In videogames, a change isn’t just as good as a rest, it’s frequently the only option. Bound to their annual release schedules, games in established series have to justify their existence: why should you buy the new one when you’re perfectly satisfied with the one you’ve already got? Sometimes it’s an easy job: FIFA adds the new season’s teamsheets, Assassin’s Creed hops to a different setting. It’s about the difference between a feature and a gimmick, and it’s a finer line than you’d think, going on this month’s new releases.
In theory, Mortal Kombat X should have it easy. It’s the debut on current consoles of a long-running, widely loved fighting game series; all it needs is a few new characters, some tweaks and additions to the established cast, and a lick of paint. Netherrealm ticks all those boxes, but in the Test Your Luck mode, the studio loses its focus by layering in a series of random gameplay modifiers. More frustrating than funny, and more restrictive than empowering, they carry the fetid stench of change for change’s sake. At least it’s only a side mode.
Meanwhile, as is appropriate with FromSoftware’s games, we approached Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First
Sin with some trepidation. The studio has given justification to this current-gen tart-up of a classic by remixing enemy placements across the whole game. Just as we feared, some of the changes are excellent, some are awful, and most sit somewhere in the middle, being neither better, nor worse, just different. Thankfully, the package is rescued by the bundling of some masterful – and unchanged – DLC. When even one of the most talented studios on the planet is struggling to strike the balance between meaningful and meaningless change, we’re more grateful than ever for those confident enough to stick to their guns.