Chip TaylorGamers have plenty to be excited about this summer as an onslaught of games begins. To save you some time, we've narrowed the list of wannabe wing-dingers down to 15 hot titles that range from campy shooters and sword-fu fighters to rhythmic rockers and bank-robbing bonanzas. We even have one game--Will Wright's Spore--that lets you nurture a single-celled protozoan blob and grow it into a galaxy-gobbling species.
PC World's two gaming experts--Matt Peckham, who writes our Game On blog, and Senior Writer Darren Gladstone, a self-described gaming nut and author of our Casual Friday column--weigh in here with their opinion of each game.
An interesting side note for PC gamers: Over half the titles in this list include PC versions, with two of those exclusive and one, Spore, an apparent blockbuster if it lives up to even half its prerelease hype.
See if you agree with Matt and Darren's opinions. Whether you do or not, please comment and let us know what you think.
SporeBy: Maxis From: Electronic ArtsFor: DS, Mac, PC Rating: Teen ETA: September 7
Info: Control the evolution of a species, from paddling around in a single-cell soup to growing a creature into a culture to launching an interstellar spacefaring civilization.
Matt: You're traveling through another dimension, one not only of sight and sound but of mind, a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. You've just crossed over into...the Will Wright zone. In Spore, you start as a single-celled thingamabob, then "evolve" into a multicelled thingamabob, and eventually spread your thingamabob civilization across the galaxy. The Creature Creator is already available, so keep your eyes peeled for the platypus-that-can-kiss-its-own-you-know-what species that'll be popping up any day now.
Darren: Like most of the free world, I'm looking forward to this game, and to its viral nature (by far the coolest part). I mean, people will see my Editorus Rex or the ninja race I'm trying to create, and they'll incorporate it into their own universe. The only foreseeable problem with the Creature Creator that's available now is having to wait until September before I can actually do something with my monsters.
Guitar Hero: On TourBy: Vicarious Visions From: RedOctane, Activision For: DS Rating: Everyone 10+ ETA: June 22
Info: Guitar Hero invades the mobile market with a four-button guitar grip that plugs into your Nintendo DS and lets you "strum" the touch screen while tapping keys in time with a four-path note highway.
Matt: The only thing wilder than the fact that this game exists at all is the accompanying video from Nintendo explaining how it works. Points for grabbing our attention ("You are the master connector PER-son!"). And hey, it's the first Guitar Hero game that uses an actual guitar pick. How cool is that?
Darren: I dunno, man. This just screams "mistake" to me. It's tough to eke out high-quality audio from a DS, and half the fun of all these rock-and-rhythm games is indulging in the illusion that you're a rock god. Even though the home-console versions have me windmilling a plastic toy in the living room, it's better than a tennis racket in the mirror. As for plucking invisible strings on a DS touch screen: I may look like a complete tool, but I'll try anything once.
Battlefield: Bad CompanyBy: EA Digital Illusions CE From: Electronic Arts For: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Rating: Teen ETA: June 23