A World of KeflingsXbox 360
As a palate cleanser, A World of Keflings certainly does the trick, though you may feel your sanity begin to ebb after extended sessions. At the end of my game, for example, I created a roving band of lumberjacks and began felling every single tree in the kingdom. It's not that I needed the wood; I was just tired of looking at the trees. Nearly eight straight hours of kingdom building can do that to you.
Push through its uneven beginning and you'll be rewarded with clever level layouts that stretch a solid mechanical framework to its limits. Getting to that point may be more frustrating than you'd like, though, thanks to its sharp difficulty curve. Kalimba's maddening co-op mode can also be worthwhile, though your partner will need to be at an even skill level and temperament if you're to remain friends afterward.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-PS4
For all its good looks, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is ultimately disappointing. What the game does, it does very well, but the sum total feels lacking. Had Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- been released 10 years ago, its shortfalls could have been ignored in the face of tight gameplay mechanics and lovely graphics, but in 2014 the game just seems antiquated.
What's remarkable about it all is that Xeodrifter crams this much into only a few hours. My time with the game topped out somewhere between three and four hours, and that includes fishing out hidden rooms and tracking down a few remaining health and gun upgrades after beating it the first time. Yes, that's brief, but the pacing feels just right, giving you enough time to master the game's mechanics without those mechanics becoming stale.
If the Xfinity-branded hypercar race a few hours in is anything to go by, The Crew is an overt attempt to capitalize on the popularity of modern car culture, and it would seem entirely cynical if not for a few redeeming design decisions. In the world of modern racing games that's just not enough to earn a victory lap.
Respect for the Iñupiat, respect for nature and animals, respect for the things we can't control, and respect for those who try to change their community for the better. Never Alone respects not only these ideas, but it holds video games in the same regard, as demonstrated by the care clearly put into the mechanics, story and flow of the game. Never Alone is a glimpse into the real lives of Alaska Natives, and it's a peek at a different kind of fairy tale.
Lara Croft and the Temple of OsirisXbox One
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris's temples and puzzles are fantastic, but I found myself wishing for several more hours of gameplay. This is, I suspect, where Isis and Horus' promises that "Set will return" are going to translate into copious DLC, bringing more challenge tombs or perhaps even more story. What's there is great, especially if you have a friend to raid alongside you, but by the time Lara closes her journal on this adventure, you'll just be getting warmed up.
Captain Toad: Treasure TrackerWii U
I'd initially judged Treasure Tracker as a pleasant but temporary distraction, but I continued playing even after I'd completed every level, and I'm still working on rounding up the collectibles I missed the first time around. Treasure Tracker may be small in stature, but it's packed with depth and detail. It's not unlike Toad himself, really. He's a little guy, but he'll surprise you. After all, he's the best.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions EvolvedXbox One
It's not exactly what came before, but Geometry Wars 3 earns its name, riffing, mixing and adding enough to satiate a thirst for intoxicating shoot-em-up. The more progress-focused Adventure definitely loses some of that competitive edge in translation, and that's certainly a shame, but it still has that instant, stimulating, rip-roaring flavor that puts the shots into shoot-em-up. It's quick, hot, and even though it kills your thumbs you come back for more.
2K's first crack at wrestling in the new generation of consoles is a severe disappointment. The chain wrestling mechanic is tiresome, and online play is a chore. A dearth of customization options across the board tear away at what made the series special. ...As an entry in an annual series, WWE 2K15 is worth skipping this year, and I can't help but wonder if 2K Sports itself might have been better served taking a year off from the ring.
Assassin's Creed RogueXbox 360
The lack of forward progression in the mainline narrative and the removal of elements like multiplayer illustrates the major difference between Rogue and other side-quest adventures Brotherhood and Revelations. ...Rogue feels like a stopgap – a cobbled together pile of last year's ideas to offer something to fans that have yet to adopt a PS4 or Xbox One. ...Assassin's Creed Rogue is not a bad game, but it is a derivative game.
While the basics are easy enough to pick up, Project Diva F 2nd is much more difficult than the first game in the series. ...Rock Band may be dead and buried, but rhythm game fans jonesing for a fix should give Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd a shot. Its cheery aesthetic and anime styling may be a little off-putting for some, but its gameplay is solid and surprisingly challenging.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth3DS
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is an enormous dungeon crawl that will devour huge swaths of your time - and you'll be happy to let it. Though it occasionally feels grindy, each new area is a refreshing challenge, and the ease with which you can mix up your party prevents your trips through the dungeons from ever getting stale. It's a brilliant combination of elements that I never would've thought suited each other, but fit so well that I'm having trouble ever picturing them apart.
