For the first time in forever
(okay, since 2001), I actually like Final Fantasy! Yeah, yeah, I know the story is supposed to go to hell around chapter 13, and I have some issues with the combat and open world jankiness, but at least I'm enjoying running around and completing quests. It's certainly not perfect, but this is a great new start for a franchise that had lost its way outside of the well-received MMORPGs.
Mankind Divided is an awesome game where Adam Jensen gets the power to launch homing tesla darts at an unknowing enemy from across the room. Or maybe you'll sneak up behind that guy and head-butt him into submission. Better yet, why not hack a door to bypass the dude entirely? You get a lot of choices and player agency in the latest Deus Ex, but unfortunately the game ends on a serious cliffhanger that feels incredibly abrupt and unfulfilling. We've heard rumors that the original story was cut and restitched to make a trilogy, and it's a shame given how awesome Mankind Divided is otherwise. I just hope we aren't waiting another five years to see Adam again.
SMTIVA is an absolutely stunning game about the power of friendship in a demon apocalypse. It's also a game where the last two dungeons are so horrifyingly bad that I never want to play the game again. Apocalypse makes serious strides to fix the few problems I had with IV, but it lost a sense of balance and progression in the process. Also, why is Atlus getting away with all of this DLC nonsense while nearly every other developer gets slammed if they so much as dip their toe in this commercial cesspool?
Shiren is so damn great, and I wish more people on staff had a chance to play it. Yeah, it can be brutally hard at times, but there's a fairness to the whole experience, and the new items and abilities grafted on to the classic Mystery Dungeon franchise help to cut down on some of the tedious grind the series is known for. Playing some of the DS version of the original Shiren shows how far they've come, and I hope to see more roguelikes adopt this friendly approach while still keeping that great sense of urgency and anxiety fans crave.
Much like last year's XCOM 2 and Fallout 4, Dishonored 2 isn't a bad game so much as an underwhelming sequel. I was very much looking forward to another strange journey into the dreamlike Victorian vision Arkane created four years ago, but D2 managed to stumble at almost every turn. The story is a boring retread of the original (ReDishonored, anyone?), the two fully voiced protagonists are amazingly uninteresting, Emily's powers aren't as cool or useful as Corvo's (with Domino being the only exception), and, worst of all, the level design turns most missions into a tedious search for various doodads and trinkets instead of focusing on the actual assassinations. And don't even get me started on the various engine problems or the subpar PC port. It feels like all of the creativity left at Arkane is going into Prey, and I hope that game manages to surprise me next year.
Speaking of surprises, how awesome was Doom?! Remember how everyone was worried about the glory kills, seemingly underwhelming multiplayer beta and lack of review codes close to launch? Turns out all of the internet negativity was unfounded, as Doom is probably the most refreshing take on the first-person shooter in years. With fantastic combat, an amazing soundtrack and tongue-in-cheek humor, Doom is a treat for nearly everyone who bothers to give it a chance. You can get it on the cheap and you should!
*climbs on his soapbox* Man, people were incredibly down on Hitman when it was announced as an episodic experiment, but if you go back and listen to our E3 2015 podcast
I was optimistic about the approach, given the mission-based structure of the previous franchise entries. It took some time to get there, sure, but Hitman is the most exciting and interesting game I've played this year. By continuing to expand on the replayability and depth of the base stealth mechanics, IO Interactive is putting together an amazing experience that will continue to grow over the course of future seasons. Getting an elusive target update on my phone makes the wait to get home almost unbearable, and just last week I got a chance to kill the Wet Bandits from Home Alone. IO gets it, and you should all give Hitman a chance.
I don't need to say anything. Can't wait!