Over the last month, my social life has suffered, my diet has gotten worse, and I have spent many an hour sitting on a beanbag and yelling into my headset. When I’m not in this fictional Washington DC, I’m sure as heck thinking of it. The Division 2 is that good. The cocktail of great features, compelling mission design, and immediate fun is a potent one that leaves me wanting more every time. Massive and Ubisoft have done exceedingly well in their launch of The Division 2, though it remains to be seen whether they can support the community with exciting updates in the long run. Time will certainly tell, but at the moment, The Division 2 is a game I would unreservedly recommend.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing through Yoshi’s Crafted World. It’s smooth to play, easy to pick up and put down while also offering a degree of challenge to those who might be a little rusty in the platformer department. While I don’t think it necessarily does a whole lot in terms of taking the genre to the next level or revolutionising it in any way, what it does do is actively showcase the solid foundations of its predecessors while also making small quality of life improvements to the gameplay. At this stage of the franchise’s development, I think that’s a reasonable place for it to be. I’m also curious to see where the series progresses from here on out, and what future improvements will look like to an already well-rounded bundle of dinosaur shenanigans.
I have spent A LOT of time playing FromSoftware games. Ever since I fell in love with Dark Souls, I’ve poured copious amounts of hours into each game without batting an eyelid, and Sekiro is no different in this regard. Much like Bloodborne, it’s refreshing to see the Japanese developer step out of their comfort zone and try something new, with the end result here being a resounding success. Its combination of deep combat, excellent boss fights, and enthralling level design has left its mark as my favourite game to come from Miyazaki and his team. If you like any of From’s previous work, you owe it to yourself to try Sekiro, and even if you don’t and want to give it a try, I can’t recommend it enough.
Everything DMC fans want is right here. Stylish combat returns in full force, complete with three characters to master with unique mechanics and playstyles. The game looks gorgeous and has some of the most dazzling displays of theatrics you could hope for. Even the story is good, but who gives a damn when the gameplay is this fantastic!? I haven’t enjoyed myself this much with a game in years, and you’d be remiss not to check it out. DMC5 is a tour de force of fun, and if you’re looking for some over-the-top goodness, this is the jackpot.
One Piece: World Seeker is an encouraging step in the right direction for licensed anime games. It’s not outstanding in any way, and it doesn’t push any boundaries, but the open world design feels refreshing, the gameplay is fun enough, and, in this particular case, the pull of the One Piece franchise is enough to warrant attention from the gaming mainstream. There are still many teething and performance issues that will need to be fixed if World Seeker is going to be considered a design template for future titles. However, for now, I’m cautiously optimistic about what the future holds for titles like this, and that’s a far better feeling than I’ve had about anime video games in a long time.
You don’t really need me here to convince you to try playing Final Fantasy VII. Even if you’re not a long-time fan of the JRPG genre, you’ve likely already heard about the refined Final Fantasy combat system and the unforgettable story of this classic. With the added bonus of the modern quality of life features, there’s no real reason not to go ahead with this if you’re still on the fence. It’s arguably the best way to get you into the series short of Square Enix finally granting me my wishes and giving us all the splendour of Final Fantasy VIII on the Switch.
I know a director isn’t the be-all end-all of a development project, and the idea of videogame “auteurs” has been romanticised to a ridiculous degree in this industry. That said, given that this is the first (and last) major release for the game without Tabata on board, his absence was notable. At no point was the game ever broken, it’s execution was definitely “competent,” it just felt incredibly uninspired. Even the story, arguably the biggest draw-card given the overall mysteriousness of Ardyn in the main game, was cryptically conveyed. Maybe it could be put down to a “B-team” in the studio working on this last piece while their new IP is in the works, or a new director trying to find their groove in the wake of their predecessor. It’s certainly not a knock-out, however, and I’d only really recommend playing this for the sake of completion.
My real question is: Why? Why was this made, and for whom? If ToeJam & Earl: Back In The Groove was intended as a remake, why try to emulate the original so closely in appearance and design while making everything measurably worse? If it was intended to be a sequel that only had a passingly similar design then, again, why make it so close to the original? Especially when the original is so much better in basically every regard. I’m not exaggerating when I say that in the process of writing this review, I ended up playing the original for far longer than this new version. At first, it was just to see if I remembered the game utterly wrong, as being something fun when it wasn’t. But it is, and I kept on playing it because it was preferable to this…”alternative.” The original is a great “arcade” experience, even by the standards of today, and you should definitely go play it if you want that nostalgia hit. Back In The Groove will just bore you at best and make you uncomfortable at worst.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a game that still holds up today, so it’s no surprise it’s just as great on the 3DS with the release of Extra Epic Yarn. Much like with Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey earlier in the year, I’m excited that Nintendo is still offering us the opportunity to play these older games we may have missed. With the coming release of Yoshi’s Crafted World, as well, there’s no time like now than to revisit the title that ushered in this fresh approach to platformers by Nintendo. The new features might not add much to the overall experience, but if you haven’t played it before, do yourself a favour and boot up the ol’ girl for one last good old fashioned adventure.
The Caligula Effect: Overdose has a lot of interesting design elements to set it apart from the crowd: the combat, the story premise, the recruitable school body. While these sort of unique elements are normally enough to secure my interest, the performance issues and poor character development make it difficult to get invested in. It’s certainly far from approaching the lofty heights of the Persona series, but it may still be able to catch your interest.
