Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a wonderfully harmonious game. It's enormous, packed with more things to see and do than ever before, but Ubisoft have managed to make every little thing mean something in tangible, impactful terms. Black Flag is a wonderful piratical romp that manages to revive the stealthy focus of earlier series instalments, whilst delivering an outstanding naval sandbox, an excellent setting and story, and lashings of swashbuckling action. Unmissable.
Call Of Duty: Ghosts is a surprisingly tough sell on current-gen consoles, and wastes the opportunity to push the franchise forward in any meaningful way. Though still a solidly-built shooter that offers the kitchen sink, the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions lack players and features compared to both the next-gen editions, PC and even - most damningly of all - Black Ops II.
Enemy Within is an improvement on an already outstanding game. It takes familiar systems, builds on top of them and challenges us in new ways, once again wearing our fingernails down to the bone and frazzling our nerves by making us second-guess each and every decision we make on and off the battlefield. It's bigger, deeper, and more challenging than ever before, forcing players to rethinktheir approaches, and expanding massively on replayability once more. Prepare to lose weeks to this game...AGAIN!
The production values are cracking, with outstanding voice work and some great dialogue, not to mention an ending that flips the script nicely and sets up an intriguing sequel. But sadly the first part of Burial at Sea flounders in its attempts at nostalgia, mashing different parts of the Bioshock legacy together in an easy hybrid that lacks the atmosphere of the original game and completely fails to capitalise upon the expansive vision of Infinite. Half-hearted fan-service at best.
Killer Instinct is a brutal, attractive and responsive fighting game that feels fantastic on the new Xbox One controller. Its unique combo system provides accessible depth, bolstered by balanced characters and a pleasingly forward-thinking business model.
Stood against the best SHMUPs of this passing generation, it's not necessarily as special as it seems, helped along by being the first and only current game of its kind on the PS4. But it's a great little PS Plus pack-in for new adopters, and will no doubt please genre fans immensely on the harder difficulty settings with a purity of purpose and execution that makes for a deliciously balanced and focused slice of SHMUP action.
Another magnificent Saori Kobayashi soundtrack and some visually arresting scenery can't save Crimson Dragon from the mean-spirited cynical sickness at its core. What could have been a gorgeous and uncomplicated shooter has been hacked into tiny chunks in the name of microtransactions, butchered almost beyond recognition until you push through several miserable hours. Microsoft And Grounding broke their own game. Willingly.