Tag Archives: activision

Destiny 2 Vanilla Review (PS4)

I think I’m finally in a position to review Destiny 2. I’ve spent 100 hours in-game, got the platinum, completed the raid, finished the prestige nightfall, went flawless in Trials of the Nine, and got all three characters to max level (only one is 305 but they’ll get there). Just like Destiny 1, I think I’ve burned through all the content within a month of launch, and I’m still not entirely sure how much I enjoy it.

Clearly I’ve got my money’s worth, 100 hours is a ridiculous amount of time to spend on a game I only paid £40 for and I would easily recommend it to anyone with any kind of passing interest in FPS games; but still there’s a nagging feeling that it should have been so much better.

For those who have been avoiding the pages of Eurogamer and have no experience with Destiny as a franchise, it is a new breed of FPS from Halo-developers Bungie. Freed from their Microsoft overlords they embarked on a mission to create a multiplatform FPS that fuses some of the best elements of MMOs and FPS games together, and they largely succeeded with the first Destiny. It wasn’t perfect and took a few patches and expansion to realise the dream, but they created a new genre that was definitely appealing and addictive. You play through a standard FPS story mode with some open world aspects then group up with other players to work your way into the ‘end-game’ made up of typical MMO tropes of dungeons, raids, and PVP. In return for beating the various challenges you get gear that increases in power, and thus begins the familiar MMO treadmill of getting better gear to be able to take on harder content in order to get better gear and so on.

The first Destiny did a fantastic job of introducing raid mechanics with the Vault of Glass raid and proved that FPS games could work with raid mechanics and large group strategy. While the game didn’t really find a proper voice in terms of story and progression until the later expansions, that first raid really hooked a certain type of player and we were all looking forward to the sequel to see what they could do next. Then Bungie decided to take a step backwards.

While Destiny 2 is an incredibly accomplished game, it moves backwards in nearly every respect to be closer to what the original game was before the DLC. The horde modes, sparrow racing, reputation grinds and even sparrow horns are all gone. Raid and strike gear has lost the interesting perks that made them unique to that part of the game. PVP has a very limited pool of maps and only three playlists to choose from. The Patrol zones (open world areas where you can complete various objectives for rewards) all feel strangely lifeless with the exception of the excellent EDZ.

That’s not to say what’s there is bad in most respects, it’s a beautiful game, the music is hauntingly memorable and evocative, the gunplay is as satisfying as ever, the strikes and raid are nearly faultless (with the exception of one strike that happens to be this week’s nightfall) and the campaign is much more effective and interesting than its predecessor.

It just feels like so much is missing and no one needs to ask why, they’re keeping it for DLC. The season pass is already on offer and will clearly reintroduce much of what we’ve lost to people that pay for it, over the course of the year. I’m sure by this time next year we’ll have at least one more raid, more strikes, more exotics, more multiplayer modes and more patrol zones, but by the end of it I’m worried that we’ll just be clawing our way back to how good the first game was by the end. Bungie had an opportunity to take their awesome framework, make a huge amount of content to justify a new game, then go even further with their DLC. Instead we have a stripped back game, almost devoid of real end-game content, and an offer to pay a lot more money to get what we’ve lost back further down the line.

The issues with end-game only really manifest after you’ve put in a decent amount of time already into the game. If you’re the sort of person who’s only going to be playing for an hour or two a week, ignore this and just go get the game. You’ll have an awesome time with it and never run out of things to do. If you’re like me and want to put in 5+ hours a night, you’ll run into the same problems I have. Firstly, the maximum level is too attainable. Once you get to level 20 (around 8-10 hours in for your first character) you can only progress by getting item drops that increase your average power level. The maximum currently is 305 and this can be achieved by simply grinding any of the activities available to you at that point. You can complete public events over and over in any of the open-world areas, where you complete objectives and kill enemies, possibly with the help of other random players or your friends. These are pretty entertaining but get repetitive quick as there’s only five or six that repeat every few minutes. You could go for strikes (dungeons) but these are quite slow and inefficient, only giving you a little bit of gear at the end. You can do crucible, which is the PVP mode where currently games take too long to be a good method of grinding, but you can get amazing rewards (not for being good, just for participating).

Then there’s the weekly tasks, each week you can take on public events on a certain planet, complete a more challenge form of a strike called a Nightfall, where you’re up against a time and various other modifiers, complete the Prestige Nightfall which is even more difficult, run through the raid, or complete Trials which is a special PVP mode where you see how many games you can win before you get a loss. Get seven in a row without losing and you get a huge amount of gear and a special emblem. Every week these tasks give you a new powerful reward that will boost your level considerably, and even with three characters it doesn’t take too long to get through all of them.

Now the problem is that after two weeks of completing all of these different events, I have maxed out a character, with the other two very close. Once you get to 305 there’s very little to strive for beyond finding certain weapons (complete luck for all but a few quest exotics). There’s no reputation levels to increase or progression for the PvP system at all.

