Every once in a while a retail outlet has a big game blowout: to raise cash, create space, fund terrorism; you know, the usual suspects.
My two favorites are Best Buy's Top Secret $10 sale and Gamestop's Everything Must Go Please Feel Free to Pre-order Something While you are Here Sale.
Best Buys Top Secret $10 sale involves new games being sold, one day only, in an very unannounced and unmarked sale for $10. It is popular with Best Buy employees and E-bay entrepreneurs and if you get there at opening you can pick up some decent $30 games before the only thing left is Command and Conquer, survival horror, and 40 copies of Infinite Undiscovery
Gamestop's Everything Must Go Please Feel Free to Pre-Order Something While you are Here Sale on the other hand tends to run for a few weeks, have a nice display, and can be a minefield of pain if you don't know what you are doing.
This post is about Gamestop's current sale whose actual promotional name is Power Saver Sale. An unfortunate moniker seemingly a step below Homer Simpson's spy alias Max Power which, it should be noted, Homer came up with after looking at a hairdryer. The Power Saver Sale runs till August 8th. It consists of both new and used games and it is of note because, like the Best Buy Top Secret $10 sale, many of the prices will still be a bargain six months from now.
So the first question one should ask oneself is do I really need to go buy new games with all the $60 goodness coming out only a few months from today?
First look at the number of games you have that you need to finish (I have 10). Then look at the number of Indie, Arcade and Disc titles that you currently own that you haven't even played yet (My number an embarrassing 22).
And at that point feel free to say screw it, I want to load up on some bargain love.
First I will identify the games you may want to pick up in the sale then I will give some specific advice about shopping at Gamestop which can be intimidating especially when it comes to used games.
Mass Effect 2 for $30
Assassins Creed 2 for $20
If you don't already own Mass Effect 2 then run, don't walk, to Gamestop. Mass Effect 2 may eventually settle down at the $30 price point, but it will take a while. In addition because of the Cerberus Network DLC (Included free in the new game, $10 in a used copy), Mass Effect 2 is one game that is often cheaper to pick up new rather than used.
Assassins Creed 2 at $20 is an outright steal. In addition, the somewhat lambasted Assassins Creed 2 DLC is currently Xbox Live's Deal of the Week , which means you can pick up the full package for under $30 total.
Bayonetta for $20
Darksiders for $20
Sacred 2 Fallen Angel for $20
Divinity 2: Ego Draconis for $25
Bayonetta may be Devil May Cry with a fethishized gun toting witch, but it was a surprisingly well reviewed Devil May Cry with a fethishized gun toting witch. Certainly at $20 it falls comfortably into the really good bargain category.
Darksiders is a slightly less well reviewed, God of War style game which also came out earlier this year. Like Bayonetta above the $20 price point is certainly attractive.
Sacred 2 Fallen Angel and Divinity 2: Eco Draconis are the outliers in this category. Sacred 2 is a buggy dungeon crawl that reviewers seemed to like despite the fact it was a buggy dungeon crawl. Divinity 2 was a completely ignored combination of Eargon and Oblivion which wouldn't have made the list had the demo not reminded me a lot more of Oblivion than it did Eargon.
Technically I should have picked up all four of the above games since they fell at or under my preview price points but I was trying to keep the total tab under a hundred dollars with at least 10 games purchased. I ended up with 12 (or 14 depending on how you count) and the tab was a $97 and change before tax. Needless to say, I would have blown my whole wad on the new games alone had I decided to pick them all up.
The rest of the pack.
If you were already in the market for say Just Cause 2 or Fallout 3 GOTY Edition the $40 price points are excellent buys, but in reality I am looking for bargains. All games eventually fall to forty dollars in a reasonable time period. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the sale games currently priced at $40 dollars or higher kept that price point after this sale. There were also couple of out and out landmines in the new games section.
For example having FIFA World Cup 2010 priced at $40 is a bit nuts. The World Cup is over and that title has future resident of the bargain bin written all over it. Pure for $20 also makes little sense since one can buy a promotional two disk set of Pure and Lego Batman for ten dollars next door in the used section.
