There’s so many new games to play, so why do I keep coming back to Destiny 2?

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2018 has been an absolutely amazing in regards to video game releases. We’ve had blockbusters like God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 blow everyone away with their fantastic narratives and amazing graphics. In between those big titles I’ve been slowly trying to get through my large backlog of games, so why do I keep coming back to Destiny 2?

The thing is, Destiny 2 and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship. I played a lot of the first game, bought all the DLC and even completed the moments of triumph just before Destiny 2’s release, but as I played through Destiny 2 and completed the campaign, I was all Destiny’d out. The first two expansions (Curse of Osiris and Warmind) came and went, but I was too distracted with other games to even bother to play it. But then all of a sudden a few months ago I picked it back up again and started playing through the campaign with a friend of mine. But I stopped after a couple of weeks, only to return a week ago at the start of “The Dawning” event.

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The Dawning is Destiny 2’s Christmas event, and has players running around baking cookies for all your Vanguard buddies. It’s a corny quest that doesn’t take itself seriously, especially since the players reward is a Christmas sleigh to race around on the surface of planets. You might assume that baking cookies in a first person shooter would be enjoyable, but it’s not. It’s a grind. But that is what Destiny is all about, doing the same thing over and over again to gain a reward. In fact this is Destiny’s gameplay loop, run – shoot – get loot – run again until you get the weapon or armour piece that you want. To some people this might be the most boring thing in the world, but to me there’s something both relaxing and exciting about it. The world that Bungie has created is engaging enough to have me coming back for more even when there are 1000 other games out there to play (some of them being even better then Destiny).

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I think what really makes me coming back to Destiny 2 is the updates. Even though I don’t necessarily agree with the way Bungie releases content, it is effective enough to make me wanting to come back for more. Curse of Osiris was weak for a DLC, especially when it comes to the “simulation” that the Vex create, which was meant to be a randomly generated dungeon, but ends up being a boring part of missions in which most players will just run straight through it, but the DLC still expanded the universe at large. While Warmind was slightly better then Osiris, with a larger patrol area on Mars and interesting missions focused around the AI Rasputin that we meet in the first game, but it still falls short in the amount of content compared to Destiny 1’s DLC. Other then that, it’s still enjoyable to play, I haven’t purchased Forsaken yet, and it might change my mind in when it comes to Destiny 2, but we will have to wait and see.

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Destiny 2 will be a game that I continue to come back to, luring me in with the promise of new loot and interesting new missions. It may be flawed, but it’s one of the most interesting and exciting First Person Shooters of this generation.

2018 has been one of the best years for video games, and it’s only going to get better.

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2018 has been a big year for video games, we’ve had big blockbuster releases such as God of War, Spider-Man PS4, and Red Dead Redemption 2. As well as smaller but no less significant indie titles like Celeste and Into the Breach. Looking back at all the releases for this year makes me excited for what we are going to see in 2019 and beyond.

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But first lets go over what happened this year when it comes to games. We’ve had a lot of new releases on the Nintendo Switch, like a brand new Mario Party and Super Smash Bros Ultimate. We’ve had Pokemon Lets go Pikachu! and Lets Go Eevee! We’ve even had Dark Souls and Diablo 3 ported to the Switch. The Nintendo Switch is turning out to be an amazing console now that more and more developers know it’s power and what can run on it. Hell, (quite literally) we’ve even had DOOM ported to the Switch, and we can all now shoot Nazi’s on the go as well since Wolfenstein 2 was also ported.

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PlayStation absolutely killed it this year with exclusives, they released (the now game of the year) God of War, which absolutely blew everyone away with it’s fantastic and emotional narrative and it’s change up from being a top down hack-and-slash to a over the shoulder experience. We’ve had Spider-Man PS4, which not only hit us with nostalgia for the original Spider-Man 2, but also gave us an engaging story and awesome new abilities to swing and punch our way through New York City. We’ve also seen old familiar faces return, both Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited have both been remastered, allowing us to return to our childhood selves as well as showing a new generation so they can experience these games for the first time.

Interestingly enough Xbox didn’t have many exclusive releases this year, the major one being Forza Horizon 4. The one thing that Xbox did do this year was acquire 5 independent studios, including Obsidian Entertainment (the guys behind the original Fallout and Fallout: New Vegas) who are now developing a brand new Sci-Fi RPG titled “The Outer Worlds” which was showcased at the Video Game Awards last week. Speaking of the VGA’s, it was absolutely incredible to watch and really shows how far video games have come as a medium, it’s fantastic to see an award show celebrate what makes video games great, as well as celebrate the developers who put in the hard work to create them.

