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Reviews

After an inconceivably long wait the sequel to Wasteland has finally arrived. Wasteland 2 is a post-apocalyptic top down RPG. So we can expect the usual thugs, bandits and giant mutated creatures of some sort.

The first things you will see is a character creation screen, or more specifically a team creation screen. You’ll have four character slots to fill and rather than creating your protagonist and acquiring team members as you play you create all four from the start. There are also a reasonable selection of premade characters but I can’t see any RPG fans opting in.

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But the offer does become more tempting once you reach the stats page. As usual you are given a certain number of points to assign to different attributes or skills. And as usual it’s difficult to know which are going to be useful and which aren’t. The difference with Wasteland 2 is that there are just so many options for you that initial character creation is rather intimidating. The tooltip descriptions are reasonably helpful but for first time players a quick bit of research is probably in order. It certainly was for me rather than risking playing 10 hours and realising one of your team is useless.

What is nice is having the freedom to create an entire team. All too often you create your character only to find a party member along the way who can do everything better than you. Having to think ahead and tactically distribute skills across four characters, although intimidating, is actually quite refreshing.

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Throughout the entire game there is this sense that Wasteland 2 is a game from long ago. The help is minimal, the graphics are nothing particularly special and there certainly isn’t any room for advanced facial animations and the like. Not that you really see anybody’s face close up anyway. But what it does offer is a massive amount of freedom and a sense of satisfaction when you figure something out or overcome hurdles.

Even simple things like the first time I bypassed a gate which had an alarm, a trap and a lock. I first inspected the gate using my team leader, who has high perception, and then set him to work defusing the traps – a skill I had assigned him earlier. I then called up my lock picking, alarm cracking second in command and after all was complete the gate opened safely and silently.

It’s the manual nature of the tasks that gave me satisfaction. Having to call up my second knowing that she had the relevant skills and select them from the hotbar is far more satisfying than the cursor changing to the corresponding task automatically whenever you do anything. It’s a look back at the golden age of the RPG before games helped us out and made things easy and even the slight inconvenience of selecting an ability manually is far more rewarding.

But it does make for a steep learning curve. The first mission you are sent on is relatively simple and the level of difficulty is not too high but generally speaking Wasteland 2 is a tough game. And if you’re only used to modern RPGs the early game can be a little rough. But by making sure you save every 3 seconds and learning by trying rather than listening before long you feel confident that you can make it in this harsh world.

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Combat is a turn based affair that plays out quite differently from most other top down squad based titles. There’s can be a strangely fast pace to combat considering how easily you can be slaughtered. Each character has a certain amount of AP (action points) to use on abilities each turn. Each character can have two weapons and, assuming you have a balanced team, will hopefully all use different ammo types so there aren’t fights over a certain type of round as you through boxes of unused bullets into a puddle of biological waste.

Early game it’s very easy to get caught up in the pace of the fight and forget that this is a very tactical combat system but as the enemies get tougher you find a need to slow down and think. Selecting abilities, moving characters and anything else you might want to do is simple and the UI helps make sure you don’t lose because of a stray click or an ambiguous cursor. They even decided to have attack and move on different mouse buttons. Sounds like something small but to all those who ever tried to click an enemy to attack them and saw they’re character run right up to him, end their turn and wait to die this kind of thing is a big deal.

Questing is the usual selection of people in trouble, helping those that hate you and fighting half crazed lunatics wearing American football gear. Although most of the dialogue is spoken the main interface for conversations resembles a 90’s printer stuck at the bottom of the screen. Your options for dialogue will appear underneath the transcript and you can either click on them or type the option directly into the UI which is fairly useless – but kind of fun.

The options and dialogue trees are certainly in depth enough that you never feel wanting for more. Often I would find that conversations would end just at the point were I said to myself ‘I seriously hope that was the last branch’. There’s nothing particularly unique about the characters but they do a decent job of filling all the prerequisite roles needed for a post-apocalyptic journey.

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Wasteland 2 is a throw back to RPGs of old. It’s the sequel to a game that’s 26 years old (and also was released the same year I was born) and definitely looks to the 90s for inspiration. It’s also a game RPG fans want. Sure it can be a rough start but give us the numbers and stats we crave. Give us tactical combat that those stats actually matter in rather than just spectacle. Give us enough quests so we keep coming back for more after 10 hours. Wasteland 2 gives you just that. It doesn’t look the best and doesn’t even try to add new features but it’s just a good, solid RPG. Just like the good old days.

 

With the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game not due for release until sometime next year, it seems we’ve been presented with either a stopgap for the anticipating fans, or a taste of what to look forward to in the upcoming months.

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Glad these lights are working

In striving for the annual release model, it’s often tricky for developers to create and implement new concepts and ideas on top of refining existing ones. Never has that been more obvious than the release of F1 2014. Granted, not a huge amount changes in its real life counterpart, save for the videogame friendly KERS system; and of course the yearly roster updates, both in terms of vehicles, tracks and drivers.

