No, this article is not about the Summer Olympics. I will be boycotting most of the events this year in favour of quality time with my mountain bike, running shoes, running stroller, and, if raining, my Xbox 360. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Olympics, it’s just that China is one of my least favourite countries these days for so many reasons (e.g. Tibet, Myanmar, Sudan, Tiananmen, Three-Rivers Dam, lead-based paint on toddler’s toys, wholesale environmental destruction) and I want these Games to fail, embarrass the sponsors, and prompt the International Olympic Committee to use their heads next time before awarding the Games to a repressive, totalitarian state with a human rights record that would make Idi Amin blush. The way I see it, Beijing 2008 is the modern-day equivalent to Berlin 1936.
But I digress.
For me, the only Summer games that will matter are the pixilated variety. If it rains, that is.
Summer is typically a bland season for video game releases, presumably because people are preoccupied with summer blockbuster movies and spending more time outdoors than hooked up to their gaming console. Fair enough — 2008 is still shaping up to be a huge year for gaming, blowing Hollywood out of the water with titles like Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV.
Although the biggest games will come in the fall — Gears of War 2, Final Fantasy XIII, Mercenaries 2, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Mirror’s Edge, Fable 2, Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, NHL 2009, etc. — there are a few summer games that nobody will want to miss.
If you’re an Xbox 360 owner like myself, your best bet is GTA IV because of the hundreds of hours of mindless action, and sheer variety of missions available. The best new game this summer will actually be the re-release of an old game, Vigilante 8, on Xbox Live Arcade — I was a big fan of Twisted Metal on Playstation, and Vigilante is the Xbox’s rough equivalent. If you have any Live points left after Vigilante, pick up Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords.
Other top-rated games on Gamespot (www.gamespot.com) that are worth a look include The Orange Box, Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution, and either Guitar Hero or Rock Band if you’d prefer not to be antisocial.
For PS3 owners, the biggest games so far are GTA IV and Metal Gear Solid IV, both of which got perfect scores from Gamespot. If you’re looking for something a little different, the puzzle game Echochrome is getting rave reviews, while the multiplayer game Warhawk is available for download with a lot of new upgrades.