So while I’m obviously a fringe case and not everyone will spend the amount of time I have on the game, Destiny fans are voracious and lots of people are already feeling a similar way, there’s just nothing to works towards. Think of WoW’s faction grinds, Call of Duty’s prestige modes or Battlefield’s ranks. There’s always progress, always a carrot to urge you on, and that’s what’s missing from Destiny 2 at the moment. It’s an incredible game, and I’ve loved all the time I’ve spent with it so far, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that there should have been so much more.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Call of Duty Black Ops Three Gameplay trailer and details

Black Ops Three has been unveiled in more detail than any Call of Duty game in recent memory. Traditionally we get some kind of teaser, a single player reveal at E3 and then a multiplayer reveal in the summer. Looks like now we’ve just got at least a taste of everything in one go. First of all, here’s the trailer:

 

So what do we have there? A team of four, who will all be able to be player controlled in the main campaign. That’s four-player co-op in the traditionally single-player story mode. Of course Treyarch pulled this off before (albeit with some technical difficulties) in World at War, and we’re glad to see a return to form. Other than that we can see that this is continuing with the Advanced Warfare style movement and some TitanFall style wall-running and momentum building for good measure. We loved Titanfall and Advanced Warfare so we’re happy to see some more of that intense movement-based action, but it’s already ruffling some feathers around the internet.

Black_Ops_3_No_Fly_Zone_1430034944

In the trailer we see a bow and arrow, robots, some kind of spinning drone that chases people down, underwater combat and some fairly nice character models. The graphics aren’t particularly impressive elsewhere, but this is still six months before release (November 6th) and we’re told that this is current-gen only so there’s time to make some improvements in that regard. The gun design is pretty exciting, with that chunky 80s sci-fi aesthetic coupled with some more traditional assault weapons. We’re hoping to see a multiplayer stream from 8PM GMT on #TheRace’s channel so hopefully we’ll see more of the weapons there.

Black_Ops_3_Ramses_Station_Armored_Guard_1430034946

Here’s a quick round-up of what we know about the game so far:

  • Releases on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on November 6th, 2015
  • You get into a beta if you pre-order (rumours are the beta is very soon)
  • Four-player co-op campaign
  • Zombies mode included in the game
  • Zombies has a real campaign and story this time and its own progression system
  • Some enhanced movement like wallrunning and a sort of hovering, but no double jumps or boost dodges
  • Can create your own camos for guns using the new ‘Paintshop’ feature
  • Multiplayer uses nine ‘specialist’ characters, each with their own abilities
  • Nuketown is back (based on a t-shirt being sold in the official store that has since been removed)
  • Larger campaign maps with areas built like arenas to cope with the co-op demands

Black_Ops_3_Ramses_Station_Under_Siege_1430034954

We’re very excited about Black Ops Three already. The multiplayer is going to be playable at E3 next month and we’ll bring you all the news as it breaks.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Guitar Hero Live Announced

So with Rock Band 4 on the (distant) horizon, we have now been given the details on the new Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero Live. Bundled with a new guitar-controller, but apparently without microphone or drums, the game is apparently an attempt to let the franchise grow up a little. The new plastic guitar looks a lot more like a real guitar, ditching the primary colours in favour of six buttons in two rows of three, one row is black and the other is white.

On easy mode, you’ll just use three buttons like always. On progressively harder difficulties you’ll use both rows and even chords made up of combinations. Other than that the gameplay seems much the same with notes coming down the center and you having to hit them on time.

guitar-hero-live-goes-first-person-and-live-action-without-backwards-compatibility-142900810367

The graphics have also been given an overall with the stylised cartoon bands being replaced with live-action video from the first person. We were worried this would be one video throughout but it seems they’ve woven together different reactions to what you’re doing so the crowd will still turn on you if you’re terrible.

The biggest change that we can see (and the one that we’re genuinely excited about) is the introduction of GHTV. No longer will a new game be released each year, instead Activision will be introducing new music through this system that functions a lot like a music channel. Music videos play in the background and at any point you can tune in, pick up your guitar and start playing along. Leaderboards are present showing you who is winning on that current song right now so any time you play there’ll be a healthy amount of competition. We can imagine it being a pain if the music selection is terrible, waiting for a song you like to show up, but if they get the music right it could be an absolute blast to having a rolling stream of new music and competition at your fingertips.

guitar-hero-live-goes-first-person-and-live-action-without-backwards-compatibility-142900829064

It’s all very early and the playlist will be what seals it, but for now count us as cautiously optimistic.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Tony Hawks 5 Announcement Leaked?

Alex Rubens just put this on Twitter:

 

Sounds like we could be getting a new Tony Hawks game. Notice the lack of any of kind of slogan too, could this be an actual Pro Skater game for the current generation? As someone who lost hours of my life to the THPS2 demo, I really hope so. We’ve reached out to Activision for comment.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Season Pass announced

Every year a new Call of Duty comes out and there’s some kind of backlash from the people who think it’s too popular to be cool and the people who think the series isn’t as good as it used to be. These people are generally hipsters and should be avoided.

For the rest of you, Advanced Warfare is on the way (3rd November if you pre-order) and as ever there’s a season pass to go with it. From the off you get a new map set around a dam and you’ll also get four multiplayer dlc packs (each usually has a set of levels and maybe a gun or a new map for the survival mode). In our experience the season passes have been pretty good value and a good way to add lifespan to the game. We’re still playing Ghosts occasionally and the new maps and their little novelties are still a lot of fun to play. It feels as though the devs tend to experiment more with the DLC maps so it’s likely to be where you’ll find the more unique levels.

Here’s the trailer and the full press release is below.

Lock in a full season of amazing content with the Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare Season Pass, all for one great low price.
 
The Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare Season Pass gives you access to four exciting DLC packs at one great price, each delivering a collection of new, innovative multiplayer content and more.
 
It all starts now. With Season Pass you get instant access to the Atlas Gorge Multiplayer Map, a re-envisioning of the fan favorite Call of Duty® 4: Modern Warfare® map, Pipeline. Explore the map’s new verticality, empowered by Advanced Warfare’s exoskeleton technology, and take control of the devastating map-based turret scorestreak.
 
The Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare Season Pass includes:
– Four epic DLC packs
– Early access to bonus DLC weapons
– Atlas Gorge, a bonus Multiplayer map available immediately at launch
 
Learn more about the Season Pass:
 
Pre-order the Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition now and get up to 24 hours early access!

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Destiny Review (Xbox One)

The app should have been called Destiny’s Child

destiny1

We’ve played through the majority of Destiny over the course of the week. It’s taken around twelve hours and in that time we’ve fought through the story mode across planets, explored hidden caves with strangers, battled other guardians in the Crucible and taken on mighty boss monsters in strikes. Bungie’s first new IP since leaving Microsoft’s warm embrace might not be everything fans wanted, but is it worth your time and money?

One of the biggest strengths of the game is the gun mechanics. While this might not be a Halo game, you’ll be hard pressed to put it out of your mind when you melee enemies and feel the hefty thud or your fist or knife. Similarly the guns all seem to have their roots in the Halo series. The handcannon is reminiscent of the original Halo pistol, kicking like a mule and knocking enemies back. Headshots are just as powerful as ever, doing a huge amount of damage, and many enemies have pesky shields that regenerate if you don’t kill them quick enough. This isn’t a criticism in any way, the Halo games feel amazing and this has transferred well into this new IP. There are a few new touches like being able to look down the sights (which oddly feels like a novelty) as well as a range of excellent class-based powers and a much-simplified ammo system but at it’s essence you feel right at home if you’ve played Bungie’s finest.

HopeInTheDarkness-01

There’s a satisfying variety of enemies belonging to different factions and towards the end of the game you’ll regularly come across them fighting each other and behaving somewhat realistically individually. They take cover, they retreat and many of them have irritating teleporting powers that allow them to escape or close in on you when you least expect it. That being said there’s a frustrating lack of co-operation between the enemies and you never really get the impression that they’re communicating with each other. They’ll often follow their friends out into your firing line even as their peers are mown down in front of them. When you take down a leader it has little or no effect on the others and this feels like a massive step backwards.

The worlds you fight across are awe-inspiring to look at as long as you don’t look too closely. Skyboxes are absolutely gorgeous and many of the vistas are equally impressive. Texture work is somewhat hideous up close but the idea is that you’ll be constantly moving so it’s not going to be too much of a problem. Each of the planets only has one open world map on it but they’re surprisingly vast with huge networks of underground tunnels and massive hidden areas that you could easily pass by for hours. On Earth for example there’s a series of caves with some high level enemies in that we’ve only been able to find once. Little secrets like this reward exploration and help to make the world feel more interesting. Unfortunately there are only four maps and although they are markedly different from each other in terms of colour palette and the enemies present, it’s hard not to feel short changed by the amount on offer. The game just doesn’t feel very big considering the way Bungie and Activision have been hyping it up over the last year. Many of the missions and strikes take place in the same environments and there’s rarely any acknowledgement in the story that you’re constantly entering the same rooms.

Destiny_31

Speaking of the story, this is easily Destiny’s weakest point. Peter Dinklage’s voiceover almost kills the game stone dead if you’re playing by yourself, the delivery of his lines is so unbelievably flat and dull you couldn’t possibly justify it. Bungie have argued (during the Beta) that he is a robot and his lines would be improved by post-processing but it simply hasn’t happened. There’s no emotion but it doesn’t feel robotic either, it’s somewhere in between and it’s incredibly distracting. We found ourselves getting to the end of the game not really knowing what was going on because we’d lost interest in the story a long time ago and tuned out. If it was at all possible we’d suggest Bungie creates another voiceover track and releases it as free downloadable content. The money they spent on Dinklage was not only wasted, it actively harms the game. The story itself is fairly ho-hum, with some brilliant world-building and then so much jumping around you never really feel invested in it. The Traveller is a great idea, but you never properly interact with it or are given a reason to feel like you’re anything to do with it. At one point you randomly whisk off to an entirely new environment to meet a new character without any real build-up so it’s hard to care about them either. We can only assume that Bungie designed the world and then went to lunch and left the internet to connect up the settings into a story. It doesn’t really work on any level because it’s simply not personal enough. By the end of the game you’ve done one thing that appears to be major, but it has no real noticeable effects. That could easily have just been the end of the first act and with two DLC packs on the way, that might be exactly what it is.

Technically the game is impressive. Other than the aforementioned poor texture work in the environment (likely done to reduce loading screens) there are some excellent character models and effects and we noticed no slowdown below 30fps across the entire game, even when there were huge amounts of enemies and explosions. Considering it is an online game at heart and one of the first games to be pre-loaded on the Xbox One it’s a miracle or a testament to Activision and Microsoft that there were no real issues on launch night or since. The online service is solid and that’s a real plus considering the state of many games over the last few years.

venus-destiny-media

The multiplayer is a mixed bag. On one hand when you get a small fireteam together (three players) who talk and have a laugh, the game is improved immeasurably. This is how Destiny was meant to be played and it’s an absolute joy. It’s easy to invite people to your fireteam at any point and they can join halfway through missions. It also does an excellent job of maintaining your group while changing modes and difficulties. Exploring in patrol mode you’ll often come across other groups and it’s an exciting experience that we’re going to see a lot more of with games like The Division coming soon. On the flipside though, these people will be entirely silent. There’s no open world chat and there’s no matchmaking outside of PvP and strikes. If you want to make a fireteam for patrol mode or story missions you need to invite people and hope someone responds. If you don’t have friends online when you want to play it’s surprisingly hard to get a group together and playing alone just feels like a grind. When the six player raids come out at the end of the month there’s not going to be matchmaking for that either so start scouring internet communities for join lists. Of course that would be much easier if they let you see who from your Destiny clan was online and invite people from there, but that’s not even acknowledged in the game other than by a clan tag. The matchmaking and open-world multiplayer options are shockingly poor and another serious issue with the game.

