So, here we answer my questions from the start of this review… Shenmue 3 couldn’t possibly have lived up to the hype and expectation surrounding it. This doesn’t mean the game is bad, it’s just people wanting perfection. It’s very much a game as I thought it would be, something given to the fans by a developer who clearly wants this story told as much as the fans want to be a part of it. This was clearly based on the speed at which the Kickstarter fund reached $1 million. Anyone thinking of starting out with Shenmue 3 because perhaps they aren’t old enough to have played the originals, go back and get the HD remaster, DO NOT start the story here. I promise you will not enjoy the game if you do. Shenmue 3 is a game out of times, it feels like a game created 15 years ago and locked up inside a time capsule until today. But as someone who has spent the best part of 30 years enjoying games, I say welcome back old friend! I give Shenmue 3 a Thumb Culture Silver Award as there is no doubt this game is going to be loved by the fans, but is most definitely not a game for everyone.
Ninja Saviours: Return of the Warriors is a nice addition to the PS4 library for fans of Taito, or really anyone over 35 that could remember the original or the Super Famicom version. The inclusion of the co-op mode will make it more appealing to play with friends. It’s rather short and without the nostalgia factor it doesn’t really bring anything to the table that can’t be found elsewhere in abundance and as such I think it’s going to be overlooked by many people as ‘another arcade port’ Ninja Saviours: Return of the Warriors has earned the Thumb Culture Bronze Award, fun for a short play here and there but not a game to sink any real time into or boredom will strike from the shadows.
PC Building Simulator is fun to experiment with on a short-term basis, I think if it was possible to add in some more variants like Laptops, Tablets, Phones etc. then it may be more appealing to general gamers however I appreciate with all the components its most likely not a feasible option. Unfortunately, the repetitiveness of the tasks means that it’s a game that will sit on the shelf for rather long spells in between use and after completion will most likely not be played again. PC Building Simulator has reached the Benchmark of the Thumb Culture Bronze Award, usable and fun but could and maybe should be better.
Trails of Cold Steel II has to be up there with the best in the genre in my opinion. Yes, it’s essential that you play the games in order, even if it’s just to make sure you get the best experience from the story. While there is a ‘recap’ section in the menu it doesn’t give you all of the information as I still found myself scratching my head at times. I will most definitely be investing in Trails of Cold Steel I and be aiming to get through that and finish part II so that when III is release I won’t be in the same situation again. I highly recommend this game to anyone who is looking for a new game (JRPG of course) to sink their teeth into and as such Trails of Cold Steel II fully deserves the Thumb Culture Gold Award.
When you look back at the origins of the Yakuza series (the original was released way back in 2005). It’s a credit to think almost 15 years later we’re still seeing fresh content and looking to explore this world with new characters. Judgment definitely ticks all the boxes to be considered a top-quality ‘spin-off’ and hopefully with a few little tweaks we will see more of Yagami and perhaps other characters. Ryu ga Gotoku Studios have certainly found a formula to produce great games and it makes me very excited to see what the future holds, both for a potential Judgment sequel as well as the rumours we may be seeing some of the previously released spin-offs here in the west. My verdict is that Judgment truly deserves the Thumb Culture Gold Award and should be a part of any PS4 collection (especially if that collection contains Yakuza games).
Bubsy Paws on Fire, in my opinion, is a bit of a cash in without much thought, it does what it’s designed to do like a speed run type game. However, I think it’s only going to appeal to a very niche audience and fans of the previous Bubsy games will be (like me) a little lost for reasons to play. It is a bit of shame as the previous entry to the series: Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back was a pretty solid Platformer and I was hoping this would build on that base. I would give Bubsy Paws on Fire the Thumb Culture Bronze Award, it has its moments as long as you know what you’re getting into before you play.
Snooker 19 is definitely one of the best entries into the Snooker gaming genre and as its Lab42’s first entry I definitely look forward to seeing what they can do should they decide to make more (Practice makes Perfect after all). Sure, it has a few problems here and there, but who remembers back in the day with FIFA when you could run away from the Referee forever to avoid a Yellow Card! Back then I doubt anyone would have foreseen the game becoming what it is today. It would have been nice to have included the Legends tour here, but given that Stephen Hendry is working on another Snooker title I can certainly see why it wasn’t. Some of the other Legendary players as DLC would be a nice option? I’m basing my award decision on the game being for Snooker fans. As someone who enjoys both the challenge of playing in real life as well as watching the sport on TV (Looking forward to the World Championships this Saturday!) Snooker 19 deserves a Thumb Culture Gold Award and is a must for any and all Snooker gamers.
