Saturday, 27 August 2016

Worms WMD Review - Always a classic.

By Sam Coles:

It’s hard to believe that the Worms series has been around for over 20 years and the gameplay has been mostly unchanged, minus the hiccup with the 3D Worms, but we don’t talk about that. When I was a child I owned most of the Worms games on the PS1 such as the original and my personal favourite World Party. To my surprise I found out that a new game was coming out on the Xbox One and PS4 and to say I was excited was an understatement because I’m huge fan of the series. Worms WMD goes back to the classic formula by removing the classes from Revolution and Battlegrounds and goes back to standard Worms gameplay but on a bigger scale.

Worms WMD has a really good singleplayer offering because if you’re an avid player you will know that the series is the best when you’re with friends, but this game has a substantial campaign and challenge mode for you to get use to the new mechanics. There are varied and challenging with each mission and the objective isn’t always killing all the worms it can vary from defend a VIP to collecting a heavily guarded create. You also get mini challenges on a check list where there are certain stipulations that you have to meet which will level you up and you can unlock new hats, voice samples, graves and victory music. There is so much content for you to unlock to customise your teams and my personal favourite voices to equip are the Achievement Hunter voices because it’s funny to hear their voices all squeaky especially Geoff’s laugh.

So what’s new? I hear you cry! Well they’ve added some new weapons that are themed around other games as they appear as guests such as the Rocket League car to the dubstep gun from Saint’s Row IV. Another new mechanic they have added is crafting, what you can do is make more weapons if you’re running low or you can improve the damage or add new effects to current weapons. This is great because it adds a bit of unpredictability as you don’t know what your foe has constructed and plus it gives you something to do in between turns.

Another new feature is that you can have up to eight worms on one team as well as having and up to six players which is absolute chaos and it will take you a while to finish a game. They’ve added vehicles too so you can take control of tanks which shoot multiple shots if you hold down the fire button and mech suits which are devastating which can send worms flying.

The games graphics are beautiful, rather than going for the CGI look like the last two games Team 17 instead went for a cell shaded look and it looks wonderful. The worms have over exaggerated expressions with funny faces and large mouths when they scream; this art style is going to age well with the years to come.

The only problems I have is something the worms series has always had and that is when you’re moving you have a habit of getting stuck on the level geometry and it can be a pain.

Worms WMD is an absolute classic with new features sprinkled in to make it fresh, but they maintain the classic formula with great gameplay and chaotic multiplayer. This game is fantastic and I urge you to go out and get it, plus it’s cheap it only costs £19.99 as of writing this review. It’s a great way for Team 17 to celebrate 25 years! Happy 25th Team 17 and I hope you last for another 25 years.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Titanfall 2 Tech Test Thoughts.

By Sam Coles:

I can’t believe it’s been two years since the release of the first Titanfall which was an Xbox exclusive. The game was a lot of fun but it lacked longevity due to the lack of modes and some people wanted a singleplayer campaign which I didn’t care as it was designed with multiplayer in mind. Respawn have allowed players to take part in a “Tech Test” which is developer speak for a beta and what I have played is a lot of fun, I’m going to go over some of new tricks you have as a pilot etc.

You have three game modes you can try out in this tech test you have Amped Hardpoint which is a new iteration of the mode where you capture points but you can amp those position which give you amplified weapons which is a nice addition. You have bounty hunt where you collect cash when you kill players, but there is a catch you have to deposit the cash back at your base to keep the score and your base can be raided so it keeps the situation tense and fair. Finally you have titan vs titan which is a deathmatch mode where you’re only titans which to be honest it’s alright I didn’t really enjoy this mode in the original game.

The pilot controls have tuned compared to the original and they feel like they have weight compared to the floaty nature of the first game. Your character feels more versatile as you bounce from wall to wall, coupled with the new grappling hook where you can gain some insane momentum and pull of some awesome kills. Titans feel quicker and not as sluggish like in the first game and I think it has something to do with the maps being wide open with large fields compared to the cramped cities and industrial areas from the first game.

The problems I had with this tech test are mostly networking issues which were patched throughout the weekend, but there was horrendous lag and times where I would get kicked out of games. Another problem I had was that Titans are far too easy to destroy and you find yourself in a Titan only for a few seconds as they only take a few shots to take down. Another aspect I wasn’t a fan of was the new rodeo system because you no longer hop on a Titan’s back and start taking pot shots, no instead it plays a little pre-animated takedown where you remove a power core and you run away with tail between your legs.