The PvP modes are a lot of fun and allow the unique class abilities to really shine. It’s hard to tell if it will take off like Halo, CoD or Battlefield did, but it’s definitely exciting and the maps are very well-made. Levelling is evened out in the playlists (although level 20 players are likely to have a lot of nice perks that make them slightly stronger) but you take your own weapons in and it still feels like you’re playing as your character. Every game we’ve played so far has been reasonably close implying that balance hasn’t been too much of an issue. Time will tell how well the community adopts this game but it’s definitely a lot of fun and there’s plenty of rewards for doing well in it.

In terms of longevity, the game can be completed in around ten to twelve hours easily. We managed that while also taking part in a lot of messing around in patrol mode and PvP. Of course getting to max level and completing the story is only the start in a game like this, acquisition of loot is the real goal and you can take part in harder modes of missions and strikes or even try out Bungie’s playlist of incredibly hard strikes for a real change. This is on top of a progression system in multiplayer and numerous collectables and the upcoming raids. If you enjoy the gameplay and you have a solid group, there’s a lot to keep you going, but only a certain type of gamer enjoys that kind of grind for incremental improvements.

Overall Destiny definitely doesn’t live up to the hype. A solid gameplay foundation and some gorgeous art work is severely let down by the awful voiceover, story and lack of social options. It feels like a real missed opportunity and as good as the game may be, you’ll always have it in the back of your mind that it should have been so much better. If you’ve got a couple of friends who play at the same time as you then it’s easy to recommend, it’s a brilliant co-op game and you can laugh off some of the flaws while others won’t affect you. If you’re going to be playing y yourself though, we’d probably avoid it unless you’re desperate for a new FPS. Alone it feels empty and hollow and all of the flaws are impossible to ignore. It’s a shame that this wasn’t a triumph, there’s a lot of good ideas, but we get the feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of Destiny anyway considering how well it’s been selling. Our score is based on the experience if you’ve got friends to play with, since we assume that’s why most people would be playing this game. Subtract two if you’re going to be playing offline.

Verdict 8

 

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

The Amazing Spiderman 2 Review (PC)

Hyperbole

Game_2014_05_02_21_05_12_190

Spiderman has always been difficult to get right in Superhero games. The general consensus is that Spiderman 2 got it mostly right, with web-swinging that required the webs to actually connect to surfaces, a sense of momentum as you moved about and webs that actually stated in the game world at least for a little while. It was tricky to be sure, but once you got the hang of it you felt like you were controlling the ‘proper’ Spiderman. Of course that meant you also had the limitations that Spiderman might face. Getting through Central Park was a pain, losing momentum was irritating and getting a swing wrong resulted in you swiftly face planting the next wall. Beenox have tried to capture the magic of that first game, but attempted to eliminate some of the frustrations that went a long with it. In the process they’ve face planted the entire game into every wall in Manhattan.

The most striking and immediate thing you’ll notice about TAS2 is how ugly it is. Textures are flat, all character models except for Spidey’s look distinctly last gen with static clumps for hair and cold lifeless eyes that constantly stare. Even with everything turned up to full on PC it looks horrendous. Shadows don’t function right, reflections seem pre-baked, there’s a significant amount of pop-in as you cruise around the city and the sheer lack of detail is astounding. Go to a hospital and there’s no ambulances or doctors about, go to the rail line and there’s no stations or people doing anything. The whole city feels entirely lifeless, and even more unforgivable, there’s loading screens everywhere. Every time you enter a building or change area you’re faced with one. It was difficult to get across how poor this game looks so we’ve put together a video for your viewing pleasure. This is the game running with everything turned to max by the way. We’re wearing the Spiderman Noir suit which was a pre-order bonus.

The sound-design doesn’t fare any better with a single nice feature being the ‘swoosh’ in volume as you swing close to street level. Other than that you’re faced with anaemic combat sounds and snippets of dialogue that areoccasionally repeated every 3-4 seconds, particularly in events like races. The voice acting is flat and lifeless and the script is reasonably diabolical. Spidey has occasionally funny one-liners but for a generally comedic character that’s simply not enough, he’s generally dull and disinterested, with the dramatic scenes coming across as entirely muted, a problem endemic in the whole game.

Game_2014_05_01_22_18_44_572

The controls are incredibly janky due to a huge disconnect with the game world. Yes to swing you need to be latched on to an actual surface, but you can pull yourself up by attaching magically to the sky and it seems as though Parker doesn’t even need geometry to stand, often floating above surfaces or off edges. There seems to be basically no collision detection and enemies and Spiderman will all clip through walls and objects pretty much freely. As you majestically swing around a building and then attempt to run up the side you’ll often find your direction changing 180 degrees instantly with no speed lost, you’ll be swinging vertically down or running horizontally across a building when you want to go up. There’s overhangs on many buildings and this causes the entire system to freak out and often throw you in a random direction. The developers clearly identified this early on in the development cycle, but rather than fixing it they simply added a web-zip style move on RB that lets you shoot towards an object, or comic book collectable, or mysterious floating point in space, or somewhere a mile away that for some reason lights up as a possible destination. There’s no consistency to the controls other than the speed, you’re nearly always travelling at one speed, with no concerns of momentum to speak of. Things get worse once you’re inside and you need to climbs over walls and zip from perch to perch. The Batman Arkham games got this so right and allowed you to feel like the caped crusader. In this game you feel like a drunk Housefly who’s come home late and is desperately trying not to wake up his family. You bumble about and shoot off too far or not far enough, forcing the stealth sections in the game to turn into ‘lets move incredibly slowly so we don’t break anything’. Hardly graceful or Spiderman-like.