I didn’t anticipate that Anthem would launch as poorly as it has. I use the word “launch” because I know a majority of the game’s current issues can and will be fixed if EA and BioWare stick with it. However, the game currently isn’t worth it in its current state. It’s a technically inconsistent mess of a looter shooter that can’t seem to nail down the fundamentals of the genre. The most diehard fans of The Division and Destiny might find something enjoyable in Anthem, but you’ll quickly discover there’s nothing to keep players from returning to those other games because they do it so much better. Anthem has a lot of potential that I hope it can tap into it, but it’ll be some time before it reaches a state that’s worth investing in.
The Occupation is an excellent concept for a game, and something I hope to see done more in the future, but it failed in several regards this time around. The story is perfectly functional, but the implied intrigue is nothing more than an implication, and any curiosity I had to learn more was purely in disbelief that it could be as simple as it seemed. The mechanics and systems, particularly those built around stealth, are far from refined, and further still from “fun.” Even fundamental interface components are tremendously flawed, as well as a bunch of other technical issues throughout. I love the premise of The Occupation so much, and I genuinely hope to see more in its ilk, but I simply can’t recommend this game.
While Kingdom Hearts 3 is definitely a game that represents the apex of its many iterations and one I’d recommend to longtime fans without hesitation, to me it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. There are indeed elements about the game you could fairly criticise, but in a journey that has spanned close to the length of two decades, it’s hard to quantify something that makes you feel so strongly, an intangible essence that is immeasurable in scope and depth. At the very foundation of the series lies a message and courage that I hope never becomes lost, and is something I want to strive to hold in mind every day. It’s unapologetically optimistic and rewinds the clock back to the age of innocence, and in these times I feel like that’s something we could all use in our lives.
There are a lot of ways this port of Final Fantasy IX could have been so much more than it is, from a simple change like a console-relevant UI to more challenging ones like the improvement to the background textures. While these gripes are justified in my opinion, the experience of the core game itself has not been affected: Final Fantasy IX is easily one of the best stories in the series with a cast on-par, if not stronger, than any recent game you care to name. While I feel it does little to win over modern gamers, fans of the genre who didn’t get to enjoy this one in their childhood would be doing themselves a disservice to not pick this one up immediately.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about New Dawn. While I applaud Ubisoft for being willing to introduce new mechanics into the tried and true Far Cry formula, it’s a shame that not many of them are successful. The RPG-esque hit point system doesn’t feel at home in what has so far been a traditional first-person shooter series. Weapon upgrades have been dumbed down without the meaningful updates that were available in previous games. And the setting, despite being visually appealing, doesn’t offer returning players anything significant beyond a merely serviceable narrative. New Dawn isn’t a bad game, but it certainly feels like a missed opportunity.
God Eater 3 is a game that takes a still relatively niche genre and does some interesting things with it both narratively and in terms of gameplay. It’s a much more story-focused experience with an interesting world and compelling cast of characters that’s currently unrivalled by other games of its type, but it’s also ultimately held back by its gameplay. There’s a distinct lack of combat depth later on in the game, the locales feel uninspired, and its repetitive nature makes God Eater 3 a title I can only recommend to those itching for more games of this kind.
Jump Force doesn’t just fall awfully short of its potential, but it fails to be fun, engaging or rewarding in any way. Combat is simple and repetitive, the story is uninteresting and told in an incredibly boring way, and the visuals fail to capture the essence of their inspirations. Beyond these annoyances, the considerable fraction of the game spent just on loading screens, plus the amount of time needed to mindlessly walk from one side of a bloated map to another feels outright criminal to charge for. Jump Force is an infuriating game, forcing the player to waste as much time as they spend playing, and degrading several excellent, beloved properties to mindless monotony.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey was an enjoyable and familiar return to a game I thoroughly enjoyed years ago. Once again, Nintendo and the developers have delivered some top-notch work, injecting a fresh feel into this game and bringing it to a whole new audience while also delighting original fans like myself. With all the best kind of updates and smart inclusions, this title has rightfully earned a place alongside its companion titles on the 3DS system and all that’s left now is to wait for the inevitable Partners In Time remake.
I don’t hate Crackdown 3, and that’s because I knew exactly what it was I was getting into and wanted that very thing. While the original Crackdown games don’t rate so highly with most, I had a real blast with them for the stupid fun they offered, and Crackdown 3 was the same for me. It certainly helped that it was short because if I had to deal with the game’s many problems for long, I’d be singing a different tune. And those problems that are present could be enough to put off anyone not familiar with the series that wants to try. The design is underdone and the gameplay exceedingly simplistic and unchallenging, with a co-op mode fraught with technical issues and a couple of PvP modes not worth a damn. The good news is that a sequel, or maybe a significant update, is absolutely set up by the ending, which means that Microsoft must be planning on keeping the series around. It absolutely has the potential, and under Microsoft’s new “Initiative” program, I reckon Crackdown could be something really great. Right now, it’s just really alright.
Metro Exodus is a flawed game, but this doesn’t hold it back from being a stellar narrative-driven experience. It’s hard to express what it’s like to play a shooter so invested in its atmosphere and immersing the player in its world. 4A Games have proven yet again that they’re amoung the best of the best at making these kinds of games. Metro Exodus is an engaging journey from start to finish, a tense survival based shooter that knows what it does well and does not hold back to ensure you know that it does them well. If you’ve never played a Metro title, I’d recommend starting with 2033, as narrative is a core part of the series, but Exodus is a perfectly fine place to start if it interests you, and long-time fans will be thoroughly pleased with how it’s turned out.