Similarly, boss battles feel woefully undertested and suffer from agonizing spikes of challenge and confusion. There's also an overworld aspect of spending in-game money to unlock new paths, though many of the unlocks don't actually lead to new levels; instead, they only dole out cosmetics used to decorate a "locker" interface that is tucked into the very back corner of a single multiplayer lobby. (Decorating your tiny Splatoon 3 locker is perhaps the utter opposite of trimming a bonsai tree; the act of putting objects into your virtual locker is a nightmare of physics collisions and red Xs indicating that, no, you can't decorate your locker the way you want.)
Graphical upgrades and smarter enemies make this version of TLOU the best one yet, but those updates fail to address an issue at this game's core: TLOU was originally designed for the PlayStation 3, and at its worst, TLOU Pt 1 still feels like a PlayStation 3 game.
If Digital Eclipse addresses even half of my nitpicks in a future patch, that would take this collection past its current state of "good enough" to "easily recommended" territory. In the meantime, weigh your own particular nostalgic appetite before reaching in for a slice of the Cowabunga Collection-or order a tastier pie from the competition with Shredder's Revenge.
When I got the wingsuit working, I could fly decent distances while diving to maintain speed, then pull up on my joystick to catch more air and keep going. But the wingsuit is just a wingsuit, and in a series like Saints Row, that feels like a missed opportunity. Why not let wingsuit flyers shoot a gun, fly higher with a jetpack, or grab onto power lines and fling themselves around? After I experimented with flight a few times, I found the system too unwieldy for consistently convenient travel and leaned on fast travel or cars.
One early moment appears to block players' progress with a gate, but with no other direction to go, players will likely walk toward the gate, only to realize its bars are wide enough to let a cat easily pass through. It's one of the many examples of the game reminding players that they are tiny and can get through small paths, and I really appreciated when Stray's puzzles rewarded proper "just walk right through" thinking.
Last Course also includes a series of five optional battles that revolve around chess-themed bosses, though in these, all weapons and charm-based offensive abilities are disabled. You can only defeat these bosses by keeping track of flashing-pink parts of the bosses, then repeatedly colliding with those with your parry maneuver. Miss Chalice's updated parry ability makes her a great choice for this optional boss-rush sequence, but however you face it, Studio MDHR uses this parry-only restriction to execute some of the series' most memorable boss moments (even if they're a bit easier than the standard bosses).
NSS bowling doesn't yet include its "challenge" lanes in online matchmaking, but I hope these come in a patch because they're the exact twist that the Wii Sports formula needs. As played in either local multiplayer or online friends-only matches, these include static and moving obstacles in lanes, and they randomly rotate in each frame. I like how they force players to shift their throwing position and wrist rotation to get different kinds of strikes, instead of doing the same wrist-waggle "cheese" moves repeatedly. The default bowling mode is fine, but the challenge mode is where it's at for consistently refreshing virtual bowling.
Basically, 343 charts a few dozen encounters and terrain paths that would have been found in prior games' linear campaign levels, then spreads them over a series of floating, connected islands to make its open world. Additionally, 343 has a nifty tool in its toolbox: Halo's 20-year-long gimmick of warping enemies from outer space whenever needed. Infinite kicks serious butt in these moments. Follow your map to an icon or simply walk up to a weird-looking point of interest and the game will start inserting foes, all hunkered behind carefully crafted terrain that separates you from them. Surprise: it's a miniature level!
FH5 is an easy recommendation as part of a paid Xbox Game Pass subscription, and it's a great excuse to flex your newest gaming hardware purchase. But if you're already happy with Forza Horizon 4 or were bored by that one, take your sweet time sitting behind this game's wheel.
Keep an eye on Milestone's patch and update plans. If the company moves forward with customer-friendly moves, HWU may be a must-buy for arcade-racing fans. Until then, wait and see-unless the sales pitch of "Trackmania but prettier and more arcade-y" makes you want to immediately purchase. In which case, you'll have a good time.
Between those mechanical systems and cleverly arranged zones in and around the starting village, Ember Lab makes sure that players have stuff to look for and interesting systems to play with once they discover those puzzles. (And I haven't even mentioned the seriously cool, late-game magical ability that I'm not going to spoil.) By narrowing its magical abilities to only a few pickups, K:BoS emphasizes a simple, accessible path to adventurous treasure hunting. The result is the opposite of a standard "Metroidvania" in which new abilities often do a meager job unlocking new things in old zones. If you're hoping for a massive adventure with 19 different items that each expose new regions, K:BoS doesn't deliver. Personally, I enjoyed its tighter focus, which still opened previously explored regions for further investigation (complete with a handy in-game counter for secrets that have and haven't yet been found).