844 Reviews liked by MrProg

it's solid. the return to more of a linear Gears experience was highly appreciated after the hubs of base game Gears 5 and the pacing benefited heavily as a result.

wasn't as wild about some of the encounter designs as seen here, especially with the repetition of having two moving platform set pieces in the expansion's shorter length. the core of the gameplay itself was solid as always so it wasn't a complete slog or anything.

with Gears 5 ending like it did, i wouldn't mind seeing some of these characters shifting into the main cast for a Gears 6 tbh.

The best way I can think to describe this game is by first going all the way back and quoting my review for the Wii game:

"It's full of personality too. Every single character you can choose to put on your team is different. You've got different stats obviously, something like 4 different categories, but each team captain has their own unique item, each sidekick has their own unique special shot, each character has different theme music that plays when they score a goal, and different dodge animations (which itself is different per character class, with some being more offensive, some being able to bypass the goalie with the right timing etc). It just really helps feel like every character you pick makes your team personalised to you, rather than just generic characters with a Mario skin."

All of this is gone, except for the stats (and even those can be adjusted to basically make every character whatever you want them to be). Everything else just...gone. No more sidekicks in general, no unique special shots, no character-specific items, no theme music for goals, no unique dodge techniques. Personality has at least survived with some things like animations, but it's all aesthetic and there's essentially zero gameplay differences between the tiny roster of 10 characters.

Quoting from my old review again though:
"My main issue is with the super strike mechanic. While this also plays into the idea of the game making each character unique, by giving them characteristic animations during the move, it is way too powerful and slows the game down every time it's used. I think it would have been fine if it was just limited to once per match, including the set-up screen, so that if you tried to use one at a bad time, you're out of luck. It'd add a lot more strategy and give it a huge risk-reward factor, while right now it's just no reward-reward."

This has at least been changed. No more spamming super strikes for 5 easy goals. Now you can only do them when a special item appears, and they only give you 2 goals. They still kind of break the pace when using them (unskippable 30 second or so cutscenes), but generally they're a big improvement here.

Anyway moving on to things unique to this game - Holy shit the way they handled customisation. So they have some pretty cool ways to alter the look of your side of the field, things like the look of the goal posts, the electric barrier pattern, the scenery items outside the barrier etc. But you can ONLY do these as part of a striker club. And only the leader of a striker club can alter them. Like you can still use your clubs field outside of club mode, even in story mode, but for some reason there's no way to just...make field designs you want. It makes zero sense. Have it so you can only use your clubs field specifically when doing club matches, but why the hell would you not let us make our own fields for single player and quickplay matches?

You might think "Well I'll just make my own private club so I can make a field how I want". Except nah, because on top of the obvious disadvantage you'd be in for ranking with a club with only 1 member, you can't actually do proper club matches like this (which you need for currency to buy customisation parts). The characters you can select in club matches are exclusively the ones the players of a club have registered as their character in said club (including their gear). So you can use YOUR character, but if you're the only one in a club it'll fill the last 3 with random characters, none of which have gear. So your only choices are to join a club and let the leader pick all the customisation options for you, or be lucky enough to be the head of a club with 19 other people (and hope they bring in good characters to use).

Also club mode launched without even having a current season lmao. Why?!

Anyway here's just a random list of other complaints:
-Zero content. 10 characters. 5 stadium themes that have zero gimmicks (may or may not be a positive to some people), and all the actual pitches are just plain grass. The only single player mode is now a simple bracket tournament with 3 matches across various cups.
-The inclusion of more timing based elements for things like perfect passes and perfect shots sounds good on paper, but in reality it just results in WAY too many goals. Especially combined with being able to min-max any stat you want. Having a max shooting stat with a perfect shot (honestly not hard at all to time) results in a goal from anywhere almost automatically. 4 minute matches will take at least twice as long thanks to the amount of goals.
-Items have been reduced to just the basic 5.
-Stadiums are tiny now.

What's GOOD about the game? Well... it still plays fairly well I suppose. There's still a lot of personality in animations (though I think the amount of possible goal animations per character have been drastically reduced?).

Umm... I dunno what else. This game is such a shell of its former self. They seemed to bank literally everything on the idea people would love being part of a club online, and maybe if you have 19 friends to join that'd be the case, but for anyone who has to resort to joining random open clubs, it's just a bad game with basically nothing to do.

I screamed when he jumped out of the book

Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie are masterpieces. The reveal teaser trailer for this game just showed Spiral Mountain and the new character designs, and I was elated.

But the way it turned out still gets me down.

It's not a terrible game. But it's a terrible Banjo game. These cars depress me.

