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The Best Games to Buy in the Steam Summer Sale [Updated!]

The Steam Summer Sale is upon us! Overwhelmed by the selection? Here are some ideas for you.

In what has become an annual holiday for the gaming community, the Steam Summer Sale is officially upon us.

As usual, the sale includes a huge number of completely ridiculous bargains, tempting gamers to splurge and load up their backlog. There are gems aplenty, but we understand if the selection can seem a little overwhelming. To give you a hand, we've included a few of our favorite deals from the Steam Sale. Naturally, if you find any strong deals of your own, please feel free to share in the comments! The community would undoubtedly love to hear your insight. Make sure to keep checking back because we'll be adding games as the sale continues through the week!

Splinter Cell: Blacklist ($7.49)

Ubisoft Toronto created the best Splinter Cell game since Chaos Theory and no one showed up to party. Hell, that alone makes it one of the best stealh games of the last generation. Blacklist is the culmination of everything Ubisoft learned from Chaos Theory and its much-maligned sibling, Conviction.

Want to be a wanton murder machine? It's actually possible here. Want to Ghost every level like a true Echelon agent should? Also completely doable. Three playstyles, great levels, and a ton of customization. The only real problem is Michael Ironside isn't the voice of Sam Fisher anymore. Get it here. - Mike Williams

Borderlands 2 ($4.99), Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition ($9.99)

Borderlands 2 is a great game that infuses third-person shooter with Diablo-style loot grinding and a dose of insanity. The Vault Hunters head back to the wildlands of Pandora to shoot pretty much everything that moves outside of towns. The game is two years old at this point, but if you have a few friends, it's a blast to play. Seriously, don't play Borderlands 2 with random folk. They'll steal your loot.

You can get Borderlands 2 for $4.99 during the Steam, but the better deal is picking up the Game of the Year Edition $9.99. That nets you the game and all of its campaign DLC in one feel swoop. In fact, even if you own vanilla Borderlands 2, it's cheaper to buy the GOTY version to get the DLC. Weird, but those are the breaks. Get the vanilla version here, and the Game of the Year version here. - Mike Williams

Tomb Raider ($4.99)

Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming in 2015 and this Steam sale wants to get you in on the ground floor. If you've ever wondered how noble descendant Lara Croft became a souless sociopath treasure hunter, you can find out in the Tomb Raider reboot. If you're a classic Tomb Raider fan, I'm sorry to say there's not much here for you, outside of Lara herself. As Tomb Raider begat Uncharted, so did Uncharted give rise to the Tomb Raider. The circle is complete.

Tomb Raider is a great game with solid combat, some decent Metroid-style exploration, tons of widgets to collect, and even the odd tomb or two. There's a few bumps in the story, particularly in Lara's quick turn from naive college student to weary survivalist, but overall it comes together in a satisfying whole. Get it here. - Mike Williams

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning ($4.99)

I'm not going to say that Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning is amazing. It's not the greatest action-adventure game ever. It doesn't do anything particularly innovative or spectacular. You probably won't remember most of the characters.

But Reckoning is fun. It's the core of a game that probably could've benefitted from a brand that people cared about, but beggars can't be choosers. For $4.99, it's worth trying if you enjoy action-adventure games. It's not like the world of Amalur is going anywhere - developer 38 Studios is dead, dead, dead - but at least you can join me in lamenting the loss of potential here. You can buy it here. - Mike Williams

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings ($9.99)

With all the buzz around Game of Thrones' rather amazing four season, now is as good a time as ever to check out this similarly dark fantasy series. It's just about three years old at this point, but The Witcher 2 is still a terrific looking game on the PC, mixing accessible action combat with a strong story and a huge number of choices.

You could argue that CD Projekt Red has pulled the rug out from BioWare's Dragon Age with its superior graphics and scope. Though it oddly continues to fly under the radar among mainstream gamers, The Witcher has taken its rightful place among the top tier of RPGs.

