The Games with Gold program for Xbox LIVE subscribers will truck on through the month of March with a new collection of four free titles for the Xbox One and Xbox 360. Once again, two smaller, indie-style titles are paired up with AAA releases Evolve and Borderlands 2.
The month of March opens up with the psychological horror game Layers of Fear for the Xbox One plus the co-op hit, Borderlands 2 for both the current-gen console and Xbox 360. The former will be available as a free download for the entirety of the month while the latter will only be available through March 15.
The lineup will be shuffled on March 16 with Turtle Rock’s four versus one hunting game Evolve: Ultimate Edition until April 15. It will be joined by the side-scrolling shoot’em up, Heavy Weapon, through the end of March.
There’s not much to say about Borderlands 2. The 2013 title is where Gearbox Software peaked regarding delivering an AAA gameplay experience. The gameplay, story and art direction all came together to earn an 89 aggregate review score on Metacritic. Making this available as a free Games with Gold title is an interesting move, however, as it was recently given the HD re-release treatment for the current-gen consoles as part of the Handsome Jack Collection. Still an easy pickup for co-op shooting fans who missed out on it before.
Layers of Fear
Layers of Fear from developer Bloober Team is only approximately 5 hours long, but those few hours are full of scares. The horror title puts players in the shoes of a disturbed painter learning exploring a Victorian mansion and learning his dark secrets. Gameplay is focused on puzzle solving so bring your thinking cap along if you want to try out this game, which received a 78 average Metacritic review score.
The addition of Evolve to the Games with Gold lineup is interesting. The game was officially abandoned last year by developer Turtle Rock Studios and publisher 2K Games following an aborted attempt to turn it into a free-to-play title. Matchmaking for the game is currently a tough affair with so few players. Perhaps being available for free will broaden its appeal.
The Evolve: Ultimate Edition comes includes all the expansion packs released for the title – Monster Expansion Pack, Hunting Season 1, and Hunting Season 2. The game received an average 74 aggregate review score on Metacritic. Reviewers praised it for its unique take on asymmetrical gameplay, but also bashed it for the unevenness in gameplay. Enjoyment as a Hunter is almost completely dependent on the quality of your co-op teammates, for example. Fortunately, the DLC strategy the publisher took at the time is not a concern with this Games with Gold release.
Heavy Weapon is a throwback title to classic arcade shoot ’em ups. Developed by PopCap Games, players control an atomic tank across 19 missions to blast through invading Red Star (aka Soviet Union) forces. The twin-stick controlled title received a 77 Metacritic review score average, where it was given a thumbs up for the amount of modes and content but was hit for some repetition.
As a reminder, there are still two titles from the February Games with Gold that are still available. Project Cars will be available to download free until March 15. Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 title Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will be available until the end of February.
As the Inquisitr previously covered, Xbox One manages backwards-compatibility by emulating the entire Xbox 360 operating system. This allows Xbox 360 games to run on the Xbox One without any special coding or other workarounds. The major hurdles remaining are the licensing agreements with development studios and publishers to allow the games to be played on the Xbox One and listed for sale on the Xbox Store for the console.
Following that, testing to make sure the game runs correctly on the Xbox One appears to be a time-consuming task. Microsoft has to test each game from beginning to end to ensure the emulator runs the title correctly. This can take hundreds of hours depending on the title.
Additionally, Microsoft uses an Xbox Uservoice group to gauge interest in which titles to add to the Xbox One backward compatibility library. Users can suggest and vote up which games they would like to see supported.
[Featured Image by Gearbox Software/2K Games]