Entries by GameSpot Reviewer

F1 2017 Review

Formula One has been stagnant in recent years. With the domination of the Mercedes team all but guaranteed since the beginning of the hybrid-era, new rules have injected some much needed spark into the once unquestioned pinnacle of motorsport. F1 2017 is a virtual reflection of that renewed vigor. The wider, faster and more aggressively styled cars are designed to be driven harder; a fundamental shift that brings with it a greater adrenaline-rush than any of the previous F1 games have managed to offer. Along with a greatly expanded career mode, a host of memorable classic cars and a litany of race options, championships and game modes to choose from, F1 2017 goes above and beyond expectations.

The bread and butter of the Codemasters F1 games has long been the career mode, which lets you create your own driver and guide them through their racing career, and F1 2017’s is no different. Aesthetically it’s been buffed out and expanded, adding new animations and team interactions, and showing off more of the infamous F1 paddock all while adding a grander sense to the occasion. For a series that had nailed the atmosphere of a Grand Prix some years ago, these additions add another layer that’s easy to appreciate.

The new upgrade system is another step up from last year, allowing you to focus your team’s R&D efforts on new parts in four key areas–chassis, aerodynamics, powertrain and durability. Where you decide to focus your points largely depends on who you drive for. Go with a team like McLaren and you’ll need to focus heavily on improving the woeful Honda power unit. Whereas for a top tier team like Red Bull or Ferrari, you might be more methodical about how you spend your resource points, focusing instead on areas you might be slightly weaker than your competitors. F1 2017 improves on past entries by being the most transparent entry in the series, giving you more than enough information to directly compare performance to your rivals.

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Resource points are earned over the course of a race weekend by meeting your team’s set qualifying and race objectives, as well as completing the practice programmes the team lays out for you in any given practice session. In addition to providing resource points for upgrades, the practice programmes also act as elaborate tutorials, teaching the finer arts of driving a modern Formula One beyond the basics of ‘the racing line’. More complex techniques like fuel and tyre management and determining race strategy are broken down into easily digestible chunks of information, making it easier for new fans to dig into what makes a race weekend so involved.

This level of strategizing extends to the car too, both in and out of the garage. F1 2017 tracks the wear and tear on each component of the engine and the gearbox, in line with real life rules to keep costs down for the smaller teams. Parts aren’t limited, but using more than your allotted amount will result in a grid drop penalty for each infringement. This means having to make tough but meaningful choices about whether to risk running worn parts for a race–leading to greatly reduced power or a possible outright failure–or taking the penalty and hoping you can fight your way back through the field.

When it comes to the look of the cars, they’re nothing short of exquisite. Each of the ten teams and their magnificent machines are modelled down to the finest details, with their sleek carbon-fibre bodywork lusciously reflecting the world around them. Likewise, the circuits themselves also show off the game’s excellent lighting and dynamic weather, which makes a return from previous games. The rare occasions where high-res textures take a moment to load in are a minor blemish on what is an otherwise stunning looking title.

Equally excellent is the feel behind the wheel. Be it with a wheel–which is absolutely the recommended way to play–or a gamepad, the cars feel as responsive as you’d hope. There is still more than enough power to make the back end slide out from under you, but unlike before, the wider tyres and extra downforce mean you can brake later, turn in harder, and get on the power earlier than ever before.

This is starkly reflected on track in the different handling and power of each car. Driving the McLaren-Honda down a long straight is nothing short of harrowing; other cars will power past you like you’re sitting still, forcing you to get your elbows out when trying to defend your position. On the other hand, both the Mercedes and Ferrari feel planted to the road straight out of the garage. The robust physics engine is backed up by some of the best racing AI in the business, who will fight hard for position and make mistakes, but also offer up plenty of racing room if you do manage to get a wheel alongside them.

The V10 roar of the 2002 Ferrari compared to the throaty growl of an old turbo-powered McLaren is enough to smack any nostalgic fan into bliss.

The inclusion of classic cars represents some of the best F1 machines from the last 30 years. From Senna’s 1988 McLaren to Vettel’s 2010 Red Bull, there are 12 cars in total, each of them a world championship winning car from their era. They wonderfully showcase the progression of the sport over the years, and the V10 roar of the 2002 Ferrari compared to the throaty growl of an old turbo-powered McLaren is enough to smack any nostalgic fan into bliss.