Overall I had a lot of fun with this little taster of Titanfall 2, it has made me excited for the full release which is the 28th of October and I can’t wait for the singleplayer offerings.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess Review - A mix of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask.

By Sam Coles:

The Legend of Zelda is one my favourite game franchises and one of the games that I feel that doesn’t get too much attention is Twilight Princess which this game has fans divided where some people like the gloomy and dark tone others don’t.

Twilight Princess starts off with Link in a fishing village where it takes you through a painfully long tutorial section which lasts for almost 3 hours, this was the biggest problem with the game was the start was so slow which turned a lot of people off. After that it gets much better your childhood friend gets kidnapped by moblins and you have to go and find her however you find out that a new entity is stalking the land of Hyrule, these creatures are known as the Twilight. Link finds one from the realm of the Twilight but she is friendly (kind of), until she turns you into a wolf so you are forced to help her. The story has some excellent moments from fun and goofy with the clowns in Lake Hylia to the dark and grim moments with one of the dream sequences that Link has half through the game. It takes the cheery atmosphere of Ocarina of Time and mixes it with the dark and gritty subject matter of Majora’s Mask and it works!

The gameplay is very familiar if you’ve played any 3D Zelda game before this one with the same collection of items such as bombs, arrows, boomerangs, hookshots or clawshot in this game and of course the Master Sword. However they sprinkle in some new mechanics and this is where the wolf transformation comes in, when you are in the Twilight realm you’re not allowed to be human and you have to complete certain sections as the wolf only. You would think you’re handicapped in these situations but you’re not because Link has heightened senses when he is a wolf where he can see ghosts and pick up certain smells and he can even fight in this form.

Visually the game looks great and yeah it can look a bit blurry if you’re playing the Wii or GameCube version on a HD TV but it still looks great. It has a bleak look to the aesthetic which suits the game’s dark and gloomy story. Each area has been influenced by the Twilight and it looks dull and monotone with grey and depressing colours, but when you defeat them you see colour restored to the surrounding area as you see everyone get back to their normal lives. If you want to take full advantage of the visuals get the HD version on Wii U.

The only problems I have with this game are the controls and that’s the fact that I played the Wii version and motion controls can be a pain, especially when you’re aiming a range weapon such as the clawshot or bow as it can flail out of control sometimes. If you want traditional controls either play the GameCube or Wii U version.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a great game and honestly I feel it’s underappreciated compared to the other games in the series. It took what was great with Ocarina of Time and amplified it and took the dark tones from Majora’s Mask and combined it into this unique package.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men Review - A decent thriller.

By Sam Coles:

Kane and Lynch Dead Men was a controversial title and not because of its content with violence or the game being particularly bad, but it got a former Gamespot employee Jeff Gerstmann fired because he gave the game a 6 out of 10 and they’re being sponsored by the company who published the game at the time. Is the game that bad? No, but it does have a few flaws that makes the game frustrating in some sections? Yes. However it is an enjoyable action thriller with tense situations.

You play as Kane (singleplayer) who is on death row for his crimes as a mercenary however it’s not long until he meets Lynch who proceeds to tell him to get down and then a truck runs the police van off the road. You’re then embroiled in a daring escape as you dodge gunfire from the police and hold them back as you defend yourself in a donut shop as SWAT surround your position. They then escape and it turns out that Kane’s old mercenary friends have kidnapped Kane’s wife and daughter as they want something back from him. The game starts out somewhat grounded in reality with the thriller aspects as you rob a bank to making an exchange in Asia, but then it turns into a military scenario where you’re destroying tanks in Cuba it’s just a bit jarring compared to the rest of the game.

The story is interesting enough to keep you engaged with tense situations like the bank heist where you’re holding off the police at the front entrance, coupled with the psychotic episodes that Lynch has where he ends up shooting everyone whether they’re armed or not it adds a bit of unpredictability to the plot. I have to admit there too much profanity I not being prude but they say “fuck” or “shit” in every sentence they spew which can get a bit tiresome.

Gameplay is a third person shooter like Gears of War as was the case with most action games from 2006-2011 before the sandbox game took over. You have your standard cover based shooting which can be a chore sometimes because the game doesn’t have a dedicated cover button and instead you have to angle yourself correctly and this has resulted in with me having several shots in my chest where Kane was making his mind up to take cover or not. It’s not just about shooting although that is majority of the game, there are different scenarios such as you performing a heist where you abseil down a building and then proceed to shoot the place up in a tense standoff. The locales are interesting and varied compared to the game’s sequel.

