Monster Energy Supercross 5 - The Official Videogame does a great job when it comes to teaching newbies all about the sport itself. I had no idea what a whoop or a holeshot was until playing, and now I could likely recite the dictionary definition. Races themselves are a lot of fun - although a single mistake without any rewinds left can be immensely punishing - but there's little to keep the player engaged beyond racing for the sake of it. Once you've finished the Pro series, that's it. You've beaten all the single-player content available, and all that's left is online multiplayer or finding the 20 collectibles in free roam which will take no longer than 30 minutes. My interest in Supercross itself is piqued, and I went into the experience expecting worse, but my time with Monster Energy Supercross 5 was short-lived.
Plenty of other racing games are the equivalent of a big, greasy cheeseburger that tastes wonderful, but Gran Turismo 7 is like visiting a Michelin star restaurant, and they've deconstructed the same burger to become a beautifully presented, fancier meal. It's like the JRPG of racing games, wearing its Japanese development on its sleeve, which is something not often seen in the racing genre. In 2022, Gran Turismo 7 is one of the best racing games available, and undoubtedly the best for pure racing on consoles.
GRID Legends is the place to go when you're not sure what type of racing you want, but you know you want to drive fast. The vast array of modes and vehicle categories make it a jack of all trades sort of racing game, and while Gran Turismo 7 may appeal to the racing enthusiasts a little more when it launches next week, GRID Legends has a brilliant story mode and the chaotic nature of online racing means it's the prime racing candidate for a laugh with your mates.
Back when Skyrim launched in 2011, a fake mock-up of a Blastoise emerging from behind some trees in glorious 3D did the rounds on the internet. Pokemon fans everywhere, myself included, salivated at the thought of such a game coming to fruition. Pokemon Legends Arceus is the closest thing we've had to that dream yet and while performance issues and lack of graphical fidelity do throw a spanner in the works, not to mention the often lonely open world with lack of meaningful landmarks, this shake-up of the formula is a return to form for Game Freak.
The redeeming aspect about Halo Infinite is that underneath the unnecessary open world format and cookie cutter story missions, the core gameplay is Halo at its best. While it's much faster paced than the Bungie-era, Infinite improves tenfold upon the disappointing 343 releases so far. The story is nothing to write home about but engaging in a full blown scrap with a squad of Banished feels brilliant. This is largely down to the new tools at Master Chief's disposal, along with the added weapon variants. Few things are as satisfying as grappling a grunt and electrocuting all the surrounding enemies, then finishing them off with a sweep of a Sentinel Beam or perfectly placed Mangler shots. The downside is how this is surrounded by bloat, in a new direction for Halo that doesn't quite land on its first outing, despite being incredibly polished and excellent from one skirmish to the next.
Battlefield 2042 is a game with some seriously lofty ambitions, because destruction and warfare on a scale we've never seen before is always going to grab the headlines. Unfortunately, more effort has gone into those jaw-dropping moments, like seeing huge buildings topple to the ground, than it has into making the game fun and balanced. There's a solid foundation here, but this entry needed a lot longer in the oven to iron out the main modes and provide some more variety into Hazard Zone, because the result is a real low point in the franchise.
There’s no denying that multiplayer is by far the biggest selling point for Call of Duty and the mode that makes Activision the most money through both sales and microtransactions - heck, Black Ops 4 launched without any single player offering whatsoever - but this showing is poor from Vanguard. It’s fun enough at surface level, but it fails to provide a captivating narrative or any stand-out moments that could attempt to elevate it as one of the greats. It’s also shockingly short with zero replay value, which means the Vanguard campaign only helps to stagnate the Call of Duty franchise. With that in mind, if we are to get Call of Duty Vanguard 2 a few years down the line, this has laid a solid foundation to build upon.
Football Manager 2021 was the best entry in the series for some time, and it’s safe to say that Football Manager 2022 continues that trend, by building upon the huge leaps it took last year. The improvements this time around aren’t quite as groundbreaking as last time because they’re a little more subtle and less on-the-nose, but they’re there nevertheless, meaning it is a brilliant time to be a Football Manager player. I just wish I didn’t play quite so much of the last instalment, because I’m not quite ready to start again after leaving behind my beloved Oxford United squad just a few weeks ago.
Back 4 Blood isn’t Left 4 Dead 3, but it is so evidently an evolution of the genre. When things go right and you have a deck that works for your build, plus the Game Director doesn’t screw you over with the corruption cards, then the game feels amazing to play. Far more often than not however, you’ll be left frustrated and tilted because too many enemies have spawned so there was literally nothing you could do. Back 4 Blood is the best multiplayer zombie game on the market right now, but the competition is weak and if you’re a solo player, steer well clear.
That’s perhaps the biggest takeaway from FIFA 22 this year; on the surface, pretty much nothing has changed, but when you pick up the controller and resume where you left off from 21, you notice how different it feels. It is more than a roster update, but it’s not quite enough to warrant being a must-buy. The only problem is that for a football fix, you have no other choice this year given eFootball’s poor reception. A very middle of the road experience and the football video game equivalent of Man City winning the league - exciting for those that love it, but very “meh, who cares” for those who aren’t die-hard fans.
Are video games art? In the case of Sable, I think it’s foolish to claim otherwise. It has been an honour to play and review this magnificent experience, with its jaw-dropping vistas, witty, personified dialogue, and genuinely unique world that offers something unmatched in video games. Sable will likely fly under the radar for a lot of people and were it not for the plethora of technical issues, this would be close to a score of the highest order. As it stands, the bugs do detract from the experience a little, but even so this is an absolute must-play title... I just wish there were more of it.
Even though I may have an affinity for stealth gameplay and the first Dishonored still sits in my list of all-time favourite games, I do not want to leave Blackreef. I wish DEATHLOOP had more Colt-content for me to explore, perhaps another district or two and a few more visionaries to hunt down, because the core gunplay and traversal is so enjoyable. From the We Happy Few-esque masks to some of the quirky interactions - shoutout to 2-BIT - and simply how polished the game is, it's impossible not to recommend. It embodies replay value and even when things don't go your way, you're left wanting to try again rather than walking away frustrated.