With Blizzard’s Overwatch Open Beta wrapping up, many players have gotten the chance to try the anticipated team-based shooter. There have been billions of bullets fired, thousands of objectives seized and more than a few saps knocked into the death pit in the center of the Grecian Ilios map. Between the 21 heroes, 12 maps, and four game modes that have been available, Overwatch is shaping up to be well outside Blizzard’s norm in many ways and yet wholly familiar in others.
I usually take very thorough notes when reviewing a game. I keep my notebook next to me at all times, pen ready, and will often take a break between rounds to jot down my thoughts. That didn’t happen with Valkyria Chronicles Remastered. Maybe it’s because I already played it back in 2008, when it originally launched on the PS3, but I found myself without words as I made my way through its early battles and story set-up. When I did finally pause to write something down, it was simply this: “This game is still so good.”
There's a moment in the beginning chapters of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End where series hero Nathan Drake and his wife Elena sit at home on their couch and eat dinner while talking ,as two normal people living normal lives in a normal house. The dissonance of this scene compared to the expected run and gun Indiana Jones-style action of the franchise is deafening, and yet this brief moment of routine sets a perfect tone for the rest of the game.
Hitman’s first episode took place in Paris, but it really didn’t show much of the actual city as most of the action took place indoors. Not that it had to, since just hearing the name Paris inspires all types of mental imagery and the fashion show featured in the first Hitman episode really captured that modern high-fashion feeling. This episode takes place in Sapienza, Italy and unless you’re familiar with some of the lesser known towns in Italy this name doesn’t evoke the same icons that Paris does. Despite that, this episode’s mission features a beautiful and more fully realized environment than its predecessor.
The Ratchet and Clank series has been around long enough to earn a number entries for the franchise. While most of them have been the third-person action platformers the series is known for, there have been outliers throughout the years. Games like Ratchet and Clank: All 4 one and Full Frontal Assault added things like drop-in drop-out co-op and tower defense elements to deviate from the formula. This year's revisiting of Ratchet and Clank attempts to take the series back to its roots, while also tying into the upcoming movie that retells the events of the first game. Ratchet and Clank isn’t a remaster or a direct remake of the original because of it. More than anything the changes made in this reboot have improved on what made the first game so memorable.
It seems like only yesterday that Bloodborne came out. Indeed, it’s actually only been a little bit over a year since its initial launch and its last DLC came in late November 2015. Nonetheless, here we are at Dark Souls III, and despite that alarmingly short timeframe, this game doesn’t feel rushed in the least. In fact, it feels like a culmination of all of From Software’s experience brought in at the highest level. However, where Dark Souls II felt like a continuation and natural evolution of the original Dark Souls, Dark Souls III feels more like an extension of Dark Souls II mixed with a few fresh lessons learned from Bloodborne to create a richer and more powerful overall experience.
Republique is immediately impressive, with its strong cast of A-list voice actors such as Jennifer Hale and David Hayter and its penchant for cinematic storytelling. The world oozes oppression, with posters reminding guards and passersby not to think too hard or too loudly, and to ignore contraband materials like books and video games. Hope, a "Pre-Cal" imprisoned by this totalitarian regime for experimental reasons, has been labeled "infected" due to coming into contact with such contraband materials. As both Hope and an unseen hacker, you'll slip past guards, collect information, hack everything, and use the regime's surveillance systems against it on Hope's quest to gain freedom for herself and the public.
The feeling of walking into a crowded ballroom with the intent of committing a murder and leaving without anyone being the wiser is something only the Hitman games have really achieved. Eavesdropping on conversations to learn about an evil dictator’s favorite food so you can poison the dish and leaving as he dies of food poisoning is a special kind of satisfying. Combining the better elements of previous entries in the series, Hitman presents all of these scenarios in a very open-ended fashion in some very elaborate and detailed environments. Even if the episodic release schedule does cut a lot of the fun short right when it gets going.
Far Cry Primal takes place in 10,000 BCE, thousands of years before modern music was even conceived, but I still expected Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” to come bursting on during the mammoth hunting intro in true Far Cry fashion. Licensed music aside, Far Cry Primal is still very much a Far Cry game. Taking over outposts and enemy camps, finding bonfires to uncover more of the map and gathering crafting items, it’s all here. Far Cry Primal seeks to put you in the shoes, or rather, hunting furs of a primitive human trying to survive and secure a place for his people, but it seems to get in its own way at the worst times.
As the fifth proper entry in one of gaming's biggest franchises, Street Fighter V had a lot to live up to. Street Fighter I & II helped create the genre of fighting games, and Street Fighter III & IV helped to revitalize them. To live up to its predecessors Street Fighter V needed to be electrifying, and since it came from a huge, triple-A video game company, it should offer an experience both massive in content and potential. What we got instead was the digital embodiment of greed.