Summer gaming proves to be a mixed bag

By Joshua Michaelson

It was a pretty wild summer for video game players. A staggering amount of sequels and new intellectual properties popped up over the course of three months, but not all of them lived up to their high expectations. Fortunately, these were few and between the oodles of gaming gold.

At the top of the must-play list for the summer was Nintendo’s “Super Mario Galaxy 2.” The game managed to not only outdo its predecessor, but expand upon it almost ten-fold. The inclusion of Yoshi, the old-school level map and side-scrolling levels made the already imaginative game even more amazing and definitely made it feel good to be a Wii owner.

Another smashing success was “Transformers: War for Cybertron.” The game managed to deliver not only an interesting origin story for the beloved Transformers, but also brought an exciting 3rd-person shooting experience that never slowed down. The game’s fantastic use of transforming also gave it a unique edge over the oversaturated genre.

Rockstar Games’ “Red Dead Redemption” also managed to please. While it may have looked like “Grand Theft Auto” in the wild west, it ended up offering so much more with its expansive wilderness full of animals to hunt, online co-op/versus modes and the ability to tie up damsels and place them on train tracks, Dudley Do-Right-style.

There were also some surprise hits, including the Playstation 3 exclusive “3D Dot Game Heroes” which is an homage to “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” The game offers similar gameplay, character customization and an incredibly beautiful 3D take on the pixel-filled world of old-school video games. It’s also chock-full of references to older games that any veteran gamer should enjoy.

Racing games got in on the summer action, too, with “Blur” coming out in the lead. Mixing “Need For Speed” with “Mario Kart,” the game offered one of the most entertaining racing experiences in recent years, unlike its competitor “Split/Second,” which masked its shallow offerings with explosions and altering environments.

“Split/Second” wasn’t the only disappointment, however. Games like “Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands” popped up with the potential for fun, but only delivered easy and mediocre gameplay along with a pointless and predictable story that made the game a complete waste of time.

Another pretty big disappointment was the Xbox-exclusive “Alan Wake,” which had the potential of delivering a deep and twisted suspense story with interesting gameplay, but instead gave gamers a shallow gameplay mechanic and a weak story.

Though these games were pretty big highlights, there were a ton of other games also released worth taking a look at. Games like “Starcraft II,” “Dragon Quest IX” and “Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker” made sure summer never stayed dull if you had a game console. It won’t be slowing down either thanks to the packed fall and winter lineup laid out during E3.

With the expectations for this year, the rest of 2010 will be a doozy.