- No Man's Sky
- Horizon Zero Dawn
Paulmichael Contreras's Reviews
Pinball FX is a top-tier pinball game with some growing pains inherent in switching development platforms. Having to re-buy your favorite tables is a pain, but considering these represent the best versions of dozens of tables, it is a good value overall. The Pinball Pass is Zen Studios’ first attempt at something approaching a season pass, but thankfully it is not required and you can simply purchase the tables that you prefer using regular money. The core game remains solid, and hopefully Pinball FX is supported by Zen Studios into the next generation of consoles.
Wild Hearts seems to have the right ideas about what a modern monster-hunting game needs. If it could inject some of the flashier bits from their other games, then Omega Force would definitely have a fierce competitor on its hands in the monster hunting genre of games. Right now, it does of course stand in Capcom’s shadow, but suddenly this subgenre has started heating up. Competition breeds innovation, and it’s exciting to wonder what we’ll see next.
Wanted: Dead is going to annoy a lot of players. It’s also going to please plenty more. Soleil has made a game that leans heavily into its PS2-era inspirations, and that includes an unforgiving difficulty level. Without any real way to make things easier, some players may never see the ending of an otherwise enjoyable campaign, outside of watching a streamer perhaps. For those who can manage to hone their skills, however, the time put into Wanted: Dead will be worth it because this slasher-shooter offers so much visceral joy when things go your way that it makes all the painful death worth it.
Forspoken represented a huge risk taken by newcomer Luminous Productions. While the story may feel a bit contrived at times, the Flow method of traversal and combat more than makes up for it. Frey may annoy some people as the protagonist, but stringing together a chain of magical commands within just a few seconds while deftly avoiding incoming fireballs is rewarding, and ultimately, I came away from Forspoken having enjoyed my time helping the people of Athia.
Monster Hunter Rise is a solid RPG that will require dedication to conquer. Once you figure out your play style and get comfortable with the game’s many systems, it’s fun to gear up, grab some food, and proceed to take on as many missions as you have the time for. Combat may feel sluggish, and there are certainly better-looking games out there. But few games let you mount a canine into battle against a dragon, while your feline companion grows a healing fruit tree in the midst of all the chaos. If for nothing else, play Monster Hunter Rise for the fun of doing just that.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds has the technical chops to roll with the competitive fighting scene. Looks can be deceiving, and this game will probably be skipped by too many people simply because it doesn’t look the part. The small character roster won’t help things, either. Still, with a solid fighting core, Mane6 has a good thing going here, and hopefully the release of Them’s Fightin’ Herds fuels a continuous stream of updates.
WRC Generations is a nice ride into the sunset as the WRC license transitions to Codemasters. As with most retirements, this one isn’t perfect. The campaign is cookie-cutter, and the presentation is still quite lacking. But the racing, the pure, unadulterated speed and brutality of rally racing, remains. That may be Kylotonn’s legacy for this series, that of making an uncompromising simulator which makes you earn a spot on the podium. At this last venture, WRC Generations deserves its own spot up there as well.
Evil West is a fun, frenetic, blood-soaked, testosterone-fueled action game with a lot to like. There’s some old-school charm to it, but at the same time some old-school frustrations. When co-op works, it’s fun, though it is by no means required to enjoy the game on its own merits. When you’re through the holiday’s festivities, and you want something to play that’s a bit mindless while also being entertaining, then Evil West should be on your list of games to play.
Sonic Frontiers is a strange, yet fun time. The individual levels showcase Sonic at his fast-paced, ring-hoarding best, and some of the overworlds sport rewarding exploration mechanics. The insistence by Sonic Team to jam in minigames that block progress to the story is frustrating to say the least, and some of the larger maps’ designs feel a little haphazard. Overall, though, the weirdness of the story will keep some going just to see, well, where the hell it’s all going. It’s weird how much this doesn’t feel like a Sonic game outside of the individual levels, but this is an interesting direction that Sonic Team has taken their blue blur, and hopefully we will see a continued evolution that coalesces into something great.
