Ori and the Blind Forest is the first fully realized endeavor from developer Moon Studios. With pristine quality in every facet of the game, it is a monumental premier that will hopefully be well-received by all and provide the financial support for the company to create more fantastic games. Microsoft deserves high marks for partnering with this independent developer, a relationship we can only hope gets nurtured moving forward. This gem of a title will captivate your heart and test your skill, providing a soul-inspiring experience that will remain long after the game has been put down.
The Forza family of games continues to excel in technical quality and content quantity, raising the bar each year and giving the series a strong shot at being the best racing series ever. Forza Horizon 4 reinforces that statement with new ways to experience the joy of driving, whether alone, with friends, or fellow enthusiasts you happen to cross paths with in this gorgeous shared piece of Great Britain.
Despite these technical faux pas, XCOM 2 has many grand elements to praise. It is the countless little touches, such as your troops whispering acknowledgments while in stealth, or ducking when within the line of sight of a comrade's shot, that truly show the commitment and effort the team at Firaxis poured into this stunning sequel. If XCOM: Enemy Unknown was the standard-bearer for tactical turn-based games, then XCOM 2 has wrested control of that flag, and now holds it even higher.
Forza Horizon seems to get bigger and better with each new entry to the series, and Forza Horizon 3 is by far the biggest festival yet. It's hard to imagine where developer Playground Games will go if they are given the green light for Forza Horizon 4. But there's little need to worry about that, because we have been blessed right now with the must-have racing game of the current generation, so fun and addicting that it just begs you to take on one more event or cruise through one more gorgeous slice of Australia.
Civilization games have oft posed this question to gamers of their empire choice: "Will you stand the test of time?" As a series celebrating its twenty-fifth year with a new entry easily toppling its predecessors, it has answered its own question with a firm and absolute, "Yes!"
Despite a strong focus on accessibility and numerous quality-of-life improvements over previous titles, Monster Hunter: World still begs you to muscle through your initial struggles and build a comfort level with the gameplay systems and pacing. Should you find yourself slowly embracing the concepts, you may blink and notice hundreds of hours have been invested, with you now proudly calling yourself a fan. With a great multiplayer element, there are few games that are more fun to play with friends, but even going alone with your purring Palico sidekick, the satisfying routine of taking down monsters and using their bits to upgrade your gear to take on tougher monsters never seems to get redundant. This is the Monster Hunter game for the world. There is no better entry point for beginners and no better magnum opus for the series.
Despite my criticism of some of the modes and gameplay mechanics, Mario Kart 8 is still an amazing game, and as intense and addicting as its predecessors. I may wish for a better Battle Mode and more online features, but I have happily raced hundreds of matches, and expect thousands more for many months, and even years, to come. There is not a single blemish in the track design and detailing, and handling the vehicles is tight and responsive, whether using the analog stick or tilt controls. Mario Kart 8 is perfect in most respects, but a few features are still bound by Nintendo's restrictive hand.
To see a fading classic rejuvenated with such a clear display of visual craftsmanship sets the bar going forward for any other would-be remastered title. And yet the untouched gameplay manages to stand the test of time, offering an engaging and challenging experience able to stand on equal ground and even eclipse some of the more recent RTS offerings. Homeworld Remastered Collection is a testament to game development done right, both in its original form and in the meticulously updated version, and one that should not be overlooked by any fan of the genre.
Despite the looming question about how well Bayonetta 2 will fare on the Nintendo Wii U, there is one thing for certain–if you're a fan of the series and own the console, you're in for a wild ride that will keep you stimulated for plenty of hours. It's absolutely a pure Bayonetta game, it's an absolute blast to play, and it absolutely belongs on Nintendo's growing roster of excellently crafted games for the Wii U.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition does little to pervert the gameplay formula of the original, as it is held fervently close to the heart by many a fan of the series. Instead, The Coalition takes the template and heightens its controls and visuals to a level that puts other games fresh off the press to shame. It's the same great game you loved nearly a decade ago, it just looks and feels a whole lot better.