Video Game Review – Halo 5 (Xbox One)

Nath sometimes reviews games. This is one of those reviews.

Here it is, the latest instalment of the Halo franchise, the game that made the Xbox a success (probably) and they are still cashing in on the name. I am now starting to think it is loosely linked to Pirates of the Caribbean as they both had brilliant first instalments, followed by a trilogy that was pretty good and that’s where it should’ve stopped. However we got 2 more instalments that weren’t as good as the originals and now feel like the franchise is being cashed in on. Please note that this review contains spoiler alerts.

I’ll be honest, I did enjoy the first three games, especially the first one, Humans Vs the Covenant then suddenly the Flood intervenes and tries to mess everything up on the halo. Since Halo 4, the Flood and halos don’t seem to exist any more, in fact there are no halos in Halo 5. Instead of the Flood, we have the Prometheans, an ancient race that have their own weapons and unique fighting style. I don’t like them to be honest, the Flood had a somewhat zombie element about it, the Prometheans are just another Covenant but with better weapons (apart form the Plasma Sword and that is still in the game).

Nevertheless I started playing the game with an open mind and first things first, there is a new Spartan, Spartan Locke and he commands the team Osiris which contains Nathan Fillion so off to a brilliant start. But the storyline failed to grip me in any way. You play as Spartan Locke and the Master Chief throughout the game. Spartan Locke is brilliant leader and character, but the Master Chief seems to have changed, normally straight and to the point, does missions without being asked, however he decides to venture off and search for Cortana.

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The gameplay is the standard Halo gameplay, you run around with 2 weapons battling through numerous enemies using a mixture of shooting, throwing grenades and punching aliens. Maybe stumble upon a vehicle or mounted weapon or too and utilise that to it’s full potential. The only new things about the gameplay is the ability to charge into enemies, which I saw as a bit of a copout to be honest. There are some new weapons or vehicles I think but nothing catches my eye.

There is a very good level on the Elite homeworld, but that’s about it. I found this very disappointing, only 1 decent level throughout the entire game. Plus the hint system is too easy to use, if you’re stuck, just press down and the game tells you where to go, they could’ve made it a bit more difficult to solve problems.

The only decent thing about the game is Spartan Locke, if there is a Halo 6, I hope we see more of him and less of the Chief. Looks like the baton has to be passed as 343 industries have Spartan Locke the new face of Halo.

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The multiplayer does save the game a little bit, there are the standard games modes, Team Slayer being my particular favourite, however Warzone has now been introduced. Warzone is where you have to establish a base and take over 3 markers before the enemy team does before attempting to wipe out their base. Throw in some boss fights and Covenant anarchy and it makes it very enjoyable. You also gain points when you are playing and you can purchase better weapons when you respawn. I have enjoyed playing this mode more than the actual game itself.

The rest of the multiplayer is pretty standard, however I do seem to be playing the same map over and over again, maybe a bug in the system that needs addressing. The power weapons (Sniper Rifle etc) seem to respawn at random moments but you are told when they do so you all rush in and try and obtain it. I find the Light Rifle to be a bit more useful, it is basically the Promethean Battle Rifle but with a bit more accuracy.

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All in all, the game isn’t brilliant. I wish I hadn’t paid full price for it, definitely one to look out for in pre-owned sections. The storyline could’ve been better, I feel like it’s been banking on a great idea since the Xbox days but taking the best part out and putting a mediocre part in. In my opinion, I don’t think there has been a decent Halo storyline since Reach. I would give this game 5 annoying Promethean Dog things out of 10, needs a better storyline, but an OK game overall.

Nath

EGX 2015 – Indie Games Part 2: The Escapists: The Walking Dead, Tango Fiesta & Move or Die

Adam and Kii once again head to EGX to check out some upcoming video games!

One of the aspects of this year’s EGX that has really impressed us is the scale of the indie games section (though the AAA games section is admittedly much bigger, check out what I thought of a couple of those here). We really wanted to focus on the indie turnout, and ended up having so many games to choose from that we were never going to get them all! This is my second article from EGX2015 focussing on indies (first one is here!), this time looking at The Escapists: The Walking Dead, Tango Fiesta and Move or Die.

