All MachineGames and Arkane Studios needed to do was make a straightforward, cooperative Wolfenstein experience. Instead, Youngblood replaces the series' celebrated narrative twists and turns with humdrum XP grinding and a live-service model. It would be bad in most games, but the fact that it's in a Wolfenstein title makes it sting a little bit worse.
Bucking the trend of "bigger, badder, louder, faster," Samurai Shodown is a return to the glory days of SNK's beloved sword-slashing fighting franchise. The slower, more thoughtful combat style the franchise is known for is on full display here, challenging players not just to be better at fighting games, but also smarter. Wrapped in a beautiful overall package and given some interesting new roster additions, Samurai Shodown is probably the best new chapter we could have ever hoped for.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is at once a joyful and joyless recreation of a stone-cold classic. Packed to the gills with content, this drive down memory lane still contains a sense of the original's magic, and artfully decorates your favorite tracks and drivers with an impeccable attention to detail. But it's not immune to the modern era, and the looming threat of live-service DLC and nostalgia-grabbing looms heavy over the entire game.
Super Mario Maker 2 will please both dedicated level-builders and newcomers. Story Mode gives players a nice pu-pu platter of professionally made Mario levels, and the inclusion of 3D World’s suite of tools and moves offer even the most seasoned veterans more with which to experiment.
My Friend Pedro is an enthusiastic, stylish take on the shoot 'em up genre that's elevated by its complex level designs and clever puzzles. It combines so many mechanics from so many games that you might lose track, but these elements all come together to create a unified, singular experience. If you ever wondered what you'd get by crossing Hard Boiled and Super Mario Bros., it would look a lot like My Friend Pedro.
Making a spin-off to a beloved niche series that then drops its most popular character seemed like a crazy idea at first, but Judgment is a success beyond what I could have expected. Though it never quite escapes the shadow of its older siblings, this tale of a fallen lawyer and his refusal to let go of the truth provides an experience that has a lot to offer both Yakuza fans and newcomers alike.
Between its compelling art direction, surprisingly complex strategic decisions, and inventive weaponry, there's a lot much to love in Void Bastards. Unfortunately, its overall structure and narrative will leave you feeling empty by the end. That's not to say you shouldn't let yourself enjoy all that this charming, stressful game has to offer. Just don't expect to feel totally satisfied once you escape to the right nebula.
A lot of people are probably going to sleep on, or not even know about, A Plague Tale: Innocence—and that's a shame. It's a gripping, touching, emotional, yet at times horrifying experience, one that feels quite unlike almost any other game out there.
Even after 8 years, the Rage series is still having an identity crisis. It has all the signifiers of an open-world game, but it lacks the overall narrative that makes the world compelling, and its best bits—that is, its gunfights—take places in either small, complexly designed arenas or in hallways, like a linear shooter. The greatest irony about Rage 2 is that it might have been an even better, more interesting game if it was more like the first game with a fresh coat of (pink) paint. What it is now is just a bunch of sound and fury, which can be fun for a while, but it's ultimately an empty experience.
While it's an unabashed Left 4 Dead clone that never extends beyond the conservative concepts and budgets that obviously constrained its development, World War Z offers up an enjoyable adventure that at times does a lot with the little it attempts. No matter whether playing the co-op campaign or competitive multiplayer, there's enough good to the game to make the bad not feel as bad.
Derivative and beset by astounding technical problems, Days Gone is a rare misfire among Sony's first-party efforts. While the core fantasy of surviving in a world overrun with infected occasionally shines through, Bend Studio doesn't deliver nearly enough compelling moments to justify the long slog it takes to see this mediocre story through to its end.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will try your patience. As you might expect given its developer, it's a devastatingly difficult game that will require your skill and concentration. It's beautifully designed, with a clever new combat system and some of the most cinematic action ever in a From game, and it will kill you over and over again. All told, it's the best game I've ever hated, and I never want to play it again.
The strong gameplay design from Kirby's Epic Yarn still shines a decade later, and the carefully-crafted additions in Extra make the original feel threadbare in comparison. While some of the new features may feel a bit "extra," that is the name of the game. A couple of addicting new minigames and added higher-difficulty game modes for more advanced players make Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn a game anyone could enjoy.
Dead or Alive 6 is a solid new chapter in Team Ninja's long-running fighting game series that has rarely been satisfied with just being "solid." All of the groundwork that needed to be built here was built, but upon it was placed a mostly by-the-numbers experience that is too often just as frustrating as it is fun. While a reworking of the game could leave it in a much better place in the future (and on newer consoles), for now it's a good release for people wanting more Dead or Alive as long as they don't mind its value is limited.
Anthem is a beautiful car that is an absolute joy to drive, but so far, it only has enough gas to get you a couple miles. Also, the wheels will periodically fall off. Sold as a live-service game, fans of Anthem's exhilarating gameplay have to hold out hope that things will improve, but there's no denying the initial expedition was rough.
ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is a literal return-to-form for the series, and longtime fans should be happy about that. While it might not be a hardcore roguelike or fully integrate its more modern design choices, it does exactly what it sets out to do: give players a true sequel to the original Genesis classic. It's hard to say how far this formula could have come in 28 years if the series hadn't taken detours into other genres, but for now I'm just happy that it's gone back to its roots.
Jump Force is the kind of game that would usually just come and go due to how unimpressive and flawed of an effort it is, and it's more than likely that that's exactly what it is going to do. And yet, buried beneath all of the bad is some honest amount of good. It's almost a shame that Jump Force wasn't more of a mess in everything other than its 3-vs-3 fights, because the game would be a whole lot more enjoyable if we were able to laugh at its terribleness more often.
Crackdown 3 is just more Crackdown. For some players, that will be enough. But compared to what Crackdown 3 initially promised, what we ended up with seems lacking in depth and destruction. When it's good, like with its boss fights, there's nothing like it. Unfortunately, there's just too much filler, and with its most exciting feature demoted to a fairly minor multiplayer mode, Crackdown 3 just isn't the step forward that it could have been.
Fire may have rained from the skies and wiped out entire nations, but the action in Far Cry New Dawn is pretty much the same as it ever was, only less so. A few interesting new tweaks to the series' formula are overshadowed by a cut-rate campaign, a story that gets colossally dumb in the third act, and a resource system that feels both unbalanced and pointless.