The magical holiday of the Steam Summer Sale offers thousands of deals and specials, yet some of the best titles may be lost behind the sensational front page sales and flash sales. At the same time, there are some titles among the deals that should be avoided under all circumstances. The rules for these two lists are simple: no early access titles and no “low hanging fruits” such as Bad Rats. These choices are completely subjective and reflect my opinion rather than the overall staff here at TechRaptor. I have personal experience with all of the suggested titles because they are all in my Steam library. Hopefully, one or more of these suggestions may end up in your sale cart.
Top Ten Games Suggestions:
10. Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed – $10; will likely go on flash sale.
Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed offers the modern Mario Kart experience on PC with Sega characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Beat from Jet Grind Radio and even the car from Daytona USA alongside “guest characters” Wreck-It-Ralph and Danica Patrick. The “transformed” refers to a gameplay feature where cars become either jets or boats, depending on the dynamic track environment. Unlike the prior title Sonic and All-Stars Racing, there is on-line functionality alongside a fully-developed “career mode” to unlock characters and vehicle mods. Be advised that the game is best played with a controller because of the heavy emphasis on drifting throughout the various tracks. The game supports local multiplayer for up to four players.
9. Double Dragon Neon – $2 [It has shown up at $1 during flash sales]
Double Dragon Neon does for beat-em-ups what Farcry 3: Blood Dragon did for first person shooters. The deeply entrenched 80’s aesthetic combines the era that the source material originated in with modern brawler action. Billy and Jimmy Lee must embrace their most bizarre adventure ever to save Marian from the Skeletor-inspired “Skullmagedon.” A memorable soundtrack features remakes of series classics and original compositions that could stand toe-to-toe with the power ballads of days gone by. Rounding off the experience is a multitude of special moves and “styles” that power up with cassette drops from fallen foes. This title is best experienced with a controller alongside a second player locally or on-line.
8. Shadow Warrior (2013) – $5 for standard edition; $7.49 for the special edition
Simply put, the remake of Shadow Warrior is the game that Duke Nukem Forever wishes it could be. The game combines everything that made the original game great with natural evolutions that reflect modern sensibilities. The protagonist, Lo-Wang, carries a full arsenal of brutal weapons like flamethrowers, rocket launchers and severed demon head lasers alongside mystic powers through this romp to discover the full power of his default sword. Very much like Double Dragon Neon, the game makes many allusions to the 1980’s alongside an underlying sense of self-awareness that doesn’t go overboard to the point of annoyance. Powers and weapon upgrades unlocked through a playthrough are directly transferable to other difficulties, which may be the only advantage you have in the relentless “Heroic Mode.” The challenge of the game lies not only in survival but also the player’s creativity in destroying Zilla’s henchmen and the hordes of demons.
7. Fallout New Vegas – $5 for base game. $11 for the “Ultimate Edition”
Long-time Fallout fans are likely aware that the original plan for Fallout 3, nicknamed Van Buren, was far different from the Bethesda-developed title of the same name in 2008. Obsidian’s spin-off title takes the mechanics from Fallout 3, applies it to a more ambiguous conflict over control of the Hoover Dam and manages to include elements from Van Buren. Unlike the “you’re either a good guy or you’re the Enclave” absolutes in Fallout 3, the factions in New Vegas have virtues and murkiness. These differing perspectives offer countless replayability options that result in hundreds of hours of potential gameplay. There is also quite the modding community, which you may want to take advantage of in case Bethesda makes another “paid mod” decision.
6. Deadly Premonition – $2.49 (Note: Requires a bit of file tweaking to work with Nvidia cards)
It’s Twin Peaks as a third person shooter featuring ridiculous dialogue, messages in coffee and fighting the supernatural. If this sounds appealing to you, then this game is a must buy. Don’t believe the negative press about this game because those people don’t “get it.” At least that is what Zach tells me between my conversations with him about Tom and Jerry.
5. The Typing of the Dead – $10 for base game. $12.49 for the version with all of the dictionary DLC
The concept of Typing of the Dead is inherently absurd: a typing game that replaces guns in House of the Dead Overkill: Extended Cut’s levels with typing prompts. The game offers a very unique challenge that can actually improve one’s typing speed and accuracy. There is also one DLC dictionary entirely dedicated to profanity. The original version of the game held onto the world record for most F-bombs until Mafia 2 managed to surpass its profanity. Imagine how eager children would be if this showed up in Computer Lab. Luckily, people who don’t want an M-Rated version of Mario Teaches Typing can enjoy the original House of the Dead Overkill: Extended Cut within the game from the very start. It is essentially two completely different styles of gameplay for the same assets contained in one title.
4. Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death – $5 (It was often $1 during flash sales in prior season sales)
The inclusion of the title might seem completely out of left field by its name alone. Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death may be one of the most competent made and hilariously absurd games ever made. The core premise boils down to a Mayan-centric God of War clone taking place in the modern-day where Marlow Briggs must prevent a ceremony that would threaten to destroy the world. At face value, this idea is pretty generic. However, what shifts it into maximum cuhrazy is the companion talking mask who comes across as a mixture of the mask from Crash Bandicoot with a disgruntled YouTube commenter. The game’s 60fps framerate allows for fluid combos that certainly trump its contemporary slasher/brawlers. This game is another example that is best played with a controller.
3. Kerbal Space Program – $33.99; will likely be a featured deal during the sale
The best way to describe Kerbal Space Program is a mixture of the impossible Lego spaceships kids make with math class and the “spreadsheet fun” in the original X-COM. The best aspect of the game is that multiple options are available that drastically vary in player expectation. For those wanting to have fun making rockets that mostly explode, there is sandbox mode. For the more objective-oriented types there are the career mode and mission-specific scenarios to complete. The overall experience is a toybox that can become as complicated as someone wants to make it. It’s always hilarious to put 30 rocket engines onto a single rocket simply to make it explode on the launchpad. Truly, this is the best simulator of the Soviet moon rocket ever devised.
2. Skullgirls – $3.74; additional $4.96 for the complete current character roster
Imagine mixing Darkstalkers and the animation engine from Arc System fighting games into an independently developed fighting game. Skullgirls holds the distinct privilege of being among the few modern six button fighting games. It take cues from the full spectrum of fighting games to create an identity all its own. Multiplayer includes a King of Fighter-esque character balance that allows for one ultra-powerful character, two powerful characters or three normal characters regardless of how a competitor configures their fighter(s). Player mileage will vary depending upon their preferred style of play and their comfort with the playable characters. This is a title that basically demands controllers for local play and any attempts to competitive play.
1. Novalogic ‘Everything Bundle’ – $24.49
Normally, “classic game bundles” are hard to recommend because the publisher support is generally dead and modern support depends entirely on fan mods. Depending entirely on one’s experience with Novalogic games in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, this bundle may or may not be an automatic sale already. The reason this bundle tops this list is that Novalogic has begun patching proper modern functionality into the titles. After almost half a decade of no additional patches, the Novalogic site roared to life again on June 1st 2015 to release an update for the flight simulator F-22 Lightning 3. The shocking part is that the mod is an official update to bring higher resolution textures into the game along with native 1080p support. There isn’t a promise that multiple titles will receive patches beyond this one. That said, even if an increase in sales doesn’t spark a revival of every title in the collection, there are still an incredible amount of games within this bundle. There is a chance to, quite literally, rewrite history in the modern gaming landscape.
Top Five Games to Avoid:
5. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes – $10
Ground Zeroes serves no purpose this close to the formal release of Metal Gear Solid V apart from the novelty of serving as a demo. Unfortunately, this is a demo that someone is expected to pay $10 for. Maybe buying this on sale during the Winter Sale last year made sense for those with money burning a hole in their pocket, but this title is irrelevant by now. Chances are high that an eventual Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain bundle on Steam will include Ground Zeroes as a prologue at a much better value.
4. Bulletstorm – $10It pains me to include this game because the XBOX 360 version was easily one of my favorite shooters last generation. The crimes that place the title on the list are the two marks of death: EA and Games for Windows Live. The game will not work because Games for Windows Live is dead. Theoretically, EA could patch in Steamworks support for the title. In all likelihood this adjustment will never be made because the title failed to make a profit. Do not buy unless an official reconfiguration of the DRM is announced.
3. Fallout 3 – $5 for standard; $12 for GotY Edition
A quick glance at the Steam page for this game reveals the Achilles Heel: no optimization for Windows 7 and beyond. Unless Bethesda creates a Fallout 3: Remastered in prelude to Fallout 4’s release, then this game may be unplayable on all Windows OSes post-Windows Vista. It goes without say that picking up a used copy of the GotY version of the Playstation 3 or XBOX 360 is the cheaper and less frustrating alternative.
2. Saints Row 2 – $5
This PC port is quite infamous for how poorly optimized it is. Even modern systems far exceeding the recommended specifications struggle to run the game properly. Despite fan patches and guides to improve the game, the core port is still atrocious. Saints Row the Third lacks any “connection” to the data from Saints Row 2, which means that there is no shame in playing the second title on consoles. Buy any of the other Saints Row titles on Steam if you absolutely need to scratch a Saints Row itch.
Before arguing the semantics of “OH, THE GTA ON-LINE MONEY IS SO IMPORTANT,” there is no excuse for the borderline price-fixing surrounding Grand Theft Auto V’s PC port. Even the recently released Witcher 3 is offering a 10% discount in the spirit of the Summer Sale. These pricing shenanigans saw strange price fluxes to offer sensational percentage stickers without actually offering a deal. Accusations surrounding Wolfenstein: The New Order cost it a place on the recommended list. As for Grand Theft Auto V, the people who wanted the game immediately at launch likely already have it in some form or another. If you want to save a few dollars, shop around for a physical copy or wait until better sales in the future.
You might as well get that seven DVD swag on, yo.