Summer is a great opportunity to catch up on some of the games you might have missed out on. It is important to start planning your summer vacation early, so I want to share three games that I strongly recommend.
The first game I want to recommend is Rockstar’s “Max Payne 3.” I nearly missed “Max Payne 3” entirely because I hadn’t played the original two games. Thankfully my concern turned out to be a non-issue, since “Max Payne 3” gives you enough information about Max’s past and present in the opening scenes to fully understand his character.
At the beginning of the game, Max is a broken man. As he struggles to cope with all of the losses in his life, particularly the deaths of his wife and daughter, he drowns himself in pills and alcohol. Max proves to be a compelling character, as he is further tested and beaten down throughout his journey to protect the wealthy Branco family in Brazil.
While Max’s tale is the real reason to play “Max Payne 3,” the third-person shooter gameplay is also really tight and satisfying. Like its predecessors, “Max Payne 3” features an always entertaining implementation of bullet time, which gives you a slight edge in battle.
Another game that I definitely recommend playing is the intense 2D fighting game, “Persona 4 Arena.” The game is a collaboration between the “Persona” team (who handles the game’s story) and Arc System Works, who are known for their fighting game expertise with “BlazBlue” and “Guilty Gear.”
“Persona 4 Arena” contains a ton of content to work through, including a lengthy 30-hour story that picks up shortly after “Persona 4” ends. The menus, music and 2D graphics are all super slick and contribute to making the fights feel very dramatic. The game’s cast, which consists of characters from “Persona 3” and “4,” is accurately portrayed both on and off the battlefield, which further makes the game more cohesive and engaging overall.
The game’s roster may seem small with only 13 characters, but only one character is reminiscent of any of the others. While there is definitely a learning curve in “Persona 4 Arena” due to the game being so advanced, it does a good job of making itself accessible every step of the way — thanks to its intuitive controls and excellent training mode.
My final recommendation is the PS3 exclusive JRPG “Tales of Graces F.” The “Tales” games are known not necessarily for their stories, but rather for their emphasis on character development. “Graces” does not disappoint, as the structure of “Graces’” story lends itself particularly well to developing its cast. The game begins with a lengthy prologue about the central cast’s childhood before jumping ahead multiple years. As a result of the plot’s structure, you gain unique viewpoints into what shaped each of your party members.
What really struck me as special about “Graces” is that even though I was playing in large five to six-hour chunks, I was just as engaged as when I picked up the controller as when I put it down. The fun cast is a large part of “Graces’” appeal, but the battle system is no slouch either. The battle system evolves and becomes more complicated over the course of the entire game and actually requires skill to do well, which keeps even basic battles engaging. Thanks to a very flexible system for building your character, you are always making plenty of decisions that keep you happily motivated.