We’ve also seen a huge shift in games concerning Loot Boxes and Micro transactions. The biggest stories being Belgium outright banning Loot Boxes and some other countries (including Australia) investigating them more thoroughly to decide whether they fall under gambling laws. Will this change the way developers add micro transactions to their games? Probably not, it’s the only way game studios can make money after the release of their games. But it’s not all doom and gloom, after Star Wars Battlefront 2’s controversy studios will be a lot more careful when it comes to integrating micro transactions and loot boxes into their games.

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2018 also ended on a high note with Red Dead Redemption 2 being released in November alongside Assassins Creed Odyssey. Both those games have been extremely impressive when it comes to creating a living, breathing, open world. They have set the standard when it comes to AAA RPG’s, which makes me very excited for Cyberpunk 2077.

So you know what I say? Bring on 2019, if it’s going to be like this year then I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next year. And on that note, Merry Christmas! And I hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays!

HALO – THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION. 4 YEARS LATER

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This is the second time I’ve started writing this review, not because the last piece I had was awful or anything. I just felt as though it didn’t highlight enough my love for the Halo series as a whole. Even though this review will focus mainly on the Master Chief Collection, it will also focus on how the Halo series has influenced my life as well. So here we go, here is my take on Halo MCC, 4 years later.

I can remember the first time I ever heard the name “Halo”, it was on the very first game console I ever owned, a original Xbox. My family bought it for all of us to play and it came with a few games, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a PGA Tour game, and of course Halo. But as Halo was rated M at the time my Mum put it away somewhere so I couldn’t play it. But the front cover of that game always fascinated me, a man in a green suit of armour stood with his rifle aimed toward the screen with a mysterious alien world behind him. In fact I thought that the man in green armour was called Halo, and it wasn’t until many years later that I found out his real name, The Master Chief. It wouldn’t be in 2007 that I actually had the chance to play my first Halo game, that being the newly released Halo 3, and I had an absolute blast playing through the campaign with a friend. But the real game that made me hooked was Halo Reach, funnily enough Bungie’s last ever Halo game. I played more hours on that game then I could count. From there I played through the rest of the games multiple times leading up to the release of Halo 4. But then, on November 11th 2014 The Master Chief Collection was released, and it would change the Halo franchise forever.

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To those of you that don’t know, Halo MCC is a collection of the first 4 Halo games in the series, with Halo 3: ODST thrown in later. Meaning that Halo MCC has a whopping 5 games as well as classic multiplayer with all the maps included. It was a Halo fans dream come true….. or so we thought. Halo MCC’s launch was rough to say the least, players progress was being wiped, achievements weren’t popping when they should have, and it was almost impossible to find a multiplayer match at all. Looking back on it now it seemed to me that Halo MCC was a disaster, with the only positive things coming out of the game was Halo 2 remastered and those amazing cut scenes that Blur remade. But now, 4 years later I’ve found myself playing it again. My best mate and I played through all 5 games on Legendary, and have been trying to 100% the entire game for the last 2 years. To put it into perspective there are 600 Achievements total, and I have 502 of them, with a total of 314 hours of playtime. So no, I don’t think that Halo MCC is a bad game, in fact it does many things right, and most of the game-breaking bugs have even been fixed. The developers of MCC, 343 Industries, swore that this year they would continue to update MCC and even try and fix matchmaking problems.

This is a good thing on the developers part, they realised that MCC just wasn’t living up to the vision of what it should of been, furthermore Halo 5 released in 2015, and that also had it’s own problems. But was it too late? Even now when I jump on to play a multiplayer match it still takes a good 5-10 minutes to find a match on a slayer playlist, and good luck getting a match on Big Team Battle or anything else, most of them are still dead. But when you do find a match the game runs amazingly, and it feels like you’ve been transported back in time to 2007,  playing Halo 3 as you’re shouting profanities over your headset at another player on your team who killed you for the sniper-rifle. It’s a real nostalgia trip. But that nostalgia wears off very quickly, and after awhile you need to step out of the shoes of the Master Chief and go play something else. Halo MCC has been through hell, and to see people still playing it today makes me a very happy fan of the series.

