15 Sizzling Summer Games
Valhalla, Space, and Hell
By: Silicon Knights
From: Microsoft Game Studios
For: Xbox 360
ETA: August 19
Info: This game features cybernetic Norse gods versus machines versus run-of-the-mill human beings in an action-adventure that's part role-playing game, part dungeon crawler.
Matt: Once, twice, third time's the charm? Too Human has been kicking around since 1999, when it was supposed to be a four-disc opus for the original PlayStation. Since then it has been passing the hat and trawling for publishers (and even launched a few lawsuits). Who knows whether this Roger Zelazny-like tale about cybernetic Norse gods in a twitch-and-click action crawl has the right stuff, but Silicon Knights (Legacy of Kain, Eternal Darkness, and Metal Gear: The Twin Snakes) makes reputable games, and there's no reason to think this
Darren: I'm with
By: Gas Powered Games
ETA: August 19
Info: Action role-playing reaches for the stars in Chris Taylor's stab at working the action-twitchy Dungeon Siege franchise over with an ethics-driven body-augmentation angle. Shoot your way around a colony ship under siege from aliens, with help from a robotic sidekick.
Matt: Chris Taylor's Dungeon Siege games are kind of cool for the first couple hours--then the novelty wears off, and you might as well be slogging through a lawn-mowing simulation. Space Siege tries to ditch that rap by adding cybernetic upgrades with a moral twist: You get the "pure" ending only if you emerge at the finale more human than machine. In other words, keep your bionic fetish on a leash if you want to win the game's goody-two-shoes award.
Darren: I think they licked the whole monotonous button-clicking, but in all seriousness I have a different concern with Space Siege--the controls. If you're trying to build an action game with an action-role-playing game's engine, you run the risk of slowing down the game or making it tougher to control. If that's been dealt with, great, and Taylor could have a winner on his hands.
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
By: Gearbox Software
For: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
ETA: August 26
Info: The third entry in this tactical first-person-shooter series once more takes up the tale of a 101st Airborne Division squad on the prowl during World War II's late summer 1944 initiative. The mission: Secure a series of bridges over the main rivers in the German-occupied Netherlands.
Matt: Hey, check this out. What, can't read what I'm doing? Look harder. See? I've giving you hand signals! Just like the ones you can issue to your squad in this game. Of course, you could do that in the last two, so don't look for much in the way of new features here beyond improved AI, cleaned-up visuals, and a few new special units such as bazooka and machine-gun teams. That's okay, because this series's appeal was always the storytelling anyway.
Darren: The Brothers in Arms games have always felt like a love letter to war-history buffs. The developers get down on the ground level and really try to put you in a soldier's boots. And with every revision of the series, Gearbox further enhances an already deep battlefield. That's saying nothing of how this first-person shooter has perfected the art of directing squad tactics while in the heat of a firefight.