Review round-up: The games of March 2013
What a month! Now that March is well behind us (and we remembered to take a look back to ponder), I feel confident in saying that between BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider, and yet another Gears of War, we are well into this year of big-budget gaming.
Take a look at everything we reviewed in March -- there's a lot! What was your jam? What did you miss out on? I still need to grab copies of HarmoKnight and Luigi's Mansion for my 3DS. The poor guy has gotten dusty and now only I'm to blame for it.
Etrian Odyssey IV (3DS)
Etrian Odyssey IV the best series title yet, and an excellent place to start if you've never played one before. It is, by far, the most accessible series game yet, with its Casual mode and its wide-open, free-exploration gameplay. And for the first time, despite being a dungeon crawler at heart, an Etrian Odyssey title feels like a sprawling adventure.
For series fans, everything you love about Etrian Odyssey is here, and then some -- better music, art, monsters, and mapping. You will not be disappointed. For everyone else: fans of classic dungeon crawling, fans of planning and plotting, or fans of a sizable challenge, I cannot recommend Etrian Odyssey IV enough.
Read the full Etrian Odyssey IV review
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus (PlayStation Vita)
On top of the technical issues, there's barely anything new that's been added here to justify another purchase. It's a shame, because I really enjoyed the original Ninja Gaiden 2 and Sigma 2. Team Ninja really missed the opportunity to add a killer feature like the ability to replay Time Attack missions with extra characters or enhance Ninja Race, which would have justified a double/triple-dip.
With the removal of content like Japanese audio and online co-op, this game doesn't offer enough to truly justify the "Plus" in its name. Team Ninja really needs to get its act together going forward, or the Ninja Gaiden series will be beyond repair.
Read the full Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus review
March of the Eagles (PC)
There still remains some obstacles to an enjoyable evening of name-calling and war-declaring, unfortunately. Throughout my multiplayer matches, there's been players dropping, a shoddy "metaserver" that simply didn't work, the need to connect directly via IP as if we were still in the '90s, and the weirdest issue so far: the checksum of half the players changing, stopping us from being able to play together for about 30 minutes. Get past that nonsense and it's bloody marvelous. If you have the patience.
I'd happily recommend March of the Eagles based exclusively on the multiplayer, but if you prefer your gaming to be a solo venture, then it might not really offer quite as much. Those looking to get stuck into a historical war and not a lot else may still find conquering Europe and giving ol' Bonaparte what for entertaining, though, and as a game doesn't tend to go on for longer than eight hours in single-player, it won't devour your life.
Read the full March of the Eagles review
[...] diehard RPG fans like myself will find things like the lack of party controls and the basic skill tree a bit too simple when compared to games like Baldur's Gate orThe Witcher. Driftmoon is, in its own right, an adventure worth having though, largely thanks to its witty writing and absolutely splendid humor. It’s a bit of salvation in a genre that seems to be limping by these days.
Driftmoon is very obviously a labor of love. A lot of time and dedication went into creating it, and it shows. Though it may fall short in some areas, this is a classic RPG through and through. Beginners and veterans alike should take note and try out the demo at the very least.
Read the full Driftmoon review
Alien vs. Predator: Evolution (Android, iPhone, iPad)
In fact, as I think about it, I have to give the devil his due. AvP: Evolution is actually worse than Colonial Marines -- ever so slightly worse. At least getting from A to B in Gearbox's insulting mess was relatively stress-free and didn't cause me to want to break something. For that roaring triumph, Colonial Marines now gets to enjoy not being the worst Aliens game to be released this year.
Congratulations to AvP: Evolution! You've managed to be marginally worse than an unfinished, buggy, outsourced piece of trash. You must be very proud.
Read the full Alien vs. Predator: Evolution review
Tomb Raider (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Tomb Raider could so easily have gone wrong, and its opening gambit looks like it's heading down a most erroneous path. It starts off with some ambushing QTEs and absolutely pummels Lara Croft into the dirt to such a degree, you'd almost suspect the developers were getting off on it. This first impression is an awkward obfuscation, however, one that soon erodes to reveal a savvy, thoughtful, and above all, immensely enjoyable game. In fact, I'm happy to go on record as saying this is the best Tomb Raider game I've played. Tightly produced, competent in both its puzzling and its combat, this is one reboot that manages to be unequivocally superior to its predecessors.
