Each month, we have games given to us simply for having an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Most people take up the subscription purely so they can play multiplayer games, while others are lured in by the incentive of free games. Either way, it can quickly become overwhelming to have multiple games given to you on top of the ones you’re buying. It’s common to download the games, but never touch them, as you may not know what they are or if they will be fun.
With this new feature, we will give you a quick rundown of the games available for free from Xbox Live’s Games with Gold each month. The impressions are based off short playtimes and are not meant to be a critique of the games. They are simply to give you a basic understanding of the games on offer, and whether they are fun to play.
Without further ado, let’s look at those games!
Pool Nation FX
Developed by studio Cherry Pop Games, Pool Nation FX is what you have come to expect from pool games, minus a top down view option.
With such a small amount to render on screen at any one time, Cherry Pop were able to bring some impressive graphics to the table. The lighting is the most impressive, adapting to the time of day you decide to play in each country and table you can select.
There are a variety of modes that you can play, with the most obvious being the standard online and offline freeplay mode. There is also a career mode where you will play your way through tournaments against AI opponents to win money to buy new tables, areas and accessories. You will also have access to a skill mode that is all about learning and perfecting the different skillshots that you can perform.
The AI can seem unfair at times. Occasionally it will seem to pull off a streak of shots or certain skillshots that should be above the skill level selected. While it doesn’t happen often, it can mean that a single missed shot can ruin an entire game for you as the AI suddenly strings together 4 or 5 shots and takes the game right away from you.
All in all, Pool Nation FX is a competently built pool simulator, but doesn’t do enough to set itself apart from the competition.
Play or Nay? Unless you’re a fan of pool simulations, this is a nay.
Massive Chalice is a cross between a turn based strategy game, such as XCOM, and a kingdom management simulation.
You are born into the game as a ruler bred of a cross between the kingdom’s bloodlines and the titular Massive Chalice. Bound to your throne, you cannot participate in battles yourself and instead, you must control your subjects from afar. Your subjects are surprisingly short sighted and can’t take too much of a beating. Because of this, it is common for them to die in battle and as they continue to age over time, you will regularly need to find more subjects to send into battle.
How do you gain more subjects? By appointing them as leaders of keeps and breeding them of course! Throughout the game you need to make the decision of whether you want to keep that promising subject as a fighter or appoint them as a regent and pass their traits on to a new generation. It causes a sort of resource management that isn’t commonly seen, chiefly because the resource is your people.
With a clean and simple art style, a fitting soundtrack and an interesting gameplay hook, Massive Chalice is a return to form for Double Fine.
Play or nay? Do you like blowing things up? If so, definitely play this.
Just Cause 2
In this open world third person shooter you play as Rico Rodriguez, a man with a grappling hook on one arm and an infinite supply of parachutes on his back. You find yourself in Panau, a nation that was once allied with America. The old ruler has been assassinated by his son, who isn’t quite so fond of the West and is looking cut ties with the US. Cue Rico being sent in to oust the new ruler and find his mentor, who has disappeared.
The game’s fast paced action puts an emphasis on destruction and the chaos it creates. The more buildings you destroy during missions, the more you’re rewarded. While the gunplay is fine, the real fun in Just Cause 2 comes from Rico’s grappling hook. Whether you’re pulling enemies over ledges, grappling multiple vehicles together to cause them to crash or pulling exploding barrels onto enemies, you’re always having fun.
The fictional nation of Panau covers a massive area, so you’ll never be short of areas to find and things to blow up. Much of the fun in Just Cause 2 comes simply exploring the area and finding things to explode and grapple together. Have you ever attached multiple helicopters to each other and tried to fly them? Because that’s something you can do here.
Due to the game’s age the graphics can be a bit dated at times, but it’s never bad enough to detract from the overwhelmingly fun experience. With a sequel coming later this year, this is a great way to jump in and get a feeling of just what a Just Cause game is.
Play or Nay? Play.
Check back later this month for an update after Thief has become available!