Category: Xbox One

Just Dance 2015 : review

Just Dance 2015            GmP                     image Xbox One packshot 1

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again when the karaoke machines kick in and the silly season switches on the festivities as the nation goes party people potty. Right at the centre of the annual celebrations, as ever, is Ubisoft’s seminal swinger Just dance 2015 as it takes gamers by the hand and leads them out onto the dance floor in preparation for their office Christmas party.  Hit it!

Back with more changes than you could shake a firm-rumped money-maker at comes this latest installment in the scorching series that Just dance has morphed into. This one-time novelty title catering to the non-gamer out there has proved itself a tough cookie, as it takes on more core titles such as Battlefield and Call of Duty in the sales charts, and with 2015 seeing even more solo and social options and features being packed into the game than ever before the time has never been netter to jump into all the fun and fitness that this ship-swivelling smash hit has to offer.

Kicking off proceedings with some of the new additions to the Just dance format we see that Ubisoft have once again added even more features for the solo player ensuring that even people playing the game offline, or just by themselves, can still feel like they are interacting with an even bigger group thanks to the excellent inclusion of the brand new ‘Virtual Dance Crews’

Just Dance 3 image 3     GmP GamingA favourite with many of the ‘boys’ in the office Virtual Dance Crews allows players to leap into the action without the stigma attached to their basic lack of dancing ability as we learned the ropes and began to get to grips with a few novice steps and shuffles.

Players get that sense of fun and friendship, ( albeit from a group of AI companions ), that many people feel to bashful to undertake without the imbibing of half a litre of Dutch Courage before they enter into the games many modes. It is also a bigger boost to the confidence when you are playing Just dance 2015 on the Xbox One version, as we did for this review, as the Microsoft version allows for a whopping six player tracking option making the inclusion of real players and virtual players transform your front room into a dance hall.

Ubisoft have also added even more new features into this latest version of the blockbuster floor filler, not only with the corking track list of 41 top tunes from around the music industry, but also thanks to more fantastic new modes modes such as Themed Challenges as well as a whole smorgasbord of community and social options.

Challenger‘ comes into play in most of the available set play modes and brings to the fore some of those new community features and social interactivity that is at the forefront of Ubisoft’s mind. Players are now able to challenge people from all across the world regardless of if they are online or not by allowing gamers to take up their ‘Saved Games’, ‘High Scores’ and best performances and ‘Challenge’ their greatest moves and points tallies.

Naturally this is also another wonderful way for the solo player to get more involved in the Just dance scene than ever before, and one that we, as purely non-dancers, welcome in order that we may compete in these modes from the comfort and ridicule free safety of our own homes and yet still have virtual anonymity for what can only be described as our Murder on the Dancefloor.

Challenge Mode pretty much sums up most of Ubisoft’s new additions, in that the publisher and developer have worked hard to attract the single player to their title, and judging from the raucous reception the game received upon the code landing in the office it has gone down a storm with all players from greenhorn to expert.

Just Dance 4Of course, the mode not only brings in new ways to play with friends from all around the globe, it also brings with it a far more competitive edge as players can now challenge each other to dance-off’s and competitions in a wider variety of modes.

Naturally all of the firm fan-favourites and family fun time modes return for more, and if you combine all of the new additions to the Just Dance family then this is a game that has more trouble keeping its content from spilling out onto the carpet than most.

Karaoke Mode is still a highly popular stalwart thanks to its highly entertaining combination of singing and dancing whilst Sweat Mode speaks for itself with its high octane levels of fitness for the more dedicated dancer in you.

Last years new inclusion to the format saw World Dance Floor making its debut and 2015 see’s the extremely  enjoyable mode returning for more of the same good clean entertainment this year with world leaderboards, statistics, tracking and, of course, the World Dance Wall all putting in an appearance to bring the Just dance 2015 version to a far wider audience.

The control system is still the same forgiving, less severe affair than many of its ‘karaoke’ styled rivals and though some may gripe that this allows less talented dancers to earn higher scores than they would realistically achieve, the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day Just dance ‘is’ a game, and as such it is designed to make as many people have fun as it possibly can. If it means that it allows a few dodgy wiggles and jiggles here and there then so be it.If you wanted professional; level dancing then we recommend the Bolshoi for your assessment.

number-9-pool-ballJust Dance 2015 returns to do what it does better than anyone else, and if anything the massive weight of public support and the sheer numbers involved in the ever-growing Championships should prove to Doubting Thomas’s just how popular this game truly is, and rightfully so. Just Dance does everything so much better than its scant rivals, and far better than anyone could ever have predicted.

Ubisoft have taken what was considered mere casual shovelware and turned into one of the fastest growing and financially viable videogame franchises of the decade thanks to its fresh, fun and funky attitude. Another hit without a doubt is on the cards for the best of the best in the interactive dance genre.   9 out of 10

 

 

TITLE:                          Just Dance 2015

FORMAT:                     Xbox One  [reviewed])

DEVELOPER:               Ubisoft
PUBLISHER:                Ubisoft              

SCORE OUT OF 10:      9 out of 10

Styx Master of Shadows : Review

Styx Master of Shadows             GmP     image 5

Welcome one and all to the stealthy underworld of silent assassin Styx. This master of murder is High Priest of the Headhunters and Lord of the Lynching as he cuts a path through his enemies, quite literally, from start to finish in this latest title from Cyanide Games.

For all you fans out there in internet land who love nothing more than a session spent with the King of Killers, Agent 47, then Styx Master of Shadows is so far ‘up your alley’ that it’s quite possible you may just need a post-coital cigarette to calm those shaking legs afterwards.

The gaming world has been crying out for someone to take up the torch in between Hitman titles, ensuring that fans of the stealth title would not be forced to endure replays of such poor man’s efforts as video nasties like Vampire Rain and that mockery of its own outstanding series of stealth games Thief 4. With Styx, however, the torch is not only held in lieu of a next episode from the bald bad-ass but rather it is blown out for fear of alerting a nearby guard and used as a club in a perfect silent takedown of the unknowing sentry.

Styx could well be the underground hit of the year, and most definitely it should be receiving far greater attention than the cursory lip-service from the videogaming media.

An absolute joy to play from start to very distant end this darkly lit crawler see’s gamers stepping into the felt boots of captured orc assassin ‘Styx’ as he is held in the Human tower built by the games’ antagonist coupling of the father and son team of Human halfwits.

The back story to your incarceration is that you are seeking the legendary Heart of the Tree that has been placed in the care of Mankind following an uneasy truce that see’s Human’s and Elves one step from tearing each others throats out. The tree itself is housed within the Tower of Arkanash, a purpose built monstrosity of intricate design that weaves and winds its way around the maze-like interior like an Escher woodcut.

The twist in the plot comes from understanding that Styx is not attempting to break ‘into’ the Tower in order to gain access to the Heart of the Tree, rather he is trying to break ‘out’.  All will be revealed but with so many opportunities to litter this review with spoiler after soul-destroying spoiler we have to be extremely careful with what we include.

Needless to say you begin the game after busting out of your cell and so begins your epic quest across some of the very best level design and platforming styled stealth gameplay we have encountered in many a year. To say that we enjoyed the sneaky side of Styx so much that the only game we could think of when trying to offer up a comparison of the depth of design was Syphon Filter should give you some kind of idea of the high regard we hold this title in.

Styx Master of Shadows             GmP     image 1The opening level serves as the obligatory tutorial as you are tasked with first escaping your cell block and recovering your trusty dagger. We do suggest to pay close attention to every possible nook and cranny that you encounter along the way, as even the most innocuous of alcoves can open into some vast unexplored area like the wardrobe portal of a digital realm Narnia.

From here on in what you are treated to is quite simply the best stealth title of the Decade so far, and one that, thankfully, does not hold your hand or flash up helpful hints if you find the going a little tough.

Styx, instead, goes down the route of only giving you the very bare essentials, ( and sometimes not even that ), with which to make your current objective ‘survivable’. Armed only with a pair of ‘everything’, ( although this statement may lead you into a false sense of security as when we say ‘everything’ we mean only two health flasks, two throwing knives and two ‘amber potion vials’), Naturally players are able to upgrade their inventory as the game progresses thanks to the games leveling up and XP system, but even after achieving the highest level of item acquisition players will only ever have in their possession at any one time ‘three’ of each article.

There are, of course, the all important skills and talents that Styx can upgrade by the same XP system, but progression is anything but assured as players must complete certain tasks in order tom be awarded with those precious experience points and some of the required chores feel more like ordeals than tests. Nothing in Styx is a formality or guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination.

Styx has an ability tree of upgradable attributes that allow for far more exploratory gaming as players ‘purchase’ the next in line of four available enhancements for each of Styx’s six skills.  These range from the power to turn ‘invisible’ for a period of time, the use of an ‘X-ray eyes’ styled vision that permits Styx to view all of the points of interest in his current zone, and there is also the extremely necessary upgrade to Styx’s inventory where that all important third item comes into play. There is, of course, a pair of combat based skills that will allow players to perform kills either when Styx is perched above his target on a beam or ledge, or a grab and throw that is executed when Styx is below the enemy soldier. Both of these attributes are practical and purposeful and will aid your play-through no end. Lastly comes the  ‘Predator’ skill that only becomes available when all of the previous five have been fully upgraded.

However, many of the skills are ‘Amber powered’ and, as such, players will need to pay close attention to their status bar as the ‘amber’ attributes are incredibly important skills and, more often than not, will require ingestion of additional amber to perform a second ‘amber act’. The only real exception to this rule is ‘Amber Vision’ which can be used multiple times before the player is required to drink another vial.

Styx Master of Shadows             GmP     image 2Saving the best for last we now come too our personal favourite of the ‘amber powers’, that being the ability to ‘vomit’ a clone copy of yourself. This friendly little ‘puke pal’ is an essential part of your inventory as your pet ‘Rakash’ is able to enter small spaces and open doors and gates for you before you recall his essence back into your ‘amber bank’ in a cloud of smoke.

Of course, if your Rakash is killed before you can recall him then you cannot recover the amber. But there is also a third option of causing your clone to explode and burst forth into  a cloud of noxious black smoke that Styx is able to sneak through and take advantage of should the occasion ever require it.

With later upgrades your clone is not only able to act as a remote control turnkey or mere kamikaze distraction, he can also hide in cupboards and chests and grab unsuspecting sentries as they happen by. There are many options and fun ways to exploit your little Rakash, so make sure you explore them all in order to make full use of his abilities.

Another tip will we offer you before we leave the menu section is to keep an eye out for that important ‘Save’ feature, and put it to good use as often as you want. The auto save points have huge distances between each other, and considering how easy it is to be killed in Master of Shadows players will find themselves being made to replay huge chunks of levels time and again if they fail to use this option.

