It breaks my heart a little to slap a relatively low score on this. Both The New Order and The New Colossus were fantastic reinventions of a venerated gaming franchise, delivering satisfying gunplay with surprisingly touching narrative hooks. Youngblood still has that great feel, it's just wrapped up in a co-op focused bubble which detracts from the traditional flow of the game.
Still, the end result is a relaxing, intriguing and sleek murder mystery tale that's certainly worth enjoying once. It's not overly long if you play on normal, nor is it particularly replayable, but finding out who the killer is definitely scratches an investigative itch.
MotoGP 19 is a fantastic package overall and, hopefully, it ends up with a thriving multiplayer scene. The first post-launch patch was absolutely crucial in terms of tightening up the brakes and, while some of the physics still aren't quite there, it's a strong start.
Overall, as with all their DLC, SCS Software has done a fantastic job. From the level of detail on the road markings being different from state to state to the police cars having the correct state trooper name on the car instead of something generic. Throw in the free 2GB version 1.35 update and the addition of "experimental" DX11, along with many other features, and ATS is growing into a stronger game than ever before. For those thirsting to expand their US play area in American Truck Simulator, Washing is a must-buy.
All in all, Mortal Kombat 11 is a great package, and nicely fleshed out with a ton of content and modes for both the casual fighting game players like myself and the hardcore community who want to get stuck into the online battling. The heavy involvement of microtransactions can be an annoyance, for sure, but there's more than enough to get busy with to help beat the grind.
Despite all of this griping, and all of these complaints, Tropico 6 is still sort of fun. Partly it's just watching the numbers going up. When the freighter arrives in port and your first shipment of electronics goes to market, netting you enough money to build a new stadium, it's like a little pat on the head that can be weirdly addictive. There are certainly some bugs that probably shouldn't exist on the fourth (fifth? sixth?) iteration of essentially the same game, but the special sauce that has allowed them to actually get away with making six Tropico games is still there.
What it comes down to is that Paradox is just amazing at listening to their community and developing their games long after release. Now that ships are done, I expect that the air force will follow not too far behind. Then, who knows? Of course, they could release a DLC of nothing but National Focii for everyone from Bulgaria to Tannu Tuva and many fans would be ecstatic. If more companies were like Paradox, the world would be a better place.
I sort of have to criticise, you know? It's the job. Truth is, though, I've really enjoyed every minute I've spent with Dirt Rally 2.0, just as I did with 1.0 before it. The handling is gorgeous, the routes are truly beautiful to look at, and the management is ...manageable. The cars all have tons of individual character, the rallycross feels scrappy and frenetic and everything just comes together wonderfully. Codemasters, eh? They really have the hang of this thing.
As a sequel, Metro Exodus pulls ahead of the rest of the franchise in a big way by leaving the very metro itself behind. Aesthetically, the place is a joy to explore from beginning to end, and there's enough variation to keep things feeling fresh. Dig down deep and it's another Metro with a new skin, but it's a damned good one of those all the same.
I'm really struggling to find anything good to say about Jagged Alliance: Rage, other than that its name is appropriate. I suppose the stealth mechanic sort of works, although even there occasionally your sneaky work can be ruined by a patrolling soldier somehow glitching and eternally clambering on and off a rock instead of completing his route. Each playable character has a background trait that is supposed to play out as a weakness but that you rarely notice in play. The characters you choose to play seem irritated by one another, and by everything going on around them all the time. I've got to say, I think it's pretty understandable.
But there's something about Darksiders 3 that still sort of works though. It's a B-tier production, without a shadow of a doubt, but it's the sort of thing that doesn't actually come along all that often these days. Fans of the series will no doubt get a kick out of the continuing story and there's just enough here to help Darksiders 3 stand out and make for an entertaining playthrough. It's no God of War, but it's not the harbinger of the apocalypse either.
Hardcore fans of turn-based tactics may be slightly put off by Mutant Year Zero's obvious missteps but that aside, The Bearded Ladies have cooked up a special game here that's got great potential for the future. Road to Eden isn't perfect but it's definitely stood out from the crowd for me in what's been an excellent year.
Pathfinder Kingmaker on PC is incredibly fun and rightfully nominated in our Global Game Awards 2018 for Best RPG. Today Owlcat have already made Pathfinder Kingmaker into a beautiful looking, rich CRPG, that delivers a great place to adventure, an interesting land to rule and the tools to carve out a realm that you can call home.
All told, Hitman 2 is a heck of a treat for Hitman fans, offering the most refined mechanics, craziest antics, and most complex levels yet seen in the franchise. Each of the five core levels can be played for potentially a dozen or more hours, offering fantastic replayability for those who like to mess around with the Hitman formula. There's an argument to be had that Hitman 2 plays it a little self, but when it's so damned good, and unique, at what it does, you'll hear little argument from me.
I've been underwhelmed by inXile's previous nod to nostalgia, Wasteland 2, and everyone else in the universe seemed to adore it, so maybe it's me. Your mileage, as always, may vary. But if you're looking for a rock-solid, incredibly challenging nuts-and-bolts RPG with all of the quirky flair of the original trilogy, this isn't quite it.