With this console generation now entering into its final stage before the new boys arrive at Christmas, many games stores have bargain bins stuffed full of older treasures, the kind of AA titles that largely get ignored in the rush to consume the latest and greatest killing simulators. However, there’s some genuinely fun times to be had for the price of a pint (or mocha latte frappuccino, Vancouver). So, if you’re looking for some cheap fun this weekend, here’s a list of ten titles that will definitely provide value for money:
Red Faction Guerrilla – Xbox 360, PS3
The original Red Faction is one of my favourite PS2 first-person shooters and Guerrilla carries on the themes with great flair. Shifting into a third-person viewpoint, you’re tasked with exploring an open-world Mars colony, bringing down the oppressive government one grunt at a time. The draw here is that every building and structure is constructed with hundreds of destructible pieces, meaning mayhem has never been this precise (or fun). The devs actually had to hire a building engineer to advise them, and rumble as a building finally twitches and falls is incredibly satisfying. The story takes to time to open up, but stick with it and you’ll be jetpacking round, jumping trucks into hostage-filled buildings, and having more fun with timed charges than you’s care to admit.
Too Human – Xbox 360
Silicon Knights may have imploded with the strength of their own pretence, but this highly divisive game shows many of their strengths at full force. Set in a version of high-tech version of the Thor myth, it’s a weird mix of Diablo and a beat-em-up, with all the combat moves mapped to the right stick. It definitely takes some time to get used to, but once it clicks, it’s smooth and responsive. Levels are huge – and slightly repetitive – but the stroke of genius is how loot is constantly thrown at you, teasing you with level requirements and promises of heightened smashing. Stick with it and you could be surprised at how much it intrigues you.
Mirror’s Edge – Xbox 360, PS3
In 2008, EA publicly stated that they were staking a chance on new IP, leading to Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space being released in the same year. Seems a long way away from the corporate-focused EA of 2013. The first game to genuinely capture the feel of running over the tops of skyscrapers, DICE’s experimental title is notable for it’s architectural beauty. Full of clean edges and bright colour highlights, the dystopian city that acts as parkour playgroup for protagonist Faith is still one of the best seen in videogames. This game will frustrate you, mainly as it’s no-guns focus fails as you have to evade groups of armed soldiers, but once you understand that it’s actually a racing game it falls into place nicely. Try it out.
Blur – Xbox 360, PS3
Straight to the point – Bizarre Creations’ Blur is the best arcade racer of this generation. Its mix of real-life cars and Mario Kart style power-ups was an uneasy mix for buyers, and Activision completely messed up its promotion, so it actually lead to the closure of the best racing dev team in the business. However, just play the thing and you’l be instantly blown away at its speed and ferocious energy. Please, just buy this game, and dream what a sequel might have been.
Crackdown – Xbox 360
Still one of the best open-world games you can buy, Crackdown made full use of the (then) new machine’s capabilities with tons of special effects and glorious carnage. Playing as a futuristic policeman in a city controlled by gangs, every kill (and shiny collectable sphere) slowly leads to the unlock of new powers, cars targets. It’s a wonderful fantasy, leaping between buildings taking out the various gang members, leaders and bosses to secure the area. All of the action is underpinned by a faceless narrator who turns out to be central to a really satisfying endgame twist. Brilliant, and so much better than its sequel. Buy.
Stuntman: Ignition – Xbox 360, PS3
How do you like taking orders? Really, most gaming involves the player acting out the every whim of some controlling force, but in Stuntman: Ignition it’s a selection of unhinged film directors pushing you around in a variety of high-speed vehicles. Each level is based on a B-Movie stereotype, so you might be jumping out of a multi-story car park as a volcano explodes or skidding sideways between missiles in a high-tech spy car. Instructions are given on the fly, requiring quick reactions and a good memory for when the inevitable crash-out happens. Tie this into a scoring systems and you’ve got a unique racing experience that quickly become addictive.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Xbox 360, PS3
Released to coincide with the awful, awful movie, Wolverine stands out thanks to its completely different approach to the character. Instead of Jackman’s forlorn brooder, we get to play as a Wolverine who’s far closer to the source material. This means it is gory, aggressive and unapologetically brutal from the off, and all the better for it. The level design and campaign as predictable and linear, but the move set is where Wolverine shines. The primary single slash moves are enjoyable enough, but by the halfway point you’ll have unlocks a vicious array of jump attacks that rewards pure aggression. It’s not a hugely long game either, but that is a positive in my book, and leaves you with nothing but happy thoughts of how a Wolverine story should play out.
Tomb Raider Legend – Xbox 360, PS3
Enjoying the new Tomb Raider? Me too, hugely. However, there’s no denying that it has taken a gritty direction away from the source material, and Crystal Dynamics’ first Lara Croft adventure is a good place to recapture that old spirit. Pretty and involving, snappy and inventive, it’s still too combat heavy but worth experiencing for the moments of grandeur. Also, Keeley Hawes’ vocal performance as Lara is perfectly realised, capturing her attitude and bravado throughout. Go and explore.
Heavenly Sword – PS3
Poor Heavenly Sword. Derided at the launch of the PS3 for being short and uninspiring, I found it to be the perfect example of how this generation can create experiences akin to interactive movies. Protagonist Nariko is beautiful and deadly, wielding the titular weapon to bring down her foes as it slowly consumes her soul. The graphics and facial animation are stunning and the fighting systems, while limited, offeres many options for focused, intense combat. But the end, there’s a good chance you might love this game as much as I do, so give it a try.
Singularity – Xbox 360, PS3
Thrown unceremoniously onto shelves without any fanfare from Activision (see the running theme here?), Singularity didn’t make any kind of dent and was really one of the last AA games to have any money thrown at it. However, play it and you’ll experience one of the most inventive and enjoyable shooters of this generation. Revolving around time trave and a protagonist attempting to rectify his own mistakes, the story locks you in tight spaces and gives you some wonderful weaponry to dispatch the varied enemies. The excellent twist at the end is just the icing on the cake and leaves you wondering how a game like this could ever fail.