Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS
Don’t make the mistake of writing off Yoshi’s New Island as a kids game because of its chalk-inspired graphics and annoying toddler-style soundtrack. Over the course of this nine-hour adventure, it retains the same strong level designs that made the 1995 Super Nintendo original an amazing game. But all its strengths are repeats from the classic, and its new ideas don’t gain traction.
Reviewed on PC and Xbox One
After my first few rounds of Titanfall, hearing the “Your titan is now ready” notification began to induce a Pavlovian adrenaline-rush response. I still catch myself looking up to the sky as I press down on the D-pad to call it in, because watching my 20-foot-tall robot exosuit fall onto the battlefield, seemingly from Heaven, is a glorious sight that I still see replaying when I close my eyes at night. It’s a signal that I’m about to transition from the liberating mobility of a jetpack-powered, wall-running soldier (called a pilot) to the ego-swelling walking tank that punches enemy players midair as they try to leap on its back and squashes AI-controlled minions with heavy metal feet. It’s more than a “Call of Duty with mechs” gimmick – Titanfall turns out to be an invigorating multiplayer first-person shooter that melds fresh mechanics with familiar ones, creating a new watercooler moment almost every time I play. I only wish there was more of it, and that it was easier to fight my friends.
Reviewed on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita
Final Fantasy X has a place in history as one of the best JRPGs ever, so finally replaying this PlayStation 2 classic and its sequel in Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita is a real treat. I’m impressed with how well both games hold up, and the extra story content, improved graphics, and re-recorded musical score gives an old fan something new to see.
Reviewed on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Dark Souls II feels like playing baseball with a familiar, worn-in, comfortable mitt, only the rules of the sport have been slightly tweaked. Anyone worried that the sequel might rein back on the difficulty in favor of targeting a wider audience can sleep easy tonight – Dark Souls II is every bit as punishing, demanding, and ultimately rewarding as its 2011 predecessor. Its new ideas for both single-player exploration and helping and tormenting others in multiplayer don’t always quite click, but enough do to make this an exceptional game and an irresistible challenge.
Seeds sown in The Walking Dead: Season 2’s premiere don’t sprout in Episode 2, “A House Divided” -- they explode like a bomb.
Reviewed on PlayStation 3
With The Witch and the Hundred Knight, developer NIS is trying to bring the nuances its strategy RPGs are known for to the action RPG genre. Unfortunately, the team doesn’t seem to have the same knack for this style of game. On the simple level of running around and clobbering bad guys, The Witch and The Hundred Knight can be fun in short bursts, but when you dig down into the RPG systems underpinning the action, it almost completely trips up. There’s a big difference between depth and needless complexity, but The Witch and the Hundred Knight fails to make this distinction.
Reviewed on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
It’s really quite remarkable how South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have slowly ramped up the shock value over the past 17 years to keep the show sharp. Whether they and developer Obsidian could pull off the same for a 14-hour game instead of a 22-minute show was never a sure thing. But there I was, shrunk down to Underpants Gnome-size, crawling up Mr. Slave’s orifices to retrieve a WMD, slicing through gobs of bodily fluids in turn-based JRPG combat and climbing up half-digested corn-on-the-cob as I went, laughing hysterically the whole way. I’m floored at how consistently funny it is, and at how well the outrageous comedy melds with the relatively simple gameplay to create not just an amazing South Park game, but an intelligent and witty satire of roleplaying mechanics.