Devil May Cry 5 is simply one of the best pure action games of all time, and is easily in contention for Game of the Year. It channels the feel of an old-school PS2 game without ever feeling dated or weaker for it. The depths of moves on offer, the fluidity with which it can all be chained together and joys of chasing the elusive SSS sparked the same excitement in me that Devil May Cry 3 did all those years ago. Except Devil May Cry 5 is better. It is truly, truly fantastic.
Control is truly brilliant, a bona fide contender for the Game of the Year crown. It boasts great performances, a strong story, a detailed and intriguing world and superb gameplay. It has issues, and the narrative’s vagueness might irritate as many people as it impresses, but ultimately a review is all about a personal experience and I utterly adored and loved every damn minute of Control. Right now it is my game of the year. Whether it can stay there given the quality of the game’s to come in 2019 remains to be seen, but you need to play this one.
It’s a tough game, often unforgiving and demanding of your time. Once you begin to understand how to shift those rally cars around, though, DiRT 2.0 becomes something special. I love this game. Love, love, love it. It easily gets a recommendation from me, and while 4.5 is perhaps too high a score considering the lack of snow stages and VR support out of the box I just can’t help but grin like an idiot when I’m playing
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.
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.
On launch Days Gone got a fairly lukewarm reception from critics, and I’d have to say that many of the issues they raised are perfectly valid. The combat is clunky, the stealth is basic, the enemies are essentially just zombies again. It also doesn’t do anything particularly new or innovative. There;s really no single thing I can point to and say, “that, that’s what makes Days Gone good.” But the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts, and while Days Gone does have its issues it’s also shitloads of fun. I doubt you’ll regret picking up this latest in a long line of strong Sony exclusives. I, for one, have certainly loved sinking dozens of hours into Days Gone and plan on playing many, many more.
So let’s wrap all this up and stick a nice little bow on it, yeah? I liked Tropico 6, just as I liked the prior games, too. But I can’t claim that this latest iteration is any better than Tropico 4 or 5. The swap to multiple islands is fun, the humour still brings a smile to my face and building a rum empire is a hooch. There are just problems holding Tropico 6 back from getting a 4+ score from me, but hopefully in time those issues will be fixed. Until then this is still a great city-builder that fans of the genre will have plenty of fun with.
Still, what we’ve gotten is a robust looter-shooter that feels like it runs rings around Anthem’s slim end game and miserly loot. It’s still a looter-shooter at its core and thus the trappings of the genre are present, so if the idea of doing the same things over and over in the name of better loot doesn’t appeal to you then The Division 2 simply won’t change your mind. If piles of shiny new gear haunt your every waking moment, though, then The Division 2 is arguably the best looter-shooter since Borderlands 2 introduced the idea of a diamond pony called Butt Stallion.
When I started writing this review I had mixed feelings about Mortal Kombat 11. The story was a blast and the core fighting mechanics are fantastic, but the badly judged progression system was such a massive grind. Since then, though, I’ve had to re-write chunks of this review to reflect the updates that NetherRealm have put out. I can’t speak for the future and where things might go, but for now they’ve managed to really improve the economy. Hopefully they’ll continue on the path of goodness. So, before the updates Mortal Kombat 11 was going to score less, but now I feel happy giving it….
Although not Earth-shatteringly original Unruly Heroes is a wonderful example of how to make an excellent platformer. It practically drips charm thanks to the outstanding visuals and strong music, yet underneath that is a game that feels great to play with a penchant for delivering smart gameplay twists which keep things fresh.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
Trials: Rising is a tricky one to score. At its very core what makes the Trials games so addictive, so satisfying and so god-damn rewarding is still present. Once again I found myself clutching the controller at 3am with a slightly manic expression plastered across my sweat-covered face, mumbling something about needing to bounce the back wheel off that edge to shave off some time. Once again, I found myself thinking, “Just one more go. Alright, maybe two.” again and again and again. It’s just irritating that Trials, arguably the quintessential example of a sleek game, has got bloated in this latest iteration.
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.
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.
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.