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The games of summer: 20 games to ignore the sun with

Wednesday, June 20 marked the first official day of summer. The sun is up (unless you live in the Pacific Northwest, unfortunately), the birds are screaming—sorry, singing—and the heat index is climbing. That makes it a great time to be outside and frolicking, but as the heat climbs, it also makes for a good time to withdraw to the confines of an air conditioned room.

Officially, summer runs from June 20 through September 21 this year. During that stretch of pleasantry coming from the weather, there are at least 20 new games that will ship during that period. Developers want you inside. They need you inside! And here are 20 upcoming titles that have the potential to keep you indoors until Fall.

Quantum Conundrum

(Airtight Games; Square Enix | PC, June 21; PS3, Xbox 360, July 11)

Technically this game has already been released via Steam, but it made it into summer by one day and the XBL/PSN release won’t drop until July 11 anyway, so technically this is still an “upcoming” game. Regardless, the game is worth checking out. Designed by Portal co-creator Kim Swift, if you are looking for a puzzle game this summer, something that will make your mind work a bit, then the summer of gaming is off to a good start. Check out our review of the PC version.

Spec Ops: The Line

(Yager Development, Darkside Game Studios; 2K Games | PC, PS3, Xbox 360; June 26)

Kick off the summer with a touch of the old ultra-violence with 2K Games’ Spec Ops: The Line. In terms of gameplay, the odds are good that you’ve played a game similar to this one—odds are very, very good. This third-person shooter has a difference though: it is disturbing on a moral level. The game has scenarios that want to push you beyond the realm of standard shooters. For example: After a heated gun battle where you fatally wound an enemy, you can walk by their mutilated bodies and listen to them wail and moan or mercy kill them. It should up the level of intensity and controversy all in one swift move. Check out our full Spec Ops: The Line review.

The Amazing Spider-Man

(Beenox; Activision | PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360; June 26)

Typically, game adaptions of movies tend to be, well, junk is a nice way to phrase it. There have been exceptions though, and this game falls into that category. Beenox knows their Spidey. They have made two previous, original Spidey games, so the mechanics were already in place, and with a game like Spidey that is the tough part. Spidey is not a guy with a gun, he is a unique character in entertainment, and he moves and acts in ways no other character does. Having that part of the game already well in hand, the rest of the development was spent creating Spidey’s world. That is easier said than done, but a good Spidey game—movie adaption thing or not—is a thing of beauty. Check out our Amazing Spider-Man review for details.

The Secret World

(Funcom; EA | PC; July 3)

Combining MMORPG elements with an engaging story based around an underworld filled with magic, and The Secret World could be a hit in the making. The game won’t follow the traditional MMO patterns and will do away with levels and classes. Instead it will feature skill based character building, and you will ally yourself to one of three secret organizations, each with their own philosophy. That may not be revolutionary to longtime MMO players, but the ability to join a faction that exists in this world, but operates under the skin of it, just sounds kinda cool. Cool enough that even if the MMO aspect doesn’t do it for you, the story can be played as a single player game with a deep and engrossing narrative. PC fans should take note. Check back with us next week for a full review after we’ve had a proper chance to check out what the game is like with a server full of people.

NCAA Football 13

(EA Tiburon; EA Sports | PS3, Xbox 360; July 10)

If you are a fan of the NCAA Football series you already know all you need to know about this game, and if you aren’t, this franchise will once again fly past you with nary a thought. As with every new game in the series, there will be changes to the mechanics. Some will seem big, others small—it really just depends on whether or not you are a longtime fan of the series and can recognize the subtleties. Given that sports fans will likely be eagerly awaiting the start of the season, gamers will be all over this one.

