Vacation Simulator goes well beyond what we originally expected from this sequel. It cleverly expands on just about everything from the original game while bursting with the same lighthearted humour and the kind of immersive interactivity other VR devs could only dream of achieving. It's a lot cheaper than a real holiday too, and involves less time sharing sweaty metal tubes with other humans, which definitely helps.
First there was the N. Sane Trilogy and now there's Nitro-Fuelled. Activision's Crash Team Racing rebirth is more than a quick cash grab – Beenox has modernised an all-time classic with such evident passion, making this the best kart racing game we've seen on PlayStation or Xbox for many, many years.
DayZ has a rich history, a long lineage or war stories and strange survivor tales that have drawn thousands down its rabbit hole, but its reality is very different. There's nothing here but a dull, vacuous wasteland, devoid of character and relying solely on players to make their own fun.
The London Heist always felt like it was leading to something much bigger, and here it is. Blood & Truth is a thrilling romp that puts you at the helm of your own blockbuster, dripping with over-the-top action as you blitz your way from one set piece to the next.
Three Kingdoms is another solid instalment in the Total War franchise, but lacks a certain wow factor. Creative Assembly has made some clever refinements around the edges of that enduringly addictive strategic core, allowing fans to steep themselves in yet another historic saga. However, there's a chance that some won't gel with this new setting or the way Guanzhong's epic has been adapted. It's another fun and rewarding take on the series, though we'd struggle to call it a must-buy.
There are glimmers of true excellence here; small stretches of Days Gone can be especially fun and polished. However, the assembly of these various parts suffers from the lack of an engaging story, compelling characters, or an open world that feels organic and worth exploring.
The end result is a loot shooter far more confident and coherent than what we've seen before. Ubisoft Massive has learned from past mistakes, side-stepping those same pitfalls to deliver a sequel that feels dense without becoming tangled. There are still some rough edges and the burden of carrying a limp story but, ultimately, The Division 2 triumphs over everything else this genre currently has to offer.
If you loved both 2033 and Last Light then you’ve likely boarded the hype train already and won’t be disappointed. Many will appreciate the continuation of Artyom’s story and 4A’s shift towards a freer, more immersive experience though Metro is still a couple of pegs below that top tier of first-person shooters. It feels rough around the edges and is let down by occasional bugs, sloppy AI, and a flimsy stealth system. That said, innovations elsewhere make some of these shortfalls easier to overlook.
Resident Evil 2 – while not a perfect game – is the perfect remake. Capcom has lovingly rebirthed a horror icon here, preserving that core DNA without infecting it through needless add-ons or alterations. There are certain aspects that will definitely grate and feel weirdly archaic though these are clearly an intentional part of Capcom's grand design. Whether you've been waiting all these years to revisit Raccoon City or happen to be a curious first-timer, Resident Evil 2 is an essential must-have slice of video game horror, kicking off 2019 in style.
While it would have been nice to see Capcom tart up those three original games and present them in one package, simply wanting more of what this remaster has to offer is a good sign. Beneath a new lick of paint and some clever adjustments, Onimusha: Warlords doesn’t make for an essential action game in 2019 but it’s a great modernization all the same and hopefully we’ll see more Capcom classics undergo a similar makeover.
If grindy loot-fests aren’t your idea of a good time then the Vermintide series really isn’t for you, even if you find its melee-focused combat more appealing than the run n’ gunning of co-op shooters. That said, Vermintide 2 is a great sequel, and although there are still some niggling issues Fatshark has yet to stamp out, it’s a gloriously over-the-top, sword-swinging, spell-slinging romp packed with content and a perfect representation of this much-loved setting.
It’s definitely more of a management sim than a true survival horror game and, in truth, that makes for an interesting premise. However, the inherent unpredictability, lack of direct combat, and some gameplay mechanics that don’t gel ultimately hold Distrust back from being more than an experimental blending of genres.
Elastic has really thrown down the gauntlet here and although fans have had to wait, Last Year: The Nightmare is easily one of the best, most inventive horror games of the past several years and one that will hopefully ply us with new skin-crawling content in the weeks and months to come.