When Lords of Shadows 2 clearly focuses its energies on a specific goal, like the epic and unique boss encounters, the game gets hectic and intense.
Although it doesn't dramatically subvert genre tropes, Garden Warfare features enough unique elements and clever twists to stand out, breathing joy into a stagnating genre.
The less resilient player can and will die more than they have in quite some time; the good ones will be just as excited going back for more after the hundredth Game Over as they were at the first.
Developer Three Rings refuses to do any sort of meaningful updating to the product, presenting an aesthetically revolting, monotonous, franchise-forsaking endeavor that should have Oda-sensei throwing a temper tantrum in response.
At its toughest, the game is pure action-platforming ecstasy; sweaty palms and a dry mouth are a small price to pay for the amount of unadulterated satisfaction that comes when completing a particularly arduous endgame segment.
It isn't fun, and without the personality, narrative, and sense of humor of something like Super Meat Boy, the game quickly becomes a chore.
A mostly linear experience, shuttling the player from scene to scene, with the slightly more open hub worlds being there for random LEGO stud hunts and little else.
The ease and addictive nature of cooperative play (although interim lobbies could use a bit of tinkering) very nearly rectifies the perennial air of déjà vu that the game exudes.
The biggest problem the game has is that, unlike the most memorable Final Fantasy episodes, it refuses to allow players the opportunity to compassionately connect with Lightning or her mission objective.
It's a gem of an adventure game that trains players to painstakingly question all things at all times, insidiously breeding stubborn paranoia in their everyday lives.
The story has some minor twists and turns, but most of them can be seen from miles away, and its best characters and moments come and go in the cutscenes, not as part of gameplay.
A bit old fashioned in its execution, to be sure, but what Polyphany has done better than any other developer since the late '90s, much like a master mechanic, is routinely apply oil to the squeakiest of gears.
A sloppy amalgamation of underdeveloped combat mechanics that emphasizes collaborative multiplayer elements, but barely comprehends what makes a quality cooperative fighting game experience.
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