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Backlog: The Embiggening - August, 2012

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By Nelson Schneider - 08/05/12 at 03:37 PM CT

Welcome to another look into the near future. This summer’s game drought is proving to be just as bad as the actual drought currently baking the entire Midwestern United States. Will the drought break, or will gamers wither on their stalks like so many ears of corn?

One thing I didn’t see coming this summer was the bi-annual Steam Sale, as I am still a new user of that service. The Steam Summer Sale, which ran from July 12 to July 22, took the bored, weather-beaten gaming populace by storm, providing discounts between 40% and 80% on pretty much everything currently available. As a result of this irresistible pricing, my backlog unexpectedly grew by 8 games. Sure, none of them are particularly new, but embiggening is embiggening.

But July and the Steam Summer Sale are in the past. What does August hold?

In an unprecedented move since the 7th Generation began (at least it feels that way), we are getting a second month without any new FPSes. I could almost be gleeful about this occurrence, were it not for the fact that the rest of the August releases look pretty miserable.

Of course, the second-most-annoying type of game, the modern-setting Sandbox, is getting a new multi-platform release in the form of “Sleeping Dogs.” Why do so many Sandbox games feature stories and settings that focus heavily on gangs and/or the mafia? Whatever the reason, this game holds no appeal for me, though Chris might like it.

Licensed games are still plodding along, with August giving us a multi-platform ‘Transformers’ game. Since this ‘Transformers’ game is based on the intellectual property as a whole instead of one of Michael Bay’s action movies, it has the potential to be enjoyable by fans of the shape-changing robots. Of course, I haven’t followed ‘Transformers’ mythology religiously since 1989, so I’m probably not in this game’s target audience.

What’s particularly noteworthy about August’s release schedule is how console releases are so heavily dominated by multi-platform games, with plenty of spill-over into PC territory. There’s the spin-off ‘Persona’ fighting game, “Darksiders II,” “Damage Inc.,” and another damned ‘Madden’ sequel. None of these games interest me in the slightest, and I can’t understand why a small developer wouldn’t want to release a sleeper hit during August, when these turds are the only competition.

With multi-platform releases dominating, the exclusives are few and far between. While Sony is releasing two exclusive compilation discs for the PS3, one of old ‘Ratchet & Clank’ games and one of Indie PSN games, it’s not really enough to overcome the feeling of sameness with the Xbox 360. I do commend Sony for releasing a disc-based compilation of downloadable games, as I’ve been hoping for just such a thing to happen for quite some time. Unfortunately, they picked three games I don’t really care about for this compilation, rather than Q Game’s ‘PixelJunk’ series. Maybe a ‘PixelJunk’ compilation is still in the works? I can only hope…

The other August exclusives all seem to be headed for Steam or handhelds. The 3DS is getting some shovelware and a new ‘Mario’ sequel, while the Vita is getting an Action RPG inspired by an MMO (gosh, that’s guaranteed not to suck at all). Steam, on the other hand, is getting a music-inspired SHMUP, a spaceship strategy game, and yet another worthless MMORPG that will go free-to-play shortly, then go bankrupt.

While I would normally go nuts for “New Super Mario Bros. 2,” the platform is all wrong. I don’t give a fig about the 3DS in general. So, once again, it looks like a relaxing month with no game purchases for me… except, of course, for “The Last Story,” which was indeed pushed-back again. Seriously, how much effort does it take to release a game that has already been fully translated and re-dubbed into British English?

Backlog Embiggened: +1 (+8 retroactive via Steam Summer Sale)

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