And as always a bad game is never a bargain (cough Dark Void cough)
I ended up with Assassins Creed 2 for $20 (I already owned Mass Effect 2) and Divinity 2: Ego Draconis for $25 (which is only five dollars off admittedly, but what can I say I am a sucker for open world RPG's). My gut unfortunately tells me that the next Best Buy Top Secret $10 dollar sale will feature, along with the Command And Conquer and survival horror, 40 copies of Divinity 2: Ego Draconis. So I am two games in and already I have buyers remorse. Yeah that is par for the course in these sales.
Perfect Dark Zero for $2.50
Gears of War for $5
Conan for $5
Assassin's Creed for $6.50
Lego Indiana Jones/Kung Fu Panda for $4
With used games price matters. A game that is a hell no at $60 becomes an attractive buy at $2.50. Perfect Dark Zero is a fine example of this. It is dated, flawed and the online is presumably non-existent but for $2.50 its well worth picking up. (The most important criteria of any game is that it is worth your time to play and overall Perfect Dark Zero certainly is).
Gears of War for $5 is a great bargain for those who never got around to buying it and those of us whose disk mysteriously got scratched and need a replacement.
I would have a hard time defending a Conan game purchase at $40, but I have no worries promoting the hack and slash joy at $5.
Assassin's Creed may not be as good as it's sequel, but at $6.50 it is another Great example of an outright steal for those that don't currently own one.
Lego Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda were included as in game discs in Xbox360s sold in a bundle promotion. As a result the market is flooded with these and you can pick both games for a total of $4. Surprisingly, Kung Fu Panda may very well end up being the stronger game of the two. Again, at two dollars each, this purchase is a no brainier.
Benchwarmers I picked up
Lost Odyssey for $12.50
Army of Two for $7.50
Dark Sector for $3.50
Viking Battle for Askard for $6.50
Lego Batman/Pure for $10
Frontlines Fuel of War for $5
Lost Odyssey is considered by some to be the best JPRG on this generation of consoles (And if that isn't damning with faint praise I don't know what is. It is like being voted best Dynasty Warriors spin-off.) Digressions aside, it is a meaty game on four disks with a novel for a instruction booklet. If you like RPG's (in particular JRPG's) it is a bargain at this price.
Army of Two is a silly co-op action game. And for $7.50 I don't mind a little silliness (even if I do think that co-op is the devil's work.)
Dark Sector is also a silly action game. It got some lambasting when it first came out, but all reviews agreed decapitating foes with a three bladed boomerang never got old. At $3.50 I certainly can think of worse ways to occupy my time.
Viking Battle for Askard is basically Conan but with Vikings instead of Barbarians., Mixed reviews keep it from the No Brainer category (observant readers will note that Conan has the same Metacritic score a yet it managed to land in the No-Brainer catagory... What can I say I am a Conan fan.)
Lego Batman is the best received Lego game behind Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy and the new Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4. Lego Star Wars isn't on sale however and Harry Potter is still $50. In addition one receives Pure which got very good reviews and will fill that extreme sports void in my collection. (Of course I have an extreme sports void in my collection because I really don't care for those games. So we shall see how this works out.) Think of it as Batman Arkham Asylum for kids. (Heck it has the same plot... come to think of it most Batman games, comics and movies have the same plot.)
Frontlines Fuel of War is a pure flier for me. I picked it up for the single player action since the multi-player, one can assume at this late date, is dead as a doornail. The reviews were decent and the single player campaign got some praise. Truth told, I have no idea how I ended up with this instead of perhaps one of the Tom Clancy games.
Benchwarmers Still Sitting There.
Condemned for $4
Rockstar Games Table Tennis for $2.50
Forza Motor Sports 2 for $2.50
NCAA Football 2008 for $2.50
I personally didn't care for the Condemed games. But I recognize when a game is good and for some unknown reason my personal preference blinds me to a bargain. So for $4 the first Condemned is a good bargain for survival horror and action fans looking forward to getting hopelessly lost while impotently fending of zombies with a pipe. (Did I mention I really didn't like Condemned)
I don't particularity want a Ping Pong game either; but if I did, $2.50 cents for Rockstar Games Table Tennis seems to be the correct price point.
