559 Published Reviews
It's good enough that its host of technical problems feels like an affront to what the game could have been, and to the hard work and talent--and there's a considerable amount of talent here--of the people who made it. Actually, looking back at the long history of Star Wars video games, the last time someone attempted a character-driven game in this franchise was The Force Unleashed II, and that was almost a decade ago. And I can't find another Star Wars game in the decades before that which brings together so many different elements and tells a unique story with as much gravity as this one.
But the whole of the game never achieves that balance. There's a deep thread of insecurity that runs through it, one that manifests in its unwillingness to commit all the way to the arduousness of its main character's task, that's too willing to break that quietness with mediocre action, and that never trusts the player to understand even its most basic ideas without hitting them over the head with them. There is a weirdo, avant spirit to Death Stranding that I do admire, but that spirit fails to carry the game anywhere worthwhile.
Call of Duty: Modern WarfarePS4
While Modern Warfare certainly has its issues, I’m having a really terrific time with it. The audiovisual aspects of the game have received significant upgrades. It’s a great-looking game with really strong sound design. That stuff helped make the campaign worth seeing, and it’s part of why I keep coming back to the competitive multiplayer, too. The meaningful tweaks to the leveling process matched up with some solid map design and great modes certainly don’t hurt, either. It’s a real shame that the co-op is pretty much dead on arrival, but the rest of the game is still absolutely worth looking at.
Great performances, strong action, and a solid sense of design all come together to make Control one of my favorite games so far in 2019. Control feels like Remedy finally making all of its different interests play well together, better than they've ever done it before.
The game looks really great and has a deliberately brighter and more varied color palette than most of the previous games. While I think the open-world stuff is flat and could have been way better, there are moments out there in the nothingness that just look straight-up incredible, including a late-game weather sequence that, despite not being great gameplay, was worth seeing a couple of times just for the visuals alone.
A lot of work needs to be done on a wide variety of the game's fundamental elements before it can join the ranks of other redeemed loot games like Diablo III, Destiny, and The Division. Whether EA will give BioWare the latitude to overhaul the parts of the game that need it--and whether it's even technically feasible for them to do that in the first place--are questions with uncertain answers.
I don't think I'd call Crackdown 3 an awful game, but I would call it dated. I don't know enough about this specific game's development to know what happened here, but I do know that this specific game feels like something that would have been better received had it been released several years ago. At the same time, Crackdown 3 fits reasonably well on Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass service.
The developer's uncertain future under Square Enix made a fair number of headlines a while back, before IO went independent and became the sole master of Agent 47's destiny. The fact that Hitman 2 turned out as well as it did in spite of that business turmoil is a great sign for the future of the franchise, and we should all be fortunate enough to get to play another one of these games a couple of years from now.
Tetris Effect will also have weekend challenges, where players must come together and clear a certain number of lines to unlock new avatars for players to use on their profiles, adding a reason to come back to the game frequently. Tetris Effect, from top to bottom, is my favorite iteration of Tetris yet. The music and visuals work together to create a truly unique Tetris experience, that is only enhanced by VR.
Red Dead Redemption 2PS4
That is the asterisk this brilliant game should bear for as long as people feel like talking about it. The people who developed Red Dead Redemption 2--both credited and uncredited--should rightfully feel proud of all they have accomplished. Likewise, they should be afforded the opportunity to continue making games under circumstances more cognizant of, and beneficial to, their livelihoods going forward.
Destiny 2: ForsakenPS4
At its heart, Destiny 2 is still of course a loot-based game, with all the inherent drawbacks of a genre that functions largely like a capsule machine. You might play it compulsively, or stay up late trying to grind out weekly activities before you lose them. You might spend an evening grinding out Crucible kills only to get three equivalent sets of the same boots.
Assassin's Creed OdysseyPS4
Odyssey is an example of why that mentality needs to adjust as these games continue to engorge themselves with every popular design idea they can find a way to integrate. Origins wasn't without its unnecessary pieces as well, but as a whole, it still felt fresh and unusual, at least for this franchise. If all you want is another huge, slightly lukewarm portion of a meal it feels like we just finished, then Odyssey certainly delivers that. Personally, I feel like I'm going to explode.