Jumping online to race with others is easier than previous years, doing away with the hoppers of old, opting for a more elegant approach. You choose your preference between shorter or longer races, get into a lobby and go. Also back is the online championship, letting you and your most dedicated friends battle it out over an entire season, with or without AI.

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Time Trials let you race against the leaderboards in any car, modern or classic, in any set of weather conditions. Events are a new feature for F1 2017, offering one-off, downloadable scenarios that drop you straight into the action then comparing your results to others via leaderboards when you’re done. Codemasters have left no wannabe racer wanting with the myriad ways to drive these cars.

Any gripes cast against F1 2017 are minor. Instant replays could last a bit longer, and the simulation damage model could be more detailed and less forgiving. But this list pales in comparison to what Codemasters have delivered, an F1 game that can truly cater for everyone–from sim racers to the newest casual fan.

Codemasters has been on a roll with its F1 series for a number of years now, and F1 2017 feels like the culmination of those years of work. Where F1 2016 lacked a little on the career side, F1 2017 more than makes up for that and then some more. An improved multiplayer set up, a greater variety of race options and straight-up better cars to drive, on top of the stellar career mode and thrilling on track racing experience make F1 2017 simply the best Formula One game ever made.

Distrust Review

Casper Jackson, one of the rescue members in the new isometric survival game Distrust, is having a hard time of it. He’s starving. He’s sleepy. His helicopter crashed. Along with a single survivor, he’s now stuck at a research base in the middle of now…

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles spends its first fifteen minutes invoking memories of two of the best Zelda games. It opens on a boat, with your player-created character and a cartoony crew sailing through choppy seas, heading towards a distant is…

Yakuza Kiwami Review

Yakuza games do two things very well: grab you with dramatic stories and over-the-top characters, and make you laugh with oddball side missions that knowingly lean into their absurdity. The latest game, Yakuza Kiwami, is no exception. It’s gripping and…

Madden NFL 18 Review

After almost 30 years, the Madden NFL series is rarely surprising. Fans think they know what to expect each year: a handful of small but meaningful mechanical tweaks, roster updates, and slight graphical bumps. Madden NFL 18, however, is highlighted by…

The Pillars Of The Earth Review

For those with patience, there’s a wonderful story of political corruption, self-discovery, and religious reliance to be found in The Pillars of the Earth. However, for anyone with a short attention span, it’d be hard to recommend this game as its slow…

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Review

Team chemistry abounds in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which is not surprising for a side story to a series famous for its AI-partner-driven gameplay. A decade’s worth of adventures and a conclusive epilogue might place franchise mainstay Nathan Drake on permanent retirement, so now is as fitting a moment as any to wander and fight through a new Uncharted from a fresh perspective. With a roster of characters as large as Uncharted’s, developer Naughty Dog had a wealth of promising pairings to choose from. After playing through The Lost Legacy, it’s hard to imagine a better Drake-less pairing than the treasure hunter Chloe Frazer and ex-mercenary Nadine Ross. Not only do they prove themselves as capable adventurers, but also entertaining ones with the kind of chemistry that doesn’t rely on Nathan Drake-inspired wisecracks.

The duo’s vastly different backgrounds and motivations create a dynamic ripe for a classic apprehensive alliance and the tensions that come with it. Seeking an artifact called the Tusk of Ganesh in the Western Ghats of India, the pair find themselves racing against Asav, a perpetually angry warlord who places highly in the Uncharted villain ruthlessness power rankings. It’s also a quest rich in exposition and substance, with lot of credit given to the well-written banter between Chloe and Nadine. Not only is it engaging to hear them bring down their emotional barriers of mistrust, but the small talk helps fill in the blanks since the events of Uncharted 4. Moveover, the dialogue eventually reveals the meaning of the game’s subtitle, which shines a light on Chloe’s personal drive to find the tusk. Just the fact that her history differs from Nathan Drake’s opens the door for new insights on recurring Uncharted themes, namely the dangers of ambition and the relationships that can suffer as a result. These are messages that adventure genre fans can appreciate even without a connection to the series’ past.

The dense vegetation of India and its peppering of ruins reflect Naughty Dog’s amusingly consistent attachment to jungles in Uncharted. In The Lost Legacy, the studio doubles down on tropical forests with striking results. The lush surroundings and detailed remains of ancient civilizations are fitting trivia-laden conversation starters for Chloe and Nadine. And despite that The Lost Legacy is shorter than even the first Uncharted–six hours compared to eight–these insightful archeological chats about Hindu mythology don’t feel forced or rushed.

