Sequels can be a tricky business, although you wouldn’t think so from 2011’s Batman: Arkham City, the poster child for how to make a perfect follow up. But by successfully expanding upon the first game in a meaningful way, it also asked a very tricky question; what now? Progress must surely hit a brick wall eventually, and the whole ‘prequel’ angle may have been the first clue that ideas were running low. That and the fact that Rocksteady’s Batman baby had been snatched away from them and given to Warner Brothers to raise. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Batman: Arkham Origins is a fairly troubled child.
In 2010 Heavy Rain rewrote the rules of how we could interact with a videogame, and Quantic Dream’s first title was a unique and thrilling adventure. Three years later and their next game, Beyond: Two Souls, has an even greater level of innovation, whilst also refining what came before it. The result is a polished, detailed experience that merges a gripping, cinematic story with original and involving gameplay.
The Disgaea series includes some of the most complicated, lengthy, and downright crazy games the turn based strategy genre has ever seen. The formula itself has changed very little with every iteration, and it’s therefore no surprise that this latest entry in the series sticks firmly to its well tested mechanics. The result is a fun, yet familiar game.
Was I the only person who saw this fighting game crossover coming? I mean if we can have Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games then we can have Street Fighter X Tekken. Still, you’ll only be playing five minutes before realising that this Capcom developed game is essentially Street Fighter IV with Tekken characters, and we’ll have to wait until next year to see Namco’s take on the series.
When it comes to niche games, Armored Core is about as specialist as they come. Developer From Software may have found their breakthrough series with Dark Souls, but even after fifteen years of Armored Core, the hardcore mecha simulation genre still has a limited appeal. Verdict Day is not much more than an extension of Armored Core V, and does little that will change anyone’s opinion of the series.
Phantom Breaker Extra is a 2D fighter by Japanese developer 5pb. Whilst at a glance similar to the likes of BlazBlue and Guilty Gear, it doesn’t take long to realise that this game fails to match the quality I’d almost began to expect as a standard for the genre. In fact, 5pb’s latest title reminds us that Arc System Works have been spoiling us with fighting games these last few years, and Phantom Breaker Extra is both underwhelming and unenjoyable.
When Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was released on the PlayStation 2 back in 2004 it was certainly the biggest GTA ever made. But such a game taught us that bigger is not always better, and it would appear that Rockstar North has approached the challenge of every subsequent GTA with caution. It’s taken them five years to craft the sequel to one of the most iconic and well loved games of the generation, but is Grand Theft Auto V enough to satisfy those use to the ridiculously high standard set by the series? Honestly? Yeah.