Read the full Tomb Raider review
Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires (PlayStation 3)
The Empires series is generally considered the best type of Dynasty Warriors spin-off, but with Koei's latest efforts smacking of no effort at all, this particular release comes across as unnecessary and pointless, especially with Dynasty Warriors 8 already out in Japan and inevitably preparing for a Western launch in a matter of months. This is still a decent enough game if you literally cannot get your fill of Warriors games, but for this lifelong fan of the series, Koei's been delivering too much of too little for a while now, and I'm about at the end of my tether.
Read the full Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires review
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Hangman (iOS, PC [Reviewed])
As a first episode, The Hangman does more right than it does wrong. The influence of Jane Jensen, and Phoenix Online's previous work on its labor of love, The Silver Lining -- itself inspired by the hey-day of adventure gaming -- makes Cognition feel very much like what I suspect Sierra Online would have been putting out now if they were still around. Most importantly, I'm eager to get stuck into the second episode.
Read the full Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Hangman review
Dollar Dash (PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)
Dollar Dash is a serviceable game, even if it doesn't aim very high. If you're bored of constant deathmatches in Spelunky's multiplayer versus mode, or you've saturated every last round of Bomberman and the many clones it spawned over the years, Dollar Dash will give you a few evenings of enjoyment.
Read the full Dollar Dash review
Mass Effect 3: Citadel (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC)
For those of us who are heavily invested in the series, for whatever reason, it means putting away something special. This was a modern sci-fi epic that attempted, at least, to give the player a voice. I don’t think this trip quite took the path that anyone thought it would, but it’s been an interesting ride.
If this is how BioWare wants to close Shepard’s chapter, I can live with this. It’s not a perfect finale, but it’s one that highlights the best we’ve seen from the series so far, and it’s not without its own set of endearing idiosyncrasies.
Read the full Mass Effect 3: Citadel review
DmC: Devil May Cry: Vergil's Downfall (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
In a way, Vergil's Downfall represents the game DmC might have been -- less fluff, more style. But at the same time, like many areas of DmC, it lacks substance. You'll fight very samey enemies across five areas that also bear a resemblance to stages from the core game, which at the end of the day, just isn't quite enough to justify DLC pricing for everyone.
If you loved DmC, you really can't go wrong here. But if it wasn't everything you had hoped for, Vergil's Downfall will do little than give you a glimpse into the stylish Devil May Cry of old, at least from an aesthetic perspective.
Read the full DmC: Devil May Cry: Vergil's Downfall review
God of War: Ascension (PlayStation 3)
Ascension had challenges coming from every direction from early on. Some of the franchise's core mechanics have grown a bit tired over the past years, which had gamers questioning the need for another title. Beyond this, some questioned the need for a prequel story. Most of all, the idea of a multiplayer addition was initially off-putting to vocal series fans. But, like Kratos, Sony Santa Monica ripped through every one of these challenges with their bare hands to bring us a game that is so fantastic that it should make anyone that ever questioned them feel bad for doing so.
God of War has never looked or played better than this. Kratos has never been as deep or interesting as this. They've set the bar so high that I have no idea how they'll be able to follow this one up. Sony Santa Monica should be proud. Series fans should be proud.
Read the full God of War: Ascension review
Kersploosh! (3DS eShop)
With a bit more content and some tweaking, Kersploosh! could have been one of the best games on the 3DS eShop, because as it stands, it's a hard sell for people who like their experiences padded with more content. If you're okay with a short, enjoyable journey to the bottom of a well though, it's more than enough.
Read the full Kersploosh! review
The Bridge (PC)
The Bridge surprised me multiple times during the eight or so hours I played it. It surprised me with the devious simplicity of the level design, the dark theme that permeates the entirety of the game, and I was especially surprised by how satisfying the game was as a whole.
Some of the puzzles are a bit of trial-and-error since the more complicated mechanics take a certain amount of experience to fully understand. The difficulty can also be a bit wonky at times, alternating back and forth between "hard as a five star Sudoku" and "easy as a word search."
Read the full The Bridge review
SimCity (PC [reviewed], Mac)
There is some promise for this to be a good game, but promise alone isn't enough. Even if they do manage to get their servers back online and functioning, I still know that if something goes wrong on their end I will lose all of my saved games. My cities are at the mercy of EA's servers and my Internet connection, and while there are some nice things to be found in SimCity, the need to always be online and feeling forced to play with other people ruins the experience.
I wanted to like this game, I really did. At first I started to enjoy it, but soon all I found was frustration. I can't recommend this game to anyone, and I don't want to play it anymore myself because I am afraid of seeing all my efforts lost due to server issues. It's a decent game if it worked right, but the online dependency, forced multiplayer, and DRM ruin it.
