|86 81%||Jade Empire (2007) - Jan 16, 2021
"The game which established the notion that a "Bioware RPG" would henceforth mean a retread of the KOTOR formula with a different setting and different combat mechanics. Fantasy China was a fresh choice of setting, and vividly realized with the scope and characters you'd expect. The combat is a fairly simple console-oriented action system from 2005, with the RPG elements not really making for a great deal of customization; it was so-so enough for the time, but is far from the main appeal."
|80 72%||LEGO Star Wars: The Videogame (2005) - Jan 14, 2021
"Traveller's Tales had a long history of technically impressive but not very appealing games in the 3D era already. With this, they hit upon the formula that they've ran with since. It's charming, it's easy but amusing to explore, it has fun with the license, it's ideal for parents to play co-op with the kids (especially if they're into the license du jour), etc. (It's also a bit more polished in the "Complete Saga", which is how it should probably be played at this point.)"
|78 66%||God of War (2005) - Dec 18, 2020
"The flashy, splashy, button-mashy beat-or-slash 'em up action genre was very, very hot in the PS2 days. This may not have been one of the earliest to the party, but it certainly was one of the flashiest. What it lacks in innovative gameplay, it more than made up for at the time in cinematic flair. The standard fights between bosses and puzzles feel like filler, and I do wish it hadn't done quite so much to popularize the notion that nothing says "epic battle" quite like QTEs, though."
|89 90%||The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993) - Dec 10, 2020
"The followup on Link to Past manages to conjure plenty of atmosphere from the pea-soup fog of the original Game Boy (though the various updates and remakes do so even better), while throwing a sizeable dose of the ever-more-puzzly exploration the series would keep revisiting your way."
|88 87%||The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004) - Dec 10, 2020
"Well crafted, charmingly presented, and mildly puzzly in the way you'd generally hope for from a 2D Zelda. It's on the easier side, and not as long as some, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though all the back-and-forth if you try to be thorough about the kinstones can feel a bit like busywork for padding. The shrinking and the little people are a major source of distinct flavor and charm."
|87 83%||Resident Evil 4 (2005) - Nov 25, 2020
"The poster child for Survival Horror breaks the well-established mold to forge a more action-packed direction with scale, style, and set-pieces aplenty. Some control peculiarities aside (like the insistence on the old stand-in-place attack handling), it's a polished and influential model for where the third person shooter was headed, popularizing the soon-to-be-ubiquitous over-the-shoulder view. The plot's cheesy, and the core combat repeats, though I wouldn't have expected otherwise."
|94 94%||Knights of the Old Republic 2 (2004) - Oct 17, 2020
"Obsidian certainly had a keen sense of what made the first game so appealing, and this delivers more of that from a fresh angle. Is their attempt at an overarching meta-commentary on morality, "alignment", and companionship brilliant or too clever by half? That may depend on your mood, but it is an interesting take, for sure. It's a pity the ending was rushed in the way it was, though."
|94 94%||Knights of the Old Republic (2003) - Oct 17, 2020
"The model for the approach to character-driven writing that would come to define a "Bioware RPG" (and their imitators) for many years to come. A fine use of the setting and its conventions all round. As far as gameplay, it's a post-Inifinity Engine quasi-turnbased pseudo-DnD with stat rolls aplenty. Funnily enough, that setup feels a bit less odd in a game like this where you don't need to pause so often. (Also, for better or ill, a prominent popularizer of big obvious alignment meters.)"
|80 72%||Neverwinter Nights (2002) - Oct 17, 2020
"Not a bad campaign, though the single PC with "henchman" choice was an odd one in some ways. (It also makes you notice that Bioware issue where the characters wind up being more interesting than the "plot" more when you barely spend any time with most of the characters.) The game's greatest strength was as a versatile tool for creating all sorts of custom modules, though."
|84 77%||Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (2001) - Oct 17, 2020
"One last dose of exotic high-level DnD absurdity to wrap up the plot once and for all."