Total War: Attila is undoubtedly a welcome addition to this 15-year-old franchise and it's a relief to find it stable at launch, but there is clearly room for further optimisation. It's a credit to The Creative Assembly that it is still experimenting and tweaking its systems to achieve the right balance of complexity and challenge, even if a few too many of its concepts fall the wrong side of the frustration/satisfaction divide for a little too long. Still, you need only be mindful of the advertised difficulty level of each of the factions in order to triumph and, through extended play, the excitement suggested by all that early potential does, eventually, come to fruition.
One of the delights of settling down to a turn-based tactical RPG is poking around to understand how its systems combine and then utilising those systems in imaginative and tactically satisfying ways. In this regard, Blackguards 2 delivers. Eventually. The writing and presentation are serviceable rather than spectacular but there's a decent level of scope for customisation and engaging combat if you can push past its trudging opening hours. Cassia and co's deep-seated issues and baggage make them an entertaining bunch and while they won't set your world alight, they eventually prove capable of providing many hours of surprisingly amiable companionship.
As it stands, Warhammer Quest falls somewhere between offering a compelling experience for brand new players and delivering the heady hit of nostalgia that old hands crave. It's worth a look, but it's hard to recommend this PC version over its tablet counterpart.
The Talos Principle is a game of challenges and conundrums and philosophical wonderings, filled with logic puzzles and cerebral mysteries. Its chunky mechanical processes are underpinned by a compelling breadcrumb-trail narrative that tackles the intangible notion of humanity and consciousness. Consequently, despite playing a robot that interacts with computer terminals and takes instruction from a disembodied voice in the sky, it exudes personality and charm; its mechanical precision complementing its aesthetic qualities. For an experience bereft of human contact it boasts a very big heart indeed.
There's no question that Ardennes Assault is a worthwhile addition to the Company of Heroes war chest and one that rewards investment and exploration with a tactically satisfying campaign. That said, such is the obtuse nature of its presentation of key concepts and even basic controls that new recruits should deduct a whole mark from that number below.
Evidently, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments isn't about rights and wrongs so much as it is about interpretation and judgement. Being right all the time is a fitting tribute to Homes' monstrous ego, and it's also an interesting premise for a detective game - a more effective one than it might initially seem. However, the lack of character development and some lacklustre supporting players result in a feeling of detachment from a game that only excels if you are invested in it. That's a shame, because there was potential for Crimes and Punishments to be a truly great detective game, instead of just a mechanically sound one.
Tropico 5 features a number of improvements to its long-standing formula and there's a lot here to like. The humour and in-fighting of your aides provides a lighter tone missing from other management sims, and there's a degree of satisfaction to be found progressing through the distinct eras. It also looks more vibrant than any previous entry. It works well for now, then, but Tropico 5 is clearly more concerned with introducing new concepts atop the old than it is with overhauling its base mechanics. Looking ahead to the future, this long-running series would benefit from having the fires of revolution lit beneath it.
Child of Light stands as a wonderfully realised venture into unfamiliar territory for Ubisoft - and a welcome reminder that the industry's major players still have the creative flair to push beyond the lucrative safe ground that they so often favour to create well-crafted, highly-polished gems such as this.
Despite some familiar trappings and a shortage of genuine wonders, Age of Wonders 3 delivers a more tightly focused experience than Firaxis' behemoth Civilization series, to which it initially appears to owe so much. In doing so, it proves that even after a decade away the Age of Wonders series can still stand proud beside its modern-day contemporaries.
While its narrative achievements are significant and Burial at Sea: Episode Two is enjoyable to watch and listen to, it's also fun to play. As with Episode One, its mission objectives boil down to basic fetch-quests, but the stealth mechanics suit the mood, feel well integrated and are enjoyable. It's also a poignant release, for it's not only the concluding part of Irrational's BioShock story but the final chapter of the studio itself. Impressively crafted and polished, it's a fitting end to Irrational's body of work. The story of BioShock might belong to Ken Levine and Irrational Games rather than to its players - but it's a story that's been well worth telling.
Might & Magic 10: Legacy feels like a pleasant throwback to dungeon crawls of decades past, but its limited scope and combat-heavy focus might put off those pining for the freedom afforded by the more recent Elder Scrolls games, or the wordy character interaction of a Dragon Age. Nonetheless, for those keen on poring over stats and comparing colour-coded loot, it serves as a modern introduction to those games' precursors, delivers a heady blast of nostalgia, and preserves a little slice of history.
As its name suggests, Contrast is a game of light and dark: a puzzle platformer with two well-realised female leads that occasionally buckles under the weight of its own mechanics. It's beautiful in parts, but also a little broken; I admire it for the first and can almost forgive it the second.
And, of course, it takes us back to Rapture, one of gaming's most compelling spaces, where we can draw expansive parallels between its present and its past and feel clever for connecting the dots. How heavily invested you are in Irrational's artistry will ultimately determine how much you get out of this slender expansion.
Enemy Within is an improvement on an already excellent game. For every decision that must be made there are several factors to consider, rarely enough money to pay for everything, and uncomfortable consequences to be faced for failure. All of this is exacerbated still further when playing on Classic difficulty or with Ironman mode enabled, where you're constantly worrying about what to do next or second guessing the action that you've just taken. Much like the genetic modifications that it champions, XCOM: Enemy Within is an experience that gets under your skin.