Review Round-up: Week ending 11/23
After last week's PlayStation 4 review domination, Microsoft finally got it's chance to strut its stuff with the Xbox One. Forza Motorsports 5, Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct, Crimson Dragon, Ryse, and a handful of other exclusive titles flooded our pages this week. But regardless of all the Xbox One hype, their games were far from the biggest titles of the week.
Two titles, fin fact, garnered our coveted 10 out of 10 score. Nintendo's Super Mario 3D World and from Little Big Planer creators, Media Molecule, Tearaway. If you've been holding out on either the Wii U or PS Vita, you may have just found your first two must have system-selling titles of the year.
Need for Speed: Rivals (PS4 [reviewed], PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC)
Even with the balance issues and design missteps, Need for Speed: Rivals is a blast. Literally. Plowing into cops to watch them explode off the side of the road as you zip by is never not fun. So is blasting them with EMP to watch them flip in the air. And through AllDrive's connectivity, I loved being able to race up alongside someone and mash L1 to instantly challenge them to a head-to-head showdown. Ramping jumps, drift contests, dodging speed traps -- it's all a blast. There's simply too much fun to be had here to get hung up on the gripes.
Read the full Need for Speed: Rivals review
Crimson Dragon (Xbox One)
Crimson Dragon was a pleasant surprise. As a massive fan of the Panzer series, I was worried that this wouldn't quite honor it, but there's plenty here for gamers who have been longing for an entry since 2003's Orta. There are some mechanical problems, but any old-school rail shooter fan will be able to handle them.
Read the full Crimson Dragon review
Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One [reviewed])
Although it sacrifices a tad of its loveable camp factor and neon style in favor of a few other advancements, the outcome is a much stronger, more involved Dead Rising game. For once, I actually felt overwhelmed in a zombie outbreak, which is a real example of how next-gen technology can be used to do more than simply "make things look better." Out of all the launch titles I've played on both new consoles, Dead Rising 3 is my personal favorite, bar none.
Read the full Dead Rising 3 review
LocoCycle (Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])
LocoCycle tries a lot of new things thematically, while simultaneously paying homage to classic arcade racing shooters. It doesn't succeed in everything it sets out to do, but if you're looking for a decent arcade shooter to toy around with on your new Xbox One, LocoCycle is it. For everyone else, you'll have to wait until it hits the Xbox 360.
Read the full LocoCycle review
Legends of Aethereus (PC, Mac, Linux)
Legends of Aethereus is flawed, but not to the point of being offensive or terrible. While the setting is interesting, the weak combat and poor level design make it hard to recommend. You can experience everything the game has to offer in a couple of hours, and for an RPG that's never a good thing.
Read the full Legends of Aethereus review
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
There was a moment where I was taking in the beautiful soundtrack, hovering over a tricky jump as cat Peach, and watching the glistening water below where the game really came together. It was then that I realized that Super Mario 3D World had achieved a level of platforming design that's close to perfection, and there was almost never a moment where I didn't have a smile on my face. This is the unequivocally the best Mario game since Galaxy 2, and it shows up anything the "New" series has ever done, and then some.
Read the full Super Mario 3D World review
Everything just works so well in unison. The soundtrack is delightful and odd, at times reminiscent of Paprika’s parade fanfare with its lively horns. The world, put together in paper scraps, is unbelievable in its artistry and function. Tearaway’s paper water and ripples as you walk through it are more impressive than any realistic water graphics I’ve ever seen. The level of unique detail in the world is staggering. Every moment spent immersed in it is heartwarming. Fittingly, it feels positively handcrafted.
Read the full Tearaway review
Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One)
...At the end of the day, the racing is what matters. And with this game, the racing is fantastic, and Turn 10 is really onto something with this Drivatar stuff. It alone gives Forza Motorsport 5 something over every other racer out there, pushing the genre forward. They've remedied the racing genre's biggest problem: scripted AI cars.
For this, Turn 10 deserves high praise.