 

The Escapists: The Walking Dead (PC, Xbox One)

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The Escapists, an 8-bit prison escape simulator, was an award winning indie hit earlier this year. Now Team 17 are combining it with the immensely popular The Walking Dead, coming out at the end of the month on Steam and Xbox One. Utilising the mechanics of the original game, The Escapists: TWD blends the time management and routine aspects with good old fashioned zombie survival, taking familiar faces from the comic book and TV series and challenging the player to escape the zombie hordes. Team 17 were showing off the tutorial and one of the five levels of the game in the EGX Rezzed area, and as a big fan of The Walking Dead I couldn’t exactly pass up a chance to give it a try!

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After a funny little 8 bit reenactment of the stand off that puts Rick Grimes in a coma, the tutorial section of the game is the start of ‘Days Gone Bye’, where Rick wakes up alone in a deserted hospital. The game guides you through picking up items and crafting tools to progress through the level, before you get chased out by a large group of walkers. The top down view means it’s unlikely you’re going to get surprised by anything, but it was still pretty amusing knowing that the only way to go was straight into a room full of the undead. After escaping the hospital I tried my hand at the Herschel’s farm level, meeting up for head count with various TWD characters and trying to do chores and quests before arming everyone up to investigate the mysterious barn.

Unfortunately I ended up dying horribly, as I rescued a downed Tyresse and tried to fight off several zombies with a sicle. And Tyresse ran off after I helped him up! Regardless, this looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun, and fans of The Escapists and The Walking Dead should definitely check this out when it’s out on September 30th.

 

Tango Fiesta (PC, Mac)

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Another game we had a go at in the Rezzed section was Tango Fiesta from Spilt Milk Studios. This was a top down co-op shooter for up to 4 players, essentially a bullet ridden love letter to cheesy 80s action films where the players mow down wave after wave of enemy soldiers through randomly generated levels before blowing up objectives or killing a boss. As we were walking past the art style really caught our eye, and we ended up glued in front of it for quite some time!

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I’m going to be honest, it took us a couple of practice runs for us to stop being utterly terrible at the game. Kii was controlling John Strong (basically John McClane) and I played as Conchita, as we gunned our way through several levels of militia before fighting a boss with some sort of history with Strong. The dialogue is hilariously macho, and the gameplay is simplistic but a lot of fun. There is a decent range of guns to pick from, with a few different call backs to various films (I didn’t try the ghost trap but can’t imagine what that would do to some junta thugs). The action is so chaotic that it can be difficult to keep an eye on your health, with bullets flying all over the place. Fortunately your team mates can pick you up when you’re downed, which is pretty much the only reason why we managed to take down a boss.

We ended up playing for about half an hour before dragging ourselves away to check out some more games. Tango Fiesta just came out on Steam this week, so give it a go on PC and Mac.

 

Move or Die (PC, Mac & Linux)

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The last game we ended up playing on our second day was Move or Die from Those Awesome Guys in the Indie Mega Booth area. This is an insanely fast-paced competitive multiplayer game, with up to 4 players (local or online) battling it out in a series of intense mini games all with a different end game, the only constant being that if you stay still, you die.

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You pick your favourite skin and then the game randomly generates a list of minigames. There are loads of different game modes to enjoy, like stomping on each other, covering as many tiles as possible in your colour Splatoon-style, and pass the bomb. We ended up playing through several times. The first time Kii and I went up against one of the developers and a bot. The dev utterly destroyed us while we tried to get the hang of it, and we didn’t win a single round (it was still very fun though, and very quick). Luckily he didn’t gloat too much and he stepped back when two other guys turned up to try it out. Then it was a bit more of an even playing field. Move or Die is ridiculously fast-paced but very easy to pick up, and is a really great time. Check it out Steam Early Access.

 

Come back tomorrow for more of our impressions on the huge number of indie games at EGX 2015

Late Video Game Review – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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Nath sometimes reviews games. This is one of those reviews.

Before I start the review, I would like to say a huge thank you for everyone who voted for the video game ideas I posted a couple of months ago, I will hopefully start the project in the new year. I would also like to apologise for the lack of posts over the last few months, moving house and a new job have taken up most of my time. Oh and playing Call of Duty so I’ll crack on. I will be splitting the review into two parts, the single player campaign and the multiplayer.

IMPORTANT, THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

 

So as November has come and gone again, we find ourselves with another release from the latest Call of Duty franchise. I have to say that I have bought nearly every single Call of Duty game that has come out since the first instalment and I do enjoy playing them online and the campaigns. However with the recent releases, it feels as if Activision, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer and Treyarch are focusing more and more on the multiplayer side of the game. The last decent campaign was probably World at War because of the history aspect as well as some hilarious characters. Ghosts can have a honourable mention too as the campaign was very good, although slightly flawed.

I bet you are all wondering whether Advanced Warfare is living up the hype. Well let’s start with the single player mode and for some strange reason, North Korea has become a super power and is invading South Korea. You play a US marine who is trying to stop the invasion. I’ll firstly say that graphically, this game is beautiful, finally a game that is starting to show how good the Xbox One is. Anyway, you start the game trying to push back the invasion and one thing is made very clear at the start. They have made the game far too easy. The sight you have on your weapon tracks your enemies, which means there is a red figure hiding behind cars etc. so you can track his movements. The grenades you throw as well stop mid air, adjust their flight path and then hit the enemies directly. This is ridiculous, you want to work for the grenade kill, not leave it to some machine. Also you have an exo skeleton that allows you to  double jump and deploy shields. Again too easy.

Anyway so you finish the first level and (SPOILER ALERT) you lose your arm and your best friend. Now at the funeral, the best friend’s dad, KEVIN FREAKING SPACEY, comes to you and offers you an opportunity to work for his private security firm called Atlas and give you a bionic arm in the process. You start tracking a terrorist called Hades (great name) and try to stop him from blowing up all the nuclear plants in the world. Now of course you fail at it so there is a directive for going after the terrorist, however (SPOILER ALERT) you learn that Kevin Spacey totally Keyser Söze’s you, tries to kill you (excellent escape mission by the way) and then proceeds to place himself on the security council at the UN and tries to eradicate the USA under some false pretence that they are not worthy of looking after themselves. Now who didn’t see that coming?

So after you spend ages trying to stop him from destroying the world with a powerful bio-weapon, you eventually beat him (of course you do, why wouldn’t you) in an awesome kind of ending. So the storyline is pretty decent, but somewhat predicatable, the gameplay is good, a hilarious set of weapons can be found throughout the game (one being a Spartan Laser). good mix of all out fighting and stealth missions and various extras such as magnetic climbing walls, grappling Batman-style and driving ridiculous prototype tanks. I would give the campaign mode a 7 broken bionic arms out of 10. Solid, but not world class.

Now the multiplayer mode. Again, I do enjoy playing the multiplayer, however my tactics are somewhat brash which is run around the map and just try and take out as many people as I can. Very effective on Modern Warefare 3 with the PP901M submachine gun. However I have recently turned to sniping thanks to Ghosts, where I was unstoppable on Stormhaven. So I gave the multiplayer a crack and created two classes, one sniper rifle and one assault rifle class. Safe to say it started off very well, however there was a point that made me think Call of Duty have just ripped of Titanfall here. You can run around and double jump everywhere and one of your killstreaks is summoning a titan, albeit not the same size but still pretty unstoppable. The auto grenades have also been replaced with proper grenades which was a good sign, but then they made the exo skeletons more powerful. You can double jump and powerslide everywhere, but you can also deploy large shiny blue shields, cloaks and heal yourself mid battle.

To be honest they have made the multiplayer easier for the noobs who suck at it, as they can now hide and protect themselves, but also makes the normal players so much harder to kill as they are doing the same things. Also it is very annoying when you are shooting someone and they double jump to safety – pricks. However if you do kill them, you do a skeet shooting bonus.

In conclusion, the multiplayer is still fun to play and the maps they have are good, but the addition of the exo skeleton and the perks it has has made the game less enjoyable in my opinion. The whole point of the multiplayer was how realistic it was, by running around, jumping, vaulting walls etc and shooting people in the head and they’ve turned it into a mix of Titanfall, Destiny and Call of Duty. Basically there is too much going on and it has been made far too complicated. I’d give it a 5 double jump assholes out of 10. The futuristic perks need to go.

