NBA 2K23 is bogged down in a lot of problems courtesy of predatory monetization and an overzealous RPG game taking priority over the actual basketball-ing, but it does have great qualities as well. There is plenty of content ensuring there's something for everyone to play and the game leans into its simulation aspects in a risky, but effective way. If the series can hone these good qualities and leave behind its outdated monetization schemes, 2K could garner another level of respect and become something that rises above the other sports games.
Ultimately, Saints Row may not be the grand return to the franchise that fans were hoping for, but that doesn't mean it's not worth giving a look. Despite a poorly-paced story with average characters, it still has a ton of content and a sandbox that is ripe for hours of co-op fun.
Where dogs are usually considered "man's best friend," Stray suggests that cats may be robot's best friend. This is a game that wears its heart on its sleeve and expertly weaves its themes into everything the player does. There will likely be many people who buy this game because they want to play as a cat and their itch will be scratched, but there's also a high chance they will come away moved by its story of companionship and get caught up in its soothing and equally mesmerizing atmosphere. There are a lot of amazing looking games coming this fall, but Stray has already cemented itself as a contender for awards season.
The Quarry is a charming and surprisingly intimate horror story that creates real stakes and successfully does away with the idea of plot armor. Although it has some annoying or even frustrating quirks, it's a worthy successor to a game like Until Dawn and highlights Supermassive Games as masters of their craft.
Sniper Elite 5 has scratched an itch that I have had since Splinter Cell vanished nearly a decade ago. The stealth, level design, and sandbox elements have created something that will be incredibly fun to replay both by yourself and with friends. Although Rebellion still has to tighten up some areas such as the story and close-quarters gunplay, this is an extremely refined stealth game that has taken the series into a new era with a lot of meat on its bones.
The Xbox Series X|S and PS5 versions of Grand Theft Auto V and GTA Online are good, this isn't a bad game, it's just not as impressive as one may hope. It has some flashy new graphical effects, a menu redesign, and the 60FPS mode is remarkable, but it's all marginal. For newcomers with little to no experience with the game, this is going to be an absolute treat. For veterans, this may ring a bit hollow. It's worth picking up if you want to keep up with GTA Online and have the best possible version, but otherwise, there are no enhancements that demand you replay the story once more.
It's not as unsalvageable as Battlefield 5, but it's still hard to imagine this evolving into the definitive Battlefield game that DICE wants it to be. There is fleeting fun to be had here, but it's often spoiled by the game's blatant shortcomings. The maps are a slog, gunplay is bogged down by puzzling design choices, and there's no shortage of bugs that actively require the player to restart the entire game. It's a far cry from the 10-year-old Battlefield 3 and as it continues to age, the series strays further away from those glory days with no road to redemption in sight.
Alan Wake Remastered's improvements are subtle and won't dramatically change the experience, but that also means it retains what made it so special in the first place. The atmosphere is chilling ,and the story holds up after over a decade, meaning it doesn't need a full-blown remake to still feel worthy of a modern retelling. Even with its flaws, Alan Wake Remastered is worth playing in 2021, especially for those who missed it the first time around.
Life is Strange: True Colors creates a world that players will want to be in, and a story that needs to be seen to the end. Despite the small scale of Haven and its unnerving issues, True Colors plausibly allows itself to have high stakes and is convincing in its premise. It's a game that is not only a shocking emotional rollercoaster, but also a compelling lesson about the importance of empathy, and an enjoyable time that could serve as a viable foundation for more storytelling in the future.
MLB The Show 21 is yet another solid entry in Sony's now multi-platform sports franchise. The consistent tweaks to how the game functions and its quality-of-life improvements each year have helped create a balanced, solid foundation for each iteration to improve on. Even though MLB The Show 21 lacks in delivering a truly engrossing current-gen experience on the new consoles in some ways and has a few typical sports franchise pitfalls, it's still an enjoyable game that has a high degree of craftsmanship.
Cyberpunk 2077 isn't just a disappointment because it misses the mark for CD Projekt Red. It's a disappointment because it misses the mark as a video game from any developer. It lacks the fundamental basics of a good RPG. The best moments in its narrative are tucked away in side quests. Night City is a boring, lifeless illusion of something greater. Perhaps that's a good analogy for Cyberpunk 2077 itself: A boring, lifeless illusion of something greater.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War had a rough development. From switching developers to being made during a pandemic, it was bound to be flawed. Somehow, though, Treyarch and Raven Software have still pulled it together for the most part. With a series-defining campaign, a classical return to Zombies, and a flawed but still fun multiplayer, Black Ops Cold War is yet another worthwhile entry.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the end of one generation and the start of another. It serves as yet another defining title for PlayStation but also an essential story for Marvel's greatest hero. With new innovations in Spidey gameplay as well as loads of refinement and a wildly impactful story, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the game we need right now.
The Dark Pictures: Little Hope is just a frustratingly dull horror game. The characters are unlikable, the story is poorly strung together, it feels dated, and much more. I have very few positive things to say about it. Little Hope isn’t a game I want to dislike because I wanted a good horror game for October but it failed to deliver.