Captain Toad: Treasure TrackerWii U
The majority of Treasure Tracker's levels, though well designed, feature gameplay revolving around established mechanics such as the Double Cherry, boost pads, projectile-lobbing Spikes and more, which sadly leaves the overall package with the feel of an expansion pack. An expansion pack that boasts more charm and appeal than most, but from the maker of some of the best 3D platformers of all time, we can't help but feel a little bit disappointed.
The incredibly brief story also puts the emphasis more than ever on individual creation and community content. ...This is undoubtedly the best entry in the series, giving an unparalleled creative experience on console. But it's also the most confusing. More accessible, terrifying, approachable and incomprehensible than ever. There's plenty of creative fun to be had, but if you're going to take it really seriously then it's going require a lot of blood, sweat and stitches.
Dragon Age: InquisitionPS4
You'll want to turn your completionist tendencies off in order to adequately balance out the marginal filler and the mind-blowingly essential. Manage to do this and you'll be rewarded with one of the most involving RPG narratives going. If you ever make it out of the pub.
The re-introduction of 'new' features like the Hidden Bases and Pokemon Contests will be welcomed by those who may not have encountered them the first time around, but X & Y veterans will see more steps taken back here than forward. ...It may not be the greatest Pokemon game, but it's still a strong one: as far as remakes go, this is more Clooney and Pitt in Ocean's Eleven than Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man.
Call of Duty: Advanced WarfarePS4
Inferior maps are a shame because the rest of multiplayer is brilliantly crafted, exhaustive and packed full of content. The number of different game modes alone puts almost every other shooter to shame. Still, despite such problems, this remains the best Call Of Duty we've seen in years and is the wake-up call the series so desperately needed. Things had been looking stagnant for a while, but the future looks bright once again.
Far Cry 4PS4
Less impressive is competitive play, unfortunately. ...They're a fun distraction, but don't expect to find yourself choosing to hop online over trying to halt Min's campaign of violence and suppression. ...By taking things to the Himalayas, Ubisoft Montreal has managed to skilfully weave an attractive partnership of awe-inspiring landscape and exhilarating, surprising action.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015PS4
Both are brilliant. They're just completely different. Where FIFA aims to look like football, PES aims to play like it, and that doesn't just mean scoring great goals: it means learning your squad, facing elite opposition, mastering tactics and grinding out victories. Because in PES 2015, the beautiful game isn't always so beautiful.
The world of Avatar is so rich and interesting, which makes the thought that somewhere out there someone may try this game as an entry point into the series actually distressing. If you're reading this we just want you to know that this game does not represent what Avatar is, watch the first series of The Last Airbender, for the love of Aang. And to the rest of you: do not buy or play this.
Assassin's Creed UnityPS4
Ubisoft's true new-gen innovation has been to make a real place for one of their templated games to play out in. That game might be entirely familiar, but the scenery is like little else we've encountered before. Ubisoft's been Forrest Gump-ing history for years in an attempt to get us to engage with it, but we've never felt more like we were a part of the old world than in just walking those streets.
Halo: The Master Chief CollectionXbox One
The true value of this collection is in the immediate journey back and the slow rediscovery of one of gaming's greatest series. If you're jumping into the Chief's Mjolnir trousers for the first time many of the nods, tweaks and, most potently, quirks of the older titles will at best fly over your head or at worst tarnish your ability to play without cussing like a sailor.
Sunset OverdriveXbox One
In among the density and neediness however there's a good game. One that's shamelessly focused on the fun of pinging around a city with an arsenal of ricocheting insanity guns, and so intent on being entertaining that it's endearing even when it doesn't work. There are fantastic moments where everything aligns perfectly, and even when it falls flat through over-effort the basic action is still a rewarding and noisy mess.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond EarthPC
Beyond Earth is a fully fledged, eye-burningly addictive strategy game. Perhaps measuring it up against Civ V is unfair, considering how well it stands up on its own. Manage to penetrate the layer of obscurity that reinforces coerced reaction rather than active planning and execution and you may very well find yourself facing the old "Oh-my-days-what-time-is-it-I'm-late-for-work" scenario.
The Evil WithinPS4
There are numerous clever nods to Mikami's heritage here, but it's more than just the game Resident Evil 5 should have been: The Evil Within stands alone and still manages to feel relevant, despite far more sophisticated contemporaries. Anyone expecting the cataclysmic upheaval of Resi 4 will be disappointed: instead, The Evil Within feels like survival horror's final, desperate dash for the light, before the shutters come down forever.
Bayonetta 2Wii U
The overall design of the game owes as much to the abstract, neon skyscapes of Ninja Theory's DmC as it does the first game's grandiose European architecture. It feels as though the designers, understandably, simply couldn't wait to show off what they'd made, sometimes to the detriment of the game itself. ...It's a creative solution to existing problems, solved by adding even more to the game - which speaks to the philosophy behind the project as a whole.
This lack of variety is a shame given that the quality of the handling and visuals makes DriveClub an absolute pleasure when it comes to that moment-to-moment experience of throwing a car around a corner at breakneck speeds. ...For a game that is so modern in its approach, its forms of competition are staunchly tradition. How much you enjoy this combination comes down to your appetite for best lap times.
Like its extraterrestrial boogie man, Isolation has its ugly side. On a decent PC, hitting and maintaining a locked 60fps isn't an issue. In contrast, the console versions often plummet below their 30 frames target. Yet tech issues never fundamentally dilute the base pleasure of being seduced by those scares. Before Creative Assembly honoured sci-fi's seminal horror film, there were dozens of Aliens games. Now, there's precisely one Alien game.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS3DS
After years of lazy publishers fobbing off handhelds with crap versions of AAA console games, trust Nintendo to show them how it's done. It shrinks down the Wii U game without compromising it, while instilling it with its own distinct identity. If anything, it's the Wii U version that should be feeling nervous. Super Smash Bros for 3DS is a triumph.
Middle-earth: Shadow of MordorPS4
You can't knock the unique flow of play, though. Much of its foundation is plainly riffing on what's gone before, but the Nemesis system does assassinations better than Assassin's Creed ever has. That the whole package is wrapped up so deftly within the Lord Of The Rings universe is, surprisingly, just the icing on top of this brilliantly realised idea cake. With a tie-in of such proportions, that's saying something.
Forza Horizon 2Xbox One
No, this is a driving game. It extends far beyond simply racing cars. It's about car culture. It's about the experience of being in something so flamboyant that only Sheiks can afford it. It's sheer wish fulfilment, pelting aimlessly through stunning scenery to your favourite tunes. ...This isn't the wide-eyed leap into new-gen we wanted, but it didn't need to be. A picturesque setting and a bold selection of new beats drive the genre into beautiful territory.
FIFA 15 isn't perfect. There are still some quirky animations in here that occasionally burst the realism bubble. ...But make no mistake, FIFA 15 is the best game of football around. EA has evolved its engine rather than revolutionised it, and it's worked a treat. But, with friends or without, FIFA 15 plays a rock solid game of football and looks destined for glory again.
Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes - 2.0 EditionPS4
But even with all those lovely bits, at its heart, Disney Infinity 2.0 is just an incredibly fiddly way to approximate an experience that can still be better achieved with the kind of toys we've been playing with for years. ...But it just doesn't gel together quite right, trying far too hard to impress you when simplicity would work so much better.
D4: Dark Dreams Don't DieXbox One
Yet the qualities of D4's storytelling shouldn't be overlooked. Within the framework of a crime procedural it touches upon the nature of obsession, the heartache of lost love, the seductive ideal of changing the past, and even the fickleness of fashion. If it isn't always consistent, it's certainly never boring, and often gives you something to think about.
Hyrule WarriorsWii U
And that final point is perhaps the most important, a true reasoning behind matching these two seemingly opposed series. Warriors has taken Zelda and turned it into all-out war, without compromising its core ideals. Zelda has taken Warriors and helped address its pervasive, superficial issues, while still drawing out the essence of the long-running series.
Destiny is perhaps best described as a game of wonderful moments rather than a wonderful game. Each player will have their own anecdotes to share; for me, two in particular stand out. ...Right now, it's a frequently enjoyable, beautifully made shooter you can play with friends and strangers alike. But that's all it is.
Hohokum is love at first sight - it will have you captivated for its opening hours. And if you believe charm is more important than challenge, you'll be enthralled throughout. ...However, there's no denying its beauty and therefore you should still give it a go if you're happy to explore its beautiful, abstract worlds under the full understanding that underneath them lies somewhat underwhelming gameplay.