Spotlight: Xbox Live Arcade (July 2010)

Hello again to everyone out there on the Interwebs, recently being swamped with a whole heap of work and not enough time I wanted to drop in and pop up three suggestions for all you XBLA fans out there. These games are fairly casual and even better, quick, simple and easy to understand and get into. If you have any suggestions for XBLA games I should take a look at, please feel free to let me know in the comments section below:

1) Toy Soldiers – while it has been around for a good time now, it is a game that surprises me when friends have not heard of it. It’s a whole heap of fun in your virtual room. If you were ever interested in dioramas and small scale models, based on soldiers and other┬áminiatures, then I think a part of you will be instantly drawn to this title. When you first load in, it is just that, a ‘living’ diorama for you to tinker in. By tinker, I mean blow things up.

Gameplay is in real-time and essentially setup like a tower defence strategy game. You have several positions allocated in your defensive zone for you to select and deploy an emplacement. This can range from machine guns, air support or even large cannons with great range. These emplacements can then, as you progress through the levels, be upgraded to create even more carnage for the gear driven enemy.

Countless hours of tiresome work - Let's blow it up!

Anytime you destroy an enemy, be it a soldier or tank, you are met with a delightful explosion of gears and other assorted mechanical parts. While the game is fun in it’s own right, the little details such as the explosions and the various backgrounds and backdrops complete it. Seeing bookshelves, windows or the occasional ruler in sight is a nice addition. It’s quite a nice refresher, after you’ve stopped several waves from advancing to your Toy Box and you’ve got a couple moments to look about.

Overall I do recommend you download the demo and see if it’s something your interested in. If you do go on to nab the full version, there is also a DLC pack available – The Kaisers Battle – that may interest you if you’ve been this far.

2) Doom 2 – yes, I know. Doom 2?! That’s old man, very old. Yes it is old but it’s back and it’s on XBLA so I’m going to give it a shot. While it has been many many many years since I last laid eyes on this particular space marine shooter I’ve always had fond memories of tearing around the first level in a death match over the 28.8k modem madness. I couldn’t remember much else from the title except that it had odd enemies (yet awesome and distinct) and a super awesome double-barrelled shot-gun. Stepping back into it after all these years was fun. As I blasted, very slowly mind you, through all the levels, key parts had started flooding back to memory. Walking up to a seemingly random wall and hitting the open button to be met with a secret passageway intrigued me. Was that just lucky, or had I done this several times over at some point in the past. Eerie, but I digress.

Chk Chk Blam! Takin' out the trash, old school styles.

The game itself, is quite fun, especially in the later levels. For a veteran that may have blown through it on the easier levels way back when, you may enjoy the challenge of getting back into it on the hardest or second hardest difficulty setting. I would have a hard time seeing a new-to-Doom player wanting to give this title much more then ten minutes but for the returning, I think you may find some fun once again, and more.

The simplicity of multi-player death-matching has always been a big winner for myself. You get in and shoot players, no prep or warm up. Just run and gun. I tried this with a few randoms and then again with Viperfish and much fun was had on both accounts.

3) Zeno Clash Ultimate Edition – I had done a review on Zeno Clash a while ago, but it’s another game that sticks out from the usual bunch. It’s an FPS with punching/melee action – even more then that, there are skull grenades!

It's painful just thinking about it.

While there are weapons, and the occasional shooter, the game is all about melee-punching goodness. Timing your attacks to maximise the brutality on your opponents is both fun and satisfying as a combat mechanic. It’s different in that way and is quite unique in not only the gameplay but in the visuals and world that it represents. It’s quite an odd-ball arena your thrust into and the pacing is fast enough to keep you entertained the entire ride.

The package completes complete with various challenge modes and boasts multiplayer features to boot. Well worth your time if your looking to try out something alternate and completely different to anything you may have experienced in a first person game.

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.