Read the full SimCity review
The Banner Saga: Factions (PC, Mac)
Consider Factions for what it is: A testing ground and potential cash cow for Stoic's upcoming commercial release, and a fun sample of what's to come. If I were not in the middle of Fire Emblem, I may continue to play Factions -- hell, I may play a random match here and there, anyway. This unorthodox release that has Kickstarter backers in a frenzy is not worth getting so worked up over, as it suggests the single-player Banner Saga may be a gem -- a gem that some will have Factions users to thank for helping make it what it is.
Read the full The Banner Saga: Factions review
ATV Wild Ride 3D (3DS eShop)
In many ways, ATV Wild Ride 3D is stuck in the 90s, but that isn't wholly a bad thing. It does everything that it advertises -- it allows you to ride ATV vehicles on some pretty neat courses, in 3D. Just don't expect much more than that.
Read the full ATV Wild Ride 3D review
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (Xbox Live Arcade)
With its colorful characters, gorgeous sprite graphics, 8-bit tracks, and multiple game modes, there's a lot to love here. I must admit, while I wasn't familiar with the fighting game on which it's based, I'm seriously hoping it passes through localization, as I'd love to play that title as well. Whether playing couch co-op or online, it's a great way to spend an afternoon with friends, though hopefully they'll patch for having a more stable connection for the latter.
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is a simple game that anyone can pick up and play, but belies a deeper feel for combos like a traditional fighting game would, while adding a minimal skill tree for damage and speed boosts like an RPG. It's deep without being too deep, which makes it just the right amount of fun.
Read the full Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds review
Richard & Alice (PC)
There is a lot of text to get through, but Richard & Alice is a well-paced adventure. Dialogue-heavy moments between the titular characters are broken up by Richard, under player control, interacting with his room, emailing the prison staff, attempting to fix the AC, all the time still chatting to Alice, and then there are the flashbacks which are evenly paced throughout.
Despite being a short tale, there are multiple endings and subtle, easy-to-miss pieces of information that make Richard & Alice worth at least a second playthrough, something I just did this afternoon. It isn't required, however, as this is a complete story, and all the endings have something to offer both in terms of the closure they provide and their emotional weight.
Read the full Richard & Alice review
LEGO City Undercover (Wii U)
For all its faults, charming is absolutely the word best describing LEGO City Undercover. While more could have been done to exploit the sandbox scenario, and while it sticks a bit too nervously to formula than it could have, Undercover is nonetheless a frequently pleasurable, occasionally hilarious little romp in a new LEGO world full of potential. Should TT Games get another chance to revisit this idea, I hope for -- and expect -- a lot more of an expansion on the concept, and a lot more focus on the fresh elements that provide Undercover's highest points. As for this first try, we have a pretty damn good effort that I'd love to see more of.
Read the full LEGO City Undercover review
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (3DS)
Your mileage may vary; from various impressions around the net, a lot of folks have already voiced their approval. And that's fine. I'm happy if you are able to look past the complete exclusion of any of the traditional Castlevania values and appreciate the Western-focused approach, even if it isn't original in the least. I simply cannot share in your enthusiasm.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate is not the fusion of old and new Castlevania designs that was teased; it merely cements MercurySteam's ambition to keep the Lords of Shadow sub-series as distant from the main branch as possible. Not the worst thing in the world, but still quite disappointing.
Read the full Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate review
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3)
In short, Gust definitely seems to be straddling the line with Atelier Ayesha, showing that they have the talent to construct a plot which doesn’t rely on swimsuit competitions, yet aren’t quite ready to dedicate themselves to the taxing demands of a full RPG adventure.
What we’ve left with then is a game without an audience. Fans of traditional RPGs will be turned off by the minimal exploration elements; fans of anime babes in skimpy costumes are unable to get their fix, while fans of generic cutesy anime nonsense really don’t command the buying power to make Atelier Ayesha anything more than a niche title.
Read the full Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk review
Naruto Powerful Shippuden (3DS)
It may not be a perfect brawler, but it's certainly a fun one, and one that any Naruto fan would enjoy. Don't let the art style dissuade you from enjoying the action here, as the RPG-esque elements of stat boosting and defense increases add a special something that future games in the genre should take note of.
