While the awkwardness of the campaign mode's storyline is unfortunate, the game more than justifies its cost in terms of inventive mechanics, a refreshing setting and a well-thought-out realtime tactical system – all without the looming threat of microtransactions and booster-pack expenditures that so often are matched up with any card-based game.
It's frustrating to see the same developer who gave us the decent campaigns of the Bad Company games continue to fall flat with the story modes in the core titles. But while it feels as if DICE is standing still while the industry passes them by in terms of single-player experiences, they continue to innovate and raise the bar for multiplayer warfare. With new game modes, an enhanced interface, evolving maps, and greatly improved small-scale battles, Battlefield 4 continues the franchise's trend of setting the standard for the squad-based multiplayer shooter.
Ghosts doesn't leverage the PS4 beyond providing a more visually immersive experience, it stands as a more than capable bridge for the franchise. While the campaign is relatively short at eight hours and at times feels very derivative, the high points really shine and the multiplayer experience continues to set the bar for the genre.
More than just fan service, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a modern approach to the world established by the 1991 SNES adventure, A Link to the Past. Traverse the same overworld to uncover a brand new system of delightful dungeons — a familiar formula injected with fresh abilities and mechanics. This homage to a classic is itself an instant classic on the Nintendo 3DS.
Need for Speed Rivals is a great entry in the series and a huge improvement from Most Wanted and Hot Pursuit. AllDrive brings multiplayer to a new level, and the experience sets the bar for all racing games from now on. That said, since AllDrive is so important to the overall experience, multiplayer gamers will likely get a lot more out of it than those who play alone. But, if you're looking for a racing game that's rewarding, fun, and visually impressive, then Need for Speed Rivals is the game for you.
Like the soldiers in the game, XCOM: Enemy Within takes everything introduced in Enemy Unknown, polishes it, enhances it, and redeploys it into the field. It's stronger, it's meaner, and it's awesome. The new additions force your hand to make tactical decisions that can and will lead to the death of soldiers that you'll become attached to now more than ever.
On the eve of the next generation of consoles, it's comforting to know Super Mario still has potential to excite and astound with some of the best gameplay found on the Wii U, or any platform. It may be short and easy, but Super Mario 3D World finds a place within the cacophony of this year's whiz-bang shooters and next-gen tech demos. This is exactly what the Wii U needed.