It is official my friends, summer 2013 is over.  Whether you returned to school or if the returning students packed the usually not too full buses on your workday commute, our summer vacations are over as are the weeks of sparse gaming releases. 

Just let me keep playing video games.  Please?

In the days leading up to this past summer, more specifically on May 12, 2013, I wrote a piece entitled, "This Generation Is Not Dead Yet."  The summer's end prompted a reflection on my picks and what games I bought these past few months.  How did my most anticipated summer games do?  Honestly, not very well.  As a whole, my picks failed to capture that moment of video game alchemy where an innovative and promising idea is transformed into a great game with features such as an engaging narrative and fun gameplay.  My hopes of acting as a gaming themed Nostradamus were dashed as the release days ticked by and I did not buy any of the games on my own list.  Instead, I grabbed proven older games at much cheaper prices than day one purchases.

Let us review my early excitement turned into disappointment with a list of games that simply did not capitalize on their initial promise.   

Remember Me: released June 4, 2013

Reviewed by GI Editor Ben Reeves, Scored 7.75 / Metacritic Average, 70

I would like to know how unlocking the gun safety and opening the suitcases makes Frank kill Alexia.. 

I am a big fan of the inclusion of female protagonists in games and Remember Me's premise of pitting Niln with her stylish "razor cut" hairdo against a megacorporation that controls the populace's memories was a science fiction daydream come to the gaming world.  The game is simply unpolished with its most intriguing premise, changing a person's reality by changing their memory of an event, sparsely populated in the game and Niln does not provide much of a reason to care about all of those not so stellar moments in between the interesting sequences.     

Sadly, Niln forgot her own personality in the brain wipe that  fueled her adventures.   I am still interested and curious but not at the $60 price point.  One day I will play Remember Me, just not for awhile.  

Dark: released June 11, 2013

Reviewed by GI Editor Andrew Reiner, Scored 2.00 / Metacritic Average, 40

This image alone is why this game is unplayable. 

Immediately upon release Dark received nominations as a contender for the title, "Worst Game Of The Year If Not This Entire Generation."  The modern day vampire setup has proven to be a difficult transition into a fun video game despite its success in other forms of entertainment (I may or may not have accompanied my girlfriend to the opening night of every Twilight film but only because she asked me to).    

Vampire success in video games remains in the fantasy setting such as the Castlevania franchise, Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, and Infamous': Festival Of Blood DLC.  Apparently, vampire DLC is the new zombie DLC.

Dark dashed my video game hopes from the narrative (atrocious voice acting with terrible dialogue from the opening lines, "It began in darkness.  I awoke to a world of pain. A throbbing in my head pounded on my temples."  What if we all narrated our lives like a poorly written novel?) to combat (finicky controls and awkward animations with headache inducing art styles for special abilities) to a nearly fetish treatment of women (took the "women in the vampire dance club" as ambiance for the environment further than ever necessary).  

Describing why a game is substandard usually involves a litany of video game tropes but there is a reason why those labels exist; this game is one of those reasons.  Dark is stricken from my list of games to one day play.  There are too many games available for me to spend time lost in the Dark (pun!). 

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified: released August 20, 2013

Reviewed by GI Editor Mat Miller, Scored 7.50 / Metacritic Average, 67

My hopes were high for a good game with radial wheel based combat.  Why can't you die Agent Carter?

Turn based strategy games fill a gaming need for excessive thinking before pushing the next button.  In the current console generation, I am a big fan of the Mass Effect style combat radial wheel due to its console friendly approach to pause and play combat.  The Bureau: XCOM Declassified was to be the hybrid of all hybrids, strategy brought to the third person shooter including the stress of permadeath.   

Yes, The Bureau has received, at best, middling reviews but the game is playable for those interested.  But what is game breaking for me and that leans me most towards a resigned resolution not to play this game is its implementation of permadeath.  The impact of permadeath is the loss of carefully cultivated and valuable character progress.  The sudden death of an experienced agent due to gamer misjudgment and now multiple rookie replacements cannot make up for the loss are unforgettable gaming moments. 

