Man, I thought I would make it through the entire Steam summer sale without buying a single thing. Some of that is just Steam sale fatigue, I think. I've collected too many games at bargain prices in past sales that I've not yet played, especially indie games. Also, we keep Damage Labs pretty well supplied with new games for testing, so great deals on things like Skyrim aren't going to do much for me.

Happily, I did wind up grabbing a few promising games over the weekend, including Trine 2, which looks gorgeous. I thought maybe Trine 2 would be a good candidate for living-room gaming on the HTPC, but it really requires a decent graphics card (not an old IGP) and a mouse/keyboard combo (not a game controller) for best results. On the bright side, down here in the labs, 'tis stunning with 4X supersampling at four megapixels. I also picked up Quantum Conundrum and Dear Esther, neither of which I've tried just yet. Looking forward to it. I nearly pulled the trigger on Arma II for $18 just so I could try the Day Z mod, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I expect I'll regret that.

I hope the folks who haven't played them yet snatched up super-cheap deals on excellent games from the past year or two like Just Cause 2, Arkham City, and (of course) Borderlands. Huge value there for less than ten bucks.

Having finished Max Payne 3 this weekend, I'm not sure what's next on my gaming agenda. I tried out of a couple of games AMD offered to us for use in testing to see what they were all about. Nexuiz is a UT/Q3A clone made with CryEngine 3. I like the idea of an updated version of these classics, but honestly, the game just doesn't have the right "feel" in my book; the shooter mechanics are very iffy. Sniper Elite V2 is more promising, kind of a CoD clone with only sniper missions. The graphics are nice, but the game's look is a little odd—almost too much texture detail everywhere, without the lighting and filtering to go with it. However, I think I'll try to finish my stalled-out playthrough of MW3 before spending too much time on a clone. Both of these games have fairly poor Metascores, so I dunno. AMD sure knows how to pick 'em.

I'm also a little disappointed with the Shootmania beta I've talked about before. This game is no replacement for UT2004. Perhaps this gets better in later versions, but right now, the menu system is strange and clunky. Worse, it follows the "game as a service" model too closely. You must have a beta key and login in order to play, which means I can't deploy my single beta copy across a few PCs and play locally with friends or family. One gets the sense the final game will require an account per player, too. I suppose that's the way things work now, but that's not a model that will win you new players, in my view.

Especially not when Borderlands 2 has been completed and sent off for certification. Looks like it's on track for its September release, at which point I'm gonna have to clear my schedule for several days.

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