If you’re under the impression the gaming scene is currently going through a quiet spell then maybe this week’s assortment of new releases will change your mind.
Tuesday alone sees three releases of varying hotness, in the form of the eagerly awaited Rage 2, the bleak story-driven European adventure A Plague Tale: Innocence, and a ravishing remaster of Sniper Elite V2 – a fan favourite entry in the series.
After reading through reviews of all three (we haven’t played any of this week’s new releases for ourselves yet) we can deduct that Rage 2 boasts brilliant and satisfying gunplay – building on DOOM 2016’s foundations – but the world building falls flat and mission objectives soon become dull. Sniper Elite V2’s remaster brings the visuals up to current standard but it’s showing its age in the AI and level design departs, while A Plague Tale: Innocence is surprisingly polished – even gaining comparisons to Ninja Theory’s work – but the stealth mechanics let it down slightly. It still sounds excellent, mind.
Castlevania Anniversary Collection – due out on Thursday – is another anticipated release, bringing together the original Castlevania (NES), Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge (Game Boy), Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse (NES), Super Castlevania 4 (SNES), Castlevania The Adventure (Game Boy), Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest (NES), Castlevania Bloodlines (Mega Drive), and Kid Dracula (Famicom). That last entry was only ever released in Japan (although it did gain a GameBoy adaptation).
While this may sound like a tempting package, word has it that only features the ROMs for a single region, so if you were hoping to play the Japanese versions you’re out of luck.
Thursday also sees the launch of Bubsy: Paws on Fire. The fact that it’s launching the same week as Rage somehow feels apt. All joking aside, this comes from the minds of the BIT.TRIP series, so it stands a chance of being the first ever decent Bubsy game.
What could possibly go wrong?
PS4 owners can also get involved with Shakedown: Hawaii’s top-down chaos, while the Dragon’s Lair Trilogy makes a belated Xbox One appearance. Over on the Switch, meanwhile, there’s Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition and Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut to consider.
New release showcase:
8.0 – IGN: Though Avalanche hasn’t quite figured out what makes a world feel alive and dynamic or how to make good use of its vehicles, it absolutely nails the moment-to-moment combat thanks to a Doom-inspired energetic pace that few shooters manage to pull off. Combined with a steady stream of great weapons, abilities, and upgrades, its firefights are constantly reinvigorated even as mission objectives become repetitive.
4/5 – US Gamer: In Rage 2, you move fast and kill faster. It’s the synthesis between id Software’s 2016 reboot of Doom and Avalanche Studios’ Mad Max, bringing together some of the best ideas from both. Moment-to-moment play on foot is fantastic with each weapon and ability just opening up your options for destruction. Driving could be improved and it’s a little on the shorter side, but Rage 2 is a damned good time.
7.5 – GameSpace: Rage 2 is a great game for the right reasons. If you’re looking for a game with a phenomenal story, you’re in the wrong place. The story is boring to me, and rather short at 13 hours of leisurely gameplay. At the very least it doesn’t drop off the planet like Rage did. Gameplay is fun, and vehicle combat works well, giving you an open world Mad Max-esque experience that is simply enjoyable and hard to put down.
3.5/5 – ATOF: As a shooter Rage 2 is incredible. It’s everything around that core competency that brings the game down. A lack of narrative, world building, and questionable design decisions in terms of progression leave the experience feeling flat.
6/10 – GameSpot: Rage 2 is at its best when you’re given the chance to keep up a gratifying momentum in combat, but struggles to setup the scenarios its combat deserves. It’s satisfying in the way clearing out an open-world checklist is, especially because powers are such a joy to use. The disappointment comes from the fact that those activities are rudimentary in nature and the decent ones end well before you get your fill.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered
9/10 – Xbox Tavern: Overlooking the occasional technical fault, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is well worth your time and attention, especially if you’re a fan of the series. The game bundles together the core experience and all its pre-existing DLC, complete with additional extras and wonderfully remastered visuals. Comparing it to its original version is truly night and day, and it remains every bit as deep, as action-packed, and as brutally delicious as it ever was.
7.5 – PSU: Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a solid remaster that allows you to experience the campaign, DLC levels, and visceral, satisfying shooting the game is known for again in 2019. Some aspects of the game have not seen much of an upgrade if any upgrade at all, with the game’s AI and the audio system showing its age. Despite that, the game is an enjoyable way to hop back into Rebellion’s classic franchise.
6/10 – The Metro: There are still problems with artificial intelligence and level design, but despite its age this is still one of the best sniper games around.
5/10 – Push Square: Sniper Elite V2 Remastered isn’t a terrible game, but it feels outdated and completely outclassed in 2019. While its x-ray exterminations are still appealing, it’s just about the only factor making up this package that could turn one’s head in today’s world. Simply put, there are just so many better experiences you could have through the scope of a sniper rifle, including those sequels that make up the very franchise in question.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
9/10 – PSU: Arguably one of the best surprises of the PS4 release calendar so far this year, A Plague Tale: Innocence is the sort of effort one might well have expected from Hellblade developer Ninja Theory – as this game bears that studio’s penchant for deftly combining big budget spectacle with great storytelling and remarkably robust genre mechanics.
8/10 – GameSpot: Powerfully ghoulish depictions of the plague and rats aside, Innocence is ultimately an emotive story of resilience against harrowing odds.
7.0 – IGN: A Plague Tale: Innocence has a great story, but the gameplay has a level of convenience that undercuts the perilous world.
3.5/5 – GamesRadar: Its pace is slightly too uneven, but A Plague Tale: Innocence has flashes of potential
6/10 – Push Square: A Plague Tale: Innocence deserves respect for daring to be different, funnelling you through a bleak European backdrop that’s seldom seen. Despite some neat ideas, though, the stealth and puzzle mechanics drag, and the story can’t quite make up its mind about what it wants to be. Furthermore, while the presentation is spectacular, the project lacks polish in key areas and overstays its welcome at times.