The Best Games of September 2018 (Game of the Month)
Honorable Mention: FIFA 19
Assistant Editor Tom Hopkins: The gameplay shift is FIFA 19 is the biggest the series has seen in years. Pace and low driven shots are no longer the go to tactics they once were, being replaced by Timed Finishing and careful build up play. You need to be smarter in how you play, considering passing angles and the timing of runs more closely than you would have done before. Timed Finishing also adds a much needed skill gap, forcing you to learn new mechanics that make a real difference.
There’s still some issues when it comes to AI defending and goalkeeper intelligence, but FIFA 19 is the biggest step in the right direction for the series since FIFA 12, when it comes to on-pitch gameplay.
Away from the pitch, FIFA 19 is still a masterclass in presentation. Visually, the match-day atmosphere is perfectly re-created and there’s a huge amount of variety in the modes.
You can play the conclusion of Alex Hunter journey, take part in a new No Rules match in Kick-Off, or start a new manager career. However, Ultimate Team is still the star of the show. The live content and the mode options keep you coming back, but the restructuring of FUT Champs and the addition of Divisions Rivals makes the competitive scene far more fair and rewarding that it was last year.
Building your perfect squad is as fun as ever, but FIFA 19’s gameplay improvements ensure that actually playing is nowhere near as frustrating as it has been in years gone by.
Honorable Mention: Valkyria Chronicles 4
Senior Editor Hayes Madsen: Valkyria Chronicles 4 returns the series to its strategy roots, telling a dramatic new story that takes place during the same time frame as the very first game. A few additions to combat may seem small at first, but drastically change up the way you strategize.
In particular, the new Grenadier class can lob grenades in an arc over a distance, making you alter how you build your army, as well as how you move them. Another change is the ability to use Ship Commands for powerful abilities, like raining artillery on a certain area, or repairing all of your vehicles on the field.
Although it may have some pacing issues, the story of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is an emotional tale that draws you in and only gets better as you keep going. There’s just as much choice and variation in the gameplay as past entries, and it truly is a return to form for the franchise. Add in one of the very best soundtracks by Hitoshi Sakimoto, and you easily have one of the best JRPGs of 2018.
Honorable Mention: Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Features Editor Alex Gibson: Shadow of the Tomb Raider marks the climax of the rebooted trilogy, and it’s a solid send-off for the archeologist turned badass adventurer, Lara Croft. In terms of gameplay, we’re sure it’s the highpoint of the entire franchise, let alone this latest iteration of the series. The traversal, stealth, and puzzle gameplay will be familiar to fans, but it’s all been given an extra polish this time around.
That’s a good thing, too, because there’s certainly a wealth of content to get stuck into. On top of the main questline, there are dozens of side quests, tombs, crypts, and collectibles for players to discover. Each of these additional activities branch-off the beaten track of the game’s semi-open world design. Discovering the whereabouts of an ancient ruin or temple is always a buzz, and there’s something addictive about ticking off objectives to clear each area.
Streamlined as it is, though, the gameplay loop does play it a bit safe. We would have liked to have seen more innovation for this final hoorah. The story, too, doesn’t quite reach the same level of intrigue as the previous games. Yet despite these complaints, the entertainment factor makes it an easy game to recommend, and one that’s well worth playing.
Game of the Month for September 2018: Marvel’s Spider-Man
Guides Editor Chris Jecks: For a good few years now, superheroes have been all the rage. Marvel’s cinematic universe continues to kill it at the box office, and the list of superhero TV shows continues to grow year by year. It makes sense, then, that Marvel would next look to conquer the video game medium in a similar blockbuster fashion, and by teaming up with the talented team at Insomniac Games, it has delivered a sensationally good web-slinging time.
Rather than putting players in control of Peter Parker just as he’s becoming Spider-Man, we’re instead thrust a few years into his time in the role. It allows the narrative to really kick off with a bang, and it seldom looks back from there. Though, due to the game wanting to show the lives of both Spider-Man and Peter Parker, the gameplay does tend to slow right down when out of the suit. Luckily, it’s never too long before you’re back to swinging through the streets of Manhattan with a nonchalant elegance.
It’s this traversal when you are Spider-Man that permeates into every element of the game, and makes everything considerably better as a result. Diving off the top of a skyscraper, before using a web to swing yourself back up meters from the ground never gets old. None of it does. Insomniac Games has nailed how it feels to swing through the city as Spider-Man, and so collectibles are far more enjoyable to collect. Side missions are less of a hassle. You’ll probably even forget that a fast travel system exists.
The fluid feel of the traversal can be felt in the combat, too. Though Spider-Man’s combat system may look incredibly similar to that of the Batman Arkham games, it emphasizes Spidey’s more agile nature. You’ll be bouncing off walls (literally) to piledrive straight into a group of enemies, or using your web to zip towards an enemy before delivering a powerful blow to knock them down. And the more you play, the more new skills and abilities you unlock to further enhance your arsenal of attacks.
Even after clearing the main story, collectibles, and side missions, I was still intent on 100%ing the game. I wanted to see everything the game had to offer. Clearing the streets of every last instance of criminal activity. For 25 hours, I was Spider-Man, and it felt exactly how every fan imagined. Incredible.
That does it for our September 2018 Game of the Month. Congratulations to Marvel’s Spider-Man! What do you think were the best games from last month? Let us know in the comments.