Before I started this game, I was warned that it was supposedly the weakest part of the new three games and after playing it, I can see why. The whole thing feels a little unambitious.
I'm not sure if that's the result of a small budget or simply because they wanted to create a "small" game, but either way, it lacks interesting decision making in the story and character build. Granted, I chose the possibly most bland character class and just went for a combat focused shotgun-wielding troll and simply did not need more than two shotguns in my whole playthrough, but I can still tell by looking at the skill system that it's not particularly deep. I've also got to control all the other classes anyway because of the mercenaries and while they offered more abilities and skills to choose from, I still feel like it would have made combat much more deep.
Which is not to say the combat isn't fun. Shadowrun Returns plays pretty much like modern Xcom and it was fun finding the perfect position for your characters, make the best use of AoE effects and buffs and get through missions without casualties. I probably should've played on hard, but I don't have much experience in the genre and wanted to play it safe for now. Dragonfall is getting played on hard.
Returns feels like a solid groundwork. A decent combat system, varied classes, pretty good presentation and music. It just needs more complexity. If the other games offer actual involvement in the story and makes your profession or race more relevant in dialogue I could see them being really fun. But in this case I tried to play as a somewhat dumb but loyal street-cred guy who just wants revenge for his friend and while some of the dialogue seemed to fit that kind of character, there were other moments where the game clearly railroads the player into a certain direction and only gives you very smart and convoluted answers to choose from.
I may sound a little negative here, but I appreciated that the game didn't overstay it's welcome and I feel pretty positive about it overall. Like I said, it feels like groundwork. If it gets uphill from here, I can see myself becoming a fan.

It's ironic that a game with intergalactic space travel and so many different planets feels so bland to explore. Bethesda's philosophy to game design has always been "size matters" and Starfield feels like the natural evolution of that approach.
However, by having so many planets, moons, even galaxies to explore ... everything feels bland. We all know deep down that no developer could ever create entire galaxies of content. And honestly, nobody would even want that, because even if it sounds cool, after a while you would realize that it gets tiring to play the very same game over hundreds of hours because the mechanics simply can't carry such a massive experience.
Thanks to the amount and the resulting emptiness of these planets I ended up wanting to explore none of them. I occasionally tried to wander around aimlessly, looking for markers on my map and usually just ended up in samey caves and outposts that provided nothing of interest. It was "content" in the strictest sense but it wasn't worthwhile or meaningful. It was just there to make the game bigger.
A good game, as far as I'm concerned, leads the player to where the good content is. Starfield does this by randomly putting quests into your log (seemingly by your character hear about rumors NPCs talk about) and while that is definitely an option that does work, it also makes it feel like you're just working off a list.
Maybe that's a matter of preference, but if I reach a new location in an RPG I want to talk to NPCs, gather information, stumble upon interesting places and actively look for the quests. In Starfield it feels like you're running around and your questlog gets filled automatically while you're doing something else. It's the Ubisoft design of doing content. Nothing needs to be explored, everything is on your map or your questlog. Now choose something and do it, damn it!
And it feels wrong to me. My questlog was filled with stuff like "talk to person X", talk to person Y", "apply for random job", "go there" and without context I simply did not know what I should even go for. Sometimes I ended up randomly following a marker to a quest and it ended up being something that my character that I had in my mind wouldn't even be interested in. But since he put it in his questlog, he obviously is somehow.
There are some quests in this game that I liked. Most of them don't really offer the interesting decision making of something like Fallout: New Vegas, but you can choose to be an asshole or a helpful citizen and I particularly enjoyed the lengthy storyline of Ryujin industries, full of industry spionage and betrayal. It wasn't interesting in terms of gameplay, but it lead to some cool choices at least. Though I imagine the end result will still look fairly similar in every case.
The gameplay is basically Fallout, but more boring. Instead of having the cool V.A.T.S. system you have nothing interesting to do. There are tons of weapons and also grenades, mines and drugs to use but combat encounters boil down to simply shooting people without really having the character use specific abilities or really any decision making. The skill tree mostly offers percentual boosts to your weapons and nothing really stood out to me that made combat interesting. There is one thing you unlock fairly late in the game, that feels like the equivalent of Skyrim screams, but these also did not seem very interesting to use.
It also has the typical hacking, lockpicking, pickpocketing, sneaking ... It does nothing new in that regard. The only real thing this introduces to Bethesda RPGs are the spaceships. However, these can mostly be ignored, since your ship isn't really meant to be used for flying from planet to planet, but mostly just as a way to make quick travel more tedious, since you always have to enter your cockpit before jumping to the next galaxy. The actual fights in space are something I always tried to avoid, since they simply aren't fun to do, but they're there and I suppose it could be fun for some people to upgrade and customize there ships. I certainly didn't need it. I also never bothered to create and outposts since it was simply not something I ever found use for.
The main storyline was there. Really, I could not care less about it. I liked how they handled New Game + in regards to the story, but I was never invested, did not care for the characters and it all lead to a generic conclusion that offers nothing of value. You might as well not do the main story, but you'd miss out on the powers you unlock at some point, so at least play to that point.
In conclusion, I think this game simply caters to a specific type of audience. People who enjoy spending a lot of time in one game, gathering materials and money, building bases and spaceships and have constant progression and tons of quests will probably be happy with this. It does offer a lot. It's a gigantic game and even though I put about 40 hours into it, it still feels like I only scratched the surface. But people who want their RPGs to have some deeper mechanics, quests with interesting choices and less bloat will probably end up like me and leave the experience unimpressed.

