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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

“The seventh generation’s last, and the eighth generation’s first, must-play game.” Good: A fantastic open world in every possible way; several strong, well-balanced, and well-varied gameplay modes; avoids the franchise’s most common pitfalls. Bad: A mundane, unmemorable story; missed opportunities to faithfully develop the franchise-long plot.

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Knack

Knack

“I guess every console needs a generic platformer in its launch library.” Good: Interesting core gimmick; strong pace and balance; low, accessible learning curve; decent plot for the genre. Bad: Poorly-used core gimmick; terrible checkpoint spread; incredibly linear, repetitive, generic, simple, and impersonal; some lazy design mistakes.

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888 Poker

888 Poker

With my GameFly queue empty awaiting the arrival of the PlayStation 4, I sat down with an online poker game recommended by a friend called 888 Poker.

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Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins

“For an ‘origins’ game, there’s nothing original about it.” Good: The exact same engine as Batman: Arkham City, as strong as ever; a couple interesting additions. Bad: Literally copies the engine from Batman: Arkham City, adding nothing new; major plot inconsistencies; lazy sidequests; several design flaws; sudden, anticlimactic ending; glitchy.

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Pokemon X & Y

Pokemon X & Y

“A love letter to the franchise’s oldest fans, and a welcoming embrace for the new ones.” Good: Absolutely gorgeous; finally enters the modern generation in graphics and design; an increased emphasis on the single-player mode; abundant excellent fan service; adequate iterative improvements. Bad: Tragically lazy plot; often more tedious than challenging or engaging; some missteps and remaining outdated elements.

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Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V

“Jack of all trades, master of none.” Good: An incredible variety of activities; an enormous, spectacularly dynamic game world; gut-bustingly hilarious satire; a strong main cast of characters. Bad: No well-developed, deep gameplay options; frustrating, inconsistent controls; a weak supporting cast and weak plot arc; inadequate information for the player; several underdeveloped or underused mechanics.

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Killer is Dead

Killer is Dead

“I have literally nothing good to say about this game.” Good: Nothing. Literally nothing. Bad: Meaninglessly esoteric; mindless, immature sexualization; non-functional graphical style; generic and outdated gameplay; no gameplay scaffolding or instruction; several simple, amateurish mistakes.

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Infamous 2

Infamous 2

“Iterative improvements. Iterative improvements everywhere.” Good: Same excellent game world design, organic combat dynamics, and strong difficulty curve as the original; improvements to the fullness of the game world, the storytelling and characters, and the morality system. Bad: Still very generic; still has a deeply flawed morality system; still has a weak story and plot; still has a hollow game world.

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Infamous

Infamous

“A solid foundation on which they forgot to build a house.” Good: Very well-executed core mechanics; organic combat dynamics; excellently paced gameplay; brilliant difficulty curve; strong core game mechanic. Bad: Wildly, unapologetically generic; terrible moral choice system; weak story, plot, characters, etc.; hollow game world; weak combat identity.

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Dragon’s Crown (PS3)

Dragon’s Crown (PS3)

“Pretty good for a budget downloadab-… wait, this is supposed to be a full-price release?” Good: Somewhat entertaining and playable: games are fun, Dragon’s Crown is a game, and therefore it’s inherently fun to an extent. Bad: Overloaded controls on an overly chaotic battle screen; several blatantly annoying elements; poor tutorial and player instruction; repetitive, generic, and restrictive game structure.

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