The most important parts of LA Noire have aged beautifully, with incredibly detailed faces, diverse characters, and unique, challenging crimes to solve as a detective. The top-notch writing and voice acting bring 1940s Los Angeles to life, but are let down by a dull open world with frequent frame rate drops. Aside from difficulty aiming in gun fights, it's a smart port with accurate motion controls and the ability to play almost entirely touchscreen, too.
Assassin's Creed Origins is a deep-dive into a truly stunning realization of ancient Egypt, with a rich series of cultures, genuine characters, and more mission variety than any other game in the series. The combat is challenging and thoughtful, and while the loot system doesn't match up to games like Destiny 2, there are enough different weapon types and enough enemy variety to keep you swapping between weapons, catered to the situation. The RPG elements encourage challenges of their own, and even despite a handful of bugs, I desperately wanted to keep playing.
The Nintendo Switch version provides an authentic Minecraft experience that is hugely benefitted by the ability to play it anywhere with physical controls. The one drawback is the lack of voice chat, which makes online multiplayer less fun than on other platforms, so it's best enjoyed in the same room as your friends.
Just Dance 2017 is a very predictable update to a long-running series of dancing games that shines in visual design and unique choreography but is very loose with its tracking of your body movements. It’s not going to teach you to be a professional dancer, and it honestly doesn’t really teach you how to be good at Just Dance itself. That said, it’s still a whole lot of fun to play, and the songs that aren’t locked behind a paywall are varied and, largely, recognisable
1-2-Switch is the Switch’s version of Wii Sports, in that it acts as an overall mission statement for the console itself. The quirky, bizarre nature of the unique mini-games make it a funny, memorable experience, but some games are hard to play at first due to unclear tutorials and dialogue cues. Despite its oddities and flaws, I have had so, so much fun playing and watching 1-2-Switch with a small group of friends that I can recommend it in that specific situation, but I don’t have much desire to go back.
When it works and none of the seven players have any audio or connectivity issues, Werewolves Within is competitive, surprisingly friendly, easy to jump into and even easier to play for hours on end, building up an active repertoire of new online friends as you go. When it doesn’t work, though, it’s inexcusably hard to play, and that’s unfortunately very often.
The Unspoken demands attention to timing and strategy without being too stressful, and has creative spell variety without being overwhelming. Each spell is conjured with a unique, but totally natural-feeling motion that’s aided by near-flawless tracking from the Touch controllers, except when teleporting between platforms is involved. And even though there isn’t a huge amount of variety in AI enemies and maps, what’s here is a special kind of VR magic.
While this is the weakest episode in Batman’s Telltale series yet, my investment in the unpredictable, multi-layered plot hasn’t wavered, thanks to the critical state of each of Bruce Wayne’s relationships. Episode four’s first act felt like it was just filling in time for the season finale, but some conflicts have still been built upon, including showcasing how the people of Gotham are reacting to the intense political climate. I’m still excited to jump into the season finale - especially to see the consequence of the series’ weightiest decision.
It’s a tribute to Telltale that the intricate, multi-layered plot and diverse cast of intertwined villains and madmen makes episode three’s lack of consequence and gameplay shortcomings excusable. I did encounter some brutal performance issues, but the writing has significantly improved from episode one, the voice acting is at its highest quality yet, and Gotham feels dense, detailed, and alive. The detective missions are starting to feel a little redundant, but the combat direction and animations that follow are so swift that it’s like watching a well-choreographed dance. Above all else, the elaborate plot has me utterly hooked.
In moments of immense speed, Valley’s basic first-person platforming creates some excitement. But those are just moments, and they’re spaced too far apart with empty environments and forgettable combat between them. There are some interesting ideas scattered throughout the world but they’re very hard to care about, since there’s nobody around to be influenced by your actions. A seemingly pointless resource management system presents some interesting aesthetics, but overall, Valley very rarely presents the challenge or consequence it really needs to be addictive.