Chris "Atom" DeAngelus
Knack is easily the low point of the PS4's launch. The game squanders its potential at every opportunity. What could have been an interesting mascot character for the PlayStation is instead the very definition of mediocrity. Boring combat, unimaginative platforming, and some flawed design decisions bring down Knack. Even with the extremely limited selection of launch titles, there's no reason to choose Knack over anything else. Those looking for a kid-friendly game would be much better off shelling out the extra money for Skylanders or Lego Marvel. There's nothing to recommend Knack, and it's destined to join the ever-growing pile of low-budget launch titles that nobody remembers.
Skylanders: Swap Force is the best kid-friendly game available on the PS4. It's incredibly accessible, easy to play, and full of content. It is a solid and well-crafted game from start to finish. The only potential downside is that it could become a serious drain on a parent's wallet as their kids run into roadblocks that require specific toys to continue. If you don't mind dishing out a few extra dollars, or if your kids already have a healthy collection of Skylander toys, there's no better choice for a new PS4 owner looking for something for the younger crowd.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is one of the most fun Zelda titles on the market, and it's easily the best handheld Zelda game since Link's Awakening. It's well crafted, fun to play, charming and interesting, and it mixes up the Zelda formula in some exciting ways while maintaining a healthy dose of nostalgia. It isn't the longest game, but it's fun from beginning to end. The highest praise I can give A Link Between Worlds is that it's a worthy sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Zelda fans should absolutely add this game to their libraries, and newcomers to the franchise should find it to be a fun and accessible title.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is one of the most solid entries in the LEGO franchise to date. It has a huge cast of characters, a fun world to explore, and tons of content. It doesn't break the mold in any way, but it offers a good experience, so it's possible to overlook the lack of major upgrades. It isn't the most impressive debut for the LEGO franchise as a next-gen title, but it's acceptable, even if it makes limited use of the power of the PS4. Traveller's Tales has made yet another excellent game that is accessible to players of all ages. If you or your kids like LEGO titles, you'll certainly enjoy this trip into the Marvel universe.
Bravely Default: Where The Fairy Flies comes remarkably close to being one of the best JRPGs I've ever played. The combat system is exciting, difficult, and highly customizable. The early design is wonderful, and the level of freedom with the game's difficulty makes it easy for anyone to play. Unfortunately, the game design falls so heavily in the last chapters that it becomes a chore to finish. That's still 25 hours of great gameplay before 5-10 hours of tedium, but it's enough to drag down the experience. If you're a JRPG fan, you must play Bravely Default. It comes so close to greatness that it's possible to overlook its glaring flaws. Just be warned that it'll be a slog to get to the end.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is an excellent first taste of the gameplay we can expect in the upcoming Phantom Pain. It's well designed, well tuned, and a lot of fun to play, but the general game design and lack of content make it feel like an extended demo rather than a full game. Viewed from that perspective, the $30 price tag is really steep. Die-hard Metal Gear fans and those who've replayed the games over and over to achieve Big Boss rankings will probably get their money's worth. Everyone else would be better off waiting for an inevitable sale. There's just not enough here for the average player to get his $30 worth.
InFamous: Second Son is good but unmemorable — essentially the diner food of video games. It's well made, enjoyable, safe, and it has a likeable cast of characters. However, it doesn't do anything beyond the expected, it lacks variety and reach, and there are a few problems, such as the lackluster morality system. In the end, it's a very beautiful but extremely textbook sequel.
LEGO The Hobbit is yet another LEGO game. It does a great job of presenting the world and characters, but the mechanics and gameplay have seen very little in the way of touching up. If you've played previous LEGO games, you have a good idea of what to expect here, and if you haven't, it is perfectly accessible to newcomers. As usual, the selling point is the setting tied to the game. If you (or your kids) are big fans of "The Hobbit," then they'll enjoy the game. If not, it'd be better to look at one of the many other franchise tie-ins that have received the LEGO treatment.
Stick It to the Man is a charming and delightful little adventure game. It doesn't have the most content, but it's a fun experience. You'll probably finish the entire game in an evening, but it's an evening well spent. At the time of this writing, Stick it to the Man is available free to PlayStation Plus subscribers and is easily one of the highlights of the service to date. The short length may make the $9.99 price a bit harder to swallow, but if you're a PS4 owner looking for a fun adventure game, Stick it to the Man is a must-buy and worth every penny.
Perhaps the biggest problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that it doesn't stray much from the previous game's formula, and when it does, it actively detracts from the game. The boring Peter Parker segments and dealing with tedious street crimes seem like another step toward trying to make the game feel like Spider-Man without considering whether it would be any fun. The core gameplay hasn't changed much from the previous game, but every change feels like a step back — except perhaps the improved web-swinging. Add a nonsensical plot and lackluster graphics, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends up feeling anything but amazing. It's a game for die-hard Spidey fans only.