The combat is a little better with a simple attack/dodge system that’s bolstered by a few special moves that unlock over the course of the game. Sadly the collision detection pretty much ruins it as enemies often fall through walls, but rarely in an entertaining way. Nothing interacts with anything else, there’s no real physics engine so clipping is the game of the day and you’ll find combat gets increasingly tedious as it’s so easy to avoid everything and launch into single-button combos. Some foes will have weapons that require disarming, and many enemies require one of the special moves to take them out but these feel like cheap gimmicks and rarely do much to improve the flow of the fights.

Across the game there’s a campaign, tonnes of collectables, some races and then a load of side missions. You have a ‘hero meter’ that tracks how heroic you’re being, and this is entirely based on how many side missions you do and how quickly. They’re all identical within their types, being a matter of beating up some thugs, stopping a car chase or rescuing people from a burning building. The last of these is the most depressing as the flame graphics seem largely 2D, making it difficult to tell where the hitbox is.  If you don’t do these dull side missions quickly enough you become a villain and the local robotic law enforcement will attack you. Because of this you’re basically forced to be constantly doing content you don’t want to just to make sure the titular hero of the game is actually still seen as a hero. The collectables and races are slightly stronger, with the collectables unlocking actual comic books for you to read and the races eventually giving you the awesome Hornet costume – but it’s still a very barebones affair. There’s no online leaderboards or even levels of difficulty. There’s simply a single goal time for each race and even messing up considerably we didn’t miss a single one on our first try.

Game_2014_05_02_21_16_19_935

The whole game feels incredibly phoned in, with so many corners cut it’s surprising Sony were happy for the Spiderman licence to be used in this way. Citizens on the street won’t react to you literally standing there throwing web in their face, Aunt May looks like a walking corpse, even the menus are weirdly low-resolution and ugly. The crazy swinging mechanics make it more reminiscent of Goat Simulator than anything else, but Goat Simulator is infinitely more entertaining and a third of the price. If you absolutely love Spiderman stories and you see this for under £10, perhaps it’ll be worth your time. If not, avoid it at all costs, go play Goat Simulator and sing the Spiderman theme in your head, that’ll be infinitely more entertaining than this embarrassment.

Verdict 3

 

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Call of Duty Ghosts Onslaught DLC Out Now! (on Xbox)

The first DLC pack for Call of Duty Ghosts is now live on Xbox and will be coming to PC and PS3/4 soon. It features four new maps, a new weapon and a new map for Extinction that begins a story to be told over the season of DLC. Full press release follows:

CODmap

CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS ONSLAUGHT DLC PACK NOW AVAILABLE
FIRST, EXCLUSIVELY ON XBOX LIVE
 
First DLC Pack for Call of Duty: Ghosts Delivers Epic Offering Featuring Four New Maps,
All-New Dual-Purpose Weapon, Iconic Horror Character Michael Myers and the Initial Instalment in Extinction’s New, Four-Part Episodic Storyline
For the Definitive Online Experience
 
Fans can Purchase the Onslaught DLC Pack Individually,
Or as Part of the Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC Season Pass Discounted* Bundle
 
London, UK – 28th January, 2014 – Onslaught is here.  The first of four massive, Downloadable Content (DLC) Packs for Call of Duty®: Ghosts, the definitive online experience and #1 most played multiplayer title on Xbox Live for Xbox 360 kicks-off today.  Launching first, exclusively on Xbox Live for both Xbox One and Xbox 360, Onslaught features four classically designed, smaller to medium sized Call of Duty® multiplayer maps delivering the fast-paced multiplayer experience fans love, the all-new “Maverick” dual-purpose Assault Rifle/Sniper Rifle and “Episode 1: Nightfall,” the first instalment in Call of Duty: Ghosts Extinction’s four-part episodic story that follows humankind’s first contact with the Cryptids.
 
Onslaught delivers a ton of exciting, new content for Call of Duty: Ghosts fans to enjoy on next gen and current gen alike,” said Daniel Suarez, Vice President of Production, Activision Publishing, Inc. “It begins with a diverse set of maps that personify that classic Call of Duty-style of fast, frantic and exhilarating action. It doesn’t stop there, because Infinity Ward and Neversoft have taken it to another level; whether it’s becoming Michael Myers from Halloween as you pursue your opponents, to creating the first dual-purpose weapon in Call of Duty history, or crafting a new chapter in Extinction that introduces new characters and even a three-story tall Cryptid alien boss, Onslaught has something for all Call of Duty players and we’re excited fans can finally get their hands on it.”
 
Onslaught is included as part of the Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC Season Pass, which gives fans access to four epic Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC Packs** planned for release this year – OnslaughtDevastation,Invasion and Nemesis. Additionally, Call of Duty Ghosts DLC Season Pass holders get instant access to the Team Leader Digital Pack, which comes with a unique multiplayer character head, weapon camo, reticle, player patch, card and background.
 
Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught delivers a variety of new offerings for fans to dig their teeth into, starting with four new multiplayer maps. “Fog” is a chilling homage to classic horror films, set alongside the banks of a murky lake. Players skilled enough to pick up the map’s unique Field Order can become the embodiment of terror by donning the mask of Michael Myers, one of cinema’s most iconic horror characters of all-time, as the entire soundscape changes to the eerily familiar Halloween theme music.
 
“BayView” is a coastal Californian boardwalk that offers players fast-paced run-and-gun gameplay amid a seaside town. Clever players will be able to climb onto the map’s moving trolley to engage enemies, as well as call in devastating artillery strikes from the Naval Destroyer anchored offshore.
 
“Containment” drops players into a raging battle amidst a war-torn Mexican village, where the action centres on the crippled remains of a small bridge holding a hi-jacked truck leaking radioactive material.
 
Onslaught’s fourth map, “Ignition,” is a completely reimagined version of “Scrapyard” – the fan-favourite multiplayer map from Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 2, placing players into a deserted space launch facility with frenetic action amongst abandoned warehouses, flame trenches, a massive transport crawler and dynamic map elements that can take players out if they’re not paying close attention.
 
Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught also introduces the first instalment in Extinction’s new, four-part episodic narrative with “Episode 1: Nightfall.” As the initial foray into this single, connected story that will be told across each DLC Pack launch throughout the year, “Episode 1: Nightfall” takes fans to a remote research facility hidden deep within the Alaskan wilderness, where a small recon team must infiltrate the facility to find out what happened to the mysterious Nightfall Program. This expanded Extinction storyline introduces new characters, plus two all-new alien species and debuts an exclusive Venom-X weapon that pulverises the Cryptids, as players delve deeper into the story of what happened following mankind’s first contact with the Cryptids in Colorado.
 
On top of the new maps and first episode of the Extinction narrative, Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught arms players with a new, dual-purpose addition to the multiplayer arsenal with the “Maverick”. Outfitted with a lightweight wood stock, the “Maverick” can be selected in either the Assault or the Sniper Rifle class, depending on players’ play style and preference.
 
From Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), Call of Duty: Ghosts is rated PEGI 16.  Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught is available today for both Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft.  The DLC pack is created by Infinity Ward, with additional development by Neversoft. For more information, please visit www.callofduty.com/ghostswww.facebook.com/CallofDuty, or follow on Twitter @InfinityWard.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Call of Duty: Ghosts Review

I want a camo that dress me up as pinkie

CODGhosts

Call of Duty gets a lot of flak for being popular. There’s surely more to it than that, it’s a series that has worked on a slow evolution across multiple titles rather than any huge upgrades, but then that’s how sports games work and how Nintendo has worked for decades. Eschewing the usual multi-year gap between releases, a new CoD game comes out every year in November and every year there’s this argument about whether or not it deserves a high score as it’s basically the same game. Somehow, one side of that argument has won out and we’re not sure it’s the right one.

Yes this is Call of Duty as you’ve known it since Modern Warfare. There’s a short but spectacular single-player campaign, and a multiplayer game based around killstreaks, progression and custom loadouts. All this much is true. But simply saying it’s ‘just another Call of Duty’ is incredibly reductive. Ghosts adds new mechanics in the campaign, a new cast, new weapons, new multiplayer modes and even two whole new sections to the game as fully featured and fleshed out as zombies ever was. For your money, you’re getting an almost ridiculous amount of content, so there’s really no reason to complain.

There’s four main modes in Ghosts, and we’ll cover each in turn. These are Campaign, Multiplayer, Squads and Extinction. Rounding out the package is a smooth menu system, progression that carries on not only between modes but also between console generations (your 360/ps3 progress is carried over if you upgrade to the Xbox One/ PS4 version), a party system is at least more robust than many other console games and various stat-tracking and loadout customisation that can be done via a smart-phone or tablet. Call of Duty gets so much right these days it’s easy to take it for granted, the fact that me and my friends can form up in a party then get put into a game where we’re all highlighted to each other and all on the same team is brilliant. We can easily scroll through the menus and check out a dizzying amount of stats for each other. If we change something in our network that restricts our NAT settings, the game tells us. While Call of Duty might be loud and bombastic, there’s a lot of little details that have been polished to an incredible degree to improve your experience.

en-INTL_L_Xbox360_Call_of_Duty_Ghosts_29G-00493_RM1_mnco

Campaign

The campaign is pretty dumb. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who’s played Call of Duty games before, but there’s very little subtlety in the plot or the execution. Instead it feels like there were a lot of dramatic set pieces planned out, and then someone had the poor job of trying to tie them together. Really they performed quite admirably, and there’s at least some likeable characters and a real sense of climax by the end, but it can feel a little jarring when you go from fighting in the woods to swimming under a battleship to where everything goes all Moonraker. That being said, all of these sequences are spectacular and the game is better for it. Ghosts does a lot that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in other games, from the excellent use of Riley – the dog, who can be commanded to attack with a tap of the LB button and actually comes in handy as well as proving to be a lovable character, up to battles in space with clips from guns floating off rather than dropping down. There are plenty of less exciting sections where you’re basically shooting in a corridor, but thankfully these are kept brief and you’re never in one place for too long. Some of the mission retread old ground but in new and interesting ways, like a stealthy assault on a skyscraper in the night and a tank battle that escalates pretty quickly.

