Games with Gold Sept 2016

August is almost over, so it’s time to look at September’s free Games with Gold from Microsoft.  The games are:

-Earthlock, Festival of Magic – Sep 1
-Assassin’s Creed Chronicles – China – Sep 16
-Forza Horizon – Sep 1
-Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – Sep 16

I plan on downloading all of these.  Earthlock is a new game coming out on September 1.  It is a turn-based RPG of some sort.  I see Harvest Moon being tossed around with it, so it’s likely a similar style game.

I have played and enjoyed Assassin’s Creed 1, and I expect to enjoy China as well.  I’m not sure what is different about the Chronicles series versus the regular, though, but I’ll find out!

I haven’t played a Forza game yet and I’m looking forward to playing the first Horizon game.

I don’t know anything about Mirror’s Edge.  I do know that this is the sequel in the series, but that’s it.  It’s free, so I’ll try it out.

Chey’s Top 25 Games – #8 – Rock Band 3

My love affair with music games was immediate and heavy.  I had heard of Guitar Hero back in the Playstation 2 days, when I was an XBox owner, and was intrigued.  Alas, it was not released for the XBox.  When I was visiting my brother, I wanted to play it so much that I bought him a PS2 with Guitar Hero.  I was in love.  I then went home and got my own PS2 with Guitar Hero.

Guitar Hero 2 came out not too long after that and I sold the PS2.  I was just immediately good at the game, having a music background and strong rhythm skills, and enjoyed the game immensely.  I have every single Guitar Hero or Rock Band game and have played through them many times.  It was hard to pick a single favorite game for my list, but Rock Band 3 wins out.

Rock Band 3 allows you to import any songs that you purchased through their store into the game, even if you purchased them for other games.  It also allows you to bring in songs from Rock Band 1, 2, AC/DC and Greenday.  The Beatles songs were not importable.  It introduced harmonies on vocals and a keyboard controller.  It also has pro modes for all instruments, so you can basically learn a real instrument as you play.  The keyboard controller is good for this, although it’s a mini keyboard with just over an octave to play with.  I bought a real electric guitar to plug in, but the pro modes take a lot of work, which I wasn’t up to at the time.

What really makes this game fun, though, are the songs.  I have spent a gross amount of money on the songs, so I have quite a list to pick from.  This makes it a fantastic party games.  When we lived in Daytona, we were somewhat known for our Rock Band parties, and we’re starting to rebuild that here in Houston.  Everybody has fun at these parties.  It’s amazing who you can get to sing, even if they are adamantly against it at the beginning.  Add a bit of liquid courage and even the most staunch person is singing their heart out.

I haven’t seriously played these games in a long time and I’m really rusty.  They are still a lot of fun and definitely have an air of nostalgia about them.  I’m undecided on whether I want to touch Rock Band 4, but Rock Band 3 will always have a special place on my shelf and heart.


Who’s ready to ROCK?!?

Chey’s Top 25 – #9 – Fallout 3

Genre:  RPG
Platform:  XBox 360, PS3, PC

I had no idea what Fallout 3 was about when I picked it up.  The back cover looked interesting, so I decided to give it a shot.  I played it that night starting around 7PM and was still playing when Matt got up the next morning at 7AM.  I had no idea what time it was and didn’t really care.  This game will suck you in and keep you engaged until someone makes you stop or you pass out, hopefully not at the same time.

The game has a neat tutorial and character creation process.  You start as a child who was just born.  You are allowed to pick what you are going to look like when you grow up, but the character creation process doesn’t matter much as you will rarely ever see your character throughout the game.  As you grow through your childhood, you select more attributes that shape your character.  It’s pretty creative and a bit more fun than other tutorials.

Once you complete that, the story starts and you find yourself outside of your home, which as been a nuclear-safe underground vault.  You leave this comfy home and are out in the wasteland and sure enough, it has been ravaged by nuclear war.  You’ve got radiation to worry about as well as a myriad of mutated creatures.  Humanity is few and far between, but the people that you will meet need help.  They will send you out on missions and you will find the rewards helpful.  They also seem to be stuck in the 1950s.

