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Final Fantasy VII Rebirth rises to the challenge set by its predecessor, by bringing to life every facet of the imagined open world we’ve cherished for decades and executing the vision to near perfection by marrying it with today's technology. Square Enix’s meticulous attention to detail, no matter how minute, resonates with awe-inspiring clarity, no longer feeling the need to imagine because the world is finally alive and it is here. While not flawless, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth navigates its journey with grace and offers a fascinating experience that makes it easy to overlook the minor issues. I found myself deeply impressed by the expansive overworld, the iconic set pieces, and the thoughtful expansions that honor the beloved title’s essence, making it a strong contender for Game of the Year nods and a definite reason to finally get a PS5 if you haven't yet.
An utterly enjoyable shooter that shines the brightest with its co-op mechanics, Helldivers 2 has crushed all initial apprehensions about its live service and procedurally generated nature and delivered a dose of lovable democracy. The progression systems look to be on track to keep players invested for the foreseeable future, and the fun just doesn’t seem to want to stop anytime soon. Even with the friendly fire and accidents that arise from having others around you, the very nature of Helldivers 2 makes it more of a positive than a negative, and that is no mean feat. Super Earth requires the effort of every person to liberate the galaxy, and it is a no-brainer to enlist as soon as you can.
Suicide Squad starts super fun, as its visual presentation and plot set-up work as its strongest points to draw us into Rocksteady’s interpretation of Justice League. However, once the novelty ends, we’re left with a chaotic mess that gets tedious the more you play. Due to its repetitive gameplay loop and messy combat system, playing the game can get tiring pretty quickly once you complete its brief campaign. Fans will be divided, and given its rushed resolution, lack of nuance, and gratuitous display of how it handled DC’s beloved characters, the game can easily be misunderstood.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a fine collection of games that surely merits a purchase for any gamer who wants to be challenged in terms of their analytical skills and enjoy some exciting courtroom drama, which the Ace Attorney series offers in spades. For that, we have no objections! Newcomers don’t need to worry too much about starting their attorney journey with Apollo Justice, as the collection is strong enough to be an ideal entry point for a new protagonist in the series. You won’t need to know Phoenix Wright’s long history as an attorney, as the games present just enough information to let you know who he is, and it could serve as a reason to revisit the past titles, which are also available in compilations.
A poignant story that will matter more to longtime fans but is otherwise still accessible to newcomers, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth delivers a robust adventure that takes advantage of its turn-based system to make combat even more enjoyable, aided by an expanded job system that continues to impress. With more cohesive writing and storytelling, the cast of familiar and new faces come together for an engaging tale that strikes a great balance between the absurd and the serious, constantly driving players along for its main storyline and providing a plethora of distractions along the way to entertain. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is undoubtedly the best work RGG Studios have put out in recent times, and the team will have a hard task ahead of them if they hope to surpass the greatness that is now available for everyone to enjoy.
If there's one thing that can sum up our adoration for Granblue Fantasy: Relink, it's that Cygames has made the long wait absolutely worth it. The game feels like a product that was delivered with love and care for the franchise, highly evident in its stunningly gorgeous visuals and equally mesmerizing audio. Combat is a highlight, offering fast-paced and slick battles that get the blood pumping, accented by visual effects that may be a bit too much at times. Still, there's a lot of fun to be had, and the gameplay loop feels addictive and rewarding.
Persona 3 Reload is a triumph, considering the degree of difficulty that Atlus was challenged with when they decided to remake such a classic. Through a combination of thoughtful upgrades and leaving behind dated mechanics, this title is ready to satisfy the evolving taste of franchise fans while catering to newcomers and introducing them to the world of Persona. Persona 3 Reload proves that you can have both a challenging and accessible JRPG without losing Persona 3’s core identity, as it refines the dated designs and systems of the original by bringing it in line with Persona 5, offering a modern take that stands tall among its peers.
Tekken 8 makes the wait worth it by successfully introducing new systems that make sense and improve both the player's and spectator's points of view with explosive action. Newcomers will appreciate the thoughtful onboarding process while giving veteran and pro players a deep combat system to sink hundreds of hours into. It feels like Tekken 8 has successfully taken the step to the next level, releasing an installment that's not just a simple iteration but with significant updates and changes that make it feel fresh and fun. Time will tell if the team can successfully support it the way they have with Tekken 7, but this is an extremely solid launch experience that's certainly ready for the big stage.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered was a must-play then, and it remains a must-play even today. The way the story and gameplay hold up is a testament to how high the bar was set during its original release. Intense, raw, and emotionally charged, The Last of Us Part II Remastered is a reminder of Naughty Dog’s sheer brilliance. The addition of a No Return mode makes this package even sweeter, adding a roguelite-inspired affair that works well given the context and systems of the game. Offering hours of repeatable gameplay, this mode alone is worth the $10 upgrade fee if you already own the PS4 version, making this the definitive way to play the game. Despite the hard-to-spot visual upgrades, the game still looks as visually impressive as ever.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a supremely stylish and stellar start to 2024, and coming from a company that usually just spews out open-world titles, this is such a welcome entry in their portfolio. Developing this as a "smaller" title worked wonders for the game, as Prince of Persia fits perfectly in a Metroidvania setting that puts gameplay at the forefront of it all.
