Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey was an enjoyable and familiar return to a game I thoroughly enjoyed years ago. Once again, Nintendo and the developers have delivered some top-notch work, injecting a fresh feel into this game and bringing it to a whole new audience while also delighting original fans like myself. With all the best kind of updates and smart inclusions, this title has rightfully earned a place alongside its companion titles on the 3DS system and all that’s left now is to wait for the inevitable Partners In Time remake.
For someone who had never played any of the Spyro games before, these three titles were a thoroughly enjoyable experience I’d recommend to anyone. For the diehard nostalgics, there is a lot to love, and for all the newbies, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy is an excellent jumping off point for experiencing one of the series that made early 3D gaming so great. Aside from a few minor gripes, these are solid games and show that these old titles can hold their own today in a radically different era. Now, all we need is to see is the same love given to other classics. Until then, I’m delighted that after getting sidelined (and mutilated) in Skylanders, Spyro the Dragon is back, blazing his trail better than ever and flying high in his original series, the way he was always meant to be.
LEGO DC Super-Villains was a delight to play from start to finish and once again shows an attention to the source material even the big budget DC films sometimes seem to lack. The astounding voice cast brought together brings the world to life, and the refined gameplay systems are as simple as ever to pick up and jump in. Even though the target audience for these games is no doubt on the younger end of the spectrum, Traveller’s Tales have delivered a superb game with a little something for everyone. With great new gameplay additions, hilarious storytelling and the impressive rogue’s gallery of DC to draw from, LEGO DC Super Villains lives up to its bad guy rep and completely steals the show.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a brilliant and beautiful game, but it’s also very clearly abandoned too many of its own time-tested mechanics in favour of ones from other games. The inclusion of narrative choices is nice and selectable genders was long overdue, but then so much of the game is spent on pointless side content that offers nothing to overall gameplay except to fill the unnecessarily oversized map or delay the story. It was encouraging when Ubisoft skipped a year to develop Origins, and I’m relieved the series is going to be taking another year off in 2019. While Odyssey isn’t a bad game by any stretch, I think a more extended break might be in order, to help the series rediscover its identity. Odysseus was lost for ten years before he finally found his way home. Maybe one day, Assassin’s Creed will too.
LEGO games have definitely hit their stride in the last few years, cranking out some stellar licenced titles like Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings and so on, not to mention the brilliant LEGO Worlds. Based on that, you’d think an Incredibles game would do well, but unfortunately, it fails to really define itself as anything more than a simple video game tie-in, especially when the LEGO Marvel or DC games have already filled the superhero spot many times before, getting better with each entry. It feels like TT weren’t really allowed to go as off-book with this title as they have done in the past and the result is a game a bit more average than incredible. You can play it solo or with your kids for a quick bit of fun, but watching both movies back to back will probably be more enjoyable.
Just as in the movies where Jurassic World succeeded where Jurassic Park failed, yet still succumbed to the same problems, Jurassic World Evolution outdoes its predecessors while still having a lot of the same core issues. The dinosaurs are glorious to look at and are worth the price alone, but in a game with so many other problems and odd decisions, it’s almost annoying to have to plod through it just to unlock the next creature. With a robust, fantastic set of source material to draw on and a legacy of some really outstanding business management games to refer back to, Frontier Developments could absolutely tweak things and make Jurassic World Evolution a game to entirely break the mould. Until that happens, though, we’re just gonna have to see how this one shapes up, because right now it feels like it needed just tiny bit more work on its DNA before it was brought to life. Fingers crossed this game eventually finds a way.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (and to be fair, the Wii U and 3DS versions before it) are a brilliant example of borrowing some toys from the big kids and still having fun even when you know you have to give them back eventually. Hyrule Warriors comes at you hard and fast with entertaining gameplay, a hefty amount of challenge and a myriad of content that would take even the most dedicated completionist a while to knock out, or more than a cross-country train trip anyway (kooloo-limpah!). If you're looking for something to scratch that Zelda itch or you want to smash some baddies and groove to some excellent tunes while you're out and about, you'd be hard-pressed to find a game that delivers so much in such a tight package. Even though it's not official Zelda, it's official that Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is definitely the best version of this game and that alone is enough to give this legend a look.
I could go on all day about the things I enjoy in Sea of Thieves, and even the things that get my blood boiling, but, suffice to say, I’m happy the game is as good as it is even with such a long journey ahead of it. As future months of content begin showing up, from new AI threats, to what sounds like another ship type, more mission types and even weekly events, I’m fully committed to updating this review to reflect the changes. I’m hoping Sea of Thieves hangs around for a while to come and continues to shine as bright as the golden age of piracy it calls home. Weigh anchor, set the sails! All aboard for adventure and for booty!
Lost Sphear is an RPG that does its best to remind you of the classic genre titles that have preceded it, titles such as Chrono Trigger and the earlier Final Fantasy entries. Where this is obvious is in the overall tone and direction of the game, borrowing and reviving many old tropes and dusting off some familiar clichés. Where this fails though, is in the execution. When your company and the games it produces are focused on paying homage to the RPG greats of the last century, your new titles tend to lose a little of their own unique identity in service of “Remember this?” mechanics and nostalgic gameplay moments. I’d say if you didn’t have much else to do, Lost Sphear could probably occupy you for a little while, but there are many other titles I’d recommend, especially those classics, before I’d find myself willingly playing this one again.
MachineGames has once again knocked it out of the park. Ever since The New Order, they’ve been a developer to look out for, topping all the Wolfenstein games that came before. Now they’ve shown they can surpass even their own work. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a blast to play, with exciting combat, a phenomenal cast of characters and an incredibly eery mirror portrayal of our worst real-world fears, come to life. Throw in some crazy attention to detail and a whole lot of polish, and you get a game that is bursting at the seams with style and design, ready to wow you at every turn. On top of all that is a story that honours everything that came before, while still making its own mark on the franchise.
While no game is perfect, Middle-earth: Shadow of War still manages to get a lot of things right. It has its faults, sure, and the ones behind it made a few mistakes, but if you can see past that and see it for what it is at its core, I’m sure you’ll find a great adventure worthy of a few playthroughs. The improved Nemesis system is a joy to behold, and all the new places you can visit are great. Throw in a few highly cinematic fights and some fantastic attention to the history of the world, and you have a game that I’m a bit sad isn’t canon because it offers many smart and exciting additions to the story that I think might have impressed even Tolkien himself.