After nearly ten years away from a genre he helped pioneer, Shinji Mikami has returned to his survival horror roots with his latest title, The Evil Within. Focusing less on action and more on atmosphere and the “survival” aspect of survival horror, The Evil Within attempts to bridge the gap between the old ways of the genre and its current status. Unfortunately, it’s an experience that only rarely delivers on its potential.
Pier Solar and the Great Architects is a return to the 16-bit glory days of the JRPG genre and was originally released for the Sega Genesis in 2010, over a decade after the last official release for the system. It was conceived as an attempt to emulate the core concepts that made other RPGs of that era so memorable, and it largely succeeds in doing so, both for better and for worse. Pier Solar developer WaterMelon ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to remaster the game in HD for release on modern consoles (along with — of course — the Dreamcast), and it is this “definitive” version of the game that will likely gain exposure to a wider audience as copies of the limited-run Sega Genesis version can be very difficult to find. READ MORE
Borderlands doesn’t step tenderly around anything, and the developers’ devotion to a joke or a theme is to be applauded. Dogged determination doesn’t always work out, though. Not every moon is our moon, and recreating the sense of slowness seen in footage from ours does not translate well to Pandora’s moon, Elpis. Some other additions and changes are good, however. I don’t ever want to play another Borderlands game in which my only option is to sell trash guns back to Marcus. Throwing them into the Grinder — and admittedly often receiving more valuable trash guns — is too enticing to empty my backpack every time I pass a vending machine. READ MORE
Few films have inspired a generation of action-focused science fiction, both in games and other movies, more than James Cameron’s Aliens. While the titles inspired by Aliens are generally excellent, the ones based directly on that property haven’t fared as well. This is where Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation comes in. Based entirely on the original horror film that spawned the franchise, Isolation is a subtler take on its source material and, as a result, manages to make more of an impact.
Like with any licensed property, games based on Lord of the Rings, and Middle-earth as a whole, have been mixed. There are certainly a few stand-outs, but there are just as many (if not more so) poorly made cash-grabs. With such a rich lineage from which to borrow, the potential for an excellent game in this universe seemed untapped. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Monolith’s take on the series, is different, taking a license in exciting directions rarely seen from larger studios.
Sherlock Holmes, the eccentric detective and one of the most iconic fictional characters, has seen a number of attempts at franchises based on his escapades, but few stand out as worthwhile. Frogwares’ series of titles is the most recent, delivering a more authentic Sherlock Holmes experience. Most of these titles are riddled with problems, and although each game has gotten better than the last, it was typically hard to recommend them. Understand my surprise when the newest game, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, exceeds all expectations. READ MORE
The quick-combat local multiplayer game has become something of a genre of its own lately, with titles like TowerFall and Samurai Gunn serving as the tip of a much larger iceberg. The strangely-named Starwhal: Just the Tip brings its own brand of competition through two innovations: a sometimes-inscrutable movement scheme and a focus on jousting mechanics. READ MORE
Another year, another Naruto game. Those who had their hopes pegged on this particular entry being a continuation of the story in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 will be disappointed that this is an “in-between” game in the vein of Generations, telling side tales rather than advancing major plot points. The idea of a “Ninja World Tournament” sounds pretty cool and serves as a nice way to stuff many characters from throughout the series into one game, but does it make Revolution a good move? READ MORE
Crafting spells is fun, and it is solely that on which Magicmaker hinges. Between the wand, the mana spell and the cloak, each mage has three opportunities to combine magical elements. Some elements cause enemies to catch fire, others cause your spell to ricochet from one target to the next and still others can make your spells pass through walls or split into multiple projectiles. With over 2,000,000 combinations available, you won’t be hurting for customization. READ MORE
The best games are simple to understand and quick to start. Within five minutes of downloading Cannon Brawl you’ll understand the basic concepts of building mines to bolster your economy, deploying territory balloons to expand your territory and dropping cannons to ensure military superiority over your opponent. New concepts are introduced throughout the campaign, but the core concept is immediately available and understandable. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing solo or with others: those three base units are going to be integral to victory. READ MORE