August was clearly one of the best months of the year. We had more reviews than there were days in the month, and most of them trended positive. Deciding who made the list was tough and crowing a winner even tougher. Nintendo had a great showing with some excellent exclusives, Ubisoft made one of the best Splinter Cells to date and Saints Row IV offered perhaps the weirdest experience ever in gaming. It was a great month for any taste and it will be a tough month to top this year.
Dragon’s Crown provides beat-em-up fans with a satisfying blend of action, storyline, and expanded bustlines. A multitude of character options and branching paths give it more replay value than most games of its kind. Online play makes tougher challenges doable, while the stunning graphics and whimsical music provide a feast for the eyes and ears. It excels on the PS3, but makes such great use of the Vita’s touch screen that it seems perfect for that platform.
The fourth entry in the Mario & Luigi series came out of nowhere and brought it to the 3DS for the first time ever. Some attacks make use of the gyroscope, while the addition of being able to save anywhere makes it more portable-friendly than ever before — despite the series always being on handheld devices. The system’s increased power over the GBA and DS means that battles are grander in scale than before, with more impressive graphics to boot. Anyone who enjoyed prior games will enjoy Dream Team.
There hasn’t been a bad Splinter Cell (as much as some fans may claim there to be), but Blacklist is one of the best games in the series and perhaps the strongest since Chaos Theory. The production values are through the roof and by returning to the series root with levels clearly designed for stealth (although playable in multiple ways), it’s a great end of the generation reminder of how enthralling this series can be. With a grim, interesting story and some great new character additions, it’s simply a game that must be played by any stealth fan.
While not as substantial as the transition between the second and third game, Saints Row IV spices things up by introducing superhuman powers to an already solid open world shooter. Whether it’s the comical story that will have you laughing at the deliberate parodies, or the variety of gameplay mechanics that range from running up walls to text-based adventures, Saints Row IV is just sheer fun. The possibilities are seemingly endless for where the Saints will go next, but right now we will have to settle with one spectacularly entertaining experience.
Pikmin 3 is simply beautiful. While there was little doubt that it would be good, it was hard to imagine that it could capture the wonder first felt upon booting up the original alongside the launch of the Gamecube — or even its sequel a few years later. The series looks better than it ever has, with some beautiful environments that reveal unexpected levels of details upon going into the camera mode. The story is interesting, the bosses are some of the best yet and it’s simply adorable in every conceivable area. Anybody with a Wii U would be doing themselves a major disservice by not picking it up.
As an added bonus, our editors named their personal favorites: