Mario Party: Island Tour is far from being a bad game, it’s just a part of a series that seems to have run out of ideas to an extent, lacking any aspects that really excite or pleasantly surprise you. There is still plenty of fun to be had when taking on some of the more successful mini games with a group of friends locally, but the game as a whole does come across as more of a re-tread of something we have played time and time again. As such, there is little about Island Tour to recommend above past portable versions of the game. If this is your first experience with the series, it is certainly one of the best versions, I’m just not entirely sure that it’s a necessary one.
You can take a certain hypnotic bliss from simply working along calmly and peacefully, making sure that your park is running as smoothly as it can and improving the conditions for your ever-growing menagerie of creatures. This game was never going to be he bombastic launch title that blows the minds of gamers. Zoo Tycoon is a different pace of game for a different type of player. With the Xbox One Microsoft are looking to create a device that provides all forms of entertainment, for everyone, and a game like Zoo Tycoon certainly shows their commitment to creating a broad base. It may ultimately be a little shallow, but it has bags of charm and there is more than enough on offer here to provide hours of animal magic.
The fact that Lococycle was intended to be an Xbox 360 game to begin with is quite clear, as it does nothing to take advantage of the new power that the Xbox One affords it. Despite a mixed bag of launch titles on the console, this is by far the biggest disappointment, as Twisted Pixel have delighted us so much in the past.
Gomo does have some real charm in its simple yet appealing visuals and its strange sense of humour, but it is seriously lacking in the gameplay department. It is far too short and even the most inexperienced point and click gamers won't take more than a couple of hours to complete the game. After that there is nothing to really come back to, and neither the puzzles nor the plot are interesting enough to warrant a second play-through. You can see Gomo's indie roots clearly, and maybe it would have found its place better in its original flash-based format.
The difficulty curve is forgiving, although it does ramp up a little more toward the climax, but it never gets close to the levels of irritation that platform games of old managed. The control input method may be difficult for some, but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature and even the fastest sections won't be too demanding. Max may have been sneaked out earlier than we expected, but it's a little gem that could easily be over-looked, but will reward gamers who invest their time in it.
Players are bound to get some fun out of solving the challenging conundrums in Violett, which is a refreshing change from the often far too easy puzzlers we see nowadays, but it simply isn't enough to strongly recommend a title that frustrates more often than not.
Broken Age does a fine job of creating an outlandish world populated by interesting characters, but is let-down somewhat by its core gameplay. The style and story are both very strong and will draw you into the game; sadly however, adventure games are generally concerned with puzzle solving, and the puzzles found in Broken Age just don't test your little grey cells as much as one would like. They are logical and integrated into the game very well, but there is very little challenge to them. Hopefully, this is down to the game looking to get progressively harder as it goes on and Act 2 will be more challenging. As it is, Act 1 feels a little light.
As an overall idea, the premise of playing as bit-part characters from the main campaign, and discovering more of their back-story is a clever hook. The way in which the DLC manages to integrate itself into the canon is successful, and makes you excited about who else we might get to play as. Unfortunately there is just too little content and not enough character or story development to recommend Operation Broken Eagle wholeheartedly. As part of the Season Pass, it provides a nice excuse to jump back into Los Perdidos for a few more hours, but I do hope that the forthcoming episodes delve a little deeper into the lives of their protagonists, providing a little more to get your teeth into.
Fallen Angel suffers from all of the same issues that were encountered with Operation Broken Eagle and perhaps even more. Whereas Broken Eagle at least changed the way you play the game, Fallen Angel makes no real attempts to differentiate play style at all. Angel is a one-dimensional protagonist and is unlikely to resonate with players greatly, and the DLC is again woefully short and lacking in content to justify its existence.
But it provides a different gameplay experience from the main story. You will most likely find yourself dodging Zombies and riding around on motorcycles, with the emphasis on killing other humans. Sadly, the game loses its identity a little when it becomes a simple biker game, and of course, once again it is all too short. The story ties nicely into that of Nick once you reach the end, but you will reach the end far too quickly.
Gigantic Army certainly won't win any awards for being technically proficient or graphically impressive, but what it manages to do is take a well-worn gaming formula and add a few new elements to it – and in doing so, it manages to reduce some of the major bugbears that those frustratingly difficult titles often suffered from. The story and design may not be unique enough to allow the game to stand out and be a hugely memorable experience, but the gameplay itself is very satisfying and not purely a nostalgia trip.
The Walking Dead Season Two may not have moved into top gear yet, but Telltale have already shown that they are more than capable of producing more gut-wrenching moments and difficult choices.
It is strange to find an adventure game that you actually want to play through a second time right after completing it just to see what you could have done differently. Point and click games have notoriously low re-playability, so 1954: Alcatraz is unlike most of its contemporaries just for including such bold ideas as multiple solutions and narrative choice.
Those of you who were hoping for a blockbuster end to the series of downloadable episodes will likely be disappointed. The Last Agent sets itself up well with a stronger premise, which actually expands upon the campaign plot, but falters in its execution. It suffers all of the same pitfalls that affected episodes one, two and three, whilst offering perhaps even less actual new content than each of those. A grand finale this definitely is not, and whilst The Untold Stories of Los Perdidos gave players a welcome reason to re-enter the city, they have short-changed loyal fans at almost every turn.
The controls and detection afforded by the new hardware undoubtedly makes Kinect Sports Rivals a much more technically-accomplished title, with fewer of the niggly irritations gamers almost expect from a motion control game. The events generally work (tennis aside) but, sadly, functionality isn't the basis for an enjoyable game. The emphasis on the story mode and online sharing loses the simple magic of local multiplayer and the silliness of party play. Yes, party games can be a bit grating, but Kinect Sports always managed a good mix where you could play seriously or play for laughs. Rivals does not have this same variety and, while it controls well, there is a definite loss of personality.
EA Sports UFC wouldn't be bad for a first shot at the MMA genre. But EA had already dipped their toe into the genre, and seem to have done little to move on from there. The striking is very satisfying, and the new submission system is interesting and creates a more level playing field than in the past, but the game is let down by poor wrestling and transition mechanics. There's enough here to show that a second UFC title from EA is likely to be a great game, but this one just needed a bit more time in the gym.
In the first season of The Walking Dead, you really had to worry about each and every choice, whereas here there seems to be a tragic inevitability about everything. It's hard to say whether that is actually an issue, or a reflection of the harsh world Clementine finds herself in. Maybe by making it seem like everything will go wrong, despite your best efforts, Telltale are trying to show just how hopeless the situation has become. This might be a stretch of the imagination, but if it is intended to make us feel numb to the horrors of the world, then they have played a master stroke. Time will tell on that front.
The strange world Swery has brought to life is definitely worth exploring, though. There is a real richness of content and back-story that has been invented, and despite the feeling that you don't really make much progress in solving the case in question, I really wanted to press on and find out what was going on. Even though the atrocious voice acting and questionable conversation topics may make you laugh when you should be crying, there are few points when D4 isn't entertaining or emotionally engaging in one form or another – which is a far cry from the cookie-cutter titles that so often fill the shelves and make it something worth celebrating.
Defense Grid 2 may not be the most original idea, and lacks any real character in its story and presentation, but it is the unique gameplay ideas that make it a success. Hidden Path have tried to inject a few new tweaks and provide a twist on your expected tower defense conventions, and they all add enjoyment and streamline your experience. Yes, it may lack depth with the lack of skill trees for your towers, and there is little variety in the enemies which you are constantly mowing down, but the lack of complexity allows it to be an easy title to jump in and out of with a friend, and kick some alien behind.