In a way, what makes Call of Duty Infinite Warfare so successful is personality, whether that’s via creative future tech, or the earnest single player story or even the over the top Zombie mode. This has been an incredible year for shooters. Thankfully, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare completes 2016 with a bang.
18 months after Respawn Entertainment debuted their big proof-of-concept project, Titanfall 2 delivers on the promise made by such an idea, and amazingly, goes even further. The single-player campaign is a blast while the multiplayer is solid if only slightly underwhelming. Kudos to the developer for creating a work of fun that made me chuckle, smile, and feel good. Who knew an iron giant, accompanied by clever level design, would steal my heart?
Battlefield 1 isn’t just a great addition to the series, it arrives as a thunderous explosion that will impact the military shooter space for many years to come. A memorable single player campaign in an FPS is a rarity, and it delivers that without compromise. Operations is an instant classic for multiplayer lovers, while the other modes will keep you invested, supported by fantastic gameplay. Visually breathtaking and fun to play, DICE has delivered an instant classic that has raised the bar.
Gears of War 4 is a surprisingly successful continuation of the franchise by a new studio. I might have my issues with the second half of the campaign, but I did like the return of Marcus Fenix. I look forward to spending more time with Kait, J.D., and the rest of the new crew in future installments. Gears of War 4 also has my favorite selection of multiplayer modes for the series, which ultimately carries the experience. This is a safe release that is best designated for Gears fans as well as anyone looking for a satisfying multiplayer third-person shooter.
If you are a PS4 or Xbox One owner, Bioshock: The Collection should be in your, um, collection, whether in the 2-disc physical format or digital download. Unfortunately, I’ve read reports that the PC version has issues. (Like bad ones.) As such PC players should wait for the (fingers crossed) eventual patches.
For those looking for a different kind of experience, though, these issues will matter little. I loved my time with BOUND. These are the kind of visual and conceptual offerings I want more of from smaller studios. I’m anxious to see what Plastic comes up with next. PlayStation VR Note: I was able to try this out at the Sony VR booth at E3. The final game is said to be 'VR compatible'. It was a little off-putting at first to move a third-person character in VR, but I warmed to it by the end. I don't think the VR option is a reason to buy (or avoid), but if you end up purchasing PS VR, and are in need of a stunning vista to lose yourself in, go for it.
As a non-racer guy, Valentino Rossi: The Game felt more like a curiosity, one that was rewarded in the ways I played and learned more about the man himself, Valentino Rossi. As a racing experience, though, this was generic. Obviously, mileage will most certainly vary depending on how big a fan one is of the world of MotoGP. At best, for fans of Rossi himself, this is at least a rental.
As someone who was not impressed with Minecraft: Story Mode's premiere episode The Order of the Stone, over time I have grown to find the characters and their situations quite engaging. This "extended season" has delivered some of the best episodes.... until that is, Access Denied. From not really doing much with with the Borg vibe to not giving the interesting Harper enough to do, it is only in the last few moments that I had my faith renewed. Though episode 7 isn't exactly skippable, the drive to complete it even in an hour or so can feel unfulfilling. As I said, for completionists only.
I would be remiss not to mention just how gorgeous this all looks. Tales from the Borderlands was a colorful delight, but the challenge here, to use mostly blues and greys, seems doubly impressive. A simple setting like a PR event in the park can feel lovely hosted by Harvey Dent and is both serene and ominous. This is the best first episode since Borderlands for Telltale Games. I can’t wait to see where Batman: The Telltale Series goes next.
The bottom line: Do you only have a PS4 instead of a PC? Do you still miss old-timey mechanics in RTSs? And hey, who doesn't love the tale of the Three Kingdoms, right? Sometimes things should be left in the nostalgia of our minds than in our hands, but what do I know, I love No Age.
Although not the breakthrough that was Limboback in 2010, Inside is nonetheless a beautifully-crafted refinement of that experience. The art direction is just as haunting, but in a way that's entirely its own. The amazing musical score can be transporting while at the same time oppressive. And the big finale is open to interpretation in the best way possible. I can't wait to discuss every aspect of this experience with others. I'm still thinking about being inside one of the year's most memorable games.
Only two episodes remain for Telltale’s extended first season. If you’re still playing, you’ve most likely grown attached to the members of The Order of the Stone. These stand-alone stories work; I still laugh at Ivor’s fiendish enthusiasm or Petra’s deadpan humor. I’m hoping the title of Episode 7, Access Denied, means that the episode will be a science fiction-themed tale. And maybe, just maybe, the final episode will be a love story. Whatever Telltale Games has in store, I’m on board.
Having more missions like that to look forward to ever since finishing the story and those frustrating 13 hours is a reward of sorts, right? If you're a fan of the original Mirrors' Edge, this will probably be a no-brainer, but Catalyst would be an easier recommend even with the clunky controls if it had been sold cheaper, perhaps as episodic content. As it stands, this is mostly for fans, and even then, I caution the inevitable frustration that will surely come from running through a city literally made of glass.
While the score below is very much based on my experience (duh), you can knock this grade up a half point if you love games that revel in challenge and restarts. Lots and lots of restarts. Regardless, this is a well-priced indie with a lengthy, ten-hour campaign. I also suspect that there are players out there who might end up loving the idea of Lumo more than the execution. That said, if the controls could be made less frustrating I would love to see a sequel.
By the time the campaign ended, I can't imagine any fan of the series will be let down. Throughout the twenty-two chapters and a wonderful final level that you won't want to miss, Nathan Drake's story is finally complete. Whatever a future developer chooses—Naughty Dog has said this is their last Uncharted—they have mighty big shoes to fill. Muddy, worn out, hilarious shoes…
Before that though, What We Deserve is a solid finale as a standalone Walking Dead adventure. I loved getting to spend more time with Michonne and the supporting cast left an impression too. The art style and gameplay mechanics fit nicely into the Telltale world. The closing song “To the Bone” is so good I wanted to find out where I could purchase it. Will this experiment mean we get The Glen Chronicles? Or Andrea’s Sights? I’m up for it.
Only one episode remains. The last few minutes of episode two work terrifically, putting all the pieces in place. Without giving too much away, a showdown is on the horizon. Here’s hoping Michonne’s short time with Sam and her family delivers a memorable finale.
With three episodes left, Telltale is considering Episode 5 a sort of bridge between the end of the Witherstorm finale and post-season tales. While I’m looking forward to Episode 6 more than I was before, Order Up! greatly benefits from being self-contained. Aiden makes for a solid adversary and The Founder is a terrific character I hope to see more of. There’s not really a lot of new depth to cast regulars like Lukas, Elizabeth, or Axel, but Ivor really comes into his own. His enthusiasm to obtain The Eversource is infectious. (Petra has a nice moment of faux memory, a fun callback to Episode 4.) This is the first Telltale episode in ages that I look forward to replaying.
Despite some quite good late-in-the-story character beats, Quantum Break is still just another cautionary tale about time travel. It seems the one thing that never gets an alternate universe path is the notion that time is something that we should never mess with, which is kind of obvious by now. Perhaps this story could have bucked that trend. What saves Quantum Break, though, is the abundance of content and its integration of time-based abilities in combat. I might not have like the live-action episodes, but someone might especially when compared to narratives in other games. And there are all those narrative collectibles. This a game with something for everyone. None of it is exemplary, but as a weekend rental, it's not a bad way to spend your, well, you know…