While it does scratch a certain niche, I wouldn't dismiss Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising as just another anime-inspired fighting game. It's a fun offering to get started with, and as you get better skill-wise, you're left with a moderately sufficient technical fighter with a large roster of characters to choose from. There's something for everybody in Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising, and don't let its "fighting game genre" think that there are only versus modes available. The story mode allows you to enjoy a single-player experience where you can progress a character through the lore while learning the fundamentals of the game. Even if you don't embark on a fighting game career, there's enough content here to keep you interested and engaged, which is a very good deal for its price!
While the FarCry formula is certainly evident in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, the game does just enough to make it stand out from similar titles that simply tick off boxes in the open-world formula. The world is beautiful and interesting enough to explore, and Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment have done well to translate this IP into a worthwhile title for some players, especially fans of the franchise.
Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is another serviceable entry in the series, and while it doesn't break or tread new ground, players can expect a fun but shallow outing with some of their favorite ninjas in the Naruto series. Even with over 130 characters, the game is bogged down by a lack of modes, lackluster English voices, and a new story that felt predictable. While it did have some high points and some emotional moments, it doesn't stand out too much, which might be a disappointment.
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a gift for fans of the series in more ways than one. It's a refreshing return for long-time hero Kazuma Kiryu as well as the well-loved Dragon Engine. It's great to get back into the shoes of Kiryu, whether it is through combat, exploration, or playing the many mini-games. It may be the last time we're graced with his presence in this type of format, so enjoy it! That being said, it may be a stretch for newcomers and casual fans to go deep into the Like A Dragon lore with this title. I mentioned earlier that there were some quirks that I'm willing to forgive, but many newcomers will probably be confused. I recommend starting out with an earlier title and coming back to this title when ready, but it definitely is supplementary reading to get a better grasp of the overall lore.
Persona 5 Tactica has a wealth of systems and mechanics that work well together, elevating the experience and giving the genre a fresh twist that's more than just the usual. Paired with series staples such as One More and Persona fusions, all of these form a cohesive effort that is brimming with personality and fun. That said, it is a "lighter" take on the genre. It isn't particularly difficult or challenging, and Personas aren't particularly useful enough, unlike the mainline titles. Even then, Persona 5 Tactica is a serviceable spin-off that fans may enjoy before the inevitable move to the next mainline Persona game.
Dave the Diver is a really fun experience with two disparate but complementary mechanics. With its quirky characters and a ridiculous main story that investigates the mystery behind the Blue Hole, it is a great indie game that will keep you engaged through its many mechanics and almost never-ending content until you're finished with the story or when you're ready to move on from catching fish and serving sushi. Dave the Diver is a breath of fresh air for the indie scene, especially for the highly saturated genre of roguelites. By adding the restaurant management mechanic to an enjoyable and addictive story loop, Mintrocket Games has a winner in their hands.
The Invincible is a well-adapted piece that brings to life a complex sci-fi novel into a fully immersive experience. However, we're also treated to much of its meditative and tedious aspects to create an isolated world filled with complex themes that can be satisfying to more discerning sci-fi aficionados, but as a video game, it is definitely not for everybody.
Star Ocean The Second Story R is a superb remake that takes an already content-heavy game and further improves the adventure with meaningful additions that enhance the experience by a wide margin. From simple quality-of-life conveniences to added crafting and customizing depth, Star Ocean The Second Story R does not disappoint. Despite launching in between big releases, Star Ocean The Second Story R is a fantastic RPG experience that shouldn’t be overlooked. Fans of the original will be pleased with the breadth and scope that the remake offers, while newcomers can use this as a stepping stone to dive further into the series.
This was a very tough call. Considering this is a collection of some amazing games in an iconic videogame franchise, we would want you to rush and get them right away. That is, if, and only if, you’re a complete newcomer to the series. For longtime fans who have likely bought and already lived through these games during their release, we can only recommend them if you have a really bad Metal Gear itch that you want to scratch. These are practically unchanged from the originals, so if you have the previous iterations, then you're not really missing out.
Lords of the Fallen doesn't reinvent the wheel and can be fun at times with some nifty new mechanics, such as traversing dual worlds and setting up custom checkpoints. However, due to its uneven difficulty spikes and some performance issues, Soulslike fatigue sets in a lot quicker compared to other games of its type. I wouldn't check off Lords of the Fallen entirely, as it really gets a lot of aspects right in creating a fun Soulslike game. The visuals and gameplay are on point, creating the mood and feel that many Soulslike aficionados are searching for. However, I feel it is a missed opportunity due to its many technical issues.