We’ve officially web-slinged into summer movie season, which means it’s time for studios to fall all over themselves to crank out rush-job games to accompany the blockbusters. First out of the gate is The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which, while not as awful as other movie adaptations, is far less than amazing. On the other side of the artistic coin is Child of Light, a beautiful, methodical download that emphasizes mind games over popcorn thrills. Sometimes, though, you just need to bash and slash things up real good. PS4-owning baseball fans can dig into MLB 14: The Show, and those with some rage issues to work out will dig God of War Collection on the Vita.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
(Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, $60, Teen)
When you’re web-slinging through the skies of New York from one highlighted checkpoint to another to take part in uninspired combat, “amazing” is just about the last descriptor that comes to mind. The Spider-Man franchise has been stuck in a rut for years, and this movie-inspired adaptation only digs that rut deeper rather than attempt to scurry out of it.
A throwback to the adaptations of the original movies, the open-world game lets you use your spidey sense to track down objectives in the distressingly linear story, taking on irritating random criminals as you go. I played the game on PS4 and found the visuals no better than footage I’ve seen on PS3 and Xbox 360, making it feel as though the game was developed for last-gen systems and sloppily ported over to the new ones. While Spidey fans who really, really want to re-live the movie in video game form will be all over this, most others won’t miss out on much by avoiding the tangled web.
Child of Light
(Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, $15, Everyone 10+)
A gorgeous and thought-provoking puzzle-platformer, Child of Light taxes your mind as much as your reflexes. Set in 19th century Austria, you guide the sword-wielding girl Aurora to rescue the sun, moon and stars from an evil queen. You control her, as well as a mystical sidekick who helps her manipulate light and shadows to solve brain-benders and advance.
Hand-drawn in a gorgeous style reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime, the game also wins points for its well-honed, turn-based combat system. There’s an emphasis on patience and calculation rather than button-mashing, which fits with the Aurora’s persona of clever pluckiness. While the difficulty and complexity ramps up quickly, in the vein of Portal, it never leaves you in the dust. Take the time to figure out the puzzles rather than resort to walk-throughs and you’ll get the most possible out of the game, one of the most fascinating downloads of the year so far.
God of War Collection
(Vita, $30, Mature)
The first two games in the spectacular, Greek mythology-seeped combatathon — both released on the PS2 — make their way to Sony’s handheld, unfortunately leaving the two PS3 entries and two PSP games in the series behind. There is more than enough game here, though, to stave off any complaints over lack of content. Both robust adventures stretch several hours and are as replayable as they come.
You guide the chain-blade-swinging Kratos, a spurned servant of Olympus, in his vengeful quest to murder the deities who have tormented him throughout his life. These are older games, from 2005 and 2007, so be prepard to deal with archaic save and checkpoint systems. But the visuals and pacing have lost nothing over the years, making the series’ origins must-plays for any gamer who appreciates bloody action.
MLB 14: The Show
(PS4, $60, Everyone)
Although the game is out today, more than a month after the season started, the extra time spent in the bullpen for the PS4’s baseball debut paid off well. The result is not some sloppy replica of the solid but not-quite-mind-blowing PS3 entry, but a star in its own right. Looking even more realistic and playing even more smoothly than its last-gen counterpart, the PS4 version takes advantage of the juice available to unleash a nasty four-seamer.
Too many times, new-gen releases of sports games stumble out of the on-deck circle with major features missing, but a full suite of online modes, as well as the RPG-like Road to the Show mode, are all here. If you’re looking for a game to put on to brag to friends about the graphical capabilities of yoru shiny new console, this is that game. It’s not just a looker, though. The core mechanics from past releases of The Show remain intact, creating the most convincing and fun baseball sim to hit consoles. An added bonus, which was also in the PS3 version, is a streamlined game mode that starts each at-bat a few pitches in, allowing you to finish games in 30 minutes or less.
Stick It To The Man
(PS4, $10, Teen)
Released last year on PS3, the above-average but not-quite-mind-blowing platformer makes its way to the newer system with few recognizable upgrades or improvements. Set in a papercraft world of cut-outs and stickers, you play as a hero with a spaghetti arm that lets him grapple onto hooks and vault from one platform to the next. A whimsical art style and challenging, diverse levels keep things lively.
The game is on the short side, beatable in as few as three hours for those who know what they’re doing, but at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome or pad things out with unnecessary fluff. Those who missed out on the game on the PS3 shouldn’t be disappointed. Also, it’s worth noting that the game is free for PlayStation Plus subscribers.