The humor may also not be for everyone, but if you're like me, you'll love the fact that the game doesn't take itself seriously. It fits the art style as well as the general goofy nature of the characters and situations. Plus, with it being based on Rock Lee's spin-off, you're already getting a unique experience gamers haven't yet tapped into. It's the ideal mix of fun and funny, without being too over-the-top.
Read the full Naruto Powerful Shippuden review
Super House of Dead Ninjas (PC)
This is one game that I know I'll be playing long after this review is finished with. The instant challenge and frantic pace makes it perfect to just pick up and play for 15 minutes, while the tight controls and potentially limitless number of floors makes it easy to pour hours into. If you're not convinced, then check out the free version and see if it floats your boat.
I do have one caveat, however. Whatever you do, don't play this with a keyboard. It's possible, but you'll just be giving yourself another unnecessary and fairly unpleasant challenge. Thankfully,Super House of Dead Ninjas comes with native controller support, and after a few initial hiccups, it seems to work perfectly now.
Read the full Super House of Dead Ninjas review
The Showdown Effect (PC)
The Showdown Effect's success will ultimately be dictated by the number of players that stick around. They need to host the games, and they need to provide the challenge for other players. Unlike Magicka, it's a multiplayer, online-only experience, and that's something of a risky endeavor for a small studio.
It's a game that deserves to be played, however, and it's one that's a hilarious spectacle to watch too -- something that Arrowhead clearly realizes and is keen to exploit with its Twitch.tv integration. Maybe I should make one of those video thingymabobs? Nah, I don't need any more people laughing at how awful I am.
Read the full The Showdown Effect review
Dead Space 3: Awakened (PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3)
Speaking as a fan of Dead Space, I feel I could skip Awakened and miss absolutely nothing of value. While some of the new ideas are nice, the sense of disappointment that none of them are capitalized upon offsets any good they do, while the story is nothing you couldn't explain in a single Tweet. While the gameplay is as solid as anything found in Dead Space 3, it could also be acquired simply by replaying chapters of Dead Space 3.
Dead Space 3: Awakened is a whole lot of not much at all.
Read the full Dead Space 3: Awakened review
Darkstalkers Resurrection (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
If you're opting to play online, the netcode is extremely solid, and I had a chance to play around 50 games with little to no interruptions or issues. The GGPO-powered online system works just as advertised, and with eight-player lobby support, YouTube upload functionality, and an online tournament mode, Resurrection really shines online.
Although the visuals deserved a much larger upgrade than a lazy filter, the fact of the matter is, the engine still holds up amazingly well, and the netcode is near perfect.
If you've always been curious about this franchise, now is the time to take the plunge -- if you're a fan of old-school 2D fighters, you won't be disappointed.
Read the full Darkstalkers Resurrection review
Vampire Crystals (WiiWare)
After beating the final boss, the story pulls a Ghosts 'n Goblins and forces you to replay the entire campaign for the true ending, only now the levels take place at night and enemies are unfathomably more aggressive. I died three times during the revamped first stage before dropping the controller and saying, "No more." Clearing the three worlds once only requires a handful of hours, but the tedium that sets in early on makes it feel like far more time has elapsed. There was no way I was suffering through all that again.
I can appreciate the classic arcade spirit of Vampire Crystals, but it does little to mask the shortcomings of old-school design while adding its own set of issues. Playing it single-player is chore, but convincing a group to play with you might be even more laborious. There just isn't enough meat on these dusty old bones.
Read the full Vampire Crystals review
Ridiculous Fishing (iPad, iPhone [reviewed])
Yes, perfect is the word for Ridiculous Fishing. Everything comes together to deliver a cohesive whole that works to alternate between making you smile, making you wonder, and most of all, making you want more. Thankfully, the game is quick to offer more. Just when you think you've seen the end, there's a new area, new item, a new kick in the storyline, or new fish to savor.
Ingeniously designed, continuously compelling, painstakingly crafted, dripping with personality, packed with content -- I like everything about Ridiculous Fishing.
Read the full Ridiculous Fishing review
Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360)
Gears of War 3 was still a great little game, but represented the kind of step down indicative of a series that's running out of steam. Gears of War: Judgment puts paid to that impression, proving there's plenty of vitality in Epic's flagship yet; provided it's willing to try some new spins on its established formula. OverRun alone is worthy of praise, but there's just so much stuff going on in this package, there's something for all followers of the series. A few of Judgment's experiments may not be as fondly received as others, but overall it's hard to complain about a game that tries so much, and succeeds in almost all its endeavors.
