Sunday, 25 October 2015

Metal Gear Online Review - Stealth Action With Friends

By Sam Coles:

Metal Gear Online is what happens when you take the singleplayer stealth gameplay and you add 15 other people in a fun and sometimes chaotic game. Does it work? For the most part yes it works very well in a multiplayer environment.

First you must create your character and select a class, you can use your character that you created at the start of the campaign of The Phantom Pain or you can make a new character if you want to. You have three classes to choose from which complement each other if they’re distributed evenly in a team:

·        The Enforcer: These are guys who are going to be laying down most of the firepower during firefights as they’re heavily armoured and carry LMG’s, however they are slowest out of the three classes as they carry heavy weapons.
·        The Infiltrator: If you like close quarters and sneaking around then this class is the one for you as they specialise in CQC skills and sneaking around the outside of the map, they’ll be very useful for objective based games.
·        The Scout: If you choose this class you’ll be the eyes and ears for your team as you stay back and survey the area by spotting enemies and providing sniper fire.

You can level up your character bit by bit which will unlock new weapons and gadgets for your character. You can unlock gadgets such as the stealth camo which make you partially invisible for a few minutes which can be very helpful during objective based games to the cardboard box which is to be honest useless. You have an array of weapons to choose from such as pistols, SMG’s, assault rifles, LMG’s and sniper rifles to non-lethal options such as tranquilizer guns and stun grenades which offers a different style of play.

You have three game modes that you can choose to play:

·        Bounty Hunter
·        Comm Control
·        Cloak and Dagger

Bounty Hunter is Team Deathmatch but with a twist. You kill enemies to score like any other deathmatch mode, however every time you get a kill a bounty is added on your head each time you gun someone down. If you see someone with a high bounty you could shoot them, but if you knock them out and Fulton them you gain more tickets and the amount depends on how high their bounty is. I like this because you can turn a match around if your team is losing; it makes you play in a non-lethal style like the singleplayer campaign and makes the game balanced.

Comm Control is another twist of the Domination mode from games such as Call of Duty or Gears of War etc. You have an attacking team that has to use the uplink points to speed up the download of the intel that they’re after. The defending team must keep those points on lock down to stop them from downloading the intel. It’s fun but it’s not anything that I haven’t seen before in terms of multiplayer.

Finally we have Cloak and Dagger where stealth which is key to winning, well on the attacking team anyway. How this works is that the team that is the attacking team have unlimited stealth camo and must steal discs then take it back to their base and upload it. I hear you saying “Unlimited stealth camo! Easy!” Well you’ll be wrong because if you’re spotted you’re stealth camo will be disabled for a short time and you must hide until the heat calms down. The attackers will only be armed with tranquilizer guns and that’s it and you can knock enemies out where you can either Fulton them or stick a knife in their throat.

Now I have a couple of negatives with Metal Gear Online and the first one is that there is a huge problem with stun grenade spamming especially in the Comm Control mode because you’re given 3 stun grenades which is too much in my opinion. The second is that there are not enough game modes there are only three and it gets boring fast, they need to add more which I expect they will do in a future update.

Metal Gear Online is fun addition to already great game Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain, it blends the stealth gameplay from the singleplayer and puts it into a multiplayer environment and it works. I wish there were more gamemodes, but overall it’s a fun addition. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Star Wars Battlefront Beta Review (Xbox One)

By Sam Coles:

We’ve all been waiting for a new Star Wars Battlefront game for the best part of 10 years now, but finally we have a new one on the way brought to us by DICE who most famous for the Battlefield series. What I’ve experienced of this beta so far is that it’s ok but nothing mind blowing, but it has balance issues with Walker Assault which I’ll get into.

Let’s get the good out way first to soften the blow with the negatives I have with this beta. The presentation is fantastic it’s what I would expect from DICE in terms of visual fidelity. The environments look beautiful of what I’ve seen so far from the crisp snow on Hoth to the blood red canyons of Tatooine. Even down to the explosions and damage that guns make when they hit walls, vehicles and people you see sparks fly everywhere creating this chaos with the battle that you would expect. It’s nice that the game runs at a blistering 60 frames per second for the most part, but however it does only run at a resolution of 720p on Xbox One in the beta.

