It’s 2012. July 4th is here and you’re trying to pass time before the fireworks. I suspect that there are gamers out there who are on vacation looking for some time to kill. For the same reason blockbuster movie hits are out are the same reasons this is one of the best times possible for new game releases.
This list is not definitive by any means but for the last few months each release has been progressively been better based on metacritic scores and overall public perception of the games. Traditionally speaking, the summer isn’t as kind to movie goers as they are to gamers. Many gamers also have other hobbies that stretch outdoors, poolsides and sporting events.
There’s alot of slim pickings but the list below might change your mind. With Free-To-Play and social games pushing more into the mainstream, publishers are taking more notice now than ever as opposed to rolling out titles that would’ve otherwise been lost in the holiday shuffle.
It should be noted though that a few games on this list have already been released while a few are not. For the most part, most of the games here will be heavily anticipated while the few that are released should quell your appetites before then.
In any case, here they are. In no particular order, below are the Top 10 Summer Games You Must Play for 2012:
1. Max Payne 3 (XBox 360, PS3, PC) - Max Payne 3 is the third installment in Rockstar Games Max Payne series and is set eight years after the events of the last installment and it’s already in store shelves.
Why should you play it? The game has a tight, terrific gunplay intensified by bullet time and hard-hitting violence. The game’s story shows off its great writing, voice acting, and cutscene presentation. The detailed environments are much more enjoyable when you find that most of it can get destroyed in spectacular fashion. The sound design is also some of the best there is in the industry, especially if you have a surround sound system. The game also has some multiplayer modes that are fun and chaotic – especially with bullet time.
Is it out? Yes
2. Mass Effect 3 (XBox 360, PS3, PC) - Mass Effect 3 is the conclusion to developer BioWare’s action role-playing sci-fi trilogy and completes the story of its protagonist Commander Shepard.
Why should you play it? The game has a fantastic yet very moving story that balances plot and character and if you have played the previous Mass Effect games in the same system, you can see your past and present choices impact the game in wonderful and unexpected ways. If you’ve had the pleasure of playing the previous two games, this would be automatic to you. Compared to its prequels, the third games has much-improved level design that leads to challenging, exciting battles. Graphically, the game really shows off some fantastic art design that makes beautiful use of color and composition. Of course, in Bioware tradition, top-notch voice acting brings every major character to life. Also, check out Andrew Lee’s review here.
Is it out? Yes
3. Dragon’s Dogma (XBox 360, PS3, PC) - Dragon’s Dogma is a brand new and now promising IP as gamers will experience exciting and frustrating role-playing adventures that feature challenging and satisfying battles versus monstrous foes.
Why should you play it? Dragon’s Dogma contains some of the most fantastic combat encounters against awesomely cool looking monsters. The RPG has been regarded by many to have one of the best boss fights in any role-playing game and there seems to be always a surprise around the corner despite the redious backtracking through familiar territory and pawns annoying you with their inconsistent AI. Despite those minor issues, the game also has an atmospheric touch that make the world feel authentic and believable. Also, you’ll realize that a series of choices leads to an unforgettable ending. Also, check out what one of our guys said about the game.
Is it out? Yes
4. Ghost Recon Future Soldier (XBox 360, PS3, PC) - Ubisoft’s squad-based shooter series returns with advanced prototype weapons and both a single-player campaign and multiplayer modes.
Why should you play it? There is something satisfying about Ghost Recon’s sync shot mechanic that has not been (if ever) experienced in other third person shooters. Also, this game is the first in the series to carry the most lengthy campaign to date and what’s even better is that is great in both solo play and co-op. There are also some enjoyable competitive multiplayer modes that is brewing in creativity. Future Soldier’s brand of stealthy action and streamlined teamwork gives it a distinct appeal that is great for gamers looking to do as much thinking as shooting.
Is it out? Yes
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Downguard (XBox 360, PS3, PC) - The fifth chapter in the Elder Scrolls now has a DLC that extends the game to new levels with gameplay and graphical enhancements, and features hours of play time.
