Where does this leave BPM: Bullets Per Minute? As it stands, BPM is a solid idea that's well executed, but it's wrapped in some mediocre game design that ultimately drags down the experience. This may sound like a harsh deconstruction of the title, but I would still recommend it to the right person. If you're very much into rhythm games or intrigued by the title, give it a shot. Its gameplay is promisingly solid, but the rest of the experience feels either underwhelming or too repetitive to appreciate over time. I would have loved to see some more drastic gameplay variations, skill-based additions, or maybe a change of pace or music to mix things up.
When all is said and done, Microsoft Flight Simulator in its current state reminds me a lot of Sea of Thieves shortly after launch. The game has a lot of promise and a lot of potential, but it is marred by a number of issues that keep it from really shining. Once the issues have been worked out in six months or a year from now, I fully expect Microsoft Flight Simulator to be a must-have title. Right now, unless you are a hardcore flight sim fanatic, I would pass on buying the premium version and just stick to playing the basic version that's included with GamePass.
Liberated is a game that could have been better. The premise is fine but full of clichés, and there's nothing new to make it more interesting to those who have heard these stories countless times already. The presentation is nice, but the pauses between page turns feel unnecessary considering the style. The gameplay feels repetitive, since direct violence is the only viable answer. Unless you've been dying to get this one the moment it was announced, you'd be better served putting it off for something else instead.
Adding up all of the changes between NHL 20 and NHL 21, it's still hard to justify the full-price release in comparison to what's new this year. I appreciate the focus on the Be A Pro mode, but there is still a lot of work to be done to improve its consistency and reduce frustrating and demotivating moments and bugs across the entire experience. The gameplay feels like it did a small leap forward with some basic AI and animation improvements, making NHL 21 very fun and smooth to play, but it's not enough to hide its aging foundation. I sincerely hope the franchise can make up ground with its next entry and, hopefully, an improved engine. If you are a dedicated fan or have skipped several of the previous entries, NHL 21 is a solid purchase, but otherwise, there isn't enough here to justify the price tag.
Resolutiion is going to appeal to players who can accept the game's vagueness in both the gameplay and story. Players would also need to appreciate wild difficulty swings with a serviceable combat system in a setting that can sometimes be described as a fever dream. It's certainly not going to be a huge hit, but there's enough here to appeal to those who are looking for something different.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps manages to be more than just a plain old sequel. It changes just enough and introduces great new mechanics and characters to truly feel like a completely separate game while being unmistakably Ori at the core. More importantly, it runs perfectly well on the Switch with only minor visual adjustments. Will of the Wisps stands as tall as its predecessor as a beautiful action-platformer that everyone should try.
On its own, The Walking Dead: Onslaught isn't a bad title. The gameplay is decent enough if you wanted something with a little more substance than the first crop of PSVR titles, and the length is more in line with a traditional modern title versus a VR-specific offering. The problem is that the bugs with hit detection and checkpoint triggering are enough to sap away any of the fun that the game could have provided. The other problem is that we aren't that far removed from The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, a much more satisfying experience that feels like what all VR games should aspire to. This probably would have gotten a higher recommendation if the release dates were reversed, but as it stands now, this is more for the TV show fan who wants a fun diversion, as long as they're willing to accept some big issues; this isn't suited for someone who's looking for the next big VR milestone title.
While NBA 2K21 is clearly different from its predecessor in several ways, I can't say it's significantly better than what we saw last season. The game still looks fantastic, the commentary is still top-notch, and many of the same battles you might have had with the previous edition are still there, like whether you want to spend so much virtual and real money. If you don't have any basketball games in your library and want to change that, then by all means, this is as good as it can possibly get.
Mafia: Definitive Edition is a remarkable reimaging of the original title that flexes its muscles in graphical fidelity and storytelling but falls flat in other areas. While I fully enjoyed my time with it, its mediocre third-person shooting mechanics, abysmal AI, and erratic difficulty can sometimes be a test of perseverance. It is a reminder of the rather old game buried under the shiny new graphical improvements. It is an impressive retelling of an open-world classic, and it exceeded my expectations on that front. Some of its shortcomings are easily overshadowed by what the title does well. If you're a fan of the franchise, this is an easy recommendation, especially given its discounted launch price and the way it re-creates the series' arguably finest entry. On the other hand, if you expect a game that's fully up to today's high standard, Mafia: Definitive Edition may be a tad underwhelming.
Star Wars: Squadrons is exactly what it sets out to be: a modern revival of the old-school Star Wars flight simulators. It isn't particularly ambitious, but it is a lot of fun. Just being able to zoom through the wreckage of a ship battle while trying to get a bead on that darn X-Wing is enough to keep your attention for a while. The game lives and dies by its multiplayer, and hopefully the community is thriving for a while. Do you want to pilot an X-Wing? Then Squadrons is the game for you. Die-hard simulator fans might find it to be too simple for their tastes.