Microsoft has revealed the titles it’s bestowing upon Xbox Live Gold members in March, as part of its regular Games with Gold promotion. These include Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 released on Xbox One in 2016, and is a spin-off of developer PopCop’s celebrated tower defence mobile phone series. Like its direct predecessor, Garden Warfare 2 is a class-based third-person shooter, and is really rather good, offering an assortment of 12-versus-12 multiplayer modes, plus a whole bunch of slickly produced, and highly entertaining, solo diversions.
Eurogamer contributor Jon Denton liked it a lot in his review, calling it “a deeper, more satisfying and consistently entertaining game than Star Wars Battlefront even” – although a few (long since fixed) balancing issues initially held it back.
Microsoft’s second Games with Gold offering for March is Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion, a sea-faring open-world escapade in which Jake, Finn, and the rest of the animated series’ memorable cast explore the recently submerged Land of Ooo. It certainly looks the part, admirably capturing the spirit of the cartoon, but reviews were fairly middling on release. Still, there’s no reason not to check it out if it’s free to download, right?
Next up is Platinum Games’ enormously entertaining (and preposterously titled) Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which released on Xbox 360 in 2013, and is now playable on Xbox One via backward-compatibility. It’s pure, grade-A Platinum, delivering a glorious bout of massively over-the-top third-person action, all built around cyborg Raiden and his extremely sharp sword.
Despite some camera issues, Rich Stanton awarded Revengeance 9/10 in his Eurogamer review, saying, “As things stand it’s still brilliant, staking out new territory in the genre and adapting certain Metal Gear characteristics so well that it makes the competition look outrageously bad. This is simply the ultimate one-man show, worth its ticket price many times over, an experience that improves exponentially as it gets faster and as you get better. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a thrilling and almost flawless fighting game”.
Lastly for March, there’s Star Wars: Republic Commando, a squad-based tactical shooter that released on the original Xbox in 2005 (but which supports Xbox One backward-compatibility). It casts players as a four-man team of elite Clone Troopers, on a mission that takes them to the planet Geonosis, through a ghost ship, and onto the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk (which, as someone who doesn’t do much Star Wars, I just had to check wasn’t a typo).
“Having chugged our way through Dark Forces and through the patchy Jedi Knight series over the past ten years, it’s heartening to finally come away from a Star Wars FPS feeling genuinely happy that LucasArts has used its much-abused license in a relentlessly entertaining way,” said Kristen Reed in his 8/10 Eurogamer review back in the day.
“We hardly have to encourage LucasArts to make another Star Wars game,” he concluded, “but more of the same focus on quality with a little less of a half-hearted approach to multiplayer and it’d be impossible to ignore. As it is Republic Commando deserves huge respect for managing to be the best Star Wars shooter ever.”
And if any of the above take your fancy, you should know that Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is available as part of Games With Gold throughout the whole of March, while Star Wars: Republic Commando is free between March 1st and March 15th. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance can be downloaded between March 16th and March 31st, and, rounding things off, Garden Warfare 2 is available from March 16th to April 15th.