The Chant is a fine first offering from Brass Token. It may be a bit rough around the edges, but overall, this is the perfect thing to play for those long, dark nights coming this season. With a short playtime and three different endings to unlock, this should be fun for others to watch as well. It may not be the scariest game to release this year, but The Chant has a freaky design to its creatures that will unsettle some late at night. Balance your chakra and join in The Chant if you’re looking for a decent spiritual adventure.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 subtly improves on a winning formula. It’s no real surprise that the multiplayer gunplay is the best in the series to date, but considering this is coming from the team that started this craze to begin with it’s to be expected. While the campaign may play it mostly safe, it features an enjoyable challenge, with a couple of interesting survival-type sections that almost turn it into another game entirely. There’s little doubt most Call of Duty players will feel right at home playing Modern Warfare II as it’s a solid entry and seemingly the shooter to play this holiday season and beyond.
Gotham Knights has a few interesting things going on. It’s just not enough to elevate it to the level of previous Batman games. Now, sure, technically speaking, this isn’t truly a Batman game, as the focus is on his legacy of proteges. But the Arkham series of games has elevated expectations quite high, and while Gotham Knights didn’t hit them, it has moments where it does feel like something interesting is brewing. With more to do in the city, and an easier method of switching characters, perhaps this could be the start of something greater.
If this really is Suda51’s last major venture with Travis Touchdown, then it’s a passing ending for the “passing assassin.” There’s no re-invention here – if you got a kick out of the earlier games, then there is plenty for you to enjoy this time around. It might get a little stale as you fight a group of enemies in a Designated Fight for the umpteenth time, but at least you’ll look stylish doing it. If No More Heroes has never been your cup of wrestling-inspired ultraviolence, well, best move along then.
Session: Skate Sim is the best skateboarding simulator you can play today. It might not be the best skateboarding game, though, with so much focus on getting the feel of the ride just right. The learning curve is such a steep cliff that many more casual skateboarding fans (or especially those without huge chunks of time to dedicate to a game) will likely give up before being confident on these virtual decks. Still, Session: Skate Sim is a challenging simulator worth your time if you’re a hardcore skateboarding fan.
Temtem was never going to usurp Pokémon as the best monster catching game. But if it gets at least part of the way there, then it should be considered a success. In that light, then, Crema has indeed succeeded. This is a great start, and with continued support and possibly some expansions down the line, Temtem could become a wonderfully addictive, challenging turn-based collect-a-thon with MMO elements mixed in. The creatures might not be as inventive, nor are there as many of them to collect. But Temtem has a charming world to get lost in, and while the battles can feel repetitive at times, seeing other trainers scurry about the area is a fun reminder that you’re playing something just different enough that this game can stand on its own.
Madden NFL 23 has some good new ideas, but is mostly more of the same. The graphics and presentation are fine, but only just. The football appears to have a mind of its own sometimes, while commentators don’t always have a response to the on-field action that makes sense. If Franchise mode is where you spend your time, then you are likely to enjoy the changes. Outside of that, though, Madden 23 feels awfully familiar.
This may not be as over-the-top as previous Saints Row games, but it could be the start of something great.
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is an entertaining trip featuring a sharp story by Kotaro Uchikoshi, though it may not be for everyone. If you prefer to be told exactly how to solve puzzles, the easier difficulty levels can help, but ultimately the game’s nature is to be esoteric and reveal each Somnium’s secrets piece by piece. Fans of the first game will definitely enjoy this trip, while new players can hop right in without any major spoilers if they so choose. Either way, nirvanA Initiative is one game you’ll actually want to finish.
Evil Dead: The Game has a ton of appeal to fans of the horror franchise, while also offering up a good deal of gameplay for players who may not be so familiar with it. The resource management aspect to playing as a demon is intriguing, and for those who aren’t so good at strategizing, playing against AI is always an option to hone your skills. Occasional glitches take some of the shine off, and no checkpoints in the single player missions is a baffling decision. Can such a game grow long enough legs with the ever-popular games as a service model? Only time will tell. But for an asking price of $39.99, there is enough content at launch to appease most fans.
You probably could have guessed this by now, but Dolmen should have released before Elden Ring. All Soulslike games from here on out will constantly be in that game’s gigantic shadow. It’s not that there’s not enough room in this genre for more entries, especially ones that are in such a wildly different setting. It’s just that whatever games release in this space must now meet such incredibly high standards or face intense criticism and likely faltering sales. Dolmen will surely appeal to those who want a Soulslike adventure in a sci-fi setting, and perhaps were disappointed by 2020’s Hellpoint release. Just go in with lowered expectations owing to a smaller dev team, and perhaps you’ll have some fun smashing enemies to bits.