What Arms lacks in personality and content it makes up for in raw joy and a best-in-class motion control set-up that feels both comfortable and natural. Arms showcases once again that Nintendo is peerless when ti comes to subverting genres without sacrificing what makes them great. Time will tell if Arms has legs to match Splatoon, but the early round scoreboards are certainly swinging in its favour.
Persona 5 isn't just a rank and file member of Japan's streak of game of the year contenders in 2017, it's a blistering RPG masterpiece that cements itself among the all-time greats.Tagging along with the Phantom Thieves of Hearts on their psychedelic capers triggers a contact high of dazzling sights and sounds, with enough thematic depth to match its relentless swagger. It's a game that'll try to steal your own heart, and you'll willingly oblige.
Sloppy combat inherited from its handheld predecessor thankfully fails to smother Gravity Rush 2's gleefully avant-guarde design and its enigmatic leading lady. Kat and Dusty's sophomore outing sees the series' potential explode in vibrant, joyous fashion. The rough edges are still there, but you'll have to squint to see them as PlayStation's refreshingly eccentric franchise soars to spectacular new heights.
Considering its development history, it's unsurprising that Final Fantasy 15 lacks crucial focus and depth when it comes to its largely stodgy tale of Oracles and Crystals or its unspectacular combat, with both found particularly at fault during the game's dour concluding chapters. Yet like Prompto's incessant nagging to go ride Chocobos, it's easy to give in to the breezy charm of the game's luscious open-world and the whimsical antics of its Tumblr-baiting bro-tagonists.
Despite the awkwardly linear path through Pokémon Sun and Moon's sumptuous tropical setting, the breadth of content, refreshed design and breezy humour make this sunny Alolan holiday one to remember. With Switch on the horizon, the latest set of Poké-adventures would make a tremendous swansong for Nintendo's dual-screened handheld, with Game Freak proving you can always teach on old Rockruff new tricks.
If Dark Souls 3 is the franchise's greatest hits album, Ashes of Ariandel is its B-side collection – a mostly unremarkable, yet complimentary addition that hides one unmissable gem – in this case, the gloriously climactic final showdown.The bare-bones PvP arena offers a fleeting blast of adrenaline and the painted world's gorgeous wintry landscapes are enchantingly brutal, yet as a whole, Dark Souls 3's first expansion colours within deeply worn lines and falls short of FromSoftware's illustrious history of unforgettable, industry-leading DLC.
WWE 2K17's adherence to 'realism' brings notable gameplay improvements, but ultimately comes up short when it comes to the main event. MyCareer continues to be an unpolished, unfocused chore and is indicative of a WWE game that forgets that why two testosterone-fuelled titans enter the ring is as important as the action between the ropes.
Lovingly remade in high definition and enhanced via optional PlayStation VR support, Rez Infinite crystallises, polishes and preserves Rez's legacy, making it an essential purchase for PSVR adopters and standard PS4 owners alike. The untethered 3D-cyberspace of Area X presents a tantalising vision of the IP's potential future and adds an extra layer to what is undoubtedly the definitive edition of Mizuguchi's masterpiece.
Paper Mario has historically given Nintendo free reign to bring something new to the table, all while poking fun at the titular character's notable legacy. In this light, Color Splash is a riotously funny, joyfully eccentric, but disappointingly safe reimagining of its premiere mascot. For every instance of dull combat, though, there's a humorous home run that makes Port Prisma a worthy vacation spot.
Spirit of Justice is yet another enjoyable entry in a cherished franchise, which doubles-down on the delightfully zany aspects of the series to great effect. The back-and-forth courtroom disputes suffer from a weak presence on the opposing bench and several decade-old mechanical flaws, but none of its sins are egregious enough to quash the divine character work and enchanting anime style.An imperfect, but nonetheless victorious, return for Capcom's distinguished defence attorney.
Bethesda bids farewell to Fallout 4 with a final trot around the Commonwealth that epitomises the base game's glaring issues. Frustratingly inept AI, inconsequential decision-making and an over-reliance on adequate, but far from exceptional gun-play undermines Nuka-World's occasional moments of promise.The minutely-crafted, faux-Disneyland environments pack a visual punch but the obscenely bland, zero-dimensional characters completely suck the life out of the DLC's multicoloured palette. Nuka-World gives ardent fans plenty more to explore, collect and shoot but don't be surprised if its flat delivery ultimately leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
Technical niggles aside, Bangkok is a confident return to form for Hitman's first season – after the characterless trudge through Marrakesh and the fun, but throwaway mid-season summer special episode. While Sapienza is still the undisputed highlight, Club 27's tight, multi-tiered design and wonderfully vile pair of targets show that IO Interactive isn't ready to rest on its laurels.
In spite of its myriad frustrations, I Am Setsuna is far from a characterless husk, but its mechanical regurgitation of shallow tropes and the over-complication of a ready-made battle system manages to cast a dim light on its reserved tone and glacial atmosphere. Designed to be a reverential ode to cherished RPG classics, I Am Setsuna is a functional footnote rather than a sweeping fresh stanza.
Furi is an eye-popping, neon-bathed gauntlet which, in its best moments, is an adrenaline rush of lightning-fast, blink-and-you'll-die combat. At times, the delicate juggling act between bullet-dodging defence and stylishly-animated offence is undeniable, but as the game's frustrations begin to creep in it becomes impossible to maintain the kind of singular focus its stern difficulty level demands. There is no room for error, no lucky escapes, just an input that is right or wrong which leaves a sour taste. For all its intermittent brilliance, Furi too often lacks a key ingredient that will keep it from ascending beyond cult curio status: fun.
Aside from these bothersome technical hiccups and an overall feeling that what's here would possibly be better suited to a trilogy-spanning release (or at least waiting to include content from the upcoming Rogue One film), Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an infectious joy. The franchise-in-Lego concept is a little long in the tooth at this point, but for those who have taken a break from TT's nostalgia-baiting charm-fests or anyone who classes themselves as an ardent Star Wars-aholic, there is more than enough block-busting action and nudge-and-wink chortles here to please both young and old alike. May the force be with you Timmy, this one's for you.
While the game is an absolute masterclass in action RPG design, there is an inescapable sense that old ground is being re-tread. A reliance on geographical call-backs, stock-enemies and series in-jokes muddy the tone and mystique that made its direct predecessors such a joyfully bleak experience.While the superbly visceral gameplay, intense boss fights and improved online features mark FromSoftware's latest out as one of 2016's best, Dark Souls 3's flickering fire is ultimately engulfed by its own bright history.