Yeah, I remember you. You were fine.

Funny, I was thinking of this game as a really poor cashgrab that tried to use an old classic's name for some sales and it remained this way for me since 2015 but I was looking through my Psnprofiles profile to look for some manageable ultra rare trophies and noticed this one has like 20 of them ...

So I tried this game again, willing to put up with it for some trophies and actually had lots of fun. I played this in coop on the hardest setting and it was neat trying to overcome the challenge, going for different set-ups and strategies. I like how this is not straight grinding until you succeed but about execution.
It's still a fairly short and simple game overall, but I'd say it's worth a run. Especially with a partner (or three)

A decent foundation that's led down by several aspects.
1) The game is too long and too many of the encounters are samey and start to repeat themselves. Repetition can be somewhat mitigated by making the leveling process rewarding and fun, but I don't think that was the case here.
2) The presentation is really boring. The way you're constantly driving from left to right, looking at nothing but your vehicle the whole time makes the game feel even more monotonous.
3) The micro management feels tedious. The way menus work makes it more annoying than it should be to switch out your party members and their partners. Same goes for the Tanaris sections, where the way from A to B can feel a bit more tedious than it should be. Feel like you shouldn't walk around the Tanaris but rather make it a menu.
4) The combat, while pretty challenging at times and dependent on ressource management, is a little let down by it's story bosses. Never are those the actual challenging part of the game. Which leads to the next problem:
5) The soul cannon. The big interesting game mechanic that pretty much got me interested in the game or at least more curious about it. The harrowing decision of sacrificing a character for good to get out of a sticky situation is a really cool idea, but doesn't work, because there's never a reason to use it and you even get a bad ending by doing it. The whole mechanic is useless and not encouraged to use at all. Honestly, the game would work better as a shorter roguelike, where a sticky situation is more likely to occur and can't be save scammed or if the game forces them on you anyway and the decision who to sacrifice is what it's all about.
And finally:
6) The story. I can't even really say much about it. It was bland and the characters felt like stereotypes. Obviously nobody can have a huge stake in the main story because since they can be sacrificed, nobody is allowed to be really relevant. So the party feels like one big hivemind aside from one example.
So, even though this was super negative, I don't hate the game. I like myself a turn-based game that forces me to manage my ressources and time (AP) to take priority in one thing over the other. The decision making is what made the game for me. It's the Persona style of RPG, where everything you can do has an advantage, but you could always spend your time in another (better?) way. Deciding if I want to cook for great buffs and EXP boosts, working on relationships, go for more materials or plant more vegetables can be tough! And the biggest success of the game for me.
I'm probably going to give the sequel a shot to see if they made it a bit more interesting. Some of the critique I had are things I could look past in the sequel (like a mediocre story and the presentation, whatever) but I hope the game gets more challenging, encourages the use of the cannon maybe and works on the QoL stuff.

