Far Cry 3 was one of my favorite games of 2012. It didn't stray too far from the normal sandbox conventions set before it, but gallivanting around beautiful island vistas and flying about with wingsuits was pretty damn fun.
For some that wasn't enough, though, and for those folks, Far Cry 4 won't be enough either. But for me, it's still pretty damn fun.
Hatsune Miku is an international sensation. Despite the fact that she's a simple digital creation, she's managed to rack up a massive amount of record sales and sold-out concerts, including a tour with Lady Gaga and even an appearance on Letterman.
It's impossible to ignore her cultural significance now as she only skyrockets in popularity, and with Sega publishing the sequel to last year's Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F, now's a better time than ever to get acquainted with the diminutive diva. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd is your ticket to J-Pop heaven, overflowing with content and a real challenge for anyone who decides to take the plunge.
Ever since its 2007 debut, the Assassin's Creed franchise has been presented as a one-sided affair. Chronicling the persistent struggle between the Assassins and the Templars, Ubisoft has always framed the story casting the former in a positive light. Assassin's Creed Rogue has a new take on that formula, which, in some ways, makes it the most refreshing, thought-provoking, and introspective installment in the series to date.
Some may call Senran Kagura inherently tasteless, but the series of action-packed brawlers has depth and satisfying combat. The games have swept the handheld community mainly because of their increasingly risqué content, but their best-kept secret is that they're just plain fun.
Yeah, there's a whole lot of indecent exposure in each of the Senran Kagura games. No one's disputing that. But so what? These are genuinely fun and engaging titles, and the latest spinoff under the Senran Kagura umbrella is no different. Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! may be lighthearted and riddled with thinly veiled jokes about male anatomy, but it's also a challenging rhythm game skewed toward an adult audience that can be enjoyed by just about anyone -- especially if you like your sundaes with Senran Kagura girls on top. Just don't expect award-winning prose or Grammy-nominated tracks.
The Tales series may not have the same cachet in the West as do other prominent role-playing game franchises, but its renown is definitely on the rise. Bandai Namco has expressed more confidence in the franchise in recent years, showing a willingness to push Tales as a global brand rather than just a curiosity for Japanese audiences.
It seems there's a market for this sort of thing -- a healthy niche that appreciates something more antique in a world so obsessed with pioneering and being cutting-edge. Time marches on and the Tales series digs its heels into the ground, refusing to yield to fads and ephemeral trends. It's old-fashioned to a fault. But would you have it any other way?
In 2011, I lost a chunk of my life. An insidious tendril of addiction, despair, and obsession caught me by the ankle and dragged me into the The Binding of Isaac's darkened basement. I lost dozens of hours, whole days at a time. I let life slip by around me while muttering a demented mantra of “just one more try, just one more try...”
Now with the release of Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, a 16-bit looking half-remake, half-sequel of the original, I can feel the same cold touch on my leg. Its grip is stronger than ever, pulling me back into the same dark pit. I should kick and scream and try to escape... Well, maybe just one more try won't kill me.
Assassin's Creed IV was a turning point for the series. While a lot of fans were disappointed by the pointless Revelations and the polarizing Assassin's Creed III, Black Flag delivered everything you could possibly want from Ubisoft, and then some. Fans embarked on quite the adventure with Edward Kenway, and many newcomers even described it as "a pirate game that happens to be Assassin's Creed."
Assassin's Creed Unity doesn't live up to the new standard set by Black Flag, but it's a journey worth taking if you're already into the series, and proves that the franchise is still sustainable.
Dragon Age II felt like a great action game that was outsourced to a lesser developer. It lacked the polish BioWare typically puts into its titles, and almost the entire affair felt like a gigantic step back from everything Origins had established. What was once a promising franchise that reminded me of the glory days of RPGs such as Baldur's Gate became a shadow of its former self, with lazily re-used assets and no sense of scale.
BioWare went back to the drawing board with Inquisition, the third Dragon Age outing, and the game is all the better for it. It feels like a culmination of its predecessors' strengths, with all of the bells and whistles that come with current-gen hardware.
The prospect of playing as a Ninja again in Final Fantasy excited me. After working my way up to level 50 in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the class ended up having so much style and substance that it changed the game for the better, and I'll be enjoying it for months to come.
While the rest of the Dreams of Ice update wasn't as enjoyable as playing a Ninja at endgame, A Realm Reborn remains worth playing.
