15 Sizzling Summer Games
Conquer the World, Win a Medal
Info: Sid Meier's turn-based world-conquering strategy opus lands on the latest consoles and handhelds with a user-friendly interface and streamlined timetables, jettisoning virtually none of the sophistication of its computer cousin.
Matt: Civilization IV gets a crewcut and an interface that actually works with a gamepad! If anyone has the stuff to pull off turn-based game play on a console, it's Sid Meier. (After all, the guy only spawned the most popular strategy franchise of all time.) And you can count on this "version [he's] always wanted to make" selling oodles once gamers realize that
Darren: Passionate PC gamers have a rep as cave-dwelling trolls who shun sunlight. Blame the Civ games. I've spent days carefully plotting moves with a series of clandestine keyboard commands. Sure, it may not scream "fast-paced," but consider yourself warned: You're now only a gamepad away from a new addiction.
Beijing Olympics 2008
For: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
ETA: July 8
Info: The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing receive a realistic sports-simulation treatment, with career and online modes that
Matt: The 2008 Summer Olympics don't launch until a month after this one hits the streets. Think of it as training for the media deluge that will jam the airwaves for two weeks starting on August 8. Multievent games typically discard depth to pack in as much lateral content as possible, and developer Eurocom's track record isn't exactly glowing. (Anyone remember Athens 2004?) Still, if you're up for a little virtual track and field, it's either this or Sega's mediocre Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.
Darren: What, no "Olympic Protest" mode? Cheap jabs aside, I know some people will flock to this hoping that jamming the A button can replace a lifetime of couch potato-ing, but I don't think this game will score even a bronze medal. What bums me out is that the way this game plays probably hasn't evolved since the old Summer Games and Winter Games titles from the 1980s (as great as those were).
Info: Play as a group of wisecracking bank robbers who launch grand-scale robberies around San Francisco circa 1969.
Matt: "All right, everybody be cool, this is a robbery!" Err, wrong shtick, but right off the block, Hei$t kind of sounds like the Tarantino film that line comes from, right down to the pimptastic '70s funk tunes and robbers in giant-size Ray-Bans. Think Rainbow Six meets Pulp Fiction, and you have a handle on this plan-a-string-of-robberies tactical action game with attitude by the guys who gave us the mostly likable 2004 snark-fest The Bard's Tale.
Darren: I am a complete sucker for any sort of heist flick--especially one trying to capture the flavor of everything between The Hot Rock and Dog Day Afternoon, so when you tell me that it's appearing in game form, I'll reach for the sky.