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Are the free Xbox Games With Gold titles for January 2018 any good?

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It’s fair to say that 2017 has given us a decent year in terms of Games With Gold offerings, with games such as Project Cars, Ryse, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams and Trackmania Turbo given out free of charge in recent months. Xbox Live Gold members have certainly had plenty to be excited about. Admittedly not every month has provided a stellar line-up but there’s been enough quality to make a difference.

Now though with 2018 upon us, and January’s line-up of free titles already confirmed, let’s take a look to see if the free Xbox Games With Gold titles for January 2018 will be starting us off with a bang.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III – 1st-31st January 2018 – Tempter

As someone who never really found much enjoyment with the original outing that was offered with Games With Gold in December 2015, this is likely to be one of the titles I’ll probably be leaving for a rainy day. However, for those that have been following the legendary monster hunter through his adventures in the land of Borgovia, the first title being given out in January could prove to be the much-needed conclusion that you’ve been waiting for.

In this RPG adventure, players will be taking on the grittiest adventure the series has seen in a story that looks to bring together our darkest fears all into one tale. If you’ve found yourself enjoying the delights of Diablo III at any point, then The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III is the perfect way to start the new year. With a camera that spews Diablo reminiscence and hordes of bloodthirsty enemies throughout, the only thing missing is likely to be the hardcore difficulty.

Does that make the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III the poor man’s Diablo? No, of course not, but unless you’ve already finished everything on offer in Diablo, or want the conclusion to the story, then this is probably unlikely to be a popular Games With Gold entry.

Tomb Raider Underworld – 1st-15th January 2018 – One to Ignore

It’s hard to believe I’m sat here advising you to ignore one of gaming’s all time ultimate badasses, but that’s what I’m about to do. Seriously guys, don’t bother.

Now first of all, before I feel like I’m betraying one of my favourite protagonists, it’s worth noting that Tomb Raider Underworld is by no means a bad game. At the time of release it was a great game in fact. It had dynamic lighting, a weather system that changes the environment, a heavily improved melee combat system and the option to fire Lara’s guns at two different enemies at the same time – something which was a huge improvement on the franchise at the time.

Since that point though, a lot has changed. Tomb Raider has been rebooted. Lara has become more aligned with her human body rather than the superhuman essence she forced upon us before, and we’ve now seen two incredible titles that have showcased just how spectacular a Tomb Raider adventure can be.

I was a big fan of the Tomb Raider games, up to the point I’d put in the blood, sweat and tears to have every single one of them on my completed games pile, but even I have to admit that the reboot of Tomb Raider and indeed its sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider are by far the best way to play a Lara Croft adventure.

Zombi – 16th Jan – 15th Feb 2018 – An Instant Download

Before you read too much into that recommendation, let me clear things up for you. Despite being handled by Ubisoft, Zombi isn’t your obvious triple-A blockbuster zombie experience. In fact, I’m sure that there are some folks out there who’d probably advise you against it all costs and condemn it to nothing more than a fairly average experience that’s easily bested by the many other zombie experiences available on Xbox One. I’m not one of those people however, and in my opinion if you’re after something a little different then Zombi is the way to go.

In Zombi, players are thrown into the middle of the apocalypse by force with an immediate need to navigate the undead through the deserted streets of London. Whilst it’s rare that we get to see a horror game that’s set within the confines of the UK, it’s not just the setting that makes Zombi a fairly unique experience.

Throughout the game players will be completing the task of finding a cure, as requested by the Prepper. Whilst doing this, you’ll need to confront a large number of enemies, all of which can be tackled with firearms, melee combat, explosives chemicals and even various light sources.

Although none of that sounds particularly unique or exciting, the realistic feel to the setting and the items you use on your adventure really help Zombi to feel much more like a believable zombie adventure than many of the others we’ve seen over the years, and with permadeath present, exploration necessary and save points scarce, this is one zombie adventure that brings enough tension to keep you on edge, without ever delving into the realms of predictability. Quite the feat for a zombie game these days don’t you think?

Army of Two – 16th-31st January 2018 – Tempter

One of the best things about the Xbox 360 era was the mainstream integration of online multiplayer. Whilst we all love a great single player adventure, the chance to jump into stories with our friends without needing to be sat directly next to each other was something of wonder. It was thanks to this very option that games such as Army of Two managed to prove such a large success. Sure, it had a great story and exciting gun play, but Army of Two’s biggest feature was the option to play through the entire adventure with a friend.

So why isn’t it an instant download you say? Well… probably because it’s being given away a little too late.

Army of Two may have been a standout title in its time, and for those with an extra controller and a friend close by, there’s no reason why it can’t shine once more. As for those excited by the prospect of jumping into some late evening co-op after work… hold your horses. Your train has left the station… years ago. Army of Two’s online servers are unfortunately no longer active, so any co-op campaigners will have to settle for an A.I counterpart if you don’t have a friend close by.

That said, playing solo isn’t the worst thing in the world, the A.I is more than adequate when it comes to assisting and progressing through the game and the game hasn’t exactly aged badly either, but knowing Army of Two was a match made in heaven for online co-op play only makes its inclusion as an Xbox Live Game With Gold feel more like a sickening reminder that we’ll no longer be able to enjoy the game as it was first intended. For that reason only, I’ll only be recommending this to those who missed out first time around.

 

So, there we have it, January’s Games With Gold and the free titles that will be hitting Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners over the next few weeks. They aren’t exactly the most exciting we’ve ever had, and to be quite honest it would have been nice to start the year with something a little more promising, but it’s not the worst month we’ve ever had either.

Do you agree with our thoughts? Should we be happy with this month’s options? Let us know in the comments below or via our usual social channels.

 

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