Burial at Sea has a real pacing problem, stemming from the very literal segregation of its narrative and combat sections. It makes you finish your meat before your can start on your vegetables, where the metaphorical meat is the talking and the vegetables are the shooting. As a digested mush in your tummy, Burial at Sea is a beautiful brown ride through gaming's most iconic city and a compelling return of two remixed and much loved characters. On the plate however, its two very different games struggling to find a common ground, and both doing themselves a disservice as they try.
Broken Sword 5 will slowly worm itself into your affections if you expose yourself to its ever so gentle humour for long enough. Whatever the opposite of subversive is, this is it, and there's something bizarrely, stupidly funny about Stobbart's straight-delivery of an idea that his trap of putting a biscuit inside a matchbox is good enough that he might fall for it himself.
In fact, of all the games I've been in, this one is definitely the worst. I've been in some terrific games though, so that's not as damning a verdict as it looks. If I adjust the difficulty by turning off HUD elements, never ever get into any sort of combat with the incompetent AI and try to ignore huge chunks of the game in which I'm forced into criminally unimaginative and unstealthy situations, and then pretend that the zombies don't exist, and then maybe just not play the last two chapters at all, then this is an okay game with two or three good missions.
Burial at Sea was a little over excited to return to Rapture, donning a film noir trilby that soon fell off to reveal clunky set piece combover, but Part Two is far more comfortable in its own skin. It integrates the fighty and the talky enough to make Rapture feel a more dangerous and believable place, discards the impenetrable conceits with which the first DLC began, and brings an almost seven year old series full circle and to a satisfying end. What a wonderful trick, and a fitting note for one of PC gaming's best loved studios (as we know them, at least) to bow out on.
Daily Challenges and split-screen multiplayer and pro-versions of tracks and a really cool soundtrack are all other things that OlliOlli 2 has going for it. It's an improvement on the scrappier feeling original, introducing that one tiny combo-blending manual trick that transforms the game into a profoundly new-feeling and lovely thing.
In contrast, Session feels back-to-front: so unblinkingly focused on the technical side of riding a skateboard that it's overlooked everything that makes rolling around on a board actually fun. There’s plenty of room for skateboarding games less arcadey than anything with a Tony Hawk face on it, but this early version of Session is a bleak, sterile thing, and one that only serves as a painful reminder of my own lack of talent in most physical activities.
Wolfenstein is a masterpiece of its genre. It does good shooting men. But it’s more than that, it’s an effortlessly melancholy adventure that doesn’t drown in its own bombast. It’s like finding out that a superstar footballer is a poet, or finding your dog pressing flowers. It’s a game with hidden depths that you’re invited to explore, but ones that never overshadow the thing it’s best at.
Iron Harvest is a throwback to one of the last golden ages of the genre, often feeling as old fashioned and crusty as that association entails, but frequently reminding us of the essential appeal of extremely large robots chilling out in timelines where they shouldn’t be.