Do you live for the thrill of belting out your favorite songs whenever you've got five minutes to yourself? Are you an amateur singer looking for guidance, or a professional looking for something fun to brush up your vocal technique? Do you love NBC's The Voice? Then go out right now and pick up Rock Band 3 or Guitar Hero 5. Or, get a karaoke machine and a vocal coach. Whatever the case, you're going to absolutely loathe The Voice: I Want You.
But, you're not going to hate it because it has a dizzyingly awful male version of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" or embarrassingly haphazard song accompaniments that resemble Just Dance crossed with a slapdash lyric video on YouTube created with iMovie. You won't even hate it because it features a startling lack of interesting or exciting songs to sing along to. You'll hate it because it's such an obvious money grab, an uninspired cash-in that exists solely to rake in dough from unsuspecting buyers looking to replicate the experience so many dream of having -- standing onstage before The Voice's celebrity judges and angling for stardom.
Although Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was a noble effort to remaster the original game that brought first-person shooters on consoles into a post-Goldeneye era, I couldn't help but feel a bit underwhelmed by the overall package.
I enjoyed the idea of replaying the original, but there weren't enough bells and whistles to keep me interested for a lengthy period of time. Enter the Master Chief Collection, which not only gives you the remake of the first game, but a fully-featured remaster of Halo 2, as well as Halo 3 and 4.
I never thought I'd see the day when four major Halo games are under one roof [disc], but here we are. With promises of full 1080p support and 60 frames-per-second across every game, Halo: The Master Chief Collection follows through where it counts, and is now the new standard for remakes.
Ever since it came out in Japan earlier this year, Freedom Wars has been high on my list of anticipated releases. Being from the illustrious SCE Japan Studio, the game found success overseas as one of the Vita's answers to a lack of the market-leading Monster Hunter franchise, which jumped platforms with the advent of the Nintendo 3DS.
As a hunting game, Freedom Wars certainly stays true to the heart of the genre, but differentiates itself enough to claim its own spot among the giants.
After the disappointing Call of Duty: Ghosts, Activision needed fresh ideas, and Sledgehammer was just the developer for the job. Even before it delivered its first game, a weight has been lifted off of Infinity Ward and Treyarch's shoulders. No longer does it need to turnaround a Call of Duty every other year, and there is more time to figure out how to make the series fresh again.
As a result, Sledgehammer has a lot riding on Advanced Warfare, the newest game in the series. It has everything going for it -- a fresh futuristic theme, the same core multiplayer gameplay everyone knows and loves, and the talented Kevin Spacey running the show with the campaign.
The gambit paid off, even if it won't bring back in those who have sworn off the series.
[Note: Jonathan Holmes' name appears in the Special Thanks section of Woah Dave!'s credits. No one knows why. One guess is it's because Jonathan and Woah Dave! creator Jason Cirillo had a decent conversation at PAX East 2014, during which time Jonathan was wearing a Woah Dave! t-shirt. Maybe that's it.]
Woah Dave! is a game that you don't want to get excited for. Any hype at all, even the slightest praise, might ruin your chance of getting into it. Ironically, there are plenty of reasons why some people can't help but be excited for Dave. For one, it's the latest game from Choice Provisions (formerly known as Gaijin Games), who have quite a large and dedicated following chomping at the bit for a new game from the studio. Not only that, but Woah Dave! has both an exclamation point and the word "woah" in the title, as though the game itself is excited that it exists.
If you go into the game expecting to say "woah!" right away, you may be disappointed. Like Super Crate Box, Geometry Wars, or Samurai Gunn, it's not a game that works to impress at first. That makes it all the more surprising when you discover how deep, intense, and unpredictable this game of controlled chaos can get.
The visual novel genre is multifaceted. It runs the gamut from awe-inspiring and horrifying (à la personal favorite Saya no Uta) to controversial (such as the excellent Kana: Little Sister). Others still are simple vehicles for debauchery and sexual desires involving women whose cups runneth over and devilishly handsome men. And that's awesome.
Those types of games are fun, perverse thrill rides that offer colorful characters, familiar tropes, and a waifu or husbando for everyone. I've completed dozens in my time, and I'm always on the lookout for great ones, whether they're fluffy romantic otome titles or hardcore guro sleazefests. But, like any other genre, they can be hit or miss.
I still can't believe Square Enix salvaged the original Final Fantasy XIV. I mean, it had the guts to make the game a core entry, so I'm glad the studio reworked it into A Realm Reborn -- this whole saga is just really interesting to me.
The newest update is Dreams of Ice, featuring a Primal/Summon many fans of the classic series know and love, Shiva. It also brings along the typical major changes and content bits, as well as one of the biggest additions so far -- a new class/job.