Read the full Gears of War: Judgment review
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (PC)
Heart of the Swarm is a fantastic addition to the StarCraft series, and quite frankly feels on par with a $60 game. It brings almost nothing new to the table, but there's nothing wrong with sticking to a formula you know works well. If you enjoyed Wings of Liberty, or just like RTS games in general, there's no reason not to pick this one up.
Read the full StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm review
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS, Wii U [reviewed])
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate definitely isn't for everybody. It requires a lot of time and dedication that some people simply can't put forth. It will take a while to get used to the controls, to determine which weapon is best for you, and to discover the tiny nuances to the gameplay. After all is said and done and the big monster is slain, however, nothing is more rewarding.
Encountering monsters in Monster Hunter isn't like most other games. Monsters will take your breath away shortly before they take your life away. This is a game that will force you to learn from your mistakes, lest you repeat them and achieve the same failure as before. While the visuals are far from stunning and the online lacks any sort of host migration, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one of the best and most rewarding experiences in a long time, and will certainly keep you busy for a while.
Read the full Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate review
Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
The Betrayal tries to offer more variety than The Infamy did thanks to its high flying antics, but it never truly transcends those ideas on a base level. If it offered a full sandbox with ridiculous spirit powers, it could have made for a pretty amazing superhero sideshow.
Instead, the powers feel fairly limiting, as do the worlds they take place in; which feels like a wasted opportunity. Perhaps if the third part can bring the craziness up to 11, this "what if" story will pack a little more punch. Until then, you may want to hold off on going all in, or even partly in, at this point.
Read the full Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal review
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
In many ways, Dark Moon's ScareScraper is one of the best multiplayer modes I've ever played. There's so much variety to it, and the formula of combining the cooperative nature with competitive, playful elements is genius. My wife and I couldn't stop playing, and every time I had friends over who owned a 3DS, I beamed a download play version to their portables for a quick few rounds.
If Dark Moon was just a single-player experience, it would have been a fleeting, yet enjoyable adventure. But with the addition of an infectious multiplayer element that can't be replicated anywhere else, it makes Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon even better than its predecessor, and one of the clear-cut best games on the 3DS.
Read the full Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon review
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 (PC [reviewed], Xbox 360, PS3)
There is an enjoyable camp quality to the script, which is full of nonsensical twists and tough guy talk ("We've got a major shit sandwich!") that takes itself way too seriously. I can see some appeal in getting together friends and having some drinks while playing. The constant waypoints and enemy icons make me think that being inebriated would make for an acceptable challenge. Nevermind online, which is composed of 2 maps, 1 mode (Team Deathmatch), and 0 active servers.
The task set before Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is not a hard one: make sniping fun. Apparently, City Interactive didn't get the memo, filling the game with a never-ending sequence of following an NPC guide through uneventful, recycled, and ugly environments. Even at four hours, Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 requires a level of patience and commitment that even the best snipers won't be capable of.
Read the full Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 review
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)
While the game isn't a genuine sea change from its predecessors, it stays true to the franchise's foundations, and makes up for any lack of innovation with the grand, beautiful spectacle that is its hallmark. The iterative refinements Cyberconnect2 have implemented over the series' history have helped to deepen the gameplay as well, bringing a more satisfying competitive experience while still maintaining accessibility. Though it stumbles somewhat due to unfortunate narrative placement, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a must-play for any Naruto fan, as well as anyone looking to have a good time wallowing in fun anime ridiculousness.
Read the full Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 review
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii U)
It's easy to believe Terminal Reality had the skeleton in place for a unique and enthralling take on the Walking Dead franchise, but with a deadline looming, added absolutely nothing to the bones and tossed out something woefully undercooked. Survival Instinct clearly isn't finished, and has no business expecting money from any paying customer. It's the kind of hurried, jury-rigged game that risks dealing damage to a property -- an especially sour note considering all the excellent work achieved by Telltale's The Walking Dead. By contrast to 2012's adventure game, Survival Instinct cashes in all the property's goodwill to churn out a botched, incomplete, hideous little waste of time and energy.
Read the full The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct review
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (3DS)
It's always tough to judge whether or not a game should be commended or punished for streamlining a series that previously catered to a niche audience. In this case, it simplifies the experience a bit too much, but given that this is the most accessible game yet, it could lead to more potential fans, which is always a good thing.
Although it may not be the best game in the franchise, Gates to Infinity is still an enjoyable dungeon crawl, and a beautiful-looking game to boot. So long as you can deal with an easier adventure, this is another mystery worth solving.