Forza Horizon 4 isn't going to be a huge surprise to anyone who played a previous entry, but in a world where the other big open-world games have ranged from mildly to extremely disappointing, it's great to have another solid entry in the genre to tear through.
Through upgrades to Spidey’s suit, gadgets, and skill tree the combat blossoms from adequate to enthralling over the course of the game. Some ill-conceived stealth sequences hold the game back a bit, but overall, Marvel’s Spider-Man raises the bar for what a licensed open-world game can be in the same way that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has reshaped superhero movies.
God of WarPS4
I’ve played through five God of War games as this character, and never saw him as much more than “the tough screamy guy that’s gonna kill all these gods in hilarious ways.” Now, I find myself just as invested in the quiet conversations Kratos has with Atreus as I do with my newest weapon upgrade. God of War grew up, and the result is the best entry in the series.
It seems like a dumb move on the writers' part to shine such a bright spotlight on how inflexible their open-world game actually is, but that's Far Cry 5. A decent video game undermined by bad pacing, weak characters, and a wishy-washy world view. Play it cooperatively with a friend, ignore the characters and their motivations, and you'll probably have a good time.
Every aspect of the base game feels designed to work well with every other aspect. The cars are fast and most of them drift at the tap of your brake, and there are sweeping curves ready to accept those drifts. The shortcuts lead you some wild places, jumping and smashing your way ahead of the pack. By comparison, most driving games feel like a compromise between trying to design a real city for you to race real cars in while also trying to make an exciting video game.
They'll sell 'em to ya, no problem. It has all the trappings of a game that should probably be free-to-play, but Konami is asking $40 for it up front. That's a bad deal. After Phantom Pain was released and the split between publisher Konami and series creator Hideo Kojima became public, some folks lamented that we'd never see another game on Konami's Fox Engine ever again. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.
Star Wars: Battlefront IIPS4
Time will tell what EA does in an attempt to remedy its grave errors with Battlefront II, but the game as it stands today is little more than a disappointing mess. Its technical prowess, beloved characters, and shiny spacecraft serve as little more than a distracting facade that covers an embarrassing attempt at a marquee Star Wars game.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom BattleSwitch
It's an unfortunate shift that mars the final product quite a bit. This is still a wild ride with a handful of amazing moments, but the gameplay part of it needs more variety than it has, so the whole thing ends up coming back down to earth and feeling a little disappointing by the end.
The bad news is that this is the blandest campaign the series has churned out in years and despite all of Activision's big talk about "boots on the ground" action and how this was going to be some big deal, the setting change didn't bring any new and exciting inspiration with it. This feels like the most wheel-spinning, by-the-numbers Call of Duty they've made thus far.
Super Mario OdysseySwitch
Unlike Breath of the Wild, this is not a complete reinvention of what an iconic Nintendo franchise is capable of. Super Mario Odyssey is very much a 3D Mario game with its roots set in Super Mario 64’s exploration and sense of discovery. Its surprises are less about the overarching format and more about the nooks and crannies carved into each and every world. Each kingdom is absolutely packed with charm, clever objectives, gorgeous visuals, a stellar soundtrack, and a huge variety of ways to have fun.
This core action and the complex systems that underpin it are fun enough to play around with that it's a real shame that so many issues exist around the edges of this package, because those issues eventually started to diminish my enjoyment of the game's good parts. Shadow of War, like its predecessor, rests on a single gimmick, but it's a really good gimmick. When the action is at its best, with the gears of all those AI systems turning smoothly, it still offers an experience you can't get anywhere else.
South Park: The Fractured But WholeXbox One
It twists and turns in extraordinarily stupid ways that are unexpected and simultaneously fully expected if you're a longtime viewer. If you're in the mood for a unique, lighthearted RPG (and are at least somewhat receptive to South Park's specific sense of humor) you’ll find more than enough to like here.
If you’re the type of person who derives joy from angrily banging your head into a boss over and over until you can perfectly defeat it in the most glorious 90 seconds you will ever experience, then Cuphead is the total package. The tight gameplay, accompanied by an incredibly well-realized aesthetic, makes for a truly unforgettable gameplay experience.