'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' is truly a gem of a game to play. It is also one of the biggest Wii U surprises I've had since first buying the console. Who would have thought that developing a handful of mini-games for 'Super Mario 3D World' could turn into such a charming game? Although fairly short, the overall experience is one that I will not soon forget. 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' simply should not be missed.
I've been a fan of the horror genre for the majority of my life. From books and comics, to movies, video games, and board games, I'm always on the lookout for something to give me a good scare. However, I've never been a huge fan of the survival horror style of video game. Don't get me wrong, they're good fun, but I've always enjoyed those games that attempt to balance horror and action set pieces more. 'Dead Space 2', in my opinion, is nearly perfect. I was even a fan (albeit, in the minority) of 'Resident Evil 6'. While 'The Evil Within' walks a tightrope that straddles these two types of horror games, it occasionally leans a bit more toward the survival horror side of things. By mixing in some frustratingly difficult boss battles, the games veers off in the other direction. Although both styles of gameplay can be exceptionally fun and exciting, I would have ultimately preferred the game remain exclusively focused on one or the other. The gore and violence reaches a boiling point very early on and people who either take offence or have a weak stomach for such experiences should avoid 'The Evil Within' at all costs. Those looking to test their skills and enjoy an all-out blood bath need look no further.
I've been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien since I was a boy. The fantastical world he created never disappointed, regardless of the entertainment medium it was presented in. His books kept me awake long into the night and Peter Jackson's film adaptations often left me breathless. While many of the video games based in this fantasy world have often been hit or miss, it's safe to say that 'Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor' has lived up to my very high expectations as being my most anticipated game (and let's not forget new franchise entry) of 2014. It took everything that I love about the action/adventure genre and brought it to life in wonderfully immersive ways. Monolith Productions has earned some serious bragging rights not only with what they've done for the epic fantasy franchise, but for what they have developed with their Nemesis system. Their many accolades and high praise are both warranted and justified. 'Shadow of Mordor' should not be missed.
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when first starting 'CounterSpy', but the theme and tone of the game immediately struck a chord that stayed with me throughout the experience. The easy-to-understand controls ensured that I was able to navigate the game quickly, while the shorter gameplay sessions fit nicely into my schedule and allowed me to accomplish as many missions as I may have had time for. I came away impressed with Dynamighty's first game and look forward to future offerings this small, yet determined, team may have in store for the future.
I've played my fair share of 'ultimate' or 'definitive' editions of games over the years. Some have warranted the title, presenting truly unique and inspiring updates, while others resulted in nothing more than a rehash of the same game with obligatory DLC thrown in for good measure. 'Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition' undeniably falls into the former of these categories. It's true, I have not played much 'Diablo III' before the 'Ultimate Evil Edition', but my research prior to its release, along with the time spent playing the game as a newcomer, has convinced me that it is much more than a simple port, and that it has been designed (in some cases from scratch) to take full advantage of the technology of the PlayStation 4. Playing alone is certainly an option, but playing together with friends is the preferred method and allows for multiple opportunities to do so. Blizzard Entertainment's continued focus on social integration shines, as does their ability to develop a game that runs amazingly smooth, delivers awe-inspiring visuals, and intuitively captures the imagination and enjoyment of those looking for a grand dungeon crawl, both new to the franchise and long-standing fans.
I came away from 'The Swapper' with that rare feeling of video game content and satisfaction. From the intriguing puzzles and puzzle mechanics, to the awe inspiring handcrafted visuals, there is very little that I didn't admire and appreciate. Released at a time when most gaming consoles are experiencing their yearly summer dry spell, it was a welcome addition and more than just simple filler. It prompted questions of morality with a deeper-than-expected story, while satisfying on a variety of levels with unique and challenging puzzles.
I continue to be impressed with the ongoing creative efforts of Ubisoft Montpellier, and 'Valiant Hearts: The Great War' is yet another reason to be excited. They've taken what many consider to be the most tragic war in history and turned it into a game that has a story filled with heart and emotion. 'Valiant Hearts' is as close to an interactive history lesson as you can come, and were I a high school history teacher, I would find a way to work the game into my classroom lecture. Fans of history – tragic or otherwise – and wonderful storytelling will find plenty of reason to see 'Valiant Hearts: The Great War' through to the end.
Driven by its story, fans of Quantic Dreams' 'Beyond: Two Souls' and 'Heavy Rain' are certain to find 'Murdered: Soul Suspect' appealing. The setting, characters, and not- altogether-foreseeable-plot twist, truly set this game apart. As much as I enjoyed the experience, it's difficult for me to recommend it as a full priced retail game. Clocking in between 6-7 hours (even after locating about 75% of the collectibles), the game was just beginning to ramp up when the credits start to roll. With a lower than average replay value, and no multiplayer option, paying full price for 'Soul Suspect' may be a difficult decision to make. Still, playing the game now, waiting for a price drop, or adding it to your rental queue, 'Murdered: Soul Suspect' is a noble effort by Airtight Games and one that I enjoyed from start to finish.
