Alex Santa Maria
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
- Burnout 3: Takedown
This all isn't to say that the entire game is a slog, but Into The Pit rolls out new content far too slowly. With player upgrades that are mostly changing numbers around and rooms that aren't hard to puzzle out, playing becomes an exercise in enduring repeated content before finally stumbling onto something that makes things feel fresh. Even then, what does unlock often isn't enough to truly fuel more runs. At the end of the day, Into The Pit is too repetitive to truly succeed as a roguelike and too skim on content to survive as an FPS without those trappings.
Overall, Lemnis Gate brings a lot of innovation to the table, surpassing its time travel rival to present a strategic FPS that's well worth some attention. While held back by a lack of modes outside of online multiplayer and an outdated presentation, launching on the hugely successful Xbox Game Pass service makes the game palatable to those with an existing subscription. Whether it's jumping into an online lobby or gathering a group of friends for private matchmaking, there's nothing else quite like Lemnis Gate on console, and it's well worth a look for anyone who wants to see one possible future of the FPS genre.
Hot Wheels Unleashed feels less like a cohesive racing experience and more like a framework where more and more Hot Wheels branded content can live as the months go on. This comes through not only in the lackluster presentation but in the currency system that robs players of any sense of urgency to complete missions. It doesn't feel satisfying to go through an hour of races and grind up currency to get a single box that contains a duplicate of an already-unlocked car.
Thankfully, there is enough in WarioWare: Get It Together to keep fans plugging away at high scores and microgame mastery. The character movement can make some of the games far too simplistic when compared to the timing-based gameplay of past series entries and in the similar Rhythm Heaven series. However, the trade-off in pure variety makes for microgames that keep players on their toes for far longer, and anything that keeps the WarioWare train going is a good thing. Even after excising the baffling online mode, this is the same great WarioWare experience on a platform that lets players bring it to the couch and share Wario's distinctive brand of gaming with friends and family.
For all its faults, Cruis'n Blast does a great job of capturing the style of its '90s predecessors. Throughout its various cups and in multiplayer, there's a lot of arcade fun that's a welcome break for anyone tired of Mario Kart 8. It's easy to wish that more time went into having a variety of modes rather than tracks that can feel too similar to stand out, and the graphics certainly aren't hiding the fact that this game was first released five years ago. Still, anyone looking to relive the days of Cruis'n USA will find a lot to like by taking a whirlwind tour of what Blast has to offer.
Beyond Mankind: The Awakening has few redeeming qualities. The story is nothing new, the gameplay has pacing issues, and the presentation is generations out of date. There are plenty of indie games out there that showcase innovative gameplay and moving storytelling for a relatively small fee, and with the bar that high, Beyond Mankind: The Awakening fails to even make the jump to try to meet it.
Ultimately, Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions has the same depth as one of Capcom's arcade home port from decades ago, and no amount of Survivor music, Rocky quotes, or arcade gameplay can distract from how little there is to do. For big fans of the films, Creed Champions might just be worth a pickup for the arcade mode's absurd spins on Rocky lore, but anyone else will have to really consider their options before getting into the ring.
Considering how few nostalgic throwbacks exist for Taito's back catalog, it's a shame that the Space Invaders Invincible Collection isn't a home run. Without the inclusion of Space Invaders Extreme, the whole thing would be a hard sell. This selection is by no means definitive, and several of the included games are mere variants with differences that even some hardcore fans may not recognize right off the bat. Anchoring the entire set, Extreme is certainly worth the time of anyone who enjoys a good arcade challenge, but the rest of the offering is only going to appeal to diehard fans of the arcade classic.
While there is definitely room for improvement, Jupiter Hell is one of those Early Access projects that really used its time well. Two years of development make this finished product feel like a polished and definitive roguelike experience. Imminently approachable and nostalgically fulfilling, Jupiter Hell slays all expectations and provides a potent combination of action and strategy that shouldn't be missed. Everyone from veteran rogues to boomer shooter diehards will find something to appreciate in these bloodstained halls.