Destiny – Review (PS4)

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Destiny is the first title from Halo makers Bungie since they moved to Activision and started work on multiplatform titles. Touted as having a ten year lifespan and being the pinnacle of online co-op games, it certainly had a lot to live up to. A successful alpha and beta gave players a sneak peek at what to expect both in terms of positives, like gameplay and negatives, such as the repetitive play areas. So how does the final product hold up?

Right out of the gate the biggest positive for me with Destiny is it’s great art style and the look of the environments. Certainly on the PS4 the game looks gorgeous and creates a real feeling of scale which adds a lot to the experience. Whether you are on the Moon, Earth or Mars you’re in for a visual treat. Another positive is the handling of the weapons, which feel weighty and fun to use. I mainly used Pulse Rifles for my playthrough and found them to be effective, with some good additional benefits depending on upgrades etc.

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As well as choosing weapons you’ll also need to select a race and class. The race is largely unimportant but obviously the class decision can affect what abilities/powers your character has, so choose wisely! There are a variety of abilities to use and these are also upgraded as you go along. It’s a wise move to break up the powers into classes as it means you won’t have all powers available to you in one playthrough. One thing I was disappointed with was the fact that there was no alternate dialogue for different races. On one occasion another character was explaining the basic beliefs/characteristics of my own race to me, without any awareness that I would already know all that information. It just breaks what little immersion has been built up during the lacklustre story.

Unfortunately Bungie don’t seem to have included a great deal of material for the story – while the campaign missions are fun at times it really did feel like the developers missed an opportunity to flesh out the amazing new universe they have created. There were several characters I would’ve liked to have known more about that appeared in one or two cut scenes and then were never seen again. More story content has been promised in future DLC but while I enjoyed playing through the campaign it all just felt a bit lightweight. Also while the mission areas look amazing it can be a bit disheartening to continually be dropped off at the exact same point on a planet everytime you go there. It really would’ve broken the gameplay up to spawn in on the other side of the map, for example.

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Online co-op is a huge part of Destiny, with the developers expecting you to always have two other people to play with at all times. If you don’t you can still play but the game will spawn in two other totally random online players to join you. This can lead to some disjointed moments when playing solo as the people the game matches you with might be a much higher level than you, which can skew the action slightly. It’s not a huge problem, it just doesn’t create the vibe that they were aiming for.

As well as campaign and side missions, Destiny also has an addictive competitive element. Taking the form of various traditional modes (Team Deathmatch, Area Capture etc.) the game’s multiplayer can be both fun and frustrating. I really enjoyed the way the game is balanced to cater for normal weapons, ‘special’ weapons and character abilities. You are constantly earning XP for playing in matches and it is a really solid multiplayer offering – which I suppose shouldn’t be a surprise coming from the people that made Halo!

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Overall this is a fun shooter with some nice weapon handling and an impressive art style. The content on offer is, sadly, lacking in depth or variety in the long term but as a title to play through and then delve into multiplayer, Destiny will keep you busy for several hours. It certainly feels like a grind at times but the core gameplay is solid enough and coupled with a ‘roulette’ style weapon unlock system should keep you coming back for more. I feel that Bungie have delivered a great foundation to build on but the story itself is lacking, which I hope will be addressed in the next Destiny title.

Rating: 8/10

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Fragged Out: Is the FPS genre reaching saturation point?

 

Having watched some of the recent trailers for upcoming first person shooters Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty: Black Ops I was struck by the realisation that I may be suffering from some kind of FPS burnout.

Despite both titles looking decent I’m finding it hard to get excited about them.

I already have Battlefield Bad Company 2, Killzone 2 and MAG to keep me entertained and if I fancy something completely different there’s always Borderlands.

Just a brief look at upcoming first person shooters in the next 6-9 months throws up the following list:

– Medal Of Honor

– Call Of Duty: Black Ops

– Killzone 3

– Brink

– Bulletstorm

– Bodycount

– Duke Nukem Forever

– Crysis 2

– Homefront

– Rage

From that list only Killzone 3 is a given as I’ll be trading up from the second game.

                                                                   Homefront’s tale of an occupied US makes for something different.

I also think Homefront looks interesting and everyone who has seen/played Rage is tipping it for Game Of The Year so that’s one I’m keen to check out.

Apart from that the others will more than likely be titles I’ll try at some stage but I’m not greatly excited by the majority of them, especially in terms of multiplayer.

So is this feeling of disinterest a sign of a lack of innovation in the genre? I’m not sure if that’s case – Bulletstorm certainly looks like shaking things up, although at its core it’s essentially the same as any other shooter.

                                                                                   Call Of Duty: Black Ops – good enough to see a switch from the games we are playing now?

Am I the only one out there that’s feeling this? Perhaps it’s a personal preference in that I feel Battlefield Bad Company 2 has pretty much nailed multiplayer for FPS.