Nath

EGX Round Up – Part Three: Bayonetta 2, Sunset Overdrive and Splatoon

Adam and Kii went to EGX in London on Friday. Here is Adam’s coverage.

And now for the final part of my EGX round up from last Friday, which Kii and I attended as press for the first time to check out some of the various games coming out soon. So far I’ve mostly just talked about survival horror games (see part one!) or other violent supernatural games (part two!), so I’ll finish off with some of the more light-hearted ones we had some time with.

 

Bayonetta 2

I think I’ve said before on The Weekly Rapture podcast, but I absolutely love the first Bayonetta game. Platinum Games delivered a wonderfully over the top experience, with gameplay that feels totally chaotic without a loss of control over what you are doing. The story of Bayonetta the witch and her fight against the angelic forces is ridiculous, as she wields a range of different weapons including guns attached to her heels, torture executions and hellish attacks that render her naked as she uses her hair (which makes up her latex-looking costume) to summon huge attacks that devastate her enemies. The character is imbued with a heavy dose of tongue-in-cheek sexuality and fan service, with the game knowing it is being silly and having a lot of fun with it.

Unfortunately for WiiU-less people like myself, the sequel is only coming out on Nintendo’s system and not a Sony or Microsoft platform. My knee jerk reaction to this would be to get angry at exclusivity for a game I really wanted, but reports were that there simply wasn’t the support for Bayonetta 2 and that the project was effectively dead in the water until Nintendo swooped in and saved it by acting as publisher. Understandably they would want exclusivity for this (and this hasn’t made me anywhere near as annoyed as the Rise of the Tomb Raider kerfuffle on Xbox One), and it is down to Nintendo that the sequel is actually coming out at all.

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With that in mind, I still really wanted to give the demo a go. Gone are the days where I can afford multiple consoles in a generation, so I’ll have to resort to good, reliable friends to get the chance to play the game when it comes out (i.e. I’m going to go to Kii’s and play the WHOLE game in one night). In the Nintendo WiiU section of EGX, after a short queue, the attendant asked me if I had played before, and was I any good. I resisted saying ‘actually, I’ve got a platinum trophy for the first one on PS3’ because that would make me sound like a dick, and instead decided to play it down because this would be the first time I would have had my hands on a WiiU controller, playing a game I hadn’t touched in three years. We were given the option of playing a tutorial and a single verse (sequence), or going straight into a boss fight. I thought the former would probably be a good idea, lest I make a fool out of myself.

The gameplay was exactly as I remembered it, and I eased into the controls relatively quickly (I have been playing games for nearly two decades now, so I learn quickly). The DMC style gameplay, as with the first game, makes it very easy to feel like you are kicking a lot of ass, and the witch time mechanic made a welcome return as well as some more torture kills. The brief verse we got to play was fun and familiarly ridiculous, fighting members of the angelic horde on the back of a fighter jet that the upcoming boss was trying to knock out of the sky. There was a quick glimpse of Bayonetta’s BFF Jeanne, standing on another jet upside down (because witches), then your fighter takes a big hit and heads towards the boss. Then the demo was over. Despite an unfamiliarity with the controls, I still managed a silver medal for the verse too. Kii got bronze. ‘Nuff said.

The demo was a little on the short side, but this is looking like more of the same but better,which is really what you want in a good sequel. In a later conversation with one of the Nintendo attendants, while Kii was hunting all sorts of monster ultimately, I was told that Nintendo are bundling in an HD version of the first Bayonetta with the special edition of the game, and in a way that is pretty uniquely Nintendo they are including extra skins for Bayonetta to wear in the game (not sure if this was just the sequel or the first game too) using Nintendo characters, like Samus or Link, that include unique moves and actions based on those skins. This struck me as pretty cool, and interesting as usually extra skins are just that and therefore a little boring. It’s nice that Nintendo are going the extra mile with it, and while I am genuinely sad that I won’t be able to get my hands on Bayonetta 2 easily, I am glad that Nintendo are ensuring that the series can continue. It’s already out in Japan, but is due out over here on October 24th.

