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Stellar Blade Review

More Than A Pretty Face by Matt Miller on Apr 24, 2024

Stellar Blade’s opening minutes are an apt encapsulation of the game ahead. A beautifully rendered but confusing cinematic sets up big sci-fi stakes. A splashy character intro moment focuses on the lead character’s sex appeal. A bombastic action sequence leads into a stylish and visually arresting boss battle. It’s truth in advertising from the very start, and developer Shift Up seems to be making a statement in those opening minutes: This is what we’re about – climb aboard, or jump ship – the choice is yours.

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Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review

Cracking The Planet Wide Open by Wesley LeBlanc on Feb 22, 2024

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth has quite the act to follow up – it must both live up to the sky-high expectations set by its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and synthesize and modernize perhaps the most crucial chapter in our heroes' adventure across Gaia. While my 80 hours in Rebirth didn't quite match the overall nirvana of Remake, it's a game I struggled to put down. A few stumbling blocks, like a bloated and sometimes tedious open world and intermittently uneven pacing, threaten the highs of Rebirth. But an exciting and well-told story, with an awe-inspiring finale to boot, almost made me forget the lows. The final result is a flawed but deeply reverent love letter to one of gaming's most beloved RPGs.

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Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review

Passing The Torch by Blake Hester on Jan 24, 2024

By the time I saw the credits on Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, I felt like I had been through the emotional ringer. I was mentally exhausted. I think that's by design. Infinite Wealth is developer Ryu Ga Gotoku's (RGG) most ambitious project by a long shot – an epic tale told across multiple characters and continents, featuring the conclusion of some nearly 20-year-old plot threads that leave at least one character, quite literally and relatably, asleep in the streets. Some of this is the best work the developer has ever done, a new watermark for the series going forward. And some of it is some of the studio's worst. Like everything in Infinite Wealth, it's complicated.

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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Review

A Royal Resurgence by Wesley LeBlanc on Jan 11, 2024

The Prince of Persia series has a long and storied history going back decades, and I know none of it. The latest, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, from developer Ubisoft Montpellier, has me regretting that because if this game indicates what else awaits me in the franchise, I’ve clearly been missing out. The Lost Crown uses exhilarating platforming, a deep combat loop, and more to create a new Metroidvania classic. While I would like a more compelling story and a few tweaks to its systems, I struggled to put The Lost Crown down, taking my gameplay sessions into the late hours of the night. The Lost Crown is a fascinating and highly successful reemergence for the beloved series.

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Talos Principle Review

Profoundly Puzzling by Marcus Stewart on Nov 17, 2023

The Talos Principle II often left me staring at my screen in awe. Sometimes, from sheer intimidation in the face of a seemingly formidable puzzle. Other times, from my incredulous pride after unraveling said problem. But most of all, the experience regularly gave me pause as I pondered a philosophical idea or argument that challenged my viewpoints on the nature of existence and humanity’s place in the cosmos. These moments spurred me to solve the game’s 100+ puzzles in search of answers, and I’m largely satisfied with what I discovered.

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Mario RPG Review

Toady Nostalgia by Kyle Hilliard on Nov 15, 2023

The original Super Mario RPG, released for Super Nintendo in 1996, felt like it was meant to be your first RPG. In an era when Final Fantasy tried its best to tell mature stories within the medium's limitations and Dragon Quest demanded hours and hours of your time, Mario’s adventure felt much brighter and more manageable. Familiar characters, a lighthearted story, a reasonable length, and timed button-pressing during combat made it stand out against the competition. Revisiting the game more than 25 years later in this new remade shape shows the original formula did not need much tweaking to deliver an engaging and enjoyable journey. Super Mario RPG is not entirely innocent of the sins of video games past, but old fans will relish the chance to see the game in a new light, and I’m confident newcomers will find something to love.

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Ghostrunner 2 Review

Finding The Utopia In Dystopia by Wesley LeBlanc on Oct 23, 2023

The first Ghostrunner is one of my all-time favorite games, and I've been excited for its sequel, Ghostrunner 2, since its reveal more than two years ago. I didn't need much to be satisfied with another parkour venture into developer One More Level's cyberpunk dystopia; I just wanted more Ghostrunner. And when Ghostrunner 2 is doing what put its predecessor on the map – fast-paced first-person action-parkour gameplay – it shines. But a few new attempts at expanding this world, both narratively and mechanically, don't shine as bright, however interesting and admirable they are. Nonetheless, Ghostrunner 2, with its exceptional action, soundtrack, and beautifully oppressive world, kept me smiling in delight for most of my 15 hours.

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Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review

Getting Its Flowers by Brian Shea on Oct 19, 2023

As a series that has been around for nearly four decades, Super Mario Bros. should have shown signs of slowing down years ago. But continuous thoughtful reinvention has helped the franchise remain a genre leader. Super Mario Bros. Wonder represents the next step of evolution, delivering the tight, tried-and-true gameplay in the context of the most creative 2D entry in nearly 30 years. Simply platforming through a stage is often a pure delight; Mario and his large roster of friends have never felt, looked, or sounded better. A joyful soundtrack full of upbeat earworms I’ve been humming since I first turned on the game complements superb gameplay. And the new expressive art style accentuates the most important parts of the characters and world.

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Spider-Man 2 Review

Sticking The Landing by Matt Miller on Oct 16, 2023

Being the sequel to two excellent games is not a guarantee of success. But it does set strong expectations. Thankfully, Spider-Man 2 meets and exceeds those expectations, providing uniformly stellar superhero action characterized by blazing-fast combat, smart mission design, and regular injections of thrilling set-pieces. Behind all that excitement, it also houses a fervent and heartfelt commentary on second chances, rehabilitation, and redemption. As a result, even in its dark moments, Spider-Man 2 delivers a wholesome and optimistic adventure rooted in joy.

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Forza Motorsport Review

Keeping Pace by Brian Shea on Oct 04, 2023

It can be rare for a newer franchise to challenge a well-established genre leader for the throne, but that’s precisely what the Forza Motorsport series has done since its first entry in 2005. Since then, the sim-racing genre has featured dueling front-runners, with Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport taking turns in the lead. The latest entry, simply titled Forza Motorsport, takes a back-to-basics approach to keep pace with its chief rival.

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