crush the humans and assert your dominance.
Available March 16 - March 31
Heavy Weapon is an excellent arcade title with you playing as the last bastion of the doomed allied forces against the all-powerful Red offensive. You control a tank on a 2D scrolling game area fighting in either missions or survival mode.
The bullet mayhem that this game spouts draws you in as you struggle to survive long enough to get essential power-ups while dodging ever increasing waves of planes, missiles, explosion and everything else the vodka-imbibing maniacs can throw at you.
If you manage to survive the grunts of the enemy, you’ll be treated to an interview with one of the Red Army’s many bosses. Ranging from futuristic robotic constructions to blimps, they’ve even managed to enslave King Kong and stick a few rocket launchers on his back to defeat you!
Any fans of side scrolling shooters like R-Type and Gradius will feel right at home here and will appreciate the change of scenery as so many of these types of games have you flying a spaceship.
If you have a couple of friends and you want to enjoy the experience with them, Heavy Weapon supports co-op up to 4 players with each going for their own power-ups and trying to survive the now much deadlier skies. The more players there are, the more enemies will attack at once.
If you thought single player was hard, imagine trying to dodge four times the amount of explosives!