Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a game that’s good enough for those who already enjoy flight sims, but it’s not likely to convert anyone who isn’t already a fan. The central mechanics are hardly innovative, the checkpoint system is a satanic artifice conceived only to dismay and affront, and the story is a meandering, butchered mess. However, it does have enough merit outside of these issues to warrant consideration. Interesting mission design and cool boss fights can be enough to make a game a worthwhile purchase, just make sure you’re actually convinced you could be Tom Cruise in Top Gun.
Insurgency: Sandstorm aims for the hardcore in a way that’s hard not to appreciate. The frighteningly realistic weaponry, excellent sound design and mechanical reinforcement of communication and strategy make it a winner for those who may be tired of the more whimsical and approachable shooter staples available today. While it may currently be a bit thin on the ground in the way of actual maps to play on, there’s plenty of meat on Sandstorm’s PTSD-addled bones, with tight, tactical combat that’ll have your nerves shot but your mind sharp by the end of each match.
Battlefield V isn’t without issues. The single-player is novel but boring, and the game currently has more than its fair share of bugs. However, none of this managed to dampen my time with the multiplayer. There’s a lot to like here if you’re a Battlefield fan, and I’ve barely touched on all the good that’s still in this game, let alone what’s yet to come. The maps are all of a high quality, especially the likes of “Twisted Steel” and “Arras,” which are both set in the French countryside and are absolutely beautiful. The company system, too, allows for the best level of player customisation yet seen in the series. Further to this, loot boxes are gone, all DLC including future single-player episodes are going to be free for everyone, and a Battle Royale mode is still on the way. This is the game Battlefield 1 should’ve been and is one of the most addictive instalments in the series yet.
Aside from some admittedly minor gripes and the typically icky post-launch content malarkey, Black Ops IIII is an undeniably appealing multiplayer gaming package. Blackout is a faster and more dynamic battle royale mode than the reigning PUBG and Fortnite; the arena mode has changed in ways that encourage team play, and strategy and Zombies is still a joy, just with more customisation. Black Ops IIII is like your dad’s favourite brand of beer that finally brought out a bolder tasting summer brew; familiar, reliable and now interesting enough for you to accept that you will one day die. Or something.
Strange Brigade is a fun but simple co-op shooter, wrapped in an enjoyable aesthetic with a hilarious narrator and unusual looking characters. Its trap-filled level designs are a natural chaotic joy, and the interspersing of easy to grok puzzles into the combat is refreshing to someone like me who’s never figured out a zombies level in CoD on their own. It’s not a great game to play on your own, and being a bit less than full-price, I only just feel like recommending it. There will be free horde maps for all players in the future, but new campaigns and characters are locked behind a season pass, so keep that in mind when considering your purchase. If you’re bored stiff of CoD zombies and have long left Uncharted and Gears behind, Strange Brigade could be for you and your budding boffins’ beards.
With the outright lazy porting treatment and entirely token presence of DMC 2, it’s difficult to recommend the Devil May Cry HD Collection, especially at its current price. If you have a console from the previous generation, you can find the exact same experience at 720p for significantly cheaper. As for the games themselves, though, they still hold up for the most part, so if you’ve never played them before and are a fan of the hack and slash genre, you owe it to yourself to play the first and third. Just wait for a price drop first if you don’t have any other way to play them.