As per usual in the sound design department at DICE they’ve nailed it! They’ve mixed the sounds of the Star Wars such as the blasters and Tie Fighters with that Battlefield sound, so it sounds like they’ve added in the grunt of a real firearm with the noises of blasters. It helps you get sucked into the environment with chaos around with the explosions and the shouts of your follow soldiers.
So now let’s get into gameplay and features of the Beta. 

You have three modes to choose from:

·        Walker Assault
·        Drop Zone
·        Missions: Survival.

Walker Assault was a great Idea but however at the time of this review when I played it, it was horrendously unbalance and is always in favour of the Empire. I don’t think I played a game as the Rebel Alliance and won Walker Assault. So here is how Walker Assault works, you have two AT-AT’s slowly pushing up trying to stop you from turning uplinks on, which is a similar vein to Rush from Battlefield. This is a great idea on paper it should work right? No it does not work well at all because the Walkers take too long to destroy and I’m not saying make their health low but make them a tad easier to destroy. The reason why I say this is most of the time when you’ve destroyed one AT-AT the second is already at the shield generator. So I wish they would balance this before it launches on the 20th of November.

Drop Zone is nothing too special two teams fight over drop pods that are randomly dropped around the map and you have to defend them for a short amount of time to gain power ups. I liked playing this mode but my problem is that it’s not anything that I’ve haven’t played before and in my opinion it’s a bit run of the mill.

Now Missions were very controversial because DICE said that they’re not including a single player campaign, but they said you can play missions single player. What mission do we get in the beta? Bloody horde mode! I thought we got over horde mode after Gears of War 3 I don’t understand how this mundane mode is still so popular? You fight off waves of enemies that increase in difficulty over and over agian, mowing down enemy after enemy in the same spot just isn’t fun it’s a snore fest.
So let’s talk gameplay when you’re out on the field and power ups etc. The gameplay is competent you shoot at the enemy and they eventually die, but don’t hold down the trigger for too long because the blasters over heat. There is a small mini game where you can do a sort of active reload in the same style of Gears of War to skip the wait of the gun cooling down period.

Now the main thing about this game in terms of operating vehicles and assuming controls of heroes of villains is annoying. So how it works with vehicles is that you’ll find small blue icons which will be in the shape of said vehicle which is a pain to spot in whiteness of Hoth. This is annoying because using vehicles is no longer a choice and becomes a scavenger hunt to find them. The charm of the old Battlefronts is that you could be a specialist with certain aspects such as being a pilot of ground vehicles or providing air support from an X-Wing or Tie Fighter, but it’s not an option in this game. The Heroes and Villains system works the same so anyone can be Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker without earning it like in Star Wars Battlefront II.

So after each match when you level up you’ll gain currency to unlock “Cards” for your loadout such as thermal detonators or jetpacks. My main issue with this is why don’t you let me have a grenade from the start? That is also a huge issue as well because you get infinite thermal detonators! I’m not joking and yes there is a cool down time but it runs down far too quick and I noticed a massive problem with spamming especially in the hanger on Hoth. So I was in this situation where I was constantly dying because of the grenade spamming this needs to be addressed they need to slow the cool down time by a mile or the logical thing to do is to give you limited amount of grenades.

Overall Star Wars Battlefront is a bit of a mess at this point in the Beta phase with the unbalance nature to Walker Assault to the boring horde mode in Missions. They need to get into gear and address these problems because over wise they’re going to have some very unhappy gamers. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Call of Duty 2 - Still Holds Up After 10 Years.

By Sam Coles:

When you hear the title Call of Duty these days you'll get a sigh of fatigue from gamers or people saying that it is crap when it's not when they're functional games, but what do I know. Back in 2005 Infinity Ward released a fantastic launch title for the Xbox 360 simply named Call of Duty 2 and it wasn't modern or futuristic, but it retold a grounded biography of the missions that actually happened during World War II. It was a tense campaign which didn't resort to theatrics to keep the players attention, but instead put you into tense and dangerous situations that the soldiers of the time would have experienced.

