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.
After booting the game up, it's apparent that Sunset Overdrive is the result of Insomniac Games going back to its roots. Before the developer was called upon to release the shades-of-brown-tinted Resistance and Fuse, it was known for the bright and exciting Spyro and Ratchet & Clank franchises, which were among the PlayStation's finest offerings for gamers of all ages.
Not only is Sunset bright and exciting, it's actually a good game too.
Book One starts at the end of 2006's Dreamfall: The Longest Journey so if you've been dying to see what happens to Zoë, Kian et al. then you'll be glad to have this story continued. Series newcomers might be left scratching their heads, wondering what's going on. Trouble is, this episode doesn't do much to help you understand what's happening. You're left wanting more.
At a glance, it's easy to look at Mind Zero and compare it to the Persona series given its art style and the narrative advertised within early trailers and promotional materials. And you wouldn't be incorrect in declaring that it borrows several elements from the popular role-playing series.
Still, it's unfair to call Mind Zero a copycat when its most fundamental elements are much different from the Shin Megami Tensei spinoff. That doesn't mean the game is actually all that impressive, however. Acquire and ZeroDiv's Vita RPG features an interesting premise, but in the end it's a weaker product than those that obviously inspired it.
Outside of Devil May Cry 3, Bayonetta is one of the finest action games of all time. The action systems were so clean, so precise, and so rewarding that it leaves pretty much everything these days in the dust.
Bayonetta 2 doesn't change a whole lot, and that's perfectly okay with me.
One of the biggest gripes I hear from friends interested in but hesitant to play Japanese role-playing games is that they're too "complicated." It's a sentiment I've never understood; several take great pains to be accessible and enjoyable to a wide variety of players. Unfortunately, my explanations of tropes and tried-and-true mechanics aren't usually enough to sway the potential players, and they're swept away by a title of a different ilk.
That's why Fantasy Life is such an interesting case. It takes familiar elements such as classes, grinding for XP, and character customization and distills them into something that can be digested by just about any type of player. Oh, and it helps that it's a lot of fun, too.
Educational games that impart knowledge while remaining entertaining are certified rarities. Too often you're left with staggering amounts of informative material and meager side portions of "game" that contribute to a rather lopsided product.
Pokémon Art Academy is an interesting blend of both, with useful tips and tricks, drawing instruction, and helpful guidance for fledgling artists or those who simply want to learn how to draw their favorite Pocket Monsters. It's just like the learn-to-draw books you could pick up at the store, but with real-time feedback.