This only applies to disc games, and I’ve found you have about a 20% chance to get a CIB copy, so the choice is yours. There’s nothing really great in my opinion, but maybe you can find something you need. Elite stacks and you can get free shipping on $35 or more, and that applies before the discount. So 3X $12.99 games comes out to ~$21 shipped.
Developer/Publisher: Q Entertainment/Ubisoft
Platforms: PS Vita (2012)
Gamerankings.com Score: 83.9%
Genres: Puzzle, Matching
Electronic Symphony is the third installment of the Lumines series, and the only for the Vita. It continues the same pattern of 2×2 bi-colored blocks falling from above. For those unaware, the hook of the series has been the inclusion of electronic music (EDM). There’s a vertical line that scrolls across the screen in beat with the music, and blocks don’t get cleared until the line crosses over them. This can lead lead to some frantic gameplay as even though you just created combo of blocks, you could screw it up before the line clears it. On the flip side, you could get that one block to make a big combo even bigger, so you need to drop that block into place extra fast before the line gets there. The music, graphics, bright colors, and multiple game modes, all create a very stimulating experience. This iteration also adds avatars with special abilities you can level up and use to help get you out of a jam, meaning even a few minutes of playing here and there all add to your overall score.
Developer/Publisher: Bethesda Softworks/2K Games
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 (2006)
Gamerankings.com Score: 93.4%
Do I think Skyrim is a better game than Oblivion? Yes. But does that mean people shouldn’t play Oblivion? Absolutely not. While running on the same hardware, Oblivion can not match the level of graphical detail and scope of Skyrim. The combat is also more old fashioned, more aligned with previous Elder Scroll games. But the great thing about the RPG genre is most of those things don’t really matter. The story of Oblivion is what will keep you engaged, and will make you think about it even after the next Elder Scolls game comes out. The world of Cyrodiil, while not as dense to explore, is full of characters, side quests, factions, monsters, and books. So many books. It really is a game that will take up dozens of hours and immerse you fully, maybe even more that Skyrim, at least I think so. And if you thought the facial animations where awkward in Skyrim, then you must check out Oblivion. If you enjoy it, I recommend splurging for a few dollars more and picking up the GOTY edition. This will include the Shiver Isles and Knights of the Nine expansions that practically double the amount of content.
Developer/Publisher: Rainbow Studios/SCEA
Platforms: PS2 (2002)
Here’s the thing, I can’t really speak to how good the racing is in this game. I may have completed a circuit here or there, but that’s not why this game is here. Freeride is where this game is at. It gives you a big open wilderness to explore and find lines, make huge jumps, and even huger crashes. Grab a buddy and go exploring together, or just dick around and try to knock each other off your bikes. There are other multiplayer modes that can be fun, like tag and king of the hill, but this game is best used as something to relax with and just have fun without the restrictions of a time limit or checkered flag. The only downfall is the soundtrack. Coming from the first game’s solid 90’s grunge rock, this game goes with the rap/rock playlist that became so prevalent in the 2000’s. But the extra polished graphics and game play make up for it. Offroad Fury 4 was the last release in the series and is also a good $5 buy. It added dirt bikes, sandrails, and trucks, to the mix which some may enjoy, but I’d rather play Motorstorm at that point.
Developer/Publisher: Rockstar San Diego/Rockstar
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 (2010)
Gamerankings.com Score: 94.7%
Genres: Action, Adventure, Open World
Red Dead Redemption was another one of the few games I purchased on day one (Best Buy w/ War Horse DLC and it included a map, Rockstar knows how to deliver). I had never been super impressed with the “western” games that preceded it, but after seeing what Rockstar could do with GTA IV on the PS3/360, I couldn’t wait. And it was well worth it. Finally a game that captured the vast open-ness and loneliness of the wild west. You play as John Marsten, a man who is trying to put his past behind him. As usual, things don’t turn out the way he’d hoped and it isn’t long before your gunning down dozens of bandits, thieves, and no-gooders on both sides of the border. The game looks great and performs well. The story is very enjoyable and really has some heavy moments that give weight to the narrative. The animations, cutscenes, and accompanying voice acting is all topnotch and really help fill out the characters. Plus, this is one of the first games to get horseback right, so good. This game is usually more expensive on the 360 due to backwards comparability, but both versions perform the same.
Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft
Platforms: Wii U (2012)
Gamerankings.com Score: 77.3%
Genres: Action, Shooter, Survival, Horror
I like to think of ZombiU as the antithesis of games like Dead Rising. Where in DR, taking out massive waves of zombies with ridiculous weapons is the fun. In ZombiU, you play as a lonely survivor in modern day London after everyone mysteriously becomes undead. You patrol the city looking for food, medicine, weapons, etc… Here, you don’t do looking for zombies, stealth is key and firing guns will only attract more. When you die, you come back as a new survivor. Everything from your safe house is carried over, but you must go back and loot your previous character to get you new stuff back. The developers did a great job creating tension with the atmosphere and sound design. The game pad will display a map of your surroundings as you run around the city and underground tunnels. While you are looting caches and corpses, you must use the inventory screen to manually drag and drop items into your bag. This happens in real time and the game doesn’t pause to wait for you. This may seem a little tedious, but it leaves you in a most vulnerable state that makes ZombiU quite an intense experience.
Platforms: PS2, Xbox (2005)
Gamerankings.com Score: 85% (PS2), 88.4% (Xbox)
Genres: Action, Shooter, First Person
Back in the middle of the PS2/Xbox generation, WWII shooters were all the rage. Now it’s all modern warfare or slightly futuristic but back then we were stuck in the 40’s. Gearbox was looking to make something more realistic, more cinematic, and what they came out with was considered to be the most authentic WWII game of the time. You play as a paratrooper landing in France on D-Day as he becomes the leader of a squad, and it’s up to you to command your soldiers as you complete objectives across Europe. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but here’s where Brother in Arms steps up. The AI employs actual tactics that will react to you and your squads movements, the is no default reticule on screen, and at the end of each level you’ll see actual wartime documents and photos showing the missions you completed. If you want to go authentic all the way, you can even turn on one shot deaths. If you feel like all the other shoots are a bit over the top, you may want to try this.