Tony "OUberLord" Mitera
Still, it's hard to feel like the multiplayer wasn't just thrown into the wild for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. It's not unplayable, but there are so many flaws that consistently and almost constantly crop up. The lack of post-launch support makes it feel as though Call of Duty is a victim of its own success, and it really doesn't matter what state it's in or how quickly it gets fixed because millions of people have already purchased it, and it'll all be forgotten before the launch of the next one. My hope is that the players won't be simply taken for granted going forward, but in the meantime, Modern Warfare II certainly subscribes to the mentality of, "Screw it. People are going to buy it anyway."
There is a good game somewhere under all of this, but it is buried under the weight of every part of Dakar Desert Rally being unlikable for some reason or another. There are the briefest moments where it shines through, the sun is hitting you just right, and you're blasting through the stage skillfully at top speed. The problem is it's at that moment that you round the bend and slam into a random truck or the game hitches and you suddenly understeer into a rock wall. Substantial patching would do this game wonders, but as it stands, it's a joyless mess that delivers frustrations at a far greater rate than podiums.
I'm in love with Metal: Hellsinger. First and foremost, the mechanics feel precise, which is critical in a shooter and doubly so in a rhythm game. The music is its heart, and it is good to the point that the OST would be worth picking up on its own. The part that makes Metal: Hellsinger special is in how well it weaves the music, the themes, the action, and the unrelenting rhythm together. It's a non-stop barrage of, "you get to perform awesome things done to the beat of a fantastic metal soundtrack." I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game until the credits rolled, and it left me immediately wanting more.
The biggest draw of F1 22 may likely depend on if you are interested in the VR support, as the game's implementation of VR is quite good. Beyond that, unless you are a Formula One fanatic and need to keep up on the current season, the other new main features are best left ignored. It is still a solid racing game, and no other game delivers such a comprehensive F1 experience. Beyond VR, it's unfortunate that every new feature added to F1 22 is a misfire.
In many ways Sniper Elite 5 is Sniper Elite 4 with a few new features and a fresh coat of paint, and I'm happy that this is the case. Except for the kill cam novelty having entirely worn off at this point, most of the gameplay still feels fresh. Sneaking around and lining up shots are equally rewarding, and the large, open levels give you plenty of freedom to tackle each objective in the way that you want. Sniper Elite 5 provides players with the necessary tools to feel like an elite sniper who's using superior tactics and stealth to take down a bunch of Nazis, and the game has certainly hit the bull's-eye.
There are times when I want to play a racing game that requires a wheel and incredibly nuanced changes to my car's setup. GRID Legends provides a counterpoint to that style, and it's a ball of fun that never feels like it loses focus on being a competitive racing game. It's a racing game that isn't afraid to become a spectacle, while at the same time managing to take itself seriously in the areas that matter. The story mode is the flashiest, but the game remains just as compelling in any other mode. GRID Legends is a great excuse to have some automotive fun.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human isn't a bad game, but it can't help but get in its own way. For all the freedom of its parkour system, you'll have to sit through cut scenes and fumble through the interior environments. For all the talk of conflict between the factions or that the choices you make matter, the game only recognizes them when it is convenient to the narrative and forgets about it entirely in the next. Much like the undead that populate the streets below, the gameplay is best avoided by sticking to the parkour as much as possible as you work toward the conclusion.
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.
To its credit, there's a good amount of fun to be found within Monster Jam Steel Titans. Although the game can feel limited or repetitive, it rarely feels unpolished or incomplete. The truck controls are spot-on and feel fantastic, which is the most important landing to stick. More than anything else, the game feels like it has a limited scope, but importantly, it does well within the goals that it clearly has for itself. It's a fun game involving monster trucks, and the freestyle mode alone carries a lot of the game's entertainment, as it should.
This is what makes Fallout 76 painful: many worthwhile moments surrounded by a game with just as many nagging issues. The bare-bones plot and general lack of direction mean you must make your own fun. It's set in a largely static world that doesn't care about the choices you make, and the few times when you can impact the world may be lost to you or circumvented by others with a mere server hop. There's fun to be had if you enjoy the thought of poking around a Fallout wasteland with a friend. Otherwise, very little here feels new, and it feels like a lot of content is missing in comparison to previous games in the series.
Despite the issues, I'm really enjoying BattleTech. Get past its learning curve and get a few missions under your belt, and you begin to feel like a capable commander. The company management gives a backbone to your progression, while the mission gameplay is an enjoyably tangled web of tactical options and trade-offs. It's far from a perfect game, but it's a solidly good title that's a welcome entry in a long-overlooked franchise.