ESPORTS4INDIE

Caleb Bailey

Caleb Bailey

Caleb is a game reviewer who is way more of a nostalgic curmudgeon than any 25 year old has any right to be. He enjoys shooters, open world games and is a huge believer in virtual reality's potential. His guilty pleasure movie of choice is The Neverending Story which he still shamefully watches because it was his childhood favorite. He hopes to one day ride Falkor the Luckdragon in VR because that is what he means when he says virtual reality has potential.

Wanted Killer VR does exactly what it needs to do, providing plenty of stylish action with a unique look and a decent amount of polish. While some of its features are at odds with the chaotic gameplay, and there are some other annoyances, it’s worth its price.

Dead Ground:Arena is another attempt at wave shooting for VR that doesn't do enough to stand out from the crowd. Its arcade-y gameplay can be fun for a little while, but its clunky movement system and poor design choices hold it back from being anything special.

Skyrim VR translates one of the most entertaining RPGs of the previous generation to virtual reality with next to no hiccups along the way. Though there are a few minor irritants, the core experience is ludicrously fun and runs like a dream.

Ark Park is a jack of all trades, but master of none. Resource collecting is the thread that attempts to tie several dissonant gameplay mechanics together but it’s not nearly deep enough or engaging enough to be successful at it. Any enjoyment that could be had by observing dinosaurs and wild jungles is marred by blurry graphics. This is one title that ought to go extinct.

Controls are often not as responsive as you’d hope, and evidence of “flat gaming” roots abounds, but Fallout 4 VR brought the entirety of the massive, content-rich adventure, with hundreds of hours of gameplay, to VR, and it did so with little in the way of graphical compromise. No other virtual reality title is as technically advanced, and almost none offer the value for money found here, either. Bethesda has set the standard for future AAA VR.

If there’s one takeaway from Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR, it’s that you don’t need to be a AAA studio to develop an entertaining wave-shooter with solid production values. Guns’n’Stories doesn’t have the largest amount of content, and its two-handed weapons could use some fine-tuning, but the quality and experience, especially for the price, makes this title easy to recommend.

While it is respectable that  Syndrome VR attempts to pay homage to some of the best titles in the sci-fi survival horror genre, it neither distinguishes itself with new ideas nor does it improve or even match the elements it lifts from these titles. Its campaign is filled with backtracking and padding, and when anything of significance happens, this, too, is let down by poor stealth and shooter gameplay. Furthermore, the tacked-on VR mode is not up to the industry standard and doesn't justify the higher price. The most hardcore fans of the genre may be able to overlook many of its flaws, but as it stands, there are much better options out there.

I wanted to enjoy Gappo's Legacy; there's potential here and evidence of time and care being put into some areas of its development. The fact, though, is that too many problems abound. For every one thing it gets right, there are two more design choices that are clunky and underdeveloped. Additionally, it's one of the worst performing VR titles that I've played. It is an Early Access joint, so anything could change, but if this is representative of what's to come, don’t expect a legacy.

Blasters of the Universe is what the 80s thought video games would be like in the future. It's neon-drenched, arcadey, and absolutely addictive; the rare marriage of a great concept and flawless execution. But most importantly: it's a blast.

Just in Time Incorporated is Just Okay. It’s a great concept, but the execution is lacking. As it stands, the puzzle solutions felt too stilted and left you craving more challenge, however, the brief title is still more enjoyable than not, with humor that consistently delivers. Though fairly polished, and with mechanics that plain work, we get the impression that there's a great game in Just in Time – just not this time.

The Surge is a fine example of how Souls-like gameplay and structure transfers well to other genres and settings. It's a great looking game — The Surge boasts not only smooth animation, but fine details, such as the way a tarp will flap realistically in the wind, go a long way towards making this title one to show off. Combined with satisfying and unique combat, hopefully, The Surge will experience a surge of players on release.

Frank Rising’s short length must be noted, as less than a handful of hours for $10 may be considered by some a lack of value. Quality trumps quantity, though, and because Frank Rising improves on many aspects laid out by Dead Rising 4, I recommend it to those who already own and might have felt disappointed by the original game.

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is a roller coaster ride of violence that delivers gameplay that's just as entertaining as it was in its original release in 2011. While it may not have enough discrepancy from the original to justify a repurchase, as far as remasters go, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition should serve as an example for how to revitalize an older game.

Dead Rising 4 has a bit of an identity crisis. It neither commits to the open-world aspect enough to be considered exemplary in the genre, nor does it deliver enough of the mainstays of the series to satisfy longtime fans. Unfortunately, Dead Rising 4 marks the low point in the franchise, and while you may get some mindless enjoyment from killing zombie hordes, the fun is dying, not rising.

Rebellion Development took the groundwork laid by Sniper Elite 3 and improved upon nearly every aspect. Its large-scale environments feature an intelligent layout of objectives and abundance of sniper-aiding verticality. While Sniper Elite 4's music and story aren't going to win any awards, they aren't enough to take away from the respectable amount of content and addictive, strategy-based gameplay.

While it's commendable that a two-man team set out to create an adventure of relatively broad scope, I can't recommend Hero, especially not at its current price point. It does have decent music and sound effects, but the lackluster graphics, lack of polish and uninspired gameplay are too glaring to ignore.

Days of War features addicting and strategic gameplay that forces you to learn the handling of the weapons to succeed. Its sound design and graphics are also top notch, but the title slightly suffers from a lack of standout maps and some lackluster optimization. That being said, for 25 dollars and with more maps and modes already announced, not to mention the upcoming level editor, it's definitely worth a look.

Overwatch, DOOM, and Dark Souls 3 are just a few of the notable games released last year that garnered a slew of praise and awards. While the aforementioned games were, and still are, worthy of your time, I feel 2016’s “best game” distinction was most earned by IO’s Hitman. I say this despite initially passing on the game. Its episodic nature and perceived lack of content raised some red flags for me. So what makes Hitman a game that compels me to write about its virtues despite having no IO-Interactive stock? Well, let’s take a look.