Top 25 Games to Play Before Summer Is Over (#25 – #21)

The summer season is a great time to get outdoors and be active. That’s why we’re encouraging you to stay inside and enjoy air conditioning and good games. You could read a book, but who does that?! Not you. Instead of “using your imagination” to visualize grand adventures and heroic quests, you prefer to be smack in the middle of one. This summer, save the world from your couch and leave the sun tan lotion, paperback novels, and gas money where they belong: away from you and your controller.

Without further ado, I present to you GameZone’s list of Top 25 Games to Play Before Summer is Over.

25) The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Skyrim, the next entry in The Elder Scrolls, is going to be huge, and you’ll appreciate its grandeur and depth more if you set foot in the realm of Oblivion first. Not to imply that Oblivion is small (its landscape is about the same size), but the game is considered one of the best RPGs ever made—with more detail than you could shake a mage’s staff at. The amount of choice you have is practically limitless, and the content is abundant, overwhelming the forty or so hours of main quest. Nothing beats spending summer in a whole other world.

So to say that Skyrim is going to be huge is a mighty statement. Its visual style bridges the fantasy settings of Oblivion and Morrowind before it; its topography, while as expansive, is more mountainous and diverse in its terrain; its 120 (minimum) dungeons are all hand-crafted, not reused; and there be dragons. Look for it in stores this November.

More on Oblivion and two-dollar horse armor in our review.

You can read our preview of Skyrim here.

24) Gears of War 2

The third Gears of War game is slated for late September, so you’ll want to hone your skills and get into proper shape for its release. The second game in the military third-person shooter series (an X360 exclusive) focuses on Marcus Fenix: once a prisoner, then a soldier, and later a formidable sergeant. When they’re not taking cover or using downed foes as meat shields, players help in the assault on the Locusts with the aid of other Delta Squad members. Water gun fights in summer are nice, but nothing quite tops the satisfaction of the Lancer, Fenix’s signature weapon and an assault rifle with a mounted chainsaw bayonet.

For more chainsaw action, check out our review.

23) The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

This third-person RPG is already available for PC, but for players who’d rather tap buttons on a controller than type on a keyboard and click with a mouse can wait for the Xbox 360 version coming later this year. Flotsam isn’t the most luxurious of places, but it’s perfect for players who thrive on danger. Swords and spells are a good combo for purging the geography of the hordes of gruesome monsters that infest it, but you’ll need a shovel to sort through all the positive reviews. So take our word for it: The Witcher 2 is a game you don’t want to miss, whether you prefer computers or consoles.

Need more convincing? Read our preview here.

22) Battlefield: Bad Company 2

At the time, EA’s Bad Company 2 was an open challenge to Activision’s Modern Warfare 2, and many considered it the better of the two. Its single-player campaign runs strong, but it’s the multiplayer mode that packs the most muscle. Battlefield 3 lands in October for PS3, X360, and PC, so start mastering those classes. Four will be included in the sequel’s multiplayer: Assault, Support, Engineer, and Recon. Your summer boot camp begins now.

We trained and fought hard. Our review is here.

21) Demon’s Souls

With Dark Souls—the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, one of the most challenging games of 2009—on its way from returning developer From Software, interested gamers should take this time to polish their armor and sharpen their blades. Dark Souls is going to be tough—much tougher than Demon’s Souls. The difference? An open world as opposed to the mostly linear environments of its predecessor. So build some confidence now (if that’s possible) before plunging into Dark Souls this October.

And if you don’t have a PS3, Dark Souls is coming to X360, too.

Need some verbal courage? Read our review.

There it is. The first five games to play before the summer ends.

View #20 – #16 on our list.

Check back all week for the remaining games on our list.