What an amazing year it’s been so far. While we’re currently in one of the slowest months of the year, some very solid games were released in June. It may be forever known as the month “The Last of Us” was released, but there were quite a few gems both on major consoles and handhelds. Vita had one of its most gorgeous games yet, an upstart developer released a AAA game and there was Ride to Hell Retribution. But let’s just forget that last one.
Even though we’re just a month out from its original release, it seems that many have forgotten Remember Me, which is an absolute crime. Developed by upstart studio DONTNOD, Remember Me features very unique combat and presents it in an absolutely enthralling setting. It doesn’t hurt that both the music and visuals are gorgeous, either. Its strongest point, however, is a story that grows as the game progresses and becomes quite emotional at the climax. Practically the definition of a solid game, Remember Me is one of the more unique releases of the year and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Company of Heroes 2 represents the pinnacle of high-octane, action-oriented real-time strategy. It has all the elements needed to engage any kind of gamer, ranging from an RTS-newbie to the seasoned veteran; it’s intuitive in its design and control scheme, but not to the point over being overly simplistic. Aside from that, though, it’s just a rock-solid game that is filled to the brim with features. It may not necessarily innovate on the grandest of levels, but Relic’s long-awaited sequel is the type of title that personifies sophistication from a gameplay standpoint as well as a narrated one. Its story is gripping and unapologetically brutal, never afraid to put the horrors of war front and center in its character-heavy drama, while its multiplayer is simply one of the best around. To put it plainly: Company of Heroes 2 is one of the most accomplished RTS games of the last decade, easily trumping the obvious contenders for the title.
Project X Zone combines a goofy plot with a ton of characters to create fanboy glee. This SRPG/Action RPG hybrid features a fast enough pace to satisfy fighting game fans who may otherwise avoid RPGs and enough depth to please those that play them regularly. It’s a gorgeous-looking game with detailed artwork that would seem better-served on the big screen, but still looks good on the 3DS. The remixed music stays true to the original songs while the Japanese voice acting lets it stand out from other RPGs.
It’s about time the Vita gets a new release. Better yet, that release just so happens to be an amazing one. Muramasa Rebirth is essentially an HD version (with a few added features) of the Wii game released some years back. This shouldn’t be something that gamers look down upon, though, as that original title was already brilliant and a classic in its own right. Rebirth simply builds off that, realizing its beautiful world in stunning high-definition. The art style and aesthetics may be some of the best 2D graphics ever conceived, and its gameplay is equally as impressive. Combat is frenetic and unrelenting, the controls are tight and responsive and the amount of swords able to be forged is really quite spectacular. Muramasa Rebirth showcases that developer Vanillaware is a highly talented studio capable of delivering incredible games with eye-popping graphics. It also demonstrates that the Vita is a system that can hang with the best of them when given the chance. We hope to see Sony’s under-appreciated handheld get more love like this, because with it, it could flourish.
The Last of Us is an incredible experience that should be enjoyed by everyone. Naughty Dog’s latest effort has gaming’s best voice acting work yet and tells a fairly standard “world is doomed” storyline in such a way that unlike many games, you wind up caring deeply about the characters. At the start, you’re sucked into a unique world engulfed in panic where you, just like Joel, don’t quite know what’s happening. Then you experience unimaginable loss, and can’t tear yourself away from a tale that creates at least a few compelling characters and makes use of a low amount of them to make them all stand out and avoid Tomb Raider’s “stereotype X, Y, and Z” approach to filling out a cast list. It’s a gorgeous-looking game and has an incredible original soundtrack as well.
As an added bonus, our editors named their personal favorites: