2253 Published Reviews
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen OrderXbox One
Despite these numerous little problems, Respawn’s maiden voyage with Star Wars is largely a success. I couldn’t put this game down, both for the thrill of exploring and wanting to see where the story took me next. The inspirations taken from Dark Souls, Uncharted, and Metroid Prime unite to create something unique that just happens to work incredibly well for this beloved license. Like most starships in this universe, Jedi: Fallen Order could use a little polish, but the rust doesn’t hold it back from roaring with excitement.
Need for Speed HeatPS4
Need for Speed has meant different things over the years, but Heat is a good all-around representation of the franchise. The police could be a little more prominent, and the world – while well stocked – isn’t as interesting as Forza Horizon’s, for instance, but NFS Heat is the best iteration since Ghost Games’ reboot in 2015.
Pokémon Sword & Shield are strong first attempts for the series’ full transition to consoles. While some frustrations hold it back from true legendary status, this new generation proves the Pokémon franchise is still great more than two decades after its debut.
A few moments of frustration aren’t enough to dim the surreal glow of Disco Elysium. Trying to contain your glorious catastrophe of a “hero” can be simultaneously amusing and horrifying, and that’s before you even consider the events of the case surrounding him. I won’t spoil any of the major story beats, but the central mystery has immaculate pacing, with new layers and complications folding in at just the right moments. Plus, the payoff is satisfying and surprising.
Planet Zoo put up a lot of obstacles to my enjoyment, but once I broke through the majority of them, I found that engaging loop of mastery and success that makes simulation games fun. I enjoyed trying to one-up my last creation and surpass my previous revenue and years in business. Unfortunately, Planet Zoo requires an unreasonable level of patience that creates a barrier around its best qualities.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for NeighborvilleXbox One
Those looking for zany multiplayer fun can find it here, but that also comes with an unnecessarily complicated economy and inconsistent PvE components. Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville lets dedicated soldiers dive back into this long-running conflict, even if everyone else has moved on to other battles.
Try as it might, Death Stranding’s story doesn’t shore up its faults. It’s the normal Kojima mix of twists-and-turns, tropes, and overbearing themes, but at least I like that it explores real-world topics like the theory of multiple dimensions and key events in the history of the planet’s biodiversity. Like Sam himself, I often wasn’t sure why I kept going in Death Stranding. Maybe there was a little bit of pride in another task checked off the list, another job done. Unfortunately, this added up to little reward in the end.
Lonely Mountains: DownhillPC
This mountain biking game blends an idyllic nature aesthetic with tight arcade action to create a surprisingly thrilling adventure.
Luigi's Mansion 3Switch
With unique puzzles, diverse floor themes, and exciting boss battles, Luigi's Mansion 3 is a spooky delight for players of all experience levels. Seasoned ghostbusters and rookie paranormal enthusiasts alike would do well to look into Luigi's latest eerie adventure.
Afterparty poses questions you don’t expect it to ask, and that’s what ultimately made me satisfied with it – just don’t expect a non-stop rager. As with most parties, there are high points combined with lulls. At the very least, the conversations, locale, and attendees make it a good party to attend, even if sometimes you get a little bored.
MediEvil still deserves to be heralded as a classic for its time and place in gaming, and I love how it looks in revitalized form on PlayStation 4. However, its gameplay is a relic of yesteryear, and an example that shows us just how far games have come over the years. Rest in peace, Sir Dan.
Call of Duty: Modern WarfarePS4
All told, Modern Warfare should have received a new Call of Duty subhead given just how different its avenues of play are. Not every one of Infinity Ward’s ideas works, but a few are successful enough that I could see them as series staples. Modern Warfare’s accomplishments may not be as pronounced as Black Ops 4’s (Blackout being one of them), but it still delivers a hell of a multiplayer experience. Gunfight alone is worth the price of admission.
