LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be the new kid on the block, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Many pass over the LEGO games for fear of them being too “kiddy,” or simplistic, but LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens expands on many of the known mechanics in a big way. There are new cover based shooting segments, impressive dogfights using all of the famous ships, and a story that goes beyond what you saw on the big screen.
It’s a fun experience that happens to be perfect for players of any age. Plus, the fact that you can play with a friend or even your own child. Nothing like breaking everything in sight with some company, something that the LEGO series has always beautifully delivered.
Quantum Break is a bit different from what fans have usually expected from Remedy Entertainment, best known for the games Max Payne and Alan Wake. Instead of just relying on your usual in-game cutscenes, the developers included a full, live-action drama that you could shape with your decisions in game. Each chapter of the game presented options to you that decided the future, and you got to see the effects those decisions had on all of the characters. Watching individuals die based off of a choice you made on a whim, or seeing good win out is a great thing.
The action itself helped to tie it all together. After an accident with a time machine, Jack Joyce gained the power to control time and wield it as a weapon. This made for cover-based gunfights that played out differently depending on how you wanted to punish your adversaries. Locking them in time bubbles, racing through areas, or shielding yourself presented many interesting options that kept the action flowing.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the close to one of the best exclusive series on the PlayStation. Naughty Dog provided a look into the life of a Nathan Drake who has aged and matured, one who is no longer the reckless adventurer fans may remember from the original PS3 games. With this maturity comes new burdens, as Nate must make a choice of either living his life or going on one last adventure with someone he thought he lost.
The action here is everything fans of the series have come to expect. The levels are large, offering multiple avenues of completion and a healthy dose of platforming. Fights are much more dynamic as well, with enemy soldiers working harder to flush you out and stealth playing a much large part in the gameplay. Your new rope adds some verticality to combat as well, allowing you to swing about and provide death from above. Essentially, this is a more refined version of what fans of the series already love.
Dark Souls III
Dark Souls III is an action-RPG, but that means it’s still chock full of action. Of course, if you’ve ever heard of this series, then you already know that its particular brand of action isn’t for the faint of heart. Dark Souls III wants you to die, and it will stop at nothing until your a broken mess crying in front of your television. But it will be a fun sort of crying, the kind you feel when you’ve finally defeated that boss that killed you about 150 times.
Dark Souls III leverages its large, overbearing world and dark corner to keep up the suspense and provide one of the most intense experiences of the year thus far. As you learn the nuances of each enemy and triumph over new, more powerful monstrosities, you will grow to be one of the strongest warriors to ever step foot in the realm.
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is actually an expansion to last year’s main game. If you’ve never played, it’s an open-world action RPG that places you into the shoes of Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher trained to defeat the deadliest of monsters, in a world full of war and strife. Blood and Wine added the country of Toussaint into the fold. It’s a beautiful land brimming with fairy tale-like beauty but a dark force bubbling beneath the surface.
You’ll have to fight against that dark force and all of its werewolves, witches, and vampires. The combat in Blood and Wine is fast paced and visceral. You’ll sever heads, blind some enemies, and control others, all with your beautifully crafted swords and powerful Signs. Fighting isn’t easy, so players have to learn how to dance in and out of combat, which is a large part of the game’s appeal, along with the beautiful vistas of course.
Not many were sure what to expect from an episodic Hitman game. The series had been known for its extensive lists of targets, and play how you want approach. It turns out that IO interactive knew how to deliver that in smaller bites as well. Actually, smaller probably isn’t the proper term, as each episode thus far has been bursting with content and possibility as players learned the ins and outs of every map and target.
Each location has been a full fledged Hitman experience, offering skills, tools, weapons, and options exactly how you’d expect. In fact, the tighter focus provided by each episode allows the developers to craft much more engaging scenarios, such as the inclusion of Elusive Targets, timed contracts that grant you one attempt. It’s an intriguing approach to a well established series, and it all works great.
Dying Light: The Following
Dying Light was one of 2015’s surprise hits. With zombies being all over the place, it was nothing short of amazing how Techland was able to create an experience that was fun and so packed of worthwhile content, not to mention the feeling you get when you parkour over hundreds of zombies that are trying to take a bite out of you. The combat was on point, and the world’s design was perfect, but it was missing a little something; vehicular warfare.
Dying Light: The Following took everything that made the initial release so fun and threw it in an open world with customizable buggies. This added a new way of mowing down hundreds of zombies while also opening the threat factor with less places to hide. Running through the new area and dealing with the new pressures made for one of the best action experiences of 2016 so far.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a sort of reboot to 2008’s Mirror’s Edge. Players take control of Faith, a young courier who uses her parkour skills to traverse a massive Utopian city that is anything but pleasant. Beneath the forced smiles and supportive government lies corruption, murder, and mass enslavement of the population. Naturally, you can’t let this go on any longer, so you bring your fight directly to those who are perpetrating the fraud.
Gameplay is filled with high speed running, death defying stunts, and a surprisingly fluid melee combat system that focuses on momentum and speed rather than tons of weapons and special powers. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst takes the parkour approach and runs with it by putting movement at the very center of everything. Also, it allows you to show off to your friends just how good you are by giving you the ability to create challenges in the open world wherever you want. Time to lace up those running shoes.