January is so often a month in which little happens in the games industry. Indeed, if you're a console gamer, you could be forgiven for forgetting that two new consoles released three months ago, such is the paucity of fresh content that's arrived this side of New Year.
But for gaming fans willing to look beyond the home console scene there's been much to celebrate, and so after a week of pondering the state of things, here's a belated Game of the Month post for January. We don't always give Game of the Month to the game that received the highest rating -- reviews are always subjective, and we like to take certain other things into consideration too.
There are honourable mentions aplenty this month. OlliOlli emerged as a strikingly addictivve little indie title for the Vita, perfect for those pick-up-and-play, five minute snatches of gameplay throughout a busy day. Tomb Raider on consoles got some upgraded PC treatment and re-released on PS4 and Xbox One. We saw the first chapter of Broken Age release to wild acclaim, as Double Fine began to make good on their Kickstarter promises. Nidhogg delivered an outstanding slice of multiplayer madness -- devilishly accessible, but offering hours of entertainment with like-minded folk. Blackguards finally released, serving up a deliciously hardcore slice of old-school RPG action.
But this month's award goes to a studio that took a risk and became a true Kickstarter success story, and one that will forge ahead with a sequel in spite of some rather unwanted attention from King.com.Click here to read more...
It's been a big November. We've had the usual slew of massive blockbuster titles (though a dearth of new exciting IPs if one is being honest), but this month has been marked by the release of two brand new consoles more than anything else. Next-gen is now current-gen, and, to borrow a phrase, greatness awaits.
But it isn't quite here yet.
This month's rundown of the best games of the past 30 days or so is marked by developers at the height of their powers delivering outstanding experiences on consoles that they've been playing about with for the best part of a decade.
This month's honourable mentions go out to Battlefield 4, Dead Rising 3, NBA 2K14, Resogun, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, and Super Mario 3D World, and here are our picks for Game of the Month:
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes - What do you do when you have not just one superhero, but an entire company's IP catalogue to play with for a LEGO game? Well, if you're Traveller's Tales, you create over 160 playable characters from all corners of the Marvel universe, and create a slap-up story rife with silliness that gives you an excuse to bung a whole bunch of fictional super geographical locations into one city, and let players loose in an open-world environment filled to the brim with love of the source material and plenty of slapstick comedy and in-jokes.
Oh, and local multiplayer, natch. Yet another absolutely brilliant LEGO title, and one that really expands on the series' core mechanics with more openness, diverse gameplay, unlockables, and Easter eggs than ever before. - 8/10Click here to read more...
October turned out to be a fairly close-run thing, but not featuring the games that we were expecting, to be honest. Had we been predicting this month's top three back over the summer, the likes of Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls and WB Montreal's Batman: Arkham Origins might have found their way into the mix. Both, however, fell well short of the mark.
But to cast October as a disappointing month would be unfair. On the contrary, we've had a smashing new Pokemon game; Nintendo overhauled one of their most divisive Zelda titles and turned it into a model of modern perfection; Ubisoft listened to their critics and delivered a stonkingly good game in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag; and then you have WWE 2K14, Dragon's Crown, The Wolf Among Us, and Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies.
It's been a damn fine month.Click here to read more...
Whatever you may have thought of it, September was only ever really going to be dominated by one game. The hype train for GTA V was a roaring locomotive that, as expected, has crushed all in its path. But there were some other games that emerged in September too. Sony Japan's striking platformer Puppeteer won us over emphatically, in turned out that Diablo III was better as a console game after all, indie gems such as MirrorMoon EP and Lone Survivor: Director's Cut proved that you don't need a massive budget to work wonders.
Honourable mentions also go out to The Creative Assembly, who crafted a gargantuan grand strategy experience that surely would have been in with a shout had it not been so terribly buggy; the re-emergence of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - Soul Hackers as the 16-year cult classic hit the 3DS; Daedalic dropped probably their best adventure game yet in Memoria; and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs emerged to freak us out along with Outlast.
As per usual, we've got a couple of runners-up before we hit the big one...Click here to read more...
The end of August saw what was possibly the most ridiculous fortnight of the year so far. We had a windfall of big-budget, outstanding titles from Saints Row IV to PayDay 2 to Disney Infinity to Rayman Legends. Oh, and Sam Fisher and Suda51 and a bunch of Sectoids showed up too. As did Platinum Games.
As such, this has been one of the toughest Game of the Month pieces to sort out. Not in terms of the outright winner, perhaps, but the runners-up have been hotly contested. And then there's all of the fantastic indie titles such as SteamWorld Dig and Papers, Please and Gone Home and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and Shelter.
Here in the UK, we've actually had some sunshine this August. But thankfully, there were so many reasons for staying inside this month, safe from that massive cancerous ball of fire in the sky. Let's take a look at the best of them...
Saints Row IV -- Saints Row IV might not be the game that the die-hard Saints Row 2 fans have hoped for, but neither is it the bundle of juvenalia that The Third became. Instead, Volition have taken the best of both worlds and forged a fantastically self-aware opus that proves phenomenally engrossing whether you're dipping into it for a quick, cathartic blast after a long day or settling in for a few hours of extended gameplay. It's wonderfully referential and surprisingly refined in its approach to mixing things up, it's frequently funny and provides a challenge consistently even when you fear you're about to become too powerful. But best of all, it's a whole damn heap of fun, whether alone or playing with a friend. 9/10Click here to read more...
