If you haven’t tried the Serious Sam games, now’s the time. This entry truly starts at the beginning, serving as a great jumping off point for anyone to get acquainted. It’s a return of the classic run’n’gun first-person shooter with some damn funny punchlines, and Croteam gives it new life with a story and improvements all around. Serious Sam 4 is resplendent, with astronomical hordes of enemies to dispatch by devastating and varied weaponry – this is Croteam’s best shooter yet.
Crysis was a technical marvel thirteen years ago, and in some respects still is. It was the game to beat in terms of graphics and benchmarks for so many years. Crysis Remastered tries to insert itself into that conversation again, but it’s just not there yet. It’s clear that Crytek and Saber Interactive have made some mistakes here, with removing features deemed essential to the experience, cutting a level inexplicably, and making visual changes that affect the mood. It’s not a mediocre remaster, just disappointing and hamstrung in places you wouldn’t expect. Crysis Remastered is still a solid science-fiction shooter sandbox, lacking things that are supposed to be the barometer of PC gaming excellence in favor for what seems to be console compromises.
I want more from Level 91 Entertainment, and soon. In the meantime, there’s so much more work for me to do to improve my times, beat that Grand Prix that’s been eating away at me, and complete 100% of each character’s story. This is a game with heart, soul, and fantastic controls. It’s not kind to you in its first few hours, and can put many off from it, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it. It’s incredibly gorgeous to look at, but it won’t let you squeak by without working hard for your wins. Inertial Drift is revolutionary with its twin-stick drifting, full-stop.
When you figure out what your style of play and preferred level of challenge is, art of rally is a beautiful marriage of sim and arcade. This is a game that continually showcases its name through its visuals and easy-to-grasp controls. It’s simple, yet elegant. It’s complex, but intuitive. It’s satisfying, and rewarding. art of rally is transcendent.
All of that said, I think Spellbreak is a truly unique take on the Battle Royale genre which brings enough ideas to the table that it feels like a fresh multiplayer experience, even within the familiarity and comfort of the larger mechanical systems at play. It may not spark a revolution in multiplayer gaming, but it’ll give you something new to be excited about in an otherwise crowded landscape of all-too-similar shooters.
Is a dungeon still a dungeon if the majority of the levels are above ground? Well, the game doesn’t seem to need or want to answer this. When The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos isn’t crashing or displaying incorrect text, it’s actually a challenging game that provides some well-earned laughs. The combat can be lengthy, and even sometimes frustrating, but very rewarding when you scrape by with a victory. When you divorce the conflicting ideas being humorous and a hardcore tactical RPG, while ignoring the graphical faults, there is an enjoyable game in The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos. You just have to dig a bit deeper to find it.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is back in a tremendous way. Where every move, every level, every detail matches or exceeds the first two games, and doesn’t miss a step in its recreation. Movement in the game feels just right as the memories come flooding in. It’s so fresh and exciting thanks to the challenge system, as well as numerous other improvements and enhancements. Vicarious Visions have redefined what it is to be a remake, and have done so spectacularly. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is The Second Coming of Christ Air.
Windbound seeks to move beyond the “emergent story through gameplay” standard among survival games, and while it succeeds somewhat, I think it still has some room to grow. There are also some balance issues with some of the systems that the developers have talked about tuning post-launch, so it is entirely possible that Windbound will grow into something that feels overall really polished, but at present it just isn’t quite hitting all the right notes for me. There’s a lot to like about Windbound, and maybe with a little more time and care, there will be a lot to love. For now, it’s a strong concept with some really well implemented mechanics that just leaves me wanting for the better, more fleshed out version of this same thing. In the meantime though, it is a joyful, bright game that has enough going for it that you may want to keep dipping your toes back in. Just know that the waters may be a tad more shallow than they appear.
Hotshot Racing has these early 90s SEGA vibes like SEGA Rally and Virtua Racing, but the performance issues hurt the sense of speed and feeling that it’s going for. The modern-retro look and feel works well with the low-polygon environments and cars, yet crisp textures and no aliased edges. The racing itself offers different styles for all kinds of players, and the boost mechanic is really clever. Hotshot Racing lacks the overall staying power of more modern racers, but it’s sure to occupy your time online and off.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is a weird release. It doesn’t have any substantial improvements compared to the original, and maybe on PC there’s going to be less of difference than for consoles. So if you have the original on PC, there’s basically little reason to upgrade except to play the upcoming Fatesworn expansion next year. That said, if you’ve never experienced this game, now’s a great time. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning really holds up as a great RPG filled to the brim with content, and its build-your-own class system remains a highlight, backed with some really fun combat. Don’t miss out on one of 2012’s best games now.