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
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales will appeal to loads of gamers and I suspect it will be a hit for PlayStation owners this holiday season. While there isn’t as much to do this time around and what is included is mostly recycled, the asking price is lower than normal. Being Spider-Man is still as fun as it was in 2018 (and potentially more fun now at 60Hz) and Miles Morales is a character that is more compelling than Peter Parker. Should the few technical hiccups get sorted out, this will be a solid inclusion for any game library. Anyone grabbing a PS5 at launch would do well to grab a copy.
If you are all hot and bothered by the thought of tearing past some United Kingdom pastures at 240+kph on a crotch rocket with the best visuals of any two-wheeled racing game yet, RIDE 4 for PC and next-gen consoles needs to be on your shortlist. While I found the first-person cameras lead me to slower lap times, they were my preferred way to crash the bikes. I’ve still yet to win at the Isle of Man on a modern bike, but hopefully, that time arrives soon. 8/10 Ninja wheelies
Star Wars: Squadrons manages to stand out by not trying to be larger than life. Simultaneously a franchise cash-in and love letter to the classic LucasArts PC space combat games of the 1990s, Squadrons sticks to its mission and comes out the other side of a warp-speed jump successfully.