In The Bureau, permadeath becomes a checkpoint system upon the death of the protagonist, William Carter, who cannot die because he is required for the narrative to progress and that is not permadeath.  Sure, the two accompanying squaddies who can permanently die but Agent Carter's death resets the game to a previous checkpoint.  Games such as State Of Decay, ZombiU, and Dark Souls implemented systems with various possibilities regarding the loss of character progress while maintaining game progress.  The Bureau reverting to essentially a checkpoint system for such a hallmark feature of the XCOM franchise is baffling.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows: released August 28, 2013

Reviewed by GI Editor Dan Ryckert, Scored 2.00 Metacritic Average, 37

Let us look at this image of the best car ever celebrating the original TMNT cartoon rather than discuss TMNT: OOTS. 

One word: unpolished (to the point of being unplayable).  I was ready and willing to forgive the character models too but those creepy renditions were apparently only the beginning of the problems.  Let us move on before the tears begin. 

The Wolf Among Us: releases whenever Telltale Games deigns to allow us mortals to play it

A pig smoking while reclining on an armchair?  I'm sold. 

Remember that in early spring when Telltale Games announced the The Wolf Among Us, the game based on the comic Fables, that the game was announced for release "this summer"?  I do.  I waited excitedly all summer.  Yes, summer does not officially end until September 22, 2013 but let us not quibble, we are now in the fall releases of gaming.  I checked gaming updates atwitter that Telltale Games would announce the game's release which would be available within days of the announcement as we experienced with the releases for The Walking Dead.  Instead, we got a season transition episode for The Walking Dead (which I loved) and we got a trailer released in August announcing that The Wolf Among Us is "premiering soon."  I should have known better than to expect Telltale Games to adhere to their own timetable.  

My 400 Microsoft points earmarked for The Wolf Among Us are sadly unused but Telltale Games is smiling because that money will not be spent until The Wolf Among Us releases, whenever that is.

Defiance: released April 2, 2013

GI does not review MMOs

I enjoyed the show and the game looks like fun but for how much longer is it available?

Defiance launched to fanfare in the spring of 2013 as an MMO tie-in to the SyFy original television show of the same name.  While SyFy confirmed the television show for renewal with a second season, in August 2013 Trion Worlds closed its San Diego studio which was responsible for the MMO.  Regardless of an MMO's content (which is certainly important) MMOs and gaming in general is seeking a new business model.  The $60 hit game is a rarer and rarer success story.  Defiance published a $60 game with the option for a season pass or separate purchases of future released DLC.  Unlike the traditional MMO, Defiance was playable after a one-time purchase fee with later content optional but the first major DLC was not released until 5 months after the game.  Inexplicably, Defiance does require an online pass code resulting in used copies of the game providing the same access as a new copy but with no profit from the game sale paying the studio to continue the game's development.  I am curious to know how much the developer attributes the game's obvious financial concerns to used copy sales.   

Predicting the future of a video game is difficult.  New copies of Defiance are now available for $20 but as an MMO with an increasingly uncertain future whether or not the servers will be shut down shortly after you purchase the game remains a real concern.   

I respect the work that the developers put into each of the titles listed here, no game comes into being fully formed.  With so much gaming variety available to gamers nowadays convincing us to buy on day one is a harder and harder task.  These games will have their own diehard fans as well as others who will not commit to the experience until it is substantially cheaper, if at all. 

Next generation?  I have Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic, Jade Empire and a few Playstation 2 classics to play. 

The next console generation is inching closer to us with each passing day and even for those of us on the sidelines watching the console wars play out we cannot help but join in on the release day excitement.  For my Xbox 360, I am disappointed that Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 was pushed from this fall/winter to February 25, 2014 and that Castlevania: Mirror Of Fate HD releases on October 31, 2013 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 instead.  Good thing that I already have more than enough games to play and I am planning to finally tackle the original Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic. 

Thank you for reading and may your schedule accommodate as much game playing as possible.  

What games did you purchase this summer?

Any disappoints, surprises, or met expectations  this past summer?

With the summer over, what is now impacting your gaming schedule? Work? School? Both?