But for now, let me finish by saying AC4 is worth your money. It's as beautiful and calming as it is challenging and rewarding. Ever since I was a child I have wanted to sail around the magnificent 18th century sun kissed Caribbean islands, with my own ship and crew, ready to plunder anything that sparkles. And now we all can in Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag.
But there is plenty of it, and it is delivered to a high standard and it is fun to play. And this should really be the yardstick, right? If you think it should be changing and improving in new ways then you know what to do, but for now you will get more of that CoD formula that the world craves so much. Activision have a billion dollars on day one that says they know what they are doing.
It's such a missed opportunity. The setting and locations are fun, interesting and entirely within the scope of pulp adventure literature. Some of the puzzles (most of which revolve around stepping on some tiles and not on others, or avoiding otherwise Indiana Jones-style set pieces) are fun in a way, and the clever addition of your great-grandfather's notebook as an in-game item that shows you absent-minded sketches of some of the tricks and traps offers a sort of hint system that preserves the suspension of disbelief in an appropriate way. And, I suppose the game is easy enough to rarely become frustrating (except during one particular boss fight where you can be shot and killed through walls). It's not frustration that'll get you, though. It'll be the sheer ennui that sets in when you contemplate the pointlessness of continuing to play this lackluster, lazy and horribly overpriced mess.
Overall the story expansion was a welcome addition to Infinite's story line, but the changes made to it are just not enough to characterise it into the wholly different game that some of us were expecting it to be. Seeing a refreshed image of Rapture was undoubtedly awesome, but there just aren't enough opportunities to explore it fully. The stage for the game in the first 30 minutes or so is set like a show that is played in front of you and although you will be mesmerised by it, it is out of your immediate control. The changes made to combat are good but, again, there are just too many things that are the same. The plot of the DLC is to be concluded in Episode Two having been left on a cliffhanger that will have you wishing for more. The expansion will surely be an enjoyable experience for the series' fans, but it also has the potential to become stale for those who have started to tire of the Bioshock formula.
I really, really wanted to like Contrast, and in many ways it is a beautiful game. The thing is, though, that however great a wow-factor devleopers can create in visuals, in compelling story, and in atmospheric music, this cannot and should not come at the expense of enjoyable, inventive and functional gameplay. Unfortunately for Contrast, too much time appears to have been spent on polishing the look of the game, and far too little on polishing the actual gameplay.
In general, Need For Speed: Rivals is a great addition to the genre for fans of racing games. The merging of single and multiplayer experience seems to be a strong feature of next-gen gaming, and something we can expect a lot more of over the next few years, and the game is visually pretty stunning even if you do play it on current gen consoles instead of the slicker PC and next-gen options. But this "next-gen" feel is far from perfect for the moment. The issues with always-online and the relative sparsity of human players on the map is something that would need to be improved to make this game exceptional, rather than just solid.
If you then manage to play alongside your real world buddies and the shonky Battelog system doesn't crash you to desktop 30 seconds from the end of a round then it is easy to advise you to grab a copy, because multi-player shooting does not get much better than this. On the other hand, if all that stuff goes wrong, you can quickly lose an hour of your life and be wondering why you are trying to play this pile of crap. And that is unfortunately the gaming lottery we are faced with.
Resogun, as it stands, is almost as close to perfection as you can get for a title in the shoot-em-up genre, if you're a fan then you can do no wrong. The campaign might be slightly limited and not varied enough for some, but these are niggles that do little to detract from the core experience.
So basically it's business as normal, and we couldn't be more pleased that Walking Dead season two is shaping up to be another hit. Fans of mature adventures should lap it up, and we can't wait to continue Clementine's journey in episode two.
The multiplayer's fairly addictive in its own right but it's up against some true big-hitters at launch that unfortunately look like they are not just hogging the limelight but the player count as well. Still, for what it is it's an enjoyable enough experience that should help you get a bit more life out of this package, which is more than can be said for some of the single-player campaign.
Having said that, it is still an outstanding pickup for anyone looking to get into an RPG with a little more teeth than they're used to, and a rejuvenated, reinvigorated return for those old dogs remembering how much fun they had the last time around.
For all of its obvious flaws, basic mechanics, and even more basic visuals, Super Motherload is still a great experience, one that you can pick up and play during a spare 10 minutes, or plough a whole afternoon into with ease. The bonus of unlockables and a multi-player mode ensure that this is one you can keep coming back to.
Stick It To The Man may be relatively short, a little repetitive and also generously simple, but it's also a unique and twisted take on a genre that's been around for decades. With its gorgeous 2D presentation and tongue-in-cheek humour, we'd happily recommend to any platformer fans who embrace everything oddball.
Knack's enjoyable enough in its own right but it's undeniably as straight down the middle as you can get, unwavering in its commitment to the average. Not much comes across as particularly awful, but then again nothing in it's all that great. Those expecting a platforming adventure in a vein similar to Crash Bandicoot would do well to steer well clear.
Unlike Metal Gear games of yesteryear, the industry is not going to learn anything new from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Nor are gamers, for that matter. Revengeance would rather be an anime than a game in some ways. But the solid swordplay mechanics and the sheer comic craziness is enough to sustain it through the relatively short SP game. But will we still be talking about Metal Gear Rising in three months?
Overall KickBeat is an entertaining and smartly priced addition to the burgeoning rhythm game catalogue. The gameplay has an assuredness to it that rewards repeated play and feels like a learning experience. Once you factor in the Beat Your Music mode this one goes down as a bargain for fans of the genre, particularly those with a hefty catalog of MP3s.
On top of this the local multiplayer is cracking but the online component doesn't come across nearly as well. Poor net code means bouts can often suffer fits of lag that can massively affect the outcome of a game, and a lack of options means this is pretty barebones. Still, despite the small niggles this is one game that is more than worth your time.
The Banner Saga is a challenging game that is as frustrating as it is rewarding. It has its flaws, but is overall a compelling, fantastically written and beautiful game that makes you care deeply about the actions you take, whilst reminding you powerfully of the thanklessness of leadership in a difficult and dangerous world. Depending on your decisions, the game takes around 7-15 hours to complete, and yet whilst the entire narrative may not be that long, it sucks you into its fantastical Norse would and leaves you wanting more by the end. Stoic has projected a trilogy of Banner Saga titles; if the sequels live up to this first episode, the series will no doubt have a dedicated and very well-deserved following able to more than live up to its Kickstarter campaign.
And so if you can accept M&M for what it is, a fairly ugly fantasy RPG that sticks to the classic dungeon crawler formula, then you're likely to find a hearty dose of cheesy story and quick to pick up combat, that comes with just enough layers of strategy to keep it fun and varied without being overly complicated. Games in this old style genre do not come along very often, but when done correctly can hold your attention for many hours. M&M X Legacy is a pretty good example of this just dont expect Skyrim quality emersion. Skyrim is £14.99 at the moment, with thousands of awesome mods. Just saying.