It's been a bit of a slow month, presumably because the end of August is looking more ridiculous than we can ever remember (more on that in a few days). But it's given us a chance to catch up with a few titles from earlier in the year (and 2012 is some cases) and get stuck in to a whole bunch of deliciously awesome games flying slightly below the radar.
NB. We'd have liked to have included Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. and Pikmin 3 on this list, but after promising to send them, Nintendo failed to do so, thus we have no idea really of how good either of them are. You'd think, given the ailing nature of their home console, widespread timely coverage of their only first-party would be a good thing
Project X Zone - Project X Zone is an utter delight for fans of... well... pretty much every game from Capcom, SEGA and Namco Bandai. Hilarious dialogue, innovative hybrid RPG strategy, a massive character roster and eyecatching combat conspire to create a crossover so recklessly insane that it probably has no right to exist.
But we're so very glad it does. - 8/10Click here to read more...
It's been a month where the phrase 'quality over quantity' has proven particularly pertinent, especially on consoles. PC titles such as the fantastic Gunpoint and the impressive (if not exactly revolutionary) Company of Heroes 2 put their noses to the window of this month's list of the best, but could only muster honourable mentions.
Indeed, June has been mostly characterised by zombies and XBLA, by the PS3 and Naughty Dog, and by catching fish for that lazy anteater you have living next to you on the 3DS.
State of Decay - The patch is out, but in all honesty State of Decay would have made the list even in its rather buggy and broken state. We're not excusing releasing barely complete glorified betas, but this was something different, something a bit special: a game that allowed us to live out our own version of The Walking Dead, our own stories of community survival in an ever-changing open world with dynamically-generated missions and horrors. You were confronted with choices, forced to make hard decisions instead of simply watching them, and then made to actively deal with the consequences. Fantastic. - 8/10Click here to read more...
It's been a fairly slow month for releases this May which isn't particularly surprising as we gear up for arguably the most important convention season in the past decade. There've been mixed receptions for the likes of Fuse and Soul Sacrifice, and high praise for dead certs (Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D) as well as surprise hits (Van Helsing), but we've still managed to pick out three tip-top gems that should certainly be on your radar now if they weren't already.
GRID 2 - The review is well underway after receiving the code slightly later than expected, but Codemasters have delivered a fine follow-up to their seven year-old smash hit. The Race Driver was never about simulation driving, and it's nice to see a serious arcade racer back behind the wheel. The content-stuffed, narrative-driven singleplayer mode puts to bed the myth that plotlines don't have any place in racing games, and its perfectly complimented by a plethora of multiplayer race types. It's just a shae about that lack of cockpit mode for full immersion.Click here to read more...
Even as the Wii U seems to be floundering, gasping for air and energy without the nutritious bounty of new release, the 3DS appears to be soaring. Last month saw Mario's green-capped brother charm charts and critics alike, and the fantastic Fire Emblem: Awakening stormed into shops, boasting high sales and high scores this month.
There were disappointments too, games that we had hoped might set April alight -- Riptide and Defiance, we're looking at you -- but it's been a great month for titles away from the high street shelves. The likes of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and BattleBlock Theatre have shown that larger indie titles and double-A developments are forming a delicious middle ground, bolstered by digital distribution, and they certainly deserve honourable mentions.Click here for our pick of the best titles this month >>
When you've got Traveller's Tales, Treyarch, and Telltale all at the top of their game, and firing on all cylinders, and the best they can muster are honourable mentions in the form of LEGO Lord of the Rings, Black Ops II, and The Walking Dead: Episode 5, you know it's been a good month. November 2012 might not quite have been as packed with releases as we've seen in previous years, but there was so much quality on show, and further honourable mentions should certainly go to Stealth Bastard Deluxe and Need For Speed: Most Wanted.Click here to read more...
And the Game of the Month for October goes too...Warfighter!
Just kidding. The fact of the matter is that even though EA's flagship FPS for this year proved disappointing, there's simply been no time to really dwell on it thanks to a barrage of engrossing, outstanding releases this month that have included the likes of The Walking Dead: Episode 4, Hotline Miami, Forza Horizon, Pokemon Black/White 2, NBA 2K13 and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams.
But we'd hypothesised that this month would come down to three big titles, and we were absolutely right.Click here to read more...
Welcome to our new Game of the Month feature. On the first of every month, we'll be casting our eyes back over the past few weeks to determine the best games of the period, and giving you folks the chance to win a copy of our twelve top monthly picks.
Gamescom gave way to a little lull as everyone bought Sleeping Dogs, but then the releases started coming thick and fast. Honourable mentions must go to plucky indie titles such as Qasir Al-Wasat, FTL, and Klei's outstanding Mark of the Ninja. The football war kicked off with PES 2013 delivering an astounding level of player contro, with EA Canada upping their game too for FIFA 13. Other games of notice included War of the Roses, Tekken Tag 2, and the utterly brilliant Black Mesa, which outdid Valve at their own game.
But there were three titles that stood head and shoulders above the rest for sheer quality, compelling content, and massive replayability.Click here to find out September's Game of the Month and win a copy for yourself >>>