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The best summer games you need to play before going back to school

Presuming you're still running the good but ultimately pointless race of academia, summer vacation is quickly coming to an end. After two glorious months of complete, lackadaisical complacency, it's time to wake up at the crack of dawn, pack up your books and trudge off to class where you'll promptly fall asleep, because, honestly, who really cares about Math? It's not you'll ever use it again, right?

Before you consign yourself to another agonizing gauntlet of mundane classes, droning professors and sycophantic teacher's assistants, take solace in the fact that you still probably have a few blessed days of freedom left. It's not a lot of time, granted, but it should be enough to sneak in at least one or two of the best video games that were released since school let out in early June.

You might as well get in your last gaming fix now. After all, once school begins, chances are you'll be spending all your free time studying. Or drinking and doing drugs or whatever it is kids do these days.

Sin and Punishment: Star Successor

At first glance, you probably will have absolutely no idea what Nintendo's newest on-rails shooter is about. I mean, between the horrible voice acting, cliche anime design and the fact that it features two preteens flipping out in jet packs with laser guns like a bunch of futuristic ninjas on steroids, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor makes about as much sense as half of the insane stuff that comes out of Japan.

That said, coherency is overrated, because Star Successor is completely awesome. The graphics might be sub-par for a Nintendo Wii title, but when there's dozens of enemies on screen (or just one humongous boss) trying to murder you with a billion flying projectiles, trivial things like that quickly become forgettable.

You'll need the reflexes of a cat and the patience of a monk in order to deal with Star Successor's often infuriating difficulty (a second player to lend a hand also helps) but the pay off is well worth it. Assuming you don't hurl a Wii remote through your flat screen at least.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

The Metal Gear Solid gameplay formula is perfected in Peace Walker. It’s an awesome blend of stealth and guns blazing action, and the inclusion of cooperative multiplayer is a huge bonus as well. The graphics are phenomenal, the voice acting and music are stellar as always, and the fact that the story isn’t a convoluted mess helps make Peace Walker one of the best Metal Gear Solid games in years.

Everything that Metal Gear Solid fans have grown to love somehow makes the transition to the PSP without any reduction in quality.

The stealth, the hand-to-hand combat, the huge weapons and big explosions and the dramatic plot --all staples of any true Metal Gear Solid experience, are replicated perfectly for Sony's portable gaming system. If you own a PSP or love Metal Gear Solid, buy this game. No collection is complete without it.


Arc Rise Fantasia

I won't pretend that Arc Rise Fantasia, the latest RPG from the developers behind the Luminous Arc series, is a perfect game. It's not. The voice acting alone is more than enough for even the biggest RPG fan to pause.

However, if you're willing to overlook its flaws, Arc Rise Fantasia is an engrossing role-playing experience that fans of the genre will enjoy immensely. The combat system is an entertaining hybrid of intense action and strategy, the storyline is fairly well developed and full of interesting characters, and the graphics also are solid, particularly for being a Nintendo Wii title. It may not be the best video game to come out of Japan, but if you love JRPG's, Arc Rise Fantasia definitely is not one to overlook.



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