Hardline might not reinvent the wheel the series rolls on, but it certainly makes it spin a whole lot smoother. Speeded up gameplay, an opened-up single-player, and a robust suite of new multiplayer modes lends itself to the best Battlefield to date—though that's not saying much, a decade later.
Dragon Age: Inquisition gives fans exactly what they've been clamoring for: an enormous adventure across a multitude of sprawling environments, but still laced with the series' signature blend of political intrigue and character-driven emotional undercurrents. And just as with past installments, its strict interrogation of the human condition through believable, engaging characters is what truly defines Dragon Age above all, allowing it to rise above the rest of the fantasy fluff crowding the genre.
The Legend of Korra is a more-than-competent stylish action game and a fine example of Platinum's pedigree, but as far as an authentic Avatar experience in game form? Not so much. Putting a premium on combat, not characters and story, waters down what makes this Nickelodeon series so special.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a worthwhile entry in the series that will provide more of what fans expect while fleshing out some of the narrative gaps between the first two titles. And while the addition of low gravity and a few new guns might not change things forever, their presence is far from a hindrance and fits into the Borderlands formula fine, although unremarkably.
Shadowgate is, well, Shadowgate. If you know what that means, you're probably keen on playing it. It's not exactly a taxing title as far as computer specs run, so there's really no issue for those who traditionally stick to consoles. But if if the name means nothing to you, either you're about to be made a believer in the joys of brain-breaking puzzles or sent screaming out of the castle and back to the loving arms of Call of Duty.
Despite its designation as a "rogue-lite," Rogue Legacy delivers just as much addictive live-die-repeat challenge as any "full-fledged" members of the genre. Short of maxing out on every possible trait (an undertaking that would prove rather expensive in-game) the optional, RPG-style progression system never robs this roguelike's random dungeons of their punishing nature and need for patience, a thoughtful approach, and the occasional bout of luck.
Shovel Knight is a pretty stellar homage to simpler times, but it's so unabashedly an homage that it never steps out of the shadows cast by the components it's built from—DuckTales, Mega Man, Simon's Quest. And while derivative doesn't necessarily mean bad—far from it in Shovel Knight's case—it certainly doesn't make it any less pandering in a lot of ways.
While a welcome break from the tired retreadings that define most games, Murdered: Soul Suspect finds itself in a precarious place where narrative value, above all else, is of chief importance. But while the deadlike denizens of Salem might sound right for this sort of game, the absence of compelling characters keeps what's otherwise an interesting idea from landing any staying power.
Loathe as I am to lazily make comparisons, Capy did so first. Super Time Force is exactly as advertised: Braid meets Contra wish a dash of cartoony approach to time-travel. The result is just as spectacularly stupid and spectacularly good as you'd expect from such a description, with an added dash of think-y fun formed by layering multiple reality loops. Sounds bananacakes? Well, it is. And it's great.
Gorgeous to see and hear and engaging as far as gameplay is concerned, Child of Light is an excellently built game with a forgivably wonky augmentation system but an underdeveloped narrative. Its artists very clearly knew what they wanted it to be, but couldn't quite manage to orchestrate effectively. Play it, soak up its beauty, but expect a jejune take on fairy tale yarn-spinning.
I don't think Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is devoid of value, but I certainly don't think it's something to rush right out and buy—unless, as an Xbox One early adopter, you're content with a passable platformer that possesses a handful of quasi-memorable moments to tide you over until Titanfall. And for anyone jonesing for a platformer, Max represents only a quick, short-lived fix.
LocoCycle is a next-gen debut that's uncomfortable to watch and boring to play from a developer I honestly expect better of. That it isn't outright broken or unplayable from a technical perspective is just about the only accolade I can muster for what has otherwise been a miserable first experience on the Xbox One.
Knack, while conceptually interesting, never rises above being an OK platformer without any real positive memorable aspects, but plenty of frustrating ones. If you've ever wondered what a tech demo turned into a full-fledged game would be like, Knack is—or very much feels—like that.
Killzone: Shadow Fall serves up decent sci-fi themed first-person-shooter action complete with teases of what the new console generation has in store for us. It's not particularly inspired, nor is it anything to write home about, but as something to make your early adoption feel justified, I think Killzone does the trick.