Ruh-roh. Day five of the steam summer sale is a good one. Put it this way: unless you’ve already spent some money on the games below, you’re going to spend some money on the games below.
As ever, if you’ve played some of these games and want to add your opinions, do so in the comments below. And please do buy Dishonored. It’s great.
Max Payne 3 – £6.24 / $9.99
Tim: I like to think that the Max Payne games began life as an indie stair dismount clone before someone had the bright idea to put slow motion shooting in it. Max Payne 3 is technically astonishing – absolutely gorgeous and one of the best looking games on PC right now. It’s also a little bit dry. I gave up about six hours in as the difficulty spiked. It’s also got that Rockstar tick of making every character mostly irredeemably annoying.
Still: if you like falling over slowly while things explode around you, you’ll love this!
Rob: Tim, you are so damn wrong.
Tim: Now we know why Gamespy closed.
Rob: Low blow, Tim.
Wargame: Airland Battle – £14.99 / $19.99
Rob: So I played a lot of this and may even get around to writing a thing about it on this very site. But for now, here is what you should know. Wargame: Airland Battle is a very good real-time wargame with one of the most innovative campaigns I’ve ever seen. Truly, the single-player dynamic campaigns are inspired and easily worth the $20 asking price here. But this is also a savagely different game. One that knocks you down into the dirt, then takes off its belt and mercilessly flogs you with it. But there is plenty of room on the difficult spectrum, so you’ll be able to find an appropriate challenge. If you’re looking for something different from RTS games, or miss the good old days of light wargames like Close Combat, this is a must-buy.
Dishonored – £5.09 / $10.19
Tim: Game of 2012. Buy it.
It’s a bit Deus Ex-y, in that you play a secret agent infiltrating locked down compounds, but instead of nanites you’ve got magic. But I think it’s probably better than Deus Ex, mainly because the best powers, Blink, Slow Time and Possession, actually turn player movement into a core mechanic – something that very few games take advantage of.
It’s also beautiful (the steampunk setting comes from the mind of THE GUY WHO DID HALF LIFE 2), and highly replayable. For £5/very few dollars, you’ve got no excuse. Like I said: Game of 2012. Buy it.
Rob: Holy cow, The Knife of Dunwall for $3.39 as well! It could easily stand alone as its own short game. What are you waiting for?
Nick: I’m a big fan of stealth games, ever since I first played Thief all those years ago. I looked at Dishonored as a way to cure my itch until the Thief reboot finally graces this world, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s very fluid and dynamic, no matter what play style you’re into. Whether you’re go in crossbows blazing or prefer a ghost-like playthrough, Dishonored has all the bases covered.
Matt: What Tim said. There’s also lots of explosive whale blubber, which is cool, and makes this more ‘blubberpunk’ than ‘steampunk’. There’s also a ton of hilarity to be had murdering guards and throwing their very ragdolly corpses off rooftops.
Dust: An Elysian Tale – £5.99 / $7.49
Nick: This game blew my socks off. It’s a side scrolling action RPG made by a fellow named Dean Dodrill. It was released last year on the Xbox 360 before Dean ported it over to the PC.
Anyway the game is fab. The combat has a Castlevania Esque feel to it, with quite a few references to boot. You’re rewarded for exploring every nook and cranny with powerful armour and augmentations. I ended up putting in 15 hours in on my first playthrough just to 100% the entire game.
Even if the game isn’t your cup of tea, give the fantastic OST a listen. It’s the best I’ve heard all year.
Killing Floor – £2.99 / $3.99
Tim: Killing Floor suffers a bit when compared to Left 4 Dead – because it’s treading much of the same ground: co-op zombie shooting. But it feels very different. For one, you fight in open arenas rather straight levels, and it’s set up more like a horde mode game – the zombies come in waves, and you have to buy new weapons and restock ammo in the quiet periods in-between.
It’s very good: and I don’t really think you need to play it with friends – the servers were pretty busy last time I played, and players were helpful and friendly enough.
Nick: I can confirm that the servers are still plenty populated. The thing I like about Killing Floor is the guns. They feel like actual guns. The sounds, aesthetics and animation makes me believe that I’m holding some truly powerful weapons.
You can play it by yourself, but it’s always going to be more enjoyable with friends. When you get to the latter waves, you’ll be faced with bigger and bigger waves. Also new and increasingly deadly types of zombies will spawn, meaning you have to be on your toes. Get covered in this, and you’re pretty much dead.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion – £7.49 / $9.99
Rob: Ah, the reigning champion of space 4X games, with the slight inconvenience of it not actually being a proper 4X, but more of an RTS. Still, Sins is one of my top RTS games of the past decade and Rebellion is an astonishingly good, bold expansion. There are so many different ways to play this game, and it is hauntingly gorgeous. Go forth, and enjoy to majestic brutality of space.
Nick: I love this game. It can take quite some time to finish a game if you go over the top with map size. Also the AI is actually smart most of the time, and can prove quite the challenging foe. I onced played with two other friends in a 3v3 and had a blast.
I built one of the new titan warships to help in our offensive. When we attacked it was all I had due to it’s massive costs. It was all going well until they launched a back door counter attack on my worlds. I lost all my stuff, and I was defeated. However my Titan remained, but something had changed. Since I was defeated, it now was factionless, and proceeded to attack anything on sight, including my friends.
And that was the day I inadvertently destroyed my friends, as well as my enemies.
Castle Crashers – £2.49 / $3.74
Tim: I’ve played a bit of this on the Xbox 360. It’s quite nice, but it works as a 4 player shared-screen brawler. I’m not sure I’d recommend it on PC, where you’re unlikely to get that same experience.
Reus – £3.49 / $4.99
Tim: Jules kind of admired this in his Reus review, but couldn’t recommend you buy it. Shame.
Dawn of War II: Retribution – £4.99 / $7.49
Tim: The Dawn of War II games aren’t traditional RTS games. They play more like action hero RTS levels, in which you and a small squad push through a fairly linear route until you reach a boss fight. It’s best played in co-op, where you can work with a friend to supply covering fire, deliver timed grenades, and avoid combat through stealth.
Multiplayer is a little bit closer to Company of Heroes, but there’s also an excellent mode called Last Stand, in which you control a single hero character and fend off wave after wave of enemies. It’s more fun than the traditional multiplayer, and a bit stickier: as you progress you’ll get more effective and earn new equipment.
Dawn of War II is great: but the mechanics are very divisive. If you’re looking for a normal RTS with Warhammer characters, you’re better off buying the Dawn of War I games. If you’ve got a friend, and are looking for something a bit different, go for this.
Note that the Retribution expansion pack includes the six races to play in multiplayer, but not the full set of campaigns. The Dawn of War II – Complete pack is only a few pounds/dollars more expensive, and exceptionally good value. If you fancy Dawn of War II, that’s the pack I’d go for.
Matt: Retribution on its own is pretty great if you’ve only got a few hours spare every now and again but want to sink them into a campaign rather than multiplayer. Within Retribution there are six mini campaigns for all of the game’s races. Actually make that five; Imperial Guard and Space Marines have pretty much the same campaign. Each story only lasts a handful of hours, but they range from the typical hi-tech annihilation (Eldar) through to the absolute bonkers (Chaos).
Terraria – £1.49 / $2.49
Tim: 2D sideways on Minecraft thing that’s weirdly engaging. What you lose in dimensions, you gain in content: Terraria’s absolutely full of /stuff/, from mad pick ups, ridiculous enemies, and jetpacks. Unlike Minecraft, development on the game has mostly come to a halt – so don’t expect any major new patches.