So how the campaign is set is that you step into the shoes of soldiers from 3 different countries and different frontlines such as the Soviet Union during the Nazi invasion of Stalingrad, the British during the campaign of North Africa and finally the Americans in France Normandy. Each campaign is well paced with really tense moments such as the American campaign when you’re scaling the wall in Normandy as you have Germans trying to gun you down from the top of the cliff.

So if you’ve played any of the Call of Duty games you’ll be very familiar with the controls in this game although you can’t sprint in this game, but you don’t really need it in this game as your character has a decent pace. You can aim down sights which will help shoot precisely with a variety of interesting weapons of the period. Such as the M1 Garand for the Americans, the Lee Enfield for the Brits and the Papa Sha for the Soviets which was nicked named the burp gun because of its lead output.

Visually the game still holds up with its different locales, which keeps the game fresh, it also helps that it has multi-layered objectives so you’ll get several objectives such as destroy mortar crew A, B and C instead of doing objective after objective. You’ll fighting your way through the snowy tundra streets of a ruined Stalingrad, to the burning sands of North Africa and the rural country side of France. The detail in each area looks great for game that came out 10 years ago and it still holds for what it was trying to do back then.

The negatives that really have with this game is that it resorts to the old fashion way of progression by endlessly respawning enemies until you’ve hit the checkpoint, this really stands out as a flaw when you play this game on higher difficulties especially veteran. The other is that the A.I programming of other enemy soldiers has a habit of spamming grenades all the time and it makes you run around the battlefield like an idiot and it’s worse on veteran as you have 10 grenade markers on the screen.   

Call of Duty 2 is a game that doesn’t resort to theatrics to hold your attention like it does now, but instead gives interesting and tense situations to fight through with a lengthy campaign that is challenging and intresting. This game is a blast and still holds up today and is super cheap these days and easy to find so pick it up if you a spare few quid in your pocket.   

Sunday, 4 October 2015

John Woo's Stranglehold - Gloriously Over the Top

By Sam Coles:

These days’ games always aspire to tell good stories with a deep meaning but sometimes I just want some good old fashion hardcore violence that has a simple context, which you then gun down everything in your way. Well John Woo has your back with his game that got a lukewarm reception back in 2007 with his game Stranglehold. I don’t know why it got a negative reception because in my opinion if you take it for what it is a fun high octane action game with bullet time and fantastic guncarter then you can easily enjoy it.

John Woo’s Stranglehold is a sequel to his 1992 film Hard Boiled which had the no nonsense cop named Inspector Tequila who is a bad ass who likes to get his hands dirty and work outside of the guidelines of the law to get things done more efficiently. You’re on the hunt for a police officer, who has gone missing well he thinks he has gone missing, but he is dead and no that is not a spoiler it happens at the very beginning of the game. The story is very clich├ęd but it sets up the context for the carnage you’re about to embark on.  

The gameplay with this game is fun and over the top with guncarter and throwing Tequila around the level which by the end of level you would think his rib cage would be destroyed with the amount of times you make him dive from the top of a staircase 50 times in one sitting. The game keeps score of your over the top antics with a star rating and how many enemies you have gun down in a row which makes you want to get the best combo you can with this score system, which is very addictive. You have the slow motion gun play like the John Woo movies so you’ll be diving through the air with duel pistols with other acrobatics such as sliding down banisters, riding on trolleys through a busy market place with duel SMG’s or flying down a zip line. The possibilities are varied and it keeps the game flowing as it encourages you to keep moving and not stay in one spot.

Graphics wise it’s not bad for a game that was released in 2007 and the game is very advanced for the time with its destructibility with the physics because you can tear an environment apart, and it is especially fun when you have a shotgun and you destroy a restaurant.

Overall John Woo’s Stranglehold is a great action game and if you take it for what it is a generic action game you’ll have a blast with it and plus it is super cheap these days, you can pick it up for about £2.