The learning curve is gradual and although some may feel it rushes in a little too steeply at times we don’t necessarily think that the game could have benefitted from a more mundane difficulty setting format. Styx is ‘meant’ to be tough, and it is ‘meant’ to drive you bat-shit crazy. But, man alive! What a feeling when you get to the end of level scoreboard with a prefect tally paraded across your TV or monitor.

The combat system is a little frustrating in that open warfare is frowned upon in favour of a purist approach to stealth, but it can wear a little thin after being caught out in the open by multiple adversaries only to have to  resort to parry-only attacks whilst trying to fight off a main attacker raining blows and three others hitting you with everything from knives to crossbow bolts and magic.

That being said Styx is as Styx does, and in a game that makes no attempt to disguise itself as an out-and-out stealth title the question is more ‘what were you doing out in the open in the first place?’ as opposed to ‘why can’t I fight in the open?

Throwing knives are a very real option in the Tower of Arkanash, however, we warn you – fallen enemies will alert the guards far more quickly than any other type of alert, and in a game where each new level brings ever more tougher foes the last thing you need is to be pursued by armour-plated knights looking for revenge on the little ‘green skin’ who has just ‘offed’ one of their mates.

Players will quickly recognise each enemy and in doing so will learn which tactic works best for dealing with said enemy. For example, the aforementioned knights cannot be killed by knives and so only an industrial accident such as a gas escape from the distillery or a falling chandelier will kill these ‘tanks’. Whereas the Elves ‘can’ be killed with knives, but only a throwing knife will do as trying to encroach on an elf’s personal space will result in the inevitable insta-kill at the end of the tall figures spear.

The environments are split into six separate chapters each with three zones containing vast area’s of intricate level design that allows for massive exploration and extremely enjoyable stealth platforming as players discover new and previously unknown passages and walkways.

Styx Master of Shadows             GmP     image 4Graphically Styx looks and feels the part of a dark and threatening stealth crawler as your ‘vertically-challenged’ little fella stares often in wonderment at the sheer scale of the impressive architecture all around him.  Massive in all aspects, apart from the actual height of your diminutive Orc, Master of Shadows will, at times, amaze and inspire you. The attention to detail is flabbergasting and, thankfully, none of this fastidious nature has been overlooked in the games’ controls.

Players unfamiliar with this kind of stealth title ( for example gamers who have dipped their tentative toes into the Splinter Cell pool but gone no further than a mere tepid paddle ), will be in no way over-awed by the games control system. Styx uses a very simple to master method that will permit even the most novice of stealth players to cut their teeth on this exemplary title.

Tip of the day for Styx would be this, though, and that is when you are looking to reach outcroppings and climb points high above you to never forget to keep the jump button depressed. We have noticed a few players bemoaning the games jump mechanics for overhangs only to play through the game now four times on each difficulty and have not a single instance of this in any of our own efforts. We can only assume that many players are not quite experienced when it comes to understanding ‘press ‘A’ to jump’, and ‘Depress and Hold ‘A’ to reach overhangs’ .

Nevertheless we would recommend that players uncertain of the jump and catch method would take a word from the wise and maybe replay the games’ opening tutorial a couple of times in order to master their acrobatics for fear of missing a ledge or dropping off to their doom in a later level.

Getting to the real ‘meat and two veg’ of Styx is to get to grips with the games outstanding stealth mechanics. Sneaking is the name of the game, and take a tip from the Orc himself early on in the tutorial when you are well advised to avoid running and farting.   Both will be extremely hazardous to your  health.

Creeping through hidden vents, hiding below tables right under the noses of the guards tasked with bringing your head to their master is something of a joy when the game plays as smoothly as Styx Master of Shadows.  Any sound, however, will have the numerically superior guards brought down on your head like a ton of bricks, so never think you can make it from one secluded safe spot to another by making a mad cap dash for it whilst your patrolling sentries are seemingly out of earshot. They are not. They never will be.

Of course, being an Orc Styx does have one valuable weapon that is just part and parcel of his genetic make-up, and that is the ability to spew poison into his foes water supply or on their food and then sit back in the shadows and wait for the toxin to take effect. This is the only other way you can kill tougher enemies, such as the one-hit kill knights, other than pushing them off a structure or dropping something on them, so make particular use of this highly entertaining and useful skill or be forever doomed to die at the point of a heavily armed knights blade.

Stealth kills, ( are there any other kind in Styx? ), are a deeply satisfying affair in Master of Shadows and players will soon become enamored with the little assassin as he deftly muffles the attempted screams and cries of his victims before telling them to  ‘shush’ as if merely putting a drowsy child to bed.

number-9-pool-ballStyx Master of Shadows is a fine example of the possibilities that are still very much available in the stealth genre if developers would just put some effort into their inventiveness and not just opt for the same tired CIA/Black Ops/MI6 format. It has been done to death, and playing the part of an Orc hitman as opposed to a muscled, chisel jaw from the staple ‘Ex-Marine’ department is a welcome change.

Excellent story telling is brought to life with some truly fine work from the voice actors, as well as stellar efforts by the developers themselves at Cyanide Games. If you want to know how to make a genuinely entertaining and thoroughly engaging stealth game then Styx could well be the rule of thumb to follow for future endeavors.    9 out of 10

 

TITLE:                                                     STYX MASTER OF SHADOWS     
FORMAT:                                               XBOX ONE    [reviewed])
DEVELOPER:                                      CYANIDE GAMES
PUBLISHER:                                       FOCUS HOME INTERACTIVE

AVAILABLE PLATFORMS:          XBOX ONE, PS4, PC  

SCORE OUT OF 10:                          9 OUT OF 10

 

website:    http://www.styx-thegame.com/

Destiny : Review

Destiny                                                 GmP         image   1

Activision’s mammoth machine goes into overdrive as the long-awaited and extremely over-hyped Bungie vehicle ‘Destiny’ takes the world of the online shooter by storm.

In what has to be some of the most powerful marketing by a videogames publisher in the history of the medium, one-time Microsoft flagship boys Bungie have jumped ship across to Activision to produce their first multiplatform title, Destiny.

Ever since the initial reveal was peek-a-booed to a select group of journalists way back in 2011 the public relations campaign surrounding Destiny has been working overtime, double time and all of the time to promote the science fiction spectacular to a not disinterested audience.

Although it has to be pointed out that Bungie have had their eye on the online MMOS title since the days of Halo: ODST when eagle-eyed gamers were able to spot a poster on walls of the shattered Human outpost at New Mombasa that announced ‘Destiny Awaits’ whilst an orb not dissimilar to a ‘Ghost’ floated nearby.

But has this non-stop show of outstanding real-life action trailers, amazing CGI sequences and ‘hinted at’ promises of a massive galaxy just awaiting your arrival to begin the most spectacular journey ever created by a videogame developer been a victim of its own highly successful PR campaign? Perhaps.

Building on what is very like Halo meets Call of Duty ( ‘verticality’, anyone? ) Destiny opens with a tale set in the distant future when Human’s have been visited by a strange and powerful entity known only as ‘The Traveller’. This benevolent being grants Mankind all manner of astounding technology, not least withstanding the ability to upgrade our spacecraft to allow for interstellar flight to other worlds, and thus the ‘Golden Age’ of wondrous inventions, peace and exploration begins.

After being granted these new-found powers Human’s then proceed to gain a foothold in the Solar System with colonies rapidly being installed on planets such as Mars and Venus, as well as our own Moon. However, with expansion obviously comes the concerned impression of imperialism from other, as yet undiscovered, species. And with Man’s continued exploration of our own Galaxy we awake the sleeping giants of ‘The Fallen’, and with the curiosity of this warrior race pricked it is not too long before an era of all-out warfare befalls Mankind as the age of ‘The Collapse’ commences.

Destiny                                                 GmP         image   10Central to all of this is the massive, cloud covered sphere orbiting the Earth known as The Traveller.  It is the arrival of this mystery being that heralds The Golden Age, and ultimately the cause also of The Collapse. However, it is also because of The Traveller that Mankind if saved from oblivion at the hands of The Fallen, but even so, by the time balance is brought back to Humanity it is not without terrible cost and the enormous loss of life.

Gone are the outposts on Mars, Venus and even The Moon itself. Gone also are the once majestic cities that thrived after the introduction of advanced technology from The Traveller. Gone too the once proud army of warriors who stood guard over Mankind…..everything , has changed…forever.

Moving forward we come to 700 years following the arrival of The Traveller as the protective satellite sends ‘Ghosts’, small probes carrying advanced artificial intelligence, to locate the bodies of fallen warriors, who were once the former protectorate of Earth’s one-time prosperous population.

Upon discovery of your lifeless corpse you are ‘resurrected’  by this tiny ‘demi-God’ and granted life renewed as The Traveller and his new allies, the Exo’s and The Awoken, plot the downfall of the invading Fallen Empire.

Now, here is where things get a little ‘tricky’.

The Exo’s are an enigma to everyone, including themselves. Built for a war long forgotten by everyone, these rebooted robotic rangers have protected Man since their construction but were powered down following the completion of their original task and then brought back online during The Collapse.

Equal in rights and status to their Human counterparts the Exo’s enjoy life among the rank and file and have even been recruited to fight once more as Guardian’s by The Traveller.

Destiny                                                 GmP         image   12The Awoken, however, are a different kettle of alien fish altogether. These Human-descended blue-skinned warrior’s are a proud race who, during the time of The Collapse, sought sanctuary in the far reaches of Human controlled space. This area is now known as ‘The Reef’ and many Awoken prefer to still live here, often rejecting Earth born Awoken as ‘outsiders’ and making them unwelcome on The Reef.

Power is controlled by a Queen, and her ever scheming brother, but The Awoken are allies regardless of their cold, somewhat cruel exterior. Whatever happened during their Exodus to the far reaches of space during The Collapse may have changed their genetics forever, but they remain loosely allied to Mankind…for the moment.

And now we come to the ‘bad guys’ of the piece, ‘The Fallen’. These four-armed aliens are as agile as they are intelligent, and given that they are bipeds operating with two pairs of extremely strong upper limbs also allowing them to scale obstacles with ease, that is no small claim.

Advanced in technology and far superior to Humans and Awoken in terms of weaponry, armour and vehicles The Fallen have but one true opponent worth their time, really, and that may well be The Exo’s.

The Fallen appeared first when they attacked the Human advanced base on Venus during the onset of The Collapse, but their motives for doing some are still unknown. Perhaps they felt threatened by Mankind’s sudden technological improvements and interstellar travel? Perhaps they thought it best to nip this war-like Human species in the bud before their tinkering’s and ingenuity produced weapons and craft that could better their own? Whatever the reason behind the assault the outcome was swift and decisive leading to further attacks on the remaining Human outposts from Fallen warriors emboldened by their early victories.

