Danger Zone 2 is exactly what I wanted the first Danger Zone to be: the true follow-up to Burnout's classic Crash mode that EA won't give me. It's not as fully fleshed out or polished as my dream game of this type would be, but as a self-contained and one-note smash-up it shines like a spectacular fireball explosion. Now how about reviving the rest of Burnout? Road Rage mode, anyone?
If you go into A Way Out thinking its mandatory two-player co-op is a gimmick, you'll likely come out of it realizing that it couldn't have been done any other way. Vincent and Leo's journey will have you and a friend performing tasks together both mundane and dramatic, and the result is a memorable, variety-packed cinematic adventure that feels like what Telltale's games might've evolved into if they'd leaned into game mechanics instead of phasing them out.
Moss made a wonderful first impression and never let up. Spending four hours with Quill in this VR world was a joy, and no one element or environment type wears out its welcome. Its mix of combat and puzzles hooked me quickly, always kept things fresh, and left me wanting more.
'What Ails You' takes The Enemy Within's biggest and boldest step yet toward redefining the Joker's role in the Batman universe – should you choose to push him in that direction (which I did). It's the other characters whose final impacts on Bruce Wayne/Batman's life have yet to be determined.
Rebounding from a weak second episode, Batman: The Enemy Within's third episode restores my hopes that this season will turn out well. Major developments around Batman's big secret and strong interactions with Harley Quinn, Selina Kyle, and John make Fractured Mask work, right up until the extremely abrupt ending.
Mario's games have been around for almost as long as game consoles have been a thing, but thankfully, he's always evolving. We rarely get the same Mario twice. Super Mario Odyssey delivers on that ongoing promise of originality and innovation: It distills the venerable series' joyful, irreverent world and characters and best-in-class platforming action, and introduces a steady stream of new and unexpected mechanics. It's all spun together into a generational masterpiece.
I wish I'd been given the chance to actually solve more of The Riddler's puzzles on my own – adventure games are traditionally all about that, after all – but the tension and drama that permeate The Enemy Within's first episode make it a winner. This strong start also leaves me very excited to see how John Doe's inevitable transformation into The Joker plays out, and morbidly fascinated to see what scars this version of Gotham City will leave behind on its inhabitants.
Though Black deserves credit for adding new puzzle mechanics along the way, it could've easily seen its 6-8 hour runtime chopped in half and still gotten its message across. That entire time I found myself wondering if, like Inside, Black would have anything to say. When I finally discovered its message at the end of the campaign, it did inspire me to look up the real-life issue it was drawing attention to and learn more about it. I applaud it for that. Sure, it could've done so with a bit more subtlety – it's a bit heavy-handed at the very end – but at least Black does have a point to make. It's just a shame that it wrapped that in a game that's so shamelessly and distractingly derivative.
Danger Zone is a simple and barebones game that manages to recapture some of the car-smashing action of the classic Burnout series, but not enough of the joy. Though Burnout's Crash mode was always the star of the show in those games, it turns out that Road Rage, Burning Lap, etc. defined Burnout just as much as Crash did, as well as its personality. Their absence here is felt deeply, though to Danger Zone's credit it's priced accordingly at just $13. As such, it's worth a look for Burnout veterans, as long as you calibrate your expectations appropriately.
You certainly get your $20’s worth out of Thimbleweed Park. The voice cast doesn’t elevate the script in the way they always did in the LucasArts “talky” days, but an enjoyable, self-referential story and hundreds of puzzles to solve make it worthy of a place on your shelf next to Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island.
Super Bomberman R’s multiplayer versatility and boss-filled story mode are laudable retreads of classic gameplay, but its depth and customizability are disappointing. By contrast, the aforementioned Bomberman Live was a brilliant, fully featured Bomberman for Xbox 360 that came out 10 years ago, and it only cost $10. It’s reasonable to expect a bit more from a $50 Bomberman game in 2017.
I never expected to compare Gears of War 4 to The Force Awakens, but I couldn’t be happier to do so. Like the latest chapter in the story from a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away, Gears of War 4 is directed by a new generation of creators, shares a lot of similar narrative structures to the beloved first piece of the trilogy it succeeds, and is an experience you’ll walk away from with a big smile on your face – in campaign, Versus, and Horde modes alike. It’s about as good of a franchise reawakening as I could’ve hoped for. J.J. Abrams would no doubt appreciate what Gears 4 accomplishes.
Sadly, even loading an MP3 of ‘90s favorite “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows didn’t make any of these four music mini-games and passive experiences any less boring or more bearable. If my friends came over to check out my new $400 VR headset, Harmonix Music VR is the last thing I’d want to show them.