Category Archives: Reviews
Let’s be honest, the Ghost Recon series hasn’t really made any major splashes in the gaming world in recent years. Average storylines and mediocre gameplay, as well as sluggish AI and laughable multiplayer, have haunted the franchise for a few years now. That is until Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was announced. The teaser trailers and Gunsmith demonstrations alone had the gaming community and Ghost Recon fans foaming at the mouth. So, the question is, did Ghost Recon: Future Soldier deliver?
Improved Campaign and Smart AI
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s campaign is the best yet in the series. The story takes you around a not-too-distant-future Earth, rescuing CIA agents, assassinating African warlords and making sure coups play out to the Western world’s advantage. The Ghost Recon squad-of-four format has remained, with the lead player playing the part of Kozak, an American born tough-nut soldier with Russian parents. Kozak is the rookie of the group, but his bio assures us he’s anything but green. The rest of the four man squad is made up of your usual specialists – Ghost Lead, 30K and Pepper. Someone at Ubisoft deserves a pay rise for this game, because the AI system has been massively improved. Squad members can now manoeuvre into position on their own free will and won’t get spotted or engage targets, until you give them the go ahead. This has removed the laborious task of having to plot a destination for your squad to move to, or have them following you around like lost puppies. Enemies also show more guile in combat, focusing fire on targets that are dishing out the most punishment and spotting their comrades corpses more easily.
Before each mission, a briefing of the task ahead is given and you are able to pick your equipment and load out accordingly. Here, Ghost Lead gives you a few tips on what weapons and attachments to use for the mission, but it is entirely up to you how you go about it. I found that checking the mission’s challenges before picking my weapons helped make it easier to decide what to pick. Challenges are a set of 3 objectives, plus a 4th weapon challenge, unique to each mission. These add extra challenges (hence their name) to make the missions more varied. By completing challenges, you unlock new guns and attachments to play around with in future missions, so they are worth trying to complete.
Gunsmith was the reason many people went out and bought a Kinect and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Sadly, although using the Kinect and Gunsmith together does make you feel like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, it is a pain to keep getting into position in front of the sensor, just to customise a gun. After a few tries the novelty wears off and you find yourself using the controller instead.
In terms of customisation, Gunsmith is incredible. The player has options to change the Optics, Gas system, Trigger, Underbarrel attachment, Side Rail attachment, Barrel, Muzzle attachment, Stock and Magazine. This presents the player with an array of customisation capabilities for each and every weapon. For example, a shotgun can be customised to be a fast moving, quick loading close quarters weapon, or it can be lengthened, making it less manoeuvrable but better at dealing damage at range. This makes levelling up your multiplayer characters all that more important and addictive.
Multiplayer and Gameplay
The 3rd-person camera angle makes the cover system essential and lifesaving. Anyone who doesn’t use the cover system effectively won’t survive for long and will find this game frustrating on multiplayer. The cover system is there to help. A quick press of a button and your character will “snap” into cover, be it against a wall or behind a crate. The best way to move around the battlefield is, when in cover, to aim at another piece of cover nearby and hold the cover button. This then makes your character sprint straight for that new destination, jumping over obstacles as necessary, making it much harder for an enemy to target you. The cover system works very well both in the multiplayer and the single player game and the movement controls are also easy to grasp.
Combat is a good mixture of run-and-gun action and strategy. Weapons with low control will ride up when continuously fired, which means you soon learn to burst fire to control your aim. Once you have mastered firing the weapons, the next thing vital in multiplayer is teamwork. There are no game modes where the sole objective is to kill the opposite team. Conflict, the main game type, is a mixture of old school team deathmatch and objective based gameplay. By introducing constantly shifting objectives on the map, the Conflict game mode has seemingly removed the curse of the camper and made players move around the map, engaging targets as they move around the battlefield.
Of course, with any Tom Clancy game, there is always an element of stealth for the sneakier gamers. In the single player campaign, stealth is necessary for most missions, but online it is a choice. The Recon class has a built in augmented camo feature, which means when the player is still for long enough, he is turned almost completely invisible, making it hard for the enemy to spot you. The different equipment and well-designed maps means that there are opportunities to flank the enemy and sneak up behind them, making for some awesome stealth kills. Players can also gather intel on enemies by using a variety of different equipment. UAVS and sensor grenades mark nearby enemies on the teams HUD and tactical map. The tactical map is useful in getting around the map and co-ordinating with your teammates. Click on an objective on the tacmap and a sat-nav like path will be drawn to it on your HUD. Doing this also shows your teammates what you plan on doing in an instant, meaning flanking the enemy is all that much easier.
