Christmas is coming and December’s ‘freebies’ for Gold subscribers are on their way too. The free-games-with-subs is always very subjective, no matter what’s on offer; if subscribers already own one or more of the games included, the perceived value drops immediately. It can be pretty deflating, waiting all month to see what games are going to be made available, only to realise that it wasn’t worth the wait after all.

The reverse of that is also true. Sometimes these offerings give us a selection of games that we’re over the moon with, whether that’s because there’s a specific game we’d not quite got around to buying or just because it’s a good, eclectic mix of stuff we’ve yet to purchase.

With backward compatibility being a big thing on Xbox One, Microsoft’s monthly freebies usually mix a big Xbox One title with an indie, an Xbox 360 game and an original Xbox game (if, for whatever reason, players haven’t yet upgraded to an Xbox One, they can still claim the older generation games via Xbox 360). That’s not always the case, of course – this month’s games, for example, are a big Xbox One game, an indie and two Xbox 360 titles. As ever, it’s a bit of a random selection.

Insane Robots – Xbox One


Despite playing – and reading about – quite a few indies in the last few years, Insane Robots seems to have passed me by. Perhaps it’s the very generic title – which is unfortunate, because this actually looks like a really interesting card battling game with hex-based board game elements; a game that is right up my street, from what I’ve seen so far. I can’t wait to give it a spin.

Jurassic World Evolution


This is the big one and, for those fans still sat on the (potentially electrified) fence, feels like a really big deal. From Elite Dangerous and – the more thematically similar – Planet Coaster developer Frontier Developments, Jurassic World sees players managing their own dinosaur theme park, bioengineering prehistoric animals and dealing with potential escapes, amongst many other challenges. It’s great to see this in the line up – just in time for Christmas too, when there should be plenty of time to sink into it!

Toy Story 3


Though released in a period where ‘licensed game’, particularly from Disney, meant ‘3D platformer rushed to release’, Toy Story 3 is a hidden gem. The main story mode is, unfortunately, one of those aforementioned, lazy 3D platformers with some terrible level design and boringly vanilla gameplay. However, the Toybox mode is very, very good indeed. A more open feel with lots of unlockables, it was the Toybox mode that formed the basis of Disney Infinity, the ultimately ill-fated – but actually very good – toys-to-life series. Surprisingly well worth your time.

Castlevania – Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate HD


I haven’t played much of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, as I was lukewarm on the third person, 3D action. It all felt a bit derivative to me, which was unfortunate for a series with such a great pedigree (though less so for its 3D offerings). However, Mirror of Fate – from what I understand – is a more well-received port of a 3DS spinoff; it’s one I’m definitely looking forward to trying out.

So there we have it. Another random – or to be more positive, eclectic – mix of titles there. Definitely a big hitter in the form of Jurassic World Evolution (as long as you don’t already own it – and with a £40 price tag, it’s a bit galling if you have recently purchased it) and a nice combination of older titles with the intriguing, lone indie in the bunch. Jurassic World Evolution makes it a great month for me alone; is it a good one for you too?

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