So here we are with a new month about to begin, and we all know by now that means a number of new games are about to be gifted to all Xbox One and Xbox 360 players via the Xbox Games With Gold scheme for September2017. The free games of last month were passable if truth be told, but can September’s offerings make it a month to remember, or one to skip over?

Well, it’s massively debateable, with the one half of the games impressing a little more than the other half. The Xbox Games With Gold scheme shouldn’t really be criticised given the fact that we’re receiving games for free – as long as an Xbox Live Gold subscription is owned – but the chosen titles could’ve been more inspiring.

From September 1st 2017, Xbox One players will go back to the very start of the console’s life with a launch title being stripped of its price tag and thrown our way. Just to clarify, that’s an almost four year old game to kick start the month. But it isn’t any ordinary game; it’s one of the finest racers on the Xbox One – Forza Motorsport 5.

Cruising round the likes of the beautiful looking Prague track, racing behind the wheel of some magnificent machines, doesn’t get much sweeter. Even after all this time it holds up well in terms of gameplay and visuals when compared against all manner of new releases. It offers so many single player events to get stuck into that it’ll be easy to sink hours and hours of time into. The thing is, there’s been another Forza instalment since, boasting more tracks and cars compared to the meagre amount found in Forza 5; which is much less than other games in the series. So, chances are most racing fans will already own the far more recent title.

With Forza 7 just around the corner, grabbing Forza 5 does seem like an ideal way to tide us over for now, even if the multiplayer side may not be quite as populated as it once was. For anyone who’s not played it before, Forza 5 is worth a look for sure, but I’m not sure I could be tempted back in after hammering it once already.

Should you be twiddling your thumbs, waiting for the middle of the month to arrive, the other Xbox One title is that of Oxenfree.

Playing as a teenage girl, Alex, you end up on an island with a handful of other high school students and her new stepbrother. A few drinks and special cakes later, a nearby cave starts reacting to the tuning of a radio and a creepy adventure gets well underway.

Oxenfree is a mixture of exploration, dialogue trees, and the use of frequencies on a radio to unlock pathways and time loops. The style and tone of proceedings may not be to everyone’s taste, but it stands out in the market due to the premise itself, the retro art style with a spooky vibe and the brilliant sound effects to help ramp up the nerves. It’ll at least give you four or five hours of play to get engrossed in.

So that leaves us to take a look at the Backwards Compatible freebies, those coming free to Xbox One and Xbox 360 players, starting with Hydro Thunder Hurricane.

If you want an exhilarating experience, then the rapid water-based racing of Hydro Thunder Hurricane can certainly satisfy those needs. Driving speedboats around a number of well designed tracks, mastering the corners to get ahead of the pack and narrowly squeezing through checkpoints, has seldom been more enjoyable. Despite not being blessed with a whole load of variety in the content, there’s still genuine replayability to be had and it can be quite addictive. Seriously, don’t dismiss it just because the most recent title using such vehicles, Speedboat Challenge, is utterly horrendous. Hydro Thunder Hurricane is a whole lot of fun.

The last title to delve into is none other than DICE’s popular shooter from the previous generation, Battlefield 3.

Battlefield 3 was one of the last great shooters on the Xbox 360, with a campaign that had you playing the role of elite U.S. Marine. From Tehran to New York City, the diversity added to the enjoyment of the exciting missions. But come on, Battlefield is all about the multiplayer aspect, with the destruction of buildings throwing your strategy out of the window, avoiding the bullets whizzing by you on the massive maps. The servers are alive and well, however, I can’t imagine it’s easy to find a game in the mode of your choosing nowadays.

The main problem I foresee is that three other titles of the series have released then, so who actually wants to go back and play Battlefield 3? Not me, that’s for sure.

So, Games With Gold for September 2017 brings a decent amount of variety; from racing on the circuits and water, to the strange goings on in a cave and the gun blazing antics on the battlefield. Newcomers can surely be excited about at least three of them, but personally it’s the smaller games of the pack that are most anticipated, simply because there are no better alternatives to them already currently available.

Again, it’s another passable month.

Do you agree with these thoughts? Are Hydro Thunder Hurricane and Oxenfree really the standout titles? Or will you be spending more time with Battlefield 3 and Forza 5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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