1162 Published Reviews
Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New YorkPC
Excellent writing and vibrant characters help to overcome prominent technical issues and unwelcome repetition.
DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2PC
By having so many individual items, DQB2 feels way more polished. It’s also easier to make something that looks good even if you don’t feel particularly creative. There’s always going to be that person who can somehow create entire cities out of perfectly coordinated blocks, but you can happily take pride in your simple square bedrooms and toilets when all of the pieces fit together so nicely.
MechWarrior 5: MercenariesPC
MechWarrior 5 is a game that will get a pass on its narrative woes because, I must concede, the narrative is so thin the gameplay completely trumps it. MW5 is unmistakably a game about being a sandbox mech jockey, and the stories are just a low-quality veneer over some superb robot combat. If you're here for a mech smashing simulator, this is the best new mech smashing simulator around. Here's hoping for more and better from a MechWarrior 6.
Life is Strange 2PC
Overall though, Life is Strange 2 is more interested in that dream than in its own central themes—those of brotherhood, family, and the passing down of knowledge and responsibility to the next generations. Its desire to stick to the series’ established tropes means you’re forced into set-piece after set-piece on your inevitable road to Mexico, without any desire to cater to the player who just wants to be a good big brother.
Espire 1: VR OperativePC
With more polished combat and more precision in the level design, Espire 1 would be a decent chunk of VR stealth. It's campaign lasts about six hours, with around twenty short challenge missions on top of that. As it stands, however, it's just a little too fiddly in execution for me to sneakily slip it a wholehearted recommendation.
As the Master Chief Collection expands, I expect I'll play Reach less and the first three Halos more. They all have great selections of multiplayer maps, and more importantly, the simplicity of no armor abilities and no loadouts. But it's exciting to come back to Reach after nearly a decade and find its multiplayer more fun than ever, in a port that bodes well for the rest of the series.
The overall effect is of a particularly well-made Radiohead fan video. As someone who spent most of their teens on long meaningful walks with Kid A in the headphones, I don't even necessarily mean that as a bad thing. But it might grate on you. There's an eagerness, in Mosaic's presentation and its experiments with repetition, to constantly remind you that this is art, actually. And yet its grand thematic underpinnings, you could fit into a tweet—one with the old 140 character limit, even.
A great one-shot adventure or an enjoyable grindfest, depending on which you want.
Despite shortcomings, Phoenix Point won me over. In that way, it's just like the X-COM: UFO Defense that I fell in love with years ago. It's a bit of a mess, but it's a mess filled with clever ideas and idiosyncratic gameplay you won't find anywhere else. Mush X-COM: Apocalypse and XCOM: Enemy Unknown together and you get Phoenix Point. Unfortunately, someone's put a cup of roaches into the batter too.
Take a stroll through the wildflowers, pick some herbs. Shoot the breeze with the watchmen at the bridge leading into the village. Work on your capsule toy collection. Tell Shenhua about growing up in Japan. In an increasingly loud and relentless world, Shenmue 3 is an ocean of calm. Step back into 1980s China and just go with the flow. That's when that curious, hard to define Shenmue magic emerges and you find yourself completely entranced by it.
Lost Ember is a wonderful, unique, and unforgettable experience with a love for nature.
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen OrderPC
I still enjoyed myself, though. It's a good game that's definitely worth playing, which happens to be exactly the description of the 70s bracket in our review policy. It's a fun, straightforward holiday adventure. Clip a lightsaber to your belt and jump in. Oh and remember, if you see a stormtrooper stood suspiciously close to a cliff edge, force-push is your ally.
Narcos: Rise of the CartelsPC
I've spent most of the last year playing various XCOM-likes, and Narcos isn't the worst, but it isn't impressive either. More importantly there simply isn't enough variety here, once you've played a dozen missions you've seen basically all the tricks the game has, yet it expects you to continue playing with only a few new perks to keep your interest. Ultimately I found myself asking the dreaded question, "Why am I not just playing XCOM instead?"
Red Dead Redemption 2PC
Red Dead Redemption 2's stark, slow depiction of America's fading frontier is a monumental work straining against stubborn mission design and stability problems.
Unity of Command IIPC
Customizable factors like cards and specialists and upgrades lend a lot of flexibility to scenarios and campaigns. There are even a few points of historical divergence, where doing better than the historical figures allows you to take alt-history paths like pushing the Italian front to the alps by mid-1944. I rarely feel the need to replay a wargame of this scope, but I already know I'll be sinking a lot of time into Unity of Command 2 because it's clear that strategy isn't subordinate to simplicity—and that's rare these days.
Need for Speed HeatPC
Thrilling night races make Heat the best Need for Speed in years, even if I want to batter every one of its racers.
The Legend of Bum-BoPC
A fun blend of puzzle and roguelike that inspires forward-thinking, but cuts your strategy short.
Football Manager 2020PC
If you can afford the time though, this year's game is absolutely worth your attention, particularly if long-term saves are your thing. There's scope to play for countless seasons and still be presented with fresh challenges, and the new Development Centre system makes building for the future more compelling than ever. It's Football Manager with a substantially greater dose of longevity, and that both delights and terrifies me at the same time.
I admire Stormland’s open-world shooting and traversal, which feel like genuine steps forward for VR. The UI is inspired, the upgrade system smart, and its co-op shows a lot of promise. But as an evolving live game, it hasn’t shown me enough to make me want to strap on my headset again next week.
Blacksad: Under the SkinPC
Blacksad’s enjoyable (both intentionally and unintentionally), and I must confess to being devastated at not reacting quickly enough to save the life of a character at the very end of the game. Still, it’s not the game it could—and should—have been.
Age of Empires II: Definitive EditionPC
While this undoubtedly goes several steps further than the HD version and the first Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, it also makes me even more eager for a dramatically different take on Age of Empires 2. You won't find that here. This isn't for people looking for something new; it's for people who are already enamoured with the original game, who I still count myself among, and for fans it's the best version of the best Age of Empires game by a wide margin.
Hopefully post-launch patches will arrive to fix some of the issues I've had with unclear notifications, subterranean zookeepers, and a few other glitches. I'm happy to endure the stress and guilt over the lovely creatures of Planet Zoo, but I definitely don't need more of it than I've already got.
It's a joy to try and work out Manifold Garden's impossible geometry and world wrapping. It's an intricate and impressive spectacle and one that took William Chyr seven years of development to make—and it shows. When I finished playing it the first time I immediately started again, just to revisit some of those infinity rooms. It's strange that a gravity puzzle so grounded in physics can emit a serene, almost divine, energy—it's like a unity of two worlds. With Manifold Garden, Chyr has joined two opposing forces creating an ethereal physics puzzler.
I had high expectations for Afterparty. I was expecting a comedy title, set in a fantasy world that could have been from a Noel Fielding sketch. But the very real relationship between Lola and Milo, the witty humour that had me chuckling every minute and the audacity on show from Night School Studio to go where they did, at the risk of their player's discomfort, made Afterparty even more than I thought it could be.
Call of Duty: Modern WarfarePC
Daydreaming aside, I love Modern Warfare for the big swings it does take. It sets the bar high for first-person gun feel. Gunfight is a standout mode that proves to me Call of Duty can slow down and the sky won’t fall. I hope to see even bigger risks with its post-launch support. Modern Warfare is a promising platform for new ideas, but the sentiment will carry little weight if Activision shoves this game aside and we’re talking about Black Ops 5 in 2020. For now, it’s the Call of Duty to beat.