Guerrilla Mode is a wave-by-wave game mode with a twist. On wave 1, and every 10 waves, the HQ that you are defending shifts to a new location and, prior to waves of enemies attacking you, you have to clear the HQ of guards. After each wave, equipment and weapons are dropped so that you can stock up ready for the next round. Killstreaks are earned by staying alive through certain amounts of waves and drastically improve your firepower to tackle vehicles and multiple enemies in latter waves.
The Horde Mode formula for this game mode does provide a welcome distraction from the single player and multiplayer games. With a variety of different maps, each with 50 waves of enemies, and the fact you can play with up to 3 other friends online, means Guerrilla Mode increases the replay value of this game tenfold.
The campaign storyline made for some challenging gameplay and the fact you can play the entire single player campaign with up to 3 other friends online is a massive bonus. Being able to test guns in the firing range before multiplayer matches is also a nice feature.
Gunsmith takes this game to a whole new level. The amount of research, detail and customisation capabilities make Gunsmith a fantastic partner for the single player and multiplayer game modes.
The multiplayer game types, accompanied by well-designed maps, balanced weapons and an addictive level-up system means this game will be in my disc drive for a while to come.
The Not So Awesome
The Kinect capabilities have a huge novelty factor and, whilst fun, serve no real practical purpose, which is a shame.
The annual release for the 2011/2012 season, Football Manager Handheld 2012 largely continues the good work of last year’s app – one of the most popular releases. Sports Interactive have extended original features and added new ones, while keeping it unique from the PC and PSP versions.
SI have listened to feedback from fans over the past year and taken requested additions into account – users can now design their own formations, players are motivated by club reputation as well as money, as well as having a wider range of reactions and situations to place you in. Too little (or too much) success can lead to players wanting ‘a new challenge’. A 17-year old with good stats can no longer be thrown straight into first team football until they gain added maturity through experience, a situation used exceptionally
well on younger keepers such as those playing for Arsenal and Manchester United.
As I reached roughly the mid-way point of the Earth Temple in Skyward Sword, I decided to tell a good friend of mine (and huge Zelda fan) the truth. “OK,” I said, “you’re going to hate me for this, but I have a confession to make: I’ve not yet played Ocarina of Time.”
I waited with a crapton of anxiety as he typed back a response.
I went on to tell him that Skyward Sword is, in fact, my first Zelda game on a home console, my first venture into the franchise being with the DS’ Phantom Hourglass (which, due to the frustratingly repetitive Temple of the Ocean King, I never got round to completing.)
“How dead am I?” I asked.
“I just… were you deprived of Nintendo things as a child?”
“I was deprived of gaming as a child.”
“You poor thing.”
It’s true; by all standards, I’m still relatively new to gaming. I got my first console – a PS2 – when I was 10 years old, after years of lectures from my Mother about how video games would “fry my brain”. My first encounter with seminal Nintendo franchises such as Mario, Kirby and, yes, Zelda, were made this generation.
Of course, I intend to rectify my horrid mistake by buying a load of Zelda games in the next year (including Ocarina of Time, which I recently bought with my new 3DS), but the fact of the matter still stands: what you’re about to read is a Zelda newbie’s first impressions of his first home console Zelda title. If you haven’t already stopped reading in disgust, carry on for my thoughts.
Ever since Microsoft sold the now-shuttered Project Gotham Racing developer Bizzare Creations to Activision a few years ago, Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport series has become Microsoft’s flagship racing franchise, and 2009’s Forza Motorsport 3 quickly cemented its position as the best racing sim on any console.
With the much-delayed PS3-exclusive pretender to the crown, SCE and Polyphony’s Gran Turismo 5, being something of a disappointment, it’s time for Turn 10 to show everyone how it’s done with their Next Big Thing™, Forza Motorsport 4. But is the Top Gear-heavy, Kinect-ready, Autovista-rocking title any good? Hit the jump to find out. Read the rest of this entry
Naughty Dog have always been pioneers on the PlayStation platform. Whether it was the platforming action of Crash Bandicoot on the original PlayStation, the epic Jak and Daxter series (to be re-released in HD and 3D early next year) on PlayStation 2, the Santa Monica-based studio has been one of the names synonymous not only with Sony’s much-loved (or despised) PlayStation, but with some of the best first-party video games ever made (Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy remains one of my top 5 games of all time, primarily because it’s still a joy to play, ten years after release).
This trend continued on PlayStation 3, beginning in 2007 with the first Uncharted game, Drake’s Fortune, and it remains one of the best games available on PS3 – strange El Doradoan monsters aside, of course. Uncharted 2 built on the success of the first game in a huge way, as the first game to take advantage of all of the PS3′s technologies, and thus its power – but it wasn’t just pretty; it was, in fact, a breathtakingly perfect game, filled with cinematic set-pieces and a rich, involving story. Sure, it was linear, but when you’re essentially playing Indiana Jones mixed with National Treasure, you don’t care.