At less than $5, Steam is offering a completely ridiculous bargain for one of the best RPGs of the last generation. There’s a good hundred hours of content to be found here for virtually nothing. Play it and get properly excited for the upcoming Witcher 3. Get it here.-- Kat Bailey

Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion ($13.59)

1UP.com veterans will tell you all about the Sins of a Solar Empire tech tree in the men's bathroom. It's one of those space strategy games that looks relatively unassuming, then proceeds to worm its way into your heart. It's been seven years now since its initial release, but there's still very little else like it.

Essentially a real-time 4X game, Sins of a Solar Empire's main claim to fame are its space battles, which are typically massive in scope. 2012's Rebellion incorporates both massive, superpowered Titan starships and much better graphics, refreshing the experience and rebalancing the factions somewhat. There are better 4X games out there, but it's tough to beat Sins of a Solar Empire for sheer spectacle, and it's even better with mods.

For $8, you can get Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion, which includes the original game and all of the expansions to date. Or you could drop $23.99 for four copies of the games for your friends. Either way, that's a lot of space battles. Get it here. — Kat Bailey

XCOM Enemy Unknown Complete Edition ($24.99)

After the outcry following the decision to turn XCOM (later "The Bureau") into a shooter, 2K and Firaxis decided to do the right thing and make a newly updated strategy game. The result was one of the best games of 2012 and a must play for all strategy fans.

Much like the original game, the premise is that an alien invasion is underway, and the weapon the humans have is a crack team of special operatives. As the story goes on, the team steadily unravels the mystery of the aliens, unlocks new technology, and takes the fight to their bases. Drawing heavily on the mechanics of the original X-COM: UFO Defense, Enemy Unknown features top-notch tactical gameplay and solid base building, with the randomly-generated team members adding personality to the missions (especially when they die horribly).

The Complete Edition includes Enemy Within, which builds out the already strong strategic portion of the game even further, and adds an additional character class. As it enhances the original game quite a bit, it's certainly worth getting. After two years, XCOM remains a top-notch strategy game that's best played on PC. Even those who tend to shy away from harcore turn-based strategy would do well to give it a try. Get it here. — Kat Bailey

BioShock Triple Pack ($14.99)

It’s three, three, three BioShocks in one! And yet, even though the entire BioShock series consists of three games, this is not the entire BioShock experience. To the best of my knowledge, this compilation is lacking all the DLC — i.e.. Minerva’s Den and Burial at Sea — which many regard as the best BioShock content beyond the original game. So that kind of sucks. But then again, at five bucks a game, maybe you can afford to dig deep and come up with the coin to buy those separately, Skinny McSkinflint.

Even incomplete, what you have here are three modern rarities: Full-length, story-driven, wholly single-player (ignore BioShock’s 2 misbegotten multiplayer mode) first-person shooters that don’t play like someone was trying desperately to tap into the fat Call of Duty loot. While the games do have their problems, they’re worth making the investment simply to experience a big-budget take on a vanishing species. Now that developer Irrational has effectively vanished, shrinking down to a handful of people determined to make lower-budget projects, the BioShock series has become a museum of sorts: A tour through the excellence and excesses alike of the design trends and business that define “AAA” gaming. Get it here. — Jeremy Parish

Dark Souls II ($33.49)

The Souls series definitely has a reputation—though it's easy to see how its status as an ultra-challenging RPG might keep some very far away. For as much as fans like to go on about the harrowing nature of From Software's particular brand of pain, the developer isn't as interested in being evil as they are in placing all responsibility directly in your hands. Souls games rarely rob you of progress, and when they do, you walk away from that death knowing you probably could have prevented it if you were just a little more careful.