Nevertheless, in my eyes Halo the Master Chief Collection was a celebration of everything that is Halo, as well as a celebration of a extremely loyal community of fans. It’s also an example of how hard it is to release a game to a community that has high expectations, let alone for 4 of the most loved games of all time. At the end of the day Halo MCC is a brilliant game in 2018, and I would recommend it to anyone that loves Sci-Fi and First Person Shooters, in fact it’s actually now on Xbox Gamepass so anyone can try it out!

And that’s it for my look back at Halo MCC, I’m going to be trying something a little different in 2019, and I can’t wait to get started. See you next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Dead Redemption Online Beta – My thoughts so far.

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I’ve finally managed to play a few hours of Red Dead Redemption online, and it’s exactly what you would expect it to be. Shootouts in the middle of towns, players being hogtied and dragged along the ground behind a horse, innocent townsfolk being murdered left right and centre, just absolute chaos. But this is to be expected, throw a bunch of random players together in a western themed open world and see what happens. Hmm, it’s starting to sound a lot like a certain HBO show I know…. The most interesting addition to Red Dead online is the story missions which can be played with up to four people, yes you heard me right, Red Dead Online has a story mode. Players start out being freed from a carriage taking you to Sisika Penitentiary, from there players learn how to set up a camp then are given different story missions which take you from shooting other outlaws through to robbing trains, all with your friends.

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There is plenty of other things to do in Red Dead Online, you can go hunting and fishing like you can in the campaign. Except every animal you catch and skin is now taken and sold to the butcher instead of the Trapper. There’s free roam events that the player can partake in, as well as Team Death matches, Horse Racing, as well as a battle royal mode (which is actually a lot of fun). The only downside so far to Red Dead Online is the in-game currency, the player can earn US dollars as well as gold nuggets and bars. Earning 100 gold nuggets will get you one gold bar, and missions will sometimes only give you 2 or 3 gold nuggets a pop. But on top of that the prices for goods and weapons are crazily expensive as well, for comparison: the Lancaster Repeater in the story mode costs $135 US dollars, while in Red Dead Online it costs $405 US dollars. This might not be too bad if the money the player was gaining was a lot, but the most a player will get out of a mission is between $3 to $7 dollars. So it will take forever for a player to be able to gain the money to be able to purchase just one new firearm. Thankfully Rockstar has released a statement today assuring players that they will be updating the in game economy, here is their post:

I’ts great to see Rockstar reacting to player feedback so quickly and even pushing out an update in the same week. It’s only early days for Red Dead Online, I’m sure we are going to see a lot more updates and patches in the coming weeks and months. And each time it’s just going to get better and better. Red Dead Online is exactly how I thought it would be, it’s taken the best parts of Red Dead 2 and added a multiplayer component to it. It’s going to be interesting in the next few months seeing how much micro transactions will play a part in Red Dead Online, because it surely will given how successful Grand Theft Auto Online was for Rockstar (GTA V is the most financially successful media title of all time), so it seems logical to assume that Red Dead will be the same. But I guess we can only wait and see. Till next time partner.

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FALLOUT 76 – My journey into West Virginia

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♪♪ “COUNTRY ROADS, TAKE ME HOME,

TO THE PLACE, I BELONG,

WEST VIRGINIA, MOUNTAIN MAMA,

TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS” ♪♪

 

 

Happy Reclamation Day everyone!

I’ve been holding off writing this review because I just wasn’t sure what to make of Bethesda studios newest Fallout game. On one hand I’m really enjoying what it has to offer with it’s survival mode and large beautiful looking landscape. But on the other it’s full of glitches and bugs, some even being game-breaking. I know that it’s “cool” at the moment to hate on Fallout 76 and call it a horrible game and a complete disaster, but it’s far from it. So let’s start off with the negatives because I want this review to end on a high note, so here it goes.

