‘What have you been playing then?’

Summer is officially over and us students are back into the swing of things -whether you’ve just come back from some shamanistic life-quest in India somewhere, or you’ve spent most of it at home eating crisps and watching television; we’re all back at the ugly, lovely university. For some it’s freshers, and for others, who don’t really need an excuse to drink, it’s pretty much the same hijinks as last year. There is solace for shut-ins like myself however, in the form of glorious videogames, and in the coming weeks I shall be delving into what you can look forward to as the semester rolls on. Until then I want to provide some brief insights into my own experiences over the last few months.

My summers usually serve the morbid purpose of uninterrupted gaming sessions rather well, but for the summer of 2012( for myself at least), was a little more proactive. It was one in which I actually took advantage of the time off, had holidays, drank sickly cider with undercooked meat and began learning German- the kind of stuff you might have enjoyed also, ja?

What I am trying to draw attention to, of course, is the question: did we miss much? Well, not really. Quality titles released since May have been few and far between. This isn’t to say that summers aren’t usually agonizingly slow anyway. However, with a greater number than usual delayed or pushed into next year entirely (Bioshock: Infinite being the most heartbreaking example), it’s difficult not to be pessimistic.

Yet these trends do, as a consequence, make my job a lot easier – as I present my pick of the few stubborn gems that did stick around that might be worth your time and attention. Back in May, for example, Max Payne 3 burst in with slow-motion and pistols akimbo to kill your boredom. Despite the tarnishing of the brand since the last release it’s a solid buy and has great multiplayer.

Following this, we have Tom Clancy’s Ghost-Recon: Future Soldier – which I must say I thoroughly enjoyed. A tactical third-person-shooter with lots of fun gadgets, cool guns (with crazy customisation options. I’m pretty sure I made a pistol into a bazooka), the game is an interesting take on your standard horde co-op mode  and pretty rewarding gameplay. All-round it’s certainly worth checking out, especially for those who haven’t played a good stealth game for a while. As with all games carrying the Tom Clancy name, the plot is nonsense but it’s told in a fairly coherent manner. For example, you may not know why it is that you hate the Russians, but you’re absolutely sure that you do.

In terms of my particular area of interest, PC games, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of exclusives when going over some of the more niche titles. This specifically applies to any fans of old-school 4x space based strategy, who should be ecstatic as two superb examples have shown up within a month of each other when the genre is so often ignored.  These are Stardock’s Sins of Solar Empire: Rebellion (a standalone expansion, and a great entry point into the series) and Amplitude’s Endless Space. Whilst I wish that I could do the games justice just by writing how many hours I’ve poured into both games I would recommend you read a review if you’re interested, plus they are both fairly cheap on Steam, going for around £25 each.

The last game that I would like to go over, as it is one that I have been playing enthusiastically for many days now and at the time of writing, is the newly released Sleeping Dogs. In brief, a tense Hong Kong based action-crime-thriller type sharing many of the same open-world tropes as the Grand Theft Auto and Saint’s Row crowd. Pretty much GTA IV as directed by John Woo. Hopefully I will be able to share my further appreciation for it with you all soon!

By Julian Wojtowicz