The brilliant Forza Motor Sports 3 may be an improvement on its predecessor but seriously an giant Gran Turismo style game for $2.50? Forza Motor Sports 2 may be the best buy of the entire sale assuming you don't already own 3 and are not looking to pick it up anytime soon.
The same philosophy also strikes with NCAA Football 2009 at $4. If you just want a football game, and are not worried about online community, you certainly would have a hard time finding a better deal.
The rest of the pack.
There are actually plenty of used games that I simply am not familiar enough with yet to put on my buy list. Ninja Gaiden 2, Turok, and Timeshift are all examples of this. There were also some used games that simply fell through the cracks, such as Soul Caliber 4 and Rainbow Six Vegas. Anytime you restrict yourself, as I did, to 10 games at $100 you will leave some good games behind.
I also managed to once again not buy Quantum of Solace. I have watched that game make a long and somewhat humorous journey from $60 in the wrapper to a price of $7.50 used. My local Costco for example still has the exact same thirty copies of the game it possessed in late 2008 and each now dinged and dusty box has ever more desperate price tags as it continues to be marked down. I said I would wait till it was five bucks when it initially was released and I am sticking with those guns.
I also avoid buying Two Worlds as well. Though the siren call of the open world RPG was very strong at $2.50, I remembered my mantra: a bad game is never a bargain.
A Few Words About Shopping At Gamestop
First of don't buy used games online and don't shop on Friday evenings. Game stores are very busy after gamers get their paycheck and the chance of you walking out with a mistake are much higher.
My second rule is when you buy a new game at Gamestop is to demand a factory sealed version. Gamestop has an annoying habit of selling pre-opened new games and that is a recipe for problems. I actually prefer to buy my new games at Best Buy for this very reason.
Finally always get a rulebook and the original box. You are paying good money for a used game there is no reason to accept anything less. If your local Gamestop doesn't have a your used game in that condition simply choose not to buy it that afternoon.
Rulebooks in particular are sticking point. While for many games they may seem spurious, it amazes me that people would buy a copy of say Lost Odyssey without the sixty page tome that is included. Anyone who has rented games on a regular basis has certainly come across a time when a rule book would have come in handy. Even in pure action games it is useful if only to have the controller set-up in front of you so you can learn that L3 allows you to breathe fire or some such nonsense.
Demand clean game disks. The first copy of Lego Indiana Jones/Kung Fu Panda I was given looked like it was last used as a cat toy. The second copy was pristine to the point I doubt it ever was opened. And while I can excuse some things because they were busy, both Gamestops had an annoying habit of giving me different boxes sans rules on my purchase. It was if they had a game of thimblerig going on back there. So post purchase I had to stand there at the counter saying in a friendly but firm voice can I have the rule book for Dark Sector please, you know the one that was in the box I just gave you?
Despite spending $25 on Divinity 2: Ego Draconis and $20 on Assassins Creed 2 my final take was 14 games at about $100. Prices below also reflect the Edge card discount which I highly recommend getting.For one thing it does have a nice magazine subscription attached (Game Informer) to it and, unlike many discount cards, it will pay for itself if you buy used games.
Conan -- $3.99
Army of Two -- $5.99
Dark Sector -- $2.79
Lost Odyssey -- $9.99
Divinity 2: Ego Draconis -- $24.99
Assassin's Creed 2 -- $19.99
Viking Battle for Asgard -- $5.19
Lego Indiana Jones/Kung Fu Panda -- $3.19
Frontline Fuel of War -- $3.99
Lego batman/ Pure -- $7.99
Gears of War -- $3.99
Assassin's Creed -- $5.19
Total Cost -- $97.28
Total number of games -- 12 boxes 14 games.
Well I hope that was helpful or at the very least a good read. I am headed back to Gamestop today... no not to exchange Divinity 2 with Bayonetta, I stand by that = wrongheaded decision. No I am headed back because they somehow gave me a Perfect Dark Zero rulebook instead of a Dark Sector rulebook, even though I handed them a Dark Sector box with the Dark Sector rule book conveniently located inside. Oh and Viking Battle for Asgard refused to work. Which brings me to one last rule. Test all you purchases when you get home . Clean looking used games can be deceiving.
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