Read the full Forza Motorsport 5 review
AquaPazza: Aqua Plus Dream Match (PS3)
I guess good things do come to those who wait. AquaPazza is a charming little fighter that should highly appeal to anime fans and the most hardcore of fighting denizens. Beautiful visuals, catchy music, and a fighting system that perfectly culminates everything Examu has done up to this point. It’s a strong technical fighter that exudes fun and gives me some old-school Waku Waku 7 vibes with its eclectic cast.
Read the full AquaPazza: Aqua Plus Dream Match review
Powerstar Golf (Xbox One)
...Powerstar Golf isn't particularly special, but it'll win over the hearts of golf fans for sure. If all you're looking to do is whack a ball down a course on a next-gen system with the occasional bit of positive reinforcement, Powerstar is your huckleberry.
Read the full Powerstar Golf review
Wii Fit U (Wii U)
...Wii Fit U's mini-games are fun, but still suffer from being single-player/non-simultaneous multiplayer and there just isn't that much new stuff. If you're looking for something that will keep you motivated and get you moving, it could definitely work and the Fit Meter is an extra level of motivation, but if Wii Fit didn't do it before then I'm not sure it will work for you now. The good part is that the game is free until the end of the month so you can find out for yourself.
Read the full Wii Fit U review
Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One)
...Ryse looks great and has a lot of great ideas, but it falls flat in nearly every respect in regards to its core story. If you're a hardcore action fan you may get some satisfaction on the highest difficulty setting, but even then I'd wait for an equally hardcore price drop.
Read the full Ryse: Son of Rome review
Super Motherload (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])
Super Motherload is simple enough so that anyone can pick it up and play, but complex enough for mining veterans to keep coming back to fully upgrade characters or even risk playing in hardcore mode. The sci-fi ’80s vibe is delightful and the perfect setting for this ridiculously addicting game. I find myself coming back to it at the end of every day, ready for a new adventure underground.
Read the full Super Motherload review
Foul Play (PC [reviewed], Xbox 360)
Foul Play isn't necessarily a bad game, it just doesn't do anything to prove otherwise. It is a by-the-numbers game with a brilliant aesthetic, which in the end is just a by-the-numbers videogame. It's too long for its own good, which only highlights the mediocrity even more as the same enemy behaviors are encountered for hours. The lack of depth hurts Foul Play the most, and it's really a shame considering how brilliant the aesthetic is. I wanted to run around the stage, but playing the game made me exit stage left.
Read the full Foul Play review
Zoo Tycoon (Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])
Zoo Tycoon has a distinct lack of depth, but if you're capable of sitting down with this simplistic simulator, you'll smile more times than you can count. The simulator fan in me was a bit disappointed by the ease of it all, but the child in me couldn't help but enjoy myself.
Read the full Zoo Tycoon review
Killer Instinct (Xbox One)
Killer Instinct may not be the new king of fighting games, and it feels a bit rushed in terms of content, but it is very solid and far exceeds my expectations for it. With a pricing scheme that doesn't feel exploitative and a balanced character roster, the well developed mechanics will keep you busy until the new content drops next year. It'll be interesting to see what the community at large thinks of it over time, but in my living room, it's a welcome addition to my fighting game roster.
Read the full Killer Instinct review
The Shivah - Kosher Edition [PC]
Whilst the graphics are up to the same standard of previous titles from Wadjet Eye, they're a big improvement over the 2006 edition. The Shivah will run in a low-res window, so it's not going to look great on a big monitor but will look just fine on a laptop. The new music score is low-key, melancholic, and fits the mood of the game and there's a nice treat post-credits where you can listen to some out-takes from the recording sessions.
...Despite its short length, The Shivah is worth playing for its story and to see how far adventure games have come in the last few years.
Read the full The Shivah review
Company of Heroes 2: Victory at Stalingrad (PC)
It will take you about three to six hours to play through all of the content once, and it will probably take you a few tries to complete some of the challenges. Each battle also has quite a bit of replay value -- you could easily add another 20 to 30 hours of life to Company of Heroes 2with this DLC. No matter how you slice it, that's worth the price tag.
Read the full Company of Heroes 2: Victory at Stalingrad review