Video Game Reviews

Need for Speed: Rivals 
Ghost Games, Criterion Games and Electronic Arts 
Reviewed on: Xbox 360 
Also on: PC, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 
Street: 11.19.13 
To those looking for a straightforward “open” world racing game, it’s hard to say Need for Speed: Rivals will disappoint. When it comes to high-speed drifting around corners during a kinetic police chase, or racing an online opponent to the finish line in the hills of Redview County, Need for Speed: Rivals appeal is quite obvious. But it’s everything around those moments that leaves Rivals feeling a bit underwhelmed. The clunky car combat (which is just awkward ramming and “screen shake” camera effects), the sparse online world that only hosts six players at a time, and the constrictive feeling of the game’s linear roads make Rivals more of a repetitive experience than one would hope. The ability to change between cop and racer career campaigns on the fly is cool—but the horrible “storylines” of the career mode betray any kind of narrative metagame NFS:Rivals might try to create. Rivals isn’t a bad game¬—it’s a perfectly capable arcade racer with a noticeable lack of ambition, a collection of interesting systems and online-centric concepts that never coalesce into a truly unique experience. –Randy Dankievitch 

Oceanhorn 
Cornfox & Bros./FDG Entertainment 
Available on: iOS 
Street: 11.14.13 
It took three years from the first concept screen shot for Oceanhorn to make its way to the App Store, arriving on a tidal wave of hype after it’s long development cycle. But it was worth the wait: Cornfox and Bros.’ love letter to the Zelda series (especially Link’s Awakening and Wind Waker) is a gorgeous looking (and sounding) adventure game for iPad and iPhone owners to enjoy. Yes, it borrows heavily (and I mean heavily) from Nintendo’s prized franchise, but injects some clever personality and level design into the mix. Exploring them for hours (over 20+, including the campaign and secret hunting on end is a joy, thanks to the game’s jaw-dropping visuals and amazing soundtrack, composed by Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy) and Kenji Ito (Seiken Densetsu) – not to mention the game’s story, a tale about a boy trying to reunite with his parents (a nice reprieve from the “save the princess” material in that other series). It may be derivative, but I’ll be damned if it’s not the most fun I’ve had playing an iOS game all year. –Randy Dankievitch 

The Sims 3: Into The Future
EA
Reviewed on: PC Also on: OSX
Street: 10.22.13
EA has given the Dicks the chance to escape Hell and head into the future, also known as Oasis! Tim Dick has since been spending his days riding the Wind Carver (Hoverboard is copyrighted) and ignoring his wife, Debbie Dick. Into the Future gave me the opportunity to mistreat the residents of the game in an entirely new way. Sure, I did the quests and leveled up my robot-building ability, but all the while, I focused on waging war on the citizens of Oasis. This proves that the new Sims expansion is their best yet because it allows jerks like me to thrive with the rest of civilization. I realize my actions aren’t in the spirit of the game, but it’s the fact that it lets me do these things that makes it so incredible. If you haven’t moved your Sims into the future, then you’re missing the best expansion they’ve done. –Thomas Winkley