Review
68 Comments
6.5

Trials Fusion review: back to the future

The first words you hear in Trials Fusion are "Welcome to the future! Man! Machine! The future!" You hear these words in the game's main menu, within a theme song on constantly loop. They're "sung" over a sci-fi, synthy backing track as a way to introduce you to this new, futuristic setting. It's hammy and over the top, but it also feels equally lazy, like it's the easiest way to convey this setting in the fewest amount of words. This is fitting, since in so many words, this is Trials Fusion. It cruises on the legacy of its impressive predecessor, offering up mostly the same motorcycle platforming gameplay in a dull package. Fusion cruises on the legacy of its impressive predecessor Despite appearances, Trials Fusion is a platforming game. If you've never played a Trials game...
Review
42 Comments
6.5

Tales of Symphonia Chronicles review: passing by

Tales of Symphonia Chronicles comes 10 years after the original Tales of Symphonia launched on the GameCube. Chronicles brings together the original and its Wii sequel, Dawn of the New World, to commemorate that 10-year anniversary. With this re-release, Namco is giving a whole new generation of RPG fans a chance to play one of Tales Studio's most warmly regarded creations in high definition for the first time. Long-time fans might be eager for an excuse to replay Tales of Symphonia, while a whole new generation of RPG players may have never been exposed to it to begin with. Unfortunately, neither Symphonia nor its sequel benefit much from the makeover. Tales of Symphonia stars a diverse group of fighters led by wannabe-macho-man Lloyd. His friend Colette has been chosen by the...
Review
15 Comments
8.0

The Wolf Among Us Episode 3: A Crooked Mile review: procedural justice

With our review of The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3: A Crooked Mile, we're trying something new with episodic reviews on Polygon. What follows of something of a hybrid between recap and review and, as such, should not be read by anybody worried about spoilers. You've been warned. At the beginning of A Crooked Mile, we find Bigby in a pretty dark place. Literally. In a seedy, blood-spattered hotel room the Big Bad Wolf as just uncovered the big bad secret that may just turn Fabletown on its ear. With the discovery of some … unsavory photographs, Crane has just been revealed as Snow's number one fan and the lead suspect for the murderer stalking Fabletown. What follows is perhaps the most focused episode of Wolf Among Us yet: Bigby must find Crane. But that also makes it the most...
Review
21 Comments
8.0

Lego The Hobbit review: safe fairyland

Lego the Hobbit is the best way to engage with the fictional world of The Hobbit short of reading the original book. Traveller's Tales' Lego games have always added a humorous spin to whatever property they were paired with. The team has found a perfect match in The Hobbit — the lighter, friendlier prequel to JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. Lego the Hobbit takes inspiration from the slightly overblown recent films and runs with it, creating a plastic universe that's warm, funny and inviting. The storytelling is succinct, the gameplay is familiar and comfortable, and the world itself is a pleasure to explore, lending to a sense of adventure grander than the tiny plastic bricks would lead you to expect. Lego the Hobbit doesn't stray far from the formula set...
Review
67 Comments
8.5

Mercenary Kings review: royal blood

Mercenary Kings looks like another throwback, but a much deeper game hides beneath the surface. With its beautiful pixel art and tense run-and-gun gameplay, no one could be blamed for mistaking Mercenary Kings as a nostalgia trip for fans of NES classics like Contra and Mega Man. That inspiration is obvious, but it's only the beginning. The real core of Mercenary Kings' gameplay loop is borrowed from a more recent — and more divisive — genre: crafting-focused action-RPGs of the variety popularized by the Monster Hunter series. It may look old-school, and the moment-to-moment gameplay may be action-packed, but this is a game about grinding. About repeating missions to get the materials you need to build bigger, better weapons. About using those weapons to take on...
Review
30 Comments
3.0

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z review: dirty rotten scoundrel

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z has no real reason to exist. Every game needs to give the player a reason to continue. The combat may be satisfying, or perhaps the story ropes you in. It could be that the sense of exploration or discovery is enough to keep you in front of the screen. There has to be something the game provides the player, some sense of fulfillment that gives you an excuse to keep playing. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z offers no such reward; everything in the game's design and execution pushes the player away. The story is nonsensical. The characters are one-dimensional and off-putting. The combat is frustrating. The checkpoints are few and far between. The camera fights you as often as the enemies. The controls are a mushy, lumpy mess. The only emotion I felt upon...
Review
39 Comments
8.5

MLB 14 The Show review: sliding into first

Sony's MLB The Show 14 is the latest in a franchise that is reliably one of the best sports titles made each year, despite a pretty tough set of circumstances. No other sport is as ridiculed, even by its fans, for the time to finish a game. The patience baseball demands of participants and spectators is particularly burdensome to any video game tasked with representing the sport. Conventional wisdom holds that if baseball had been conceived after television was invented it wouldn't survive because programming executives wouldn't allow something so slow-paced and filled with routine on the air. Well, as a video game, baseball's turn-based combat system is one to which even the most ardent JRPG fan would turn up his nose. Somehow, given this hand, Sony's MLB The Show series is one...
62 Comments
6.0

Kinect Sports Rivals review: second string

Kinect Sports Rivals emphasizes character and story — a novel idea for a motion-based sports game, but one that developer Rare commits to completely. Story isn't the real draw, though. The well-designed events and core progression system pulled me into Kinect Sports Rivals. The exciting selection of activities and goofy arcade theme suit the "extreme" vibe of the game. But the Kinect controls themselves — along with lengthy load times and grating characters — eventually drove me away. Kinect Sports Rivals starts with the creation of a champion, with a scanning process that resulted in an avatar that actually looked like me. It's impressive tech — and a first taste of the game's crisp visuals. Then I was off to train with "Coach" — a combination drill sergeant...
53 Comments
9.5

