Underneath the gorgeous animation and the wonderful jazz music is a journey that lacks substance. Perhaps I'm just the wrong target audience, and loads of other people will find a deeper meaning that I missed entirely within Genesis Noir. It's difficult to review a game this abstract and this artistically focused with any certainty. All I can tell you about is my experience with it, and my experience was of a game that amazed with its visuals but that dragged across its short runtime, that had flashes of real brilliance mixed in with humdrum puzzling and a story that never resonated with me. Since Genesis Noir is on Game Pass, though, it's an enticing prospect, one that I'd recommend checking out if you subscribe to the service because you might just find something that speaks to you. And if you don't, well, all it has cost is a few hours.
As a game that stands on its own, I find Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse to be disappointing and a little dull. Yeah, it did tease a few laughs out of me, but nothing to the same degree as the animated shorts available on Youtube or the web comics. And the gameplay doesn’t stand out, either. There are numerous excellent point and click titles out there that are both hilarious and that feature challenging, well-designed puzzles that tickle the grey matter in a most delightful way. Compared to these, Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse is like Cooper himself: kinda boring.
Sir Lovelot is a fun, well-designed precision platformer with a funny premise and tight controls. It never manages to platform its way up to the upper echelons of brilliance where the greatest examples of the genre are busy lounging around. But at £7.99 its hard to complain about that too much because you’re still getting a competent, enjoyable platformer that’s more relaxed and forgiving than something like Celeste or Super Meat Boy. Personally, I think that’s a good thing because Super Meat Boy makes me want to smash my computer and live out the rest of my life as a monk.
I love how Nebuchadnezzar looks, and I love its core values of recapturing the feeling of classic city-building games. But I don’t think it succeeds in going up against either those classic games, or the more modern versions of the city-building genre. The lack of consequences damages almost every element of Nebuchadnezzar, and it doesn’t have the breadth of creativity needed for it to be so chilled out. So unless you’re really desperate for a new Impressions style city-builder, this isn’t worth checking out.
I love the core concept of Bullets Per Minute, and I admire the developers for trying to bring it to life. But…it doesn’t quite work as well as it could have, or should have. It’s like they had this awesome idea, and then glued, taped and nailed a rough game around it. It has flashes of brilliance. Moments where it all comes together and your timing is perfect and your foot is tapping. Those moments are rarer than they need to be. Between them you deal with lack of musical variety, the aggressive colouring and the rogue-like structure that doesn’t quite work. It needs more fleshing out. But I think for some people it’s going to really click with them, and for around £15 you’re getting something different and interesting. Maybe that’s enough.
Putting together a final rating for this package is tricky, much like it always is for a remaster. Ultimately, then, I’m aiming this final score more toward people who have never played the game before. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning needs some spit and polish to get it working properly. If that happens you can bring the score up to a full four out of five stars. But right now, if you can deal with its issues there’s an RPG that was clearly made with love waiting for you.
There’s a lot to like about Iron Harvest. It looks lovely and the battles have an excellent sense of spectacle to them as the gigantic mechs unleash hell while infantry squads exchange fire. And while the gameplay isn’t as tactically deep as Company of Heroes or other RTS titles on the market it’s still a lot of fun, flaws and all. But those flaws can’t be ignored: dishonest marketing, uneven campaign difficulty, dull A.I., and very few maps. I think Iron Harvest has a mech load of potential, and in a year or two could be an excellent game. Here and now, it’s a decent RTS and worth playing if you aren’t looking for something deep and fancy some spectacle.
Ultimately, I like the idea of Griefhelm and with some work it could be fantastic. However, it also feels like a game that would have been better served launching in Early Access to iron out its kinks. If you’ve got a group of friends willing to jump in with you then there’s fun to be had provided you don’t take it too seriously.
Hellpoint is another one of those games that wears its Dark Souls inspirations proudly but doesn’t understand what exactly makes Dark Souls so beloved. It struggles to forge an identity for itself, while also not doing any of the main Souls mechanics as well as other games. It does, however, have a certain rough charm hiding within its bleak sci-fi corridors and behind its many, many hidden doors. If you’re a glutton for smacking evil stuff around and getting lost then Hellpoint might be worth buying after a price drop.
There’s a lot of things I think Death Stranding gets wrong. Many of them I’ve not even mentioned here because they’re small things, but things that add up. And yet I found myself thinking about playing Death Stranding even when I was doing other things. Despite everything, I was perfectly happy to fire the game up and spend a few hours building roads, dragging boxes up hills, delivering a pile of stuff in a truck and riding ziplines around. Along the way I thought about life and death, my own health and the state of the world, the people I love and my plans and so much more. Above all else, I thought about how crazy Kojima is and how I’m really glad he’s crazy and has the clout to make games like Death Stranding, games that would never otherwise get to see the light of release because publishers would be terrified of it. Because Death Stranding is like nothing else you’ve ever played. It’s unique, and that’s not an easy thing to be these days.
