PGA Tour 2K23 Review - Links To The Future

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From a pure golfing perspective, PGA Tour 2K23 is the best simulation golf game ever made. With realistic ball physics, precise shot-shaping, and an emphasis on rhythm and swing path, 2K23 delivers on the many idiosyncrasies of the beautiful game that is golf. Combine the refined golfing mechanics with deeper levels of customization, and I can safely say that PGA Tour 2K23 is a meaningful upgrade over its predecessor. And hey, it also marks the return of Tiger Woods to the virtual links, which is a big deal for those who grew up playing Tiger Woods golf games.

PGA Tour 2K23 is the first new entry in the series in two years. That's unusual for sports games, as most have annual entries. After spending more than a dozen hours with 2K23, I'm starting to feel like this release model--where developers have more time to make improvements--would go a long way toward fixing many of the issues that plague long-running sports series. It doesn't offer minor, iterative changes. Instead, PGA 2K23 is a marked improvement on its predecessor–a rarity in the sports sim genre.

The PGA 2K series--previously called The Golf Club before 2K acquired HB Studios--has always done a remarkable job with swing mechanics. Emphasizing timing and rhythm more than popular golf games of yesteryear, the series makes each swing feel critical--just like the real sport. PGA Tour 2K23 follows that tradition and improves on it with a couple of new core features: a revamped swing meter and a three-click swing system.

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Lego Bricktales Review: Build Brick Better

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Lego games are not usually centered around their actual construction toy namesake. A massive library of Traveller's Tales games have been built on crossovers with many licensed franchises, turning properties like Lord of the Rings and Marvel superheroes into slapstick action-platformers, and Lego A Builder's Journey used the brick-building toys to tell a heartfelt story. Lego games don't often capture the feeling of actually playing with Lego bricks, but Lego Bricktales actually does with incredible accuracy.

Bricktales is all about building, transporting you to five Lego-themed worlds and presenting you with a series of physics-based building puzzles. The physics system underlying the whole thing is impressive, as the Lego bricks actually perform the way any experienced brick-builder would expect. Whenever you finish a project that requires weight-bearing, you'll need to test it with a falling object or a little robot crossing your construction to make sure it holds up. If you didn't reinforce it with support struts, the pieces will just fall apart. Even elements like a step being one spacer too high could create enough fall momentum to break the structure.

In that way, Lego Bricktales functions like a STEM toy, teaching some basic engineering principles in a fun and engaging way, just like actual Lego bricks. Putting it into a virtual space like this means you get to stress test the results of your hard work in a way that feels personal and tactile. You can sense the physicality of the interlocking brick system in a way that other games haven't quite captured. It's very satisfying to walk up a set of stairs that you designed yourself, recognizing your own patterns and even your mistakes. And once you've completed the building challenge, you unlock a free play mode that lets you use additional decorative elements to make the structures look great. As you progress through a biome, you'll be surrounded by your own works of brick-built functional art, using them to traverse the environments.

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Valkyrie Elysium Review - Putting the "Mid" In Midgard

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Names hold a lot of power, particularly in the world of entertainment media. When the name of a beloved franchise is attached to something, it brings a lot of things with it: nostalgia, excitement, and perhaps most importantly, expectations. Valkyrie Elysium is no different: It bears the name and lineage of an RPG series known for daring, experimental gameplay and storytelling that's fervently beloved by a loyal group of fans. Unfortunately, this middling action-RPG that the Valkyrie titling is attached to bears little resemblance to the bold, beloved games that preceded it.

The story of Valkyrie Elysium, set up during a brief cinematic at the beginning, takes place smack-dab in the middle of Ragnarok, the end of the world foretold in Norse mythology. Odin, the All-Father and highest of the gods, has been mortally wounded in a battle with Fenrir and requires the strength of souls to restore his power so that he can revive the dying world. To accomplish this, he summons forth a Valkyrie, the legendary vessel of the gods who leads chosen souls to glory in Valhalla. Valkyrie is tasked with purifying wicked souls, finding the worthy to bring to Odin, and recovering sacred treasures. But, as you might expect, all is not entirely what it seems, and Valkyrie faces a conflict between her duty as a servant of Odin and her increasingly conflicted emotions.

If you've played the original Valkyrie Profile, you'll recognize many very similar story beats here--but without the emotional weight or interesting character drama. The transformation of Valkyrie from devoted, single-minded soldier to conflicted heroine doesn't feel genuine: We're simply told that she's becoming more empathetic to humans with little evidence to back it up. The Einherjar--fallen warriors who Valkyrie recruits to aid her in battle--have some interesting backstories, albeit told in a haphazard, disjointed means that's supposed to inspire curiosity and mystique but only leaves you confused until you read their profiles and play some side quests.

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Overwatch 2 - Before You Buy

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Overwatch 2 - Before You BuyOverwatch 2 (PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S/One) is here to lay the new free to play foundation for the series going forward. Despite some server issues, we've managed to play some. How is it? Let's talk. Subscribe for more: http://youtube.com/gameranxtv ▼▼ Buy TLOU: https://amzn.to/3B88TAi Watch more 'Before You Buy': https://bit.ly/2kfdxI6 #overwatch2

Overwatch 2 Review In Progress - Same As It Ever Was

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There are few moments of calm in Overwatch 2. The action is closer, louder, and faster, and the voice lines are quippier and happen more often. However, in that brief period between selecting your hero and the barriers opening, unleashing you and your teammates out onto the battlefield, there is a brief window of peace--a split-second for meditation.

It was during these moments, as I watched my beloved Hana Song (aka D.Va) shift her weight from one side of her mecha to the other before offering a sweet "annyeong" to a teammate, I forgot I was playing Overwatch 2--I forgot it was no longer 2016. In both my life and Overwatch, a lot has changed, but in these little moments it all felt as if nothing had, and it all felt a bit surreal.

With 700 hours invested into the first Overwatch, what I longed for from Overwatch 2 was a lot of meaningful changes that pushed the series forward while also remaining faithful to the identity it first forged--the identity which made me, someone not typically interested in games driven solely by their multiplayer elements, such a big fan of the first Overwatch. And in some ways, Overwatch 2 delivers this, offering up new characters that feel at home among the rest of the seasoned roster, making the jump to 5v5, which is brilliant, and adding an enthralling Push mode. Even better, the game does all this while retaining the same compelling back-and-forth flow of battle and core gameplay that fans love. However, these are tweaks and additions in a game that, otherwise, feels very familiar, and that sameness can oftentimes make this new Overwatch feel more like an update than the something brand-new in the way that the "2" suggests. Beyond that, however, Overwatch 2 also often feels detached from the principles and charm of the original.

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