The Xbox Games With Gold scheme very rarely fails to deliver. Since it’s inception, there have been a ton of games given away on both Xbox One and Xbox 360. With the latest Xbox 360 titles now becoming backwards compatible on the bigger more powerful console, the program has seemingly moved up another gear. But ultimately, Games With Gold will be judged on the quality of the free titles being given away. With that in mind, is February 2016 any good?
Well, if you check out the image above, chances are you’ll be immediately disappointed. I know I was.
After a very strong month before it, one in which Dirt Showdown and Deus Ex Human Revolution were given away to satisfy the masses, it must be said that, Gears of War 2 aside, none of the games standout as must players. I’d hazard a guess and state that the vast majority of Xbox One owners would never have bothered checking out Styx: Master of Shadows or Hand Of Fate. Perhaps therefore this is where the scheme comes into its own, for both games are reasonably decent affairs.
Indeed both Styx: Master of Shadows and Hand of Fate have taken away 4/5 ratings when we reviewed them, proving that they really aren’t too shabby. Neither are going to really test your reflexes, but whether you fancy a stealthy tactical approach with Styx, or a more ‘flip of a coin, let’s see how my luck fares with this one’ style of play in Hand Of Fate, both will deliver in spades.
With Styx telling the tale of the world’s least likely assassin, the first of the Goblins will need to navigate his way slowly up the Tower of Akenash, negotiating his way past guards and obstacles as he does so. Planning is key and if you decide to forego that and just jump into the action blind, chances are you’ll hate Styx from the off. But settle down with a brew, plan your route and take things slowly, and you’ll find a fairly deep stealthy adventure that should be played before we get the chance to get hands on with Styx once again with a bigger budgeted, more ambitious sequel later this year. Chances are we’ll begin hearing more about Styx: Shards of Darkness pretty soon.
Hand of Fate meanwhile is a bit of a hybrid. Starting off with a card dealing mechanic, depending on your pick of cards, you’ll find yourself thrust into a rogue-like RPG in which your cards magically transfer into full on 3D affairs. It takes a little while to grasp, but deck building fans should be more than happy with the chance to check it out for free. Whilst the £15.99 price tag is definitely more than reasonable, being able to pick it up for nothing is even better.
As is the case nowadays, the Xbox 360 offerings are also now available on Xbox One. Whether you want to bother picking up a three year old game in Sacred Citadel or one that is over seven years old in Gears of War 2 then I’m not sure. Granted, the latter especially should be one of those that each and every gamer should play at least once in their life, but I’m guessing that if you really wanted to check it out, you wouldn’t be waiting this long for it. But hey, prove me wrong and go jump in ahead of the release of Gears of War 4 in a few months time.
Overall then and February’s Games With Gold ain’t all that bad and the Xbox One offerings are indeed much better than first impressions suggest. It certainly isn’t the strongest month on record, but if you fancy checking out some games that you would quite possibly have never looked at otherwise, then it does the job.
And I guess in the end that is exactly what it needs to do.
Xbox One – 4/5
Xbox 360 – 3/5