Review Of The Year 2014: August

August is generally a month where temperatures soar and games dry up. Much of the Western world is off on their summer holidays, so there’s no point crowding the schedules with games no one is around to play. This year didn’t do much to buck this trend, with a distinct lack of blockbusters making their way to shelves to keep us entertained. There were a couple of exceptions, although even these were re-releases of earlier titles.

The start of the month, for example, saw the retail release of Ultra Street Fighter IV. Normally this would be a fairly major release, but it’s worth pointing out that Ultra was put out as a paid update for Super Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition on PS3 and Xbox 360 back in June, which lowers the fighter’s impact somewhat. On the plus side, searching for it gave me this amazing image of Zangief, which really makes it all worth it.

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The two other big releases from August were more along the line of updates for the current generation of consoles. First was Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition, which is, under normal circumstances, an absolute juggernaut of a title. However, given Diablo III was actually released on PC in 2012 and Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2013 did somewhat lessen the impact of this year’s release on PS4 and Xbox One. It’s just hard to get excited about the third release of a game you know?

Joining Diablo III was Metro Redux. While not the biggest franchise out there, a Metro game would normally have a bit of a buzz around it. The same simply isn’t true when it’s just a re-release on a new generation of consoles, even if it does bundle up two games into one.

Fortunately, the month was somewhat more successful for smaller titles, with Five Night’s at Freddy’s, a game I am officially too scared of to play, making quite a splash, alongside other indie titles like Metrico and Mini Metro. The quirky art title Hohokum also made its way onto digital shelves for Sony’s platforms, quickly winning Blair’s heart.

Even with a stronger slate of digital releases, August still remained pretty much true to form, something that wasn’t true of the weather, at least not here in the UK. While we’ve been blessed by an eight year stretch of warmer than normal Augusts, this year fell somewhat short of that mark, ending up as the coolest August since 1993.

Far more extreme than a slight temperature drop, however, was the localised flooding that affected some part of the UK over the month. Scotland was particularly badly hit, with 200 homes evacuated in Elgin, alongside similar measures in other at risk locations.

Shifting from weather news to gaming news, the start of the month brought with it the news that Michel Ancel, the man behind Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil, had founded a new studio. Given his pedigree this new was pretty exciting in and of itself, but it also came with a tease that he was still working on something at Ubisoft, possibly Beyond Good & Evil 2.

However, the biggest news from August always comes from Gamescom, as gamers and press alike descend on Cologne like a horde of game craving zombies. While there was, obviously, a huge amount of news coming out of this year’s show, perhaps the two highlights were the two most confusing stories.

First up was the announcement that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be an Xbox exclusive. This obviously annoyed a lot of people who didn’t have an Xbox but still wanted to play the game, but that’s not the odd bit.

No the weirdness came straight from Xbox chief Phil Spencer. Everyone had sort of assumed that Rise of the Tomb Raider would end up as a timed exclusive, and Microsoft’s claim of exclusivity for Holiday 2015 seemed to confirm that. Phil Spencer sought to clarify the situation, without actually making anything clear at all.

“I have Tomb Raider shipping next holiday exclusively on Xbox. It is Xbox 360 and Xbox One. I’m not trying to fake anybody out in terms of where this thing is. What they do with the franchise in the long run is not mine. I don’t control it. So all I can talk about is the deal I have. I don’t know where else Tomb Raider goes.

“Yes, the deal has a duration. I didn’t buy it. I don’t own the franchise.”

Well Phil, no one was asking if you owned the franchise. If anything that just makes me suspicious that you have secretly bought it. Not for Microsoft, just for yourself. And, of course, the fact that we recently found out that Microsoft are taking up publishing duties just makes his comments seem more odd.

However, the award for weirdest Gamescom news has to go to the reveal of P.T. The now infamous title seemed to puzzle and excite people in equal measure, particularly as it was up on PSN pretty much as soon as it was announced. Of course we all now know that it was an elaborate ruse to announce the next Silent Hill, a trademark of Kojima’s projects. For the short period that the mystery pervaded though my Twitter feed was simply amazing, full of people trying to guide people forwards without giving the whole game away.

We’ll wrap things up with the most important news of the month, which was clearly the arrival of the above Godzilla trailer. I mean he fights the military, Mechagodzilla and King Ghidorah in one trailer! He even uses his atomic breath multiple times. What more can you ask?

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