Lots of things are done very well in Zoo Tycoon. The animals have real character and the educational elements are delivered in perfect, bite size chunks. You can lose hours just walking around the zoo, taking photographs and enjoying the animal interactions. Initially there is genuine delight when a new species or enclosure type is unlocked but unfortunately, this wonder wears off all too quickly.
Addictive tower defence game turned third person shooter, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare offers a bright, colourful and incredibly competitive addition to the Xbox One's gaming roster. Inevitably, the release of Titanfall will mean that this little gem doesn't get played as much as it deserves. We would have liked to see some traditional PvZ gameplay thrown into the mix to allow players to earn extra sticker packs or coins, but as this isn't a full price title, the omission of this feature is entirely forgiveable. Less acceptable is the infuriating matchmaking system which means that, like many Xbox One games, playing with members of your party or friends happens more by luck than design. Although it isn't perfect, the well thought out player progression, multiplayer modes and well balanced gameplay make this an essential game for lovers of the franchise and fans of shooters alike.
Murdered: Soul Suspect lingers almost exactly at the quality middle point as a game. It doesn't do anything particularly good, nor does it do anything terribly bad; it's just okay. The ghost stories and premise of the title are what have pushed the needle up into the green but even these serve as a reminder of what could have been.
The structure of the new adventure mode, overly easy leveling and accessibility of overpowered weapons have removed some of the sense of wonder and exploration from the game, but the Ultimate Evil edition is undoubtably an improvement on Diablo III and earns a well deserved bump in score. Highly recommended.
If multiplayer Versus is as good as the single player, then this game deserves a slightly higher recommendation. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this review, the only multiplayer modes which were functional were the repetitive and, frankly boring, survival modes. Don't be put off by this though, as there's an awful lot to keep you busy in single player, and it would be a shame to miss out on this quirky gem. . . . Simply put, CastleStorm has a lot going for it.
Unfortunately, although it initially feels as though there is a wealth of content here, it soon becomes clear that Defense Grid 2 doesn't have an awful lot to offer in the long run and, as one of the higher priced games in the Xbox marketplace, doesn't really deliver a gaming experience worthy of its price point. It's great fun in short bursts though and fans of the genre will enjoy the challenges offered by some of the more intense game modes.
Costume Quest 2 is a repetitive carbon copy of the 2010 title and should probably have been DLC or released as part of a double pack with the original on Xbox One. It's a fun game, but with realistically only six hours of playing time on hand, it may leave you wanting.
Neverwinter's transition to console isn't perfect but it's one of the better implementations we've seen. The gameplay is interesting and varied while combat has been tuned really well for the Xbox One controller. The mechanics are well thought out and it's possible to experience the entire game without spending a dime, despite all the temptations the game tries to throw your way. The technical issues make group play a bit of a chore at times, but the quests are varied and interesting enough to keep you coming back for more.
The game suffers from a lack of truly unique and memorable characters in the source material, though and is one of the more repetitive LEGO titles as well, with limited mechanics popping up repeatedly and a noticeable lack of variety in the Jurassic Park side of the experience.
The Deer God will inevitably divide gamer's opinions. Some will love its pixelated art style and be carried away by its themes and the emotions it invokes, while others will find it a frustrating, boring trudge from left to right. There's no denying that there is potential here and there are some very touching moments, but the flaws are so game breaking that at times it's just not any fun to play.
Lego Dimensions is easily the best Lego game so far. The interaction between the physical Lego toy and the game beyond the portal really sets Dimensions apart from other toys-to-life games and each build, level and vehicle seems to have been carefully thought out.
The unfortunate truth of Orbit is that it's a well built, incredibly fun title that you'll rarely be able to play. It's best enjoyed by three to four players as this will crank up the chaos and avoid the lulls that often occur in two player when both fall into a rhythm of repeatedly smashing themselves into the sun. Alone, the player can only view the tutorial and dream of all the fun they could be having if they had three extra controllers and three people who wanted to engage in beautifully designed space warfare. Once you gather these resources however, you'll have a blast!
Just Dance 2016 is a fun party game but its movement tracking does not offer enough precision to appeal to more competitive players. The track selection on the disk is a little lacking; with only a handful of big hitters available unless you are willing to pay for Just Dance Unlimited. The addition of the app makes it easier than ever to play with your friends and the ability for up to six players to dance at the same time provides lots of opportunity for choreographed hijinks.
Starwhal is a decent multiplayer title which delivers on its promise of laughs and challenging competition. There's plenty of customisation available to keep it fresh and the inclusion of AI opponents and a challenge mode will give this more longevity than other couch co-op titles released recently. However, some will find the controls frustrating and it is likely that the frantic madness of multiplayer will have a limited shelf life once the initial surprise of the silliness wears off.