The Outer WorldsPS4
Even if the larger beats don’t always land, The Outer Worlds shines with a constant stream of small, bright moments. An amusing interaction with a clueless guard. A sugary corporate jingle. A brutal sneak attack. A solution to a problem you are sure won’t work, but it does. The team at Obsidian excels at encouraging creative experimentation within its responsive and absurd setting, ensuring that every visit to Halcyon is full of delightful surprises.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible LairPS4
With rock-solid controls and imaginative level design, I couldn’t wait to see what awaited the chameleon/bat duo each time I entered a new area. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a superb 2D platformer with plenty to love for fans of the genre both new and old.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IIIPS4
Trails of Cold Steel III’s strengths outweigh its weaknesses. While the story takes its sweet time to unfold, it offers a lot of shocking outcomes. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that things just keep heating up and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead. There’s something special about following characters for so long across various games – that attachment makes these journeys matter so much more. I just hope the next entry addresses the more glaring flaws, because there’s too much good here for it to be bogged down by a few problem areas.
Destiny 2: ShadowkeepPS4
Bungie's latest release is a good expansion on its own, but the way it sets the stage for the future of the Destiny franchise is its most impressive feat.
The Grid series offers a fun, gorgeous racing experience, and I can see value in bringing it back. But this incarnation of the game performs the bare minimum of the reboot mandate when it should be doing so much more. We race to be in first place, but unfortunately, Grid seems content to be in the middle of the pack.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon BreakpointXbox One
This final moment with Breakpoint sums up the game perfectly. There was a sense of victory, and then it all fell apart and became a maddening mess. I had some fun playing with friends, but constantly found myself wondering how this follow-up could go so wrong. Ubisoft's newest open-world experience struggles to deliver reliable combat and interesting things to do.
John Wick HexPC
Despite those frustrations, I continually returned to John Wick Hex because the core mechanics are incredibly tight. Thanks to Hex’s clever time management systems I always felt one step ahead of my enemies and capable of constructing the kinds of sophisticated close-quarters gunfights that make the films so exciting. John Wick Hex might hit the same note over and over again, but it’s one incredible note.
Indivisible is full of ambitious ideas and uneven execution. When it succeeds, you see glimpses of the fantastic game it could have been – but those flashes never last long enough for the dream to take shape. What you’re left with is an experience full of noteworthy successes and confusing failures, and like the game’s title suggests, they are all too intertwined to separate.
Magic: The Gathering ArenaPC
If you’re looking to play Magic, there’s probably no better way than Magic: The Gathering Arena, and that says a lot. Wizards of the Coast seemed hesitant to move all-in on a digital product in the last decade, perhaps out of fear that it could cannibalize the gigantic paper audience, but Magic is finally where it needs to be in the digital space.
Neo Cab poses a lot of questions, crossing something familiar with a plausible futuristic backdrop. Chance Agency crafts an intriguing world where people all have their own ideas about technology and how much it should be a part of our everyday lives. Neo Cab has the fun of being a driver, meeting new people, and trying to hustle for cash and get that coveted star-rating. But it also offers a much deeper experience – one that makes you look inward. That’s especially why it’s worth the trip.
The Surge 2PS4
Deck13 included a number of new weapon and armor types, all of which can be upgraded extensively, again putting heavy weight on the act of grinding, which is a bit excessive, but thankfully it ends up being fun. If you like the idea of cobbling together armor sets earned by felling difficult foes, give The Surge 2 a try. You may get a bit lost in the world at times, but every encounter is fun and well thought out. The bosses in particular are nicely designed, exotic in look, and push you to play with brutal precision.
Code Vein has some cool things to enjoy along the way and some nice ideas that shake up the core formula, but they are all incidental details. The heart of Code Vein remains overburdened by stale scenery, boring bosses, and tiresome trudging, and all of that is beyond what some nice touches can redeem.
FIFA may be more popular than ever, but FIFA 20 is a standard bearer with no clear focus. The gameplay comes up just short of carrying the title, and while Ultimate Team is engaging in its own way, it’s the same grind it’s always been. The next-generation of home consoles is approaching, and I can’t tell if EA has run out of ideas or is running out the clock.