Steam Sale 20th July: the best games, the best deals


Uh oh. You and your credit card need to have a chat. A long hard chat about what you really want from life. Is is a mortgage, food, water, rent? Or is sweet gaming deals. Because behind this link are bargains. True, brilliant bargains. Before you venture forth, remember that you should read the Steam Summer Sale survival guide, and that yesterday’s deals are still active.

Today’s best deal is…Deus Ex: Human Revolution (-75%, £4.99)

SH: One of the best games of 2011, if not the best. Buy this now. Actually, take a look at the Square Enix Hit Collection first, which includes Invisible War alongside about another £150 worth of games for £29.99. Or if you already own Invisible War, take a look the Missing Link DLC, which has been discounted to £2.24. Lots of options. Just buy something, quickly now, we’re excited.

TE: I was trying to sell my house when this came out – as part of the move, I’d put my office in the conservatory. It turns out you should never, ever put your office in the conservatory. It’s either boiling hot, and you’re surrounded by dead flies, or it’s freezing cold, and you’re surrounded by flies in suspended animation. To continue playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution throughout the night, I ended up rigging up two or three electric heaters under my desk, and, at one point, almost setting fire to the house.

What I’m trying to say is that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is very good, and I went to great lengths to play it. Now it’s available for nearly nothing and you should buy it.

Magicka (-75% £1.99)

TE: It’s a lovely little fantasy action thing in which you play a wizard. It’s main point of interest is that you cast spells by pressing combinations of keys, and you will not be able to remember what those keys are. Therefore, it’s best played in co-op with three friends where, you’ll quickly discover, everyone kills everyone else.

Also: the Arrowhead guys are ace and they should have all the money.

SH: To my great shame, I haven’t played Magicka. I really want to play Magicka, so much that I’ve already bought and downloaded Magicka. In fact, in between this sentence and the last one I’ve just purchased it for my friend Dan with the intention of playing it with him later. You should do the same. (Obviously I don’t mean buy it for Dan, he has it now, buy it for one of your friends).

F3AR (-75% £3.24)

SH: Is this the last big game to awkwardly jam a number into its title? Feels like it. I loved FEAR, liked FEAR 2 and avoided F3AR because it resembled the most awful sort of buddy film by attempting to crowbar a personality into the charmless, voiceless, non-character of a protagonist. For £3.24 though, it deserves a chance.

Civilization V (-75% £4.99)

TE: So. Civ V. It’s good. Very good. But I don’t think it’s quite as fun as Civ IV. Maybe it’s just over familiarity, but I didn’t get anywhere near the playtime from this version as I did previous games. The big mechanical change this version was the move to hex tiles rather than squares, and the removal of stacks. Now, only one military unit can take up one square – so you end up making fronts and borders, rather than having one global stack of doom.

But there’s a better reason to own it. The Steam Workshop support in Civ V is superb – you’ll find great new maps (predictably, the most popular is Westeros), new Civs, and new wonders and buildings. It’s still in its infancy, but it’s turning Civ V into a hex-based sandpit – the WW2 mods in there are well worth a look.

Dungeon Defenders (-75% £2.49)

TE: It’s a very bright and cheerful cartoon tower defense game that’s become way more popular than I ever expected. That popularity probably comes from the online co-op modes which are, admittedly excellent. But it never really grabbed me in the way that Orcs Must Die did, mainly because there’s no real weight or heft to traps and weapons. The damage you inflict in Dungeon Defenders is mostly chipping away at health bars. In Orcs, they bounce off walls, burst into gibs, or fly into pits of acid.

Here’s my advice: if you fancy a cheerful cartoon tower defense game buy Orcs Must Die (it hasn’t appeared in the Steam sale yet, but it’s always on offer). If you must play it with friends, then sure, get Dungeon Defenders. Or, don’t buy either and wait for Orcs Must Die 2, which is right around the corner.

Red Orchestra: Heroes of Stalingrad (-75%, £3.24)

TE: Red Orchestra is hardcore: it’s a multiplayer FPS that’s closer to a sim than a shooter. It got quite a rough reception at launch because it was pretty buggy, but the devs worked pretty hard to get it up to scratch. Be aware; there is a single player campaign but you should not play it. And that if you try and play this like Call of Duty, you will die. Again and again and again.

Driver: San Francisco (-75%, £2.49)

SH: The plot is laughably dumb but the driving is superb. It’s pure Hollywood too: sparks aplenty, rolling suspension, ridiculous drifts, authentic cars and impossible jumps. The series has been dragged through the dirt, but San Francisco just feels right. Well worth it at this price, if you can look past all the ‘Life on Mars meets The Matrix’ nonsense.

TE: Is he really in a coma?

Crysis 2 (-70% £7.49)

TE: I’ve got very mixed feelings about Crysis 2. It is spectacularly beautiful. There are some great set-pieces: because it’s set in New York you get to sit at the top of skyscrapers and snipe men.

But… I don’t think the setting does the technology or the mechanics of Crysis justice. Remember that long walk down the river where nothing actually happens, but you just get dead tense? Remember the tank driving bit where you crash out into that vast green field? There’s none of that. It’s much more enclosed, and there’s much less freedom to explore sideways. The best comparison, I think, isn’t the original Crysis, but Halo on the XBox 360: that’s more the scale Crysis 2 deals in. Which is fine… but I miss Crysis 1.

Oh, and those dreadlocked aliens are crap.

SH: It’s strange, I don’t feel there’s anything particularly wrong with Crysis 2, but when I play it I feel like my time could be better spent doing other things like learning to play the cor anglais.

Indie Bundle IX featuring: (VVVVVV, Revenge of the Titans, Jamestown, Capsized, Zeno Clash) (-75%, £6.99)

SH: Ahh, I haven’t played Revenge of the Titans or Capsized (though both look really interesting), but Jamestown, VVVVVV and Zeno Clash are three certifiably superb titles. Best Indie Bundle yet, by my reckoning,

TE: I spent a good month of lunchtimes playing Jamestown – it’s a great top down shooter. Revenge of the Titans is another tower defense game with a neon arcade look to it. It’s very, very popular amongst the cool kids, but I think it’s over-rated. Pretty fun if you’re looking for something to while away the hours on a train, but the defense maps are unfair, and you can put too many points in crap upgrades without realising you’re going to be outmatched later down the line.

Bonus deal: Limbo (-75%£1.74)

TE: There’s a flash sale going on for Limbo: an absolutely gorgeous 2D black and white platformer. I think it’s one of the best indie games in years. A definite buy, if it’s still available as you’re reading this.

Super bonus deal: Splinter Cell: Conviction is (-75%, £3.24)

TE: Another flash sale for Splinter Cell: Conviction is going on right now. Conviction is a game that introduced itself with an incredible idea: Sam Fisher is now a tramp hiding in plain sight in Washington DC. But then the game came out, and we discovered Sam Fisher was a tramp hiding in plain sight behind small walls. It’s fun, but you really have to suspend your disbelief at the awful eyesight of the guards.