On the surface, Etrian Odyssey Untold may look like a retread, but the enhancements made to the 2007 DS original are substantial enough for veteran players to give it a whirl, and the barrier of entry has been lowered so that anyone who calls themselves an RPG fan can find enjoyment.
For 26 years, I’ve been waiting for a true follow-up to the first Legend of Zelda, a game that captured my imagination and catapulted me into becoming a lifelong fan of action-adventures and role-playing games. A Link Between Worlds recognizes that it’s not tacked-on stealth segments or waggling a controller to roll bombs that makes Zelda tick—it’s the unbounded exploration and freedom found in the NES original, and it’s finally back in full force here. Every Zelda fan needs to play this game.
For any Mario fans worried their favorite paesano plumber wasn't about innovation anymore, Super Mario 3D World shows the franchise that created the platforming standard continues to set the bar. The new Super Bell and Double Cherry power-ups augment the Mario experience in a brilliant, meaningful way, and the Wii U's HD capabilities deliver the prettiest-looking game in series history.
Bravely Default is a reminder that classic Final Fantasy themes and gameplay elements are timeless in the right hands. Unfortunately, its later segments are some of the worst examples of unnecessary padding in RPG history. All told, it’s a flawed masterpiece that shows more potential than any other current Square Enix RPG property.
Mario Kart 8 looks spectacular, sounds impressive, and delivers solid racing action worthy of the series. But it's also that rare Nintendo game that manages to be less than the sum of its impressive parts thanks to some ill-advised design choices, half-baked ideas, and gimped Battle Mode.
The Show was clearly on its last legs on the PS3, and the revamped, more true-to-life ballparks infuse some much-needed atmosphere in the series' PS4 debut. Meanwhile, Road to the Show includes several tweaks that help you create a more dominating prospect. Unfortunately, the player models don't receive the same level of care, and the game's online components aren't on the level of most other sports franchises—issues that absolutely must be addressed going forward.
Hohokum's intriguing collection of free-form worlds begs exploration, but the game's questionable structure stifles the ability to play it on your own terms. It's an aural and visual spectacle, but it's also a lot more frustrating than it ever needed to be.
Sims fans have been worried about all the cuts of longtime features in The Sims 4, and while some critical elements are indeed missing, the core addiction remains. Plus, with the addition of the online Gallery and the ability to share and download creations, it's easier than ever to liven up your little virtual world.
The landscapes and exploration elements might not be on the level of some of its open-world brethren, but Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor delivers one of the best games to feature the intricate lore of J.R.R. Tolkien—and its innovative, addictive Nemesis system could redefine the way developers design enemy encounters in the future.
While its refreshing combat offers a different kind of strategy-RPG challenge, some ridiculously punitive design decisions sabotage a good deal of the potential fun in Natural Doctrine. Considering the experienced pedigree of the developers involved—they count Patapon among their previous works—that's simply inexcusable.