Review
54 Comments
5.0

EA Sports UFC review: losing ground

EA Sports UFC marks a new chapter for publisher Electronic Arts and the UFC. This is EA's second mixed martial arts title, after the appropriately titled EA Sports MMA, which debuted as now-defunct publisher THQ released yearly installments of its own UFC series. With the death of THQ, UFC and EA made a new deal. EA Sports UFC is the result. Players who enjoyed EA's Fight Night series may find much familiar about UFC's physics-based combat and teeth-rattling emphasis on realistically rendered damage to the human body. But where Fight Night and even THQ's UFC titles found varied success, with controls that were accessible to normal human beings, this new UFC's intense physicality is often overshadowed by a complicated, impenetrably opaque input scheme. UFC's physicality is...
Review
54 Comments
9.0

Shovel Knight review: rewrite history

Shovel Knight is inspired by the past in all the right ways — but it's far from stuck in it. Countless games have attempted to exploit our nostalgia for the 8 and 16-bit golden age, but none have cherry-picked the era's best attributes as judiciously as Shovel Knight. It's the stuff our childhood dreams were made of, assuming you dreamt of combining your favorite platformers from the '80s and early '90s into a single, streamlined package. The magic of Shovel Knight is how it accomplishes that recombination without becoming derivative. The all-too-common praise for these sorts of modern-retro projects is lauding them as "the best NES game never made." Shovel Knight is, by leaps and bounds, the most authentic retro game ever made, and might actually be deserving of that designation. ...
Review
8 Comments
7.0

The Last Tinker review: rainbow connection

The Last Tinker: City of Colors is just about the opposite of what I normally look for in a PC game. It's a character platformer with a mascot-worthy star who looks straight out of the PlayStation 2's Jak & Daxter games. It's a game that really requires a controller to play correctly. And it's colorful and relaxing and all sorts of other warm adjectives that rarely cross my mind when I hunch over a mouse and keyboard. For however much I might love wrangling with intense tactics or losing hours of my life to a complex game, The Last Tinker provided a breath of fresh air I didn't even realize that I wanted. It's more of a palate cleanser than a main course, but it's still satisfying and filling in its own right. The Last Tinker casts you in the role of Koru, a stylish resident...
Review
37 Comments
8.0

1001 Spikes review: die and die again

Death comes to us all. In 1001 Spikes, perhaps with a bit more frequency. The 8-bit era was a notoriously punishing time for gamers. Checkpoints and recharging shields were but twinkles in the eyes of would-be developers. Bottomless pits, severely limited lives and insta-kill traps ruled, yielding some of the most difficult games ever made. 1001 Spikes pays homage to those games, while also bringing some modern sensibilities to make the experience not, well, torturous. It's this balance of new and old that actually makes 1001 Spikes an impressive feat, especially for those that love a platforming challenge. 1001 Spikes stars Aban Hawkins, an Indiana Jones wannabe on a quest to prove to his father that he's not a total waste of humanity. The game is set across pretty typical...
Review
37 Comments
7.5

Tomodachi Life review: semi charmed

Tomodachi Life is tailor-made for people who used to put their friends' names into Oregon Trail, just to see what kind of horrors they could subject them to. There's a strange kind of power in games like that; like XCOM, with its nameable soldiers, or The Sims' customizable families. Exerting virtual control over your real-life friends can be a joyous thing, especially when the scenarios you're forcing them into are utterly bizarre. And if you take one thing away from this review, let it be this: Tomodachi Life is, hands down, one of the most bizarre games ever released. It's not just the situations your Miis will find themselves in — daily rap battles, ensemble musical theater performances, occult worship of inanimate objects — it's the very structure of Tomodachi Life that's...
Review
22 Comments
8.0

