|86 85%||Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (2004) - Sep 26, 2020
"If you liked the combat from the first game, here you shall find ever more of it, with a bit more polish and some different new weapons in the mix. It's a bit light on the platforming per se, unless you count the little 2D levels you eventually encounter. Annualized sequels often avoid anything too different or elaborate, and that's somewhat the case here; still, a fun, attractive, and amusingly presented game, and a high bar for platformers of the time. (Dumb, ill-fitting subtitles continue.)"
|63 41%||The Bard's Tale (2004) - Sep 17, 2020
"The big attraction is the comedic writing, which is fun. Sadly, it's coupled with precisely the sort of rote gameplay it wants to make fun of. For the time, it's passable (the summons are a nice idea), but repetitious and prone to things like AI getting stuck on corners. The main "strategy" boils down to A) Focusing enemy attention on a summoned minion, and B) Trying to find the attacks that keep interrupting enemy animations and stunning them so they don't interrupt yours and swarm you instead."
|94 96%||Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) - Sep 13, 2020
"The last two games had imitators aplenty, but this one set the high bar as far as sheer scale, detail and variety for the settings and activities, defining what the open-world genre as such would be chasing after for a long time to come. New driving mechanics are fun, but controls for most other things are clunky, and missions are finicky. It finds a decent balance of making the characters work within the frankly goofy tone, even if the cynically 'mature' satire wears fairly thin."
|95 98%||Katamari Damacy (2004) - Sep 11, 2020
"Gleeful absurdist fun rolling up all things great and small to a perfectly fitting soundtrack."
|78 73%||X-Men Legends (2004) - Aug 23, 2020
"A fun action-RPG sort of game where you get to spam your powers and watch lots of crates and scenery explode. If you put a tiny bit of thought into what a character's most useful power is before spending your points, it's a breeze. Don't come in expecting the variety or spectacle of later sequels, but what's here was plenty to play with at the time, with a nice big roster of characters with a pretty distinct feel, and a setup that lets you swap around and try them all out as you like."
|89 93%||Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002) - Aug 07, 2020
"Handing off to a different team to put together a sequel in a hurry surprisingly produced a game which delivers far more on the original's promise on all counts. It may be the strong aesthetic of the setting (and all that licensed music) that makes it as memorable as it is, but it also features more fun and interesting missions, new vehicle-types to bumble around in (bikes, boats, helicopters, etc.) and an actual plot which nicely fits the 80s setting evoked."
|73 66%||Grand Theft Auto III (2001) - Aug 06, 2020
"With the move to 3D, this series finally discovered what it was really good at: maps. Big, interesting maps you can drive around while listening to fun radio stations. Also silly vehicle handling, always a far more comical and entertaining aspect than whatever "Ooh.... look at us, we've got an M rating, aren't we naughty! Oh, and have you ever seen a gangster movie before? Great, us too!"-grade "satire" the writers can cook up. Shooting also forms part of the package, though it's not very good."
|69 56%||Sacred (2004) - Jul 20, 2020
"A big, somewhat freer-roaming take on the Diablo II formula with a wide variety of character classes, each with more than a few ways to build them up. All-in-all, one of the standouts in a field that was already overcrowded with some lackluster takes at the time."
|60 37%||Far Cry (2004) - Jul 16, 2020
"At its best in big open levels that actually make good use of all that pretty draw distance and foliage to give a chance to hide, look around and plan things out; or at least admire the scenery. The best of that is front-loaded into the first third or so. When you're just stomping like gangbusters through industrial facilities with semi-decent shooter controls... eh. A few nice big action set-pieces; also vehicle bits (glider parts were nifty for the time; driving's just plain silly). "
|79 75%||Syberia II (2004) - Jul 05, 2020
"A straightforward continuation. Did the original end on a note that really needed any further resolution? Possibly not, which is why this maybe feels a bit less compelling; with all the goals and motivations already established, the plot doesn't have many questions to answer. That and there just aren't as many of those settings that made the original so memorable. Still, for those who want to keep mining the same vein as the first game, this does provide that."