Beyond the horrible repetition and seemingly tacked-on multiplayer, Marvel’s Avengers genuinely features a golden single-player narrative. Kamala Khan is one of the best and most surprising additions to the game. Her highly relatable personality is exceptionally geeky, and pushes the campaign in wonderful, albeit cliched, directions. Character progression can be a bit tedious outside of single player, with a handful of missions, bosses, and enemies that tick the necessary boxes at first. Sadly, the very same aspects that work exceptionally well in single-player serve as nothing more than unnecessary effort and filler in multiplayer. At its core, Marvel’s Avengers has a serious identity crisis. It absolutely is worth picking up for any comic book fan to enjoy the super narrative, but ultimately has very little replay value for anyone who dislikes monotonous grinding.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds is, ultimately, one of the worst games this side of the current console generation. While it has some cool-looking comic book cutscenes and a decent story, the campaign quickly devolves into a repetitive grind with no real end. The grind is so boring that players actively feel encouraged to spend real-world money just to get anywhere in the game. This is astonishing, to say the least, and extremely unacceptable. Multiplayer would make sense if played with friends, but after a little while, there is no feasible reason to continue playing. Wrestlers feel generic and unoriginal, except for the five overarching classes. Frankly, the game is not worth recommending, not even for the most hardcore of wrestling fans.
Mafia Definitive Edition is an all-round great package. It looks and sounds phenomenal. From expert motion capture and stellar performances by all cast involved, down to outstanding writing, it has the makings of an A-class title. Gameplay may be a bit wonky, but there is so much else that brings the game up to the standards of the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Grand Theft Auto V – but perhaps not as broad in scope. Hangar 13 have done a fantastic job and made Mafia Definitive Edition a must-have for any fan of the period, setting or mobster plot.
Repetition can be both a crux and a boon. If done right, video games — and practically any form of media — can feel unique in their execution, regardless of how much repetition is featured. WRC 9 ticks all the correct boxes and then some. While the game largely feels exactly like WRC 8, it is clear Kylotonn Racing’s tweaks and changes were precise and immaculate. The changes may have been small, but their impact is significant in the grand scheme. Furthermore, KT Racing’s valuable additions to multiplayer serve as adequate methods to improve upon previous misgivings - particularly that of WRC 8. It is not a perfect game in any stretch and falls just short of what Dirt Rally 2.0 manages to do right. Even so, it is a part of the upper echelon of simulators and stands above many others in the rally genre. At the end of the day, WRC 9 serves as an excellent addition to any rally fan’s video game library; thanks to its attention to detail, excellent sound production and incredible new physics.
Paper Mario: The Origami King is a delight. It is clear Intelligent System has put a lot of love and care into the game. While it is not the greatest Mario game of recent memory, it certainly stands on its own merit as a unique take on the Mario franchise. In a way, Paper Mario: The Origami King redefines this beloved spin-off series, and is an excellent addition to Mario's portfolio. It features unique folded paper characters with colourful and bold stages reflecting all walks of life. The new characters are memorable and cute, while all the favourites have returned to feature in some form or another. It is a definite must-have for fans, and will assuredly serve as a nice entry point for players looking for an entry point into the iconic plumbers lively escapades.
While questionable decisions have been made, fans of the franchise will either have to adjust and get used to the brand-new direction or simply stave off purchasing Project Cars 3 altogether. While it does some things right, there are many things it does badly. The biggest issue lies in how Project Cars 3 wants to deviate into a wholly new direction. It wants to take the hardcore simulation with its niche audience into a new arcade racer direction where many more players will jump onto the bandwagon. This is a commendable change. However, Slightly Mad Studios should have taken its fans into account with this decision. If Project Cars 3 had any other name — perhaps denoted with a subtitle — it would have been a much easier transition. Alas, it is not, and this is the card supporters have been dealt. Thankfully, the game does come onto its own in higher tier races. It also features a massive selection of vehicles and races feel good, as long as simulation-levels of play are not expected. While AI needs a lot of work, it does fare better when higher speed divisions come into play. Project Cars 3 is the first step in reimagining the franchise as an arcade racer, however, fans of simulation titles are better off with Project Cars 2.
While it is still unknown whether Breakpoint: Red Patriot features as the final DLC content in the Year One pass; it is without a doubt a great addition to the game. With ten brand-new story missions, Red Patriot follows directly on from Deep State while also acting as a standalone narrative – pushing Nomad’s story further into one of greatness. Much like how Scott Mitchel is the legendary Ghost Recon operative from past and present titles, Anthony “Nomad” Perryman is being set up to be the next generation legendary Ghost Recon operative. The missions are exciting and hearken back to Wildlands while also teasing how Breakpoint is linked to other Ghost Recon titles, whereas the cosmetic and gameplay additions serve as the extra cherries on the top of a good piece of DLC. Red Patriot is only the next step in what will undoubtedly be a massive multi-year journey for Nomad, whose journey began with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Whether you decide to get Ghost Recon Breakpoint: Red Patriot as a standalone addition, or as part of the Year One Pass, there is no denying it will be well worth the cost. It may not be exceptionally robust, but it offers enough content to tide over the wait for other post-game additions.
While Vampire: The Masquerade – Shadows of New York has a few negative points, it ultimately works well as a standalone title. Admittedly, it is a bit of a hard sell when compare it to the main titles in the series and even the proviso expansion, but it mostly gets it right in the end. Although the loss of player initiative and a noticeable lack of player choice do mar the overall experience, the tight narrative is ultimately enhanced by an extremely relatable protagonist – who helps to keep things interesting from start to finish. Vampire: The Masquerade – Shadows of New York is a Visual Novel that takes a step back from the flashiness of its predecessor, but still manages to stand on its own as a decent companion. It is perfect for anyone who wants more World of Darkness, but may come off as a bit of a surprise to fans of gameplay-rich Visual Novels.
From beautifully remodelled pro skaters, aged to look like they do in 2020, to maps rebuilt from scratch, it is evident Vicarious Visions thought of it all. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is a masterful remake. Every pixel, menu option, and in-game object has been meticulously crafted to exude streams of nostalgia while keeping things fresh and new. It is a beautifully balanced experience where new players will never even know of the massive legacy the game hides below its surface. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is an excellent return to form for the franchise, and a must have title for fans of the originals.
Frostpunk: On the Edge is a simple (yet nerve-wracking) end-game scenario that offers a tiny glimpse into the future of New London, and the regime they impose on all of their offshoot settlements. Whatever 11Bit decides to do now that Frostpunk is done with, I am certain it will play into the ending On the Edge sets up. This War of Mine set in the Frostpunk universe, perhaps? Whatever the case may be, it is genuinely a sad day, knowing this is the end for one of the best city builders this side of the video game generation.