Wolfenstein: The New Order (Machine Games - PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One/PC)
Beginning in 1981 with Castle Wolfenstein and credited with popularising the first-person shooter genre with 1992’s Wolfenstein 3D, this series with a rich heritage hasn’t been seen since 2009’s criminally-underrated Wolfenstein.
Wolfenstein: The New Order moves the classic World War 2-set action to the 1960s, in an alternate timeline where the Nazis won the war. The basic gameplay hasn’t changed much however, and you’ll still spend the vast majority of the game mowing down genetically-enhanced super-soldiers. Perhaps staying true to its old-school roots, Wolfenstein: The New Order eschews modern FPS design choices such as regenerating health and a limit on the amount of weapons you can carry. Whereas in most modern games you would be forced to duck behind cover and wait it out until you reach full health, in this you’re forced to race to the next health pack whilst dealing death from your expanded arsenal which includes standard guns and energy weapons.
Overall this is a strong addition to the Wolfenstein franchise, and although lacking any sort of multiplayer component, the lengthy single-player campaign is well worth your time.
Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal - PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One/Wii U/PC)
When Watch Dogs was first unleashed on an unsuspecting crowd at E3 2012, people were amazed. The short demo showcased a number of hacking gameplay mechanics within it’s stunningly beautiful open-world recreation of Chicago. Since then, Watch Dogs has been hit with delays plus a lot of negative criticism when gameplay videos emerged showing a severe downgrade in graphical quality from what was first shown. Now that it’s finally released (although the promised Wii U version is still AWOL) can it live up to the initial hype?
Simply put, no. Similar to Ubisoft’s hit franchise Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs suffers from chronic simplicity and terminal blandness in its gameplay and story design. There is very little variance between missions and every single hacking mechanic can be performed with a press of a single button. This could be forgiven if the storyline was in any way engaging, but every twist is seen coming from a mile away and Aiden Pierce, the protagonist, may be one of the least-memorable gaming leads in recent years. A massive disappointment.
Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo EAD - Wii U)
Chances are you’ve probably played a Mario Kart game at least once in your life, since the series debut on the Super NES over twenty years ago a new instalment has appeared on almost every single new piece of Nintendo hardware since. The core gameplay remains the same as ever, frantic racing with a focus on power-ups that will add to the chaos as you can go from first to last (or vice versa) on the luck of a single item.
The unfairness with these twists of fate never matter much as the game is so much fun to play. For this eighth entry, kart customisation is now an option - but it goes nowhere near the level of a Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. New pickups such as the the Super Horn (emitting a radial shockwave that blasts players, obstacles AND items) are great additions to Mario Kart’s cartoon arsenal and the tracks with sections for anti-gravity and flying are inspired. A fantastic game that’s only hindered by weak online multiplayer, but Mario Kart has always been best when played with friends in the same room anyway.