Rise of the Tomb Raider hasn’t lost its luster a year after its initial release. Bundled together with all of the content released so far, Lara’s already-packed adventure is now even bigger. And while Playing the new non-combat story mode, Blood Ties, with PlayStation VR was enjoyable (when I was in Comfort Mode, at least), and played normally it’s an interesting character study. The co-op enabled Endurance mode is also a new highlight.. For PS4 players just getting their first opportunity to play Rise of the Tomb Raider, 20 Year Celebration is a complete and amazing package.
I don’t have a clear sense of where the season as a whole aims to go just yet, but “Ties That Bind Part I” is one of Telltale’s strongest openers in recent memory. Scenes feel carefully constructed in their camera direction and editing, and Telltale avoids the pitfalls of its most egregious past issues — only one environmental exploration sequence temporarily slows things down — but for the most part the episode moves along at an exceptional clip. But that’s not just thanks to Part I’s style. Smart characterization and writing for Javi and his family, plus the return of Clementine, add weight to a largely unfamiliar but already engaging new frontier that I can’t wait to continue to explore.
I wanted Marvel's Spider-Man on PS4 to make me feel like Spider-Man: To sail between the highrises of New York City, to nimbly web up hordes of enemies, and tussle with familiar, animal-themed villains. Insomniac Games' first foray into the world of Marvel handily delivers on all of that. But what I didn't expect from Spider-Man was to come away feeling just as fulfilled to have inhabited the life of Peter Parker. Aside from a few odd pacing issues, which momentarily took me out of the experience of being a superhero, and a world of optional missions that don't always quite live up to the heft of the main story, Insomniac has delivered a Spider-Man story that both surprised and delighted me, coupled with gameplay that made me feel like Spider-Man nearly every step of the way. The Wall Crawler's open world doesn't consistently deliver the thrilling moments of its main campaign, but the foundation laid here is undoubtedly a spectacular one.
I didn't want the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy to break what wasn't broken. Thankfully, Vicarious Visions clearly didn't want to either, and the studio's reverence for the original maddening yet rewarding challenges that have stood the test of time is clearly on display. On one hand, that leads to the frustrating limitations of the original Crash Bandicoot persisting 20 years later. But it also results in the incredible visual and aural overhaul and the gameplay tweaks to earlier entries, like time trials and crate counters, that Naughty Dog added later in the series. Those additions make the overall package so much more cohesive while never forgetting what made, and what still makes, so much of Naughty Dog's original trilogy a blast to play.