Split into six distinct classes The Fallen are, from the lowest rank to the highest in ascending order:

Shanks:            Shanks are the ‘Drones’ of The Fallen with one major difference to the Human version, Shanks spray death and destruction from their onboard cannons. In essence they are the Jack of All Trades of The Fallen in that they are, more often than not, the sentries, the Drones, the front line recce troops, the hunter-killers, the IED’s and the Kamikaze pilots. These AI ‘dogs bodies’ are expendable assets sent in to prepare the way for their organic brethren.

Dregs:               The moniker speaks for itself as these lowest of the low biological entities are the ‘grunts’ of The Fallen ranks. These former thieves now spend their time between acting as shock troops and guards as they get all of the less glamorous jobs their fellow combatants feel are beneath them. Pack hunters, scavengers and easily distinguishable from any other Fallen because unlike the rest of their species Dregs are two handed like their Human enemies. It may be because of this that they are seen as ‘the dregs’ of Fallen society.

Destiny                                                 GmP         image   5Vandals:           Now we begin to get to the more ‘meaty’ of The Fallen warriors with these hard-headed killers. Four armed for better mobility, agility and unarmed combat, ( try fighting someone who has both of your arms held outstretched and yet still can hit you with a flurry of combinations and you begin to get the picture ), The ‘Vandals’ are the ‘sniper’ and specialist class of The Fallen. Armed more often than not with high-powered fusion weapons for that additional blast their one disadvantage is the charge time required by said weapons. However, get too close to these sneaking assassins and they are able to ‘mix it’ with the best of them. You have been warned.

Captains:         The Prussian aristocracy of The Fallen. These powerful brutes come armed with twin swords that they wield with astonishing deftness and ability. Complete with heavy armour and rank identifying cape, The Captain’s are the toughest of all The Fallen bipedal warriors. Capable of turning their murderous talents from sword to shield, rifle to rough-necking these impressive soldiers are professional and dedicated and should not be underestimated, ever!

Servitors:           A spherical beam producing ‘Death Star’ that has shields and a larger than average lifespan against anything other than later rare weapons. These orbs of doom are capable of teleportation across short distances as well as producing Void projectiles which they launch across vast area’s from their ‘eye-like’ aperture.

Archons:            The High Priests of The Fallen. Extremely powerful and can absorb far more damage than their lower ranked comrades the Captain’s.  Archon’s also possess special abilities such as the ‘smash’ which will do extreme player damage if you are the victim of such a devastating blow.

Kells:                In a word, ‘Trouble’ ( with a capital ‘T’ ). The supreme leaders of Fallen Houses, these are the pinnacle of power for Guardian’s looking to rid a planet’s zone of The Fallen permanently. Approach with extreme caution and only when in Co-oP Mode.

 

Destiny                                                 GmP         image   9Offsetting the rank and file of the foes you will face in Destiny are the allies made up of The aforementioned Exo’s, Awoken and, of course, the trusty Humans. Customization for the classes in each race is somewhat limited at first, but that’s not to say it does not improve as you quickly whip through the first twenty or so levels gaining performance and armour upgrades along the way. Items such as the ‘legendary’ and ‘rare’ weapons also offer their own personal upgrades for completing set tasks and achieving kill streaks.

Staying with the games’ story for just a moment longer we now have to decide whether or not to praise or persecute Bungie for what loosely passes for the ‘campaign mode’. To be honest with you all it is not a decision we have to put too much thought into because the sheer lack of anything even remotely approaching a single player mode doesn’t just speak for itself it veritably screams the house down.

In a game the cost a reported £500m to develop the word that springs to mind when attempting to describe the attraction for a solo player is, surprisingly, anything but positive. The total disregard for any kind of single player mode is staggering, especially when you consider that time and again over the years gamers have proven to publishers and studio’s alike that they do not want a shift over to always online, MMO styled digital only videogames. Gamers want tangible copies of physical media discs that house ‘their’ experience that ‘they’ paid for to enjoy in the comfort of ‘their own’ homes. Not some wishy-washy excuse for a concerted effort to force gamers into purchasing something that they don’#t really want.

If Bungie and Activision are so sure that the gameplay contained within Destiny is the future of videogames, and that the monotonous grind of a mediocre MMO is what players were hoping for, ask yourself why, then, did they market the game as an experience totally different to the one that players got.

There is no exploration of worlds from the cockpit of your star-fighter as you hurtle through space at warp factor 9. There is no single player mode whatsoever, rather a cobbled together Co-oP atrocity that forces players to team up with strangers online or be battered incessantly by enemies far to powerful for one warrior to stand against.

There is also ‘no’ discernible endgame because, ultimately, the game was so sliced and diced to ensure a steady stream of future DLC that quite literally all you can do in Destiny is fight the same re-spawning enemies, in the same area’s in the same missions over and over and over again in a never ending nightmare of tedium which is only offset by the occasional Weekly Strike Mission which is, yup you guessed it, just another rehashed mission from any one of the scant few that you have already completed a thousand times before.

Destiny                                                 GmP         image   3Quite what Bungie were thinking when they had the team meeting to discuss modes and format and they all agreed that the way forward was a four-player enforced ‘’campaign’ with no single player option, save the opportunity to enter into what should be a four man strike on their Jack Jones, is just beyond us?

I find it incredible to believe that rational thinking men and women went along with this, particularly in light of their last title, you know? Halo? Only the most successful videogame franchise in history that supplanted itself in the hearts and minds of a generation, and then some, not because of its multiplayer, which was fantastic and varied, but because of the characters and scenario’s you found yourself being swept along with in the solo campaign mode.

Graphically the game is quite pleasing but the early warning signs for the more savvy gamer where that the title was available on all last generation platforms as well as the current crop. This should have given off warning bells regarding the limited architecture, meaning that the gameplay would also be restricted. When you consider that Dead Rising 3 breaks the record for the number of enemies on screen at any one time at a whopping 22,000 then it kind of puts things in perspective when Destiny starts to struggle at around 14.

But worry not, because lets call a spade a shovel here…Destiny never really pushes the boundaries of …well…anything?

The visuals are passable, the combat is the same bog standard FPS fare that we have been spoon fed in a thousand other shooters, the customization is basic and the gameplay positively mediocre.

Destiny as it is, this piecemeal 6 hours of beige hacked to bits in favour of selling players back huge chunks of the original game in the inevitable Season Pass, is far from the blockbuster experience that gamers were promised for so long.

That some players are even defending the disgraceful inclusion of items such as the predictable Expansion Pack flyer in the game case on day one of launch just goes to show how blinkered and downright gullible some consumers can be, as they are happy to be fed any old line from publishers and developers regarding the promise of ‘ten year programmes’, in which we are now supposed to be happy that we will be ‘treated’ to ‘free’ updates, ( are there any other kind? ), and ‘paid’ downloadable content ( are there any other kind? ).

If any proof was required that Bungie’s promised opus has been callously butchered for future DLC packages then readers need only search Youtube for the myriad of video’s showing players already finding future area’s that will house downloadable content. This plainly demonstrates that these area’s have been deliberately removed from the launch game in a bid to then sell it back to you at a later date.

Yes, Bungie have made the combat absolutely buttery smooth and so similar to Halo that Xbox gamers will be able to jump right on in to Destiny and feel like they are cozying up to a much-loved old friend.

Destiny                                                 GmP         image   4But, again, within the combat comes yet another problem because of the lack of a storyline. This means that all players will ever do is spawn in the exact same spot every time they begin a new mission or level. Then they move on through a few sparse enemies, who are also in exactly the same spot every time you pass them. ( so much so that if you just care to hang around a few minutes they will then magically re-appear like nothing ever happened and you can grind them into mush all over again ). From here its either a quick jaunt through the same terrain or you have the option of using your ‘speeder’  ( that comes with no armaments and basic controls and has about as much protection as chocolate fire guard ). One last push see’s you reach your objective where you will then take part in enforced ‘Horde Mode’ until the 30 second clock timer runs out and you go back to orbit, Earth or the same place you started from in the first place to rinse and repeat like some mind-numbing sci-fi torture.

And that is it.  That’s Destiny..?

What happened here? This is the most expensive game ever created. £500 million.  MILLION!?  Where? How?  Destiny has some of the most lack lustre level design of any game in recent memory, and the absolute worst solo experience next to MAG…and that game doesn’t even pretend to have one!

Minor niggles also litter the game like IED’s just waiting to go off on the first unsuspecting person to happen by. Some of them small, others not nearly so.

In no particular order here are some of the things which can cause aggravation on a scale of mild irritation to outright controller throwing ire.

The alluded to exploration from your single-seat space craft is, in fact, nothing more than a static cut scene. Not even an entertaining little mini-game, and even 2K’s NBA 2014  did that.

The fact that in a game that has boasted so much social interactivity and online community backing that not even a clan tag can be added to yours and your friends gamertags to show that you do, at least, have some kind of social recognition within the game itself.

The limitations of the 100 member clans, ( although you can’t have a clan tag ), meaning for larger groups you need to be split into sub-sections and have far more complicated hierarchies.

The questionable ‘one hit kill’ weapons in multiplayer.

Gamers being allowed to constantly farm ever more powerful weapons and ever stronger defensive armour and higher skill attributes in the ‘campaign’ and then being allowed to take them into the multiplayer unimpeded for tactical advantage.

Okay,, okay, that’s enough of the constant whining. It’s like the One Foot In The Grave version of the Destiny review.  So, after all that evidence and after all those minor and major niggles and jiggles along the way the single biggest issue with Destiny is not the lack of story, its not the omission of a genuine solo campaign or the many little snags, the most annoying and outright frustrating thing about Destiny is this……

         I LOVE IT!

 

Destiny                                                 GmP         image   7Forget everything we just pointed out and just do yourself a favour and get among some of the coolest and most addictive action since call of Duty 4. The gun play is outstanding, the all new double-jumps bring a totally different feel to the combat systems usually found in spoon-fed shooters and constantly re-spawning  enemies mean that the game never stops, it just keeps throwing armed to the teeth bad guys at you again and again in a constant challenge to your gaming skills.

Yes, we know we outlined a whole catalogue of moans and gripes but the truth of the matter is that Destiny is such a great game IN SPITE of these issues, rather than being a terrible one BECAUSE of them.

So what if you are dropped in the same spot for every mission, and so what if the lazy level design means that until the launch of the undoubted myriad of downloadable content packs that you will be fighting across the same locations and zones for the the same recurring missions.  SO WHAT!  Because at the end of the day, let’s be honest here, how many of the players getting among the action in Destiny are truly ‘bothered’ by it?   That’s right, you got it in one…’none!’

Destiny knows it doesn’t have to answer to the nit-picking, know-it-all’s in either the gaming media or the industry because it does the one main thing right above all else, and that is to deliver on the promises made to introduce the future of online FPS gaming.