Either way, new to the franchise this year, is the inclusion of a new track, the Russian Sochi Autodrom, alongside returning favourites, Hockenheimring and the Red Bull Ring, at the unfortunate expense of the Indian GP track. Bahrain gets a little night time treatment to more closely represent the true schedule too. Aside from the track and driver arrangements, the cars themselves have also gone through a few alterations to comply with F1 going green and all. In place of the whiny scream of yesteryear, you’ll alternatively be listening to the hybrid’s turbo whistle instead.

Aside from the mostly aesthetic changes on offer, the tyre wear model has been graciously revamped too. No longer will you limp round the track a few laps before pitting whilst trying to disregard the AI’s unfathomable skill at driving full pace on ruined tyres. It’s not only more forgiving, providing you stick to the pit schedule, but also there are more auditory cues to help you know when you’re pushing the limits.

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Be prepared to see the back of a lot of cars

The driving model is still great too; even if it seems a little heavier and proves more difficult to spin the back end out. However, being introduced to the game is an exercise in bewilderment. In standing of the excellent, if not somewhat slowly paced nature of last year’s Young Driver Test, is something much more unsuitable to a ‘simulation’ game. This time around, you are given one lap to perform your best, bearing in mind that this could well be some people’s first racing game, and upon completion, the game offers a set of difficulty options based upon your performance. To be honest, you’d be better off ignoring its advice and setting the options to your own preference.

The AI still succumbs to various tropes of the genre, with its unrelenting grip of the racing line, its inability to block you, its reluctance to take chances and of course, in stark contrast to real life, the finishing rate of each driver. They’ll very rarely make mistakes which warrant summoning the safety car.

Another immersion breaking feature is, once again, the limitations of the career mode. Having a five year cycle simply isn’t enough time for the true aficionados to feel like they’re working their way up through the ranks. Especially when you get offered a Mercedes as a starting car. Getting the difficulty settings correct is paramount, too easy and that projected target of finishing 15th is something you can more than attain by the first bend. Too hard and you’ll quickly become frustrated in only a way that a racing game can provide.

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Yes! It’s er, not as good as last year’s game…

In terms of modes, F1 2014 feels a little barren and stagnated, even when compared to last year’s edition. The career mode is potentially too short, even when taking into account the option of seven or twelve race seasons. It also feels a tad distant and a little cold too, with only generic emails, race calendars and tuning options to sift through. Aside from the career mode, there’s the usual time trial variants, challenges and multiplayer (both split-screen and online) to sink some time into. Unfortunately, the powers that be, have dropped the excellent Classic mode from last year’s iteration, somehow granting even less content than before. Provided you can get into a like-minded group where smashing into other players isn’t the sole reason for playing the game, the online multiplayer should hold your attention for some time however.

The largest flaw(s) in F1 2014 reside in its familiarity however; where everything feels copy and pasted from last year’s release. Your pit boss has seemingly learnt nothing in a year as his dialog remains largely unchanged, the menus feel archaic, crash damage is underwhelming and the graphics are no discernible amount better than before.

The wheel to wheel racing is still great; cutting tenths of seconds off lap times is still mesmerizingly addictive and taking corners at insane speeds is always going to be gratifying. It’s a shame then that F1 2014 not only doesn’t improve upon its predecessor, but instead manages to take a step back in terms of content. If you’re the type who looks forwards to each year’s offering, then I’m afraid you could well be sorely disappointed; perhaps it would be better to wait for the PS4 and Xbox One’s versions, provided they add more content and features that is.

Deep in the heart of Mordor the Dark Lord sits on his thrown crafting an unimaginably large army of orks, uruks and other nasty things. The corrupted kings swoop around striking fear into the hearts of men, now masters of the void. Someone really should have made friends with Talion and done anything to keep him happy. This guy would have been so useful during the third age. But minor plot issues aside lets go visit Mordor as Talion our ranger/wraith protagonist.

This will become such a cliché it’s ridiculous and I can already hear those of you who called it. But the comparison is far too obvious to avoid. Shadow of Mordor is essentially Batman meets Assassins Creed. Suddenly that Arkham entry without Rocksteady behind the wheel makes sense. It’s fun, brutal and just like Nazi zombies you can feel at ease slaying countless orks and uruks without even the slightest sense of remorse. Even when you elaborately beat one with your bare hands before abruptly stabbing it through its open mouth. Or when your wraith takes control and you see terror in the eyes of your enemy as you shout ‘Obey Me!’ and take his mind.

Outside the ‘holy crap did you see that!’ the usual collection of enemies are present, normal, ranged, shielded and so on with each needing a different method of attack. You might have to stun one kind, others you can’t attack from the front. It’s all very familiar but Shadow of Mordor isn’t afraid to let lose swarms of simple enemies for you to satisfyingly work your way through. All too often satisfying combat is ruined by over use of difficult enemies, or more specifically more difficult enemy combinations, but rest assured there will be plenty of opportunities to slay hordes of lesser foes.

Mordor does however open itself up to tedious and frustrating deaths. After killing countless Uruks, their captains and beasts to be defeated by a couple of stray crossbow bolts you couldn’t see because the camera is far too tight is just irritating. Then to be presenting with 30 seconds of orks cheering over your death and watching them slowly move around the ranks on the nemesis system is just infuriating. I wish my losses were against bosses or worthy foes and not corners to get stuck on or the off-screen delights of a ranged attacker.