So now, Naughty Dog are back, with what promises to be the best Uncharted game yet, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. But the big question is this: will it live up to PS3 gamers’ lofty expectations, or will it exceed them and become a standalone reason to buy a PS3? Read on to find out. Read the rest of this entry
Great expectations doesn’t even begin to cover it. This game has been hypedto oblivion, by gamers and journalists alike, since its announcement earlier this year. Games in the Battlefield series have been consistently released every year since the first in the series – Battlefield 1942 – in 2002. The games received some praise until 2005, when the landmark Battlefield 2 came out. If your ideal game is an FPS set in a modern world, Battlefield 2 is the benchmark. With giant maps, free-form battles and huge armies, Battlefield 2 produced some of the most incredible scenes ever seen in gaming without scripted events or any attempt by the game to push certain conclusions. A 50-man assault on a beach in the Middle East, where APCs, boats, jets and helicopters take off from an aircraft carrier to face heavy resistance from the ground in the form of tanks, anti-air and MG emplacements isn’t something you forget easily – and that was just the start. With towns, hotels, airstrips to push forward and take, all in one 30 minute round, it’s not hard to see why Battlefield 2 was so highly regarded.
Now, in 2011, Battlefield 2 is obsolete. The more recent games in the series, 2142 and Bad Company, fail to live up to the scale and size of BF2. While this has been happening, Call Of Duty has become the main force in modern FPS games with its small maps, fast paced action and strong community features. Millions of gamers are hoping BF3 can put the record straight and re-establish Battlefield as the dominant force in multiplayer FPS gaming. But does it? Read on to find out. Read the rest of this entry
“I’m not happy with you… That clicking has woken me up…” My wife murmured, half asleep. Clicking? I hadn’t noticed it. Probably because I had my headphones in, enjoying the rousing, symphonic sounds of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata’s Tactics Ogre soundtrack. Yes, it was another night sat up in bed, face bathed in light from the PSP, obsessively tinkering with my digital army. The PSP remake of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together has become an obsession, a passion even. Since starting the game, I’ve woken up thinking about who I need to recruit and what equipment I need to buy. I’ve even had a turn-based dream that took place on a grid, for Pete’s sake! Yeah, it’s got me pretty bad.
Quest’s Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together first appeared back in 1995 on the Super Famicom as an indirect sequel to the similarly verbosely titled Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen. Whilst the first game’s mechanics centred around real-time strategy and RPG elements, Tactics Ogre utilises a turn-based system akin to Final Fantasy Tactics, along with the RPG aspects of its predecessor. Although the gameplay is fundamentally different, it retains the lore and universe of the other games in the series, plus bizarrely, myriad Queen references throughout. Despite ports to the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation, the game only made it to European shores in February this year. This has been cause for celebration for fans of the genre, as over the years the game has built up an impressive reputation. Further cause for celebration is that Square Enix Europe has packaged the game sumptuously; including a hardback art book and mini soundtrack CD. Read the rest of this entry
The final quest is here. Not just the last in New Vegas, but likely the last in the Fallout storyline for quite some time. Lonesome Road is the ultimate part of the quartet that has taken players to the most unlikely of linked locations. From the abandoned casino of the Sierra Madre, to the breathtaking landscape of Zion National Park, then teleported into the Big MT, an inhospitable landscape littered with the ground-breaking technological discoveries that link the quests together.
Lonesome Road sends the player to the divide; an area ravaged so badly by radiation and nuclear fire the ground has ripped asunder and a chasm filled with all sorts of monsters and obstacles placed between you and Ulysses (the courier who turned down the platinum chip, which was then passed onto you) has opened up. He has a message for you, and it’s not gonna be pretty. Read the rest of this entry
Kinect’s software lineup has gotten somewhat stale since its launch almost a year ago; despite winning over causal gamers and hardcore pad-jockeys alike with the likes of Dance Central, the only appealing titles so far have been the Kinect-is-merely-an-option Child of Eden, and the good-in-a-paper-thin-way XBLA title, Fruit Ninja Kinect.
Enter ‘Splosion Man creators Twisted Pixel, with their retail and Kinect début, The Gunstringer. You’re a marionette cowboy, back from the dead after being betrayed by your friends and you’re out for revenge in an on-rails shooter/platformer hybrid quite unlike anything we’ve seen so far on Kinect. Whilst it may be unique, the question remains: is it any good? Hit the jump to find out. Read the rest of this entry