Top 5 Hottest Games of August 2012

If you’re a gamer, you’ll know that August is traditionally a pretty slow month for new releases, but make no mistake: there are some absolutely fantastic-looking games due to arrive in August this year. From a sandbox action thriller to a rule-breaking MMO, here are our top five picks for the coming month…

5. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition

The brutal, unforgiving brilliance of Dark Souls is no secret – click here to read our review of the console original – but PC gamers have had no opportunity to sample its wares until now. And the PC-only Prepare to Die edition is looking like the definitive one; as well as some great physical content like an art book, a soundtrack CD and a behind the scenes DVD, you also get new maps, new bosses and a new PVP matchmaking system for co-op and player vs. player matches. If you missed out on Dark Souls last year, this is the best possible excuse to see what all the fuss is about. [DUE: August 24th, 2012]

4. Sleeping Dogs

An open-world action thriller with some intriguing RPG elements thrown in, Sleeping Dogs could be just the ticket if you’re counting the seconds until Rockstar finally unleash Grand Theft Auto V upon us. Sandbox structure aside, this actually looks like something rather different. The hand-to-hand combat (a major selling point) owes a distinct debt to Rocksteady’s peerless Freeflow system that was first seen in Arkham Asylum, and the driving sections have apparently been developed by team members who’ve previously worked on Need for Speed games for EA. If it ends up being even half as good as it looks, this could really fly. [DUE: August 17th, 2012]

3. Darksiders 2

The sleeper hit of 2010, THQ’s original Darksiders came as a real surprise, which is something that can’t be said about the sequel; people are expecting a classic. We’ve played through the opening four hours of Darksiders 2 and it’s looking pretty terrific; the fundamentals haven’t changed too much, but combat is faster and more fluid, enemies now drop loot (weapons and armour) and there’s a two-tier skill tree. The platforming sections owe something of a debt to the more recent Prince of Persia games too, and visually it’s much more interesting than the first game. We’ll be very surprised indeed if the full game doesn’t more than deliver the goods. [DUE: August 21st 2012] 

2. New Super Mario Bros 2

Even if you were a tad underwhelmed by 2009’s rowdy Wii version of New Super Mario Bros – and a few people were – it’s worth pointing out that New Super Mario Bros 2 is following in the footsteps of the absolutely superb Nintendo DS iteration from back in 2006. The 3DS sequel arrived in Japan at the end of last week, and was awarded with a pretty formidable 36/40 review score from the esteemed Famitsu magazine.  We can’t wait to see if it manages to scale the same dizzy heights as its DS predecessor, and our brief hands-on time with the game earlier this year reassured us that it was more than safe to expect only the very best from it. [DUE: August 17th 2012]

1. Guild Wars 2

A videogame as staggeringly vast as Guild Wars 2 simply shouldn’t look as slick and refined as it does, but seeing it in action at last year’s Eurogamer expo made a lot of people sit up and take notice. But that glossy technical sheen is the least impressive aspect of it, as developer ArenaNet have clearly set out to alter as many staple genre traits as it adheres to. Because you can use all of your abilities during battle – without having to pause to employ them, as is the norm – it’s a thoroughly confident action title, and the game’s quests (or “events”) almost always have your character’s narrative at their forefront. It feels like a bold action RPG on a massive scale, rather than simply another MMO pretender. [DUE: August 28th, 2012]

Honourable mentions: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, Risen 2: Dark Waters, Tales of Graces F, Persona 4 Arena, Madden NFL 13

Watch the “Get Ready” trailer for Guild Wars 2 below: