Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, Alien: Isolation, The Walking Dead, and Disney’s most underappreciated game are some of the best titles joining Xbox Game Pass.
February has been a great month for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. It was previously announced that gamers would get Shadow Of The Tomb Raider as well as Lara Croft’s best adventure yet, in addition to Batman: Return to Arkham before the end of the month. Now Polygon reports that Creative Assembly’s magnum opus Alien: Isolation is joining the catalogue along with Disney’s most underrated property, Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two.
With Microsoft having chosen a bevy of great games to join Xbox Game Pass, it’s worth briefly reflecting on the best ones. Although Arkham Asylum and Akrham City are incredible games, the Return To Arkham collection doesn’t feature in this piece as it’s a disappointing paintjob that ruins the original games’ grittiness. Oh, and Rockstar are pretentious d-bags for making Arkham Origins the black sheep by refusing to have it as a part of the collection.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season – Available now
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season is arguably the deceased Telltale’s most famous work, and understandably so. It’s admittedly a bit exploitative with Clementine having the biggest puppy eyes and whiniest voice, but it’s so damn effective in hitting you in the feels (not since Futurama’s Jurassic Bark has an ending caused me to uncontrollably sob like a precious nitwit who needs to get a grip).
Not everyone is fan of the Telltale point-and-click formula, but the first season of The Walking Dead was before the studio became overly obsessed with quick-time-events and an unbalanced ratio between gameplay and cut-scenes. There’s a lot of shocking twists and turns (I’m still not over Lilly and Carley’s confrontation), and it’s an episodic adventure that surpasses the television series’ consistent quality.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season Two will also be joining Xbox Game Pass on February 28.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider – Available now
Square Enix has said they hope Shadow Of The Tomb Raider’s underperformance doesn’t mean Lara Croft is dead and buried, and I agree as she’s the industry’s greatest female protagonist. Although her modern characterisation portrays her as an insufferable and self-obsessed wench who is ridiculously hypocritical for blaming all of the world’s woes on Trinity rather than herself, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider’s combat and stealth makes up for the narrative’s shortcomings.
The biggest issue with Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is that it doesn’t fulfil its goal of turning Lara Croft into the classic tomb raider we all know and love, but it’s still a fun romp that makes you feel like Rambo. You get to roll around in the mud like an excited dog, Lara’s bow and arrow is still oh so satisfying when getting a collection of headshots, and there’s even a photo mode for you to turn Lara Croft’s war against Trinity into the most inappropriate holiday ever.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two – February 21
Compared to the other games joining Xbox Game Pass this month aside from Crackdown 3, Epic Mickey 2 is probably the least polished with its PlayStation 2 camera, clunky controls, and bugs. However, although it’s not refined, it’s a gem comparable to the best hand-drawn Disney films where you can pretty much see the animators’ hands creating the magic.
With players controlling Mickey and Oswald in a co-op adventure, Epic Mickey 2 is what happens when a genius like Warren Spector is given some creative freedom. The warped portrayal of Disneyland is a joy to explore with its many attractions, the 2D platforming mini-games are a blast, and it’s even a celebration of Disney’s musical side with many of the characters breaking into song during cut-scenes.
It’s not as good as the first Epic Mickey exclusive to the Nintendo Wii, but it’s still a fine follow-up that Xbox gamers should give a go.
Tomb Raider – Definitive Edition – Available Now
Although the Definitive Edition ruins Lara Croft’s face by making her look like a doll rather than a person with too much of a resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, it’s still the British icon’s best adventure yet. Her hair looks like something straight out of a shampoo commercial, it’s a third-person shooter that mixes Uncharted’s over-the-top set-pieces with some horror, and Yamatai is an island with a lot of personality despite what Alicia Vikander’s movie would have you believe.
It’s undoubtedly the modern reboot’s strongest entry as it established an innocent and naïve Lara Croft who – in theory – would transform into the dual-wielding badass the industry adores. The fact that the later games failed to achieve this transition doesn’t make Tomb Raider a mistake.
Alien: Isolation – February 28
If you’re still disappointed about Alien: Blackout being a Five Nights At Freddy’s clone that would have been infinitely better on PC, then go and enjoy Creative Assembly’s magnum opus, Alien: Isolation. Although everyone right now wants you to believe that Resident Evil 2’s exhibitionist Mr. X is the scariest monster in video games, the Xenomorph is far more terrifying. It’s unpredictable, it kills you straight away, it uses the vents, and even in lockers you’re not safe from its wrath.
The story’s admittedly forgettable, but the title is a perfect ode to Ridley Scott’s Alien. Amanda Ripley mirrors her mother’s transformation by turning into a badass with a flamethrower, and the environment is a stunning and immaculate homage with the likeness to the film being uncanny.