The gameplay is the star here. Rise of The Tomb Raider does everything Tomb Raider did and does it better, taking a still-growing heroine into an unfamiliar location and unfolding its lethal mysteries as we grow to meet them. This is still not the game it could be, but it's remarkable how quickly Crystal Dynamics has taken a half-dead franchise and turned into one of the most vital experiences on the market today, true to its essential character while still feeling absolutely new. This is the new standard for third-person shooter/adventure games. I want another.
Cry Wolf may not have been as strong as some of the episodes before it, but it remains an appropriate capstone to an excellent series that once again proves that Telltale is one of the most interesting companies in the video game market today. I can't wait to see what they do with Game of Thrones.
There is the idea of what a Thief game should be here, and it's not complicated. Strip it down, get back to the essentials, and this game may have played something more like Arkane's excellent Dishonored. As it stands, however, it's neither itself nor, really, anything else.
This sort of game could have convinced some of the faithful to get on board towards the beginning of the console's lifespan, but it will have a tougher time today. This game will win few new converts, and for all its brightness, does not feel particularly fresh.
Ryse: Son of Rome isn't terrible. It has its gorgeous visuals, forceful combat system and relatively tight storytelling to recommend it. It's also short, unvaried, hampered by an obsession with QTE events and far shy of a complete game experience. As a game, it won't hold its own next to some of the third-party stars of this holiday season. It has neither the addictive, consuming multiplayer of Call of Duty nor the imaginative scope of God of War, but still holds promise for its next iteration, if that comes.
Knack does have that one good idea — the character gets bigger, the character gets smaller — which is enhanced by the idea of making him big with other materials like wood and ice. But it's never really explored. You're constantly being forced to shed all of your collected relics to activate an elevator, or something, or receive a large cache of relics before a big fight. Size is controlled by the situation, not the other way around, and so this system never feels as fluid as it could.