Video Game Reviews

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No snark here … this game is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Age of Wonders III
Triumph Studios
Reviewed on: PC
Also on: OSX
Street: 03.31
With the third installment in their Age of Wonders series, Triumph Studios has managed to create a game that will satisfy the most anal-retentive of micromanagers, while leaving folks who crave a sprawling fantasy epic eagerly awaiting their next turn.  One of the most innovative aspects of Age of Wonders 3 is the updated system of leadership classes.  Each of the seven classes offers players a wide range of opportunities to infuse their own style into the gameplay.  From the aggressive Warlord to the conservative Theocrat, it’s impressive to see the amount of customization capabilities that Triumph has placed in the class options.  Triumph has also done a commendable job in making exploration feel more like discovery than mere territory expansion, largely due to the game’s beautiful graphics, which create a world that the player wants to see more of.  As I guided my hero and her army through a dense forest, I was surprised at the amount of ruins that could be explored and mines that could be captured.  Fans of the Heroes of Might and Magic series who are looking for that extra level of empire-building will feel right at home with Age of Wonders 3.  –Alex Springer
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (Deluxe Edition)
Armature Studio/ Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Street: 04.01
A console port of last year’s 2.5D action/puzzle platformer for the Vita and 3DS, Arkham Origins Blackgate is an amalgamation of visual styles, story elements and gameplay mechanics adopted from the console trilogy—and, to its detriment, it often feels like it. Everything from the scope of the story—itself, a re-skinned Arkham Asylum narrative—to the game’s repetitive level design feels watered down. It replicates the look and sound of Rocksteady’s dark, dreary Arkham, but lacks the personality and adrenaline of the console series. The much-lauded Arkham series combat is reduced to simplistic button-mashing, and puzzle-solving is hindered by changing camera perspective. Poor level design makes platforming segments repetitive. Blackgate is supposed to feel like a unique Arkham experience, but it’s really a comprised one—an underwhelming compilation of over-simplified mechanics and inconsistent design held together by a story we’ve heard before. Generally speaking, Blackgate is a competent side-scroller, but in the critically revered lineage of the Arkham games, it’s a disappointing, short-lived experience. –Randy Dankievitch
Child of Light
Ubisoft Montreal/ Ubisoft
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also on: PC, Wii U, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Street: 4.29
Child of Light is a masterpiece. Nothing more needs to be said. To this point, it is the very best game I have played on the Xbox One and it’s really not even close. First, let’s talk about the art style—gorgeous. Immediately, it will draw comparisons to Ghibli, which it should because only the animation in classics like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle have taken my breath away the way Child of Light does everytime I jump into its lush world. Not only the look, but the score sets this 2D platforming RPG apart. But what makes Child of Light, along with these things, is the poignancy of it all. It’s the dream of a young girl who has been put into a coma from a very serious sickness. The tone of the game takes it cues from this premise and it works brilliantly. Not only that, but the combat system is unlike anything I have ever experienced—a fresh take on classic JRPG turn based combat. All of this together makes for an experience unlike anything else in the video game right now. It’s brilliant—a masterpiece.  –Blake Leszczynski