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Overall, Need for Speed: Rivals delivers the most solid racer to come from EA in a long time. The ability to play as both Cops and Racers is a welcome gameplay diversity that gives you the power to choose how to play the game. Back that up with a seamless multiplayer, a solid audio foundation, and killer visuals, and what you get is one of the best racing games to come out in recent years. Whether you choose to be a Cop or a Racer, either way you're going to have a lot of fun, which is what gaming is all about.
Killer Instinct certainly is a fun game that does everything fighting games need to do right. It just doesn't have a whole lot to offer otherwise. So unless you have a dedicated group of fighting gamers to play the game with you, you probably won't get the Killer Instinct experience you were hoping for, and even if you do, high-level play feels a bit shallow. Killer Instinct certainly has a lot of potential to become a great tournament fighter after we delve deeper into the gameplay system and the roster expands. It just isn't quite there yet.
At the end of the day, even though I had a good time playing Ryse: Son of Rome, it just didn't have too much to offer. Sure, it has online multiplayer and a gladiator mode, but these regurgitations of the single-player combat engine still feel repetitive and over-used. The story is shallow but well executed, with next-gen visuals and high-end sound production that make the experience worth having, if only once. I saw a lot of potential in Ryse: Son of Rome. With a little love, I could see a sequel to this game with several playable characters, combat styles, and a more diverse command structure that could seriously take this game to the next level. But for now, it is just a "pretty good game."
If none of these things bother you, you'll get hours upon hours of enjoyment out of Forza 5. And if you are bothered, both Polyphony Digital and Slightly Mad Studios will have competing offers in short order. Either way, you won't be disappointed.
Dead Rising 3 is exactly what I wanted. I wanted a game that focused on some of the issues the previous entries had and tried to fix them while staying true to the series. In some cases, this is done perfectly. In others, well, let's just say we might need to revisit the old drawing board. Are those things bad enough to prevent you from having a good time with the game? Absolutely not. It's fun. It's as fun, if not more, than any of the previous games. It's not going to change the world ten times over, but for a launch title, this is where we should be. Dead Rising 3 might not be the game everyone wanted, but it is a game we needed. I, for one, am thankful it is here.
I had fun with Crimson Dragon, but I'm not entirely sure everyone will. You have to have kind of an addictive personality to really get into it. A lot of the game is propelled forward by its grindy levels and progression system, and if this isn't your thing, then you'll likely get incredibly frustrated and just turn the game off to play more Killer Instinct. However, if you are the kind of person who could spend hours raising their perfect dragon, getting S ranks on every stage, and simply appreciating some fantastic graphics, then you will probably have a lot of fun with Crimson Dragon. It's not the AAA blockbuster that we all thought it was going to be--heck, I won't even go as far as to say that it's better than Panzer Dragoon--but it is a solid title that you can pick up for a budget price. As far as Xbox One launch titles go, you can do far worse.
I dearly wanted to enjoy Contrast. It's the kind of game that is normally right up my alley, featuring puzzles, platforming, a stylish, historically inspired world, and an intelligent young female protagonist. It simply wasn't fun to actually play. Contrast would have made a delightful short film, but I'm afraid that it isn't a particularly good game.
There just isn't anything fun about Fighter Within. The story is bad, the controls are bad, the characters are uninteresting, and if you aren't using a controller, it's nearly impossible to even navigate the Kinect-controlled menus. Ubisoft has done so much better with so many other franchises, but Fighter Within is flawed right down to its very concept. Motion-control fighting games simply don't work, period. I'm a big fan of fighters, and while it was obvious that Fighter Within was never going to be the next big, hardcore title on the EVO tournament floor, I wouldn't even suggest it to casual fans. Go play Smash Brothers or something-- anything is better than this flail fest. The only thing you will get out of Fighter Within is a pair of sore arms and a bunch of disappointment.
The problem is justifying an NBA Live 14 purchase when NBA 2K14 is on store shelves. As a newbie, I had fun with NBA 2k14, but I didn't have nearly as much fun with NBA Live 14. I felt like it assumed I knew more about basketball and basketball video games than I actually did. It just dropped me into the deep end and asked me to figure it all out, and all I could really do was button mash and hope for the best. It's a good foundation for a franchise that could prosper in the future--after all, I've been saying that sports games should use live updating stats via the Internet for years now--but at this very moment, it just pales in comparison to its competition.
Fun games can be simple, and simple games are often fun, but there's a tedium at the heart of Super Motherload that it just can't shake. With a number of tweaks that added more interesting puzzles, made the game less grindy, and reduced the amount of up and down necessary, it could've been a lot better. As it is, I think I'd really rather go back to playing Diamond Mine in Bejeweled 3.