Graphically it doesn’t look too bad, not great but it’s not awful looking the blood effects are good as it splashes on the wall behind them when you shoot enemies in the head. The animation hasn’t aged well as they seem to act like manikins with stiff and unnatural movement which is a shame because Gears of War came out around the same time which had much better animation with character models.

The major problems I have with this game are the hit detection and the A.I with your partner. The hit detection can be awful where you can’t tell if your bullets are doing damage or not. I would highly recommend grabbing a friend and play it all the way through because your A.I partner is not very smart as he tends to charge out into the open, you can play it locally which is great.

Kane and Lynch Dead Men has its flaws but is an enjoyable action game with really tense situations it’s super cheap these days and is a great laugh to playthrough with a friend.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Turok 2 Seeds of Evil Review - Nostalgia is a powerful emotion.

By Sam Coles:

Nostalgia is an emotion where you’ll swear by something that has some questionable things in terms of quality or in the case of this review video games. You swear that Goldeneye is still a great shooter despite the frame rate and you think Ocarina of Time still holds up despite the horrible camera. Turok 2 is one of those games, now I remember loving this game when I was a child but I bought it for my N64 recently and I found it incredibly frustrating and I don’t know how some people can hold it in the same regard as Doom or Quake. I do have some positive things to say about this game but the flaws out shine the good aspects.

You step into the shoes of a new iteration of Turok and you have been summoned by Adon who wants him stop an evil alien race called the Primagen. They have influenced other races to take down these energy totems with promises to restore their races to their former glory but they’re actually going to destroy them after the deed is done. What I like about this game Adon will give a brief synopsis of each level before you start and talks about the lore of the area and will discuss the alien races you’ll be up against.

Let’s get all the positives out the way first Turok 2 looks much better than the first game the character models look less polygonal and have more detail. Each environment is different and varied from the foggy docks at the start of the game to the dark and forbidding Death Marsh as you hear distant grumbles from monsters. The atmosphere is fantastic they nailed it in that department. The weapon models look great with different blemishes and quirks to them from the shedder shotgun to minigun coupled with great sound design.

Let’s talk about the weapons shall we because if you know people who have played this game they’re generally talking about the weapons and with good reason because they avoid the standard arsenal which is there but they add some unique ones. The most notable weapon is the Cerebral Bore which is a rocket launcher that locks on to intelligent life (flesh and bone) and then proceeds to burrow into their brain then it explodes and it’s as awesome as it sounds. You have a saw blade weapon you can throw that acts like Captain America’s shield where it bounces of walls cutting down any unfortunate enemy that gets in the way.

This game is also very violent and shows off an impressive dismembering system depending on where you’ve shot an enemy such as their arms being blown off or leaving a hole in their chest it’s gory and wonderful.

Now let’s get into the problems I have with this game the first is the gunplay and controls which is a big aspect considering it’s a first person shooter. The gunplay is unresponsive at times and annoying to aim your weapon because unlike the first Turok where the enemies were generally on the same level as you where you could gun them down with ease, this game has them up, down and everywhere. Aiming is a huge pain in the neck as the analogue stick on the N64 is not designed for that type accuracy and I found myself standing still trying to aim at something as I take a ton of damage it’s like I’m playing a survival horror game.

Another problem is that the game has inconsistent hit detection and the bow is a prime candidate for this because you could shoot an enemy in the chest 3 times then you come up against the same enemy and it takes 7 shots to the chest it’s aggravating as ammo is sparse too.

Let’s talk about ammo. Ammo is stupidly sparse and I don’t understand this design choice it’s a first person shooter where I have a gun that sucks out an enemy’s brain GIVE ME SOME AMMO! You can only hold 50 pistol bullets, 10 grenades and 150 cells for the plasma rifle which you would think is enough right? No the plasma rifle uses 5 cells with each shot so you only really have 30 shots with the weapon. You can replenish your health and ammo in each level when you visit Adon but this is a onetime deal and when you go back into the level the enemies respawn, but the health and ammo pickups do not and you’ll find yourself low on ammo and health very quickly.