A game that's somehow under- and overrated at the same time.
It was definitely overlooked around it's release and it's really fucking good! But constantly hearing how it's one of, if not THE best singleplayer shooter experience out there always gets me to raise an eyebrow.

Awkward how the best Ys game doesn't have Adol in it.
(At least not canonically, you know what I mean)

I was glad to get another adventure with the whole gang, especially after almost 3 years of waiting. Fully explorable Crossbell, finally getting to see Zero/Azure characters in 3D, getting to know the characters of Three & Nine ... Great stuff!
The 'route' structure also really worked in the game's favor to make sure each part of the gigantic cast gets their time to shine. Though I'm still a bit sad the Liberl gang always seems to get a bit shafted, but it makes sense. It's full of fanservice, fun character interactions and I love it for that.
What I did not care for as much was the actual main storyline. I won't spoil anything, but the whole big bad, the whole 'conflict' that the game revolves around was pretty uninteresting. And honestly, I did not need this game.
My highlight, story-wise, was probably the C-Route. C as a character is interesting and gets nice development and the other characters in his route consist of some new and great additions to the universe.
Other than that, I wasn't particularly blown away.
What I was blown away by, is Reverie. I loved this whole 'Sky 3rd' side mode. It's addicting to explore that dungeon, unlock new items, orbments, characters, mini games, episodes and other stuff and this is where the majority of my fun (and playtime) lies. It almost feels like we got two games in one here and it's easy for me to say that I prefer this one.
The actual gameplay side is mostly unchanged. There aren't many new spells, master quartz, brave orders ... There are some, but if you played CS4 you pretty much get the gist of it. Though thanks to the freedom of Reverie you can go crazy in terms of combinations and set-ups. Having a whole new tier of equipment and quartz was nice to have for the post game and the new United Front mechanic was a good addition, that almost feels too strong, but I don't consider it broken.
It's a great package deal that I gladly put 100+ hours into but I'm glad to leave behind Erebonia and Crossbell now and I'm really excited for Calvard because frankly, we had one Erebonia game too much. I'm glad we got this game, I had lots of fun with it, but it's the first game in the series I don't consider needed.

Once again only rating the singleplayer (campaign) part of this. I think it's a decent step-up from the first game overall. The campaign offered more variety and interesting missions overall. I particularly liked the one where you had to defend the Chronosphere for 45 minutes. And stopping the nuke in time was also quite thrilling. The added sea vehicles also added a nice layer to the combat, even though it felt quite unfair as Sowjet to have these slow ass submarines while the Alliance had these huge destroyers that snipe your base across the map.
I wasn't really a fan of the indoor missions, as they felt like trial & error at times. I think they would be more fun if the map wasn't obscured, because often it's just a matter of learning positions and then loading.
What drags the game down for me is the annoying A.I. I don't mind challenge, but too many missions had the enemy just driving past your units because they can barely be hit while moving. Often they even move in a battle while shooting, which feels quite frustrating. You often have to accept that they'll reach your base and to have the fight there. The aforementioned destroyers with their insane reach are also something that got on my nerves. At least in the Sowjet compaign for obvious reasons.
Engineers being less useful made sense for balancing reasons, but it was one of my favorite aspects to use in the campaign of the first game.
Overall I'd put slightly above C&C1, but not by a big margin.

This is a game I desperately want to love. It's really good, but also pretty hard to get into. My first playthrough was reeeally long and it still felt like I only scratched the surface ...
One day I will give this a proper try on the remaster version.

Realistically, this is probably closer to an 4/5, but something about the first Cold Steel just feels like coming home. It's part nostalgia for sure, but I already felt this way the first time I've played it.
The Thors Academy setting simply gives this game such a cozy feel and just running round the campus, getting to know the people and listening to the soft music just makes this such fantastic time.
(This is a replay entry btw. played this on PS3 before, then went back and played Sky and Crossbell first before replaying this on PS4 ... Which is clearly the better version because turbo mode.)

A game that was doomed to be underappreciated simply because of it's prequel. Definitely give this one a chance if you like Donkey Kong Country.