Monthly Free Games (Feb 2016)

Not only did I play all the new games this month in the first week after they came out, I played them PLUS tried Gravity Rush Remastered and Crypt of the Necrodancer, both of which I paid real moneys for on my PS4. Better month than January, but still a fair share of duds.

ZHeros (XBox One

Sparse, pointless brawler with generic cartoony graphics, weird camera choices, and an unnecessarily complicated combo system. I can't imagine this being worth anyone's time.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (XBox 360)

I have never, despite their critical acclaim, enjoyed a Deus Ex game. Human Revolution is no different. If you like your shooters full of pointless fiddly shit like finding what part of the shiny background graphics are a recessed control panel, all for the sake of realism, then odds are you've already played this. If you love that kind of thing and somehow missed Human Revolution, now's your chance.

Hand of Fate (XBox One)

I liked this a lot more than I was expecting. Everything I'd seen had indicated a collectible card game-lookin' thing, but that's not what it is at all. It's more like a random dungeon crawler done using cards, with some tabletop RPG elements (make choices, then a random element to determine success) and 3D-brawler combat with a bit of depth to it. It's an odd mix, and the whole thing could do with about 50% less reading and faster load times, but it's still surprisingly clever.

Sacred Citadel (XBox 360)

This is a pointless, mildly competent side-scrolling brawler. It's better ZHeros, but not a lot better, thanks to some very odd hit detection when enemies are on a higher or lower platform.

Helldivers (PS4, PS3, Vita)

This is probably the best game I hate this month. It's an isometric sci-fi shooter with an emphasis on complexity and pseudo-realism, but it has a mechanic that, while I understand it, drives me up the goddamned wall. Every time you need to do something big, like interact with an on-screen object or call down a special weapon or ability, you need to enter a series of four to eight directional presses, following an on-screen guide.

I get it. It's a gatekeeper mechanic. It takes attention and time as the cost for the actions. I just hate the actual doing of it. It's a dealbreaker for me, but it may not be for you. And it's definitely well made.

Nova-111 (PS4, PS3, Vita)

An easy favorite of the month for me. A cleverl little roguelike with some enemies and hazards having real-time elements. Stylish without being annoying, lets you get right to it without obfuscating key gameplay elements. Really a perfect little freebie.

Nom Nom Galaxy (PS4)

Ugh. I know the popularity of Minecraft has taught us that digging through blocks to craft things is FUN, but it's not a kind of fun that appeals to me, and it appeals to me even less as the latest in an endless series of digging and crafting oriented blocky 2D platformers. Here, you're making soup!

The worst part is, I kind of like the resource management/strategy aspect of this, in a sort of Mule-esque way, but not grafted onto a digging platformer.

GRID Autosport (PS3)

If you like your racing games shiny, car-porny, and realistic, you don't have.a shortage of options. You don't even have a shortage of better options if all you have is a PS3. Other than a vague sense of Britishness, I don't see what this game has that your Forzas and yoru Gran Turismos and every other racing game these days doesn't have. Where's my Split Second 2 with four-player local multi on next-gen consoles, gaming community?

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3)

This is a very, very specific game. I assumed it was a fighter from the name, selected Story Mode, and got what would have been an HOUR of badly voice acted story screens with a couple anime videos mixed in, including an intro movie, and never got in a fight. Then I selected Arcade Mode, and discovered a perfectly ordinary 2D fighter with 3D-rendered stages. I don't know who this is for, because the only people who would give a shit about this is people invested in the Persona games and characters, and I bet they all bought it even if they hate fighting games because you can sit through the whole story with the computer fighting for you on the easiest difficulty if you want.

Lemmings Touch (PS Vita)

Lemmings and I go back a long way. All the way back to the original on the Amiga. To this day I don't understand why the amazing, far-superior sequel, Lemmings II: The Tribes, hasn't been resurrected and given a modern update. Instead we have Lemmings Touch, which does a perfectly acceptable job of adapting the Lemmings interface to the Vita buttons and touch screen, but isn't a port of the original, or the sequel. It's a new Lemmings game with a bunch of environmental bullshit like switches and trampolines. No thanks.