It may seem intimidating to jump into the series with its third game, but Dark Souls 2 offers an edge its predecessor didn't: A central online server, which means that any stumbling block you encounter can easily be overcome by pulling some co-op partners into your world. This alone makes the world of Drangleic much more tolerable, especially if you're new to the series and need some help figuring out how to cope with its many challenges. But regardless of how you approach it, Dark Souls 2 is a massive, beautiful, and RPG, designed for endless experimentation and customization. If you're wondering why people make such a big deal out of the Souls series, this is the perfect place to start. Get it here. — Bob Mackey

Far Cry 3 ($14.79)

Look, I’ve previously spoken about the story missteps of Far Cry 3, but at the end of the day it’s still an amazing game. At $7.49, Ubisoft is all but throwing it at you. Far Cry 3 gives you a beautiful tropical island to explore. You can scale to the top of mountains and radio towers, dive off in your wingsuit, swim in crystal clear waters, and explore caves for treasure.

Of course, it’s still a Far Cry 3, so that excellent exploration is punctuated with combat in various flavors. You can go in with guns hot, riding into an enemy outpost on a vehicle of your choice to light up some fools. Or you can sneak quietly into an outpost and dispatch enemies without them knowing you’re there. Hunt animals for items to craft new equipment, or turn them against your foes. Did I mention you can punch a shark? That’s right, you can relive your favorite LL Cool J-in-Deep Blue Sea memories in Far Cry 3. Isn’t that worth $8? Far Cry 3 is one of Ubisoft’s best and you may as well pick it up before (the completely-unrelated) Far Cry 4 hits in November. Get it here. — Mike Williams

Plague, Inc Evolved ($10.04)

Fed up of being a hero and saving humanity? Then you’ll very likely be ticked by the idea of becoming a virus and destroying it. And that really does mean everyone: men, women, and children - all wiped out. That’s what Plague, Inc is all about, and it’s brilliant.

I’ve put a huge number of hours into the iOS version, which is basically the same as this one. The player starts out as an innocuous virus in patient zero, which slowly begins to spread from person to person. As it does, it earns points that can be spent to mutate and evolve it to make it more deadly. This is where the strategy comes in. Perhaps you might want to make it airborne or carried by birds to help it cross water. Perhaps you might want to make it more contagious via coughing, which will help it be carried more effectively in planes. Perhaps you might want to give it nasty side effects like diarrhea, or even make those who’ve succumbed to it violent, so they attack and infect other people.

There are some tricky choices too - your aim is to kill everyone, but you don't want to develop your virus to be fatal too soon. Borders might be closed, planes and boats shut down - and the human race will start working on a cure, which could completely stymie your efforts.

What I love about the game is the mind-bogglingly horrible options it gives you, and the way that you have to think about them. I also like the speed at which it plays. This is a fast real-time strategy game that feels almost arcade-like in nature. Rounds are quick, there are plenty of different challenges - including zombies! - and the gameplay is highly original, engaging and entertaining. There aren't many other games like this, and it's absolutely woth picking up: it's gruesome, but oh so entertaining.Jaz Rignall

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs ($4.99)

This is quite the polarizing game. Some love it, some hate it, and it's easy to understand why. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is an odd beast: one o’ them high-falutin’ indie arty projects that’s high on atmosphere and low on visceral action. But then, that’s developer The Chinese Room’s shtick. They don’t really make traditional games, they’re more about merging the boundaries between game and interactive drama/fiction.

Ostensibly, Amnesia is a horror story. I don’t use the word “game” here because its puzzles are extremely simple, and the whole thing should be played as more of an experience that you take in, rather than something you proactively rush headlong into. If you can live with its cadence and spend time looking around, it’s actually quite good. That said, it’s very likely you’ll feel surprised at how short and lacking depth it is when you reach its conclusion, but despite that, the impression it make on me transcended its play time by making me think about it after I finished it.

Which I think is really the developer's objective. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is definitely not for everyone, but if you’re interested in the idea of this kind of experimental, offbeat side of gaming, it’s worth a try.Jaz Rignall

Tags: bioshock Dark Souls far cry 3 list sins of a solar empire steam sale witcher xcom

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