One of the things that is starting to bug us in this genre is the number of times in campaign that you’re knocked out. It seems like every level in BF and COD needs some point where you’re blown off your feet or knocked off a bridge or pushed through a window, only to be rescued by a squadmate. We understand they’re trying to show how strong the bond between soldiers is but I’m sure there’s more ways than simply very-nearly blowing people up every ten minutes. Maybe they could share a pack of Polos?

Overall the campaign feels like a frantic rush through a Michael Bay movie, with some cool weapons and set pieces, and a story that might not be smart but at least has coherence and a clear progression. By the end of the game you will care about what happens, maybe in ways you don’t quite expect. There’s a proper villain which is often lacking in these games and over the five or so hours it will take you to play through there’s just enough challenge to keep things interesting. Of course the single player pales in comparison to Bioshock or Half-Life but as far as COD games go we’d put it up there just behind Modern Warfare and the original Call of Duty.

cod-ghosts

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is a difficult beast to review because it’s different for everyone. I’ve personally enjoyed it a lot, but then I’m OK at it, I’ve heard of lots of people being immensely frustrated because they’re not so good at it. By now you’ve probably got a good idea of whether you want another Call of Duty game and this won’t change your mind, but if you are interested then this is definitely the best so far.

In terms of mechanics, it feels more like Treyarch’s games thanks to slightly more health and therefore less instant deaths. You are of course cut down if you’re seen, but every now and then you’ll be able to dive into cover which is immensely satisfying. Leaning is a prominent feature and more able players are already using it to great effect, popping their heads out into corridors for sniping or to guards objectives. You accomplish it by simply press the left trigger whenever a little orange arrow turns up near your crosshairs when you’re near the edge of an object. Annoyingly it tends to only work on straight edges, so some geometry doesn’t work with it at all but when you do find a good spot it’s incredibly helpful.

The other new movement is the slide. Replacing the swan dive from previous games, players can now sprint and hold B to do a kneeslide that seems silly but feels so cool when you make it. Sliding drops you down a little bit below where people will usually firing, so you can slide into a guarded room and occasionally take out one or two enemies before they readjust their sights.

The biggest change to multiplayer is the modifications to killstreaks. Assault killstreaks rely far less on air power, instead focusing on ground-based weaponry or buffs that turn you into a killing machine. There seems to have been a philosophy of finding the fun killstreaks and making the most of them, so there’s less fire-and-forget and more that change the gameplay up. Calling a dog up is incredibly useful and entertaining, with their odd superpowers enabling them to run up ladders and dive out of tall buildings to land on their prey. They can be killed easily but if they’re not you can keep one for the whole game, with no time limit – forming a real attachment. Other than dogs there’s airborne missiles, helicopters to snipe from, helicopters to pilot, drones that guard you and even NPCs armed with shields who are surprisingly suicidal and effective. With less air support there’s a great focus on actually fighting other players, with Killstreaks rarely dominating a match.

Every now and then when you kill a player a small glowing briefcase will appear, if you collect this briefcase you’ll be given a challenge, if you complete the challenge you get a care package. There challenges vary from killing two enemies while crouched, to teabagging an enemy after you killed them or using non-killstreak explosives. Some are harder than others but it’s a nice bit of spice to the game that changes things up when you get them. The care packages often just give you killstreak rewards but sometimes have a grim reaper symbol that means you will do something that changes the map. In one map theres a small rocket strike, in another a satellite crashes, in one there’s some fog that gets released and in the smallest map there’s a rocket strike that levels the battlefield, exposing everyone. It’s not quite Battlefield-style levolution but it’s more dynamic then perhaps we’re used to and it’ll be interesting to see what Infinity Ward does with this feature in the DLC.

Overall the multiplayer has kept the best of Call of Duty and added in some fairly major changes that improve the game dramatically. There’s a couple of missteps like occasionally unstable framerates (on 360) and no ping status bars showing how good your connection is, but from launch the game has worked smoothly and progression is always a joy. The new maps are for the most part brilliant, with an emphasis on large spaces with small enclosed buildings spread throughout, giving every playing style something to do. If you want to sit back and snipe, you can, if you want to run and gun, that’s fine too. Until you find yourself in the wrong environment for your loadout, then things get scary really really quickly.

Squads

The squads modes are new to the franchise and focus on the idea of your building up your own squad of characters and then taking them to battle. Your squad is like a set of loadouts that you can customise, and in some of the game modes they fight alongside you, using the weapons and perks that you selected. I’m sure there will eventually be the necessary theorycrafting so we know what the most effective loadout is, but for now it’s fun to experiment and try crazy combinations like shields and semtex or sniper rifles and magnums.In one of the modes in squads you fight with some friends against increasingly tough waves of NPCs, with opportunities to restock or get killstreaks every now and then. It’s compelling and fast, and also irritatingly well-hidden away in the menus so there’s rarely many people playing it.

Eventually Infinity Ward expect people to have fine-tuned your quad and take it up against other teams uploaded by other players. If your squad wins against an enemy you get rewards,so it’s well worth having a play.

COD-Ghosts_Extinction-Current-Gen-2667305

Extinction

The new ‘zombies mode’ is Extinction, a fast-paced wave battle against aliens who are amazingly nimble and come in horde. Infinity Ward have made a real effort here, with full skill-trees and a class system, with you being able to level up through a game by completing certain objectives. The mode is hard as nails and pretty lengthy, but sadly for now there’s only one map so once you’ve beaten it there’s very little incentive to go back. The new alien designs are more interesting to fight against than zombies, particularly once they start becoming incredibly dangerous after twenty minutes or so.