This review contains spoilers

society if Marcus died instead of Dom...

finally some color and nice settings after the absolute tedium of 2 (i give 1 a break because it came first and had a much stronger horror atmosphere than 2/3). some parts of this i'd even say looked Good which is the first time this has happened in the series so far.

the lambent brought some much needed variety to things with both the enemy design and how they're dealt with when in combat. the gamepaly in general just felt smoother with better encounter design, movement, and level layouts.

much more excited to continue the series now than i was after finishing 2.

Overwatch but too counter-strike-y and not as good as either

Horizon Forbidden West is more Horizon, more of the open world formula that’s filled the last decade of open world games and more of the visual fidelity that seemingly only PlayStation first party studios can deliver.
It’s not bad or a problem to be the default, when you excel at building a world with a fidelity that I would usually only expect of a rockstar open world game. When you create lore and stories that fill this staggeringly beautiful places with life. When you deliver a robust combat system, with a huge variety of enemies that are beautifully animated and distinct enough to keep you engaged for at least into the later parts of the game. What also separates this from the pack, is that you are not forced to play through the more generic and tedious parts of the game. Everything in your journal is split up so pedantically, that you would basically be able to play through the game in a very linear fashion, leaving out all the errands, the camps and other collectibles. They are waiting for you however, if you decide to spend more time with the game - and you can spend hours upon hours in it if you choose to. When I think about my favourite parts of the game, I always think about the exploration. Arriving at and being in awe of the intricately designed settlements or just wandering into the hugely varied wilderness have got to be my favourite moments of this current gen so far. And especially one place in the desert, later into the game, will always stay in my mind as one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced in a game. In that sense it reminded me of the vistas and places I didn’t want to leave in CP2077. It’s not only the visuals from a technical standpoint. I asked myself if I’d still be so in awe if I’d play the game in 10 years from now and the answer is yes: the art direction and environmental design on display here is definitely top notch and will be a reference point for quite a while for me. The soundtrack is mostly beautiful as well, mixing traditional and natural sounds with artificial deep bass and synth sounds matching the same mixture of old and new around you. But not only the visuals and sound design in the open world are what make it a joy to explore, there are also a couple of activities which I thought were a lot of fun: first and foremost the Tallnecks. I love how they made every Tallneck basically into a puzzle and the payoff in the end is always an insane view. The Ruins were also my highlights, often times I just naturally came across them and really felt the urge to explore the places and solve the environmental puzzles. The design of the machines is absolutely mindblowing. Coming across a new type of machine is always interesting, their patterns and how they move and are animated in general is unrivalled imho. Some of the side quests were really well made as well, telling great stories and introducing a bunch of very cool and interesting characters. Not all of the side quests are delivered with the same quality however, this is were CP2077 for example knocked it out of the park. But the same goes for the story in general. It’s good, there are moments that exceeded my expectations by far and it’s filled with great characters for sure, but in the end I won’t remember too much of it, because I wasn’t as emotionally invested as I was with my favorite open world games like RDR2 especially.
Horizon is a very good game, it’s the best iteration of what you would expect in an open world game nowadays. It doesn’t play in the same league as the very best, but it comes close and I’m happy for everyone involved in the creation of this, that it has been such a success.



This review contains spoilers

The highest high I've gotten from a game in a long time, and the harshest anticlimax too. Like a train running full speed into a mountain.

It follows in that Fez/The Witness lineage of making you feel like an absolute genius for solving the puzzles, especially the later ones, because it trusts you to figure things out. The main gimmick of the game is the in-game instruction manual, which is written almost entirely in a fictional language but with just enough English to guide you in the right direction. It also does that satisfying thing where the puzzles redefine how you view the world itself while story events make changes to it. It's clever, and it means the backtracking is never a chore.

That means you spend a lot of time invested in this world. So when the ending is effectively a note from the developers that says "You won, good job :)" it rings hollow. There is an ending cutscene but it does not match the stakes at all.

What even were the stakes, though? Did I care about the story too much? Did the developers only intend for the events to have ludological meanings and not narrative ones? It's a simple story, no more complex than most SNES games, but it is a story. Maybe there's some Lore that would explain it if I spent more time digging. I have no indication it would be worth finding even if it is there.

I don't give a ton of 10's. I feel like it should be reserved for personal GOAT games. I wasn't sure if Elden Ring was a 9 or 10, because I do feel like it has some flaws. Mostly, the game can be remarkably convoluted and I imagine a lot of people will consult a website to help them know what to do next. If you don't want to just explore for the sake of exploring and you are more goal oriented, it can be frustrating to find that goal. I would likely still recommend DS1 or Bloodborne as someone's first FromSoft game.

But Elden Ring is a 10. It's the best souls mechanics. It's vast. It's complex. It's a game for people who LOVE From Software titles. And most of all, it engrossed me for an entire week. Like no life, remind myself to take a shower, ignore work levels of engrossed. Games that grasp me and hold that tight are so few and far between it must be respected. Elden ring is an all-timer.