Iterating on what Call of Duty diehards know and love, Vanguard has the potential to stand up alongside some of the series' best. Whether it be a bombastic, action-flick inspired campaign, endlessly addictive multiplayer or now-staple zombies mode, the game feels like comfort food. However, I remain doubtful that the game's new and updated modes will do enough to win over anyone that wasn't convinced with earlier iterations.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a disappointment. Even as an avid fan of the franchise, the fun to be had here is limited. Misguided design, hamstrung presentation and painfully repetitive gameplay suck the fun out of what is, on paper, a promising game. I'd love to have had a meaty, cooperative survival game to play with friends, an escalating challenge that gradually expected more of me as a player, with a story more than just serviceable in moving from one mission to the next. This time, I'm only screaming in frustration.
LEGO Builder's Journey is a spectacular, absolutely gorgeous puzzle-platformer, with a surprisingly touching story the explores parenthood and creativity in a delightfully minimalist way. Stunning aesthetics enhanced by ray-tracing and DLSS combine with a soundtrack that amounts to one of the most beautiful games in recent memory. A little more commitment to the possibilities afforded by interlocking bricks would have completed the picture, but regardless is remains a game not to be missed by fans of LEGO, puzzles and a good, wholesome narrative.
Amid its chaotic titular mode, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is as nail-biting as it was a decade ago. With a new lick of paint and the full suite of DLC included, it is a definitive version of a game that - at its best - sits between a combat and arcade racer, pitting Racer against Cop. Aside from these highlight moments, its a touch barebones and doesn't stack up against what else is available today.
Bar a rather unexciting story, a little lack of nuance in the combat and a couple of misgiving regarding couch co-op, there is a hell of a lot to love and enjoy about Minecraft Dungeons. Rather miraculously, it's managed to pull off being both a game for all types of Minecraft fans and those seeking a challenging dungeon crawler. At launch, it's a little concise sure, but chasing that new loot means I'm not done with it yet, and likely won't be for a while still.
This is the definitive Crash Team Racing experience. Nitro-Fueled is everything I hoped it would be, a faithful recreation of the classic game with added flair and personality. A lack of custom race settings and some superficial gripes are not enough to dissuade me that this is among the best kart racers available. Crash is absolutely back, baby!
Gone are the days where Call Of Duty sets the trends, but Black Ops 4 does a great job of keeping up. Choosing which mode to play first every time I launch the game is a struggle, with each being unique and impressive in their own way. Black Ops 4's individual components may not be groundbreaking, but as a package, it's one of the most refined Call Of Duty games. Black Ops 4 is a complete and polished package with Treyarch's deft touch of quality.
Forza Horizon 4 offers racing fans endless, ever-changing amounts of fun. Few racing games are as dense with a seemingly infinite amount to do and collect. It's immensely liberating too, allowing you to play through it however you like. The open-world might have been better populated with environmental features and I wish the menus had been a little faster and easier to navigate, but it's a small price to pay for a game with so much under the hood.
Guacamelee! 2 is a fantastic, almost flawlessly designed and well-paced action platformer, complete with charm, humour and heart. It builds upon the first game brilliantly, making Juan's latest adventure just as thrilling and hilarious as I'd have hoped.
Thimbleweed Park absolutely achieves what it sets out to, its unpredictable narrative contributing to a beautifully presented point-and-click adventure, worthy of being considered a true spiritual successor to the classics to which it pays homage. Bar a couple of design issues, Thimbleweed Park achieves something special, and longtime point-and-click fans should rejoice.
There's nothing necessarily wrong with the tried and tested Ubisoft formula. However, it begins to feel more tired when the narrative potential falls short, the engagement and immersion I would have otherwise felt hindered by not taking the subject matter seriously enough. However, the slick gameplay, blending of stealth mechanics with a Far Cry like world, seamless co-operative play and well-fleshed-out solo experience prove Ubisoft's teams aren't resting on their laurels and are actively trying to build upon the formula.
Ty The Tasmanian Tiger, now finally on the PC, is definitely one to play if you missed it more than a decade ago. It holds up well as a 3D platformer, even if it remains somewhat polygonal, not only thanks to its clever levels design and assortment of specially powered boomerangs, but also to its unique, Australian charm.
Often in an attempt to appeal to everyone, you can appeal to no one. However, in the case of Final Fantasy XV, we have a rare exception. It sits comfortably somewhere between a traditional Final Fantasy experience and the Western action-RPGs currently setting new standards. A slightly muddled tone, narrative shortcomings, and a little too restrictive open-world are faults largely forgivable due to the game’s robust combat system. The benefit of ten years of development is evident in the fine tuning of the combat mechanics over the apparent attempts to keep up with the current open-world action-RPG trend. To quote Aristotle, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of nice things to say about The Martin VR Experience. Virtual reality has the potential to be a major entertainment and media platform. For that reason, I want to encourage major filmmakers and storytellers to experiment with the platform sooner rather than later but c’mon, let’s hold ourselves to higher standards than this.
I like to think I give credit to a developer where it’s due. I also try to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they’ve made a bad game, perhaps there’s an element of potential there. Sadly however, FireForge really aren’t proving themselves with Ghostbusters.