Video Game Reviews

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"This doesn’t look like Uranus. But it kind of looks like mine."

Asphalt 8: Airborne
Available on: iOS, Android
Street Date: 8.21.13

Although Gameloft’s mobile trends have grown more unsettling with each year, their signature Asphalt arcade racing series always kept hope where the mediocre movie tie-ins and in-app purchase laden free-to-play games didn’t. And after the disappointing, timer-filled mess of Real Racing 3, the impending release of Asphalt 8 was the lone beacon of hope for mobile racing fans this summer. Thankfully, the game doesn’t disappoint, adding a two-tiered nitro system and the ability to pull off mid-air tricks to its trademark drift-and-turbo drenched formula across single player and online multiplayer modes. Plus, it’s one of the most beautiful games available on iOS or Android, packed with detailed car models and advanced environmental effects like motion blur, lens flare, and particle effects, all topped off with the game’s new physics system, a massive improvement over the goofy crash animations of its predecessor. Throw in some super-smooth online multiplayer, 180 single-player events to master, over 40 upgradable licensed supercars to collect and a $0.99 price tag, and you’ve not only got the best handheld racing game available but one of the best mobile releases of 2013. – Randy Dankievitch

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
2K Marin/2K Games
Reviewed on: Xbox 360 Also On: PS3, PC
Street: 08.20

Unlike many of my nerd brethren, I was looking forward to The Bureau’s departure from XCOM’s traditional turn-based play, along with the chance to go toe to toe with a hulking Muton.  In the end, however, The Bureau plays like the result of one who has bitten off a bit more than could be chewed. Visually, The Bureau was spot on. 2K Marin is great at setting each scene with minute details that completely immerse the player in another time period.  Agent Carter and his squad-mates looked like they could have walked out of an episode of Mad Men, and the improvised alien weaponry is reminiscent of 1960s golden age sci-fi.  I had more than one moment of controller-chucking frustration while divvying out orders for my squad, however.  I lost many a good agent because the squad mechanic lacked the precision that I desperately needed.  Though it definitely has some positive qualities, I couldn’t get past the fact that The Bureau felt like the video game equivalent of Halloween 3—an attempt to cram an overly ambitious idea into an unexpectedly successful franchise to see if a few more bucks come out of the other end.  –Alex Springer