Fallout 76 is set in the post- apocalyptic West Virginia with its large mountains and hauntingly beautiful forests. But it has some problems, growing pains if you like to call it that. When the beta went live before release players were complaining of the constant bugs and glitches (one particularly bad one where the game would delete itself off of the person’s PC), Bethesda said that they were working on these issues before the games release, but still players were nervous about the quality of the product that they were going to be purchasing. Then, just before the release of the second round of the beta, Bethesda issued a “Letter to the fans” here it is here…

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Now we all know Bethesda’s track record when it comes to their games. Most of them are full of bugs that the QA team just didn’t pick up. But Fallout 76 is a fully online multiplayer experience, so going into this game I knew what to expect. And I was not disappointed. I started the game by myself, during these first few hours I ran into a few frame rate drops (I’m playing on Xbox if you’re wondering) but otherwise it was a relatively smooth and fun experience. But then I stopped playing for I didn’t want to get to far ahead of my friends who I was going to be playing it with. So a few days went by and I organised with my friend to play it, so I joined his lobby and off we went to explore West Virginia, and that’s when the trouble started. As soon as we came into contact with other players the frame rate dropped tremendously to point of almost being unplayable, the night ended with my game crashing to dashboard. The next time we invited one of our other friends to join us on our adventure, I joined their lobby and my game immediately froze, so I had to quit the game and return to the dashboard. This happened twice. After that however we went on our adventure, which was filled with HEAPS of bugs, most of them hilarious, my favourite is when a random player jumped into a suit of power armour but the armour doesn’t load. During that time I started to realise how Fallout 76 was unlike any other Fallout game I had ever played.

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Firstly, the combat was very confusing. Enemies would run around at crazy speeds and would be really hard to hit with the slow weapons you’re given at the start of the game. VATS (which allows you to hit the target more accurately) can no longer slow down time because of the multiplayer aspect. The only problem with this is VATS doesn’t lock onto the target quick enough, so by the the time it does the enemy is a metre away from you or their behind cover, which makes it useless. There are no NPC’s, so you are given quests either through letters or audio logs, it really makes the world around you feel empty even with the other players running around. Alright, that’s the negative stuff out of the way, now for the positive.

really like Fallout 76, the past few days I’ve been playing a lot of it and really enjoying myself. I’ve mostly been playing it solo and just enjoying where my feet take me. I’ve been doing small side quests, I traded with another random player, I even found and fought against the horrifying Grafton Monster. But mostly I’ve been travelling from location to location and simply marvelling at the world that Bethesda has created, because it sure is beautiful. Fallout 76 also uses Fallout 4’s crafting system. Except this time the player needs to have the schematics or the weapon mods to be able to customise your weapons. But unlike Fallout 4 your weapons now degrade, which means you need to be keeping an eye on their condition as you fight enemies. This system seems tedious at times, but if you pick up a lot of loot and scrap it into crafting materials you will be fine.

Another added mechanic is the CAMPS, in which players can set up a home wherever and whenever they like. That’s what makes the CAMPS so great, if you don’t like the area you’re in then you can pack the whole thing up and take it someplace else. I made a small homestead for myself up in the forests surrounding Flatwoods, it’s a quiet place and I even put a small ammo box out the front with some ammunition so if people needed some equipment they could take it. It’s a place where players can go regroup and stash there weapons and equipment, but also craft new weapons and armour and even cook meals to take out with you and boil water. For Fallout 76 is a survival game, the players character will get hungry and dehydrated, so the player needs to make sure they have an ample amount of food and water on them as they travel around West Virginia.

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Another new addition in Fallout 76 is the perk card system. Unlike other Fallout titles in which you could pick which perk you wanted from a set list, Fallout 76’s perk system uses trading cards. Every time you level up you pick which perk you would like to upgrade (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) and from there you can are given a selection of perk cards you can choose from. You can then add that to your character and even upgrade them. The part of these that make it so great is that you can trade these cards with other players, so you’re not stuck with the same cards over and over again. Sometimes you are given a random pack of cards you can open (almost like a loot box) and you have a chance to get a higher ranking card in the packs.  It’s a confusing system at first, but it really feels SPECIAL (see what I did there) when you get further into the game.

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Fallout 76 really is an amazing game. It has the foundations to become one of the biggest multiplayer games in the next few years, Bethesda aren’t just going to stop working on it now that it’s out, they have a plan for it, and yes we might be getting large updates over the coming months. But at least they’re trying to fix it. Yes it might not be a typical Fallout game but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enjoyed. West Virginia is incredible to explore, sometimes it might be a bit wacky, but what Fallout game isn’t? So if you want my advice, don’t listen to the people screaming online at how awful this game is, because it’s not. And from that, I’m going to head off to my next adventure into Fallout 76, thanks for reading!!

