Welcome back to your favorite Steam Summer Sale updates and recommendations. In personal news, I just got an email from my aunt saying she sent me a Gamestop gift certificate for my birthday, which is on Monday. I mean literally, she couldn’t have picked a worse time, right as the Steam Summer Sale has gotten started. Oh well, maybe I’ll get a bit of cash to help out the cause. Anyway, today is Saturday, so let’s look at some of today’s deals and bundles that you should take advantage of…


It’s been two years since Firaxis Games released the fifth installment into the legendary Sid Meier Civilization series. The game has been made available on Mac, while integrating the game into Steam’s workshop. During that time, the games bugs and glitches hurt the online multiplayer have been removed. Many have moved on from the game, but this week a new expansion is available called Civilization: Gods & Kings. With this new expansion is it worth revisiting CIV V?


Early this year, Bioware’s Mass Effect saga came to five year run. Rest aside the ending; the series is one of the most complete trilogies in video game history. There are two aspects that Mass Effect nails perfectly. The series was first to interweave choices all the way through the third and final installment captivating fans from start to finish. However, you can’t tell a great story if you forget to create the atmosphere for your game to breath in. The music in the game really doses shape Commander Shepard with it having one of the best scores in gaming, but do people notice? Do people look at soundtracks as a whole or as background noise?


Atari has been digging into its classic catalog as of late for a new generation of games.  A few months back, it brought out the entertaining Asteroids Gunner, a twist on its rock-shooting classic from the 80’s.  And just recently, it broke out the old ball-and-paddle for Breakout Boost, complete with new modes and features.  Now another classic gets a remake, and this time it’s Circus Atari.  A game that originally started out on the Atari 2600 as a humorous collaborative effort, where you had to balance two people on a bouncing see-saw as they collected balloons, it has since been turned into a variation of Doodle Jump for the iPad.  While that’s bound to entertain a few folks, I can’t help but think what might’ve been had Atari taken the development in a different direction.


“Twitch” puzzle games have really been getting better over the years, and one series in particular that has managed to flourish is MumboJumbo’s Luxor franchise.  What started as just another marble shooting game has since grown into a staple for the publisher, thanks to addictive gameplay, ever-changing stages and new gimmicks to keep players drawn in.  And now the team may have stumbled upon its most brilliant entry to date with the retro-powered Luxor Evolved HD.


A while back, 2K Games had announced XCOM, a huge next-generation take on the long-running series, letting you battle aliens in a very detailed world.  Unfortunately, that game has since gone through an unforeseen delay, taking its release into 2013.  But don’t worry, fans, 2K still has you covered, thanks to a little help from Firaxis Games.  It’s taking things back to the traditional XCOM method with Enemy Unknown, a game that should shake up the strategic action scene when it arrives later this year for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.


Tower strategy games aren’t usually my thing.  There, I’ll say it.  I’m more of a hands-on sort of guy, taking command of a unit and delivering damage rather than issuing a command for someone to do it in a turn-based approach.  However, some people really get into this genre, so, for the sake of argument, I thought I’d give Anomaly: Warzone Earth from 11 Bit Studios a fair shot, especially considering the game fared rather well on the iOS market before transitioning to Xbox Live Arcade.  And you know what?  While my general feeling about the genre remains about the same, this game made me want to play longer than I anticipated.


It’s great how some developers wrap their head around a tactic that’s never been done before when it comes to puzzle games.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen as often as we’d like to see, with countless Bejeweled clones and a number of companies merely riding the same train to success.  That’s why it’s great to see a game like The Splatters, the latest from Microsoft Game Studios and the savvy development team at SpikySnail.  It sets out on its own path, introducing a slew of the most lovable suicidal characters since the Lemmings as they set out to defuse bombs the only way they know how – by splattering, obviously.


When Flight Control originally came out for the iPad, it introduced gamers to a new kind of puzzle game, one involving rerouting a certain number of planes on a crowded jet way, or risk crashing them into one another and ending your game as a result.  The game has since become an App Store phenomenon, and has seen release for other platforms as well.  Now the development team, collaborating with the bigwigs at Electronic Arts, have returned with a sequel, Flight Control Rocket.  And while the fundamentals are the same, some things are just a bit different – and not entirely in the game’s favor.


PopCap Games is on a roll, aren’t they?  It seems no matter what they release as of late, it’s destined to suck up hours of your time without any hesitation.  That’s the way it was with Peggle, Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies, etc. etc.  But one of the earlier games they got started with, Zuma, remains just as fresh as the day it came out, thanks to sharp ball-shooting physics and diverse levels.  So when we caught wind that the company was releasing a sequel, Zuma’s Revenge HD, for iOS devices, we – ahem – jumped at the chance to check it out.


Considering everything that Rovio has gone through with its multi-million selling Angry Birds franchise, it could’ve easily let success get to its head.  It could’ve sat back at all the cash raked in from the stuffed animals, fruit snacks and…sigh…upcoming CG movie and simply done nothing else for the rest of its career.  But no, like any intuitive game developer, it felt a challenge was necessary for its series, something new that would remind fans that they still gave a dang when it came to game development.  And say what you will about the company’s previous moves, but Angry Birds Space is that proof.


Rovio could probably sit around and talk for hours on end about how much cash they’ve raked in with their Angry Birds franchise.  Between the games, the stuffed toys, the upcoming movie, the advertising tie-ins, the candy…yes, there’s Angry Birds candy…there’s literally no end to this cash cow.  But that doesn’t mean the team has forgotten how to make the games special.  And on March 22, it takes the next logical step in the series, by launching the Angry Birds into…well, outer space.


There’s a reason Electronic Arts dropped a billion or so dollars into PopCap Games when they acquired them last year.  This development team single-handedly makes some of the most addictive games on the planet, ranging from the ball-dropping Peggle to the gem-switching Bejeweled to the shooting madness of Heavy Weapon.  There’s literally something for everyone.  Even Plants vs. Zombies, a game that sounds incredibly farfetched in concept, works oh so well, no matter what platform it’s on.  And this logic holds true to the PlayStation Vita version, which is as fun as any of the others.