Mortal Kombat and excessive violence had gone hand in hand from the start. But MK11 can feel like it's trying too hard, with animations that start to feel dragged out and forced. More respect for the viewer's time would have been nice. Ending a match with a long Fatal Blow and then getting the invitation to perform the fatality right after can feel like the Simpsons meme: "Stop, stop! He's already dead!"
Do you like a game whose combat and discovery mechanics are entirely divorced from stop-and-wait delivery of lengthy, meandering dialogue, always spoken by over-eager actors with thick Eastern European accents? If so, you're in for some genuinely likable moments of character development; they're just firmly nestled in the kinds of overlong stories that might have you saying "get on with it, man" after a while. The spoilable plot beats, on the other hand, feel like fine B-movie cheese. Sometimes, these are full of scare-quote "important" messages freighted with fromage. (And sometimes filled with comically intense evil, too.)
Gamers want an essential, badass combat experience no matter which characters square off. Even this early, it's settled: Smash Ultimate nails this expectation. Thus, it is the best fighting-game package to ever land on a Nintendo console.
Anybody who's tired of the games' ancient Kanto region may struggle to feel the same jolt I did, and that's fair. But PLG's brilliant tweaks on the age-old formula are so good that I hope they find their way to the next "true" generation release—and I might be sweet enough on Pokémon by then to play that game, too.
RDR II's work cycle creates a forgiving system where, no matter what vocation you pick, you can figure out a way to bring in some cash. But it's also an extremely simplified version of the hardships people actually faced in the American wilderness. Even with the simulated elements to contend with, Arthur seems to have inhuman stamina, and a constitution that strains believability, even as it provides a firm foundation for the playspace.
A competent, carefully crafted but ultimately safe iteration in a long, storied franchise that, frankly, has much better entries. Yet it's also one of the most distinct Call of Duty games, an obvious bid at turning the series into a one-stop-shop multiplayer extravaganza—the only game Call of Duty fans will ever need. Until next year, at least.