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“For when the fighting has stopped, and the fallout has settled. You must rebuild. Not just walls, not just buildings. But hearts, and minds, and ultimately America itself.” 

 

♪♪ “COUNTRY ROADS, TAKE ME HOME,

TO THE PLACE, I BELONG, 

WEST VIRGINIA, MOUNTAIN MAMA,

TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS” ♪♪

BATTLEFIELD V – A disappointing sequel?

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Battlefield V, the brand new WW2 first person military shooter developed by DICE studios has been out for 3 days. And I’ve been playing a fair bit of it, and my opinion is….. mixed. To say the least. On one hand the developers over at DICE have made a amazing looking game graphically, while on the other it falls short on it’s choice of multiplayer game types and a campaign that tries to send a strong message but just feels weak. Let me get straight into it starting with the campaign.

Battlefield V takes the “War stories” that we got from Battlefield 1 and expands on it with bigger maps and even more personal stories. The intro to Battlefield V called “My country calling” really took my breath away, it shows the men and women who fought bravely during WW2, how heroic sacrifices were made for the greater good. But also shows the horrific experiences that they had to go through throughout the war. The rest of the campaign tries to keep this same sentiment with characters that the player is meant to care about. The only problem with this is that we only interact with these characters for a single mission, so there seems to be no real emotions if a certain character dies or is wounded in battle. The war stories are definitely dramatic and take us to interesting places all around the world, from deserts to high up in the snowy mountains of Norway, all the maps are designed with great detail and look absolutely amazing.

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Now onto game play, stealth is a major mechanic during the campaign. Most of the missions will require you to sneak around enemies to make it to a checkpoint or to destroy enemy equipment. The only problem is stealth barely works, you are seen straight away by most enemies which then makes you either retreat or try and shoot your way through the onslaught of enemies. Well you would if you had ammunition, it seemed that most of the weapons that I picked up from fallen enemies or from crates had two clips of ammo and that was it, making me switch between guns continuously while being shot at. I spent at least 50% of my time looking at the ground trying to find ammunition and this usually led to me being killed…. a lot. Battlefield V’s health has been significantly reduced compared to Battlefield 1’s, this may be for the heavy reliance of medics in multiplayer in which they can throw you health kits to heal minor wounds. But this doesn’t happen in the campaign, your health regenerates instead, very slowly. Altogether the campaign’s game mechanics just don’t work, and feel clunky as hell while you’re playing through it. Not including the amount of glitches and bugs that I got while playing, it almost makes you think that DICE shouldn’t continue with Battlefield campaigns and focus more on multiplayer instead.

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Speaking of multiplayer, it takes the best parts of the single player campaign and expands on it. There are 8 different game types to choose from. The biggest one being Grand Operations, the match is set over a couple of days and across different maps. It will have you on the edge of your seat as you fight for control over different points on the map. Another new feature is being able to reinforce certain areas of the map. Players can put down sand bags, dig trenches and build barricades to help defend the point against the enemy team. Teamwork is now much more integrated into the game play then before, every squad needs to stay together to survive and running off on your own means certain death if you’re not careful. It makes matches feel like real warfare with squad mates tactically moving around corners and clearing buildings all the while watching each others backs. Another interesting new feature is the crouch-run. Players can now move at a quicker pace while crouched, making it harder for the enemy to hit you and sometimes can make sneaking around even easier.

Classes also make a return in Battlefield V, still the same classes they have been for a while: Assault, Medic, Support, and Recon. Each of these plays the same as they did in Battlefield one, except for a few minor changes such as the recon being the only class that can now spot enemies. Classes also now have “specialisations” which players can unlock. They are perks that up the performance on certain weapons such as reducing bullet spray or how quickly the player can aim down sights. There’s also a larger array of vehicles to choose from, players can now customise different tanks and planes and load them up with different weapons and even change the camouflage on them.

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Battlefield V isn’t a terrible game, but it’s not an amazing game either, but I really wish it was. It has the ground works to become an amazing game, maybe with time it will improve just like Battlefront 2 has done in almost a year. We will have new content dropping next month such as the “turning tides” which is a add on to the war stories. As well as a Battle Royal mode called “Firestorm” coming in February next year. Multiplayer games these days are basically a service, we pay for a full priced game and eventually we will get the product that we paid for, we only need to wait. And maybe in a years time Battlefield V will be the best Battlefield game of all time. We can only hope.

