Urban Trial Tricky Deluxe Edition comes to PC, Xbox, and PlayStation after first debuting on Switch last year. Calling this a mash-up of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Trials is apt, it’s a freestyle motocross game that’s a generous nod to each, but still manages to carve out its own place in the genre. With the third entry in the series, it eschews the grim and grunge of the prior entries has been slowly getting away from. With Urban Trial Tricky Deluxe Edition, it’s an overly saturated and cheerful game that’s complimented by its great controls and casual gameplay to match.
Gliding airily between giant leaves and branches, catching an errant gust of wind to carry you across a chasm, and befriending gigantic grasshoppers are not the sort of experiences we ever get to enjoy, but in Stonefly this is just another Tuesday. Piloting a bulky but nimble mech of insect-like design, you navigate the fantastic setting of a gigantic forested world, as a normal-sized human in a very abnormal setting. The world around you is lush and beautiful, teeming with life and equal parts serene and threatening. There is a real sense of wonder as you make your way through the forest and discover new biomes, new creatures, new villages, and lost artifacts; these are the moments when Stonefly really sings. Once you start to dig into the combat and other game play systems, the game is noticeably less satisfying.
Gaming Headsets run the gamut in quality and cost. At $299, the Audeze Penrose gaming headset sits on the higher end of that spectrum and delivers a rich audio sound, thanks in part to its 100mm planar magnetic drivers. Although considering its Audeze’s least expensive option for gaming headsets, the Penrose still feels like a great choice in that price range.
We’re just about halfway through the real-life Formula One season for 2021, which means it’s time for Codemaster’s annual Formula One game, with F1 2021. This is the first Formula One game from Codemasters after being acquired by EA last year, and it’s off to an impressive start with no other changes to what we know and love. F1 2021 is full of returning modes, refined systems, and all-new story mode that’s got heart. Codemasters continues to make the series accessible for newcomers and challenging for its advanced players. F1 2021 is clearly a team effort, and Codemasters have pulled out all the stops, making this by far the best one yet.
When I’m contorting my face, moving my mouse and body in ways that don’t look natural, then you know I’m playing Boomerang X. By undoing years of practice to not move while gaming, developer DANG! has something special here by getting me in motion like it’s a gaming commercial. This’ll be a game that attracts people by the visuals alone, speedrunning opportunities, or simply those who want to play something different. Boomerang X is all of these things, and more – it’s stylish, accessible, and wholly engrossing as you slip into a Zen-like state taking out creatures with extreme efficiency, without ever touching the ground.
Bioware has had many successful franchises over the years, but none have connected with me more, or it seems the general gaming public, as much as Mass Effect. Mass Effect has seemingly become part of pop culture. As with other high-profile Sci-fi properties, I’ve run into my share of N7 apparel out in the wild and Mass Effect flair plastered over people’s, well, anything. You haven’t made it until they make a license plate bracket out of your property. Why yes, Mrs. green Ford Focus in the parking lot, my other ride is also the Normandy. Even after the few downs, the series has fallen into, it still holds on to a passionate fanbase. With the release of the Legendary Edition, we can all relive our Shepard’s tale, with a sharper coat of paint.
Very few games let you charge into a battle with a chicken in one hand, and an axe in another while announcing at a loud volume that “I’ve soiled myself!” as I slice the arm off of my opponent. This certainly tells you the game’s tone. Chivalry 2 is the long-awaited sequel to the 2012 multiplayer hit Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and this first-person melee medieval slasher has arrived in spectacular fashion. Equal parts comedy and gore, Chivalry 2 has dazzled me with its complex controls, deep systems, and ability to entertain in all forms; this is a crucial purchase wherever you play.
There is a very specific, unparalleled mix of wonder and power you feel while running, hopping, climbing, and rotating your way through the vibrant and artful levels of FEZ‘s world. To both inhabit territory that is familiar and be on a constant journey of discovery as you play, a journey which parallels that of Gomez (the main character) both literally and metaphorically, is nothing short of magical, and it creates a deeper sense of connection with the experience of playing the game. FEZ was an instant classic upon its release nine years ago, and no game has ever played in the same space since. How could it? All of the special bits that make FEZ work so well are a labor of intense love and engineering effort that would still be a major challenge to reproduce in any form today. Nine years on, FEZ is still an incredible gaming experience that was ahead of its time at release, still feels fresh today, and is right at home on the Nintendo Switch.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts took the series in a more focused direction back in 2019, and improvements were seen across the board from mission-based contracts to bigger maps with longer draw distances to an array of gadgets that were fun to use. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 adds a lot of new, such as a new protagonist, vision modes, and long-range sniping that has been requested for some time. It’s unfortunate then, that despite a greater focus on the extreme distances, there’s diminishing returns on the core gameplay. This results in a game that feels like a retread of familiar ground despite the new locale. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is gorier and more satisfying in terms of successfully lining up that perfect shot, but remains a slight letdown as it hasn’t fixed or improved issues that have persisted over the years.
Wave Break has retrowave vibe that permeates and defines the experience. Made up of 80% Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and 20% Miami Vice, this unlikely combo works. From completing missions that task you with blowing up a yacht, to performing an unbroken string of tricks to collect the letters C-O-M-B-O, it’s bodacious absurdity. All that’s left is to now bask in the 80s paradise of Summer, sunsets, and sunglasses that is Wave Break.
FUN Labs, who’s mostly known for their work with the Cabela’s franchise, have branched out with a new kind of outdoors game with Open Country. Approached as an arcade-style game, it retains all the systems and realism one would expect out of the survival genre. Now, this is a modestly priced indie game that has high ambitions, but fails to live up to all of them. It feels like a checklist of things a game like this should have, but implemented in mundane and uninteresting ways, and it just comes across feeling janky. Even with its price point in mind, Open Country is just too rough around the edges.
Team Ninja made the Ninja Gaiden series a massive success due to its intense challenge and complimentary action. The series would always be revisited and thusly revised with tweaks and enhancements that would end up being their final version. Since then, the Ninja Gaiden mainline series has lied dormant since 2013. Now there’s the NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection, containing the entire trilogy of those final releases, and puts them on PC and new consoles for the very first time. And suffice it to say, NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA, NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA 2, and NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge are among the best games in the genre, and continue to impress even today.
ROCCAT reimagines one of their flagship mice with the Kone Pro. It’s a mouse that focuses on being lightweight in every aspect – which it excels at. Whether you’re a claw, palm, or fingertips gripper, there’s something for you. Extensive research has been poured into the Kone Pro, and it shows. This mouse is so smooth, Rob Thomas and Santana have a song about it. From it being ergonomic and just a joy to use, the ROCCAT Kone Pro is a must-have gaming mouse.
ROCCAT, now under the Turtle Beach umbrella have had an impressive hardware line-up in the past, but it feels like 2021 is the year of ROCCAT. This is a PC-only brand, and it shows. Every little detail has been meticulously researched and embedded into the core of this keyboard. The ROCCAT Pyro won’t set the world ablaze in terms of features, but it won’t leave you burned by the lack of them. This is one fantastic keyboard that’s sure to light a fire in the competition.
There’s something unshakably endearing about Siege Survival: Gloria Victis, but there’s just so little of it to enjoy. This is a spin-off of Black Eye Games’ own medieval MMORPG, Gloria Victis. One where you must survive sieges using real-time strategy. This is a dark and grim game set in a low-fantasy medieval age where you’ll be constantly scraping by with each in-game day until the end of the surprisingly short campaign. Siege Survival: Gloria Victis has some neat ideas and systems in place, but such an awfully ephemeral experience it is.