Always Sometimes Monsters review: working class hero

Always Sometimes Monsters wears its heart proudly on its sleeve. This 2D open-world game is wildly ambitious in its narrative goals — it comments on everything the developers take issue with in the modern world. Playing Always Sometimes Monsters at times feels like talking to an enthusiastic — and generally bright — friend who tries a little too hard to convince you of something you already believe. It has a lot to say, and most of what it says has value, though it's not terribly subtle. Always Sometimes Monsters dropped me into the 16-bit shoes of my chosen protagonist — a young writer struggling to finish her first novel, pay rent and deal with heartbreak. At the beginning, my bigoted landlord — who referred to my Asian female character "little China girl" — kicked me out on the...
Review
34 Comments
9.0

Pushmo World review: Take on me

Pushmo World has everything I want to feel when playing a puzzle game. Intelligent Systems' third Pushmo game — and the first to arrive on consoles — taught me to understand its rules without making learning feel like rote instruction. It twists gameplay at intervals to make the game's core challenges feel new. And, perhaps most importantly, it made me feel like a certifiable genius when I pushed and climbed to solve its grandest visual riddles. Pushmo World exists underneath the thinnest of narrative veneers. You are Mallo, a pudgy little cat role-playing as a sumo wrestler. Dozens of children are trapped at the top of titular pushmos — three-dimensional, block-based puzzles. Your job in each of the game's 250 stages is to manipulate those colored blocks — an act as simple as...
Review
90 Comments
6.5

Tropico 5 review: wasted away again

Embezzlement. Human rights violations. The cancellation of women's right to vote. Political assassination. These are just some of the light-hearted game mechanics to be found in Tropico 5, a city-builder with a twist. It's the latest in the series of tongue-in-cheek strategy games, and the third to be made by developer Haemimont Games. And, much like its predecessors, it aims to put the fun back into dysfunctional totalitarian government. But while the game itself works well, the satire it relies on so heavily does not. Tropico 5 tries to be funny but ends up as a childish thing, a game light on substance and seemingly unaware of its own internal ironies. In Tropico 5 you play as a colonial governor whose family grows, over hundreds of years, to become the dynastic...
Review
58 Comments
7.0

Murdered: Soul Suspect review: the apparition

Murdered: Soul Suspect is the best old-fashioned ghost story I've watched or played in years. Airtight's third person horror game takes inspiration from folk mythology about ghosts and spirits, as well as the mystery genre. That marriage — and the game itself — works much better than Soul Suspect's jokey title led me to believe. While it treads familiar territory for both genres, it feels fresh in its approach and assured, crafted seemingly with a keen sense of what makes each kind of story tick. The game begins with protagonist Ronan O'Connor's dramatic death — he's thrown out a window and shot with his own gun. Ronan's a gifted detective and prototypical tough guy with a checkered past. In death, he's determined to solve his own murder at the hands of the mysterious Bell...
Review
45 Comments
7.0

The Wolf Among Us episode 4: In Sheep's Clothing review: dark side

We're trying something new with episodic reviews on Polygon. What follows is something of a hybrid between recap and review and, as such, should not be read by anybody worried about spoilers. You've been warned. OK, The Wolf Among Us, you win. It took me until In Sheep's Clothing, the penultimate episode of the Big Bad Wolf's hunt for an elusive serial killer, but I finally gave into my animal instincts. After being figuratively spat upon by nearly every member of Fabletown, I finally stopped giving a crap about what any of them thought and started bloodying a few noses. I'm having a lot more fun now, and that's kind of a shame. On Episode Three: A Crooked Mile At the beginning of A Crooked Mile, we find Bigby in a pretty dark place. Literally. In a...
Review
27 Comments
7.0

Among the Sleep review: sweet dreams

Among the Sleep seeks to answer a question that I imagine is pretty common for parents. I have a nine-month-old child myself, and when he wakes up in the middle of the night sobbing and shaken, I cannot help but wonder what it is that could be torturing the dreams of someone so young. Among the Sleep posits an answer by letting players journey through its two-year-old protagonist's darkest nightmares. Those scary dreams aren't always the smoothest. Among the Sleep is riddled with bugs and small problems. But the novelty of playing as a two-year-old and the game's powerful atmosphere overcome those issues. what could be torturing the dreams of someone so young Among the Sleep opens with the unnamed main character's mother offering them a slice of cake for their second...
Review
297 Comments
8.0

