360's "Summer of Arcade" 2010 lineup looks fantastic

The artsiest of the five games announced for Summer of Arcade, Limbo follows the story of a young boy’s attempt to track down his wayward sister in a stark black and white world that may be the gateway to Hell.

The game, which took home the Independent Games Festival’s awards for Excellence in Visual Art and Technical Excellence, is a platform puzzler that comes across like Braid’s demented doppelganger. Minus all the time-shifting and plus some physics-based puzzles and at least one giant spider thing. It’s also captivating, at least according to Charlie and Eric, who won’t shut up about it.

Monday Night Combat

Not many people are aware of this one, but those who are, such as Penny Arcade’s mighty Jerry and Mike and the GR crew, are eagerly awaiting it. Monday Night Combat puts you in the boots of a soldier in a futuristic bloodsport, and deftly blends the gameplay of a Team Fortress 2-like shooter with tower defense and “hero RTS” games such as the WarcraftIII mod Defense of the Ancients.

Monday Night Combat looks to distinguish itself from other class-based shooters by incorporating melee attacks and finishing moves alongside heavy customization. Upgrades can be purchased mid-match, and if the six playable classes (gunner, sniper, assassin, tank, etc) aren’t enough, you have the option to modify any of them into a custom class (say, a tank who happens to also be lightning fast).

There are two main modes. The first, called Blitz, pits players against waves of hostile robots either alone or with up to three friends online. Players must defend their “money ball” from the attacking horde by using both protective turrets and more hands-on methods like bullets, knives, and grapple moves. Next comes Crossfire, in which there are two teams of humans, assisted by a steady stream of AI controlled assault bots, each striving to destroy their opponents’ “money ball”.

Summer of Arcade kicks off in July, and it looks as though all five titles will run you 1200 Microsoft bucks a piece (or $15 US, if you prefer human currency). You can afford it – just skip buying sunscreen this year. You’re not going to need it anyway.

June 24, 2010