The game never fully embraces the potential opportunities of its time-traveling premise, but I was still hooked throughout. Possibly it helped that Breath of the Wild already did such a good job of establishing the stakes. Age of Calamity didn’t have to do much to pull on the same heartstrings. Sometimes, a short cutscene with a pained glance or a wavering voice was all it took to reinvigorate the drama of it all.
The fundamental issue here is that being good at Shadow of War means the process becomes routine. Find intel. Target underlings. Go after Warchiefs. Attack the castle. Defeat the Overlord. Appoint your favorite orc as new Overlord. With so many maps this time around, I grew fatigued of this procedure halfway through. And because Talion is so overpowered, I barely died—so there were fewer chances for orcs to remember our previous encounters.
Mario himself might not have been my favorite part of the game, but the reverence with which the game's creators hold Mario and friends was evident in every inch of this adventure. And it helped make the game come together so well.
For players who enjoyed the first game, Splatoon 2 is not a reinvention, but it doesn't have to be. It adds here and there, retaining what was best about the cheerful original while giving it a graphical upgrade and portability. Splatoon 2, at its best, is still Nintendo with confidence and flair.
For 20 years now, Pokémon games have presented fantasies where people live, battle, and grow alongside powerful monsters. In Pokémon Sun and Moon, that wistful reverie invites you take a holiday, leave your worries behind, and grab yourself a lei. As it happens with all good vacations, Pokémon found itself again.
Gears of War hasn’t changed, not really. I’m left wondering what a true metamorphosis of Gears could look like, how this series could go about defining a new generation of video games. It’s a lot to ask. Gears of War might continue as on as it has, a single revolution followed by a lifetime of refinement. It’s enough.