Why should you play it? The Dawnguard is the faction of vampire hunters you got a chance to hangout with in the main Skyrim campaign. The DLC let’s you experience this new realm with excellent new areas to explore and there are a number of great individual moments where being a vampire lord can feel evil because good is dumb. Should you side with the vamps, you get one of the DLC’s more intriguing features: the ability to morph into a vampire lord. In this form, you can hover over the ground and fling magic at enemies, which sucks life from them and grants it to you. What can be more fun than that?
Is it out? Yes
6. The Last Story (Wii) - The Last Story is a brilliant role-playing game that’s as rich and emotionally affecting as the best in the genre and it’s directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi – the same man who started the Final Fantasy franchise.
Why should you play it? The Last Story has a convincing story, combined with a brilliant combat system and a great audiovisual presentation that makes it a must-have game for anyone who has a Wii or even just a special place in their heart for special RPG’s. It’s one of Hironobu Sakaguchi best works. There’s even elements of stealth and real-time strategy that other RPGs may imitate over time. It’s as rich and emotionally affecting as the best in the genre.
Is it out? Only in Europe but it’s expected to drop stateside in July 31st
7. Persona 4 Arena (XBox 360, PS3) - Persona 4 Arena uses hand-drawn, high definition 2D anime-style fighters and colorful, over-the-top special effects to bring to life a roster of fighters from Persona 3 and Persona 4.
Why should you play it? It’s a MegaTen game (Shin Megami Tensei) that has a fully voiced story mode and kicks off right after the end of Persona 4. The frenzy of light and colour in one of Persona 4 Arena’s battles might appear bafflingly complex to the uninitiated, but the onscreen action has a sort of simplicity that helps ease in new players who are more familiar with standard Street Fighter tactics. Arena builds on the successes of Arc System Works’ fans while introducing an accessibility to players unfamiliar to the genre.
Release date: August 7th.
8. Sleeping Dogs (XBox 360, PS3, PC) - Square Enix is resurrecting the game formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong from United Front Games.
Why should you play it? I got a chance to play this myself at E3. The game shows off some impressive free form 360 combat that allows you to beat up the crap out of anyone who gets in your way while making use of the environments in hilarious fashion. The combat is brutal and the story looks promising You can grab enemies and throw them off rooftops, into trash cans and even counter incoming attacks. The game brews some viceral moments as you chasing down foes throughout various environments and you get to perform some Parkour-like free running stunts as well.
Release date: August 14th.
9. Guild Wars 2 (PC) - Guild Wars 2 is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is the sequel to the episodic Guild Wars game series.
Why should you play it? We got a chance to check out Guild Wars 2 Beta and what we saw was impressive so far. None of the gameplay was forced. You could follow the plot, ignore it, or catch up to it later. The game appears to not force you to coordinate with other players. In a twist to the MMO scene, everyone who takes part in completing an objective gets some credit proportional to how much they contributed. Do well, and you’re rewarded with a gold medal when it’s all over; turn up halfway through, and you might get a bronze or nothing at all. In fact, one man from the Forbes site (who hates MMOs) played this game and now wants it. Hell, we did a whole podcast on this game. Listen to it. You’ll hear plenty of reasons why you should play it.
Release date: August 28th
10. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (XBox 360, PS3, PC) - This follow-up to 2010′s well received War for Cybertron depicts the final hours of the civil war that led the Autobots and Decepticons to abandon their home planet.
Why should you play it? FoC looks and plays alot more fluid than its prequel and you get to play Optimus Prime and relive the Transformer movie moment where you’re transforming into robot mode while shooting in mid flight. The environments are some of best we’ve seen in Transformer-licensed game there are quite a number of wrinkles that has made leaps above its prequel. In fact, we got a chance to play the game ourselves at E3 and we couldn’t contain our giddiness. Even IGN called it one of the best XBox games of 2012 while Game Informer called it Best in Show at E3 for 2012.
Release date: August 28th
So whether or not you plan on spending summer sprawled out on your couch or breaking keyboards and mice on your PC, it’s hard to deny that there are some genuinely excellent games coming through the pipeline. However, our radar for great summer games may have passed a couple of notables. If that’s the case, hit the jump on our comment section below let us have it. In all cases, keep your eyes peeled at LTG for all the latest news, features and reviews for some sleeper hits and games we think might hold your attention. Until then, have a great 4th of July and enjoy the summer.