Stray is an awesome looking game, with a neon-cyberpunk world that feels like it is alive. The run-time is short enough that the gameplay loop of solving puzzles via finding random items scattered throughout the world is well complemented from sequences that require running from area to area without getting caught by local mutated predators. While Stray is pretty to look at and is fun while it lasts the limitations of movement and rather simplistic puzzles hold this back from being greater than it could have been.
Elden Ring serves as a testament to open world video game design. There is a true sense of accomplishment once that rock-hard enemy has been slain, and something that compels a player to relentlessly do it over and over again until they succeed is truly rewarding. The world is humongous and an epitome of how exploration should be encouraged by intriguing players to see what is over the hill. Elden Ring is an unmissable, must-play gaming experience with surprises galore.
The Quarry is a good piece of cinematography and storytelling, lost in its medium of choice. The gameplay elements aren't particularly fun, nor worthwhile replaying. The cutscenes are good the first time around, but certainly get a bit grating the longer the game goes on. Standout performances from the actors certainly carry The Quarry, and it is worthwhile playing through the story at least once, but the second time around feels too much of a chore. The Quarry is the definition of a weekend rental.
FIFA 23 is perfectly serviceable - the gluttony of FIFA fans won't find much to complain about. Truth be told, the formula is so one-dimensional that it is hard to get wrong after iterating on the same product year after year. Subtle tweaks to gameplay do mix things up, but not enough has been done to refresh the modes on offer. Either EA is out of ideas, or they are storing them up for the next game in their new franchise. Anyone looking for a football game in 2023, though, should certainly stick with the tried and tested FIFA.
It is difficult to not be blinded by nostalgia, especially when a game has been part of the ongoing zeitgeist of the franchise for nearly 20 years. Resident Evil 4 Remake is, by intention, an unfaithful love letter. The remake has changed certain story beats, altered movement, overhauled combat and revised the visuals. Those jumping in for the first time in 2023 may not understand the hype surrounding this particular entry in the series, but remember that a lot of modern games owe their DNA to Resident Evil 4, even if they have perfected it since.
This has been one enjoyable ride and it is great to see how well Sonic has fared in his latest outing. Exploration is fun, running around an island and going from grind rail to grind rail. The variety of challenges and collectibles are balanced, and combat has evolved via the new Cyloop ability, although this does get a little repetitive by the end of the game. There is never really a dull moment to be had, and there is plenty of content to power through. This is a game that every Sonic fan needs to play. Hopefully Sonic Team and SEGA follow up with a direct sequel as they have the formula nailed just right.
Metal: Hellsinger takes the familiar thirst for blood of the genre and runs with a familiar hellish theme as seen in titles like DOOM, but an innovative fresh take on the FPS category with a layered rhythm approach makes the adventure enjoyable from start to finish. The soundtrack is utterly awesome, and while it might not be to everyone's taste it should certainly satiate metal fans everywhere. Unfortunately, the downside is its brevity, with everything on offer taking an average eight hours, at best, to get through all of the content available. There is no doubt though that developer The Outsiders has left this reviewer thirsty for more.
Trifox is an impressive start for new developer Glowfish Interactive, with creative enemies, challenging hidden collectables, and colourful worlds. The gameplay is varied thanks to the fully customisable combat options and levels also pose their own challenging puzzles and obstacles. The adventure is somewhat brief, but for as long as it lasts it well worth the time and effort. Those looking for a mascot-centric platformer adventure shouldn’t overlook Trifox.
Perhaps not as strong of a track selection as Wave 1, Wave 2 of the Booster Course Pass is still very good, headlined by a completely brand-new track in Sky High Sundae and complemented well by Sydney Sprint and New York Minute. It is a bit of a wonder why the retro tracks haven't been given the anti-gravity love, especially as the retro tracks in the base game have it. Waluigi Pinball and Mushroom Gorge are all certainly fan favourites, but it is a shame that they weren't given a bit of reimagining in the same vein that Kalimari Desert received. Nonetheless, Mario Kart fans are grateful that new tracks are coming out for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and it is doubtful that many will have a bad thing to say about getting these courses added in.
