I started Torment: Tides of Numenera blind to the existing fiction and games on which it was based, with a vague understanding that it would be somewhat “unusual.” This would turn out to be an understatement in the extreme, easily being one of the strangest experiences I’ve had in gaming. There are some minor design issues, though they aren’t game breaking and could be seen as non-issues depending on how familiar you are with the tabletop version of Numenera. What matters most, however, is the narrative, which starts out confusing for newcomers and slowly morphs into a mystery that wholly engulfed my attention. I daresay another playthrough would bear a different experience entirely, something I’d happily sink another forty-plus hours into.
At the end of the day, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a fantastic port of the original MK8 on the Wii U. Far from just being a simple re-release, Nintendo threw in all the DLC from the first incarnation, then proceeded to add in extra content and a whole pile of improvements on mechanics. That alone makes it worth the full retail price of the game, and shows that Nintendo does care about the thoughts and feedback of its players. My only criticisms are points of personal preference, they’re not deal breakers in any way, and are really just a reflection of my desire for further refinement of what’s already there. If anything, they just make me realise how much I’d love a “Mario Kart Ultimate,” pooling the very best from across the series’ history. Whether you missed MK8 on the Wii U, or have long since been done playing with it, Deluxe has something to offer for all players and is absolutely worth picking up.
I was initially drawn to The Sexy Brutale after seeing a short clip of the first mission being played through. The music, the humour, and the look of the game were very alluring, enough to make me want to give it a crack. While there were a couple of design and gameplay decisions that bugged me and a few expectations that weren’t quite fulfilled, the game is still a lot of fun for the short time that it lasts. The biggest takeaway was its soundtrack and the way they made it an integral part of the gameplay and plot. The combination of the music and sound direction really made the events of the game pop, maintaining my interest and story consistency at the same time. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future works from Cavalier and Tequila Works if this is the sort of thing one can expect from them.
When I first saw the leaks for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, my mind was immediately filled with images of Shadow the Hedgehog holding a gun. It seemed like an idea that just wasn’t going to work. Now that it’s here, however, I’m pleasantly surprised that Ubisoft managed to basically knock it out of the park. Mixing some of Mario’s familiar exploration and puzzle elements with a simple but robust combat system has resulted in a short but enjoyable detour off the regular track for Mario. I do have a couple of gripes about how the team is assembled at many points of the game, but it’s not the worst thing to ever happen. That aside, there’s very little to fault with the game – I’d even go as far as saying that I’d love to see a sequel.
At the end of the day, XCOM is not a game that’s meant to allow the player to feel powerful. It’s a struggle, you’re always supposed to feel like you’re on the back foot even when things are going well, and at best you merely survive to fight another day. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen remains faithful to this idea by curating its content to be an extra layer on what’s already present; a new challenge added into the mix for veteran (or masochistic) players. There’s an enormous amount of content that enhances the game overall, as opposed to being an exceptional footnote at the end of a separately good game, which makes this the best kind of expansion. I feel like the Chosen were handled poorly narratively, starting out strong before fizzling into nothing, but that isn’t a complete deal breaker. That said, more than a year after release, the game still has a lot of problems with visual and technical bugs, which is disappointing considering WOTC is their third major expansion. If you’re a fan of XCOM 2, you’ll want to give this a crack, and any who were sitting on the fence about whether or not to play should consider this expansion a green light.
I think that Pokkén Tournament is a solid game that languished in relative obscurity due to the failing status of the Wii U by the time it was released. Pokkén Tournament DX doesn’t really change anything from the original design, so based on that alone it’s still a good game, regardless of what you may or may not think of the new content. While I have issues with the timing of some content’s inclusion, it only improves the game in the end, signalling the potential for continued support and content updates in the future. It certainly stands to have a better life on the Switch than it did on the Wii U, particularly if it receives some post-release love from the developers. They can start with putting the correct Pokemon into the roster lineup. If you enjoyed the Wii U version, or you wanted to play and never got around to it, it’s worth picking this up for a second go around.
Monster Hunter Stories definitely isn’t as engaging or as action-oriented as its predecessors, but that doesn’t really seem to be its goal. There are definitely some obvious ideas not implemented into the game, for whatever reason, that might have made it more fun for players familiar with the series. At its core, however, MHS is a stepping stone for younger players into a more extensive series. The fact that it managed to hold onto the personality of the world Monster Hunter takes place in while making it more accessible is a major success for the game, which isn’t something every developer can say of their work. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to having the Monster Hunter World trailer on an endless loop.
Much as Final Fantasy XV’s opening line suggests, this is a game for fans and first-timers alike. If you’ve not played FFXV before and want to give it a try, this is (probably) the best way to experience it so far. For those who’ve already played the game before, there’s so much to come back for after a year in post-development. Even if you’ve never played a Final Fantasy game before, this is such a departure from the series’ usual style that I implore you to give it a try. Many of the major “improvements” promised by the development team have already been implemented, and there is a heap of extra content in the included DLC. As it stands, the only major issue with this otherwise solid port are the technical issues being faced by a minority group of players, and I suspect this won’t be the case for very long. If the quality of the future content holds up, I’ll likely be coming back for a third playthrough in another year’s time.
When Mega Man 11 was first announced, I was somewhat wary, especially considering it was to be a new addition to the original series. However, whatever concerns I might have had quickly melted after just a short period of time with the game, which is absolutely spot-on about how it carries the classic style of Mega Man games. It has a challenging, sometimes punishing platforming design that demands both quick reflexes and a helping of forethought. The double-gear system is a fresh new mechanic that enhances the original design as opposed to attempting to replace it. The overall presentation and artistic style of Mega Man 11 gives the impression of a Saturday morning breakfast cartoon, which actually fits perfectly as a progression of the classic Mega Man appearance. For old fans of the series or absolute newcomers, this game should be an enjoyable scratch for anyone with a platforming itch.
I don’t hate Crackdown 3, and that’s because I knew exactly what it was I was getting into and wanted that very thing. While the original Crackdown games don’t rate so highly with most, I had a real blast with them for the stupid fun they offered, and Crackdown 3 was the same for me. It certainly helped that it was short because if I had to deal with the game’s many problems for long, I’d be singing a different tune. And those problems that are present could be enough to put off anyone not familiar with the series that wants to try. The design is underdone and the gameplay exceedingly simplistic and unchallenging, with a co-op mode fraught with technical issues and a couple of PvP modes not worth a damn. The good news is that a sequel, or maybe a significant update, is absolutely set up by the ending, which means that Microsoft must be planning on keeping the series around. It absolutely has the potential, and under Microsoft’s new “Initiative” program, I reckon Crackdown could be something really great. Right now, it’s just really alright.