Top 10 Games to Revisit During the Summer Lull
Why is it summer break coincides with the annual dry spell from video game developers? The one time of your life that you’ll have tons of time on your hands, and no new games are being released. Well, it’s time to check the shelves for a few titles that you’ll happily come back to time and again. So sit in your darkened, air-conditioned house and enjoy these depictions of summer surf and turf.
10. Voodoo Vince
People think back wistfully on the summers of their youth and think to themselves, “Those were the days.” Wrong. Those were the nights! Think about it. During the day you had to mow lawns, work petty jobs, deal with summer school, and find ways to cool off from the oppressive heat. But, oh, those nights. You got to go to parties, drank, got laid, all to the accompaniment of a sticky heat you’ll either never forget or have yet to experience. Voodoo Vince, perhaps quite by accident, manages to capture the essence of that still night that seemed to exist only for you, a mirror world where the wild creatures of the world antithetical to the day’s order find solace. To refrain from waxing further grandiloquent, Voodoo Vince is a one-player free-roaming action-adventure title for the Xbox that features Vince, a living voodoo doll, in New Orleans. Your mistress, Madame Charmaine, has her voodoo shop broken into by her 3rd rate rival, Kosmo the Inscrutable, in order to steal her Zombie Dust. The Zombie Dust gets loose and causes chaos which only Vince can set right, questing through the French Quarter, Bayou, and other colorful locations solving puzzles and taking on enemies by hilariously inflicting harm upon yourself. (My favorite is the one where he chugs a bottle of ex-lax and watches as his attackers double over in gastric panic.) It’s a platformer modeled after Mario 64 in mechanics but possessed of its own inscrutable spirit.
9. Godfather 2
You’re in sunny Miami in the ‘50s, you’re a dangerous gangster who can shoot people in the street while working on your tan with total impunity, life is good right? There’s just that pesky issue of the whole mob war going on. But with a solid crew of skilled men under your command, an array of upgradeable weapons, and territories to take or hold, you’ve got the situation well in hand. So head down to South Beach and take in the scenery before heading off to your next extortion gig. You’ve got Black Hand combat skills and a god-complex that ensures you use them to their fullest. Godfather 2 was disappointingly short, but it did so many things well that it’s hard to get enough of it. You had allies with different abilities that you could upgrade. You also had the groundbreaking ability to delegate major tasks to these allies while building your crime family. In these ways, the game set standards for sandbox shooters that have yet to be met by more well-known series like GTA. Plus, there’s the added stimulation of your enemies fighting back and launching their own attacks against your properties, so each play through goes down differently.
8. Red Dead Redemption
I thought how to be gauche about introducing this title, and realized the standard “saddle up, pardner” line is just about the apex of banality, so please forgive me if I respect your intelligence and refrain. Red Dead Redemption is a great summer title because, as far as sandbox shooters go, you’ve got plenty of attitude, there’s always something new to do, it can pull you in but you can just as readily throw it aside for later, and the godawful heat reminds you of why you’re inside not putting up with our evil daystar. Bonus points for the zombie DLC too, one of very few game expansions worth the cost. As former outlaw John Marston in 1911 frontier territory you are coerced by the FBI into tracking down members of your former gang, in the process making friends and opening old wounds for the entertainment of a cruel god (or us spectators). It’s basically GTA: Cowboy Style, but without so much of the bewildering maps and constant intrusion from NPCs who attempt to get you to involve yourself with them and their petty problems. The story is solid, gameplay can be a bit buggy on occasion, but that adds more to the hilarity than anything. And it makes you glad you weren’t around back before AC was invented.
7. Resident Evil 4
Probably the best game to ever come out of the Resident Evil series, RE4 hits the right stride between action and horror. A sleepy little Spanish village filled with axe murderers is just the right note for the summer scream flick, and Leon Kennedy plays our dashing young hero admirably, out to rescue the President’s daughter, a concept that’s got a fair amount of cheese considering the whole “save the princess” angle. RE4 was the first action-shooter to allow you to move while aiming, increasing your survival chances and adding a much-needed sense of comfort to a previously stilted and awkward control scheme. Add into the mercenaries mode and you’ve got tons of replay value to a shooter that will still have you holding your breath and jumping at shadows.