September's free Xbox 360 games are Magic 2013 and Rainbow Six: Vegas

We just reviewed Charlie Murder, an awesome downloadable Xbox 360 game. Now let's talk about free 360 games. Microsoft’s Games with Gold program got off to a decent start when Fable III became free for Gold members during E3 in June. The program, meant to compete with Playstation Plus’s free games giveaway, offers two or more downloadable games a month free to all Xbox Live Gold members.

Since then, July saw Defense Grid: The Awakening and Assassin’s Creed II go free. In August, Gold members received Crackdown, Dead Rising 2, and Dead Rising: Case Zero – probably the strongest month of free titles so far.

September starts on Sunday, and with it comes a new free game: Magic: the Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas will follow later in the month. Head past the break for details on both games!

Magic the Gathering 2013

Magic: the Gathering started the trading card genre of games in the nineties and remains one of the most popular trading card games in the world. Such a long-running game filled with thousands of cards, an expansive lore, and ever-changing rules can seem very daunting to get into. But the XBLA games are surprisingly easy to learn thanks to a helpful tutorial and generally great user interface.

Stainless Games releases new Duels of the Planeswalkers games annually, each entry introducing a new mix of decks to unlock and play with, gameplay tweaks, and new game types. 2013’s big addition is Planeschase mode. This mode features solitary Planes cards that affect gameplay for everyone at the table – basically, each plane represents a new environment for players to battle within. Changing the Plane or playing a new Phenomenon card really adds a dynamic wildcard element to Planeschase games.

Magic is best played with other players – this one supports competitive online multiplayer for up to 4 players. It also has a cooperative mode in which two players can team up locally against an AI Archenemy or online versus a human Archenemy. Don’t think Duels of the Planeswalkers is multiplayer only though. It boasts a full single-player Campaign and puzzle-like Challenge mode that can be a lot of fun and help you learn the fundamentals before going online.

Magic: the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 regularly sells for $9.99. It will be free from September 1-15. If you enjoy card or strategy games, don’t miss it.

  • Magic: the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 – 1.27 GB – Link

Rainbow Six: Vegas

Though Ubisoft has let it rest for a while, the Rainbow Six series used to be one of their most popular games set within the Tom Clancy universe. Rainbow Six: Vegas casts players as a team of operatives tasked with defending the city of Las Vegas from an army of Mexican terrorists.

When playing alone, you’ll actually command the squad via controller commands or headset, providing a strategic layer to the third-person shooting. Each mission can also be played in 2-player split-screen co-op or 4-player online co-op, though the actual story scenes sadly don’t play in co-op. Vegas also supports 16-player versus play with a variety of game types. This is an older retail game, but the hordes of Gold subscribers getting it for free should revitalize the online mode for a spell.

Rainbow Six: Vegas regularly sells for $19.99. It will be free from September 16-30. Fans of military-style games and shooters should give it a try.

Oldies but goodies

Both of September’s free games are quality titles – especially Magic 2013. But Magic is a year old and Rainbow Six: Vegas dates back to 2006. These games are unlikely to satisfy critics who complain that Playstation Plus subscribers get new releases games for free (though not to keep) while Microsoft gives dustier titles to Xbox Live Gold members. What do you guys think about these two titles?

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!