Heroes of Ruin

(n-Space; Square Enix | Nintendo 3DS; July 17)

It has been well over a year since the 3DS was released, and one of the biggest complaints at the launch was the lack of software. That is a problem that is still a bit of an issue, but it is also one that is constantly improving. Heroes of Ruin is a title that will be familiar to fans of the original DS. The action role-playing style featured several entries on the previous handheld, and this game should fill a void many 3DS owners have been waiting to be filled. It probably won’t sell too many 3DS units on its own, but for owners looking for something new this game should be on their radars.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop

(Square Enix 1st Production Dept.; Square Enix | Nintendo 3DS; July 31)

And speaking of the Nintendo 3DS, this is a franchise that people have been clamoring for its return, and the 3DS may be the perfect system to house it. The mashup game featuring Disney and Square Enix characters brings the family friendly RPG to the family friend handheld. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter. The seventh offering in the series will be a continuation of the Kingdom Hearts story, and feature several well-known Disney worlds including that of Tron: Legacy, Fantasia, and the homes of many Disney characters. If any third-party 3DS game could move some 3DS units, it will be this one.

Risen 2: Dark Waters

(Piranha Bytes; Deep Silver | PS3, Xbox 360; August 3)

PC fans already know everything they need to know about this title since it was originally released on April 24. We even reviewed it a while back. But now that same game will reach a much wider audience and when it hits the consoles. The open world action RPG features monsters, pirates, and even the odd gold-chasing mutant creature. There were some technical and design issues that plagued the PC version. The console version can’t do anything about the design problems, but the technical stuff could be resolved. That would actually be somewhat ironic, since the first game had a great PC offering but a broken console experience. We’ll know more in August.

Persona 4 Arena

(Arc System Works; Atlus | PS3, Xbox 360; August 7)

This game will probably fly right by a lot of mainstream gamers, but many others have already put their pre-orders in and have been following the development of this game for months, if not years. The Persona franchise has gained a cult following over the years, especially among those that have an affinity for following Japanese-centric games. Sure, you can argue that the fighting game is location neutral, but there is a very Japanese flair to this series. Gamers that are into that, as well as fighting fans should consider checking this game out when it hits North America in August.

Sound Shapes

(Queasy Games; SCEA | PS3, PS Vita; August 7)

There are plenty of rhythm games on the market, but few really present the music as a character in its own right as Sound Shapes does. The game combines platforming with the ability to create your own tracks that play out like a game. What really intrigues us about this game is what clever gamers with an ear for music will create and share. The game is a tool, and a potentially incredible one at that.

Sleeping Dogs

(United Front Games & Square Enix London Studios; Square Enix | PC, PS3, Xbox 360; August 14)

Fans of Hong Kong action flicks should circle August 14 on their calendars, as the game once known as True Crime: Hong Kong finds new life with Square Enix. Using an open world, third-person style similar to Grand Theft Auto, Sleeping Dogs could be a quiet hit that gains a bit of cult status. Yes, it would be more apt to call it a “sleeper hit,” but calling Sleeping Dogs a sleeper hit would be silly and redundant. But with an immersive story set in a lively and original world, this game could have some resonance.

Darksiders 2

(Vigil Games; THQ | PC, PS3, Xbox 360; August 14—Wii U; TBA)

Despite a handful of delays, Darksiders 2 is on track to be one of the biggest titles of the year. The sequel will not require fans to have played the first, and the hack and slash genre makes it a perfect game for a summer gaming audience. In many ways, Darksiders 2 is the equivalent of a big budget Hollywood flick. There will be plenty of explosions and the like, and it will be shiny. It stars Death, so it probably won’t be heavy on the romance, but if you are looking for a game to wile away the summer hours, Darksiders 2 is worth checking out.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

(Nintendo EAD; Nintendo | 3DS; August 19)

The Nintendo 3DS may end up having a big summer, and it will be capped by the next Mario title. As for whether or not it will be a hit—it’s Mario. If it is anywhere near the quality of the last 3DS Mario platformer, this game will be a must have for owners of Nintendo’s handheld system. Beyond that, you probably know exactly what to expect. There will be some multiplayer challenges, and there is discussion of DLC in the future, so this may be one of the longer lasting 3DS titles.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

(Valve Corporation & Hidden Path Entertainment; Valve | Mac, PC, PS3, Xbox 360; August 21)

