There are flashes of greatness in Lost Planet 3. Its story has some surprisingly excellent acting, its icy world is struck by impressively intense storm effects, and a couple of times the stars align and its third-person shooting and rock’em sock’em giant-robot-versus-monsters combat modes work together to produce a novel boss fight. But flashes are all they are, and the often frustrating metaphorical dimness between them makes up the bulk of its 15-hour single-player campaign gets in the way of admiring them.
Don't download Super Luigi U looking for an explanation as to why Luigi's filling in for his shorter, redder brother. You won't get one, nor will you ever be clued in to why Luigi's picture is amusingly (and mildly creepily) hidden near-subliminally in each and every one of the 82 remixed stages. What you do get though, is a CliffsNotes version of a great fast-paced 2D platformer. All the same things that make NSMBU a good time are present here alongside the tweaks to the formula, including Luigi’s signature floatier jump. As a stand-alone game, its reliance on Luigi's control quirks to manufacture challenge might come off like a cheap trick, but as a piece of DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U, it functions as a sort of challenge mode, making it an enjoyable, (if somewhat pricey at $20) supplement to that'll give platforming vets something meaty to sink their teeth into.
The most remarkable thing about Rayman Legends is how consistently it introduces new and unpredictable ideas over its roughly 12 hours. This beautifully animated co-op game tosses dozens of inventive ideas into the mix, proving there's still room for exciting creativity in the platforming genre. Naturally, Rayman starts out with simple running, jumping, and punching, but before you know it you’re sneaking past dozens of deadly traps, battling huge bosses, or playing through awesome challenge levels that look like '90s music videos. Every time I thought I found a personal favorite stage, the next one came along and replaced it.
It's been 25 years since John Madden crashed through the front cover of your video game like a moppy-haired Kool Aid Man. That's 25 years of digital touchdown celebrations and the Cleveland Browns making it to the pretend Superbowl, just like in their dreams that never come true. For an anniversary so important it warrants messing up a long-established naming scheme, you’d think EA Sports would do more to celebrate it than just put in some retrospective trivia in the loading screens. Unfortunately Madden NFL 25 is more of a run-of-the mill upgrade than a big anniversary edition, but it is still a great version. Madden NFL 25 makes a lot of small improvements that build on last year’s big Madden NFL 13 revamp to create one of the finest football gaming experiences available.
I played through The Bureau: XCOM Declassified's entire floundering tactical shooter campaign wondering how it planned to pull off a plausible prequel backstory to the freshly rebooted XCOM universe. When I got to the end, it didn't even seem to try, content to let us wonder why this 1960s version of XCOM didn't bother to tell 2010s XCOM (of XCOM: Enemy Unknown) that hostile aliens exist and that there's a closet full of working plasma guns somewhere. Not making sense doesn't seem to bother The Bureau, either in story or in its flawed attempt to use permanent death mechanics and strangely shoddy construction. But it sure bothered me.
I haven’t been this genuinely giddy after experiencing a much-anticipated game for the first time since E3 2004, when I initially got my hands on Halo 2 multiplayer in CTF matches on Zanzibar. That year, I kept going back to Microsoft’s appointment-only booth again and again, begging the PR reps to sneak me in on their packed schedule so I could have one more turn. And that’s exactly what I’m doing with Titanfall here at Gamescom.
An intriguing sci-fi setting with an amnesiac hero. Distinctively rotoscoped visuals. Innovative gameplay mechanics and a difficulty level that rewarded patience and pinpoint accuracy. These are just a few of the reasons why Delphine Software’s original 1992 Flashback was lauded by many as one of the great action games of the 16-bit generation. Unfortunately this HD remake doesn’t come close to earning such accolades.
Saints Row IV has the same problem as Superman. All things considered that's a fairly good problem to have, because it stems from awesome powers like being faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. But the thing many comic book fans find a little boring about the Man of Steel is that if you’re basically a god, nothing can challenge you – and what’s a hero without a challenge to overcome? That same boredom eventually proves to be Saints Row IV’s kryptonite. Developer Volition has made us living gods in an open-world city, and it's great for a while, but it renders much of what makes Saints Row The Third so much fun feeling pointless.
Disney Infinity attempts something really ambitious: translating the principles of the childlike way in which we play with toys into a video game. And so it lets you build whole new worlds where logic is an infrequent guest, and then gives you the power to knock them down and start again. It wants you to go on new adventures with the toys you own, but it also wants you to reenact the scenes that made you fall in love with them in the first place. It’s crammed with creativity and variety, and I think, above all, it just wants to make you smile. And it succeeds, time and time again.
A raucous, over-the-top tribute to Japanese TV shows like Kamen Rider and Power Rangers,The Wonderful 101 stars a team of Earth-defence superheroes who not only rescue imperilled citizens, but absorb them into a superpowered mob of little dudes. With an awkward squiggle of the finger on the GamePad touch screen, this gaggle of part-time heroes morphs into weapons, bridges, hang-gliders and more, letting you fight off endless invaders that range from plate-armored robot turtles to technologically advanced octopuses. It’s bursting with creativity and boisterous charm – but every superhero must learn to control his or her powers before they can be used for good, and Wonderful 101 doesn’t make that easy.