Metro Exodus shows some heart, and it's clear the developers have poured a lot into this third chapter of Artyom's story. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that keep the game from hitting the standard set by its predecessors. Pacing is hamstrung by the ambitious misfire of an 'open-world', while performance issues and glitches mar much of Exodus.
Just Cause is undoubtedly a fun series with a devoted following. When you embrace the chaos there can be a lot of fun to be had, but it's when you look deeper at the nuts and bolts it isn't a bustling sandbox you find. It's more of a litter tray, full of waste. If you expect the finest the genre has to offer you're bound for disappointment, though if you're after more of bedlam Just Cause is famous for then this fourth iteration is what the doctor ordered.
Tetris is like an old shoe, it's comfortable and familiar. It's hard to believe that three decades on, Tetris is still making the splash it is. It's an evergreen sensation that constantly renews itself and its latest iteration, Tetris Effect might be its euphoric best. Were this rock and roll, Tetris would be held in as high esteem as The Beatles and this particular game would be its 'Revolver'.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a triumph in world-building, character craft and downright skulduggery. Being bad has never felt so good as Rockstar toe the realism line while still keeping their sharp, trademark tongue in cheek. It's the keen attention to detail where Rockstar succeeds and this outlaw prequel comfortably outperforms their best works and in time, I believe, will be regarded as a once in a generation game.
Were it not for a lack of polish, Shadow of the Tomb Raider would stand right alongside the other action-adventure giants in truly defining the genre. It has a lot of heart, all of the pulsating set pieces that series has become known for and a primal Lara Croft at the height of her powers. As it stands, Shadow is still one of the best conclusions to a trilogy I've come across as it respects what it has always done best rather than muddy the waters with needless gimmicks.
It's hard to fault Marvel's Spider-Man as Insomniac has taken their game to the next level. As a developer, they have gone from strength to strength and Spider-Man is a culmination of their past hits. There's a stunning verticality that compliments the game's watertight mechanics and, despite the literal boundaries, still makes the city seem boundless. If you're a Marvel die-hard, there's enough fanfare here to sink a ship as Spider-Man emerges as the new gold standard. Spider-Man is, without question, the best superhero game ever.
After being revealed to a reasonable amount of fanfare, it's fair to say that We Happy Few is one of the year's biggest disappointments. Though there's a lot of the BioShock fingerprint evident here, this lineage isn't ever lived up to. The story, characters and the character of the world itself are positively to die for and exist as the game's few triumphs. It's a beautiful disaster of a game and was perhaps too ambitious for a developer so green as bugs, frustrating A.I. and a slipshod procedural generation robs We Happy Few of any chance it had to be great.
Octopath Traveler is truly a charming and wonderful J-RPG that has reminded me that there's still a place for old classics. Some might call it dated, I'd call it ageless and even peerless when held up against a recent generation of watered down, Westernised role-playing games. Square Enix delivers a nuanced, tactical game and an endearing cast to boot.
Despite its satisfying core loops and drip-feeding of loot slathered in mechanical jargon, it's hard to recommend The Crew 2 based on what many would consider to be its selling points. The world is barren despite being billed as a greatest hits of American landmarks and 'car feel' itself is frustratingly basic and holds your hand far too much. The interconnectivity did its best to compel me to stick with it but The Crew 2 is a sad case of wasted potential.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit sees Dontnod return to what they do best with a charming, quirky and, at times, hard on the soul adventure. I wouldn't exactly go so far as to call it 'awesome', it's more of an okay adventure set within an engrossing world that continues to go from strength to strength. As someone who values a game's plot, I was able to forgive some of Captain Spirit's inadequacies while I expect others might not be as magnanimous. I can say that the episode itself and its uplifting cliffhanger have left me wanting more of the indomitable Chris and his Captain Spirit.
Detroit: Become Human is without a shadow of a doubt, David Cage's best work. After almost a handful of failings, Detroit: Become Human showcases what David Cage is capable of as both a writer and a director. He isn't shy about tackling taboo topics, regardless of the backlash, and it pays off here in what is a stunning story of overcoming oppression.
On the heels of Brothers, Josef Fares has given us A Way Out, a rich and thoughtful independent darling that delivers on a story that respects its characters and remains grounded, hardly ever resorting to nonsense action just for the sake of it. Though we predicted the game's ending before it happened, the conclusion hit us like a truck. With its extremely reasonable pricing and share play, A Way Out is a must play from one of the industry's most talented small teams.
Burnout Paradise is unarguably a stellar racing game and it paved the way for the likes of Forza to do what it has done with its Horizon franchise, so for that there'll always be a place in my heart for it. It's a tough sell for returning veterans as the visual buffs are minimal and the game itself is unchanged. Though if you were too young and didn't get to play Paradise, there's enough here, especially with all of the extra content on-disc, to justify the price of admission.
Like Unravel before it, Fe is another triumph for the EA Originals program as Zoink don't hesitate to flex their creative muscle. Despite a few foibles, the core mechanics are sound enough. Though it's in its world-building and artistic direction that Fe truly shines, with a spacious map that sparks the kindling of exploration and ignites that love for adventure.
Celeste not only joins a long list of phenomenal platforming royalty, but it stands as a mighty pillar among the very best of them. Its message is clear albeit clumsy, though that doesn't detract from its very real and relatable cast of flawed characters. It's challenging in ways many games aren't while managing to maintain an endless supply of magic.
Just like Rocksteady did for Batman, Arc System Works has carried Dragon Ball to the upper echelon, crafting a tag-fighting game that captures not only the series' distinctive style but its spirit. FighterZ stands alongside other versatile, yet accessible, games like Marvel vs. Capcom with ease in what is the best fighting game in recent memory. It's a shame the servers hamstring the experience so badly, rendering the game's online a bit of a mess.
I want to shout it from the rooftops, Call of Duty is back. Just when it looked like the franchise was going to get wildly out of hand, credit has to be paid to Activision for recognising that the only way forward was to strip away the deadweight and return to its roots. When it comes to bang for buck, WWII triumphs over most. Throw the new social space in alongside what is basically three games and Call of Duty might very well be king again.
I fell out of love with Assassin's Creed a long time ago, but Origins has recaptured the magic that made the series a powerhouse all those years ago. With its humble protagonist, whose outlook on life is clouded by relateable and crushing heartbreak, and a world so detail-rich, it's hard not to be floored by everything Origins manages to be. Assassin's Creed Origins is the definitive action-adventure game of the year. It's a wild power fantasy that satisfies not only a curious thirst for knowledge but both bloodlust and wanderlust to such lengths it's almost gluttonous.
The Fractured But Whole is a solid game, but as a package doesn't improve greatly on The Stick Of Truth. Its combat has some added depth and there are more classes to choose from, but it doesn't feel as though it does a whole lot else that's new. Its unwavering preparedness to tackle tough social issues must always be commended and I know that'll never change with South Park. If you're a person with touchy sensibilities, know that this probably isn't for you. But if you're a South Park fan who wouldn't mind a fairly decent romp through a faux Marvel and DC face-off then you're probably onto a winner here.
Shadow of Mordor was a bombastic, grandiose romp through a very storied land, steeped in a much-beloved history, as penned by Tolkien. Shadow of War takes what made the original such a great experience and magnifies it tenfold, blowing it up into a titanic game. Embrace the Bright Lord and play this game if you've got even a passing interest in the Lord of the Rings saga. Even if you don't, this high-fantasy action game has a bit of everything.