Tony "OUberLord" Mitera
It's that safety in embracing the past that represents Age of Empires 4's most obvious flaw. In many ways, it plays and feels like the game is simply Age of Empires 2 with a very well applied fresh coat of paint. Love letter or no, between the rough issues with the campaign and the reuse of the multiplayer, it feels more like a remaster of an older game than of a new entry into the series. It is not easy to please fans of the long-running franchise while also attempting to attract new ones to it, and Age of Empires 4 finds itself in a strange no-man's land between those two goals.
If you had a good time with the previous games in the series, you're likely to find the same level of enjoyment in Far Cry 6. However, many of the gameplay elements in this new game are awfully like the versions that were first established in Far Cry 3 and reused with minimal changes in every subsequent game. There's certainly more than enough content to validate the game as its own, full entry into the series. I wish for a future Far Cry entry that I can play without being able to pick out which things are exactly the same as the previous title.
It all shapes up to make F1 2021 more than, well, F1 2020+1. The new game has applied a generous amount of polish to the things that it carried forward, and the new modes, such as Braking Point and the two-player career mode, add some appreciable entertainment to a solid racing game. It is equally enjoyable to an F1 nut as to someone who is entering the sport fandom, and I have been having a great time whenever I fire it up for a few laps.
Espire 1: VR Operative is not a mechanically perfect game. Sometimes, the controls can feel a little clumsy in the way that many VR games tend to do, and I wish you could find more handgun ammo to make that class of weapons more useful. With so many VR titles that feel like glorified tech demos Espire 1: VR Operative has some real meat to it, and for most of your time in the game, you will feel like some sort of shadowy, robotic badass. Use all of the mobility and stealth at your disposal, and you will find that Espire 1 sets a pretty high bar for what a VR game can be.
The biggest issue with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is that it hits you with all of its shortcomings at once. Keep playing, though, and the game establishes itself as a fun title that's worthy of the MechWarrior moniker. Play it with friends, and it becomes even more entertaining. Dated aspects of its presentation aside, the combat remains fun mission after mission, and it continues to test you as you become more powerful. Start blowing apart enemy mechs with a small array of PPC cannons and make a few big pay days, and you'll appreciate the game for what it is.
I suspect that many players will have an uneven time with Planet Zoo. At times, it's pretty straightforward and provides the player with plenty of feedback so they can improve their zoo. Other times, the game has you digging around in areas that are unnecessarily tough to figure out, with tutorials that barely touch on the feature (if at all). The thing with Planet Zoo is that it is so charming and appealing that the fun parts outweigh the frustrating ones. It's not a perfect game in the genre, but it is one of the best ones you can play right now.
There are some issues within WRC 8, and they're not small, but the game is otherwise so good that it's easy to overlook them. For all the times your engine switches to stealth mode or a fence post sends you into low Earth orbit, there are hundreds of times when you are blissfully guiding your car into a drift around a dusty apex in Argentina, or masterfully twisting through a series of highly technical corners during heavy rain. The vehicle handling is so good — and that is so important for a rally game — that even with its flaws, WRC 8 is likely the high bar that other rally games should aspire to.
The campaign is done well, the cooperative multiplayer is challenging, and the adversarial multiplayer is arguably better than it has ever been. Perhaps most importantly, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare appeals to long-standing fans and new players alike.
As a fan of the movies and a fan of creative approaches to games, I've had my eye on John Wick Hex since the day it was announced. Its bizarre approach works satisfyingly well in the context of how John Wick would think in the same situations: risk versus reward, careful observation and planning, plays and counter-plays. It is a simple game to understand yet rewarding to attempt to master. It also makes a compelling case of how great movie-inspired games can be if developers really think outside of the box.