At the end of the day I can’t recommend Turok 2 because it has aged horribly and I don’t understand how people can hold it in the same regard as Doom and Quake as one of the best first person shooters with these glaring flaws. If you’re really curious maybe pick up the PC version, but otherwise don’t bother.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Medal of Honor (2010) Review - What happened to the series?

By Sam Coles:

Medal of Honor! Now there is a title that has dropped off the radar over the years as Call of Duty has consumed its soul. Back in 2010 they rebooted the series and set it in the modern day instead of it being in World War II and a lot of people were not impressed with it and I don’t know why. I thought the campaign was tense, dark and gritty with a good multiplayer which was developed by DICE.

The campaign takes place during the war in Afghanistan and you’re trying to find a prisoner who has some vital information about the enemy who then find out the name about the enemy who are the Taliban. They’re described as this secret entity who live in the mountain tops where they use sneaky guerrilla tactics which they do. The game is the standard story with the modern war genre but it’s the relationship between the unit you’re with throughout as you’re a first time recruit in the Tier 1 unit and then you prove yourself as you sacrifice yourself to save everyone.

Gameplay is radically different in the singleplayer and multiplayer as they were made by two different studios. The singleplayer feels slower paced as you’re slogging your way through frost laden mountains to the harsh and dry deserts where the enemy hides behind the dust. There are some massive open battles but you’ll mostly be fixing things behind the scenes as you’re a Tier 1 operator. Multiplayer is extremely fast paced as to be expected with the Battlefield devs the gameplay and controls are very familiar if you’ve played Battlefield Bad Company 2.

Multiplayer is your standard fair where you have capture the flag, domination and team deathmatch it has that DICE feel with loud screams and great sound design. The multiplayer was fun but it did lack content as you could only unlock a handful of guns compared to the battlefield series and I think that DICE were focusing on their Battlefield 3 project more during that period.

The presentation is great with good looking environments especially during the later stages where you’re going through the mountains. The singleplayer campaign is extremely graphic with blood flying everywhere and heads exploding if you head shot enemies with shotguns and high powered sniper rifles. Sound design like the other games in the series is great with distant crackles of gunfire to the loud thump of explosions.  

The only problem I have with this game is that the visual ques are really bad in terms of telling when you’re about the die and you won’t know until your character hits the ground.

Medal of Honor (2010) is a decent action game did it deserve the all the negativity it got? No, but it’s not a ground breaking game however it’s fun and functional. If you haven’t played it give it a go it’s super cheap these days I think I found it for £1 in my local CEX so you have excuse!  

Monday, 8 August 2016

Halo Reach Review - Bungie's send off.

By Sam Coles:

Halo games are always a mix bag these days with the fan base as a lot of people lost interest in the franchise since Bungie left to do their own thing with Destiny, their last Halo game was a fantastic send off and that is the prequel game Halo: Reach.

Halo Reach takes place before the events of Combat Evolved where you play as Noble 6 in the Spartan Noble team who are the last remaining Spartans who are only called up for sensitive and crucial situations. They’re called up to investigate a series of murders and gunfights that have been happening on farms where they suspect that a band of rebels caused it, but Noble team have their doubts and it turns out the alien race the Covenant caused all the deaths. The game has more of a human touch as you see Noble 6 slowly get to know each member as they seem to not to like him at first but grow to like him as you show your fighting prowess. It’s brutal this story as if you don’t know the Halo mythos each member of the Noble team die in a horrific fashion including you but you go out like a champ.

The gameplay goes back to the original Halo’s style as you no longer have regenerating health, but you still have the shield and because of this factor this game is the hardest in the series as you have these wide open spaces and a huge abundance of enemies on screen. The gameplay seems faster pace as you can sprint for the first time if you have that ability on you, yes you have different armour ability such as a barrier that can deflect gun fire and vehicles, jump packs and shields you can walk and push enemies back. This game was a long and hard campaign with excellent variation with different combat situations and environments.

The multiplayer was a step up from Halo 3 with new games modes and of course with the added armour abilities with new weapons. The ranking system was easier to grasp as well where it tells you how far away you are from the next level rather than having a vague idea like you did in Halo 3. Matchmaking in this game was far better than 3’s as it doesn’t take as long to get into a game and you didn’t have to wait for other players if you wanted to play another match with them and there were fewer network issues don’t get me wrong there were at launch but that is to be expected.

