Super Mario Odyssey
Nintendo’s Switch console has been starved of many titles since it was launched and languishes behind the sheer volume of releases from PS4 and Xbox. However, there’s a lot to be said for fan loyalty and quality over quantity has always been Nintendo’s mantra.
Following on from the likes of Zelda and the reimagined Mario Kart, they have now released what is quite possibly the best game of the year and certainly the best on the Switch in Super Mario Odyssey.
The world’s most recognisable (and jovial plumber) sets out on a new adventure through unknown lands in the first sandbox-style Mario game since Super Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine.
Even though he has been with us for over 30 years now, Mario shows no signs of aging and Odyssey manages to take familiar themes and mix them up in a fresh and engaging way that keeps you coming back for more.
Proving that when it comes to games they remain the very best at what they do, this absurdly beautiful title is a glorious adventure, which cannot be properly justified in any number of reviews. To understand and fall in love with this title simply plug in the cartridge and dive in! Whether it’s for 30 minutes of escapism or a full-on day of gaming, one of the real joys of the Mario series is that you can give it as little or as much commitment as you like.
The chances are that if you’re a Switch owner you’re a fan of the Mario series and this will be on your shopping list if not already in your console. But for those of you who are yet to experience the joys of the franchise there has never been a better time to see what all the fuss is about.
Believe us, you won’t be disappointed.
Super Mario Odyssey is out now exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is the highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, Wolfenstein: The New Order developed by award-winning studio Machine Games.
America, 1961. The Nazis maintain their stranglehold on the world. You are BJ Blazkowicz, aka Terror-Billy, member of the Resistance, scourge of the Nazi empire, and humanity’s last hope for liberty. Only you have the guts, guns, and gumption to return stateside, kill every Nazi in sight, and spark the second American Revolution.
Wolfenstein II sends players to Nazi-controlled America on a mission to recruit the boldest resistance leaders left. Fight the Nazis in iconic American locations, equip an arsenal of badass guns, and unleash new abilities to blast your way through legions of Nazi soldiers.
If you’re a fan of first person shooters, this is certainly one of the finest releases of the year, blending action with OTT humour and a large helping of gore and violence.
Graphically the game is a significant step up from its predecessor and takes full advantage of the extra power afforded by the PS4 Pro and the forthcoming Xbox One X.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a decent audio setup, then you will be suitably impressed by the sound this title outputs. It’s as immersive as you could hope for so crank up the volume.
One could argue the violence is excessive but good shoot-em ups are all about extremes and you will never for one second playing this title ever be able to worry about it becoming boring.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
The latest version of this hugely successful franchise re-envisions the story and brings with it a new beginning, as players get to explore the great pyramids and hidden tombs of Ancient Egypt.
Adopting a more open world structure and modernizing the controls as well as the gameplay appears to have breathed new life in the game, making it an appealing prospect both to fans of the series and those who may be discovering its merits for the first time.
The story follows Bayek, protector of the pharaoh, as he plots revenge against an unknown enemy whilst also fashioning the Brotherhood of Assassins. The story begins to build several plot threads that keep the narrative diverse, engaging and exciting, although on occasions it can prove to be a little overwhelming.
The central revenge theme seems to get a little lost in all the side stories and whilst we should applaud the developers’ ambitions, it might have felt like a more intimate experience if there were just slightly fewer plot points. However, it’s still better to have too much to do than not enough!
As a character, Bayek is memorable and the gaming experience is generally a rewarding one, although he is consistently eclipsed by the beauty of his environment. Of all the series, Egypt is probably the most impressive and some of the discoveries made on your journey are at times, breath-taking.
Graphically the title certainly shows off the abilities of both console platforms and those of you looking for a little extra via the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X 4K enhancements will not be disappointed. Ancient Egypt looks beautiful whatever your platform of choice but the enhancements of the higher resolution really do make a difference.
Audibly, Origins benefits for a better experience if you’re fortunate enough to be plugged into a surround sound system and provides the perfect companions to the exemplary visuals.
It was 10 years and two consoles ago that Assassin’s Creed first came to market and after such a long time it can be a challenge to reinvent yourself for an audience who may feel there are few surprises left to be had.
What we have here is one of the best games in the series and a rebirth that comes just at the right time for the franchise and the audience alike.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is out now for PS4 and Xbox One.
Many have tried to emulate the successes of the FIFA console franchise with a rugby equivalent but overall it has proven to be a thankless task. Developers Big Ben Interactive have put their focus on Rugby Union alone and sought to mix up a strong collection of Aviva Premiership and international teams.
Firing up the title, presentation is less than inspired and too many areas of the game feel bland and laboured. Matters don’t improve that much when proceedings move to the field of play, with player animations average at best and everything else coming across as a project that has perhaps been a little rushed to market. Match action lacks definition and detail and the crowds can be best described as a static image overlaid with a few cheers and cries from the audience.
This all conspires to deliver an underwhelming experience that is lacking in polish. Standing this title against FIFA is like comparing the latest smartphone to a blackberry.
But with all that said, it remains disappointing because underneath the scratched and dented bonnet there is a decent engine driving the gameplay. If ever there was a case of not judging a book by its cover this is it.
Now before you get too excited, I am not suggesting that should we look beyond the aesthetics we will discover a masterpiece of entertainment but Rugby 18 – in its broadest sense - does deliver a fairly accurate representation of rugby on a console.
Ultimately, whether this remains enough to convince gamers who are used to the glamour and polish of premium releases such as COD, FIFA or Madden to part with their money is another matter completely.
Rugby fans craving a console equivalent of their beloved game may be able to see past the failings and embrace the idea but even then, it may not be for the long term and they represent a relatively small market overall. It’s the converts that really help increase the sales and on this showing, Rugby 18 doesn’t deliver enough to make it worthy of our recommendation beyond a few nights of distraction.
Rugby 18 is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.