Xbox One X Gets Shrug-Worthy Games With Gold Freebies At Launch
The release of a new iteration of their current-gen console, the Xbox One X, makes it difficult to figure out how Microsoft should handle their free Games with Gold for the month of November. Should they offer a handful of glitzy games that’ll flex the muscle of the X’s graphical prowess and make new subscribers better appreciate the service? Or, should they redirect their energy off their freebies and their subscription service altogether, instead letting the deals and bustle of Black Friday month speak for themselves? It’s a rhetorical question with an easy answer: yeah, they should toss out a few solid freebies to whet appetites and satisfy their ever-growing subscriber base. Yet, perhaps more predictably, they’re taking the other path by offering a foursome of unexciting freebies that not only lack any challenges for their powerhouse new console, they generate marginal enthusiasm in general.
Nadeo’s Trackmania series of arcade racing games just recently crossed the finish line of its 15-year anniversary, starting out on PCs in 2003 and eventually moving over to Nintendo’s portable and motion-based systems in 2009. It’s only with their latest release, Turbo, that the developer has steered the action over to standard consoles. The feel of micro-car racing blends with a realistic, structural aesthetic as Nedeo unleashes 200+ tracks for players to traverse, in which high-octane tricks and raucous throttling are prioritized above realism. A campaign, numerous game modes, and split-screen multiplayer enliven Trackmania Turbo, as well as track creator with a randomization fuction. Fans of the series note the absence of certain features from prior installments, notably car customization, as the limited negatives in a solid console release of the franchise.
Tales from the Borderlands
Telltale Games wasn’t always a household name amongst gamers, once struggling to figure out how to properly implement their dialogue and role-playing mechanics within established franchises. After a few stumbles in the world of Jurassic Park and Back to the Future, the studio finally landed on a formula that worked with The Walking Dead, and eventually went on to successfully tackle such monumental franchises as Game of Thrones and Batman. Tales From the Borderlands marks their first attempt at spinning off from a videogame franchise, modeling their conversation design and cel-shaded aesthetic around the side stories outside of the core game’s narrative. The gear-lootin’ and cooperation that made the console shooter series popular are replaced by an amplification of the humor and characterization scattered throughout the games, forming into five episodes of consistent storytelling.
NiGHTS Into Dreams
Gradually developing a cult fanbase since its original release for the Sega Saturn, Nights Into Dreams marks one of Sonic Team’s deviations from the reliable platform gameplay featuring their blue hedgehog. Hinged on a plot involving the sides of dream realms and those dreamers who must navigate their obstacles, a colorful array of levels parallel with themes of both pleasant memories and distinct fears. Players glide through the levels of Nightopia to prevent the nefarious overlord Wizeman from destroying the dream realm and, with it, the realm of reality, and the challenges before them take shape within fluid 2D platform designs, in which the player receives grades on their performances and are transported into a nightmarish boss battle. This HD edition, an updated iteration of the PlayStation 2 remake, contains both beautifully modernized graphics that stay true to the original and the option to play the untouched presentation from the Saturn.
A first-person shooter that infuses Tomb Raider with Indiana Jones, perhaps with a bit of Brendan Fraser’s Rock O’Connell character from The Mummy, sounds like a winning idea. That’s the attitude presented by Deadfall Adventures, The Farm51’s raucous adventuring starring the great-grandson of Allan Quatermain, James. Set in the late ‘30s, the story revolves around James’ mission to escort a female US agent on her search for the Heart of Atlantis, an excursion complicated by the interruptions of wicked forces that range from Nazis to the undead. Deadfall Adventures holds potential with its premise and atmosphere, but the mundane controls, weak voice-acting, and relatively unimpressive graphical presentation relegate it to the ranks of being one of those short shooters that has just enough personality to tolerate for those precious achievements.