Zojoi Studios have done an excellent job bringing Shadowgate up to date without adding or removing its original appeal. I would recommend this game to anyone looking to experience either something a little different or looking to recapture that magic from their childhood. My biggest concern for this release is the attention it will get from gamers. Being a remaster of an older point & click game, I fear that a lot of people will simply overlook it in favour of other titles (I sincerely hope not). Shadowgate fully deserves the Thumb Culture Silver Award and I hope to see more of this kind of game making its way onto modern consoles.
Overall, I think Pixel Crow has put together a fun game that reminds me very much of the game Papers Please! In the way, it handles challenges and time management. Could it be better? Definitely, and it wouldn’t take that much to improve either. Remove some of the jokes and perhaps include a bit more of a variety of characters and don’t paste the cultural stereotyping on so thick.
Team Ninja has put together a solid entry into the DOA world. While there is nothing truly groundbreaking here, fans of the genre will find plenty here to sink their teeth (or fists) into and won’t be disappointed. I do think a little more originality with the characters would have made a huge difference (especially as a Tekken fan). I found myself questioning why I would play DOA as a character with a Tekken Move-set, surely I would just play Tekken? Is this a day one ‘must have’? probably not, but if any of you feel like punching a CGI opponent, look this one up.
I’ve heard the term ‘floater’ used in Volleyball before and well I could quite easily see that term fitting adequately here (although I’m sure in the sport it has a different meaning). There is very little here that deserves praising and the whole package feels like a rush job. For a full price title I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality and they seem to have left it in the locker room with Spike Volleyball. I’m sure it will have its fans, and after enough beer with a few friends it may be something to put on for a laugh, but other than that, my recommendation is ‘STAY AWAY’
It’s a little hard for me to answer the question ‘does it live up the hype?’ as I wasn’t really hyped up for the game until just before Christmas, so I haven’t had 14 years of waiting to compare it to. That said, it’s a very polished game that is incredibly fun to play, and a game that has no loot crates or microtransactions (at the time of writing this review). A very big plus in my book (as I’m sure anyone that’s read my previous reviews of certain games will know). There is almost nothing bad that I can say about Kingdom Hearts 3. In today’s gaming world, I think that is rare and a testament to the effort put into it by the Square Enix guys. Anyone looking for a family-friendly adventure game to enjoy really needs to check this one out (and play the previous releases as well).
Assassin’s Creed Origins is a worthy addition to the franchise and in my opinion, is among It’s best. I’d still have to say Assassins Creed 2 is my favourite, but Origins certainly has me excited for where they can go in the future. Ubisoft taking a year out after Syndicate was definitely the right move (I’ll admit I was wrong when I said they didn’t need to as Syndicate was a perfectly good game). I still say that I enjoyed Syndicate but Origins is by far a better game. If you’re a fan of the franchise then this is without a doubt a must. If you’re not a fan of Assassin’s Creed then unfortunately I don’t think this game is enough of a change to bring you on board (but then again if you don’t like Assassin’s Creed why are you reading an AC review?)
I really doubt that this game will be something that people will want to play over and over again. With the wooden acting and poor character models, one play though is plenty for me. Not to mention how many times you need to watch the story to obtain the clues and see all characters. By the end of it you will probably know the story better than the characters in it. Hardened trophy hunters will find a good amount here to work through. (I commend you for how many times you will have to listen to ‘Detective Gustav Gustav’).
I would put Voltron VR Chronicles alongside Batman Arkham VR and Spider-Man Homecoming VR as it’s an experience more than a game. I personally quite enjoyed the story and it’s made me curious to see the remake of the TV Show. At $15 (UK Price TBA) it’s reasonable value for any fans of the series looking to see a new story. But, that’s the only way I would recommend it (Or if you’re looking to obtain a very easy Platinum). It’s definitely enjoyable and has been put together very nicely for VR it just lacks any real gaming content
Shadow of War is a nice sequel to Shadow of Mordor. But, as with Mordor, some of the plot holes and annoyances are here and it stops this from becoming a great game. For me Monolith have gone out to improve the Nemesis system, which they have done very well with. But, in doing so forgot the most important part of any game. Tell a good story! If you’re a Tolkien fan and have issues with the lore being played around with, you will find yourself as rage filled as some of the orcs you’re going to be fighting. But, if you’re a casual LOTR / fantasy fan, then the story is there for you to enjoy and make the most of.
PES 2018 is a very solid entry into the Football Gaming Genre and it ticks 90% of the boxes for me. So it's on its way to being a great game. I just can't seem to overlook the very simple things that Konami just haven't done to get over that line for it to be a classic in my opinion. It is a very enjoyable and addictive game (which is the main thing). I think people will get a lot of playtime out of it, but will be very annoyed by the same issues that seem to plague every PES release (Goalkeepers, Commentry etc.). As well as the amount of things that are identical to the 2017 release (which is much cheaper).