I have and will continue to enjoy my time with WWE 2K23. It’s nowhere near the overall improvement 2K22 was when compared to 2K20. But it didn’t need to be. 2K23 is a fantastic follow-up to last year’s game. If Visual Concepts continues in this direction, it won’t be long before the WWE series stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the giants of the sports game genre.
Hogwarts Legacy is one of the all-time great surprises in my 25+ years of gaming. I love everything about it. The world is stunning. The combat is both satisfying and challenging. And it’s reignited my love for something seemingly lost to space and time. Overnight, Avalanche Software has cemented itself as a triple-A developer, delivering a game that belongs in conversations with the very best. Class is in session, folks.
Will there ever be another Choo-Choo Charles? I sort of hope so. Sure, this first stab at it has issues, but there’s no reason Two Star Games can’t continue to mold this into a dark horse juggernaut. It may take years, but I hope it happens. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the future of this franchise.
I can live with many of Need For Speed Unbound’s faults. Admittedly, there were fleeting moments when I enjoyed the routine of earning cash, upgrading, outrunning police, and climbing Lakeshore’s underground racing ranks. But, when a Need For Speed game spits in the face of people that use wheel and pedal setups, it’s tough to feel a need for anything other than a need to play a better game. There’s a foundation here to build upon, but EA and Criterion have their work cut out for them if they ever hope to compete with the giants of the racing game scene.
I’m utterly torn with Bloody Ties (no pun intended). On the one hand, I genuinely found myself enjoying my departure from Villedor in favor of a brutal, balls-to-the-walls tournament. On the other hand, no game I’ve played in the last decade has been as unstable as Dying Light 2. I’ve been forced to curse the sky and proclaim Techland’s latest DLC nigh-unplayable. When it works, it’s great. But these developers have some serious fixin’ to do.
I’ll even give EA credit. Fifa feels like simulation soccer. Madden feels like simulation football. I know that they’re capable of bigger and better things. But, for now, NHL 23, like all the ones before it, still feels like the black sheep of the family. As if it’s simply incapable of ever feeling like hockey. It’s telling that the worst cover in EA Sports NHL history is tied to the most disappointing game in nearly ten years.
But, we came for the golf, and damnit, the golf in PGA Tour 2K23 is fantastic. It’s difficult in all the right ways, satisfying, rewarding, and always entertaining. Off the course, the career mode needs a ton of work to align with the likes of 2K’s in-depth, fleshed-out NBA series. Though, they can now proudly add PGA Tour to their list of sports franchises on which they hang their proverbial hat.
As much as people might argue that The Last of Us Part I was unnecessary (hell, I might not even argue against them), the fact remains that Naughty Dog has knocked it out of the park. The 2022 remake looks, sounds, and plays miles above both the 2013 and 2014 versions, and regardless of opinion on Part 2’s story, there’s no denying that this team of developers now has one of the most must-play one-two punches of all time under their belt.
Sniper Elite 5 let me down. I expected the next generation of this franchise. Instead, we got Sniper Elite 4.5. If Rebellion Developments hopes to continue this series down the line, they’ll need to return to the drawing board and bring something fresh next time.
Evil Dead: The Game is mostly everything I hoped it would be. It’s a fun, logical next step in the asymmetrical multiplayer horror genre. Sure, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it did enough to reinvigorate my passion for this type of experience. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Evil Dead: The Game over the next few years. It’s a few maps and some solid single-content away from being truly great.
I’m between a rock and a hard place with MLB The Show 22. On the one hand, I still think Sony San Diego delivers the best simulation sports game on the market today. On the other hand, if it weren’t for the new commentary team, I’d feel like I’m playing last year’s game. If you were expecting 22 to be a big year for baseball, you might need to adjust your expectations. Only when the developers choose to genuinely flesh out their most popular modes (and redesign that damn locker room!) will this series get back to where it belongs.
At the end of the day, though, I’m able to look past WWE 2K22’s shortcomings in ways I haven’t been able to with this series in over a decade. And why? Because 2K22 is a ton of fun. It strikes a tremendous balance between its quick, arcadey gameplay and smooth, simulation-like animation system. Plus, the Showcase and MyFaction modes are fantastic, with the latter offering hours upon hours of gameplay. This is one I’ll be wrestling with for a long time. 2K finally put some proper chefs in the kitchen.
Gran Turismo 7 is the best driving game I’ve ever played. Period. It’s not a hardcore simulation of the likes of Assetto Corsa Competizione or iRacing, but for my money, I now prefer Gran Turismo. It’s the ultimate celebration of something that’s part of Kazunori Yamauchi’s very being and an incredible effort to bring his love for automobiles to the world. See you on the starting line.
I’ve loved my time with Dying Light 2. While it undoubtedly could use a patch or two, the foundation that’s been laid for the next five years is solid.
I’m a big fan of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm. Its atmosphere, high-stakes management, and foreboding sense of doom come together in a perfectly palatable throwback that anyone can enjoy. Plus – without giving anything away – there’s plenty of room for a sequel that doesn’t necessarily need to be about a restaurant. If Scythe Dev Team wants to flip the switch on that, I’ll be there.
Here’s the thing, though; despite every issue that the GTA: DE suffers from, I’ve still been having a good time with it. Which is simply a testament to how well-written the Grand Theft Auto series is. The GTA: DE needs a patch. Or, maybe, it needs a boatload of patches. Though, I still find myself enjoying the over-the-top storylines, ridiculous dialogue, and outrageous mission structure. It’s hard to call these definitive, but still easy to call them classics.
I can’t see the NHL franchise reaching the heights of its mid-2000s glory years anytime soon, but at least we have the Frostbite engine in there to start building upon. It took far too long to arrive, though; it’s here now. And while I can see the potential for it to one day have this series feeling exciting again, I don’t see that happening for a long time. But, hey, it’s the only hockey game in town, so I guess I’ll see you on the ice.
Back 4 Blood is one that I’ll be playing for a long time to come. Turtle Rock Studios has committed to improving the game, both through new content and patches. And I trust that they’ll right most of the wrongs with their latest zombie-slaying simulator. It may feel light on content, and you’ll need a team of people if you want to make any actual progress, but hop on board now, and you still be pleasantly surprised at just how fun Back 4 Blood can be.
As a big fan of the original, the announcement of Alan Wake Remastered was a pleasant surprise. And while I enjoyed my time with it, I can’t help but feel like this is merely a tiny taste of what’s to come. Veterans of the franchise won’t find any reason to go back, and if they do, they may even find that the memory of playing Alan Wake is better than the game itself. Newcomers will find a lot to love; however, granted, they can grind through its annoyances.
WRC 10 isn’t going to be for everybody, but I think the ones that love it will really love it. The driving is excellent, and the sound design is next to none. Plus, it features a deep career mode and several historical scenarios for you to sink your teeth into. One minute, it’s frustrating the hell out of you; the next, you’re pumping your fist in the air over the milliseconds you were able to shave off a run. And that’s what racing is all about.