War never changes, but the console and gaming landscape has dramatically over the last seven years. In the time since Fallout 3's release, open-world games have evolved quite a bit thanks to that game's success. New platforms have also emerged, giving developers the resources to make larger, more detailed worlds for players to explore, while adding in the additional graphical benefits new hardware provides. While the rest of the world was moving on at an incredible pace, Bethesda was taking its time with Fallout 4. A proper fourth entry in the series needed to be bigger and better than before, but the wait was excruciating for fans. Though the franchise hasn't come quite as far in the last seven years as we'd hoped, but Fallout 4 is still an impressive piece of work that's not to be missed.
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Simply titled Need for Speed, this racer marks the franchise's first current-gen exclusive, finally focusing on getting the most it can from modern consoles without having to worry about including last-gen tech. Fortunately, this helps NFS look absolutely gorgeous, which ultimately matters when you factor in the underwhelming graphics of Gran Turismo 6 compared to the fine polish of Forza Motorsport 6. Utilizing the full extent of the current-gen hardware, Need for Speed revs up into a promising experience that is all about underground and urban street racing, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee a smooth ride.
Koei Tecmo and Nintendo may have skipped out on taking the Wii's Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse out of Japan, but the House of Mario decided to cave to fans' demands and give Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water a digital release for Western audiences. As the Silent Hill and Resident Evil series have started to stray and stumble in maintaining survival horror, Maiden of Black Water ups the frights. This new Fatal Frame purposely maintains a slow burn in order to properly build up suspense, bringing back the ghostbusting gameplay of the Camera Obscura, which now utilizes the Wii U's GamePad to exorcise the dead. In an era when survival horror has skewed into action-oriented gameplay or defenseless first-person perspectives, Maiden of Black Water is a welcome, old school-style callback to survival horror's glory days. Unfortunately, Fatal Frame 5 suffers from simple control issues pertaining to its core gameplay that should've easily been ironed out. Despite its solid attempts at spirit photography, there are some basic parts of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water that feel underdeveloped, which can ruin the overall shot.
Dungeons & Dragons is essentially the grandaddy of most western RPGs. This pen-and-paper RPG is still going strong with expansions and spinoffs being released regularly even today. Since the dawn of video games there have been countless attempts at recreating the physical D&D experience in a digital form. The Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights series of games have been good approximations of the classic D&D experience, for example. Sword Coast Legends however seeks to recreate an often unexplored facet of this pen-and-paper RPG: the dungeon master experience.
For a time, the rhythm game genre was flush with games vying for your attention. While it could be argued there was a bit of oversaturation in the marketplace, the disappearance of these peripheral-based games happened so suddenly, it was as if they never existed at all. Then a funny thing happened. Somewhere out in the ether, the idea for a resurgence took hold. It was as if someone shouted from the rooftops, "Let there be (virtual) rock!" Freestyle Games answered the call for Activision, and the Guitar Hero franchise was never the same. In fact, it was better than it ever was.
After the underwhelming reception the masses had to Assassin's Creed Unity and its Titanic-sized glitches, Ubisoft has decided to take the franchise to the Industrial Revolution and turn the Templar war into Gangs of New York. All DiCaprio references aside, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a proper return to form which makes amends for Unity's shortcomings while establishing itself as one of the finer entries of the franchise. The series last two solid entries, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin's Creed Rogue, took us across the Atlantic to the open seas of the new world, but Syndicate takes us to London as it's growing from the boom of the 19th century technology.
Nintendo is no stranger to cooperative multiplayer in its games. Recently, games like Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Bros. U have integrated four-player co-op in their main story modes. However because those games were designed with only one player in mind, the resulting multiplayer experience was chaotic to say the least. Nintendo has also given us great multiplayer experiences with games like The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures. The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes falls right in the middle of those two gameplay experiences.
The Halo series has long been the benchmark by which all other Xbox games are judged. There have been some stumbles in the great lineage of Master Chief as of late, in particular last year's Master Chief Collection falling prey to launch woes that would have crippled any chance for success a true sequel could have had. Now one year later, 343 Industries has returned with the first true Xbox One Halo game, Halo 5. There are a lot of new aspects 343's thrown on top of the existing architecture that's become so familiar to fans over the past decade plus, and most of them work quite well to help bring the Halo franchise into a new generation. There just must be something about second entries in Master Chief's life.
If cute things make you barf, then make sure the trash can is next to you every time you boot up Yoshi's Woolly World. Every single thing in the game could melt even the coldest heart. The enemies are cute even though they're dangerous, the Yoshis are insufferably adorable, and the unlockable costume colors for the Yoshis are just the best thing ever, especially with amiibos. Duck Hunt Yoshi? Ness Yoshi? They and the rest of Yoshi's Woolly World constantly made rainbows spew out of my mouth... but was it any good?
It’s not often that I stare at a game’s menu screen for a few moments just because it looks so good. That’s exactly what I caught myself doing the first time I loaded up Civilization: Beyond Earth with the Rising Tide expansion installed. The way light reflected off the rippling waves of the vast ocean was beautiful and soothing; what I didn’t know from those first few moments was how that body of water would change Beyond Earth for the better.