The future of the F1 series is cloudy right now. EA is the new boss, but its influence probably won’t be seen until next year’s game. F1 2021 adds a few new fixins to the strong foundation of last year’s game, along with the misfire that is Braking Point. Having the option to add dynamic dramatic events to the existing Career mode would be preferable to bland pre-rendered cutscenes that come with Braking Point. There's a lot of fun to be had with F1 2021, even if a true next-gen leap may not come along until next year.
I am disappointed by the mixed feelings I get from Backbone. It is absolutely worth a look solely on the merits of its audiovisual presentation, but its attempt to offer commentary or insight into the topics its narrative broaches repeatedly fall flat, particularly in the latter half. EggNut clearly has the goods in the art and music departments, so I would love to see what they can do with a stronger narrative in the future. If you do choose to give Backbone a shot, make sure to get the Artifact Edition, as it includes the wonderful soundtrack.
King of Seas does lots of things well, from its visual presentation to the simplicity of its sailing mechanics. It touches base with many of the things that made classics out of the games that came prior while streamlining the experience into something that feels like a store-brand version of the thing I actually wanted. The lack of real keyboard and mouse support is a black eye on the PC version, though the foundation here is stable enough that King of Seas can have a brighter future through updates.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield succeeds at getting you into the action with little complication, even if it has less depth than a kiddie pool. It does a poor job at explaining Wally’s situation (everything I know about the story came from outside the game) and this further prevents the experience from being more than something that feels like a prototype. It has a low price that matches well with its truncated runtime and the soundtrack is good enough to help you forget some of the shortcomings. Maybe Aerial_Knight’s next outing will have the recipe for success. 5/10 drone slides
AAA-quality baseball is now available to all console owners (please Sony remember the PC in 2022) and the sun is shining on virtual big leaguers who are down for crossplay. MLB The Show 21 is once again an incremental step, but still an important one for the series moving forward.
Ultimately, Evil Genius 2 is a Dungeon Keeper clone in a different coat of paint. The surface has been well-prepped and the paint was applied with great expertise, though. If you consider yourself a fan of simulation-strategy games, this has to go on your must-play list for 2021. 9/10 secret boxing glove traps hidden in corridor walls
The marketing materials for R.B.I. Baseball 21 makes some bold claims that the end product fails to deliver on. While it does carry the full MLB and players union license, it is a lesser representation of the game of baseball than some of its more-arcadey rivals. It touts features of AAA sports games, yet trips over its own cleats when asked to make a clutch play. The lack of online play will make it a non-starter for many and the aggressively bad animations will disqualify it for anyone hoping for a semi-serious game of baseball. This mess could be cleaned up, but players will need to wait for next year’s outing to find out.
Freakpocalypse moves the Cyanide & Happiness universe into the gaming sphere much more effectively than its predecessor. Its main story arc of finding a prom date for its hero Coop works well as a narrative thread to hold together all manner of tasteless nonsense. The game is being advertised as the first of a trilogy and has enough to see and interact with to satisfy its core audience. The relatively low price and time investment of around ten hours are inviting, but I suspect the subject matter and confounding frustrations brought on by genre design tropes will put off the general gaming audience at large.
While some additions to the old formula provide value, particularly the ability to leap onto buildings to shave time on fares and online leaderboards, falling short on all the other parts of the experience drags the entire game down. The lack of Crazy Box-style minigames further reduces any replay value. Crazy Taxi succeeded by offering players the feeling of chaos and excitement, either through its then-novel gameplay mechanics or its untouchable sense of style. Taxi Chaos brings neither to the table and offers only minimal appeal to folks who might have missed all the hoopla twenty years ago. 3/10 beaded seat covers
Sumo Digital has done a wonderful job bringing the visual aesthetic of the LittleBigPlanet franchise into a 3D platforming world. The levels are a delight to look at and shine brightly when paired with a top-shelf display. The various outfits and visual customizations that can be sewn onto Sackboy also look fantastic. I ended up using a Yak outfit I bought early in the game for the rest of my playthrough as I simply couldn’t get enough of how delightfully stupid it looked. When it comes to gameplay and story, it is fair to say that we’ve seen it all before, and usually done better. The main appeal here is to rehash old material with a 4K, leather-and-corduroy-upholstered refresh. If that sounds like a good time, Sackboy is sure to please, but it will leave other PS5 owners wondering when next-gen will actually show up. 7/10 yak outfits