The action is incessant and once the bombs and bullets start to fly then the pace of the never-ending onslaught is blistering. The weapons feel meaty and extremely well balanced. Each firearm brings with it its own set of upgrades such as additional projectile damage, better sights for distance, ( or close combat ), as well as the ability to auto collect ammunition from any weapon type encountered from fallen…erm, ‘Fallen’.

The new found attributes in the gameplay, such as the outstanding double ( upgradable to ‘triple’ ), ‘Halo-Bouncing’ is great fun and brings with it a whole new way to deliver death and destruction to your enemies. Battling it out with an opposite number who is also capable of this new ‘verticality warfare’ is also great fun and adds new dimensions to an already highly entertaining combat system.

When all is said and done, however, the pissing and moaning, the praising and gushing, it all boils down to one basic thing with Destiny: “ Do you like shooters? “

And that is basically ‘it’, in a nutshell.

If you enjoy shooters games where everything you see is trying to blow your head off with everything from fusion based power weapons, automatic rifles and even laser swords then you will absolutely love Destiny. Because believe you me, you are going to be doing just that! Shooting!

If you don’t like shooters and you are whining about the lack of campaign, the fact that enemies re-pawn again and again you are in a constant battle regardless of how many bad guys you kill, then what the Hell did you buy a shooter game for in the first place?  This wasn’t exactly sold to you as the next Fable title or Mortal Kombat. What were you expecting?

Destiny never actually made any promises to be anything other than ‘the next generation of shooters’, so all of those people, ( us included ), complaining because it has delivered on the only actual claim that it made need to re-consider, ( as we did ), what it is we are actually so aggrieved at.

number-7-pool-ballDestiny is a beautiful game with massive panoramic vista’s and some of the very best FPS action you are ever likely to encounter throughout this entire generation. There is no point in saying ‘From start to finish’, because the game is incessant, ever evolving and with an already assured 10 years of future content planned down the line. So, as we say Destiny is not likely to be anywhere close to the end just yet.

Remarkable as it is re-inventing the shooter genre Destiny could just have ushered in the age of the ‘MMOS’, ( or “ massive multiplayer online shooter “ ),  and we thank them for it.  Forget negativity, forget minor grumbles and gripes and just enjoy it for what it is, the promised ‘future of shooters’.  GmP rightly scores Destiny a justified 7 out of 10#

TITLE:                                                    DESTINY
FORMAT:                                              XBOX ONE                         [reviewed])
DEVELOPER:                                     BUNGIE
PUBLISHER:                                       ACTIVISION

AVAILABLE PLATFORMS:        ALL FORMATS

SCORE OUT OF 10:                          7  OUT OF 10

Outlast : Review

Outlast              GmP                            image    6

With more and more studio’s opting to try and find the next multiplayer cash-cow it would appear that the days of the survival/horror title are well and truly numbered. But if developers such as Red Barrels show anything with their latest launch it is that there is still a huge demand for the suspenseful chiller in videogames today. Join us now as we take an in-depth look at the nightmare shocker Outlast.

Let’s get one thing straight from the outset shall we? Survival/Horror is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite genre in the vast array of gaming pigeonholes. That chilling sensation you get creeping up your spine as your character edges along a darkened hallway lit only by flickering shadows is a far more tangible experience than anything else, I feel, offered up in any of the myriad genres littering the shelves of your local gaming retailer.

Nothing else seems to draw you in to the atmosphere like a horror game, and nothing comes even remotely close to the real-world feelings drawn out of the player as they greedily suck in shallow breath after shallow breath as they stumble and fumble their way across game zones spattered with traps, troubles and blood stains in equal measure.

No, there is nothing quite like a good scare-fest of the kind a survival/horror title delivers. Enter stage right the cracking Outlast. This outstanding piece of work is the product of twisted minds from the Red Barrels Studio, and oh!, what a tangled web they weave.

Starting off in the rain-soaking vehicle of investigative reporter Miles Upshur, we enter into our latest assignment after receiving an anonymous tip from a whistleblower regarding the sinister going’s on at Mount Massive asylum. This dark and looming building is the staple of horror films and comics time and again, but familiar though its architecture may be what is contained within its whispering walls is anything but.

Outlast              GmP                            image    7Set up in the Fifties as an asylum Mount Massive was quickly closed but re-opened again in the Eighties after being snapped up by the same shady corporate empire our intrepid reporter is currently investigating. This explains our man’s interest in the  area, but you can bet Miles wasn’t prepared for anything like he finds within the walls of the ‘asylum’ as the mental health institute is merely a front organisation for the worrying medical research into sleep deprivation and REM dream pattern control.

Entrance to the asylum serves as a short tutorial and we welcome back to the gameplay format that one time fan-favourite, survival/horror tradition of squeezing through gaps in walls and debris to gain access too, or to escape from, whatever demonic entity is currently seeking to chomp on your entrails.

Some may argue that the ‘squeeze through’ is a little passé, they are wrong, No argument, no debate. Just wrong. It’s a great addition to the game, and that is all there is to it. Racing towards a narrow fissure in shattered walls whilst all the time being to afraid to even take a quick glance back at your pursuer for fear of a grasping hand clawing at your startled face is far better than merely ‘Press and hold X to enter’.

Speaking of opening up a door, upon reaching the main entrance to Mount Massive players must shimmy around to a side door to get into the place as the main imposing portal is barricaded and locked up tight.  If anything this should have served as a red flag to our intrepid journalist but no! He just has to be Captain Bravepants and push right on in there.

Upon slipping into the ominous abode our Journo gets his first signs that all may not be quite peachy inside Mount Massive. You know the sort of thing? Lights flickering, eerie silence, a couple of broken windows here and there…oh, and the bloodied handprints and pools of ‘claret’ making Escher patterns on the floor. Time, in the words of that time-honoured beer advert, for a sharp exit.

Kee-e-r-r-r-ASH!! 

I think the phrase we are looking for, now that we have plummeted through the floor of the asylum, would be something along the lines of ‘the fecal matter has most definitely struck the wind farm now’.

From here on, dear GmP readers, the best thing to do to get the full effect of the atmospheric and down right chilling psychological horror provided by Red Barrels would be to turn off the lights, grab a few drinks and munchies and get settled in for around 6 hours of pant-wetting terror.  Oh, and while you are getting all your supplies and preparations made for your late-night fright-fest don’t forget to grab a shovel for your underwear.

Okay, now that we are inside let’s get a couple of things out of the way shall we? Graphically, Outlast may not be the prettiest game on the planet but I’ll be damned if that makes it a bad game, far from it. The game looks no more grainy or rattled than anything on display in a Dead Island or a Castlevania, and certainly with its ‘non violent’ approach to the ’ gameplay it is one of the most inventive of the year.

Do not be fooled, however, just because Miles doesn’t turn into Billy The Kid and go blasting his way through a horde of zombies the moment things turn sour does not mean that the game is in any way diminished by the lack of player combat. It just means that you have to be a good deal more realistic in your approach when facing enemies and problems.

Got a huge hulking brute with arms like Arnie in front of you?  Try using the most powerful ‘muscle’ in your body instead of your trigger finger and ‘think’ about how you  are going to get out of the situation you find yourself in.

Outlast              GmP                            image    4Moving right into the fighting mechanics brings us to to a point that will have some gamers scratching their heads and others nodding said melons in sage-like approval. Outlast may have many rumours circulating the interwebz that it doesn’t even have a combat system in place, however, this is simply not true. Outlast ‘does’ have plenty of violent moments of arm-rending gore and outright extreme blood thirsty savagery, its just that they will all, ( without exception ), be performed ‘on’ your character as opposed to ‘by’ him.

Instead, what players are treated to, by the lack of fighting abilities from Mr Upshur, is a non-stop nightmare where every corner can bring you face to face with a mutated monster whose only thought is to rend your body until it resembles nothing more than chump. Where every step on your journey may be your last, and every laboured breath is nervously caught short in your chest for fear of being overheard and overpowered by any one of the asylum’s unfettered inmates.

The lack of firearms, and even melee weapons, makes for a far more terrifying and frantic affair as players desperately try to navigate the corridors and chambers of this Hotel of Horror without alerting the assorted foes that line the halls and cellars just awaiting the arrival of an unfortunate fly into the blood soaked web. Stealth and subterfuge are thee orders of the day, and in a tip of utmost importance we ask you all to learn from our own mistakes with the adoption of a far more patient approach to your game play, as opposed to hurtling around the zones tearing from room to room like you are participating in some kind of demented speed round of hide and seek.

Don’t get me wrong here, there was more than one occasion when I’d stamp my feet and spout a “…if I had a gun or a club I could have killed him easy!” line, like a petulant child, but over-all the depth of desperation that the lack of even the most basic weapon offers you more than makes up for having a moment or two with yet another predictable outcome delivered with yawn inducing inevitability thanks to the possession of a rifle or machete.

Hell, you don’t even have the option to stand there and put your ‘dukes’ up before engaging the heavyweight in the corner to a round or three of Marquis of Queensbury. Nothing! Nervous types need not apply and those prone to bouts of diarrhoea had best install a steady supply of auto-assembly nappies for just such moments of pure unadulterated terror.

This is, without a doubt, a brave decision by Red Barrels, particularly in an age when the shooter reigns supreme and many former survival/horror stalwarts  such as Resident Evil have gone from being out and out stealth scenario’s to nothing more than tired Call of Duty wannabee’s.

Undoubtedly there are lessons to be learned here by many of the so-called ‘larger studios’  in that gamers are a funny lot, and although we may love the occasional hour or three spent blasting lumps out of each other on some Godforsaken battlefield in an online shooter, does not mean that we want ‘every’ subsequent title we purchase to be of a cookie-cutter formula. After all, variety, as they, is the spice of life.

Another major factor in the appeal of Outlast  is the brooding atmosphere inside Mount Massive’s  towering walls. The crushing blackness of the rooms and passageways populated by shuffling inmates is tangible in its oppression, and downright nerve-racking from start to finish.. It’s almost as if even the light bulbs have thought better of their situation and made themselves scarce rather than shine illumination onto the many horrors and atrocities being committed by doctor and patient alike.

Populated as it is by the now garish figures of former inmates and staff, Mount Massive is home to a collection of crazies and cranks the kind of which would make even The Shining’s own Jack Torrance seem like the most sociable and mentally stable fellow a chap could ever hope to meet.

Outlast              GmP                            image    3Mad scientist types, paranoid schizophrenics, sociopaths, psychopaths and a particularly excellent cameo from a vengeful ‘artist’ are among the more noteworthy of our new ‘friends’, but all of these pale into the background compared to the madness behind the men and women who created such a programme in the first place.

The sense of oppression raining down upon the characters shoulders is almost palpable as you stumble and fumble your way along bleak walkways and fetid sewers. The only light you have is the power-permitting UV glare of your trusty camcorder as you stagger your way through and around this maze of misery.