 

Overall, Call of Duty: Ghosts is a huge accomplishment, and a fitting swansong to the current generation. As far as multiplayer shooters go, it’s easily one of the best and the campaign is fun enough to be worth playing. While there are many naysayers, if you enjoy Call of Duty games you owe it to yourself to get this one and see the result of so many years of refining what it is to be a Call of Duty game.

Verdict 9

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Diablo 3 Console Review (Xbox 360)

Blizzard consoling themselves over the failure of the Auction House

D3_LOGO_ForBlackBacgrounds

Diablo 3 originally came out on PC May 15, 2012 and we gave it a respectable 8/10. Changing up the classic Diablo formula to include a player-run auction house and end-game difficulties that flitted between impossible and a piece of cake depending on the patch, Blizzard faced a lot of complaints from the more hardcore side of the audience, but whichever way you looked at it, Diablo 3 provided a lot of entertainment for a £40 subscriptionless game. They’ve come back to launch the game on consoles (this is the current-gen launch, by all accounts it looks like the next-gen releases will simply be prettier ports) and rather than simply replacing the UI buttons with coloured icons, Blizzard have tuned up Diablo into something even more special, could the console version actually be better?

The first thing PC gamers will notice is just how faithful this port is. The menus look the same, the opening is exactly the same, the skills are the same. The console ports do benefit from a year’s worth of patches from the PC version, so there’s a new difficulty and the balance changes that fixed some more glaring issues with the original release, but other than that this is basically the same game.  This holds true throughout with enemies and bosses all functioning just how you remember them. Despite the lack of a mouse the controls feel very similar, using a combination of a button hold and direction on the left stick to aim certain spells and ranged attacks. The graphics are faithful too, running at 720p but other than that it retains all of the glamour of what is still a visually impressive title thanks to a strong art style and some spectacular spell effects.

wizard-casting-electrocute-large

What has changed changes pretty much everything though. First of all, the most important gameplay change is the dodge. It’s incredibly simple, but now every character has a simple dodge controlled with the right stick that’s so responsive it makes for a very different gameplay experience. Every character stands a lot to gain from careful kiting and if you start on anything above normal difficulty you’ll find it essential to your survival, even in the early fights. The game might start off slow but once you have a few different skills to manage crowds of enemies the dodge allows you to be much more daring than you could be in the PC version. Playing as a barbarian it’s easy to stun, rend and then get a few attacks off before rending again and dodging out of the crowd to let them bleed to death. Every enemy has some kind of tell before its attack so you quickly learn when exactly is the best time to dodge and can outright avoid huge amounts of damage. It leads to a much more dynamic playstyle and after now it’s hard to imagine playing without it.

The other big change is local multiplayer. Of course online multiplayer is present, and works perfectly in much the same way as it did on PC, but local multiplayer seems to be what this game was made for. Being constrained to a single screen isn’t much of a problem and the increased communication and focus that comes from being crowded around the same TV allows for some amazing moments. You’ll cheer when you all dodge out of a boss’s attack just in time, and you’ll shout when someone misses a stun and leads to a wipe. Thankfully the death penalties aren’t harsh at all so you won’t be holding a grudge for long against weaker players.

monk-vs-unburied-large

The final difference is the lack of the auction house. The auction house was my biggest problem with Diablo 3, completely defeating the quest for loot which is at the heart of what Diablo is. You could simply sell everything you got and buy the perfect weapons and armour for your skill sets, or even spend real money to buy them. With that gone on console, fighting a good piece of loot is much more exciting and you find yourself ‘making do’ much more in order to progress. No longer are you only held back by your wallet, now you need to play to find the items you need to take on the last few difficulties. It might be a longer process but it’s much more interesting when you feel like you’re earning it, rather than just grinding up a number until you can buy the ‘right’ gear. In online multiplayer or over LAN you still all get your own loot but in local multiplayer it’s all shared in true Gauntlet fashion so expect some entertaining arguments about who gets what.

monk-006-large

Other than those modifications, Diablo 3 still has the same positives and negatives. The combat is compelling and arranging your skillsets to work out what works well together is a huge amount of fun. The physics seem to be turned up to eleven and each satisfying hit, even with the most basic attack can often lead to corpses flying across the scenery and bouncing off walls. There’s nothing better than taking a fully-loaded character into a horde of tough enemies and surviving it all thanks to skill and ridiculous attacks. That being said, the game can be tedious alive once the power trip of the combat has worn off. You’re clicking your way through hordes of similar enemies, with incremental upgrades along the way. If you want to get to the maximum level you’re looking at a huge amount of time and multiple playthroughs and the story and setting is nowhere near strong enough to keep that interesting over such a length of time. If you’re playing multiplayer though things are very different and the fun doesn’t stop. The game copes well on current-gen tech and having four players tearing through dungeons is as impressive as it is exciting. Throw in some party chat and it’s always a lot of fun.

Diablo 3 has made the leap to console gracefully, and is even improved over the PC version thanks to the lack of the auction house and inclusion of the dodge mechanic. When the expansion hits, assuming it comes to all platforms at once we’ll be tempted to play it on the next-gen rather than PC, where we’ll get the best of both worlds with console controls and PC graphics. As it stands Diablo  is admittedly a slightly hollow single-player experience after the first few hours, but if you’ve got people to play with or don’t mind matchmaking it can easily last you 100 hours or more. It might not be endless and eventually gets repetitive but with an expansion on the way it’s well worth the money.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter