Xbox One

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When we got Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary three years ago, it was generally accepted that Halo 2 wouldn’t be far behind. As one of the most successful games of the previous generation, it was generally accepted that a similar remake was on the way. Microsoft delivered more than just that, though, in The Master Chief Collection, with all four Halo titles in one box. READ MORE

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Assassin’s Creed: Unity is the closest the series has come yet to making me feel like a true assassin. It provides an incredible open world with missions that can be approached from a variety of different angles, and it rewards creativity while punishing brute force. It falls short of the the best titles in the series, but for a fan that isn’t suffering from yearly franchise fatigue, Arno’s journey in late-eighteenth-century Paris is one that is definitely worth taking. READ MORE

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Another year, another Call of Duty. After last year’s release, Ghosts, disappointed just about everyone, it can be easy to see why some might be wary about the future of the franchise. No one will deny even the most lackluster titles in the series are still competent, but with diminishing returns beginning to set in, many are skeptical we’ll see any new groundbreaking changes with the latest entry, Advanced Warfare. It may not set the world on fire, but there is something to be said about newcomer Sledgehammer Games’ attempt to breathe new life into the franchise.

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If there’s anything Insomniac Games, the studio behind the Ratchet and Clank series, is known for, it’s bringing together a handful of small, yet vital mechanics to create slick and entertaining package. While its last major release, Fuse, fell short of almost everyone’s expectations due to its lack of, well, everything that makes an Insomniac game stand out, the same can’t be said of Sunset Overdrive. It’s a breath of fresh air from a studio that seemed to be losing its way. READ MORE

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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.

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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

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Most of the time, it’s the object of a review to evaluate a game on its artistic merits, like what it’s trying to communicate and how it goes about delivering on that vision. With some games, though, like this fourth installment of the Skylanders series, what we’re looking at is undeniably a product: a collection of bullet points loosely tied together and pressed on a disc for consumption by mass-market shoppers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for every game, but it does make the “film criticism” school of reviews largely inappropriate.

So I’m going to follow Trap Team‘s lead and package together some bullet points for you. READ MORE

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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.

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As with the previous game, Forza Horizon 2 takes the driving from Forza Motorsport and brings it to a more open, laid-back setting. The sequel leaves the original’s Colorado-based setting in favor of the surroundings of southern France, but the Horizon Festival remains, bringing with it the race events and championships for which it’s known. New locale aside, Horizon 2 once again centers around its open-world driving, both separating it from the Motorsport series and appealing to fans of games like Burnout Paradise. READ MORE

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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.

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