A true remake of a seminal game, The Last of Us Part 1 doesn’t bring anything new to the table from a story perspective, but what it does do is provide the definitive version of one of my favourite titles of all time. Visually breathtaking, it belies its nine year old roots to deliver a spectacular experience. Whether it’s worth the money is up to the individual, but Joel and Ellie’s story will never look, or feel, better than this.
A fun, supernatural romp in a wonderfully recreated depiction of one of the most recognisable cities on the planet, Ghostwire: Tokyo is let down somewhat by combat that feels simplistic in places, and borderline clunky at worst. The location, unsettling atmosphere and story are by far the stars here, with a really fun plotline that will do more than enough to convince most people to see it through. A true example of next-gen visual flair, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a curiosity that will allow you to pet, rather than kill, the cat.
Deathloop is an excellent video game which truly showcases what Arkane are capable of as a studio. The time loop mechanic is used almost to perfection here, with your eight targets shifting across the four areas and time periods. Each loop will feed you with more information that you can then use to plan out the perfect run, knocking out your eight targets to break the loop and get off the island. The invasion mechanic is implemented extremely well, and I can only imagine the furious texts you’ll get from a friend as you jump in and kill them off for the umpteenth time. It looks gorgeous, it runs really well, and you should absolutely play it.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a stunning showcase of just what the PS5 is capable of, even this early into the generation. It looks astonishing, it plays gloriously, and there are enough trinkets and secrets to keep you coming back for more. If you want a great PS5 exclusive, here it is
Returnal is a really strange beast. It’s a game from a studio that have very clearly been given the funding to make a big budget version of the type of game they want to, and it really shows. There’s a very thin line between accepting that you made a mistake and ranting that the game screwed you over, and Housemarque have got it right with their mechanics. If you die, you learn from it and go again. Thankfully, the PS5 makes this incredibly quick, and it’ll have its hooks in you for “just one more run”. If I had to pick holes in it, I just wish there were a little bit more permanence to some of the upgrades you pick up, but I know this will diminish some of the ‘purity’ of the game. While I know some of this will be met with derision at openly admitting to not quite finishing it, I can only hope that the impressions I’ve had of Returnal give you an idea of what to expect if you pick up this absolute gem of a title. Now, Housemarque, here’s the Yellow Pages. Make a game based on that.
The Last of Us Part 2 makes some bold moves. Whether it’s from a story perspective or a gameplay one, Naughty Dog haven’t been afraid to make some big leaps with this game. Fortunately, it’s almost all for the better, and the result is a game that is as diverse as it is challenging, with visuals that I can’t see being beaten until the new consoles hit, and a story that will raise some eyebrows but ultimately sticks the landing, in spite of how dark it can get. A magnificent example of what is capable in the medium of video games. We absolutely needed this sequel.
Death Stranding is a weird game. It won’t be for everyone, but if you can find something to like in the relatively slow start, you’ll love it by the end. Typically Kojima for better and for worse, it’s a story about reconnecting people through the eyes of a bystander that becomes much more than that. Technically and visually outstanding, it’s going to be up there on my Game of the Year list for sure. A weird, but wonderful game.
Control has some very clear threads going back to Quantum Break, but it’s a game that far surpasses Remedy’s predecessor in many ways. A weird, creepy and wonderful exploration of an environment that has been meticulously crafted, it’s a must-play. Plenty of collectibles and side missions should keep you hooked for long after the final credits roll, and I really hope that this brings Remedy the commercial success that it so obviously deserves.
If you tore chunks out of Dying Light, Far Cry, The Last of Us, Sons of Anarchy and a bunch of other open-world titles then threw them all into a blender, you’d probably end up with something akin to Days Gone. It’s a game with lots to enjoy, a ton of world to explore and some sensational visuals to take in. As seemingly generic as much of it is on first glance, Days Gone opens up to prove that it’s capable of punching its weight in a crowded area of the gaming landscape. A slow start to the story might put some off, and there are still a few technical issues that raise their head on the odd occasion, but there is plenty in here that gives you cause to overlook them. Farewell, Oregon, I had a great time clearing you out of Freaks.