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls review: human shield

Reaper of Souls reinvigorates an already great game It's not like the developer has been ignoring Diablo 3 since the controversy of its launch in 2012, or its subsequent massive sales success. Just a few months later, Blizzard added the Paragon experience system and new player selectable difficulty tweaks along with regular patches. But Blizzard has been saving the biggest changes for Reaper of Souls, Diablo 3's first expansion. Blizzard has a history of making major changes to their games in the wake of extensive player feedback, and Reaper of Souls is no exception. The much-maligned auction house? Gone. Difficulties? Completely changed. The Paragon system? Reset and applied account-wide to every character. There's hardly an aspect of Diablo 3 that Reaper of Souls doesn't change,...
Review
157 Comments
8.0

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster review: music of the spheres

Final Fantasy X doesn't get enough credit. A lot of Final Fantasy fans will praise the fourth game or the sixth — that one's my personal favorite. Others will talk about falling in love with Final Fantasy 7, the PlayStation debut where the franchise really exploded. But not enough people acknowledge Final Fantasy X, the first PlayStation 2 release in the series and one of its most energetic and imaginative entries. With Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, Square Enix is giving this franchise turning point another chance for the spotlight. The titular HD update is just a footnote, though — the real stars of this package are the games themselves and the huge amount of bonus content Square Enix has included with them. Final Fantasy X is one of the series' most energetic and...
Review
56 Comments
9.0

Monument Valley review: moonrise kingdom

Monument Valley put me into a trance. The kind of trance where you look up at a clock and notice that two hours have gone by in an instant. Designed to keep the player moving forward, and frustration-free in its execution, it's a rare puzzle game that I finished in one sitting and wondered what had happened to my afternoon. Monument Valley is inviting — with excellent puzzle design and a warm atmosphere that soothes as much as it intrigues. Monument Valley put me in the tiny shoes of Ida, a princess in a world of bizarre geometry and fanciful — but consistent — logic. The game is light on exposition but heavy on atmosphere. There's a past to this world and a sense of importance to Ida's wanderings. The premise serves to hand the player a series of 3D...
Review
21 Comments
8.0

Age of Wonders 3 review: power fantasy

Age of Wonders 3 is a rush of absolute mastery over an entire world. You're given charge of everything in this fantasy world, from political, economic and social oversight to down-in-the-mud military judgements. But it's up to you to bring all of these elements together and create a functioning kingdom. The result is a complex, engrossing game that is unforgiving in its exploration of the purity of power. The pieces may be familiar — you create cities that provide military units that are used to conquer more cities — but the challenge is deep and endless in its variety. Each individual type of power fantasy at play in Age of Wonders 3 adds to the game's essential feeling of control and agency. You're invited to build a society, creating a culture and infrastructure...
Review
32 Comments
7.5

Banished review: feast or famine

Banished strips the complexities of the city-building genre to their essentials. Shining Rock Software has rolled the genre back to the middle ages. There's no sewer system to manage, no power grid to maintain. Just a group of settlers pushing into the wilderness, and a wilderness that pushes back. This simplicity creates a focused game in Banished. It starts as an intimate simulation and grows to be a taut, strategic experience. Banished feels more like a survival simulation than a traditional city builder. I was plopped into the middle of the wilderness with a dozen people and some supplies, which they immediately began consuming. The race was on to clear enough land to plant crops and build houses before winter. Each step in this arduous process is shown off...
Review
73 Comments
7.0

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two review: a drop in the ocean

"As I said, BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea is part one of two, and perhaps the forthcoming second half will throw the first half into such stark relief that my puzzlement will be laughable in retrospect." That's how I closed my review of the first episode of Burial at Sea, and I wish I could tell you that my optimism was well founded. After playing the second half of Irrational's swan song (at least in this universe), I can safely say that it was not. Burial At Sea's second episode is lovely to look at and sports some surprisingly enjoyable sneaky combat, but both are used to tell a story that, without flowcharts and some seriously generous apologetics, is convoluted to migraine-inducing degrees. The good news? There's a method to this madness, one that, if you're willing to...
Review
25 Comments
8.0

Escape Goat 2 review: get smart

Escape Goat 2 made me feel brilliant. This 2D puzzle platformer from MagicalTimeBean accomplished a near-impossible task — it put me in a sort of Zen state for the entirety of my playthrough. It threw me into a series of rooms, each more devious than the last, and gave me one simple task — find my way out. With no need for handholding thanks to excellent level design, Escape Goat 2 offers a consistent challenge and a sense of playfulness that carries the game. In Escape Goat 2, you play as the titular purple goat that needs to escape from a series of single-screen stages — each a self-contained puzzle. There's a story about saving the souls of sheep from a mythical tower, but it's not really the main draw here. The game eschews heavy story elements for a singular focus...
Review
20 Comments
8.0

Luftrausers review: vintage bomber

You'd be forgiven for feeling a bit of retro-fatigue looking at developer Vlambeer's latest game, Luftrausers. With a color palette straight from the Game Boy Color and rumbly chipset sound effects, Luftrausers could be another game stuck in the past, content to mine your nostalgia rather than subvert your expectations. But Luftrausers isn't that — in fact, its genre-smashing design and tricky controls help keep it aloft even as it sputters in its efforts to be the next successor to 80s and 90s arcade shooters. Luftrausers is the latest game to pick a visual identity out of the past, sitting somewhere even earlier than the 8-bit era so many indie titles liberate their aesthetic from. On the surface, it looks like a game for the Atari or Spectrum, all blocky monochromatic planes...
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