On one hand there are 4 great games in Sonic Origins, all are well cherished by Sonic fans, and are games that are considered some of the best in the Sonic franchise. Players might not even notice some of the glitches if they have never played Sonic, some long-time veterans might not even encounter them, but then on the other hand, these games, which have been out on the market for 25 years or more, cost a premium price with so many bugs and glitches present. Anniversary mode, Story mode and Mission mode will certainly be a refreshing change of pace for those that have completed these games dozens of times and it's fun while it lasts, but the package falls short by not including more than previous collections.
Forgiving it may be, but OlliOlli World has heaps of challenges to complete, and getting through all of the objectives in the last level is no easy feat. The new hand-drawn graphical art style makes it easier to have branching paths and a better sense of depth than ever before, which allows for grander levels and more mechanics to be added. The controls are simple enough, and quick reactions will be needed to fully master all the levels by stringing together one long-combo throughout. An absolute joy to play, and while it is different from the original two, its evolution was much needed to bring the title forward to the current generation of consoles.
Halo is back to its best with Halo Infinite, tight controls, and seriously thirst-quenching gunplay that feels so intuitively satisfying. Traversal has been improved hugely by the addition of the grappleshot, allowing Master Chief to zip around at speed, as well as adding a unique element for multiplayer matches. A particular dampener has to be directed at the online multiplayer, which is riddled with cheaters, but, if they were to be removed then the multiplayer offers a solid free-to-play experience that is fast and frantic. Halo Infinite, alongside a number of other Xbox first-party titles is a great addition to Xbox Game Pass, and it is certainly a marquee game that warrants a subscription to the service.
There is no doubt that the Booster Course Pass is going to heralded as "must-have", but so far Wave 1 hasn't set the track on fire. The runaway winners of Wave 1 are the three courses featured from Mario Kart Tour, but that is not to say the other courses are bad, but are lacking in imagination compared to other retro-courses featured in the base game of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The lack of anti-grav and some questionable graphical decisions also mount up to disappointment and it is interesting to see if Nintendo are going to address this with the remaining 40 courses. However, in the grand scheme of things it is great to have new courses to race on and is certainly thoroughly recommended for all Mario Kart fans.
WWE 2K22 certainly hits different, go check the score again, it certainly has not come out a perfect ten. The redeemable qualities, thankfully, are the wrestling mechanics themselves, which ironically might not be everyone's cup of tea, and MyRISE mode which offers a good amount of content to keep the average WWE gamer going. It has taken over 2 years for the game to finally release and while it is an improvement on WWE 2K20 it still serves up disappointment in other ways, such as an outdated roster, a pathetic attempt at recreating General Manager mode, and a disgusting ethical issue of microtransactions in MyFACTION mode, albeit optional. MyFACTION mode is enjoyable, and can be played without using real-world money to progress, but the fact of the matter is that this mechanic should not exist in a full priced game. If you came to play then there is certainly a price to pay.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is a stellar product, one that has a magnificent soundtrack, superb voice acting, wonderful graphics, and a battle system that is totally moreish. The plot is initially quite zany, but stick with it, and the characters and events certainly do grow to be one of the finer video game stories developed. On PlayStation 5 it loads incredibly fast, almost wiping out any load times at all, and having gameplay look so good at 60fps will delight many. The path that is trodden feels incredibly linear, at points repetitive and reused, not that this is a crime. It is easy to spend over 50 hours on the first run, including the DLC, and this isn't even the entirety of the original game which shows a great value. Fans who already played through the PlayStation 4 version may not get too much out of this experience, but for newcomers this is certainly a must play.
A love letter to the Donkey Kong Country series, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair goes beyond a standard homage, and crafts something beautiful of its own. Fantastic challenging platforming, spanning across 40 imaginative levels, and a charming graphical art style. This is an essential 2D platformer that should not be missed, even more so by the fact that it is being sold for budget point.
Unexpectedly, Gears Tactics is quite a competent and enjoyable tactical strategy game. The roots of what make a good tactics game are embedded in the DNA, combat is fun and yet somewhat familiar. However, Gears Tactics falls into the trap of laying down a great foundation with awesome mechanics but it does feel that the few creative ideas showcased begin to feel repetitive after the thirty plus hour campaign. That isn't to say that Gears Tactics is devoid of ideas either, Gears fans will be impressed with how the title pushes forward the narrative and newcomers will also be left in awe at how good the characterisation and cutscenes are, which are just as good as Gears 5, from a graphical and presentation standpoint. This is a great foundation into what should become a great spin-off series, should it continue.