Watch Dogs review: spook country

Watch Dogs was announced with more fanfare and anticipation than most new properties. First shown at E3 just shy of two years ago as the first "next-generation" video game, developer Ubisoft Montreal's newest title missed the next-gen console launch last fall. Now, after a six month delay, Watch Dogs has finally come out of the shadows. In many ways, Watch Dogs feels like a synthesis of some of publisher Ubisoft’s flagship series, mixing the open-world and navigation of more recent Assassin’s Creed games with the shooting and modern environments of series like Splinter Cell. There’s a sense of trying to be all things, all under the umbrella of modern day paranoia of surveillance and privacy. But Watch Dogs is at its best when it’s the most fenced in.   undefined   ...
Review
27 Comments
5.0

DreadOut review: old ghosts

Ten years ago, DreadOut would have seemed like a copycat. It feels like it's been plucked from a different era, a time when consoles were flooded with survival horror games about naïve protagonists wandering into creepy ghost towns. And it's been just long enough since that genre has dried up that DreadOut's adherence to outdated conventions almost comes across as novel. My nostalgia for that style of game initially pulled me into DreadOut, but it wore thin, even with the game's very short running time. DreadOut builds a great atmosphere on the back of Indonesian ghost stories that haven't been mined to death in a million other games. But its gameplay is old, dusty and eventually just not very good. DreadOut's adherence to outdated conventions almost comes across as novel ...
Review
99 Comments
8.5

Transistor review: a girl and her sword

Transistor is not afraid to step out of the shadow of its famous sibling. The latest from developer Supergiant Games, Transistor shares plenty of DNA with its predecessor, the popular indie game Bastion. Both are isometric action games, set in colorful, stylized worlds. Both emphasize combat. But Transistor's world and story feel unique. And its combat is fine-tuned, deep and dynamic. Transistor put me in the shoes of Red, a gifted and popular musician living in the cyberpunk-fantasy city of Cloudbank. The game begins dramatically, with Red pulling a giant sword — the Transistor — from the body of a man on a rooftop. The Transistor isn't just a regular weapon, though; it has a personality and a voice, and it quickly becomes Red's partner. The storytelling is...
Review
52 Comments
7.0

Drakengard 3 review: personality conflict

Drakengard 3 refuses to make concessions in its brashness. It hits the ground running with dirty humor and liberal use of swear words. It stars an angry, unlikable protagonist whose goal is to kill her own siblings. Every line of dialogue is either a shallow threat or blatant innuendo. There wasn't much I liked initially. But despite its rough start, Drakengard 3 won me over. The combat options expanded significantly, forcing me to strategize more throughout battles. And though the story remains strange, it starts taking itself more seriously in a way that I appreciated. It's like a friend who is loud-mouthed and offensive in public, but every time you're alone, you realize they have a heart of gold. Drakengard 3 — which mercifully doesn't require previous...
Review
159 Comments
9.0

Wolfenstein: The New Order review: machine gun

Wolfenstein: The New Order is the product of an unexpected marriage. On one side, there's Wolfenstein, id Software's oldest franchise, which came before Doom to define an era of first-person shooters. On the other side is new developer Machine Games. Composed of veterans of the studio Starbreeze, responsible for 2004's sleeper hit The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and 2007's The Darkness, their games are known for strong narratives and effective characterization. The result is a game at the mercies of both old-school blast-em-up first-person shooters and the storytelling ambitions of its new stewards. It shouldn't work. Numerous other shooters have tried and failed. But Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn't fail. Its bizarre love triangle of traditional shooter...
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