The fantasy RPG is more than a little crowded, and breaking into that genre is likely to be a difficult task. With the help of Focus Home Interactive, the marketing campaign behind 'Bound by Flame' raised more than a few eyebrows, including my own. Everything about the game had me interested and I was more than a little excited to occupy my time with this new adventure in between some of the bigger AAA titles still to release. Not without its shortcomings, 'Bound by Flame' is still an ambitious title for developer Spiders. It sets an interesting, albeit familiar, tone, and delivers an enjoyable and addictive combat system. Unfortunately, this being a grand adventure, the developers should have realized the importance a well-acted character can have on the final product. Had the game been voiced by more qualified actors 'Bound by Flame' could have become a major sleeper title for 2014. Instead, these poor performances have left an unfavorable impression. It's worth visiting for the combat mechanics, but staying for the duration may be a difficult task.
'Stick it to the Man!' was undoubtedly a pleasant surprise for me. I was somewhat familiar with the game when it was first released but knew very little about what it had to offer. It's always a treat finding an indie game that unexpectedly provides a better overall experience than some of the AAA franchises the video game industry has to offer. 'Stick it to the Man!' is just such a game. While not the most challenging game available, it will entertain you in ways other game developers should take note of.
Movie tie-in video games have almost always been hit or miss. Some have been worth the effort, while most become regrettable purchases. Even fewer live up to or exceed the movies they are based on. 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' falls somewhere in the middle. Although it's a visual let down when considering the console it was played on, the overall gameplay was consistently fun and enjoyable and it mostly accomplished what it set out to do – make the gamer feel like Spider-Man. If you can look past the freshman attempt at telling a good story, and have the patience for repeated loading screens, you may enjoy what the game has to offer.
There were no dice to be rolled or event cards to be read, the idea of a competitive of co-operative option was non-existent, and the end result was simply an interesting take on a turn-based strategy mobile game. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the time I spent with 'Hitman GO'. Each boxed mission took anywhere from 10-15 minutes to complete, with an additional 10-15 minutes to perfect. I look forward to future downloadable content the team at Square Enix Montreal may be currently developing, and can only hope they provide additional missions specific to the 'Hitman' universe.
'Trials Fusion' falls into that game category of not needing to fix that which is not broken. RedLynx has taken an already solid concept from years of development efforts and refined and polished it to a high gloss. While I was not able to experiment with any of the online multiplayer, past and present 'Trials' experiences make me fairly confident that when the mode is released and goes live, it's certain to run in a respectably smooth manner. In the meantime, I look forward to furthering my career in preparation for the online chaos that is sure to occur. With 'Trials Fusion,' PlayStation only gamers have reason to celebrate, and a reason to get to know and love the latest 'Trials.'
Space shooters like 'Strike Suit Zero' fit a specific niche genre. They can be tedious and simulation-like, or a straight up arcade action experience. 'Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut' fits nicely somewhere in the middle. The controls translate well from PC to console and are generally approachable very early on in the game. While I have never experienced the original version of the game, it does seem apparent that the developers at Born Ready Games put a significant amount of effort into the port. The visuals are simply stunning, but the repetitive nature of the gameplay as a whole has a tendency to dilute the overall experience. Given the option to replay 'Strike Suit Zero' with some form of co-op or multiplayer may certainly change my opinion and make the game a must-play. In its current, revised form, the game is diverting to play and better to look upon, but stops short of full engagement.
Even though 'Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition' comes with a fresh coat of paint and a few additional bells and whistles, it's still a game that many PlayStation devotees have already experienced. That's not to say it isn't a great addition to the growing list of games available for the PlayStation 4. The developers at Housemarque continue to excel at their craft and have delivered yet another wonderful title that makes use of tight controls while providing solid gameplay. Whether this is your first time experiencing 'Dead Nation' or not, there's no question that the game is worthy of your time.
While I am admittedly new to the characters and ongoing story of 'South Park', I've seen enough episodes of the television series to prepare myself for the outrageous antics that 'The Stick of Truth' was capable in delivering. For a series that prides itself on gross-out humor, strong language, and inappropriate comedy on a variety of levels, the game delivered a solid RPG experience that was quite enjoyable from start to finish. Although the very mature content forced me to be on the constant lookout for inquisitive eyes (my 8 and 9-year old daughters) while playing the game, the solid game mechanics, hysterical performances, and environmental . . . um . . . variety (if you've played it you'll understand), kept me engaged and interested throughout. Newcomers and loyal fans alike will find plenty of reasons to search for 'The Stick of Truth'.
I applaud Red Barrels for embracing the origins of survival horror in a time when horror games in general have become synonymous with high action. The emphasis on running and hiding over standing your ground and fighting adds to the constant sense of dread. While I would have preferred some amount of defensive abilities, the overall experience was frightening, disturbing, and incredibly tense. 'Outlast' is not a game for everyone, and I believe even horror aficionados will be affected by the images and gameplay.
'UnEpic' for the Wii U is a nice distraction, a change of pace between AAA titles. It is a reminder that videogames do not necessarily require huge budgets or cross-continent teams to be both successful and fun to play. Although the game doesn't introduce anything new in terms of game mechanics, it represents a new option for owners of the Wii U who may be struggling to find a reason to turn their consoles on. The utilitarian use of the gamepad elevates 'UnEpic' as a better than average port from the PC and serves as a proper item management tool. It's hard to argue against the $9.99 asking price based on the amount of time you can spend with 'UnEpic', just don't expect the experience to be overly memorable.