As they say 'in the business' it's STEAM O' CLOCK. Today's sale is a bit of a mixed bag; some great bargains, but some stinkers, too. Read on for vital product recommendations. Remember that yesterday's deals are still in place, and that you before you plonk down cash, you should read our Steam Summer Sale survival guide.
Today's best deal is... Batman Franchise (-66% £6.79)
Now... Here’s the thing. Batman: Arkham Asylum was very, very good, and Batman: Arkham City is also very, very good. It’s the Metroid game we’re allowed to play: you unlock access to more of the Asylum/City as you gain more gadgets. I thought the first game was just stunning; and succeeded partly because the scale was relatively intimate; it’s just a prison, after all.
The second game, Arkham City does exactly what a sequel should: expands the scope, retains the best mechanics, and introduces new twists. However - I was a little disappointed. The problem is the title: Arkham City is not Gotham City - this is still a relatively small patch of land for you to explore - with certain buildings acting as mini-dungeons.. Having said that, you’re really unlikely to be seeing much of the city as you unlock the ability to glide across the skyline very early on. You spend more time in the air that actually on the streets. Very Batman, but I felt like I was missing out on exploring Arkham. Meanwhile, as the game goes on, you end up returning back to earlier locations. My gut says that Rocksteady, the developers, just needed to get the game out.
Both are worth a buy*, but don’t bother with the Arkham City DLC.
Gotham City Imposters is an FPS - imagine TF2 but with fat men in Batman costumes. It’s a really bizarre idea that I kind of want to support but for two problems: 1) it’s not quite good enough 2) the playerbase crashed dramatically after launch and d) Steam have run out of keys for it anyway. So, buy Arkham City and Asylum - stay away from Gotham City Imposters and its vast pile of DLC.
*Bonus memory: I have got very fond memories of Arkham City for one other, unrelated reason. It came out just as my little boy was born. We discovered the best way to get him to sleep was to balance him on my front - but then if I moved he’d wake up and start yelling. Therefore, I managed to convince my wife that the only option was for me to sit and play Batman all night.
Prince of Persia (-75% £2.49)
TE: The rebooted Prince of Persia game started on a high with The Sands of Time - which was a pretty spot on 3D platformer. The central gimmick was that if you cocked up a difficult section, you could rewind time, thus making it a more forgiving, and more fun game. The only dark spot was the shonky sword combat.
The combat was fixed for The Warrior Within, but that game turned the Prince into a an angsty brat.
At about this point, I mostly switched off until... the reboot of the reboot of Prince of Persia. Prince of Persia: Without a Subtitle had a beautiful cel-shaded art style and girlfriend that would flash in at every near fatal juncture and throw you to safety. It got decent reviews, but I remember constructing a meta-narrative in my head where I would throw the prince to his death, pretending that he couldn’t face up to having THE TALK with his girlfriend, but she’d always catch him at the last minute - at which point he’d get a little bit sadder.
Which is a very long winded way of saying that I don’t think these games are worth your money any more.
Sorry. Next time, I’ll get to the point.
Torchlight (-75% £3.24)
TE: It’s a great action RPG built by some of the original Diablo devs. Whereas Diablo 3 goes all BOMBAST and WORLDSAVING and ALWAYS ONLINE, Torchlight 2 is smaller scale, single player, and you’re just spending your time defeating a slightly crap wizard. I like it for all those reasons, and the fact you get to have a pet to run back to town to sell your unwanted items - a feature I missed in Diablo 3. Buy, but be aware Torchlight 2 is just around the corner. Or, in fact, buy, because Torchlight 2 is just around the corner.
Dawn of War II (-75% £4.99)
TE: I didn’t like Dawn of War II half as much as I was hoping. It’s not really an RTS in the same mould as the original Dawn of War - instead, it’s more of an action strategy game that’s best played in co-op. It’s also dated badly: I spent a few evenings working my way through the Chaos Rising expansion and was surprised just how it had aged. But if you’re interested, Dawn of War: Retribution is the version to go for - it includes all of the races to play in multiplayer, and has probably the best campaign. Also: moral choices, if you like that kind of thing.
There’s one wildcard: I have a lot of time for The Last Stand, Dawn of War II’s bonus multiplayer mode. In The Last Stand, you and two friends fight increasingly strong waves of baddies, controlling a single hero. As you do so, you level up your chap and earn new weapons. You can buy The Last Stand mode in this sale for nearly nothing: it’s called The Last Standalone.
ArmA II: Combined Operations (-40%, £14.99)
TE: Let’s face it, you’re buying this for Day Z, the survivalist zombie mod. Which is great, obv. Still quite expensive, but the hype around DayZ probably means this is going to be today’s top seller on Steam.
Fable III (-75% £8.99)
If you like Fable, you should first ask yourself ‘why?’, and then consider handing in your PC gaming badge and gun. Don’t buy Fable III.
Quantum Conundrum (-40%, £5.99)
TE: It’s a first person puzzle adventure game by Kim Swift, her what made Portal at Valve. Confession: I’ve yet to play it, but I’m sure someone nice in the comments will be able to make a recommendation. WON’T THEY NICE PERSON?
Evochron Mercenary (-75%, £4.99)
TE: Another confession: I haven’t played Evochron either. We’ll pass this over to the comments thread as well.
Indie Bundle X
TE: Man! I’ve only played Machinarium out of this, but that was great. Again, to the comments!