Overall, Spider-Man is the game that a lot of people hoped it would be. An incredible traversal system that will have ironically been protoyped on a competitor’s exclusive title, a franchise with instant mainstream appeal and a story that, without giving anything away, sets things up nicely for a sequel without feeling lacking, all combine to make Spider-Man a must-play for 2018.
A game that will have you swearing at your grandma, and threatening violence upon your closest friends after half an hour, Overcooked 2 is one of the best party games that you can get your hands on, and it's easily the most fun I've had with a multiplayer game in years. The single player can sometimes get a bit overwhelming (please don't play this if you have anxiety!) but with 4 people playing side by side or, for the first time, over the internet, it's an excellent title that will have you in stitches of laughter while cursing your head off. A worthy purchase, even if you've played the original to death.
As an unashamed fan of Quantic Dream's previous output, Detroit: Become Human is a mixed bag. On one hand, there is a continuation of the work that they've done with the previous titles, and they have crafted a wonderfully bleak world with Detroit. While it doesn't quite push the boundaries as much as Heavy Rain, there are some interesting ideas planted in the early stages of the story that never blossom fully, but still gives a somewhat satisfying conclusion, regardless of how you decide to play. On the other hand, the occasionally frustrating control issues and borderline laughable moments in the script made me shake my head on more than one occasion. It's a real shame, because there is an absolutely brilliant game tucked away somewhere in here. As it stands, it's only going to be great if you're willing to look past the obvious inherent flaws.
Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most critically revered games of the PS2 era, and with this remake, Bluepoint Games have shown that it can stand head and shoulders above most games that are released today. A wonderful experience from start to finish, and a game that is considered to be a landmark in the medium, and with good reason. A phenomenal game that has not only stood the test of time, it has become an absolute must-play in anyone's PlayStation 4 library through a simply staggering amount of work from Bluepoint. A seminal game that should not be missed.
A magnificent technical achievement, Horizon Zero Dawn mixes up the open world style in all the right ways, with an intriguing premise that kept me entertained, and which dug its hooks into me the deeper I got into it. A stunning game that deserves your attention. Plus, it has robot dinosaurs.
Gravity Rush 2 is a great neon-infused romp that, whilst not perfect, does everything right by fans of the original. Mechanically complex whilst never feeling overwhelming, the feeling of floating round the sky at high speed before landing a devastating combo on one of your enemies feels incredible, and whilst the story suffers from some pacing issues, it’s a game that’s as fun as it is fast and furious.
For all of the expectation, all of the hype, and all of the anticipation, The Last Guardian is a wonderful game. Infusing the best elements of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, Fumito Ueda and his team have created something gloriously unique, with unparalleled ambition that has been realised almost perfectly. If you don't find yourself falling head over heels for Trico, then there's something wrong with you. Whilst there are a few moments in the game that do make it feel slightly dated, and the frame rate dips here and there, the scope, narrative and sheer beauty elevate this above anything that Team Ico have put out before. Does it live up to the impossible hype? To me, it comes exceptionally close.
Titanfall 2 builds on the very strong foundations laid by the original, improving the multiplayer by improving the progression mechanics and introducing some fun new mechanics. This feels like the freshest and most interesting multiplayer game of the year, and it’s capped off by a wonderful single player campaign that ticks all the right boxes. It’s just a shame that it’s releasing when it is, as this is a game that deserves, if not demands, that any fans of the FPS genre should play it.
Overall, the Return to Arkham wasn’t quite as welcoming as I’d hoped it would be. The changes to certain character models and environments, be it subtle or blatant, have combined to strip the Asylum of some of its creepy charm, whilst technical issues mar both titles in the collection. It almost feels like the game could do with another few months of development, even after the delay, as the performance is something that could theoretically be tweaked and improved. Hopefully the team at Virtuos can get some patches together and tighten up the frame rate and adjust some of the lighting and colour grading, because if they do? This will be essential. As it stands, though, it’s a collection of two technically underwhelming ports of two incredible games that make some disappointing art style choices.
In spite of the immediately obvious drop in graphical fidelity, Driveclub VR has a great sense of immersion that can only be achieved with VR, and the PlayStation VR headset produces an experience that I don’t think I’ve ever had from a racing game before. An impressive swansong for a game that never had it easy, DriveClub VR is well worth picking up if you’re grabbing a headset in the coming weeks.