Is Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, a GOTY contender? Plus hands-on with WWE 2K23, Strayed Lights, the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud controller & more.
No matter how you feel about the any of the three consistently debated trilogies, I don’t know a single Star Wars fan who doesn’t think Jedis bad arse. Lightsaber-wielding, force-sensitive knights capable of impossible feats. Six years ago, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order presented the best virtual representation of that character for gamers across the world, and now Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has outdone that effort in almost every conciveable way. It’s bloody fantastic.
That’s largely thanks to the fact from the moment you re-join Cal Kestis, he is already more than capable of dispatching the Empire’s goons – developer Respawn Entertainment mercifully avoiding the annoying metroidvania-styled trope that would ordinarily strip the Jedi Knight of all the powers he developed in Fallen Order.
This smartly gives Star Wars Jedi: Survivor much more breathing room from the get-go and allows the game to build upon its strong foundations with a slew of new upgrades that see you zipping around levels more than ever before, and more free flowing ightsaber combat encounters.
And while fans may love or hate to see the return of the Dark Souls-esque duels return, the five fighting stances now available to Cal should help each player find their own way to fight their way out of trouble, be that with crossguard, dual-wielding or double-bladed melee attacks. Stances make each fight feel brutal and unique, especially with plenty of finishers that are destined to elict a smile or ten.
Paired with a thoroughly enjoyable planet-hopping adventure, more memorable characters and a dramatically improved map, Jedi Survior is one of the strongest Star Wars releases across any medium in recent memory. But it’s not perfect.
Unfortunately, much like Fallen Order, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor falls victim to a number of visual hiccups, performance issues and game-crashing bugs. It’s a shame that these issues mar an otherwise stellar experience, but they can’t be ignored, even as the development team continue to iron out all the kinks.
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That said, even with those issues, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an instantly memorable experience and well worth your attention. It’s not just one of the best games of 2023, it’s one of the Star Wars games ever made.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is out now for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. You can buy it via Amazon here.
Also out now…
WWE 2K23 (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XBO, PC)
The WWE 2K series has been on a bit of winning streak the last couple of years and 2K23 continues to build upon that success, even if it feels a little familiar to last year. Yes, much like many other annualised sports titles, 2K23 feels like iteration over innovation, but it’s hard to complain when the whole package feels so good to play on the sticks and is clearly working hard to be a faithfully authentic package for the fans.
MyGM is back and meatier than ever, but I actually quite enjoyed the fresh take on the much-publicised John Cena Showcase. That’s largely because the mode takes the bold choice of not actually putting you in the bulky bod of the famed star. Instead, you’ll play as the names that have defeated him, Cena then discussing his learnings from each defeat.
The game’s commentary track could use a little more love, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that WWE 2K23 is another positive step forward.
Strayed Lights (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XBO, PC)
Wildly original and stunningly pretty, Strayed Lights is a delightful indie adventure that is short and sweet in all the best ways. The plot is admittedly a little thin, but you control a newborn spark that quickly finds itself face-to-face with the shadow version of itself and an assortment of colourful inner demons.
In fact, colour plays quite a vital role in Strayed Lights – crucial in the game’s impressively unique combat. That’s because defeating foes isn’t best done by delivering attacks, but by parrying them. That’s not all though, because each parry must also be performed in one of two colours (red or blue) before damage can be dealt, requiring you to constantly swap between the two during fights or in the middle of combos.
It’s a fresh and novel idea that does well to keep you on your toes and tap into the rhythmic nature of each fight. And while the system can feel slightly repetitive over time, I’m very interested to see how it could evolve in the future.
The soundtrack by Austin Wintory (Journey) is also exceptional from the game’s opening minutes, and one we hope gets a vinyl release down the line. It’s just another element that helps Strayed Lights shine all the brighter. Recommended.
To pick up Strayed Lights, check it out on the PlayStation Store.
Redfall (Xbox Series X/S, PC)
As one of Xbox’s big first-party releases for 2023, there was a bit of pressure behind Redfall, which is why it’s so disappointing that this vampiric shooter isn’t as bloody good as you’d expect. There are strong bones underlying the whole experience – allowing you to indulge in your wildest Buffy-inspired power fantasy as you shoot and stake your way through the fictional harbour town of Redfall, Massachusetts – it’s just that Redfall is never able to truly capitalise on all that potential.
Missions lack any real creativity, the vamps become a little too samey and there’s enough hitches and glitches to suck the life right out of you. Xbox is promising a brighter future for Redfall, but unless you already have Xbox Game Pass and are willing to give it a crack, you’re best off letting this one creep back into the shadows for a bit.
Hands on with Turtle Beach Recon Cloud controller
When we got our hands on with Turtle Beach’s Recon controller back in 2021, we applauded its versatility and functionality. Two years on, and the device has seen one hell of an evolution that jams in even more features in the form of the new and improved Recon Cloud Controller.
While the basic design fundamentals of the original controller remain still in place, the Recon Cloud Controller steps things up a notch by smartly stepping into the mobile market. As a result, the top of the the refreshed Recon can now be fitted with an adjustable mobile mount (included in the box), which easily slots into the top of the controller with a single screw.
I was impressed with how sturdy the mount actually felt, never once budging while my Google Pixel 7 Pro was in its grip, although depending on the size of your mobile it may create some awkward weight distribution because of how lightweight the Recon is in comparison. Adjust to that minor quibble and it’s an exceptional way to boot up Xbox Remote Play while on the go. I didn’t notice any input lag from the joysticks or buttons, and despite being a bulkier item to pack with you on trips, the unit feels more natural in the hand than some alternatives like the Backbone.
What’s even better is that for Xbox and PC gamers, if you choose to stow away the mobile mount, you’ve still got yourself a plenty capable controller for more mainstream gaming as well. Able to connect to your PC wirelessly or Xbox via an included 3m USB cable, the Recon Cloud Controller excels as a third-party offering thanks to its sheer number of features. From volume and chat control, to in-built back paddles and Superhuman Hearing functionality, there’s not a lot the Recon Cloud can’t do.
Available for $153.99 via Amazon. Amazon, the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud is even reasonably priced, coming in at $30 cheaper than Xbox’s own Elite Wireless. We wish the device could be used for iPhones, and it might be a little bulkier than some of its competitors, but if you’re looking for a controller that can seamlessly transition from mobile to console gaming quickly and efficiently with a hefty battery life to boot, you can’t look past the Recon Cloud controller.
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