OK, this is inarguably the biggest day of the month, largely because of…
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
EU release: July 27
As dry as July looks for PC games, this is one that matters; maybe even the ONLY one that matters. It’s not often that a game comes along with the potential to simultaneously steroid-inject the economy of the entire nation of South Korea and bring it crashing down, leaving its streets empty except for the quiet rustle of papers flitting between buildings filled with gamers intent on spawning more Zerglings. If you’re a PC gamer and are somehow not aware of StarCraft II’s imminent release, the only conclusion we can reach is that your internet connection just started working for the first time in five years. If you don’t like RTS games, and don’t care about StarCraft, then you’re not really a PC gamer, are you? Just kidding – although StarCraft II hopes to get everyone into the strategy circuit, with Battle.net 2.0 providing massive resources to the RTS newbie like replays, build-order and Actions Per Minute (APM) recordings, improved methods for placing players in tiered leagues, and of course a huge, engrossing single-player campaign if you’re scared of playing against real humans.
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift
Platforms: PS3, 360
EU release: TBA
Last year’s BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (from the creators of Guilty Gear) was a badass reminder that 2D fighters aren’t dead yet, and Continuum Shift looks poised to remind us again. A semi-sequel with seven new characters and a story that picks up where the first game’s narrative left off (complete with full, branching storylines for each fighter), Continuum Shift retools and upgrades the existing characters and mechanics for what should (hopefully) be a tighter, better version of the first game’s action. More importantly, it’ll bring back the ridiculously over-the-top super-attacks and accessible-but-deep fighting systems that made the first game great.
Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar
EU release: TBA
OK, so, this is more or less the same “build an adorable farm” game you’ve either played or avoided for years. Till the soil, milk the cows, mingle with your neighbors, generally live a wholesome frontier life – that’s the goal. But now there’s a big ol’ place to share and sell your wares (the Grand Bazaar, naturally) and that’s warranted an entirely new release. That’d bring the total to FIVE Harvest Moons for the DS, by the way.
Alan Wake: The Signal (DLC)
EU release: July 27
Confused by the ending of Alan Wake? Confused by the entirety of Alan Wake? Us too – the game seemed purposefully designed to leave players desperate for a sequel, if only so they could finally receive some real answers. Well, that journey towards payoff and a possible Alan Wake 2 begins this month, when the first DLC episode – The Signal – becomes available. If you don’t still have the free-DLC voucher that came with new copies of the game, it sells for 560 Microsoft Points (or $7). Doesn't seem fair to charge for closure, but we are awfully curious…
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
EU release: TBA
Konami’s been recycling its Castlevania sprites for 13(!) years, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get excited about another (likely excellent) 2D entry in the series. Perhaps that’s why, for Harmony of Despair, they’ve decided to throw just about everything that’s ever existed into one massive, six-player vamp-off starring some of the series’ all-stars. Alucard, Shanoa, Soma Cruz and Jonathan Morris join a healthy stable of enemies, environments and bosses, all tossed into a time attack/boss rush hybrid game. It’s definitely against type, but it’s possible Despair could be the last time we see these characters presented in this manner, so also consider checking it out as a “last hurrah” kind of thing.
Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse Ep. 4: Beyond the Alley of the Dolls
Platforms: PC, PS3
EU release: July
Above: OK, you got us: this is actually a shot from Episode 3. But you get the idea, right?
The point-and-click adventures of gaming’s most iconic dog-and-rabbity-thing detective duo continue in yet another episode of their third adventure-game “season,” which sports better production values and a slightly slicker interface than the first two. While there aren’t any details yet on the plot this time around (or even what day Beyond the Alley of the Dolls will actually drop), this season has so far seen the pair foil an alien-gorilla invasion, witness their ancestors’ adventures in 1920s Egypt and furiously track down Max’s missing brain. So yeah, we’re kind of interested to see where this goes. It’s probably not be the best place to start the series, but if you’ve been following it so far, it’s definitely something to look forward to.
Jul 1, 2010
360's "Summer of Arcade" 2010 lineup looks fantastic
Yes, we know the sun is out. We'll go outside once we've finished all this gamey goodness
PlayStation Plus: everything you need to know
Including what's available on the service over the next two months
The Top 7... Best games of 2010 (so far)
With a first half this good, who needs the rest of the year?