The verdict, then, is that F1 22 should appeal to hardcore fans, who expect true-to-life fidelity in the vehicle performance, as well as more casually interested newcomers approaching this video game with a spectator’s curiosity. That blend of depth and accessibility is a hard needle for any sports developer to thread, and it rarely results in a transformative work. F1 22 isn’t one, but it didn’t need to be one — creating new cars, and the organic challenge of learning how to drive them on the limit, was transformation enough.
Like the sport it portrays, MLB The Show 22 will take a very long season to show me its real virtues. But the short-term successes I’ve already had make it enticing to see that season through to the end. I am sure that repeated commentary, rote animations, and inexplicable simulation results will nag at me come September. I’m also sure that I will still be playing this game in October.
It’s a strong, tarmac-based counterpart to the Dirt series, and satisfies a wider range of competitive urges than the dedicated F1 simulation that launches every year. And the consistently exciting racing, as both spectator and competitor, that Grid Legends delivers should have every racing fan wondering why something like this can’t be found in real life, too.
Advancing the big picture with smaller, focused, (and most importantly, repeating) goals helps keep Nobody Saves the World's progression from being too rigid or linear. Lots of RPGs and games with perk trees aspire to non-linear progression, only to have that ideal undone when players discover that advancing sequentially is still the most efficient, least-time consuming way to beat the game. Nobody Saves the World's mix-and-match system, plus the baddies' collection of wards and vulnerabilities, kept me tinkering with my builds, which is fun in and of itself. My main build exemplified and optimized my preferred playing style (it's in the Rat, actually), and then I had one or two others to deal with whatever task or dungeon was immediately at hand. On the dungeon after that, I was rummaging through my menus like a fly fisherman knowing that the perfect lure was somewhere in his tackle box.
Even now, though, I can feel myself tightening up in my shoulders and chest thinking about everything in Forza Horizon 5, and the difference between everything I have — with a V sound — and everything I have — F sound — to do. It’s the difference between opportunities and obligations. The only area in which Forza Horizon 5 stumbles is when it gives me so much of the former that they become the latter.
All of this adds up to a very strong, broadly appealing racer. Hot Wheels Unleashed is up there with Milestone’s MotoGP and Monster Energy Supercross, as well as the F1 and WRC games, as another winner in the ongoing renaissance of licensed motorsports gaming. For those who are perhaps not dedicated motorsports or sim racing fans, it could be a strong contender for their racing game of the year. I’ve become a virtual gearhead over the past four years, and Hot Wheels Unleashed is at least in the discussion for mine.
Sucker Punch Productions later explained that the lack of a target lock, and the awareness that goes along with it, more suited the Mongols' presence as a swarming, constantly deadly threat. Players would have to make affirmative inputs and precise choices rather than spam the buttons. But the absence of a lock-on was off-putting enough that Sucker Punch created one for Director's Cut - as well as in a patch to the original game - highlighting it as a fan request fulfilled.
Codemasters’ F1 series has taken hundreds of hours from me since 2017, and in return it’s given me a rich, new sports fandom even in my late 40s. And now, F1 2021 is teaching me to expect imperfection, to own my mistakes, and forgive myself. The result may be messy, but it’s mine.
Charging up a shot is still essential, as that makes it faster, and therefore harder to catch or dodge. A lot of successful Knockout City plays, for me, came down to knowing how long to charge up a shot. At certain close ranges, additional power is unnecessary. But there I was, in close-quarters range, laying on my right trigger out of ... instinct? blind faith that a stronger attack is better? ... while my unarmed opponent caught a lucky rebound and immediately bullseyed me. Other times, I fired way too early from a longer range, which often ended in my shot getting deflected in midair by someone else's throw.
Rally driving, for me anyway, is about plowing headlong into the unknown, understanding the risk of fast driving in a way you can’t on an oval or a well-known circuit. That makes taking a square left perfectly, or drifting through the full 180 degrees of a switchback, seem even more high-five-myself awesome. And I got exactly that in Art of Rally. If that’s the experience you want, too, Art of Rally will serve it as much as it will an escape from the present day, for a delightful joyride through a beautiful countryside.
That means some kind of personal journey or transformation for the star, and supporting characters with some depth and likability. Given every chance to be a preening overdog, newcomer Vince Washington turns the character Hendrixx Cobb into a warm, believable friend instead. Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) is just shady enough as a streetwise mentor to make an endgame choice - one the game even forced me to reconsider! - both reasonable and personally regrettable.
Narcos: Rise of the Cartels succeeds completely at just one thing: It makes me interested in watching the Netflix series. The game had a lot of potential, and at least superficially it looked like something that may be better than the standard advertorial we’ve come to expect from this kind of tie-in game.
In present day, Need for Speed Heat seems limited, reminding me of all the things that made it distinct, but still hedging against them in case I don’t find them enjoyable. I’m confused about what would have made this game better, but the series seems just as confused about what it wants to be.
The player character customization is also a lot more detailed than its Division cousin, which of course sets up an opportunity to throw even more microtransactions at the player. The good news is that player progression isn't tied to anything that can be bought for real money. Though the in-world currency is sold for real cash, there is no need to buy it if you'd rather avoid the premium economy.