Read the full Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity review
BioShock Infinite (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
As a game, BioShock Infinite has its successes and its falterings consistent with any suitably complex piece of interactive entertainment. As a story, as an exercise in drawing the player into a believable and relevant world, as proof of exactly what a videogame can mean to a person ...
Well, I already said it. BioShock Infinite is damn near perfect.
Read the full BioShock Infinite review
HarmoKnight (3DS eShop)
[...] HarmoKnight is a wonderful bundle of charm and joy that doesn't really punish failure but rather encourages perseverance and dedication. There isn't even a "Game Over" when you die! Instead, the screen reads, "Oh Dear..." Reminds me of a mother who picks up a child who fell off the jungle gym, dusts him off, and gently urges him to try again. It's such a minor touch, but it's nonetheless uplifting. Maybe I'm sentimental like that.
It's been seven years since Game Freak last made a non-Pokémon title. HarmoKnight feels like the promising start of many wonderful new experiences to come, so I can only hope we don't have to wait another seven years for a follow-up.
Read the full HarmoKnight review
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)
Satisfying gameplay is the crux of the Tiger Woods franchise. All the new modes in the world wouldn't matter if it didn't feel so amazing to actually play. Luckily, Tiger Woods PGA 14 stays true to the core gameplay, and adds a very worthwhile mode with Legends of the Majors. All of the other new bells and whistles are either mediocre or long overdue.
The game is hard to recommend to someone who picked up last year's outing, except perhaps to the big golf enthusiasts among you who would appreciate the Legends of the Masters mode more than anyone else. If you're like me, though, and haven't picked up a Tiger Woods game in a while, PGA 14 has the classic gameplay that made the series stand out from its competitors, even if it is starting to show its age graphically.
Read the full Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 review
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Wise Monkey (iOS, PC [Reviewed])
Though The Wise Monkey is not all it could have been, it's a strong second episode. Much of it, however, felt almost like filler. The murder of Erica's brother and The Hangman case remain effectively untouched throughout most of this installment, and it does worry me that it has now set up even more mysteries while answering absolutely nothing. I don't doubt that it will all tie together somehow, but Cognition throws so few bones to the player that even the enjoyment of speculation is fruitless.
Read the full Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Wise Monkey review
Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
The core of Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is still decent. It's a serviceable game, and provides the kind of no-frills, unimaginative action that can at least provide cathartic fantasy violence. If that's what you want, however, you're better off getting the last game -- one that felt more refined, offered more compelling interaction, and will likely be available to purchase for peanuts these days. The Devil's Cartel, by contrast, is buggy, unnecessary, and outstays its welcome before the credits close.
Army of Two has never been an especially bad series, it's just never been an especially good one.The Devil's Cartel is the ultimate example of this. Is it bad? Not especially. But it's a far, far cry from good.
Read the full Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel review
Sword of the Stars: The Pit (PC)
The Pit is very difficult and has that same feeling of "okay, just one more run" that both Binding of Isaac or FTL: Faster Than Light have, but it still feels a bit "been there, done that." The Easy difficulty setting in conjunction with being able to save at any time are great boons for new players, while both the Hard and Insane difficulties are present for you crazy masochists who enjoy that kind of punishment.
While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Sword of the Stars: The Pit, there just isn't anything that is really mind-blowing. It is a well-polished roguelike that doesn't stray far from expectations, but instead stays in a rather comfortable zone from a game design perspective.
Read the full Sword of the Stars: The Pit review
Dead or Alive 5 Plus (PSVita)
When it comes right down to it, one of last year's best fighting games on home consoles has become one of this year's best handheld fighters. Play control is never hampered by the more cramped constraints of the small button layout, graphics aren't sacrificed on the smaller screen, and just about everything from the feature-rich home version is included here, with a few noticeable exceptions.
While not all the extra modes are fantastic, there's something to be said for extra content at all in a port, and the cross-save and cross-play functionality is a welcome addition to any Vita game.
Read the full Dead or Alive 5 Plus review
DLC Quest (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Indie Games)
Still, for less than five dollars, there's enough charm to justify the entry fee. The game's dialog induces anything from smirks to cringes, while the retro-themed graphics and music are joyful in their simplicity. It's a cheap game, with a rudimentary premise, that does enough to keep its joke fresh and feels inherently validating for a player who's grown weary of the game industry's less savory practices.
At the very least, you'll get your money's worth, which often cannot be said for the many games DLC Quest owes its creation to.
Read the full DLC Quest review