Of course, many players will be tempted to keep the garish green tinged light from their video camera always on for fear of becoming injured , lost or surprise-attacked by any one of the lurking former inmates in this art-imitating-life-imitating-art scenario as the lunatics have very much taken over the asylum.

And many of them will die…repeatedly.

Our advice is to take advantage of the camera’s light sparingly. Not only because finding batteries to power the unit are few and far between, particularly on the higher difficulty settings, but because the time will arise when you need the camera to find a certain clue or log entry and you will by pass the moment because your low battery alert is beeping like a sailor on daytime television.

The inky blackness permeates everything and even seems to infest the very air you breath as you weave your way under, over and around obstacles and wade through everything from rank sewage canals to bloodied body parts. This is compounded by the fact that players are not only tasked with finding an exit at all costs, but also because you are charged with locating extra batteries for your camcorder, audio and text logs that reveal snippets regarding the back story and events that have led to this current situation, as well as a myriad of additional tasks and objectives that are part and parcel of Miles’ survival in order that he may eventually emerge from this nightmare as unscathed as possible.

Outlast is the kind of game that horror fans have been longing for; suspenseful, chilling and outright nerve-wracking. The skillful use, by the developers, of music and mood is to be commended, and whereas others may simply have resorted to the tiresome ‘jump scare’ method Red Barrels have, instead, gone all out on a far deeper experience more along the lines of something Hitchcockian, if you will.

Naturally there are the more common-or-garden ‘boo!’ moments, where players will be squeezing through a thin gap in a wall, for example, only to be grabbed violently by a screeching inmate from the other side and yanked unceremoniously across the room like a rag doll, but it is with the well thought out use of lighting and atmosphere that Red Barrels truly capture the essence of what a genuine horror game is meant to be, and never once do they ease up on the player throughout the entirety of their torturous trek through the halls of this nightmare.

Outlast              GmP                            image    5Hiding in closets as you hear the thump and drag of encroaching enemies is enough to set anyone’s nerves on edge, but Red Barrels add so much more to melting pot than this. Tension is built in so many different ways from reaching for a crumbling outcropping as you try frantically to escape your pursuers, knowing that if you fall that you have nothing to defend yourself with. Your shaking fingers struggle to replace the batteries in your failing camera as the looming darkness, and insane inmates lurking in the shadows,  creep ever closer  with every passing second. Lunatics whose minds have been callously ripped from their brains by tinkering surgeons cackle in the distance as they make crazed collages of severed limbs, and modern art masterpieces from the body parts of former guards.

All of this and more makes up, what has to be, the underground hit of the year and without a shadow of a doubt the most entertaining and enjoyable survival/horror title since Condemned. If publishers want to be able to make big bucks from their titles without having to constantly dream up new idea’s to steal the Call of Duty/Battlefield install base then it is in titles such as Outlast and studio’s such as Red Barrels that they will find their answers.

Gamers want an assortment of titles, in a variety of genres. Not just point and shoot causal shovelware doled out in annual spoon-fed portions, with just enough content taken out so that Season Passes and the predictable DLC scam inevitably follow. Gamers want role-playing, ( Japanese and Western ), FPS, RNG, MMO, P&C,4×4,strategy, hack’n’slash, fighting games, survival and horror. What we do not want is the same format in every genre, it does not warrant a purchase, and hopefully the woeful sales of titles such as Bioshock Infinite, Resident Evil 6 and FEAR 3 and The Darkness 2 will have pointed this out?

( of course, what will happen in reality is that publishers will just ‘drop’ said franchise and instead of investing in new and exciting IP’s they will undoubtedly fall back on tried and tested tedium such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, FIFA and Uncharted )

Gamers need to begin the process of demonstrating ‘people power’ by voting and speaking with their wallets. Outlast is the perfect stage to demonstrate this consumer strength from. I’m not saying don’t buy your regular installment of your favourite annual, far from it. What I am hoping to recommend is that you should be purchasing such cracking titles as Outlast at the first opportunity, and then advising your friends to do the same. The only way to get publishers to promote more games such as Outlast is to prove to them that they are commercially viable.  We can heap plaudits after accolades onto Red Barrels and their amazing work, but if the sales do not raise the eyebrows of the ‘suits’ then it means nothing in the end.

Red Barrels have done a remarkable job with Outlast, and we wish them every success with this and future titles, but we need to show them the financial support of a Forza or an Uncharted if we are ever likely to  see the success matched time and again with follow up smash hit titles.

number-9-pool-ballDo not let this game go un-purchased, un-played and unnoticed. Outlast is a fantastic title, and one that every gamer should have in their collection whether they are fans of the survival/horror genre or not. This game could mark a huge turning point either in publishers returning to the time when actual investments where made in forward thinking and innovative studio’s, or in the way that more and more studio’s go down the self-publishing route. Whatever the result the winners in all of this are ultimately ‘you’, the gamers.

An epic title, this breath of fresh air almost feels revolutionary in its approach as it flies in the face of today’s staid formats and carbon copy videogames market. Outlast is a tour de force, and one that should adorn your game collection already and if not…why not?   Remarkable and inspirational, Outlast should serve as the benchmark for all future independent studio titles.        9 out of 10

Titanfall review

Titanfall                 GmP                 image 2The multiplayer event of the year is finally here!  EA and Microsoft come together in a meeting of minds as the developers cross their fingers for a console selling smash hit with ReSpawn Studio’s sci-fi shooter. But will the mecha action title fall foul of the fickle FPS crowd? Or will it power on through to take the top spot away from its Call of Duty rivals? Read on and discover the answers to these questions and more in the latest GmP review.

Starting out on the futuristic battlefields that make up the play zones of Titanfall,  Electronic Arts latest fingers-crossed moment as they once again go head -to-head with Activision in their latest bid to wrestle the FPS Number One spot away from ‘Cawl of Doody‘, and players are immediately reminded of all of the things that they love about their favoured genre: grenades, guns and gadgetry of the death-dealing kind. But when you look a little deeper into the affairs of this now more than familiar military-mayhem market the new additions of the hulking great mechanoid warriors that drop meteor like from the sky at your request bring with them the kind of fast-paced, hands-on action that similar robot wars titles such as FEAR, and even Transformers, have never been able to master.

Titanfall’s over-qualified creators have actually managed to pull off one of the most enjoyable ‘bot-based’ experiences that we have ever had the pleasure to enjoy, and when you consider that there is a lot more invested in the success of this title than the creators would have you believe, then you begin to appreciate the amount of effort that must have been put into turning thirty feet tall war-bots into fast-moving and fluid-functioning battle droids capable of putting up a stiff challenge to the dominance of the very game that West and Zampella created for Activision all those years ago, and that ultimately changed the face of videogaming forever!

The brains behind the behemoth that was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare have taken every ounce of their considerable talent and experience and built what has to be one of the most exciting new concepts of this fledgling generation. Titanfall takes everything that you know and love about military-styled shooters and beefs it up as they pack in more players, more weapons, bigger explosions, bigger enemies and bigger maps than anyone else.

Titanfall                 GmP                 image 1The premise is so simple it’s positively bare-bones:

You are on one side or the other of two opposing and similarly equipped armies…and..erm…” F_I_I_IGHT!

And that’s it! No single player to cloud your senses. No Co-oP Mode for the terminally tiresome who cannot hold their own in a multiplayer game. Just two equally matched forces facing off against each other across a devastated battleground as they leap, sprint, wall-hang and glide across the ruined backdrops before engaging in some of the most engrossing combat you have  ever experienced in an FPS title.

The gameplay itself is eerily familiar but oddly new in some bizarre twist of events as players get to select their soldier and Titan from any one of the preset selections, altering load out, weaponry and available attributes and assets along the way by earning that all-important in-game XP as you complete challenges and objectives in any one of the 15 excellent game modes.

After deciding on your starting selections and tinkering with your brutish war-bot you then get placed on either side of the combat zone and, depending on mode and mission, the murder and mayhem begins!

Gamers who love nothing more than partaking in the multiplayer staple of Domination, for example,  will begin their tour of duty either leaping from a troop transport dropship as they race to defend and capture their designated area’s, or they will fall to the ground seated in any one of their chosen Titan’s, the namesake of the game itself, as these hulking machines which bring the pain to anything and everything in their vastly destructive path.

Titanfall                 GmP                 image 4Whatever mode you plump for matters not, but it does matter in what ‘skin‘ you begin the game. If you are currently sporting a Human appearance then your experience will be all-out, balls-to-the-wall action with all guns blazing and all frags bursting. But if you find yourself at the controls of a Titan then the gameplay, though still startling fast and furious, will be more tactical as you attempt to avoid being turned into shrapnel by your enemies.

Don’t get ReSpawn Studio’s wrong, however, the Titan’s may well be huge, and they may well be powerful, but they aren’t immune or invulnerable to attack from even foot-based troops and bots armed with portable rocket launchers, or who drop onto the cockpits and hang on to the giants limpet-like before prying off the canopy and splattering its pilot all over the upholstery with a few well-aimed bursts of assault rifle fire.

The description of the marriage between Human and Mecha combat, like some kind of homage to the Redneck riot scene from Spielberg’s movie AI, demonstrates the perfect blend of the two vastly differing approaches to gameplay and the way that they blend seamlessly for a multiplayer experience that is not only satisfying, but is unique in its genre and unsurpassed for adrenalin-fuelled excellence.

The excellence, though, is not contained to the combat as ReSpawn Studio’s shows the correct way to build a multiplayer map with some of the very best combat zones ever to be found in any online shooter. With hidden entrances, nooks and crannies and wall-hang spots a-plenty for players to leap and spring from like armour plated gazelles, Titanfall just has everything that you could possibly wish for in an FPS title.

Graphically stunning and running at a buttery smooth 900p 60 frames per second on the Xbox One, and a simply gorgeous 1080p 60fps pn the PC, this game is, quite frankly so far ahead of its rivals that they would need to borrow a sniper rifle and expand the scope to 4 times just to get it  in view.

number-9-pool-ballOf course, not only are EA and ReSpawn hoping that Titanfall is a massive seller for them, but Microsoft are also hoping that this is a ‘system seller‘ that brings more ‘bums on seats’ for the Xbox One. It IS, and it WILL  Titanfall is ‘that good’. But don’t take our word for it, jump across to EA’s online store here and grab your copy of Titanfall and drop into the hottest action in gaming.   Titanfall gets a thoroughly deserved 9 out of 10

Stay with GmP as we bring you some of the fastest and nest online gameplay from EA’s outstanding shooter on our Twitch TV channel.

 

TITLE:                  
FORMAT:                                               Xbox One            [reviewed])
DEVELOPER:                                        ReSpawn Studio’s

PUBLISHER:                                         Electronic Arts


RELEASE DATE:                                    March 13th, 2014
RRP:                                                          £39.99
PEGI RATING:                                        M for Mature


SCORE OUT OF 10:                                9 out of 10

 

 

 

Max : The Curse of Brotherhood review

Max The Curse of Brotherhood                      GmP Gaming   image logo 1The eyes have it!