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Such refined moments are indicative of The Lost Legacy’s impressive conciseness, packing a ton of Uncharted history in its moment-to-moment experiences. For those new to Uncharted, that translates to a lot of death-defying stunts any given minute. Moreover, the stealth tutorial is fittingly brief, chase sequences are consistently riveting, and climbing sections never feel drawn out. All the while there’s an ebb and flow to both the pacing of the narrative and how gameplay sections are spread out. In other words, for every instance of high intensity, there’s a well-placed opportunity to take a breather.

The jungles also provide the ideal setting for Naughty Dog to expand and refine its open, free-roaming designs previously seen in the much praised Madagascar map of A Thief’s End. This new open map–which is the setting of two of The Lost Legacy’s chapters–demands a lot of driving, but going over your own beaten paths doesn’t feels like a chore. This is thanks to the wealth of timeworn man-made remains worth exploring and–more often than not–climbing. While you’re challenged with navigating up these structures, thoughtful level design ensures the way down is an easy and quick descent. For a game that originated as a more modest expansion to Uncharted 4 with the projected size and scale of The Last of Us: Left Behind, this section alone illustrates why Chloe and Nadine’s adventure warranted a larger production.

Both expansive and confined areas prove memorable for the host of combat encounters that invite player ingenuity and improvisation. Many of The Lost Legacy’s shootouts offer a wealth of emergent and new gunplay opportunities after every death and retry. It’s not a mere race of exchanging gunfire; there are plenty of chances to outflank Asav’s army by making use of columns and elevated platforms rather than fighting enemies head-on. It’s a showcase of easily executable simple pleasures, like striking enemies from above and knocking out a soldier from around a corner.

That’s not to say there are no other ways to outwit these squads. Clearing a fully-staffed patrol with a dozen discreetly-thrown grenades with zero detection isn’t only possible but also a satisfying rush. Playing as a ninja and triggering no alert states is even harder, but many of the combat areas are large and well-designed enough that such gratifying outcomes are possible. Just don’t expect many–if any–opportunities to play the pacifist; the more linear levels require full sweeps and takedowns of whole crews.

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There’s never been a more even mix of puzzles, combat, and exploration in the Uncharted series than in The Lost Legacy. While the series has had its share of dry switch-activation chores disguised as puzzles, this game keeps such sections to a minimum. This new batch of quandaries will stump you long enough to make the feeling of solving them rewarding. And sinces these obstacles are visually themed on the Hindu gods that are the focus of the duo’s quest, no prior Uncharted experience is necessary to solve these puzzles.

Unfortunately, adequate time was not available to evaluate the game’s multiplayer and wave-based Survival modes. As these are the exact game types of Uncharted 4’s online component–that use the same servers no less–you can expect a level of chaotic gunplay and melee combat not found in The Lost Legacy’s story mode. A contrast to the less aggressive enemies in the campaign, fighting against real-life players is a veritable free-for-all where you’re using everything from rope swinging to RPGs to survive. The common supernatural powers found in sought-after artifacts, the motivation of earning gold to summon AI support soldiers, and a time-sucking progression system adds depth to what would’ve been an otherwise forgettable adversarial online mode.

The Lost Legacy doesn’t signify a new era for Uncharted so much as it presents an opportunity to show the series from new perspectives, for which Chloe and the AI-controlled Nadine are perfectly capable. With a new playable treasure hunter comes new settings and character motivations, wrapped in a comfortingly familiar Uncharted package. The thrill of playing through set pieces that call back scenes from the earlier games is all the more enhanced when seen through the gameplay mechanics introduced in A Thief’s End. The initial hours of The Lost Legacy give an “Uncharted Greatest Hits” vibe, but it grows into a more nuanced, clever experience, ranking among the best in the series while also making its own mark as a standalone Uncharted that isn’t anchored to Nathan Drake’s harrowing exploits.

The Long Dark Review

As The Long Dark emerges after years in early access, it introduces the first two chapters in a five-part story, called Wintermute. The game’s demanding survival mechanics have the potential to mesh well with the story of a plane crash survivor stuck i…

Sonic Mania Review

From the opening title’s splash screen, Sonic Mania’s presentation is intoxicating. Its colorful, retro 2D graphics and vibrant ’90s-inspired pop soundtrack is enough to make any Sega Genesis fan squeal in excitement. In this jointly developed game, Se…