After several years away, Counter-Strike makes its triumphant return this summer via digital download. There was a day when Counter-Strike ruled the online multiplayer world. The dreams of many a socially awkward person were realized when Counter-Strike tournaments began to spring up around the world, and the champions could earn respect and cold hard cash. But inevitably Counter-Strike’s time passed and it was replaced by a slew of other games on both the PC and console. The newest offering probably won’t regain the glory of days past, but it should bring back plenty of nostalgia drenched hours wrapped up in a relatively inexpensive, and yet quality first-person shooter.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2

(City Interactive; City Interactive | PC, PS3, Xbox 360; August 21)

If this sequel is anything like its predecessor, than it will appeal to a very specific group of fans–despite all the warnings they should have learned from Sniper: Ghost Warrior. The original Sniper’s gameplay was based all around the sniping mechanic. Makes sense, what with the name “Sniper” right there in the title. But where the game failed to impress was…well, everywhere else. There was a schizophrenic feel to the game that made it a challenge to play. We’re not expecting any miracles here, but if the standard FPS sections can at least be passable, the sniping could make this game worth playing, especially to sniper fans.

Madden NFL 13

(EA Tiburon; EA Sports | PC, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Wii; August 28–Wii U; TBA)

You already know all you need to about Madden to have a good idea of whether you intend to buy it or not. The franchise has been around for years—decades even—and you know what to expect. This year’s iteration offers a new engine that will make some significant changes to the defense especially, plus there will be plenty of technical improvements, but deep down you already know if you are going to be among the millions that call in sick to work to play this year’s version of Madden the day it’s released. Whether you play it or not, pity poor Calvin Johnson, this year’s cover athlete and the next possible victim of the Madden Curse.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

(High Moon Studios; Activision | PC, PS3, Xbox 360; August 28)

While the Transformers in the comics and TV show may be more than meets the eye, their video game counterparts have not exactly been complex in their characterizations, instead opting for the “big robot smash” mentality. That isn’t to say that the last title from developer High Moon Studios, Transformers: War for Cybertron was bad, but it was a fairly predictable and typical shooter. And yes, High Moon also developed the adaption of Transformers: Dark of the Moon between War for Cybertron and this game, but it was a movie tie-in, and like an unseemly zit on a friend’s nose we choose to ignore it. This game has a certain flair (and Dinobots!), so we’re hoping for a Transformer game to quiet our inner-child that has been screaming for a good video game adaption for decades.

NHL 13

(EA Canada; EA Sports | PS3, Xbox 360; September 11)

Strap on your skates and head to the digital ice to knock the teeth out of the heads of your fellow gamers after a blatant hit that the refs failed to call because they are either blind or getting paid in digital currency by your opponent! Hockey fans are already all over this game, but if Madden isn’t your thing, or if you are a pure sports game junkie and want more, then maybe you should cast your eyes upon NHL 13. Like Madden, odds are you already know if you are going to buy it or not, but there may be a few more adventurous gamers that are probably less familiar with hockey than football, and may be willing to give it a try. They’ll have their chance this September.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2

(Namco Bandai; Namco Bandai | PS3, Xbox 360; September 11)

Like Madden and NHL before it, there is already a strong and vibrant group of Tekkenites (Tekkanians? Tekkers?) that are already planning on picking this game up without knowing anything more than it is another game in the Tekken franchise. There won’t be anything that will blow your mind in terms of radical changes to the gameplay, but you can expect one of the most polished and balanced fighters ever made—at least until the next Tekken comes out and supplants it. This one should keep you occupied until then though.

Borderlands 2

(Gearbox Software; 2K Games | PC, PS3, Xbox 360; September 18)

If you have an affinity for multiplayer FPS titles, then Borderlands 2 might be the game for you. The original game was something of a sleeper hit at first, but with over 4.5 million copies sold, the sleeper has awoken. The sequel will likely bring back most of the fans of the original, but also grab the attention of the late summer gamers looking for an excuse to escape that giant ball of flame in the sky that will be trying its hardest to set us ablaze! With a solid FPS campaign that is designed to be played online with friends, Borderlands 2 could be the game of the summer–and if fans of the original get their wish, maybe one of the games of the year.

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