HITMAN 2 – Does Hitman’s sequel hit the mark?

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THIS FILE HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET.

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ICA REPORT FILE – PROVIDENCE.

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Welcome back, Agent 47.

 

 

Hitman 2, not to be confused with Hitman 2: Silent Assassin which came out in 2002, is the new title released by IO Interactive and published by Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment. It’s a sequel to 2016’s Hitman, which blew everyone away with it’s sandbox game play and emphasis on stealth, in fact it looked like a return to the original Hitman games. In which players could choose how they want to take down a target and were rewarded in how they did it. Hitman and Hitman 2 are both very much alike. In fact they both run off exactly the same engine and play identically, except for a few changes here and there. Some would even say that the newest instalment is just DLC for the older game, this might seem that way but IO has been working hard to make this game more impressive then the last one. With bigger levels and more stuff to interact with, it’s a Hitman’s playground.

Hitman 2 follows our protagonist Agent 47 as he tries to uncover his past all the while trying to take down the mysterious Illuminati-like organisation called Providence. That’s all we really know about the story, the narrative is mostly used to give the player a purpose to take out a target and that’s about it, which is slightly disappointing. But what can you do if your protagonist has as much character as a brick wall. 2016’s Hitman was about the same story-wise so I have come to not expect much from them when it comes to an engaging narrative. But game play wise Hitman 2 is fantastic.

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Hitman 2 has 6 locations for the player to explore. The level design is amazing, each map offering unique ways to hunt down your target as well as different ways to escape after the job is done. They feel more intricate then the first Hitman’s levels with something different around every corner and inside every room, this makes the levels really come to life and feel lived in. My two favourite being Miami and Whittleton Creek, both of these being polar opposites to each other with one putting Agent 47 into the middle of a F1 racing event in which the player must navigate around large crowds of people to get to their target, and the other being set in a rich suburban neighbourhood which puts the player into a seemingly quiet street where nothing ever happens.

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This is what makes Hitman 2 so enjoyable to play. They force the player to change the way they play and interact with the levels and situations. What makes these levels even better is the inclusion of “Mission Stories” in which the game gives the player a small storyline in the game to follow which usually puts you into the same room as your target. These mission stories are great for first time players of Hitman, they show how you can interact with objects to eliminate your targets and the different disguises that the player can use to fool guards and other NPC’s.

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Even though the game gives you hundreds of ways to eliminate your targets, sometimes just using your trusty silverballer or a sniper rifle from a window is the best way to take them out, and sometimes even the quickest. But you have to be quick in escaping, otherwise you will get guards running to your position and start spraying bullets everywhere. And gun play is not one of Hitman 2’s strong points, you can barely hit anything even when the enemy is standing right in front of you. This may be on purpose though, Hitman is about sneaking around and taking out your targets silently and trying to avoid killing every person in sight. So don’t try it, it usually doesn’t end well.

Hitman 2’s replay-ability is fantastic, even more so with the inclusion of 2016’s Hitman game as to boot. The different challenges and level mastery make the maps different every time you play them. There’s just so much content in this game that it’s hard to cover it all in a review without dragging on about it. So here are my final thoughts, Hitman 2 is a fantastic game. It’s levels are so well detailed and the way it gives the player the reigns to do what they like keeps me wanting to come back for more. It’s one of 2018’s best releases, maybe not game of the year, but it’s definitely up there. So on that note, I say till next time!

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Mission complete. Well done 47, now come home. We have another mission for you.

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Star Wars Battlefront 2 – 1 Year Later

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Where do I even start when talking about Battlefront 2, it’s a title shrouded in controversy. Upon it’s release on November 17th 2017, it was thrashed by both critics and users alike. You only need to scroll through the endless pages of user reviews on metacritic to know how the public felt about EA’s newest title. With it’s whopping 1.0 score it seemed that Battlefront 2 had no future, that the game was seemingly going to die before it had even started. But, to my surprise, it didn’t. In fact in 2018 EA is still pushing out content, not paid content, but free content at that.

