Ultimately Hitman: Blood Money Reprisal is an 18 year old game that feels optimized for mobile, but yeah, also lands on the Switch. There are some decent quality of life upgrades but the visuals show their age. The story and missions stay true to form in what was always one of the best Hitman narratives. I expect a little more on the Switch and while this might seem a more premium experience on something like an iPad it doesn't quite hit that same height on Nintendo's console. It is still a good game, and is a cool throwback to a really accomplished peak in gaming's past.
Gloomhaven as a video game is a faithful recreation of the board game into the digital world. This is both commendable and detrimental. It is a good game, but there is also a reason no one sits around a table and plays by themselves and this is pretty much it.
Oaken might immediately bring comparisons to Faeria to the fore, but it stands on its own as a very good game. It incorporates the hex map as an element, but doesn't make it the star. Instead, it focuses on the survivability of units as you must measure out success across a series of encounters, and balance both the Fatigue your units must endure with the resources at your disposal, building them into a force adept enough to overcome some very challenging bosses at the conclusion of each chapter. It has all the quality of life elements you could hope for. Be endeared by its wonderful art and style, but don't be fooled - there is depth beneath those cute little plants as well.
While elements exist for roguelike and RPG play, the core of Sea Horizon is more of a loadout-building game similar to a deck builder. In this facet, it excels. It has a surprising amount of depth in working through and unlocking the many characters in its lineup and there is enough randomness in the roll of the dice to make every turn of every encounter warrant a strategy to match the resources at your disposal against the challenge set before you. It's intelligent and quite a bit of fun.
The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales simply fails to deliver. It's probably a better experience on PC, but should be generally avoided on console without some updates to the controls and stability of the game. It doesn't take long to finish, at least I don't think so - a handful of hours to the final level. So at least it has that going for it.
Burning Shores is every bit the continuation of Horizon Forbidden West. It builds on the great gameplay of the base game with a few new wrinkles, introduces a watery world and the ability to dive into it, and moves the story downfield a few yards as Aloy and her allies, old and new, prepare for what comes next. You won't be lost having missed out on this DLC when the next full game does arrive, but you would have missed an opportunity for hours of fun in an excellent world that is worth the time of any Horizon fan.
This is the Destiny we have for now. And things will change over the next year, a lot of tweaks are incoming. Difficulty will probably be scaled back as the current state scares away new and casual players. The consumables economy is likely going to need to be tweaked as well, the game will evolve with the seasons, but Lightfall itself is an overall disappointing chapter in a game that remains excellent. Bungie appears to be buying time until the Final Shape next year, and we're being asked to pay for it.
The World War Z Aftermath next-gen update brings new visuals, fixes old audio issues, and introduces an expanded Horde Mode XL that packs more zekes on-screen than ever. The game is entirely predicated on the uninhibited good time that mowing down waves of onrushing enemies presents itself. Unfortunately, that's both where the game starts and ends. It's a rush, over and again, but when you want to look for something different, you have to go elsewhere to find it. A great gameplay loop to be sure, but a one-trick pony never the less.
For the most part, Tactic Ogre: Reborn is a good game. Heck, it's a great game. But my run took me headfirst into what feels like the cheapest and most unfair change of mechanics that I can remember in my entire personal gaming history. The entire playing experience was spoiled as a result. With the review finished, I am now deleting this game from my hard drive and never returning. I feel betrayed by a terrible design choice and look at the dozens of hours to get to this point as a waste of my time.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II brings the core of what makes CoD games great and stays true to Infinity Ward's best efforts in the series. It's big step away in a positive direction from last year's Vanguard disaster. I just wish there was a bit more meat to sink my teeth into. The single player campaign makes no attempt at a commentary but will have you running through a series of competent missions and set pieces. Multiplayer is what you would expect from the series, both with competent gunplay as well as a map playlist that will need to expand over time. The new co-op mode seems a better experience with a friend than queuing with a random from the lobby. All in all there is good game on offer that moves slicker and the shine on your assault rifle looks more gorgeous than the series ever has.
