Unfairly maligned, Assassin’s Creed III is a great entry into the series and a strong game on its own. Its main problem was simply how ambitious it was. Multiple environments, tons of gameplay mechanics, hunting, sailing, jumping between timelines; Ubisoft truly through everything but the kitchen sink into the game. Those willing to have the patience to master all of its features will be rewarded with a rich experience that is set in a wholly interesting era that makes a perfect backdrop for the game’s action. Black Flag may have outdone it, but nothing like Assassin’s Creed III will ever be made again.
For years, the fighting game tournament scene was dying and many gamers were unaware of how deep these games were. A lot of this changed with Street Fighter IV, which introduced new characters, online multiplayer, missions and more to the Street Fighter franchise. Roughly a year later, Capcom updated this game by adding more characters and more importantly, adding trial mode. Instead of forcing you to figure it out, trial mode gave you various combos and you needed to execute them. This one simple change actually had a huge impact on the casual fighting game community. For starters, it encouraged use of characters besides Ryu or Ken and offered a simple way to move past mashing buttons. This, along with the popularity of Super Street Fighter IV, helped the fighting game community grow and prosper.
Battlefield 4 may not deliver anything enticing in its campaign, but its multiplayer reigns among the best in the business. Everything that was considered lacking in Battlefield 3 was made up to par, while some of the best things from it were magnified. Vehicular warfare, hectic games of Rush and Conquest, all of the staples you’d expect from a Battlefield game are present, along with a whole lot more. Its player-count may have been lower on current-gen systems, but the game delivers a roaring good time nonetheless.
This was a strange little offshoot of the Forza series, centered around an open world filled with events in the wilds of Colorado. It also ditched the pure-sim nature of the previous games by adding just a touch of arcade flavor to its racing action, with reputation points awarded for jumps and drifts. The open world is packed with events, and you’ll need to take full advantage of the huge range of cars available and learn their handling to win. A small shakeup can go a long way towards freshening up a series, and Forza Horizon’s changes do an excellent job of revitalizing Microsoft’s premier racer.
Crysis 2 may have taken players through familiar territory as far as story and scope are concerned, but the game was a dream mechanically. Many whined about the series’ departure from a large open-world, but upon playing through the game, most agreed that the way of a linear FPS was a fine direction for the franchise to go. The sudden flip-flop was because the more focused path allowed Crysis 2 to capitalize on the best part of the original: the freedom of choice in enemy encounters, and the outrageous super-human abilities. Want to grab an enemy soldier by the throat and throw him at his buddies? There’s a suit mode for that, and pretty much anything else imaginable. Crysis 2 made players feel more powerful than most any other game has, and it gave them environments in which they could use that power in whatever way they wished.
Taking place after the events of Dead Rising, the second game followed Chuck Greene, who was willing to risk everything to project his daughter. While the two games weren’t that different, Dead Rising 2 expands on the highlights of the first game. These include crazy weapons, Capcom references (like the Sir Arthur armor that explodes after a hit), twisted psychopaths and rescuing survivors. Besides simply expanding on the concept, Dead Rising 2 also added the immensely popular weapon crafting system. This system allowed you to combine random items to make wacky weapons to fight off zombies. How wacky you ask? Well, you can make a leaf blower that fires “massagers” (Off the Record) to kill enemies.
After years of waiting, Capcom finally released the third entry into the Marvel vs Capcom series. Unlike the second game, which contained an overabundance of characters, Marvel vs Capcom 3 focused more on diversity. Many fans were irked about this change, though the complaints disappeared with the release of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. This was largely due to popular characters like Phoenix Wright, Frank West, Strider, Ghost Rider and Nova being added, though some of the new modes helped. For instance, Heroes and Heralds allowed you to alter stats with cards, which vastly changed the way you played.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a different kind of Zelda experience. It places an emphasis on story and characters, something most other games in the series don’t concern themselves with, and splits the difference in art style, taking equal influence from Wind Waker and the more “mature” approaches a la Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time. What we’re left with, then, is a game that has high graphical fidelity, a strong, captivating narrative, and the tried and true combat mechanics of the previous entries. Its puzzles may not be the most challenging of the bunch, nor are its vast expanses of land and labyrinths as interesting as some of its older brothers, but all the same, how the game lows and comes together, in addition to the flying segments, really are breath-taking.
Tri-Ace has been somewhat missing in action this generation, and the titles they have released weren’t particular up to their traditional standards. The exception to this is Resonance of Fate, a mixture between John Woo style action in the midst of combat and a hex-based grid system that unlocked territories through the various levels in the world. While the story is fairly vague for the first half, it’s the three protagonists, Zephyr, Leanne and Vashyron, and their comical banter that ensure the player is never bored. What we end up with is a fast paced and exciting customizable strategy-RPG shooter that, while has a somewhat bland color palate, succeeds to impress.
SSX had been dormant for years outside of a slapdash Wii game before it was rebooted in 2011. The the game was originally titled Deadly Descents after some hardcore challenge missions that capped off each mountain you conquered in more casual-friendly activities like races and time trials. These events came to define the game by offering up a challenge far beyond what had come before, and turned the series from something that was focused on flash to something with a bit more substance to it. The redone control scheme made it easier to accurately move your characters around, although you did have to relearn things if you were stuck in your old ways, you were rewarded with a more rewarding experience than ever before for doing so.
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