 

Sunset Overdrive

The only game we actually got the chance to try out over in the Microsoft section was Sunset Overdrive, an Xbox One exclusive from Insomniac Games and published by Microsoft. We queued for a while, and we were flagging quite a bit by this point in the day. Lots of wandering around with the crowds, bright lights and various demos at the end of a long week led to us needing a serious pick-me-up at this point. Sunset Overdrive looked to be that sort of game, with the trailer from back at E3 making it look like a lot of insane and colourful fun.

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While I think the game actually supports eight player co-op, we put in a team of 6 and took part in ‘Chaos Squad’, in which we had to defend vats of an energy drink from hordes of OD’d. Looking it up now, the OD’d are humans who drank too much of the newly released energy drink Overcharge Delirium XT and were transformed into monsters, and the player controls customisable employees of the company that made it to take out these monsters. You’re given a pretty decent range of weapons, from highly explosive rocket launchers, shotguns and the harpoon gun the ‘Captain Ahab’, all of which are great fun, and you move around grinding rails and lines exploding the creatures trying to get more energy drinks. Being somewhat addicted to caffeine in all it’s forms (I can quit any time I want!), this was a somewhat harrowing look at my future as a mindless zombie needing a fix. After a lot of colourful kills of the various OD’d, nearly dying myself a couple of times, we finished the mission successfully. I came last, but the other group playing at the same time failed. So I was better than them at least.

This game looks like it will be a huge amount of fun, with either online and local multiplayer. I have no idea what the single player will be like, but with a set up as ridiculous as this I’m sure it will be entertaining. The game is heavy on style, reminding my visually of Jet Set Radio and other similarly vibrant games. The team behind Rachet and Clank seem to be putting out another interesting IP here, and I hope I get the chance to play it when it comes out on October 31st (I’m going to trick Nath into buying it).

 

Splatoon

The last game we played was Splatoon back in the Nintendo section on the WiiU. There was a really fun vibe from all the folks working there, cheering on the two teams facing off against each other. On top of this, there was a Smash Bros. final going on on the big screen behind us that we kept watching too, with the emcees throwing out loads of Nintendo goodies in between events. We soon got to the front of the queue for the game we were supposed to be watching, and one of the Nintendo attendants showing off the game very patiently showed me the controls. I clearly struggled a little bit with the motion action of the WiiU controller to look around, especially as it was attached to the stand by a cable which dramatically reduced the range of movement (though I understand why they would need it secured).

In Splatoon you fire ink from what looks like a super-soaker, and the aim is to cover as much of the level with your team’s ink as possible. When you run out of ink, you can dive into sections that are your colour already, swimming around in it as a squid and replenishing your ink. You also move more quickly this way, but can only move in your ink and can’t attack. You can spray members of the enemy team with ink too and blow them up, gaining more points for your team. Covering as much as possible can also unlock a limited time bazooka, which lays down a lot of paint and devastates your enemies.

The game was extremely fast paced and animated, and was a really enjoyable multiplayer. We used absolutely zero tactics as a team, and as a result lost the round by only 0.1% ink coverage. I did get the highest score on our team, and the second highest in the game, so clearly I’m better at WiiU than I am at Xbox One. This was great fun, and I think it would be a good party game, but I am interested to see what other modes Splatoon has. I’m sure we will see more before the release early-to mid 2015.

 

 

After we we finished with Splatoon we headed upstairs to check out the indie games section. We looked around and tried a couple of games, but by this point we had been wandering around EGX for nearly seven hours and we were totally shattered. Kii and I both decided that it was time to call it a day, a real shame as we hadn’t finished our list of games that we wanted to check out, and had barely touched the indie section properly that really deserved a couple of dedicated hours to check out. However, we had managed our time through the day as best we could, so we had essentially overestimated how long everything would take. To get through everything we had wanted to get to, we really needed at least two days at the expo.

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But overall, for a first time attending a games convention like this as press, with the intent on covering our experience in various articles, I think it was pretty successful. The opportunity to play several games that aren’t out yet was great, and I really enjoyed all of them. EGX was busy without being heaving (though Saturday may have been a lot worse), and with no queue being ridiculously long (though the COD Advanced Warfare did look pretty damn long). I definitely want to go to more events like this, but I think to give the convention its proper due and cover everything we would like to we would need to be there for more than one day or take more than two of us to cover it (or both). Looking forward to the next one!

Adam