Layers of Fear 2Xbox One
Layers of Fear 2 is crammed with cryptic messages about acting method: ‘You build one character. You destroy the other. There’s no other way,’ one voice croons early on. But I couldn’t help thinking that, in making a new game, you don’t have to destroy the other. There is another way.
SEKIRO: Shadows Die TwicePS4
Is this Miyazaki’s most enchanting world? You could argue that falling back on the natural beauty of Japan is cheating; then again, the landscape lends itself particularly well to Sekiro – the plated sweep of a temple roof that starts to resemble armour, and the canes of a bamboo forest, rattling like raised spears. No other developer makes places that feel like this, and you realise what FromSoftware must be to other studios around the world: a shadow that keeps coming back.
Tom Clancy's The Division 2Xbox One
The loop is satisfying, because the shiny carrot at the end of the stick is within touching distance at all times. Those looking for reason behind it all will feel cheated. The Division 2 could have been more. But, hey, as far as dull, well-made third person shooters without a single thing to say on absolutely anything, this is a pretty decent one.
Not that ‘Kick doors... shoot men’ needs any development; it’s the stuff around it. The more I played the game the more those words rose above the clamour. How frustrating that such brilliant simplicity be scuppered by strained mission design and a fragile frame rate. If you like the idea of RICO, my advice would be thus: ‘Kick doors... shoot men… wait for patch.’
Devil May Cry 5Xbox One
It harks back to the moment, in Steamboat Bill, Jr., where the front of a house falls on its hero, and he’s saved in similar fashion. Few games can get away with invoking classical literary heroes like Dante and Virgil in the same breath as Buster Keaton. How’s that for divine comedy?
Anthem has potential. In its present state, it’s a bit of a mess: underdeveloped, repetitive, and confused about what it wants to be. BioWare’s sci-fi shooter still has its moments, but they’re clouded by poor design choices and technical hiccups. Being a games-as-a-service product, there’s every chance things will be polished – and I really hope they are. For now, though, Anthem feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity.
DiRT Rally 2.0Xbox One
You could accuse the game of being dogmatic to its detriment. In a telling dent, the menus haven’t passed their MOT, spluttering and stalling as you navigate them. And if you listen carefully, you can hear the fidgeting of the developers at Codemasters, wondering why you aren’t out on the track. And why wouldn’t you want to be? For all the unforgiving curves, there’s nothing like nailing the apex of a turn, kicking up a cloud of russet, and barreling out the other end with your tyres crying.
There’s definitely sparkles of brilliance throughout Jump Force. The fighting arenas – ranging from New York, Mexico, Japan, Paris, and New Zealand – are vibrant and packed full of detail, while the characters are suitably stylish, retaining their iconic designs. Punch-ups are typically full of visual spectacle, too; it’s just a shame that there’s no real incentive to dig deeper into the game’s mechanics, as there’s a competent scrapper buried in there somewhere. As a 50th anniversary celebration of Shonen Jump and a fighting game however, Jump Force whiffs its knockout blow.