Your wallet is going to hate today. If only Steam included a barter system. You could trade your family members in for sweet, sweet games. So step inside to discover what temptations await. But before you do, don’t forget to check out our Steam sale survival guide, and remember that yesterday's Steam deals are still active for a short time.
Total War: Mega Pack (-75% £8.74)
TE: Well, this is clearly the purchase of the year. All the Total Wars since Rome (bar Shogun II) for a stupid price. That includes Rome and expansions, Medieval 2 and expansions, Empire and DLC and Napoleon plus DLC. The Total War games are excellent: they’re a mix of turn based grand strategy and real-time battles.
All of them are 9/10+ games, but I want to give a special shout-out to Empire; the game set in the 19-20th century. It got great reviews, and then savaged online for some wonky bugs - CA now freely admit that they released it undercooked. Now, though, the bugs are fixed, the AI is in decent shape, and the game is just a monster. You play three campaigns at once: in Europe, in America and in Asia. Completing a campaign in Empire is a huge deal, and a great achievement.
These games are going to utterly devour your free time, and you should probably own them.
I have one caveat: the Total War pack has been a staple of every Steam Sale of the last few years and, as I explained in the survival guide, I doubt you’re going to play all of them. So, why not snipe one of the games; Empire is on-sale for £2.49, and you really don’t need the DLC. It’ll keep you going until Christmas, at which point you can move on to Shogun II.
SH: Oh look, they've put the blow-up doll from Empire's packaging on the front of the sale page. No Shogun II in this bundle, as Tim said, but £8.74 for that bundle of Total War classics and their DLC packs is damned generous.
LA Noire: (-75% £4.99)
SH: LA Noire takes a lot of flak for dragging out its second half so much, but it's genuinely one of the most stylish, evocative and classy adventure games around. It's not a shooter and it's not GTA, it's an open world point and click powered by some cool facial animation tech. Honestly, LA Noire faces will ruin all other faces for you.
TE: I really fancy this.
Indie Bundle VII including Avadon: The Black Fortress, Dungeons of Dredmore, Q.U.B.E., Vessel, and Zombie Driver. (-75% £6.99)
TE: Of these, I’ve played and loved Vessel (a 2D platformer that uses water as its main puzzle mechanic) and Dungeons of Dredmor (a fun and extremely silly roguelike). Both are great.
Stalker Collection (-75% £5.19)
SH: Of all the games set in a post-apocalyptic, radiation-poisoned Russian wasteland, the Stalker ones are my favourite. Half-RPG, half-shooter, they’re a charmingly ropey set of gritty and atmospheric adventures.
TE: I’ve never got past the first hour of a Stalker game. Too scary. Honestly, they freak me out. Hate ‘em.
Age of Empires Online (-75% £1.74)
TE: So, Age of Empires Online is a joint partnership by two of my favourite devs: Robot Entertainment (of Orcs Must Die fame - btw, when OMD comes up in the sale, you’re getting an essay extolling it) and Gas Powered Games (of Supreme Commander fame). Robot did most of the early work (many of the team worked on previous Age of Empires games) and GPG finished it off.
Despite that lead-up... it’s a bit rubbish. Very grindy and kind of aimless. And it’s free-to-play, so you should just download it and try it anyway. Last time I checked, you had to use Games for Windows Live as well, which was a nightmare.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion (-25% £18.74)
SH: Maybe it's just my Summer Sale-entitled mind speaking, but I'd expected Sins to get a better discount than this. It's a standalone expansion to the original Sins of a Solar Empire - one of the handful of RTS games my brain is compatible with - and is the definitive instalment in the series. Worth it.
TE: Yeah. If I was on the fence on buying this... I’d still be on the fence. But if you love spaceships exploding... this has excellent spaceships that explode excellently.
Super Meat Boy (-75% £2.99)
SH: Equal parts totally gripping and infinitely frustrating, Super Meat Boy is simply one of the best arcade platformers ever made. It's about a skinless boy trying to rescue his girlfriend made of bandages from an evil foetus in a jar and I love it.
TE: This is a really hard game and you will hate yourself and it. You should buy it.
Carpe Fulgur Series (-75% £8.81)
TE: These are cute little RPGs, but there’s a question over whether you should buy the bundle. If you fancy trying them out, go for Recettear. The rest aren’t worth your time.
Thief Collection (-75% £4.74)
SH: Never played the first two Thieves, and Thief: Deadly Shadows - one of my favourite PC games of all time - I don't own on Steam. Will grab this. Can't wait to see those funky ragdolls again.
TE: Cor, Thief. What a series. One and two are old as all hell and pretty wonky looking now, but the level design and atmosphere are just wonderful. The third one took a bit of flak at launch for being a bit Xboxy - they had to scale down the ambition of the levels, as I remember, because the console didn’t have enough RAM. It’s still great though.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (-75% £4.99)
TE: BONUS DEAL. At the moment, Steam’s running a flash promotion of the absolutely cracking Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. I adore this game - it’s a cops and robbers arcade game built by the team who made Burnout. It looks incredible and the sense of speed is fantastic. But most of all, I love the feeling of traversal it gives. The tracks are very, very long and almost always see you driving through different types of terrain - from the seaside to the top of a mountain. It’s great.