Once again, this game makes my list mostly due to the engaging story.  You are trying to find your surviving family, but you get wound up in a fairly deep controversy.  This game gives you a lot of choices and they matter later in the game.  If you help one guy destroy a city, you’re going to make some enemies.

I am typically not a fan of first-person shooters (FPS), but this game has a combat system that takes out a lot of the “twitch” aspect.  It’s called VATS and allows you to target specific parts of your enemy.  It’s very clever and made me look forward to battle instead of dreading it.  I would call the game more of an RPG than FPS, however, as you level up and pick attributes to strengthen your character.  There are so many options to choose from that you will likely never create the same character twice.

Fallout 3 VATS

There is a lot to this game including a basic crafting system.  There are things to collect (yay!) and it is just a lot of fun.  It’s also an open-world game, meaning that you can go and do what you want when you want.  The game doesn’t force you down a certain path, although I do recommend playing through the main story.  I’m including Fallout 3 New Vegas as well as all expansions in this Top 25 as they are all fun and add to this game.  New Vegas is its own stand-alone game, but it runs off of this same engine.  Look for a post on Fallout 4 later on.

The graphics in this game are great, the soundtrack is awesome and the sound effects add to the game.  You will be singing music from the 50’s for a long time after playing this one.  The controls are great and everything about this game feels innovative.  This is by the same company that makes the Elder Scrolls series and I’ve been told it just feels like an apocalyptic version of that, but I think it feels different enough.  I strongly recommend that you play this one.

August Games With Gold

August Games with Gold

It’s the start of a new month, which means that we have a new lineup of free games from Microsoft.  Starting today, you can get Warriors Orochi Ultimate 3 and Spelunky for free if you are a member of the Microsoft Live Gold program.

I am a fan of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, so I’m happy to see one of these games on the list.  I haven’t played this one, but I’m sure it’s more of what makes that series so fun – hack and slash with some tactical play.

I have never heard of Spelunky, but it looks like a platformer with randomly generated levels.  I will definitely be playing that one.  If you only have a 360, you can get that game as well.

Coming up on August 16 we have W2K16, a wrestling game.  I am not a fan of wrestling, so I will not be downloading this game.  It’s just a waste of space for me.  I will be checking out Beyond Good and Evil HD.  I really don’t know anything about the game, but it’s free and looks interesting.

The dates that you see above are the date ranges that you have to download it for free, not the times you can play it.  Once you get it, it’s yours.  Happy gaming!

Microsoft Games with Gold

Games with Gold

I had just learned this two months ago, which is why I’m posting about this now.  Apparently, for the last year or so, Microsoft has been giving away four games per month to their XBox Live Gold members, which I am.  I pay for my XBox Live membership yearly.  The subscription is required if you want to do anything online, which is pretty much necessary.  So, for a service that I already have to pay for, I get four free games of Microsoft’s choosing every month!

They release them on the 1st and 16th of each month.  Two are for the XBone and two are for the XBox 360.  If you have a XBone, you can play them all on that as the 360 games are immediately on the backwards compatible list.  These are also all downloads.

They are not slouch games, either.  These are major release games.  For example, this month it was the following:

Games with Gold July 2016

That’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2.  A major release.  I am playing Tumblestones now and you can expect a post about it soon.  The others I download and keep until I’m ready to play them.  I did have to get a larger hard drive, but I’ve got plenty of space now.  So just in case you weren’t aware of this, it’s awesome and as good as it seems!

Hidden Gems – Kinect Sports Gems

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  XBox 360

The Kinect is a highly under-appreciated device on the XBox 360 and XBone.  It’s a very innovative device and allows for voice commands and movement tracking.  It works really well, too, even on the first-gen 360s.

Kinect Sports Gems is a suite of games available from the XBox 360 arcade.  They are purchased separately, so you don’t have to get the games you don’t want.  I believe they are $2 each and are very much worth the money.  These games got me off the couch and made me work up a sweat!

