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Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection offers a selection of games that still feel spectacular to play today thanks to their brutal hack-and-slash action. With the satisfyingly fast-paced combat, the frantic boss encounters, and some slick level design, there’s plenty on offer in Ryu Hayabusa’s ultra-violent adventures to keep wannabe ninjas hooked in until the very end – even if the camera angles are a bit sketchy here and there. And hey, even Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge might not be as bad as you remember. It’s not great, sure, but it’s still fun to play and compliments the sheer brilliance of the first two titles.
Pecaminosa isn’t the best action-RPG you’ll play, but it is one that certainly feels unique thanks to its slick setting and intriguing narrative. The levelling system and gunplay are neat too, though it can feel a bit sluggish in other elements of its design – especially when it comes to hand-to-hand combat or some of the repetitive objectives. Still, I enjoyed my time with the game and was kept invested right until the very end. Whilst it’s a long way from perfect, Pecaminosa is certainly worth a look if you like action-RPGs that take a different approach to the norm.
Whilst Necromunda: Hired Gun has the potential to be a decent game, some technical issues and lacking design choices see it fall short of the mark. It’s a shame too, because it has some real stand-out moments that were a lot of fun to play through; they were just hindered by a sketchy frame rate and some shooting mechanics that were inconsistent and lacked bite. I’d be interested to come back to the game again when all of the problems are fixed because it’s clear that it has potential. As it stands though, it’s pretty difficult to recommend playing Necromunda: Hired Gun on the PlayStation 5.
Guilty Gear Strive looks absolutely stunning and feels great to play, with the slick ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ combat perfect for both newbies and series veterans. The only thing that really lets the game down is a lack of meat on its bones as far as single player modes are concerned, with the Arcade Mode lacking depth and the Story Mode offering no gameplay at all. Those who are looking forward to competitive play will be happy to see that the netcode is solid throughout though, whilst the online lobbies can actually be pretty charming – even if the cutesy avatars won’t be for everyone. Overall, it’s just a really impressive fighting package and one that I’m looking forward to coming back to for more brutal beatdowns in the future.
Wreckfest offers a mighty impressive next-gen upgrade, with almost all facets of the PlayStation 5 taken advantage of to make the game better. It looks slicker, it plays smoother, it’s packed to the brim with extra detail, whilst the faster load times make it easier to dive right into the action. It also just so happens to be a whole lot of fun to play… what more could you want from a chaotic and destruction-filled racer?
Astalon: Tears of the Earth is a REALLY good old-school adventure, with its character-switching mechanic certainly proving to be a highlight. The level design is complimented by the varied abilities at your disposal, and knowing which character to use to overcome each challenge adds to the fun. Add to that a neat upgrade system and a brilliant chiptune soundtrack that fits the vibe of the game perfectly, and it becomes clear that Astalon: Tears of the Earth offers a heck of a lot more than might initially meets the eye.
Song of Horror’s atmospheric and frightening adventure certainly kept me entertained as I solved puzzles and faced off against the vicious Presence. Its balance of exploration, puzzle-solving, and showdowns with the malevolent being made for plenty of intense moments, with the sense of helplessness strengthening the game’s horror vibes. It does fall short of the mark with some aspects of its design, with the permadeath proving to be a bit of a hindrance and the character models looking a little weird throughout. But hey, at least permadeath can be turned off, even IF the developers don’t recommend it. In all, it’s easy to recommend Song of Horror to fans of the genre. It’s unnerving, it’s intense, and it’s genuinely scary, but most importantly it’s fun to play.
There’s fun to be had playing Battle Axe, but it can feel like a case of style over substance at times thanks to some repetitive gameplay. There’s just not a whole lot of variety to be found in the game, which is something that becomes more apparent after re-playing the levels of its short campaign – something you’ll do a lot of thanks to how tough the game can be. Still, there are moments where Battle Axe can shine, especially in multiplayer where it feels a bit more thrilling clearing levels. It looks absolutely outstanding too, with the 16-bit style visuals some of the best I’ve seen for some time. I just wish that the game did a little bit more to keep me invested in the adventure. It’s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but Battle Axe doesn’t offer enough to make it feel like essential playing.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance does feel its age in places, but that doesn’t stop it from offering an entertaining and exciting dungeon-crawling romp. It definitely felt special re-playing it in HD and with a silky smooth frame rate for me, especially since it’s a title I’ve come back to on a regular basis ever since its initial release back in 2001… I’m happy to report that it is just as fun for me to play now as it was then. It’s a bit of a shame that more wasn’t added to this re-release and the £29.99 price point does feel a bit steep, but it doesn’t stop Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance from offering a good time. Whilst returning gamers will probably appreciate it the most, newbies looking for a satisfying co-op quest should enjoy its adventure too.
I didn’t expect to love Earth Defense Force: World Brothers quite as much as I did, but I’m completely hooked to its absurd action-packed adventure. There’s something so satisfying about taking down its onslaught of giant monsters, whilst the varied nature of the characters you unlock allows for plenty of flexibility when putting together your team of heroes. Add online co-op with friends to the mix and you’ll just find yourself completely addicted… I know I am. Well done, Earth Defense Force – you’ve made a new fan out of me.