The latest downloadable title for Microsoft’s Xbox One console comes to the fore today as we take a look at Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Imagining on first glance that this was some kind of spin off platformer from Ubisoft as they stretch their Assassin’s Creed tentacles out in all directions, ( doesn’t it seem that no matter where you look, and on whatever platform and in whatever genre, that there is an Assassin’s Creed title lurking behind the curtain waiting to spring out like a shadowy thief and run off with your wallet ),  Max: TCoB leaps into action from the very get go with its brightly coloured animations and thoughtful level design.

Having tasted the delights that await all Xbox One owners on every available title for the next-gen system , we can honestly say that it is in the fantastical realm in which our intrepid hero Max finds himself cast as he searches longingly for his magically kidnapped brother, Felix, that we have most enjoyed our stay.

Following the usual format in which every new console gets its own shiny new platformer IP upon launch, Max: TCoB sticks to this time-honoured tradition, even though the game itself is more a re-imagining of the original max and the Magic Marker title from the developer,  whilst at the same time shattering it like cut glass into a million fragments by producing a gameplay and graphical experience that knocks spots off its siblings.

One cannot help but to be impressed by the striking visuals on display, even though the cut scenes themselves are few and far between and when they are on screen they are but fleeting episodes. Max: TCoB manages to give off a mesmeric blend of classic retro-styled platform gaming, in the truest sense of the description, with its 2D animations and tried and tested methodology of traps and pitfalls befalling our young starlet along the way. But, at the same time Max: The Curse of Brotherhood manages to also bring a new and vibrant feel to the proceedings with some innovative level design that see’s the camera, at times, giving off an almost 3D outlook, as the player is drawn ever deeper into the sprawling world that the developers at Press Play have created for our enjoyment.

There is also the extremely clever use of tools, props and atmosphere which all marry their own individual qualities into a bubbling and broiling broth of brilliance as the game moves along at a sparkling, but never breakneck, pace. The timing and the urgency of the ‘life or death’ events, which face Max in every chapter,  are perfectly sprinkled with liberal precision throughout the game’s story, and never once are they spooned in like a massive dollop of ice cream in the middle of a three course meal that causes an immediate explosion of pleasure, but ultimately results in a whopping bout of indigestion and gastric discomfort.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves a little. Le’s first describe the events which lead to our hero’s current family calamity, shall we?

Max The Curse of Brotherhood                      GmP Gaming   image 1The game’s story is set against the back drop of two young brothers in the midst of a pre-pubescent sibling rivalry as older brother Max is greeted with the sight of the younger Felix destroying his bedroom and toys after a hard day’s work at school. In a fit of anger Max wishes his brother would disappear, and like the plot from any number of Vice Versa styled travesties featuring A-listers whose career’s are on the nosedive, Max watches as a magical portal opens up and swallows his younger brother before he can reach out and save him. Only thing for it then?  Let’s get on into this glowing doorway and rescue the little b-b-b ‘brother’.

From here on in players are plunged into the world of the evil genius who has dominion of this realm, the mad, bad and dangerous to know ‘ Mustacho ‘, and it is a sizzling combination of enjoyable environmental puzzles and brain teasers that will have you smiling and grimacing in teeth-gnashing frustration in equal measures.

Max once again has his legendary ‘Magic Marker’ firmly in place, however, thanks to a mysterious Old Woman, who appears to Max only in the form of a disembodied voice, the young explorer soon discovers that his ‘Pen of Destiny’ has new-found powers of construction and destruction thanks to some magical properties bestowed upon it at regular intervals.

Naturally Press Play do not want players becoming ‘all powerful’ in the game’s opening chapter, and so the marker pen is only granted one power at a time, building to take full advantage of the all of the new-found attributes as the game progresses. First on the agenda come the ‘branches’ which will allow Max to safely traverse the perilous environments which can easily see our hero falling to his doom at any given moment.

However, unlike the original title from Press Play, this latest Max game does not allow the marker to draw whatever it wants when it wants, and instead only allows players to create given objects and items at set points an positions along the course of the game. This makes for far more challenging gameplay as the developer is now able to set ever more difficult puzzles and tasks.

Max The Curse of Brotherhood                      GmP Gaming   image 2Make no mistake, this is not some forgiving yawn-fest that will have you breezing through to earn a quick 1000 achievement points to add to you growing collection, far from it. Max: TCoB is testy affair that will try even the most patient of souls, and then come back and poke at them with a stick until they fly off in a fit of rage.

Next comes the ability to build towering earth pillars, topped nicely with a grassy knoll for Max to safely cling to and stand on as he raises himself up to reach whatever outcropping is just out of reach at the levels opening. Then subsequently there are water based powers which allow Max to be jetted across the level as the jets of water power him up and across to new positions.

There are also the fire and hanging vines to take into account, and ultimately there are those parts of the game’s story in which players will be able to mix and match any number of Max’s newly discovered powers so that they better compliment each other and therefore better assist Max to achieve his goal of rescuing his younger brother from the evil Mustacho’s clutches.

Excellent level design see’s players tasked with everything from chase scenes, where you will be fleeing from giant ape-like creatures across a myriad of varying environments, right through to raft building with branches to navigate monster strewn waterways, swinging on jungle vines like some kind of ten year-old Tarzan and firing of fireballs of death like a short-round Sith apprentice.

The controls work very well, and even though there have been a few voices of dissent in the gaming press that have claimed that the controller is not the best option for managing the tasks at hand with the powers given, this is , in fact, a somewhat ridiculous statement given the fact the game is designed to be difficult and tough on the trial and error type format without being so easy to dominate that you basically just ruin end to end in a matter of minutes.

The controls work perfectly well, and if anything the detractors claiming them to be a hindrance should harken back to days when games such as this had nothing more than ‘up, down, left, right jump’ to control the gameplay with. No, wait, that is exactly what Max The Curse of Brotherhood has!  See our point?

So, then, after a trying time of it being chased down and hunted by hulking great gorilla-like monsters, and ripping the hidden ‘eyes’ of Mustacho’s CCTV that litter the game zones, we end up at the infuriating boss fight, but eventually we are successful in our endeavour, and you will be too. But that is the objective.

number-9-pool-ballMax The Curse of Brotherhood is a fun filled romp through some very enjoyable graphics and highly entertaining gameplay. A great example of what platforming can be when a little care and a lot of dedication is ploughed into the development. All told a lot of game for not a lot of money, and one that we can only wholeheartedly recommend.  By far and away the best title to launch on the Xbox One thus far.             9 out of 10

TITLE:                                                   Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
FORMAT:                                              Xbox One              [reviewed]
DEVELOPER:                                         Press Play
PUBLISHER:                                        Microsoft Game Studio’s

 

RELEASE DATE:                                     20 December 2013    
RRP:                                                           £14.99
 

  SCORE OUT OF 10:                             9 out of 10

 

 

 

 

 

Call of Duty Ghosts review Xbox One Version

Call of Duty Ghosts             GmP Gaming        image 3With the next generation of videogame consoles now fully underway we turn our attention to the Mother of All shooter titles, Call of Duty, and ask the questions posed by readers if this really is a current gen game on a next-gen platform? Will Infinity Ward step in to save the franchise, or is Call of Duty just a ‘Ghost’ of it former self? Let’s find out together as we review Activision’s powerhouse FPS title.

Let’s get one thing right from the off shall we? Then, perhaps, we’ll understand each other a little better?  We kinda like Call of Duty. So, with that sentiment ringing in your ears understand us when we say that we will not be jumping on the negativity band wagon, nor will we be taking large chunks out of the game for not being ‘original’, or that it is ‘just another shooter like its predecessor’.  Call of Duty is, and always has been, a first person military shooter, if this offends you, or if you think that because it still is a military based shooter that it hasn’t progressed enough to be worthy of your mediocre praise, then this is not going to be the review for you. Battlefield 4 will be along shortly….or maybe even Killzone Shadowfall if you’re really bored?

So, for the rest of you, the guys and girls who just like to get online and mix it up in the fastest playing shooter title with the most addictive gameplay, let’s begin shall we?

Back following its latest annual change of hands we now have Infinity Ward at the helm of the Good Ship Call of Duty, and boy! Does it ever show! Ghosts explodes back onto your TV screen with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and all of the usual visual and interactive delights of a Hollywood blockbuster. Looking like the bastard lovechild of a Michael Bay movie and an Andy McNab novel, after its parents had unprotected sex during a drunken encounter at E3, Call of Duty Ghosts is back with more bang for your buck than any other FPS title on the market.

The storyline, this time around at any rate, see’s players stepping into the sneakers of a teenage boy as his father and brother are out exploring the woods around their home. Sounds like one of those perfect ‘Father/Son’ moments that you never had with your Dad. All is going smoothly until a series of ‘tremors’ rocks the vicinity. Rightly puzzled our three family members head towards home for safety, but not before a massive explosion rocks their world. Whatever it is, and Dad seems to know more than he is letting on, as he frantically screams at his two boys to get home whilst at the same time shaking his fist at the sky like some kind of extra from Beowulf yelling: ” Its Odin, I tells ya!

Okay, well, maybe not the ‘I tells ya’? We may have ad-libbed a little there, but you get the general idea, yes?

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   3From here on in everything is pretty much as you would expect from a Call of Duty title, in that we have all of the usual suspects of whistles, bangs, explosions and missiles by the proverbial bucketful. With the  ‘enemy’ this time being made up of a United States of South America, as the Southern Hemisphere countries of the American continent unite under a single banner to form the new ‘Federation’, ( insert scary music here ). The scene is set, then, for the upcoming tale of a country brought to its knee’s by a shadowy foreign power, and with its military being scattered to the four winds they now rely on the skills of the elite few men and women, ( yes! you read that right! ‘women’ are part of the Call of Duty line up for the first time in the franchises history ).of the secretive ‘Ghost’ squadron as the tables are turned on the former super power US as they are attacked from within by their own weapons, following some ingenious hacking by some cyber types and action-boffins. Ghosts offers up a mesmeric tale of terror and battling against the odds. The question of whether or not the mission will be a success requires only one more thing to tip the balance in favour of the ‘Good Guys’, and that, dear GmP reader…..is you!

Make no mistake about it, although the franchise may now be clocking on in years, Call of Duty still enters into the FPS arena with a spring in its step more representative of a younger man, and let’s be honest here, what it does…it always does very well, and far better than the competition.

The single player may have come in for a little bit of flak from the world’s gaming media, often being labelled as ‘last gen’, but ‘last gen’ in comparison to what, exactly?  There is no doubt about it that when you see Call of Duty: Ghosts being played on the Xbox One then it is a far superior version than even its well established Xbox360 sibling, ( and head and shoulders above the PlayStation 3 edition ), but if the truth be told of the quality of the gameplay and the handling of the features the Call of Duty has never looked better, across any of the available platforms.

