The greatest show on turf gets a bit more personality with Madden NFL 20’s new X-Factor abilities. While this headline addition only applies to the sport’s biggest superstars, it injects new life into the on-field action. The new QB1 campaign may have potential in the future, but in its current guise it’s a step back from the Longshot story explored in previous entries, while the fan-favourite Franchise mode continues to see neglect.
Blood & Truth pushes PSVR to its absolute limits, with a Cockney crime drama that's as amusing as it is explosive. There are moments where Sony's motion controllers can't quite match its ambition, but when you're scratching records with one hand while firing off a sub-machine gun in the other, there isn't a single shooter on the PS4 that's more entertainingly tactile than this.
Everybody's Golf VR loses a little of the series' trademark accessibility as part of its transition to PSVR, but putting in some practice is a worthwhile endeavour, as this is a seriously rewarding arcade sports game. The presentation is top-notch throughout, and while the package is a little light on content, everything that's included has been polished to a sheen. This is the second time Clap-Hanz has reinvented its legendary PlayStation property for the PS4, and once again it's delivered a Nice Shot.
A Plague Tale: Innocence deserves respect for daring to be different, funnelling you through a bleak European backdrop that's seldom seen. Despite some neat ideas, though, the stealth and puzzle mechanics drag, and the story can't quite make up its mind about what it wants to be. Furthermore, while the presentation is spectacular, the project lacks polish in key areas and overstays its welcome at times.
Snooker 19 cues nicely, and all of the licensing will delight fans of the real-world sport. The game does feel a bit barebones in terms of modes, but it's also retailing at a budget price point. All in all, when it comes to niche sports, this is one of the better executed packages on the PS4.
The Occupation is bold, ambitious, and a bit of a mess. Its bugs and occasionally obtuse storytelling severely detract from the overall experience, and yet it will live longer in the memory than the average game. There's something fascinating here: a real-time thriller that puts genuine political power in the palm of your hands. But it's strangled by its own ambition, and that's as inevitable as it is unfortunate.
Spike Volleyball's gameplay loop isn't atrocious, but poor animations and ugly visuals demonstrate the low-budget nature of the project. With glitchy online play and a rudimentary career mode, it's extremely difficult to recommend this release – especially when you consider that it's retailing at a price point five times greater than what it realistically deserves.
Life Is Strange 2 feels like it's flying under-the-radar, which is unfortunate because this sequel has all of the hallmarks that made its predecessor a success. Episode 2: Rules is slow, but DONTNOD is still easing its new cast of characters in. There's definitely something good brewing here, but for whatever reason we can't shake the feeling that the developer has utterly failed to capture the imagination of Arcadia Bay's biggest fans.
There's clearly a lot of effort been invested into bringing Borderlands 2 to PSVR, and that's appreciated. The gameplay does feel dated these days – and the lack of DLC and co-op is a real shame – but there's still fun to be had with the loot-shootin' loop, and Pandora scales well to virtual reality. The PS Move control scheme is cumbersome but the game plays fine with a DualShock 4 in hand, and an array of comfort options mean that you can tailor the experience to your exact needs.
Tetris Effect takes you on an emotional rollercoaster through oceans and to other worlds. While its striking audiovisual achievements sing on a standard screen, virtual reality elevates the experience to euphoric new levels. And yet, for all the chatter of spiritual awakenings, there's a damn good game of Tetris here, bursting with inventive modes and beautiful visuals which will keep you hooked for potentially hundreds of hours.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission is an imaginative and innovative platformer which plays to the strengths of PlayStation VR and delivers an immersive experience that isn't easy to forget. Stunning presentation elevated by insanely good animation ensure that you always feel present in the release's virtual world, while tight controls and genuinely clever level design will keep you engaged. This is the kind of game that will leave you beaming long after you've taken the headset off – and we can't give it higher praise than that.
Life Is Strange 2: Episode 1 – Roads has the same je ne sais quoi as its predecessor, but it's a different kind of game. This isn't a series about teenage angst anymore – it's about survival in a contemporary United States that's more hostile than it'd like to think it is. Larger, more detailed environments and inconclusive moral decisions that have a direct influence on key cast members make for an impressive, brave opening.
The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA Tour's foundations are built upon a rock-solid simulation, with tight swinging and tough greens making for a stern challenge that's difficult but fair. The addition of licensed courses means that this year's game has a much better campaign, but it doesn't feel like HB Studios has had quite enough time to capture the sense of occasion that real TPC events can have. As such, with 2K Sports now also on board as publisher, we reckon it's the next instalment that's really going to impress. The building blocks are all in place, though, and if you're in need of a serious golf game on your PS4 right now, then this edition very much finds the green.
Pizza Titan Ultra has a strong identity and a delicious gameplay loop, but the title actively works against you in later levels, sapping your momentum in a desperate attempt to inject some difficulty. It's a frustrating flaw, because between its high-octane arcade action and punchy personality, there's a slice of something nice here – you've just got to pick off all of the bits you don't like before you can truly enjoy it.
There's no doubt that Firewall Zero Hour's tactical combat works well in virtual reality – in fact, the fledgling medium adds a lot to this FPS, allowing you to naturally gesture to teammates and intuitively check your corners in a way you couldn't on a standard display. But while there are some structural and technical issues that we have confidence First Contact Entertainment will be able to fix, it's the question marks over its community that make it a tough sell. It's a chicken-and-egg situation that's unfortunate for everyone involved, but it's something that the developer would have been aware of when it embarked on creating an online-only multiplayer shooter for an install base of a few million headsets. Good as the game may be, it's something you need to keep in mind as well.
Shenmue I & II divided players and critics on the Dreamcast, and will continue to do so on the PlayStation 4. These games are an acquired taste, but there's nothing quite like them, and if you can overcome some of their more awkward idiosyncrasies, you'll be rewarded with a set of revolutionary sandboxes that impress even today. The ports are let down by a handful of recurring bugs, but are otherwise presented authentically, and while the voice acting is no less embarrassing today, there's a charm to both the script and performances that can be endearing to an open mind. There's no question that these titles deserve their place in the annals of gaming history – but whether you'll love them or loathe them will ultimately come down to personal taste.
Wailing Heights' presentation is perfectly in-tune, but its gameplay is out of time. While it neatly repurposes some old point-and-click tropes, it doesn't quite have enough quality to match the ambition of the classics it's so clearly inspired by. There are some laugh out loud moments and some real ear-worm audio, but it's not quite enough to demand front-row seats for The Deadbeats' reunion tour.