So is it worth it this year? That's a firm "yes". The Hypermotion 2 engine lives up to it's hype and delivers what it probably the best simulation of football I've seen. You have a variety of game modes to find your favorites with some like Volta that deliberately speed up the pace that the engine tends to slow down in Career. You also have the widest variety of stars to choose from featuring men's and women's teams as well as all the licenses and real player likenesses you can hope for. However, Career mode needs some love. And by love I don't mean more meaningless transfer cutscenes. I mean depth beyond just the UK pyramid: add some real lower division teams across leagues and stop neglecting everything outside of Europe.
There is a simplicity to the core gameplay of Hardspace: Shipbreaker. Movement and momentum add an element of skill to every action. The difficulty ramps over time but treats you well to ease you into the escalators. Combining the strategy of breaking the ship with the skill of positioning yourself in place to do so, Shipbreaker wraps it up well with a clever main story to maximize - well, reduction of debt. But most of all, it's calming and fun, set in a world that feels similar to the many wonderful other sci-fi stories that have captured us over the years. Hardspace: Shipbreaker nets you a unique opportunity to inhabit a small corner of those worlds a shift at a time, for a job well done. "Live, Laugh, Salvage."
Gunslingers & Zombies gameplay and visuals are better than this score would suggest. It's just let down by awkward controls, worse camera angles, and other evidence of a generally uninterested PC port. There's a better game out there on PC that might be more fun than paying more for a Switch version that really didn't care enough to take advantage of anything that makes the Switch good.
Despite being physically hampered by the experience of playing the game, I could clearly see what the makers were going for here and I think they largely hit those notes well. I feel like this game has the potential to be a distinctly polarizing experience. Those that really get into it have the option to obsess over perfect, clean runs that lie within reach of those dedicated enough to perfect them; while those that don't are welcome to just put down the controller after a dozen hours of trial and error to completion. Don't give up on the first few failed attempts because the payoff when it all comes together is rewarding regardless of whether it took you ten tries or a hundred, and maybe even more so if the latter.
This War of Mine is a triumph of organic storytelling. It can be frustrating to get started and there is much about the game and how it operates that is not introduced well, but make it past that first hurdle and there is a compelling and emotional investment that pays large dividends. Spend a bit of time reading a play guide or two before you get started, because there are no spoilers to accidentally trip over. The narrative you will eventually craft will be one by your own choices made in the game against the desperate circumstances that force them. If you've never experienced this game there is not a better time than right now.
I really enjoyed Dungeons of Dreadrock, because it's a game that knows exactly the experience it is trying to deliver and does so expertly. There are 100 levels of puzzles, all unique, with mechanics and solutions that ramp as your character progresses deeper and deeper into the mountain, while delivering on a cute storyline with clever 32-bit animation. There is an action element, but that is mostly a timing component to drive the mental aspect of solving the puzzles. It's hard to put down, but each level gives ample opportunity to do just that, so you can binge through as many as you like, then leave it to pick right back up again easily enough. The only drawback is once you're traversed all 100 levels, your time is done - but it was time well spent.
White Shadows tackles heavy themes with some wonderful storytelling. The gameplay itself is competent, and there is enough variety level to level to make the experience fresh throughout. Through stark visuals and a well placed soundtrack it presents its tale artfully, but unfortunately runs its course in only a few hours. It's hard to squeeze a great deal of game from the experience, but what is there is splendid.
Destiny 2 has tried to be many things over its four and a half years, and while it seemed there has always been a step back for every two steps forward the game would make, The Witch Queen is one giant leap ahead. With this expansion, Destiny 2 is quite simply at the best game state it has ever been, and offers so much to do and reason to do it that every player that ever loved this game should give it a shot to rekindle exactly what it was that sparked that passion in the first place.
Terminator: Resistance Enhanced is a game that doesn't really understand its source material. The evidence for that can't be made more plain than the way it can't even maintain consistency of vision from one mission to the very next one. The NPC models, audio, bugs and glitches, and repetitive nature of much of the play speaks to an implementation that falls short of any vision, whether the one presented or the one I believe should have been the goal. It does get better with the DLC, and the Infiltrator Mode is an excellent experience in it's own right, although one short lived - clocking in at less than three quarters of an hour with little replayabilty. But factoring in that minor triumph and better subplot of DLC into the mess of the main campaign still falls short of something I can really recommend.