Speaking of the available features, Call of Duty Ghosts is positively littered with new additions to the single, co-op and multiplayer formats. One cannot even begin to mention the solo outing without first embarking on a glowing testimonial of ‘Riley’, the now infamous Call of Duty attack hound.

RileyNamed after the much renowned ‘Ghost’ character from the Modern Warfare storyline, Riley is the German Shepherd ‘Ghost-est with the most-est’. Packed with pixels and polygons that grant this canine character  some truly lifelike attributes, this is one pooch that you wouldn’t want to bump into down a darkened alley after a few rounds of sherbet’s at your local boozer. Riley is anything but a token sideshow and, thanks to a veritable arsenal of tech and weaponry all strapped to his Kevlar combat harness, he is a definite attribute to his duo of Human partners.

Players are able to take control of the K-9 unit at various points along the way as the game’ storyline progresses, and they will soon discover that having their four-legged friend at their beck and call to smash through windows and savage the Hell out of enemy soldiers inside buildings is a definite bonus.

Riley is also available for an excellent slant on a staple of any FPS title, in that Infinity Ward have allowed the player to take the reins, so to speak, of the dog itself as you sneak through a stealth level deciding to bypass or kill targets along the way as you see fit. This new take on an old favourite works very well indeed, and if anything only serves to leave the player begging for more of the same in later levels. Alas, however, such segues into the stealth ninja doggy are few and far between.

But it isn’t just your new-found puppy that has all the good gadgets and guns, not by a long chalk. Everything from abseiling, sorry ‘rappelling’, down the side of exploding skyscrapers to swimming with realistic fishies has been given a far glossier touch by the collective of developers all pulling together to make Call of Duty Ghosts the far prettier spectacle that it so very much is. Especially in comparison to earlier offerings in the series.

Players are also treated to a new armoury full of updated AK’s, MTAR’s and sniper rifles with all of the present day firearms being given a gloss of fresh paint and some snazzy new attachments to bring them screaming into the next generation of firearms.

Naturally with the new weapons come new issues, such as the far more realistic recoils, pulling to the side with the faster firing sub machine guns and assault rifles, as well as the noticeable weight difference when carrying say, a pistol to a heavy belt fed or box fed machine gun. Gone are the days of merely point and shoot as players must now learn to compensate for life threatening weave and bob as you blast away with your weapon of choice. It is in these kinds of details that Infinity Ward have given Call of Duty a far greater sense of realism.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   4This sense of added accuracy when it comes to everything from the way that the weapons handle to the damage dealt and taken does not end there either, the environment now comes in for greater attention, also, thanks to the new engine adopted by Infinity Ward. This now allows the player to experience a far deeper sense of immersion into the game’s storyline as they dodge falling chunks of masonry from shattered citadels and church’s. Players now get treated to a much more believable sense of urgency in moments of high drama as they strive to avoid being crushed, drowned, blown up or decapitated by falling tree’s, crumbling skyscrapers and flaming vehicles being tossed around the battlefield like confetti thanks to some truly impressive physics all supplied by that aforementioned new Infinity Ward engine.

Although still not as long as some people may wish for, the staff here at GmP included in that sentiment, Ghosts does supply an excellent outing for the single player mode, and should you wish to return to the event with the difficulty level set a notch higher each time, then there are four returns available to you, but be warned: The learning curve when you increase the settings from even Recruit to Hardened will give even the most competent shooter player a run for his money.

One totally new addition to the series is the competent ‘Extinction’ mode, where players will take on waves of re-spawning alien beasts as they attempt to battle their way through the screeching hordes hoping to destroy the monsters’ nests before they rip your character to pieces.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   Extinction 1Obviously a move to try to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for Zombies built up by their counterparts at Treyarch, Infinity Ward are definitely onto a winner with Extinction, although quite why the two studio’s could not have just come together in a meeting of minds to bring the Call of Duty faithful the mode that they really all wanted is, quite frankly, beyond us? But, nevertheless, Extinction will still satisfy that itch and reach the parts other shooters cannot.

Co-oP is back for more of the same, and if you haven’t played through any Call of Duty title with a friend or loved one in tow then shame on you! Co-oP is one of the most endearing and positive aspects to any title, but in Call of Duty it is a definite reason to keep on returning time and time again to the main storyline’s missions. Whether you want to try to beat your last scores and times, or whether you just want to get together with a few pals and settle in for some manic mayhem of the military kind, then Call of Duty Ghosts has the perfect mode for you.

Another shining new feather in the Call of Duty cap is ‘Clan Wars’, the mobile app that has set the forums alight with its bonus content, additional attributes and even achievement earning features. Players are able to create, manage and compete with their own clans all thanks to the new Smartphone/Tablet app, ( available here ), and all for the added price of ‘nothing!’. Brilliant!

Another ‘brilliant’ inclusion into the gameplay mode list of lovelies is the gentle introduction to the games’ multiplayer with the training grounds that are ‘Squads’.  This is as to tutorial as L plates are to learner drivers: compulsory and necessary. If you are a total novice, or if you are familiar with the format of Call of Duty online but just feel that you would like to get to grips with the new weapons and maps before you throw yourself headlong into the chaos that is multiplayer warfare, then Squads is the place for you.

Fully customizable load-outs and weapons, as well as being able to populate the opposing teams with both friends and extremely competent AI combatants, Squads will be the place where a lot of players cut their teeth before they get down to main course of the full multiplayer mode. But do not underestimate the computer assisted opposition, as you will do so at your own peril.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   2One excellent advantage to stopping off at the all-new Squads section of the game is that this is where Activision and Infinity ward allow players to build their own personalized personae from the ground up in the ‘Create a Character’ feature. A definite tick in the plus box, Create a Character means that players can earn XP, sample and try out a variety of new weapons and attachments, as well as earning enough points for snazzy *uniform upgrades, ( * NB: although do be advised that you only get a ‘preview’ of what the new uniform and its colour will look like, and the game itself will auto-select the appropriate outfit for whichever map you are about to play ).

The bonuses to be earned in Squads do not finish up with mere aesthetics, however. Players may also transport their character with them wherever they go, as they travel to friends, for example, they will be to sign in on any Xbox360 and/or Xbox One, and the newly crafted character, complete with attributes, skills and arsenal,  will be automatically taken across with you. This works exactly the same for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

However, if you are one of the legion of avid Nintendo gamers playing Ghosts on your Wii U, then you will be able to command and control your Clan Wars crew, as well as customize your created character, from the comfort of the excellently taken advantage of Gamepad. Which, in effect, takes over fully the features of the Smartglass-cum-App Store application.

This seamless transition of data from one platform to the next across the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live is not the only silky smooth switch made by Infinity Ward when it comes to Call of Duty Ghosts, though.  As those players who have had the benefit of spending any time on the Xbox One version will attest too. The brighter, more detailed environments of the next generation edition of Xbox One’s Ghosts is clearly superior to the PlayStation 4, but that’s more a fault on the part of Sony’s own network rather than on the transference of  gameplay and data made by the developer. Nowhere is that more blatantly obvious than when players see Call of Duty Ghosts being enjoyed in its natural habitat of Xbox Live as it silkily plays through at a constant 60 frames per second with consummate ease.

Speaking of silky smooth….

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   5Moving on to the multiplayer and here we come to the mode that most of you out there will be spending your time with.  Now with the added bonus of having Activision hosted dedicated servers Call of Duty Ghosts steams into the FPS action with all the ferocity of a pouncing tiger! But if you were expecting things to have gone back to the good old days of the run and gun masterpiece that was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, as promised by Infinity Ward yet again, then you may have to change your initial thoughts.

Back for more explosive online action Ghosts kicks off proceedings with an all-new layout, points systems, weaponry, uniforms, create a character and load-out menu. It does not disappoint. Players can opt for their own Squads character, or they may choose from any one of the available preset selections including, for the first time, female avatars.

Once you have selected your gender, kit and choice of uniform then it is on to your first major decision of your online career: weaponry.

Infinity Ward have been nothing if not inventive when it comes to beefing up the arsenal of players who are being asked to imagine available weaponry that may only be but a few short years away from genuine production. With that in mind, then, how hard it must have been to stay within the realms of the realistic and not venture off into the science fiction is truly an understatement, indeed.  It may appear a trifling matter to design a few weapons of the future based upon todays current technology, but to then add the attachments, performance, handling and range whilst all at the same time making the rifles and guns appear believable, and not look like they come straight out of a Babylon 5 episode, is quite something else.

All of the weapons, Primary, Secondary , with the exception of the optional secondary launchers, come with their own particular gadgets and gizmo’s to enhance the feel and performance of the chosen death-dealer. Everything from armour-piercing rounds and extra magazines right through to the more tactically advantageous items such as the Variable Scope and the Handgrip are on offer to players once they have performed the mandatory requirements and collected enough ‘Squad Points’.

Squad Points can be earned via challenges, of which players are tasked with things such as killing with particular weapons or performing streak kills and capturing objectives, and also from within Squads itself, albeit at a far slower rate due to the combat taking place between AI Bots and Humans.

Although a great many game types are on offer to those players selecting the Standard, or ‘Core’, gameplay option, there are somewhat limited choices for those of you looking for the more challenging action to be found in the games Hardcore mode. Indeed, there were only a meagre three options until the recent inclusion of Domination to the Hardcore line up.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image  camping 1This does, somewhat, explain the rather disturbing lack of attention paid to the more genuine gamer, when it comes to the online segments of Call of Duty, as well as other similar FPS titles.  The men in suits that make the decisions could really care less about the ‘real gamers’, and so instead pander to the masses, often permitting even the most loathed parts of the gameplay which allows the ‘non gamer’ to simply camp down surrounded by everything from radars, booby traps, mines, IED’s, attack dogs and so much more, as they select those same predictable ‘one shot kill’ weapons of the sniper rifle, over powered pistols and shotguns as well as then adding the most game enhancing of perks as they sit back and build up enough points to let the killstreak rewards then take over and play the game out for them.

This ‘dumbing down’ of the Call of Duty franchise has left the ‘real gamer’ with little doubt that their days are numbered in the series, and so because of this Call of Duty has seen a gradual movement of players shifting away from Ghosts and Black Ops II, and into the arms of titles such as Arma III, Battlefield 4 and even older titles such as S.T.AL.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat and Red Orchestra,  for example. Hell, even Left 4 Dead has seen its player numbers rocket.

But, as we have seen in the past this will not affect the way that Call of Duty as a multiplayer game panders to its non-gamer masses as, at the end of the day, they are the ones in the majority and they are the ones buying all of the DLC, Season Passes and other such additional content as the infamous reticule and weapon skin packs.