All in all, Destroy All Humans is a solid remake of a great little game. Naturally the mission designs and some of the other gameplay elements are a little creaky in 2020, but the developers have done a good job of modifying the core gameplay so that it holds up quite well while still retaining the feel of the original game. Hopefully those who played Destroy All Humans back in 2005 can relive their memories along with a brand new audience who can discover the joys of anal probing.
Being booted back to the dashboard pretty consistently was a massive blow to my enjoyment, so that needs to get patched out quickly, but otherwise, this is the biggest and best F1 package we've got from Codemasters to date. My Team adds a heap of extra longevity to the game. On top of that, there's now a dedicated E-sports menu, online leagues and weekly events, so there's plenty of content to enjoy. The new Podium Pass system is the only question mark. Hopefully, Codemasters will resist the urge to turn its F1 license into yet another horrendous "live-service" marketplace, and will instead continue to build on their great new My Team mode and deliver outstanding on-track action for us Formula 1 fans.
Desperados 3 is not a case of the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s a case of the awesome, the great and the good. There’s a few weak points here and there, but overall this is a sumptuous piece of real-time tactics. It’s rewarding and satisfying to play, doesn’t hold your hand and makes you feel like a badass when you pull off the perfect plan. And when everything goes wrong and the bullets are flying it’s always your fault. You can see where you went wrong, and so you just reload a save and tweak your plan a bit. We’ve already had some terrific tactical games this year, but this is the best of the bunch. Utterly, utterly brilliant.
It’s such a cool concept and the core gameplay is absurdly fun at times. But once the initial novelty of biting pesky humans in half wears off you’re left with a meatless carcass. Maybe wait for a sale on this one, unless you’re after a mindless power-fantasy and don’t mind repetitive missions.
I really liked Saints Row: the Third when it came out some nine years ago, and I’m impressed by how well it actually holds up. Yeah, the driving and shooting feel quite basic, but honestly GTA V doesn’t feel any better in terms of its core movement, shooting and driving yet people still love it. Saints Row: the Third usually finds inventive, funny and entertaining ways to stage its missions and gameplay so that you never notice the problems with it. The result is a game that’s just plain fun and has a bunch of memorable missions, moments and characters. So many games try to be gritty and realistic, or present high concepts,. Sometimes you really just want to sit down and ride a panda-quadbike around while dressed like a wizard and shooting at Luchadores.
I’m actually surprised by how disarmingly cute, charming and engaging Before We Leave really is. I’ve always been able to fire up strategy games and wind up losing a few hours before I’ve realized what’s happening, but Before We Leave is especially good at it. It’s the perfect lazy evening game for when you kind of want to build up a colony and watch it grow but don’t fancy all the moral schtick of Frostpunk or the complexity of something like Cities Skylines. Balancing Monkey Games have done a terrific job.
It feels unfair to rag on the game so much though. Shred 2! is made by one guy and a friend who leant some coding help. If you can accept the limitations that come with that, then there is fun to be had. It’s the kind of game I could see attracting a small but hardcore group of fans who are willing to put in the time and have the patience to work with its flaws. Hell, I’d probably myself in that camp because while at first I honestly disliked Shred 2! it grew on me like some sort of hideous growth. Once the clumsy controls click with you and you begin to learn the game’s many quirks it becomes genuinely fun, challenging and satisfying to play.
I didn’t go into Gears Tactics expecting very much. Why would I? And yet really it makes so much sense. Those giant walking meat-slabs have jumped perfectly from their cover-based shooting to turn-based cover shooting. Splash Damage have done an outstanding job taking the foundations laid by XCOM and building on top of that before loading it all in a heavy, sweaty layer of Gears armour before strapping a Lancer to it. The lack of a more meaningful metagame between the action hurts it a little, but Gears Tactics more than makes up for it with it’s fantastically fun tactical plotting and in the way it lets you chainsaw Grubs in half. Which XCOM doesn’t. And really, isn’t that what we all want in life?
I never would have imagined that the weirdest thing of 2020 is that I’m playing Streets of Rage 4. I never saw this coming. I never once considered that after 26-years since Streets of Rage 3 we’d get a sequel. How did this even happen? Where did this come from? I don’t know. I don’t care, because Streets of Rage 4 is a hell of a sequel.
For such a meagre price XCOM: Chimera Squad packs somewhere in the realm of 20-hours of content into its slim frame. It almost feels unfair to compare it so frequently to XCOM 2 since it’s a small-scale spin-off. But Chimera Squad manages to find its own identity while still retaining the general feel of XCOM, even if the pre-defined characters and lack of perma-death might put veterans of the franchise off entirely. And that’s fair because making up your own squad and forming tales of their heroics and their demises has been core to XCOM since it returned from the dead in 2013. But if you can look past that there’s a lot to like in XCOM: Chimera Squad, and if you’re a lover of turn-based tactics games then this is well worth playing, though it has some incredibly tough competition in Gears Tactics at the moment.