First, if you haven’t heard, the release date for Guild Wars 2 has been announced: August 28, 2012. If you pre-purchased, you can begin on August 25. There’s also a final beta weekend July 20-22. Go! Buy! I haven’t been this excited for a theme park game since I played in the World of Warcraft beta back in 2004.
Next, The Secret World’s early access begins today. I was in the closed beta, but I decided against buying it. It does a lot of good things:
A unique crafting system
A modern setting
But something about it didn’t quite gel with me. I can’t put my finger on it, but I figure if I’m on the fence, I shouldn’t spend $60 for a game that also has a subscription and a cash shop. I wish them the best of luck. We need more non-fantasy MMOs.
Finally, the game that’s had my attention lately is Saints Row: The Third. An open-world sandbox game about a street gang so big they have their own lines of merchandise, their own PR department, and a movie about their life in the works. Of course, when you’re king of the hill, someone’s always gunning for you. In this case, it’s a group called the Syndicate. They knock the 3rd Street Saints to their knees, and now your job is to build the gang back up while going after the people who caused you harm.
If you’ve played any of the Grand Theft Auto series, you’ll recognize similarities. There’s a main storyline, side missions, cars to steal, people to rob. Cause too much trouble and you’ll get the cops on your ass. Keep causing trouble, and it’ll escalate until you’re being chased by the military in tanks and helicopters. You’ll also have to deal with rival gangs much the same way.
The game does a lot of amazing things. You can customize your character in ways that rival The Sims 3. I’m talking sliders for everything from jaw width to eye angle to, uh, package size. You can steal cars, park them in your garage, and then customize them. You can steal everything from little Emus (think SmartCars but uglier) to smooth sports cars to cement mixers and streetsweepers and everything in between. You can buy up property and then get a discount from any of your own stores.
You can also play the entire campaign in two-player co-op. Campaign! Co-op! We see this so rarely, and this game actually handles it quite well. Co-op missions are varied and often interesting. They aren’t always about just fighting off hordes of enemies.
Did I mention the game is also insane? It throws reality right out the window, does a rolling dive after it, and beats it bloody. You can dive feet first into vehicles (even going through the windshield), body slam people like a WWE wrestler, beat up mascots in crazy uniforms, play your way through a bloody Running Man-style gameshow called Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax, do tank mayhem activities in which you’re tasked with causing a certain dollar amount of damage within a time limit, and my personal favorite, insurance fraud, where your job is to fling yourself in front of moving vehicles in order to collect insurance payouts.
I could go on, but the simple truth is, it’s a fantastic game full of great characters, excellent (if occasionally crude) humor, and gory, insane fun. I caught it for $17 on a Gamestop sale. It’s more than worth every penny.