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.
The danger of playing with nostalgia and doing it injustice means that the high bar that was set before it is the bare minimum that needs to be achieved to be even deemed worthwhile. There are a lot of call backs to Crazy Taxi in this review and that is due to the derivative nature that Taxi Chaos borrows its concept from. The sub-par graphics, generic map, bland soundtrack and lack of new ideas or the ability to even replicate what came before it has destined Taxi Chaos to the copycats of shame bin. If, even after reading this review there is still some urge to play Taxi Chaos then it is highly recommended to go and track down a copy of Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi 2 and play these instead.
It is highly satisfying completing a story arc or traversing the world and finding things that you felt that other players might not have stumbled across due to the nature of the open world and its use of way finders. The lack of load times on Xbox Series S is truly impressive given the nature of environments, landscape, and elements that are present on screen. There were a few issues from characters floating in mid-air, bizarre enemy AI, and straight up freezes, although these were far and few between given the scope of it all. Intuitive and varied combat help keep things fresh, even if it does take a fair few hours of gameplay to really get going. Assassin's Creed Valhalla is a thoroughly enjoyable, open-world RPG that is an absolute must for Xbox owners.
Cruis'n Blast for Nintendo Switch has been developed by a very small team, and for what it has achieved it is very admirable. It is an incredibly fun title for the first couple of hours, but it is lacking in any real depth to make it anything more than a fun weekend. Grabbing friends locally for a few races can be an absolutely blast, but lacking any online modes whatsoever somewhat dampens the mood. The lack of modes is one thing, but the course variety is also another issue with most tracks being direct derivatives of the original five arcade ones. However, if a simple, easy to handle racer that has some astounding set pieces and outlandish vehicle choices is your type of thing, then Cruis'n Blast will definitely satisfy the urge.
It seems that repetition is winning the day, so if at first you don't succeed try try again. The complexities and permutations in Deathloop are initially overwhelming and confusing, the intro attempts to explain so much by way of plot, mechanics and characterisation in a very short space of time. However, work past this point and the fun begins, with a sense of exploration and an arsenal of weapons and attacks making combat feel very rewarding. The story, despite at times being told through messages and text is well voiced acted, despite the incessant need to swear. Pulling off stealth kills or killing one of the eight main characters after figuring out how to infiltrate their plans makes players feel they have outwitted their computer counterpart. If there was one title to buy on PlayStation 5 right now that is truly next gen, then make sure Deathloop is at the top of that list.
Luckily, the original Sonic Colours stands tall, featuring fun, exploratory gameplay and it is rewarding replaying levels to attain higher ranks. The 3D sections are far and few between, but the ones that are there are fun. The 2D gameplay is vastly improved from Sonic Generations with tighter controls and added variety in the form of Wisp abilities. Ultimate adds a lick of new paint to bring this to the Xbox platform, of which it is recommended to play on either Xbox Series X|S to get the standard performance that players have come to expect. Rival Rush is a fun mode, but there are only six acts and some of these levels are incredibly short. The other additions that Ultimate has added are superfluous, but don't do anything to really damage the core game either. If Sonic Colours doesn't exist in your library and you are a fan of the Blue Blur then there is no excuse to not pick this up.
A predictable, but engaging story mode has added some real shine to the F1 franchise, alongside the addition of two player career mode adding more options for players. Each iteration of F1 has gone from strength to strength, and F1 2021 is a great representation of the sport, from realistic presentation, great graphical details on the cars, tracks that feel authentic, and the return of My Team. Fans of F1 who want to keep up to date with the sport and have the latest team liveries and driver rosters, will be totally in love with this.
The Xbox brand has taken great strides in diversifying its portfolio of first party offerings, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps is quite literally genre-defining. Slightly more linear in nature than its predecessor, Will of the Wisps still manages to make exploration feel fresh and traversal fluid. Stunning graphics, a wholesome and immersive soundtrack, tight controls and fun varied combat truly make Ori and the Will of the Wisps a must-own for Xbox Series X|S owners.
Cubed3 adored DOOM Eternal for Nintendo Switch when it first released and having The Ancient Gods DLC Part 1 come to the console is another cherry on the cake for the handheld hybrid system. The difficulty will be the biggest barrier to overcome for many; this is a rock solid DLC pack that will test even the most veteran players out there. The three stages on offer might sound like the DLC is lacking, but there is enough content there to warrant the price tag for an extra chance to smash up some demons. Bethesda have already stated that DLC 2 will be coming later in the year, so it is not that much longer to wait!
The Yomawari: Long Night Collection represents great value with its two-games-in-one package. Despite both games being quite short they represent the horror genre like no other. The tension is often palpable, and feeling of fear while out on the streets is almost constant. The audio may appear to be basic, but it does a stellar job of immersion with small sounds helping to heighten the paranoia that something could be lurking around the corner. The visuals will appeal to fans of a chibi-anime style and really do help lend to gorgeous backdrops and animations. Yomawari: Long Night Collection is well worth a purchase for horror fans.
It is rare to see such a strongly varied game, based on a beloved license such as Spiderman, hit all of the right notes and deliver in such a satisfying fashion. The simplicity yet sheer variety in combat is unapparelled, traversal is mind-blowingly fun and cathartic, and the soundtrack is epic, not only the musical score but the voice acting as well. Visually, Marvel's Spiderman Remastered looks outstanding, with raytracing and 60fps, which is exactly the type of quality that New York's favourite superhero deserves. PlayStation owners and Spiderman fans who do not own this are doing themselves an absolute injustice as it is quite simply one of the best games available on the system.