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The Annual Game Drought – Not So Bad This Time?

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The Annual Game Drought - Not So Bad This Time?

My sincerest apologies dear readers for the lack of a Saturday Gamer in recent times. I can assure you that it wasn’t the football (soccer, yanks) that has made me become so lax in my duties of late. Ohh no. Ok, so it was the football. After all, we’re in the post-E3, pre-Autumn (fall, yank) games drought which habitually leaves gamers gnawing their own arms off.

Or are we? You know, for the summer that’s in it, we’re not doing too badly this year in the inexorable wait for September. We’ve had some good titles come out just recently, including Hitman: Blood Money, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends among others.

On the horizon we have a couple more, including the expansion-tacular line ups of Rome: Total War – Alexander, The Movies: Stunts & Effects, Civilization IV Warlords and even a couple of sports titles (Cricket, footie, and yank footie depending on your tastes.) We’re hardly getting five blockbusters a Friday, as can be prone to happen in October and November of any given year, but I have seen bleaker times in the past.

If there’s one thing you really do need for your summer, and just pre-summer, games it is replayability. Any game that you can’t go back to once or twice over the course of the summer ain’t worth having. This is a theory borne out by the amount of expansions we’re due to get for existing games. They’re good in their own right, but after a few months of playing them we’re all looking for something – anything, really – a little fresh, a little different to vary the experience and make the summer months bearable.

Games like Hitman: Blood Money and Half-Life 2 are a Godsend at this time of year. Fun gameplay with multiple solutions to most problems and varied difficulty levels make them worthy of a replay. Multiplayer games also do quite well during the summer, be they a World of Warcraft Orc ’em up or a Red Orchestra spray ‘n pray. It’s also a good time of year to find some mates to help whittle away the idle mIRC hours.

All told you’re looking at about 20 weeks of varied nothingness. Personally I actually like this drought period. No, not because I enjoy reading copious amounts of rehashed press releases (previews, reader) or because I need to catch up on sleep. I enjoy being able to actually savour games.

During the rush months, especially in the run up to Christmas, we get hit with so many new and exciting titles a week that, unless you’re really focused, you’re not going to have the time to simply enjoy a game from start to finish; and then begin it all over again to inspect the fine details you missed the first time around. Screw waiting for new games, I’m going to whip out Day of Defeat, Oblivion and (God forbid…) Singles 2.

It’s also a good time to grab neglected games, or ones you missed, out of the bargain bins. What it’s not a good time for, generally speaking, is upgrading your rig. Don’t bother until September or October. There’s not enough machine breaking things hitting shelves at the moment, and the prices of the kit you’re looking at will only fall by then, or you’ll be able to get newer and shinier things for the same money.

Alternatively (and I don’t say this lightly…) we could all ditch our computers for most of the days and go watch some football, enjoy the pub, meet new people and do all those things that sunshine enables one to do. Heck, it’s just a suggestion, don’t get so offended…