It had to happen. After a steady increase in the quality of free games being given away with the Games With Gold scheme on both Xbox One and Xbox 360, peaking with the stunning combination of titles dropped throughout April, the time had to come when Xbox gamers would begin to get disappointed again.
Unfortunately, that time is now.
May is here and with it comes the chance to download four free games once again. With two being unique to Xbox One and the second Xbox 360 native couple running as Backwards Compatible titles, it is once again the owners of the latest machine whom should be the happiest. Just about anyways.
Kicking off the month of May, we see Defense Grid 2 and Grid 2 arriving for free. The two games may share a slight similarity with each other in terms of the title, but for the gameplay itself? Well, they couldn’t be further apart if they tried. Now, chances are you would have already played Grid 2 as at the time, it was one of the most accessible, most addictive racers on Xbox 360. Codemasters may have recently thrown the incredible DiRT Rally onto Xbox One, but back in 2013, it was the aggressive AI, close racing and all manner of visual stunners that ensured the sequel to the original game hit home hard. It may not be seen as one of the hottest racers of modern times, but as a free title that can be played on both systems? Well, it’s more than worthy of a shot – especially if you didn’t manage to experience it the first time round.
So, that’s the petrol heads sorted, what is there for the rest of us? Well, Defense Grid 2 is deemed as the next evolution in tower defense. Yes, tower defense. Remember that? Back in 2014 it was all the rage with many of us sticking up turrets and getting deep with the strategy involved on both our consoles and our mobiles. But that was a couple of years ago and it’s pretty fair to say that the whole enthusiasm for the defense genre has dropped considerably since then. Should that mean we need not bother playing Defense Grid 2? Well, much like Grid 2 will appeal to the racers out there, it’s defensive compatriot will only really serve to fill the odd five minutes with those who are still yearning after the genre that it excels in. If you aren’t a fan now, then chances are Defense Grid 2 won’t turn you into one.
After a slow ish start to the month, May will however pick up a little as we make our way through to the latter days.
Much of that will be down to Peggle. Yes, we may have played it a million and one times already, but there is nothing on this earth that can prepare you for the stupidly addictive nature that it brings. Sending balls on a peg popping journey never gets old and with a huge variety of characters and mystical magic powers on offer, if you haven’t played it before, then you’ll probably need to put a few days aside as your new addiction hits home. The only thing we need to help sell it even more is by seeing Microsoft giveaway Peggle 2 next month. That’s got to happen hasn’t it?
Running alongside the awesome Peggle is something that is very nearly just as good. Costume Quest 2 is an RPG adventure like no other, one in which you must help Wren and Reynold, two sweet obsessed kids save Halloween! Yep, it would quite possibly have been better to release a game for free that is so Halloween themed later in the year, but this is an adventure that should be played no matter what season. If you played the original Costume Quest and just want to get on with sending the kids on another adventure, then Double Fine Studios have delivered again and you should be checking out this second game as soon as it loses its price tag.
So, with a sense of realisation finally hitting home, one in which we have to understand that Microsoft aren’t going to be gifting titles of the quality of Sunset Overdrive every four weeks, we have to be prepared for more months like this one. Months in which, whilst the free Games With Gold titles are good in there own right, will always be compared to ‘that highpoint of April 2016’ and nearly always fall short of the good times.
Perhaps we need to change our mindset again. Or perhaps Peggle can save the world from disappointment!
Xbox One – 3/5
Xbox 360 – 3/5