Grand Theft Auto 5 is an ambitious game, attempting to meld three very different characters together to tell one encompassing story of survival in what amounts to the worst place in America. That story stumbles, but the open-ended gameplay remains a showpiece for the vast amount of content that can be poured into a virtual world.
The world that's been forged out of the enormous toy box this time around has never been more vibrant and inviting, but it's only a miniscule portion of what's now possible. As ever, LittleBigPlanet 3 is a foundation, upon which eager minds can start building even more inspiring content, and that process has been made more accessible than ever before.
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire do little to overhaul the major pillars of a series that's long relied on the same set of classic ideas, but they don't have to. The core mechanics of Pokemon remain immensely addictive, and Game Freak's latest coat of polish only enhances an already captivating adventure.
Far Cry 4PS4
There's a staggering number of adventures to extract from Far Cry 4, whether you chase the ones laid out by the game explicitly, or the ones that develop naturally as you take in the sights. It's another interesting and absorbing world to fall into, shoot through, burn and then guide to new beginnings. Far Cry 4 may have installed a despot, but it's still the undisputed king of the open-world shooter.
Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley3DS
Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley has some good ideas, and the improved farming mechanics are appreciated, but its awful pacing sabotages any fun you might otherwise be able to squeeze out of it. ...If you're looking for a similar game to fill this year's Harvest Moon-shaped void, Level 5's recent Fantasy Life fits the bill nicely, offering ample depth to match its grind-happy gameplay. In comparison, The Lost Valley offers a pitiful amount of content, and what's available takes ages to unlock.
Assassin's Creed UnityXbox One
They feel cared for and well-constructed, whereas the rest feels as though it were yanked out of the oven far too soon. It accomplishes what it sets out to do, but a smattering of ugliness surrounds that accomplishment. Assassin's Creed Unity is the best and worst of Assassin's Creed. It's hard not to appreciate everything that it gets right, and you'll have a good time if you can wrangle some friends for co-op, but it's impossible to ignore where Unity falls tragically short.
Dragon Age: InquisitionPS4
Dragon Age: Inquisition is BioWare's reaffirmation of what it's capable of delivering. It's a gorgeous game on an epic scale. Rich in character and story, it creates a fantasy world with plausible social rules you can get lost in. It makes you feel that you aren't just exploring a new world, but helping shape it at various levels of society. Inquisition sets the bar for what a blockbuster RPG should be.
Halo: The Master Chief CollectionXbox One
The real treat for fans, of course, will be revisiting Halo 2's campaign and subsequently reliving the classic multiplayer. Even with the matchmaking issues, and even though Halo 2's campaign has its low points, the remastered ride is worth it, and having every other main Halo game in one place is an excellent bonus.
Lords of the FallenPS4
It rewards fearlessness on the part of the player with power, and for a character that often feels burdensome and powerless in the early going, it's a good feeling to have that foolish decision validated in some way. ...There's definitely satisfaction to be had with Lords of the Fallen, but there comes a point at which it has no more tricks up its sleeve. In the end, the worst enemy in the game may be the game itself, and there's nothing hiding in a chest somewhere to fix that.
Call of Duty: Advanced WarfareXbox One
Despite the familiarity, it's been years since a Call of Duty campaign was as coherent and fast-paced as this one. Within the confines of its franchise, which has yet to make much room for a mature look at the subject matter, Advanced Warfare works with aplomb and, at the very least, plays its Big Dumb Movie card wisely. If you're running out of bad guys, borrow some from Hollywood.
Sunset OverdriveXbox One
Sunset Overdrive sets out to create a world where the apocalypse is fun instead of depressing, and that means putting control in the player's hands. ...More importantly, it gives players a plethora of choices in how they look, what weapon they use and how they play, and then makes every single possible combination feel vindicated. Nothing goes to waste in the awesome-pocalypse, and everyone's invited to Sunset City's after-party.
The Legend of KorraPS4
They're ultimately not deal breakers, though. For all of those niggling issues, fighting as Korra is still exciting and satisfying, even when her air abilities become almost game-breakingly powerful in the final stages. ...Platinum Games may not have made a Legend of Korra game that plumbs the same well of soul that the source material does, but they've made something elementally entertaining all the same.