Burial at Sea has a real pacing problem, stemming from the very literal segregation of its narrative and combat sections. It makes you finish your meat before your can start on your vegetables, where the metaphorical meat is the talking and the vegetables are the shooting. As a digested mush in your tummy, Burial at Sea is a beautiful brown ride through gaming's most iconic city and a compelling return of two remixed and much loved characters. On the plate however, its two very different games struggling to find a common ground, and both doing themselves a disservice as they try.
Call of Duty: Ghosts offers very few reasons for all but the most obsessed fans to take a look. Most of the time it revels in being mediocre and cowardly by the numbers rather than outright terrible, though there are moments where it manages to be both. If this isn't a wake up call, showing once and for all that churning out more or less the same stuff year after year only serves to dilute the quality of a franchise, then I don't know what is. It's completely shameless, and it's undoubtedly going to sell phenomenally well.
The content it adds is beautiful, appealing to existing fans, and often successful as a brute force method of overcoming some of the game's original limitations. But for all the ways in which aims to take SimCity into the future, it remains tethered firmly to its past. Due to the peculiarities of its simulation, Origin's temperamental connection, and ultimately its own mechanical shallowness, Cities of Tomorrow is unlikely to make converts of those already driven out of town.
I was wrong. It's a universe filled with boring people living on boring space stations, and playing in this universe is, unsurprisingly, really bloody boring. There's not one thing that X Rebirth does that Albion Prelude or, indeed, any of the X games doesn't do better beyond a few visual treats. Even when the bugs are fixed, the bizarre design choices will persist, as frustrating and counter-intuitive as they were at launch.
Broken Sword 5 will slowly worm itself into your affections if you expose yourself to its ever so gentle humour for long enough. Whatever the opposite of subversive is, this is it, and there's something bizarrely, stupidly funny about Stobbart's straight-delivery of an idea that his trap of putting a biscuit inside a matchbox is good enough that he might fall for it himself.
Broken Age is a unique game. It's made directly for and on the demand of a very specific audience, rather than for any publisher. In some ways it's surprising that - despite being traditional - it doesn't feel like a Lucasarts game. That's likely what backers wanted, and whilst those elements are there, this is a Double Fine game to the final letter. It's gentle, loving, and fun; not a Grim Fandango rehash, but the gaming equivalent of a petting a kitten. If your eyes are not welling up with sheer joy at such a thought, then perhaps Broken Age is not for you. For everyone else, it's probably already in your Steam library anyway.
The renown mechanic was a huge misstep and the Dredge become a bit dull after 15 hours of slaughtering them, but Stoic has still managed to weave a compelling tapestry of epic conflicts with emotionally engaging characters. When I found myself with a dagger in my back courtesy of characters I trusted, I was enraged. When I saw my warriors survive against the impossible odds, I was elated. It's a rollercoaster of agonising decisions and hard-won battles, and as filled with sadness as it is, I was just as sad to step off the ride.
Journey of a Roach's strong ideas loses too many of the conventional adventure game's strengths without gaining enough from them to compensate. It can't even retain the strengths of its setting, quickly jettisoning its post-nuclear scene for a standard flavour of cartoon zaniness. Too many basic lessons on how to treat players go unlearnt. Even over its short duration, initially colourful scenarios become sadly static and tired. Journey of a Roach has some promising ideas, but unfortunately struggles to demonstrate them at their best.
Despite a few missteps, Smoke and Mirrors is an excellent follow-up to Faith. It's a twisted journey through Fabletown's dirty, neon underbelly exploring the darker side of glamour magic and the exploitation of fables. It ends somewhat abruptly, with a terrible revelation, making the wait for the third episode already agonising.
Strike Vector deserves more. It deserves a selection of inspired game modes. It deserves a collection of well-balanced, strategic weapon unlocks. It deserves a flight school that's more than picture boxes and poor spelling. Because underneath that wrapper of disappointments is a phenomenally cool, brilliantly built game that excites, thrills, and challenges. You won't regret your time spent in Strike Vector's lead-and-gunpowder filled skies, but it won't be long before you're seeking thrills elsewhere.
Loadout is throwaway, silly entertainment. It gets you into a game, raises a smile, and spits you back out again. It's scrappy, with a few rough edges in the level design and art. But it's endearingly dumb, and I really think you should, at least, have a try. It's available to play, for free, on Steam.
Consortium is a tragedy. There's an extremely clever game to be found within, but only when it works. It's just the first part of a planned trilogy, and I have so many questions that I won't be able to help myself, I need to play the second part. But I can only hope that it's not held together by chewing gum and sellotape again.
A fumbled finale puts a notable stain on the experience. They say one of the key rules in comedy is to leave the audience wanting more, but as Jazzpunk's credits rolled I was left feeling a little indifferent. But the game is something to be admired. Few titles dedicate themselves to comedy as wholly as Jazzpunk does. This is a game that delivers every silly, bizarre moment with a toothy grin and a badum-tish, waiting with barely contained excitement to deliver its next surprise. A few may be booed off stage, but when so many can hit the mark as closely as they do, I can't deny it a round of applause.
South Park: The Stick of Truth feels like it's been 16 years in the making, drawing on the high points from 17 seasons of lewd hilarity. Kenny dies a lot, and those immortal lines are uttered; Jimmy takes five minutes to spit out a sentence, requiring players to press a button to skip it; and Canada is a weird place containing dire bears, farting comedy duos and queefing women - it's all there. This is South Park, and Obsidian's RPG design at their very best.
In fact, of all the games I've been in, this one is definitely the worst. I've been in some terrific games though, so that's not as damning a verdict as it looks. If I adjust the difficulty by turning off HUD elements, never ever get into any sort of combat with the incompetent AI and try to ignore huge chunks of the game in which I'm forced into criminally unimaginative and unstealthy situations, and then pretend that the zombies don't exist, and then maybe just not play the last two chapters at all, then this is an okay game with two or three good missions.
Cigarette in one hand, and now a whisky in the other, I watch as the credits roll. The climax of the episode is a big one, masterfully presented to ensure the maximum emotional impact and lots of awful regrets. "I've made a terrible mistake," I say as the credits fade. "I'm going to pay for it in the next episode."
And that's why I love Hearthstone, but hate recommending Hearthstone. I think it's an incredible game. It's pervasive: I love that I can spend a few hours slumped in front of my PC playing, then transfer to an ipad to play casually while watching bad telly. I love being part of the community – browsing new deck ideas and ranting with friends about how overpowered Grim Patron really is.
This is a big planet and there are a lot of caves needing clearing, think of raids as housekeeping. You go in and kill as many bugs as you can before your timer runs out and we extract you. You won't be furthering our campaign but you will be earning cash for every bug you kill and hive you burn. The opportunities for combat are endless