October. The busiest time of year for new game releases. And this year is no different with a huge number of titles releasing over the next 30 days or so.
So you can’t really blame the team back at Xbox HQ for delivering a bevy of Games With Gold titles that really do fail to enthuse many. In fact, whilst the free Xbox One and Xbox 360 games given away during September were pretty damn decent, October’s free titles will quite possibly go down as one of the worst combination of Games With Gold titles this year.
Or will they? Because you see, free is free is free, and we really shouldn’t be sitting here complaining about being given free games. There must be something decent to look at? Well yes there is, but if you’re expecting a large saving in the cash department then you’re going to be sorely mistaken.
You see, we kick things off with Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings as the free Xbox One title for the entirety of October. Releasing slightly under the radar around about 12 months ago, many would no doubt have missed out on the baseball action contained within. We didn’t though, and whilst popularity was split right down the middle, the lack of any online aspect, a strange level up mechanic which needed work and a fairly hefty price tag (at least for something that was only going to appeal to a few) pointed to a game that may struggle. We still awarded it a decent 4/5 in our review though. Much of that was down to the humorous visuals and clever physics on display and whilst we understand that hardcore baseball fans may have been up in arms, for anyone outside of the game, it represented a good fun playthrough. And sometimes fun is all you ever need.
With the sequel arriving on Xbox One very soon, the time is about right to get the hype building and deliver the original for free – if only to bring further sales of the new game.
Baseball takes a back seat once we get to the midway point of the month though and Team17 attempt to come to the rescue of the Games With Gold scheme with The Escapists. Again, another title that really does split the community with its love it or hate it attitude. The Escapists is something that you’re going to need to spend time with in order to get the most out of it. The steep learning curve really may affect the pleasure that many will receive from it, but should you be willing to sit back, kick your feet up and invest the time, love and patience needed, will find a game that is really quite delightful. You’re not going to be blown away, but similarly, little offence will be found.
Over on the 360, and of course now Xbox One thanks to the Backward Compatible feature, are two more games that you’ll probably not be overly bothered about.
MX vs ATV: Reflex and I am Alive go for free from the 1st-15th and 16th-31st Oct respectively, but I’m sitting here wondering how on earth they are going to appeal to anyone but those who have already purchased them upon first release. That thought is quite possibly aimed at Reflex more than I am Alive, because if we’re honest, if you’re not already deep in the motocross side of things, then you’re not going to be interested in the former now. Yes, you may be saving a whopping £24.99, but for a game that is already five years old and showing signs of its age, it really shouldn’t be priced that highly in the first place.
So that leaves I am Alive as the game to prop up the Xbox Games With Gold scheme for October 2016, and you know what, it quite possibly does do that, bringing a powerfully emotive adventure that is well worth checking out.
But one game does not an October make, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say I’m already looking forward to November’s free games delivering a higher quality throughout.
Thank god October is full of great new – paid – games to pick up and play instead.