Graphically it still holds up considering the game turns six years old this September the character models look great with the different armour variations on each of the Spartans in the Noble team. The environments look fantastic from the rain soaked farms at the start of the game to the dim and menacing glow of a city set ablaze.

The only minor problem I have with this game is the weird motion blur you get now and again it is not constant to cover up the 30 fps frame rate it just blurs here and there.

Overall Halo Reach is a fantastic game and also a great send off for Bungie as they left to go work on Destiny. If you haven’t played it go get it and it works on Xbox One if you don’t have a 360 but it does have performance issues on the Xbox One backwards compatibility.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Why do people hate Call of Duty? My opinion on the series.

By Sam Coles:

There is no series at the moment that gets as much hatred like the Call of Duty series and most of the time it’s for stupid reasons like because it’s COD. I understand the fatigue that people have with the series but honestly it’s not as bad as some people like to make it out to be and consider it shares similar trends with DICE’s Battlefield series. A lot of people always hate the fact the Call of Duty series doesn’t “innovate” that it’s the same time and time again, however when they do bring something new to the table people complain still and want it back the way it was before which I can almost see the developers banging their heads against a wall in frustration.

Call of Duty when it was first released in 2003 on the PC was a different take on the military shooter because you weren’t  lone soldier you’re part of a squad and the battles felt more alive compared to Medal of Honor. COD liked the cinematic set pieces which were somewhat short in the first few games and didn’t interrupt the experience too much, but it changed when the series jumped to the modern day with Call of Duty 4 with the more explosive set pieces you would see in a summer blockbuster. People praised COD 4 for the singleplayer and multiplayer with the simple progression system and 3, 5 and 7 kill streak bonus which kept the game fair and balanced. However the things people like to complain about COD now were present in the “The best COD game” for example short and linear campaigns, unbalanced ranked multiplayer, campers etc.

Modern Warfare 2 was a great continuation to the series but this is where things started to get a bit out of hand with the progression system where you could customise your killstreaks which went all the way up to 25 with a game ending tactical nuke, which resulted in people exploiting the game to get said killstreak.

By the time we got to 2013 with the release of Call of Duty Ghosts people got fed up with the modern military shooter, so in early 2014 Activision did something bold and different which was in the form of the announcement of Advanced Warfare. Advanced Warfare said “screw it” to the modern or past warfare settings and set it in the future and before you say I don’t count black ops II as futuristic as the technology existed in today’s world and some of it was set in the 1980’s. Advanced Warfare is set in the distant future in the 2060’s where soldiers have access to the exo suits which run on Nano technology which gives the soldier increase strength and mobility.

Advanced Warfare increase the mobility of the player and this really helped the multiplayer as the movement reminds me of arena shooters of yesteryear with fast pace combat where you can retreat rather than holding down the trigger and hope you kill the other player first. Retreating in this game was more of a good idea than fighting especially when you’re out numbered. The ability to boost dodge left, right and backwards is great and makes you feel like a boss when you dodge a barrage of bullets.  

The game was well received compared to Ghosts and people seem to like the new movement for the multiplayer. Later however people complained about the movement and the term that really annoys me now that they like to use “Boots to the ground” where want to go backwards in the series.
The question I ask people now is why are people so down on Infinite Warfare? People say they have been too many futuristic COD games which they have only been two before this because Ghosts and Black Ops II aren’t really futuristic games. In my opinion I think Infinite Warfare looks really fun and different for the series and I don’t want to see the series go backwards to Modern Warfare or World War II because the audience will just end up complaining again and it will go full circle. The reason why we abandoned those genres was due to oversaturation whether it be Call of Duty or copycat games so the industry moved on so let’s not backtrack.

A lot of people like to say that Call of Duty is dumb and I retort so what! Not everything has to be high art in the video game industry there is always room for games that are loud, dumb and completely absurd. I like Call of Duty because I know what I’m getting into whether it’s set in World War II, Vietnam or even in space I know I’m going to be playing a highly entertaining and functional action game with good gameplay and visuals.

If you don’t like the series good for you but don’t try and force your agenda on others because you have a strong hatred for the series and if it gets you this worked up then you need to reassess yourself. Voice your opinion about a subject whether it video games or anything but respect others and have a constructive argument rather than result to school yard bullying tactics, let’s keep it civil let’s have intellectual arguments about subjects with good evidence that’s what makes a healthy debate a non-healthy debate is when you just say it’s shit for no reason.

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