But lets start at the beginning, after EA and DICE’s successful Star Wars Battlefront which released in 2015, which sold over 12 million copies worldwide, EA teamed up with DICE yet again to make a follow up Battlefront game that would improve on everything about the first game. And they did exactly that. When Battlefront 2 was released on November 17, players were given a brand new original story (something the first Battlefront was missing) and an absolutely beautiful looking Star Wars game. I don’t think anyone can dispute that DICE really nailed the look, sound, and feel of the Star Wars universe. From the way blasters sound and fire to the way X-Wings and Tie-Fighters dogfight around each other, I still get shivers when I hear Slave 1’s seismic charges detonate while in “Fighter Assault”. The way characters move to the way you see Darth Maul catapult himself, his double edged lightsaber spinning so fast they are just a blur into a group of clone troopers is absolutely thrilling, and of course nostalgic.

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But it’s not only how the game looks and sounds, it’s the way it plays. EA and DICE have crafted an amazing first person shooter, taking all the good things from Battlefield and putting them into Battlefront. Mechanically it plays like Battlefield, the player has 4 different base classes to choose from – Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist. These all have different weapons and abilities that help the player defeat their enemies. But unlike Battlefield, the player gains points by defeating enemies or completing objectives, and with these points the player can choose from a variety of Star Wars Heroes and Villains, as well as different vehicles, this is a drastic improvement on the original Battlefront in which heroes and vehicles could only be played if a specific token appeared on the map and the player picked it up. The new system allows anyone to play as their favourite characters. It’s a thoroughly engaging experience and just downright fun.

But that leads me into the controversial part of Battlefront 2. The level up system and of course…. lootboxes. When Star Wars Battlefront 2  was released players that jumped into multiplayer found that the progression to level up was slow, very slow. But even worse was the fact that some of their favourite Heroes and Villains: ie Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, were locked until they had the correct amount of credits to unlock them. Now this wouldn’t of been a bad thing, but the price for those two character was 60,000 credits each. A user on Reddit called TheHotterPotato found out that if a player earned 1,370 credits per hour it would take 40+ hours to unlock either Vader or Luke. This of course caused outrage amongst the fans. But the anger only increased when players found that they could buy lootboxes with real-world currency that would allow them to buy both Vader and Luke quicker, but it would also help unlock abilities quicker for players, making the game pay-to-win.

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Due to the chaos caused by the backlash, EA cut the high price for characters down by 75%, and even went as far to completely get rid of the option for people to buy lootboxes with real-world money. They’re still there of course, but you can only purchase them with the credits you gain through gameplay. But it was already too late, the damage was done. All hope was lost for Battlefront 2, even I stopped playing it after I completed the story mode. I played it here and there with a friend of mine (Ewok hunt was amazing as well as the inclusion of the Crait map from the Last Jedi) but never bothered to play it anymore then that. But then a month ago I heard that one of favourite characters, General Grievous, was coming to Battlefront 2. But not only that but Obi Wan Kenobi was also going to be added, alongside a whole new map, Geonosis. This spiked my interest to try and return to battlefront. And to my complete surprise I managed to get a game of Galactic Assault almost instantly with a full lobby of players. And I’ve got to say, it’s hell of a lot of fun playing it again. On Xbox not once have I struggled to find a match. I’ve heard the same for the PS4 as well. PC however, the game is dead. According to what I found online no one is playing at all, and anyone who does try and play is lucky to even find a game.

swbfii-clonewars-grevious-obiwan-body.jpg.adapt.crop16x9.1455w  Star Wars Battlefront 2 may of had a rocky release, and may of shaken the game industry as a whole when it comes to lootboxes in videogames. But EA and DICE have done their best to try and bring the game back from the dead, and they have succeeded. It looks like EA has plans to release new content all the way through 2019 as well, including Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku, as well as a “new large-scale, non-linear game mode” according to EA’s official road-map. I would recommend anyone that is a fan of Star Wars to give Battlefront 2 a go in 2018, because from here on out it’s only going to get more and more content. So do yourself a favour, and play it.

And of course, may the force be with you…. always.

Red Dead Redemption 2. Return to the Wild West – In review

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Red Dead Redemption 2, the long awaited sequel to Rockstar Games Red Dead Redemption has been out now for 6 days, and in those 6 days I’ve managed to play about 23 hours. But according to the in game stats I’ve only managed to finish about 28% of the main story missions. So yeah, it’s BIG. But I’m not only talking about how large the map is, I’m talking about every little detail that the amazing developers at Rockstar have painstakingly created to make Red Dead 2 feel unbelievably realistic.

