Five great downloadable games to enjoy this summer

For console owners who’ve suddenly run out of big retail releases to play…

In video games, as in politics, nothing much happens in the summer. The publishers have finally managed to usher out all those late releases that should have been launched last Christmas, and by July, they’re already looking ahead wistfully to the autumn. So unless you’ve saved up a little batch of neglected RPGs and epic open-world adventures, you might be forced to go outside and lob a frisbee around for the next six weeks. Shudder.

Luckily, however, downloadable digital content has come to the rescue. This summer will see a veritable picnic of digi-gaming treats on Xbox Live Arcade (which celebrates its own annual summer festival), Wiiware and PlayStation Network. Here are five to look out for…

DeathSpank(Hothead Games, XBLA, PSN)

From the brilliant mind of LucasArts legend Ron Gilbert and widely described as ‘Monkey Island meets Diablo’ this beautiful, funny, challenging hack-n-slash romp was released last week, and is an absolute bloody must – especially if you love the likes of Castle Crashers and The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. Combat, puzzles, loot and gorgeous comic book art combine as you search the land for a mythical artifact, called ‘The Artifact’. Great entertainment.

Limbo(PlayDead, XBLA)

A cult hit at this year’s E3 (where it was named “Best Downloadable Game” by several news sources), Limbo is a dark monochrome adventure, combining stark expressionistic imagery with some of the most imaginative environmental puzzles you’ve ever experienced. The hero is just a small boy on some nameless, possibly hopeless, quest and his sanguine and genuinely scary journey (especially the malicious gang of feral children), will haunt you for weeks.

Hydro Thunder: Hurricane(Vector Unit, XBLA)

Another title from the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade, this is a sequel to the classic Midway jet boat racing game, which made an overlooked appearance on Dreamcast. I spent many a lunch hour while working on DC-UK Magazine, turbo-boosting through the intricately designed levels, searching out shortcuts. Hurricane features loads of the original boats, but all the circuits are new and there’s an eight-player online mode. Woooooosh!

TerRover(Creat Studios, PSN)

From the creator of last year’s addictive Breakout clone, Magic Orbz, this is a stylised 2D puzzler, in which you pilot a wheeled droid over a series of hostile alien landscapes, picking up items and avoiding traps and obstacles. Lots of physics challenges and a nice cartoon aesthetic.

Heavy Fire: Special Operations(Teyon, Wiiware)

Okay, I admit it, I don’t know a huge amount about this one, but it’s certainly intriguing. From Polish developer Teyon, Heavy Fire is an onrails shooter set in the Middle East, with players taking down insurgents while blasting the environments for extra points. There’s lots of blood and destruction and, really, who could possibly not want to witness the combination of Time Crisis and Modern Warfare – on the Wii?! It’s out on July 26.

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Keith Stuart

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