Mario and Rabbids Sparks of Hope provides the same enjoyable turn-based combat as its predecessor, with some minor tweaks to make it more accessible to a wider audience. A greater focus on the Rabbids opposed to the Mushroom Kingdom feels like a backwards step though, with the slapstick crossover comedy failing to sparkle this time around.
Splatoon 3 feels like a fresh coat of paint for the series, with a new story mode as well as additional weapons, stages and enemies. With the main multiplayer modes largely unchanged compared to Splatoon 2, series veterans may feel aggrieved that there aren’t any substantial upgrades or new game modes. But Splatoon 3 still offers spades of fun and will no doubt be one of the leading multiplayer titles on the Nintendo Switch.
Saints Row now feels like a mediocre open-world action game, becoming just like all of the games at which the series used to poke fun. Mission objectives are bland and repetitive, while the story is boring and lacks cohesion. Worst of all, the slapstick jokes rarely land and are arguably more cringeworthy than they are funny.
Mario Strikers: Battle League Football is a thrilling take on the football genre, with more end-to-end thrills than FIFA could ever hope for, as well as the chaotic energy that the classic Super Mario items provide. But a stingy offering of single-player modes mean that this is only really worthwhile for those wanting to dive into online multiplayer.
Ghostwire: Tokyo introduces a creepy take on Tokyo with a fascinating exploration into the themes of death and spirits through the lens of Japanese folklore. But the combat can be both boring and frustrating, while the open-world map feels a little too formulaic to offer any joy in exploration. With so many superior action RPGs already releasing in 2022, it’s hard to recommend adding this to your wishlist.
We haven’t played Total War: Warhammer 3 enough to give it a final score just yet, but this is still a very promising game after 10-hours of play, with the new factions featuring great new mechanics to make every playthrough feel completely different. The story campaign has also seen improvements thanks to the new ‘survival battles’, while it’s also great to see Creative Assembly improve diplomacy and making it less intimidating for newcomers.
I’ve had a lot of fun with Dying Light 2, mainly dues to its fantastic parkour platforming and engaging story that can be shaped by your in-game decisions. Those hoping for a terrifying zombie slasher will likely be disappointed, but the thrill of escaping a zombie horde by hopping from rooftop to rooftop ensures this is still an exhilarating action game.
In its current state, Rainbow Six Extraction feels like an excellent expansion pack to Rainbow Six Siege, or the starting point of a free-to-play game with a bright future. But I just don’t believe the content in Extraction currently justifies its high upfront cost, especially when you have to spend even more money to unlock cosmetic items.
Football Manager 2022 packs in a number of new features such as the Data Hub, an expanded Transfer Deadline Day and new Staff Meetings which all help to improve the immersion of the life as a head coach. These new additions result in one of the best entries in the series yet, although owners of FM21 may want to hold off until next season if you want more than just an incremental upgrade.
Halo Infinite features a captivating story, tying up loose ends from previous entries while introducing strong new characters. Combat is basic, but it’s still just as fun and satisfying as ever, especially with the introduction of the Grappleshot. And while the new generic open-world segments fail to elevate Infinite to the best in the series, they at least offer welcome breathers between each action-packed linear level that offers the classic Halo experience.
Mario Party Superstars is an enjoyable ‘Best Hits’ collection of the series, including 100 classic mini games and 5 boards that all feel distinctive. But with the lack of modern features such as co-op play and motion controls, it’s clear this entry is prioritising nostalgia over innovation.
Deathloop is one of the most innovative games from a major publisher that I’ve ever played, using the time loop mechanic to fantastic effect. With lots of clever puzzles and engaging combat, as well as a genius multiplayer element, this is one of the best games of 2021 yet.
Humankind is a classic turn-based strategy game that invites comparisons to the Civilization series. Its unique spin of allowing players to combine multiple cultures does differentiate it from its rivals, but Humankind doesn’t quite offer enough to push the genre into uncharted territory.