With Mortal Kombat 1, NetherRealm has made an admirable effort to refresh its gameplay mechanics and differentiate its latest entry from the recent trilogy of games. On some fronts, particularly around the story, audiovisual presentation, and accessibility, it’s a huge step forward. But some very visible elements, especially online play, do not represent the same leap. Even after a four-year gap since Mortal Kombat 11, Mortal Kombat 1 feels like it needed a bit more time to cook. But with a commitment to seasonal content and the next six fighters already revealed as part of the game’s first Kombat Pack, it’s clear that Mortal Kombat 1 will grow over time and, hopefully, improve.
Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways greatly improves upon the storytelling and importance of Ada’s side story, serving as a template for future Resident Evil games’ expansions. It’s a condensed and accelerated version of the remake’s story that fleshes out behind-the-scenes events, and its ending enticingly teases the next possible remake in Capcom’s horror franchise. It can feel repetitive in parts, underrealized in others, but it’s a meaty piece of content that’s worth playing if the Resident Evil 4 remake left you hungering for more.
But the most compelling aspects of Armored Core 6 come from its hard-fought battles, when 621 survives their mission with just a sliver of life left, having out-danced their opponent in the exchange of missiles, bullets, and laser beams. It’s noisy, chaotic, and starkly beautiful, all this clanging metal, ricochets, and explosions. It’s unlike many of the FromSoftware games you may have played over the past decade, to its benefit. Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is the Elden Ring developer flexing an old, nearly forgotten muscle, but one that’s still strong as ever.
The new Advance Wars, just like the original, arrives at a strange time. Nintendo appeared to recognize this last year when, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it delayed Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp indefinitely. But the toylike soldiers exaggeratedly stomping cities into submission and cartoon characters being wiped out by artillery fire feel disconnected from the real-world war that gave Nintendo pause in 2022. In other words, it’s less off-putting than one might think to have fun with an urban military wargame right now. If anything, the return of Advance Wars feels like a link to a simpler time, made better with age and reverence for a long-ignored, still-great franchise.
One of the nicest new additions to Demon's Souls is a photo mode. In addition to giving players the option to actually pause Demon's Souls - something you couldn't do in the original - it also takes some lovely screenshots. (See: every image in this review.)
When I first fired up Resident Evil 3, I worried that its tale of a pandemic turning cities into disease-plagued ghost towns would be more of a depressing reminder of our current reality than escapist entertainment. To wit: A live-action cinematic starts the game with doctors in hazmat suits and government officials telling of a CDC-enforced quarantine.
Capcom, on a far less dangerous scale, has not always known how to handle its own creation. After mutating from quaint horror to buffoonish action to back again, the Resident Evil series has been wildly inconsistent. But back-to-back Resident Evil games that showcase the very best of survival horror is evidence that Capcom may have its monster under control
But Tetris Effect isn't simply a game about pattern optimization and reflex-based puzzle solving. It excels at being an experience, one that I will argue is best played on its easiest difficulty level to enjoy untainted by the bitter taste of a “game over.” I enjoy the challenge of perfecting a run, but Tetris Effect resonates more deeply than its high score-oriented roots.