TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Here is a roundup of three recent game releases:
ASSASSIN'S CREED VALHALLA: DAWN OF RAGNAROK
The grandiose, $40 expansion to the 2020 base game is nearly worthy of sequel status. You guide your version of the hero — destined to ascend to ethereal ranks as Odin — as he or she takes on godlike powers to rescue his/her son and attempt to stave off annihilation.
Norse mythology is played up to the extreme, granting the game shades of "God of War." New players get a boost when they start the expansion by voyaging into the Dwarven realm Svartalfar, which burgeons with Dwarf allies and Muspel enemies.
The battles and missions lean heavily into high fantasy themes, with bombastic combat taking priority over the franchise's cloak-and-dagger traditions.
Loaded with deep cultural-mythological research you'd expect from an "Assassin's Creed" game, "Dawn of Ragnarok" is a feast for devotees of Norse legends, as well as those who have played through all of the base "Valhalla" content and its multiple expansions. The daring departure from the status quo, though, could leave some die-hards on in the cold.
Playing as a janitor at an apartment complex plagued by ghastly forces, it's on you to check each room after a mass eviction, making sure the condemned property has been cleared.
Developer Playstige Interactive aims for a "Silent Hill"-style feel in the claustrophobic first-person horror experience. Each room features a bizarre array of set pieces inspired by urban legends and horror fantasy art.
The most inspired facet of the game is the art direction, which grants the game much of its dread-induced appeal.
Frustratingly sluggish controls and a slogging story, though, drag the experience down. This is one only for the most patient of horror fanatics.
GRAND THEFT AUTO V
Now nearly nine years old, the grandest and most sprawling "Grand Theft Auto" game gets its current-gen due.
Gone are the extraneous loading times and muddy visuals from past editions. The revamped game is not only the definitive version of the crime saga — which tasks you to juggle the misadventures of three empire-building criminals — it's also something of a tech demo dry-run for the long-awaited "GTA VI."
Small touches, including 3D audio and enhanced haptic feedback on controllers that emphasize the thrills and spills of the mayhem the game dishes out, "Grand Theft Auto V" shines in its current form.
"GTA Online" also gets a boost, with a Career Builder mode and customizable vehicles with a race series, time trials and racing suits.
A welcome new feature lets you migrate past save files not only from one generation to your current console. If you're logged onto the Rockstar Social Club, you can even move saves from, say a PS4 to an Xbox Series X.
The ability to re-up your progress from a previous generation play-through is welcome, but because the game has been so thoroughly touched up, you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't start up a new playthrough.
Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.