I’m watching footage of Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty: Black Ops and just thinking am I actually going to play this over Battlefield or Killzone? The answer currently is ‘no’ and as time has gone on other titles like Crysis 2 and Brink have lost their appeal.

I was relatively impressed with both of them early on but the more information I’ve seen on them the more generic they seem.

                                                                            Brink brings the new S.M.A.R.T movement system but is that enough?

The main culprits though are the current period warfare titles – Medal of Honor in particular. All of these titles seem to be merging into one from a multiplayer perspective but I’m still looking forward to the single player campaigns.

We’ll see I guess. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong and the multiplayer sections of these games will be unique and different. I certainly hope so because as it stands I’ll be sticking with what I have.

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Review (PS3)

 

I’ve been waiting for months to get my hands on this game. Having loved the beta and demo I was keen to experience the full set of features in the final title.

I enjoyed the first Bad Company – it’s irreverent humour shone through and while the story was fairly standard the characters were well designed and it was a lot of fun.

The same rag tag bunch of soldiers return for the sequel – you play as Preston Marlowe again, accompanied by Sweetwater, Haggard and, of course, Sarge 😎

The single player campaign is a wonderful blast through several impressive set pieces and the feeling of being in ‘B’ Company really adds to the experience.

That sense of community and closeness to the characters is a big bonus and probably the main reason Battlefield’s campaign stands head and shoulders above Modern Warfare 2.

While the enemies initial spawn points are often the same, the AI behaviour varies so if you retry a section you will know roughly where the enemies will come from but not what they are going to do.

Clocking in at around 8/9 hours it’s also almost double the length of Infinity Ward’s offering but it occasionally lacks the polish of Call Of Duty – perhaps down to the fact that everything is destructable in the environment.

The destructability of the world is a big factor here as well – you can’t just run into a building and pop up in the window firing shots at enemies with no repercussions – bullets whizz through the walls and a rocket or tank attack will soon take out whatever cover you have. It adds a whole new spin on your thinking regarding taking cover.

I found I cared enough about the characters and was suitably immersed in their world to feel a pang of emotion here and there during the campaign. Quite a rare experience in a (non-RPG) FPS and something I hadn’t had since Killzone 2 back in February 2009.

The multiplayer kicks you off with four classes (assault, engineer, medic and recon) allowing for people to find a class they are happy with or mix it up. You unlock more weapons/gadgets per class with your overall score giving you your rank.

The maps are fantastic and very well designed. Especially the ‘rush’ mode ones, where you have to plant charges at two sets of areas in 3 or 4 different bases. These are my favourite match types with some real epic battles so far.

You also have ‘conquest’, essentially capture and hold, along with ‘squad rush’ and ‘squad deathmatch.’ In the latter two, rather than just two sides, four squads of four face off against each other.

Then there are the vehicles: Tanks, Helicopters, Quads, Boats – it all adds a huge dimension to the gameplay and thankfully don’t feel too overpowered.

Again destructability comes into play massively in multiplayer. Buildings crumble around you under attack and the sense of panic as you hear the foundations creak while you desperately try to sprint away is awesome.

D.I.C.E have done a great job of balancing weapons out in my opinion. Seemingly the more powerful weapons you unlock have less bullets per clip but do more damage.

The unlock system itself is excellent, giving you a wealth of guns and gadgets to unlock – eventually everyone will find a favourite.

Over the last year or so Killzone 2 has been the FPS of choice between me and my friends. Does Battlefield do enough to muscle in?

It’s a resounding yes from me – while Killzone is different enough that I know I’ll still play it occasionally, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is the best FPS I have ever played.

The single-player is solid and enjoyable, with the multiplayer wiping the floor with anything out there on the PS3 at the moment. If you have any interest in a more realistic FPS as opposed to ‘twitch’ shooters then you should check this out immediately.

Rating: 10/10

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The Punisher: No Mercy – Multiplayer Demo Impressions

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I didn’t have much idea about this game before firing up the demo. And sadly it pales in comparison to some of the things that have been released recently.

No Mercy is a first person shooter and the only mode available in the demo is deathmatch. No real problem there as that should be enough to give people a flavour of the game.

There weren’t many people trying the demo – just myself and two others in my match room, which obviously didn’t help matters.

The shooting was fairly standard, though none of the weapons felt particularly different or indeed powerful.

It took a while for me to warm to the controls but once I did taking down opponents wasn’t too much of a problem.

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There was a lot of ‘levelling up’ going on, which is fine in theory but having bundles of text come up on the screen while you’re playing is a distraction and make it difficult see where you were going at times.

Graphically the game looked more like a PS2 title and while it did have the odd moment of fun, No Mercy is something I won’t be picking up.

The fact of the matter is, if you’re looking for a bargain FPS on the Playstation Store for a bit of fun then pay a little extra and go for Battlefield 1943 – sadly No Mercy just isn’t really worth playing.

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