I have completed 10-Frame Bowling and Field Goal Challenge.  In each game, there are 10 ranks.  You rank up by completing specific tasks in each game.  For example, in 10-Frame Bowling, there was a task to alternate hands every throw in the game.  You gain stars for each task, and get more stars for the more difficult tasks.  I also have Prize-Driver Golf, Three Point Challenge, Ping Pong, Reaction Ralley, Penalty Saver and Darts vs Zombies.

I have enjoyed each game so far.  They are quick games and are a lot of fun.  Field Goal Challenge has been my favorite and it made me feel like I  was the star of the stadium.  It’s amazing how into these games you’ll get.  Before you know it, you’ll be waving to the crowd and posing for the camera.

Game play is fun and the Kinect is very responsive to your movements.  It had a little bit of trouble with my ceiling fan when trying to navigate through the menus, but it didn’t affect game play at all.  My dog’s constantly-wagging tail did, however, and that made for some interesting game play.  Also make sure that your play area is clear.  I kicked a cat more than once during Field Goal Challenge and gave my poor dog an uppercut while bowling.

If you’ve played the Kinect sports full games, these are very similar to some of the mini games there.  For $2 each, though, I would still strongly recommend picking them up in the arcade, too.

Hidden Gems – Alice: The Madness Returns

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  XBox 360

This game probably can’t be considered “hidden” anymore, but I happened to stumble upon it by accident on Gamefly.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I was quite pleasantly surprised as to the quality of this one.

You play as Alice as she returns to Wonderland.  However, this isn’t your mother’s Wonderland.  Things have taken a dystopian turn for the worse.  There’s a lot of blood and gore here, so it’s definitely not for the kiddos.  This game is a platformer, so you’re making your way through the world trying to get to the next point to update the story.  I did find the story engaging as well.  I have to admit that I didn’t end up finishing it, though.  It’s on my Amazon wish list as I would like to get it and finish it out.

The levels are original and fun.  It has many of the typical platforming elements – bouncy things, moving platforms and targets, minions abound, secret things to find, boss battles and so much more.  The graphics are decent, but maybe not as crisp as they could be.  The soundtrack added to the game and gave it a creepy vibe.  Many of your favorite Wonderland characters are here as well, but certainly not as you might remember them.

This game reminded me a bit of American McGee’s Alice, which was a popular PC game in the 2000’s.  It was a bit of a cult hit and was also very dystopian.  I would recommend playing that one, too, although the graphics are very outdated at this point.

Anyway, if you haven’t played this one and it sounds like something you would like, check it out!  You’re probably looking at 20 hours to play through tops.

Fireworks game! Boom Boom Rocket

Genre:  Rhythm
Platform:  XBox 360

Independence Day is tomorrow here in the US, so in honor of one of the staples of the holiday, I’ve picked a game involving fireworks to discuss.  This is Boom Boom Rocket, available on the XBox 360 Arcade.  It’s a wonderful rhythm game which is fairly easy at the lesser difficulties, but is really hard to master.

Once you select your song and difficulty, the music starts and multi-colored arrows are thrown up from the bottom of the screen.  The colors represent the different colors of your buttons, or you can use the d-pad with the corresponding direction arrows.  Once the arrow reaches the purple line at the top, you press that button.  If you are successful, you will be rewarded with a firework.

Once you build up your multiplier meter enough, you can trigger your super ability, which gives you 24X points or something crazy like that.  This is how you climb the leaderboards, but I always forget to do it.  I tend to concentrate more on perfecting the game than getting a high score.

Fortunately, you can play this game less visually and more audibly.  The music is really your cue.  You just need to know which button to press.  It’s similar to Guitar Hero or Rock Band in that respect.  The graphics are absolutely beautiful and the music is wonderful as well.  It’s all classical music, which I really enjoy.  If you like rhythm games and classical music, I would check this one out.  It’s currently only available on the 360 and hasn’t been added to the XBone backwards compatibility list yet.