Of course, some may argue that labelling the large proportion of these players as ‘non gamers’ is somewhat ‘elitist’ in its approach, however, we can only sympathise with the sentiment. How many times have you looked into a players gamer card and compared games only to discover that they have only ever played Call of Duty, and not even bothered to manage the solo campaign on its simplest setting.  As we say, ‘non gamer’ is about as perfect a moniker for these ‘players’ as it gets.

So, then., with that what does the future hold for Call of Duty? Well, only time will tell, but what Activision fails to realise is that even those players who were the last gen’s ‘non gamers’ and ‘campers’ have themselves ‘grown up’, so to speak, and with that they are actually looking for more challenging gameplay, as opposed to merely hiding in any one of the purpose-built corners surrounded by claymores and bouncing betties for the duration of hostilities. With that, they themselves, the one-time ‘non gamers‘ are now also looking for genuine gun-on-gun action, of the kind that made Modern Warfare and the Call of Duty franchise synonymous with having  the best online shooter action.

call of duty ghosts                         GmP Gaming     image   7Aside from the teeth-gnashingly frustrating time that the corner-hugging campers deliver in Activision and Infinity Ward’s seminal shooter series, Call of Duty Ghosts is still, nevertheless, ‘the’ FPS title of the year once again.  Maybe there was a new engine built from the ground up for the Xbox One and the next-gen introduction of the world’s favourite shooter, and maybe there wasn’t? Whatever you choose to believe the facts do remain the same that Call of Duty is still the ‘go to guy’ for first person shooter players around the globe.

The sheer weight of new additions to not only the graphics, but also the gameplay, features, modes and even the very character models themselves should mean that Call of Duty Ghosts has been scoring even higher in the reviews than its predecessor, Black Ops II, did? Shouldn’t it?

Well, if you have been reading some of the short and sweet ditties from any one of the host of websites and publications who have been giving Ghosts a somewhat frosty reception, then ‘no’, would have to be the reply.

Quite why and how some of these publications, from apparently reputable journalists, have come to their conclusions and awarded Call of Duty Ghosts the scores that they did is, quite frankly, beyond us?  These are the same publications and journo’s that positively applauded Black Ops II, and then when they get all of the improvements and all of the upgrades, as well as a good deal many more, not to mention a veritable feast of extra features and modes, then they score the next game in the series ‘down’? Just seems a little odd to us, is all. Yes, we may have our own personal online gripes with Ghosts, but at the heart of this review is the fact of the matter that what call of Duty does do, they still do better than anyone else out there. That is just a fact.

So, with the facts being delivered like a round to the chest from a high-powered sniper rifle all we have to do now is give you our own conclusions and final scoring for Call of Duty Ghosts. Given the tough task that both Treyarch and  Infinity Ward have on their hands to deliver to the ever-growing, ever-demanding Call of Duty community a new and stunning title every twelve months, then we have to say that what we believe that IW have achieved is nothing short of remarkable. To be constantly improving, tinkering and updating their basic franchise package, but in such a way as to not totally alienate their entire customer base, is nothing short of miraculous, to say the least.

The fact that in one year alone Infinity Ward have managed to update and reinvent their title is a testament to the dedication that these men and women who make up the development teams, have to themselves, their fans and their ‘baby’: the game itself.

Quite what the naysaying detractors and the biro carrying boo-brigade expect from a title that has somehow managed to stay a constant one step ahead of the competition for some considerable years now, is beyond us here at GmP? But, we have to say that we think that the developer has done a stellar job of bringing Call of Duty into the next generation.

Looking far sharper, and with so much detail at times you almost forget that they are not actually ‘your’ hands clutching your spiffy new rifle, Call of Duty Ghosts has brought with it, this year, a whole wealth of content and features that any other game would absolutely kill for! Not content with merely wiping the floor with the competition on consoles, they have also given both the PC and the mobile gamers something to craw about with an excellent app addition which allows players not only to keep a tab on their profile, and mark their progress throughout the game, but the Call of Duty  app also grants payers access to a new world of wonders with the simply excellent: Clan Wars. ( and another bonus on the mobile is Xbox Smartglass and Call of Duty Elite ) On top of that comes the sheer spectacular quality of the game running on PC, as most of our readers can already attest too.

number-8-pool-ballAll in all Call of Duty Ghosts still does more than most, and better than everyone. It is still the number one shooter title, and it still has the largest online console community for any title in any genre. ( even FIFA doesn’t topple this FPS juggernaut ). So, if it’s multiplaying magnificence with the fastest fighting format in the shooter genre that you are after, then Call of Duty Ghosts just has to be the game for you.  Building on the success of last years Black Ops II with a wealth of features, new additions and enhanced graphics we give Call of Duty Ghosts a whopping 8 out of lovely 10.

 

 

 

Developer(s) Infinity Ward

Publisher(s) Activision Square-Enix (Japan)
Writer(s) Stephen Gaghan
Composer(s) David Buckley
Series Call of Duty
Engine IW Engine Havok
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows PlayStation 3 PlayStation 4 Wii U Xbox 360 Xbox One
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Wii U & Xbox 360  November 5, 2013[ November 14, 2013 December 14, 2013 PlayStation 4  November 15, 2013 November 29, 2013 February 22, 2014 Xbox One  November 22, 2013
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Optical disc, download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryse: Son of Rome Review

Ryse Son of Rome           GmP Gaming     image 1Microsoft take gamers on a gladiatorial revenge match in their launch day title Ryse: Son of Rome. But will this former Kinect title ‘rise’ to the occasion? Or will it be a case of a thumbs firmly down from Nero for the all-action hack and slash title? Let’s find out in the GmP review of Ryse: Son of Rome.

If Microsoft were looking for someone to take hold of the launch day flag and carry t into the battle for the hearts and minds of gamers as we begin a new generation of Xbox consoles then they hit the nail firmly on the head when they entrusted their Xbox One launch title to the hands of the talented Crytek types, the ingenious developers behind the luscious Crysis franchise that leaves gamers drooling in anticipation at the end of each press conference.

Ryse: Son of Rome may not set the videogaming world alight for originality or innovation, but what it will do is highlight Microsoft’s commitment to gamers that they will be pulling out all of the stops in the coming generation to deliver some of the most entertaining and impressive titles they could hope for.

In stark comparison to what Sony did with their own launch title, Killzone Shadowfall, Microsoft opted to hand gamers what they all claim to desire more than anything else when they are in the market for a new console, and that is a thoroughly enjoyable title with excellent visuals and captivating gameplay that centres around an engrossing storyline. Sony should take note: just because a game is pretty, does not necessarily make it the entertaining and fun to play.

After an opening full of pitched battles as we get tossed to the lions, so to speak, against a massive Barbarian horde hellbent on sacking Rome and taking her spoils for themselves, we are told, in retrospect, of the events that have led our hero Marius to his current predicament, and also that of Rome’s itself.

Ryse Son of Rome           GmP Gaming     image  2We join Marius Tybus, a young man following in his fathers footsteps as he enlists into the 2nd Legion during the reign of the Emperor Nero. All is well in the world of our hero, until one fateful day when a lethal attack is perpetrated against his family by assailants unknown. Naturally there is more than a hint of intrigue and subterfuge thrown into the pot for those players who manage to spot the motif emblazoned on the hilt of the weapons that kill young Marius’s parents, but more on that when you get to enjoy this title for yourselves.

Beautifully crafted with some truly inspired and highly impressive visuals Ryse shows off at least some of what the all-new box One is more than capable of, but unlike its Sony counterpart it doesn’t end there. Mixing it up with some engaging gameplay and exemplary use of the Kinect’s new precision and outstanding voice control, Ryse: Son of Rome does a sterling job at bringing a great game to the new console owners so that they may not just get to enjoy all that the Xbox One has to offer on launch day, but they may also indulge in their favourite pastime of actually getting down to some stellar hack and slash action.

Against the backdrop of a lovingly created Roman Empire players will earn that all important XP needed to further upgrade and enhance their character so that he may better bring the pain to his numberous enemies, both of the Barbarian and Roman back-stabbing variety.

The core gameplay itself is, at heart, a true hack and slash title, and Ryse should make no apologies for this, as it works supremely well. A far cry from the short, ‘meh’-fest that many other reviewers have claimed the game to be, Ryse will keep players more than adequately entertained for many an hour to come and more besides. There is a steady learning curve to the proceedings that can be further compounded by the numerous difficulty settings, which will have a definite impact on the length of time iot takes you to complete the game from start to finish.  ( Any fool can play any game on its easiest setting and then claim that it only took them 6 hours to complete. We at GmP only complete the game on the hardest settings, so when we tell you it is a tough test for any seasoned gamer to complete this title in anything under 10 hours then believe us )

Ryse Son of Rome           GmP Gaming     image 3Of course, we cannot mention the upgrade system without the spectre of the microtransaction rearing its ugly head, and for the second launch title in a row, ( Forza Motorsport 5 being the first ), here we see the nickel and dime process being implanted into the gameplay of Ryse also. Never one to condone this practice we were dismayed to discover the presence of the pay-as-you-play process in Ryse, but we have to give credit to the game where it is due as this is not a Planetside 2 type ‘Pay-to-Win’ scenario, more so players can opt to buy the gold to make the upgrades should they choose to do so. If you would rather earn everything, as we did, ‘in game’, then feel free to lop of limbs and ears to your heart’s content as you power your way to your next XP bonanza.

Another feature that you have to mention when reviewing Ryse: Son of Rome has to be the mightily improved Kinect 2.0. Although, again, an option, we chose to play with the Kinect switched on, to discover just how much of a benefit to all of the latest launches from Microsoft their newly improved baby actually is, and like with the rest of the games we have reviewed of the past 7 days we have to say that although not an imperative, the new Kinect works so smoothly and so well that it definitely does become a positive attribute and a solid asset, even, to your gameplay once you get used to issuing commands, as opposed to pressing buttons, during your gameplay.

Ryse may not have been the earth shattering force that some may have been expecting for the launch of Microsoft’s new console, but one thing is assured, and that is that Son of Rome is a far more enjoyable experience than a great many other reviewers would have you believe. Graphically impressive with some truly expansive scenic panorama’s, Ryse: Son of Rome has one thing by the bucketful, that is missing from every one if its rivals titles, and that is entertainment value in the gameplay. Give it whirl, we are more than sure that you will be ordering your men into Testudo’s and hacking the head’s off marauding Barbarians before you can say ” Ave Cesar! ”    Ryse: Son of Rome scores a truly justified  7 out of 10

 

number-7-pool-ballDeveloper:                                     Crytek

Publisher:                                      Microsoft

Version Tested:                            Xbox One Exclusive Title

Pegi Rating:                                  M for Mature

Price:                                             £43.75                ( Gameseek )

Score:                                             7 out of 10