Ars Technica's Reviews
In all of the best possible ways, Bayonetta 3 is leaning into the parts of itself that are more earnest than ever—all while going harder than ever on doing whatever it takes to simply be cool as hell. If you're looking for a strong, coherent storyline, this was never the series for you. But if you are a fan of flashy spectacles, a varied and creative arsenal, and larger-than-life characters, Bayonetta 3 more than delivers.
Similarly, boss battles feel woefully undertested and suffer from agonizing spikes of challenge and confusion. There's also an overworld aspect of spending in-game money to unlock new paths, though many of the unlocks don't actually lead to new levels; instead, they only dole out cosmetics used to decorate a "locker" interface that is tucked into the very back corner of a single multiplayer lobby. (Decorating your tiny Splatoon 3 locker is perhaps the utter opposite of trimming a bonsai tree; the act of putting objects into your virtual locker is a nightmare of physics collisions and red Xs indicating that, no, you can't decorate your locker the way you want.)
Graphical upgrades and smarter enemies make this version of TLOU the best one yet, but those updates fail to address an issue at this game's core: TLOU was originally designed for the PlayStation 3, and at its worst, TLOU Pt 1 still feels like a PlayStation 3 game.
If Digital Eclipse addresses even half of my nitpicks in a future patch, that would take this collection past its current state of "good enough" to "easily recommended" territory. In the meantime, weigh your own particular nostalgic appetite before reaching in for a slice of the Cowabunga Collection-or order a tastier pie from the competition with Shredder's Revenge.
When I got the wingsuit working, I could fly decent distances while diving to maintain speed, then pull up on my joystick to catch more air and keep going. But the wingsuit is just a wingsuit, and in a series like Saints Row, that feels like a missed opportunity. Why not let wingsuit flyers shoot a gun, fly higher with a jetpack, or grab onto power lines and fling themselves around? After I experimented with flight a few times, I found the system too unwieldy for consistently convenient travel and leaned on fast travel or cars.
One early moment appears to block players' progress with a gate, but with no other direction to go, players will likely walk toward the gate, only to realize its bars are wide enough to let a cat easily pass through. It's one of the many examples of the game reminding players that they are tiny and can get through small paths, and I really appreciated when Stray's puzzles rewarded proper "just walk right through" thinking.
Last Course also includes a series of five optional battles that revolve around chess-themed bosses, though in these, all weapons and charm-based offensive abilities are disabled. You can only defeat these bosses by keeping track of flashing-pink parts of the bosses, then repeatedly colliding with those with your parry maneuver. Miss Chalice's updated parry ability makes her a great choice for this optional boss-rush sequence, but however you face it, Studio MDHR uses this parry-only restriction to execute some of the series' most memorable boss moments (even if they're a bit easier than the standard bosses).
There is a story, told mostly through notes left strewn around the environments, but I’d be lying if I said I paid any attention to it. The draw here is the gameplay loop, and if what I’ve described above sounds tedious to you, the game is absolutely not for you. Rogue Legacy 2 is a game about repeated failure, and only slow, incremental progress will lead to your success.
NSS bowling doesn't yet include its "challenge" lanes in online matchmaking, but I hope these come in a patch because they're the exact twist that the Wii Sports formula needs. As played in either local multiplayer or online friends-only matches, these include static and moving obstacles in lanes, and they randomly rotate in each frame. I like how they force players to shift their throwing position and wrist rotation to get different kinds of strikes, instead of doing the same wrist-waggle "cheese" moves repeatedly. The default bowling mode is fine, but the challenge mode is where it's at for consistently refreshing virtual bowling.
GT7 will try to tempt you to open your real wallet to buy in-game credits a little more frequently than you might like. Each time you buy a car or a tuning part in the game, the dialogue includes an option to top up your credits via the PlayStation Store.
I can appreciate that Elden Ring doesn't want to hold a player's hand and gently guide them to the next point of interest, as so many other games do. But that lack of guidance often seems to slip into a willingness to let a player wander aimlessly if they're not careful. Players who use guides or rely on the in-game hints from other players may not feel this issue so acutely, but aimlessness has been a major feature of my time with the game so far.
Basically, 343 charts a few dozen encounters and terrain paths that would have been found in prior games' linear campaign levels, then spreads them over a series of floating, connected islands to make its open world. Additionally, 343 has a nifty tool in its toolbox: Halo's 20-year-long gimmick of warping enemies from outer space whenever needed. Infinite kicks serious butt in these moments. Follow your map to an icon or simply walk up to a weird-looking point of interest and the game will start inserting foes, all hunkered behind carefully crafted terrain that separates you from them. Surprise: it's a miniature level!
Though that's an exaggeration (if a slight one), allowing you to kit out any character you want with whatever equipment naturally tilts combat from decisive to unwieldy. Players can access whatever tools necessary for self-sufficiency or going off solo, guns blazing. Don't expect to get many revives from your teammates even when medics are around. Meanwhile, this half-exploit system exposes several character gimmicks as same-y, underwhelming, or borderline useless-this is absolutely a game that plays favorites. Combined with the level design, it becomes painfully clear how disorganized and thoughtless the bulk of 2042's systems really are.