Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a hauntingly beautiful tale of two lovers embarking on a treacherous journey that tests their relationship through tragedy. With a world and combat that emulate the God of War reboot, and side quests similar to The Witcher 3, this is one of 2024's early must-plays, even if its moral decisions are restrictive.
While the console edition of Football Manager 2024 is admirable and certainly serviceable for those who can't play on PC, it's tough to recommend thanks to how stripped back it is by comparison. Entire features are missing, and navigating through menus is a slow, frustrating chore. This is a subpar port that's fine as a gateway experience, but it's hard to look past its flaws - especially when the grass seems so much greener across the way.
Forza Motorsport is an adequate racing game, one that delivers on the track but doesn't come with enough bells and whistles to be considered a true great in the genre. There are better options in almost all racing sub-genres on PC, but when you're in the cockpit, the driving itself is ferocious and raw, with plenty to enjoy.
This dystopian tale of Pinocchio does a lot to stand on its own two feet, but when you strip all the set dressing away, it is simply a terrific love letter to Bloodborne. It is rough around the edges with some balancing issues and environment clipping causing you to get stuck in corners too easily, but with enough persistence (and skill), Lies of P is one of the best non-FromSoftware soulslikes yet.
F1 Manager 2023 improves on its predecessor in every way possible, with new driver development attributes, sprint races, more depth in car part development, more driver tactics, realistic tyre degradation, a whole new mode full of real-life scenarios, and more. The downtime between races is still a little dull, but it's finally a worthy pickup for every Formula One fan.
Diablo 4 feels like the apex of the series, bringing together everything great about the previous entries. It isn't without its minor flaws, and the success of the endgame content is still up in the air, but for once Diablo has a gripping story, phenomenal graphics, and a gameplay loop that doesn't innovate too much but is certainly better than its predecessor.
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.