Ultimately, Enemy Within is a clever, well-designed expansion that gives the original game much more than simply new missions or a shiny new veneer. The game feels and plays just like the vanilla, but with myriad new choices, challenges, customization options, and other additions that make an already very good game much, much better and more fun. For anyone who found themselves hopelessly addicted to Enemy Unknown last year, Enemy Within should give you plenty of reasons to return.
Ultimately, the recreation of Rapture is work worth doing, and Irrational Games deserve the credit for the sweat of their brow. Anyone thinking of playing this already has a sunk cost in BioShock Infinite – if three hours of the upper quartile of that game's level of world-building and combat justifies the expense, you should not be disappointed.
Need for Speed: Rivals is one of the more fun installments in the series, and certainly a great PS4 launch title. But it needs deeper customization and tweaks to racing SP loss in order to more fully realize its potential, and a more involved attempt at a story would inject some life into a relatively stale campaign mode. Fortunately gameplay is so intense and fun you forget about most of the game's other issues, and it can certainly be enjoyed despite its lingering issues and relative lack of depth.
Knack does have that one good idea — the character gets bigger, the character gets smaller — which is enhanced by the idea of making him big with other materials like wood and ice. But it's never really explored. You're constantly being forced to shed all of your collected relics to activate an elevator, or something, or receive a large cache of relics before a big fight. Size is controlled by the situation, not the other way around, and so this system never feels as fluid as it could.
Ryse: Son of Rome isn't terrible. It has its gorgeous visuals, forceful combat system and relatively tight storytelling to recommend it. It's also short, unvaried, hampered by an obsession with QTE events and far shy of a complete game experience. As a game, it won't hold its own next to some of the third-party stars of this holiday season. It has neither the addictive, consuming multiplayer of Call of Duty nor the imaginative scope of God of War, but still holds promise for its next iteration, if that comes.
All told, even though this is one of the better next-gen exclusives, it's still not a system seller. It's not that kind of game that's simply so good you need to go buy a system to play it. The fact is that right now on both Xbox One and PS4, we have yet to see a true system seller. Dead Rising 3 is lots of fun, but we won't be talking about it in a year. That being said, if you're getting an Xbox One already, this is a title that's definitely worth playing. Open-world mayhem, fun crafting…it's great escapism. That's all it is.
In the end, despite an unmemorable story, I quite liked Shadow Fall's campaign simply from a design perspective alone. By ditching overbearing auto-aim, bending linearity and actually posing a real challenge at times, it's a fun experience and PS4 could do a lot worse for a debut title. I don't know if the series will ever explode in popularity, but for now, it's done its job showcasing the new abilities of the PS4.
While both the story and the multiplayer will likely be divisive—we're a long, long ways from Modern Warfare or the original Black Ops here—I'm glad to see Treyarch taking risks, trying something different, and impressed that even with all the changes, the core game still feels very much like Call of Duty.
As an audio-visual experience, The Banner Saga is hard to beat. Tough choices and an elegant combat system help make the game fun and engaging right up to the end. With a few tweaks to the resource management system and some real soul-searching on enemy variety, Stoic could have a really terrific game on their hands. They're not there yet, but they're on the right track.
This sort of game could have convinced some of the faithful to get on board towards the beginning of the console's lifespan, but it will have a tougher time today. This game will win few new converts, and for all its brightness, does not feel particularly fresh.
There is the idea of what a Thief game should be here, and it's not complicated. Strip it down, get back to the essentials, and this game may have played something more like Arkane's excellent Dishonored. As it stands, however, it's neither itself nor, really, anything else.
A strong story, excellent writing and voice-acting, and the fact that the game really does look and feel like an episode of the show, makes South Park: The Stick of Truth a truly great video game experience. It's the first game I've played in 2014 that's really kept me glued to the screen from start to finish.
Titanfall is a great game and an incredible amount of fun. Combat is creative, exciting and never, ever static. It lacks depth past its core concept however, and hopefully that's something that can be rectified well ahead of the inevitable Titanfall 2. But right now, this is the game the Xbox One needs, and it's the first true must-have of the new console generation.
Infamous is a good game. I don't know about great, but "good" is enough to be the best in the series, and the best exclusive PS4 has to offer right now. With 100% completion and new missions to come there are plenty of worthwhile hours to be spent with the game, and it's definitely worth picking up if you're a fan of the series or the genre. The powers are innovative and a lot of fun, I just wish there was a bit more to do with them, and a more compelling story that perhaps took itself just a little more seriously.
It's just plain (hopelessly addictive) fun. Obviously, loot based dungeon crawling kind of has to be your thing, as even with all the new changes to gameplay, it may still feel rather repetitive to outsiders. But I have to imagine that barring any unforeseen issues that may not have cropped up yet, both past and present Diablo fans will be very happy with Reaper of Souls, and with how the game has improved a thousandfold since launch.
Luftrausers is a beautifully balanced exercise in frustration and release – a simple but excellent instance of what can be done with slippery physics, simple graphics and a lot of guns. A lot. Deeper and longer games are on the market for $9.99, but few will match Luftrausers' addictiveness or its knife-sharp balance of frustration and elation.
Some of the scares in Daylight are genuinely chilling, but their shock value fades quickly. And after the opening hour or so, the hospital itself seems to become a character, which adds a needed layer of interactivity and suspense to the mix. But between dull writing, last-gen graphics, and limited game mechanics, Daylight devolves into nothing more than a glorified maze simulator with mood lighting.
Child of Light isn't a terribly deep RPG and it isn't a particularly stand out platformer, but it's a game that blends everything into a really unique, beautiful, and surprising experience. It's particularly impressive coming from a major publisher like Ubisoft, and I hope they continue to let this type of creativity drive their games.