NBA 2K23 gets so many things right, that I hate that there are a handful of small and one (at least to me) large issue that tarnish an otherwise fantastic package. I will move past those issues, and still continue to play the game heavily however, which is an indication of how good I think it is overall. Hopefully those other wrinkles get ironed out and NBA 2K23 can fully realize its potential, because it is hands-down the best sports game on the market and one that I know I’ll sink dozens (if not hundreds) of hours into over the next year.
Destroy All Humans! 2 – Reprobed is the very definition of dumb fun, but the key there is that it is still fun. It’s received a very significant visual upgrade, there is a lot to do, and I found it funny far more often than not. That being said, it does show its age through a somewhat rigid quest system that at times doesn’t feel like it makes full use of the toolbox of skills you learn along the way, and there is some stereotyping that occurs that makes the humor sometimes feel somewhat dated. There is plenty to do, but there is a lot of repetition to those tasks so your gameplay mileage may vary.
In all, the Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory / Fallen Legion Revenants packed is a well-made one that should provide north of a couple dozen hours of gameplay. The action / strategy mix is unique and can create for some rewarding experiences, even if the combat and character progression didn’t always have quite as much depth as I like from my more traditional RPGs. The presentation is a solid one and the world that these games are set in is interesting, if perhaps not as deeply explored as I would have liked in the end. Still, the overall experience is worth having for those looking for a different take on the strategy genre.
Simply put – I loved my time with Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi. This is one of the best dungeon crawlers I have played in a very long time. The story and setting is unique and interesting, progression gives a great sense of ownership over your characters and the overall package from presentation to quality of life make Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi one of the most approachable, enjoyable RPG’s I have played in some time.
Madden NFL 23 continues to make improvements, and for those thinking it is just a roster update? Give it a go first and you’ll see that it’s a lot more. This is especially true of Franchise Mode, which is where I tend to spend the majority of my time. There’s still some rough edges here and there and room for improvement with some of the languishing modes, but by and large Madden NFL 23 is a great tribute to the series’ namesake and an entertaining game of football.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II is not a bad game, but by more modern standards it is not really a good one either. Fans just looking for a trip down memory lane will probably get what they need out of this, but Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II is a barebones remaster that touches up the in-game visuals and little more. On those merits, it is hard to argue that Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II is good bang for the buck at roughly thirty dollars, unless you are a diehard fan of all Dungeons & Dragons games. Despite some technical quibbles and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II’s evident age, there is fun to be had here for those who enjoy an action RPG.
Capcom Fighting Collection is a fantastic value for those who enjoy fighting games and want to play some of the best to ever come out. There’s traditional titles like Darkstalkers and Street Fighter, some unique takes on the genre with Cyberbots and Red Earth and even a fighting themed puzzle game squeezed in there for good measure. It’s perhaps a bit Darkstalkers heavy for some, but I appreciated the mix of familiar titles and games I had never played before.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a fantastic throwback brawler with a solid presentation, fun combat and handful of modern additions that provide at least a little more depth than your typical 90’s arcade cabinet. I do wish there was a little more meat on these bones, but the Heroes in a Half Shell are worth going on this nostalgic trip with.
For those willing to stick those lumps out, build the muscle memory to hit those perfect lines on specific tracks? There’s a lot to like here. The environments are gorgeous, the sense of speed is fun and there are those aforementioned unlockables that combine with the lengthy career mode to create a very nice sense of progression. However, the uneven difficulty and some areas where the rough edges show through might be just enough to turn many players off before they ever reach those racing heights mentioned above.
There is a whole lot to like about Sniper Elite 5, especially if you are a fan of the series already. The non-sniping gunplay feels better than ever, and the maps are huge with plenty to do. There is a solid progression system that lets you unlock perks as you complete objectives and take down enemies, and the story is solid if unspectacular. The best-looking and sounding release in the series, with a handful of different entertaining modes to boot – this is absolutely a worthwhile play.
Rogue Lords is a solid overall RPG roguelike with an interesting theme and a really cool mechanic in its Devil Mode. These things help to separate Rogue Lords from the pack, but unfortunately some uneven difficulty spikes and combat’s pacing slowing down in later runs takes a bit of the shine off the game’s longevity. It’s still worth playing until that happens.
Rogue Legacy 2 is a delightful mix of action-platforming with enough progression elements baked in to keep the many deaths from getting too frustrating. Unlocking new areas of my tower or discovering new traits was enjoyable, as was trying out new class / weapon / ability combinations with each new generation. Rogue Legacy 2 is a worthy successor to its ancestor.
Deck of Ashes: Complete Edition is a mixed experience for me right now. The core experience was engaging and one that I enjoyed – when things worked the way I expected them to. Unfortunately, I ran into enough technical hurdles that I stopped my second playthrough and have only picked it up once since then (three days ago to see if the issue with not being able to refresh middle rows of cards was still happening – it is). It’s a shame, as things currently stand – but thankfully with a few tweaks to polish up some of the rough edges and make the most of the core experience.
Roguebook is an excellent mashup of collectible card game, with exploration and progression elements that keep the experience fresh for subsequent runs. I was almost immediately hooked, playing with different party combinations and structuring my decks to see if I could make it just a bit further on my next run. And the one after that. And the one after that. I’m going to stop writing now and go back for another run now.
WWE 2K22 is a fantastic return to form for the series, and probably the best wrestling game I’ve played in several years. Admittedly there are some rough edges here and there, but the MyRise mode in particular was incredibly enjoyable and most importantly: the game was just fun to hit. WWE 2K22 does in fact hit different.
Shadow Warrior 3 presents more streamlined action than its predecessor, and revels in his glorious gory shooting and potty-mouthed protagonist. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss some of the RPG elements from Shadow Warrior 2, and there are some rough edges to be found in this latest iteration of the series – but it’s a bloody good time all the same.
Pinball FX3 – Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure is a fantastic table that filled me with nostalgia as soon as I fired it up and heard the familiar music. The presentation is top-notch across the board, and it is a fast-paced, entertaining table. The value proposition might not be for everyone however, as it is a single table at a premium price.
That being said, there is a lot to like here as well. Cyberpunk 2077 is an incredibly vibrant world, both visually and in its various interactions. Whether I was petting an animal, taking the time to read through billboards or finding a ton of quests to spend my time on, Night City was a thoroughly engaging virtual world. That being said, it’s still an imperfect world in a handful of minor but certainly noticeable ways. Though I was excited for the original release of Cyberpunk 2077, I suspect my experience benefitted from waiting to play. I’m glad I finally got the opportunity to do so.
Thea 2: The Shattering shares that DNA from the first game, but has evolved into something different – and something with higher expectations. It’s hard to say whether or not those expectations will be fully met by fans, but at the same time? Like the original, Thea 2: The Shattering has an addictive quality that tugs at me in a variety of different ways that kept me engaged for hours at a time.
Edge of Eternity is a great throwback to classic JRPGs overall. The presentation is fantastic, the world is expansive and there’s plenty to do with your time. That being said, the overall story and supporting characters while solid, were lacking for me. There’s plenty of systems layered in, and while combat is probably the most important system and also arguably Edge of Eternity’s best system, they don’t always seamlessly support one another. It is worth calling out that a reasonably small studio managed to make a large, high quality and very enjoyable game in Edge of Eternity and JRPG fans should come away pleased overall.