But what is Red Dead 2 about? Red Dead Redemption is set in the year 1911, while Red Dead 2 is set in 1899, almost 11 years before the events of the first game. You play as Arthur Morgan, a member of the outlaw Van Der Linde Gang who are on the run from the law after a robbery had gone horribly wrong. Arthur and the gang are forced to rob, steal, and kill their way across the United States trying to the cling desperately to their outlaw way of life while the world around them is becoming more and more civilised.

Arthur is your typical cowboy protagonist, but Rockstar have implemented a reputation mechanic in which Arthur can interact with NPC’s in the world. And depending on the action the player picks (that being either positive or negative) will result in either a pleasant chat or explode into a gunfight.

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This makes interacting with the NPC’s of Red Dead so much more interesting, they are no longer there just to make the world seem life-like, they do make the world life-like. And that isn’t just in the towns and cities, its out in the wild too. I’ve helped dozens of NPC’s with their day to day problems, from helping a man who had been bitten by a snake to helping build a NPC’s house, there is just so much to see and do.

As well as helping NPC’s the player can also collect bounties, rob houses, and collect debts. These are fun little side missions the player can do to earn a little bit of extra cash. But the really fun side missions are the random encounters that the player can come across spread throughout the entirety of Red Dead 2‘s map, you might not earn any money from these events, but they make the world really feel lived in.

But I’ve only covered a tiny amount of what Red Dead Redemption 2 has to offer. Next time I will go over the hunting side of the game. As well as locations for Elite Horses. So grab your bow and your rifle, because we’re going hunting!!!!

SPIDER-MAN PS4 review: Be greater.

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As we all know, Spider-Man was released on the PS4 last week to overwhelming positive reviews from across the board form both players and critics alike. Even after fans on Twitter were furious that the game had been given a “significant downgrade” in graphics compared to it’s E3 demo a few years ago. This was of course not the case as the developers at Insomniac Games were quick to respond to the players worries and assure them that the games graphics had not been downgraded. And trust me, it definitely hasn’t.

Spider-Man looks absolutely stunning from the get go. We are introduced to Peter in a small opening cut-scene with him donning the iconic costume, then its straight into the web-slinging. And that’s where the game really shines, the web-slinging feels so fluid and realistic to control. Spider-Man swings freely through Manhattan with ease, even if the player hits a wall or misjudged a swing Spider-Man doesn’t just stop in his tracks, he runs along a wall and leaps off of it, not slowing the movement down a bit. It also helps that Insomniacs version of New York is so stunningly beautiful, swinging through Times square in the middle of the day with the sunlight bouncing off the windows is absolutely incredible, and the same goes when the game changes to night, the city lights of New York while sitting atop a tall building is transfixing.

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What also is spectacular (eh, see what I did there?) is the combat. Spider-Man combat in earlier games such as Spider-Man 2 were lacklustre and clunky, but Spider-Man PS4 uses free-flow combat quite like the Batman Arkham trilogy uses. And it work damn well with Spider-Man, you take out bad guys left right and centre with a combination of kicks and punches mixed with web attacks. Just like Batman, Spider-Man has a large arsenal of gadgets that he can use on enemies such as electric webbing, or a small Spider-drone that shoots energy bolts at enemies to distract them. He can also use the environment around him by picking up trash cans or boxes with his webs and throw them at enemies. It’s a really fun take on the combat system that made the Arkham games so great.

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But where I was most surprised was the story, going into the game I wasn’t expecting much. I thought it would be just another Spider-Man video game story that wasn’t really that interesting with 2-dimensional characters that didn’t do much. But I was very wrong, Spider-Man PS4 has an exceptional narrative that focuses not only on Spider-Man, but on Peter Parker and the people in his life.

We are re-introduced to characters such as Mary Jane and Miles Morales who you actually play as during the main story missions of the game, and even help Spider-Man in certain missions. The story really builds onto what we already know about existing characters but also adds it’s own spin on things. But what I really love about this story is that it isn’t an origin story (we all know how Spider-Man got his powers, we don’t need to hear it again) this is a Spider-Man in his prime who knows exactly how his powers work and knows that he has a responsibility to the people of New York to protect them.

Spider-Man PS4 shows us how amazing superhero games can be, and I think that the web head really needed a fresh new game that wasn’t a movie tie-in, but it also needed a studio dedicated to getting the character right, and Insomniac has definitely done just that.