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The nemesis system is were Shadow of Mordor attempts to stands apart from the crowd. The ability for captains and the more badass among the Uruk to gain and lose ranks are the main reason endlessly hunting them remains fun. Killing a captain opens up a slot for another ork to take over. Or they might just fight among themselves to gain ranks. But the reality is that despite how cool and impressive all this is early game it makes no difference what his name is really. He’s just another boss with a few attributes that you may or may not have discovered by finding Intel or interrogating particularly weak orks.

On top of that killing a captain often has little effect on the game other than sometimes altering his appearance and giving him something to reference during his next WWE intro that acts as a handy ‘previously on’ clip that we all need because we’re stupid and forgetted what is happened. For example on one occasion I fought with an enemy I had previously ‘killed’ and saw his scars. It was cool until he directly referenced them and ruined the moment.

Then you kill him again and another named ork takes his place. Sure the captains look cool, each has a definite style and there’s an impressive voice roster but it just doesn’t matter. What you really need for the nemesis system to work is to die and go back to settle the score. But this just doesn’t happen.

The stealth mechanic too is not exactly perfect. Unfortunately it’s satisfying only because the AI is so great at playing dumb. And I mean they act like senseless straw manikins laid out just for you. But given that Mordor doesn’t have any claims to hardcore stealthing it works well. Thinning out ranks before engaging and defeating a group is satisfying even though endlessly luring foes and using bushes like they’re the best cover ever devised isn’t.

As usual the free roam is held back by arbitrary requirements to complete main missions. Shadow of Mordor is almost totally free but for two or three things. Please stop telling me what to do first in an open world game. To come this far and then lock a couple of abilities just seems stupid. If it’s open world then make it so. Don’t make it 95% open; especially with such a thin plot that then starts to feel like a chore.

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My main gripe is that most of what’s good about Mordor is ‘borowed’. The combat system is taken straight out of Batman, although with the addition of bladed violence and gore. It doesn’t feel as polished as Batman but it is more forgiving and doesn’t feel out of place. Even the special combat moves have the same button assignments. The stealth is straight from Assassins Creed although again is more forgiving which allows it to feel at home. But when you crouch run across a high ledge the animation is pure Assassins Creed. Even the ropes you can run across look the same. There are moments in Shadow of Mordor were I wonder how they got away with certain things. There’s inspiration and then there’s just copying.

There’s undoubted greatness in Mordor. Worse yet there is untouched greatness in Mordor. The ability to gain a nemesis should be clever and satisfying but ultimately I never got a nemesis apart from when the game assigned me one just because I didn’t have one. The bosses I killed could have been called ‘Crossbow Ork 3’, ‘Shielded Ork 2’ and so on which is a true shame. And sadly far too much of Mordor relies on the nemesis system. Almost all of it in fact. The plot is adequately dark for Tolkien’s world but isn’t all that interesting and certainly not enough to compliment the other features.

A more fleshed out narrative or a world that contains something, anything, other than enemies to fight would help. So would clever side objectives and collectables. But they’re just ‘go here and pick this up’ or ‘kill x enemies in x way’. All too soon it becomes mindless. Even something like a tavern to visit and buy weapons would help. But the first 5 hours or so all I saw was mud and dead orks. And then some grass and dead orks. Shadow of Mordor relies on the nemesis system entirely and it just isn’t enough to flesh out the game. A fully fledged open world would push Shadow of Mordor into greatness but sadly it places too much confidence in the wrong places. At times it feels like a giant combat room which is really all it is. But still it provides many hours of satisfying fighting and a chance to feel like a true legend of middle-earth for the first time in an age.

 

Whilst the Alien franchise might have been recently tarnished by the latest videogames’ efforts, that hasn’t put Creative Assembly off in attempting to create a truly terrifying Xenomorphic experience. And whereas the past slew of games in the franchise have been more akin to traditional shooters, Alien Isolation makes you feel like what you actually are, a feebly fragile, tasty human.

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Can’t wait to find out what that blip is…

You play as Amanda Ripley, an engineer working in the back end of the galaxy alongside people she’s not entirely keen on. Years of outer space arc welding pays off however, as rumours of the Nostromo’s black box are brought into light. It’s not long before the decision is made to retrieve it from a rival company stationed on Sevastopol, a run-down space station that undoubtedly houses more than just answers regarding Amanda’s mother. Inevitably, it’s not long before things take a turn for the worse. A somewhat routine spacewalk, complete with jittery co-worker, ends in predictable disaster, bringing the game’s namesake into play.

The interminable tension mounts as you take baby steps towards the darkness and away from the sanctity of your ship. Lights unceremoniously flicker as you prepare for the unavoidable encounter; you attempt to savour feeling of dread knowing deep down, that this is what an Alien game should feel like.

Alien Isolation plays to its strengths confidently, knowing that any slight movement will panic you for the foreseeable future. I won’t spoil any scares for you, but you are safe for a while; letting the game lead you around its slowly introducing mechanics is about the only hand holding you’re going to get. Straight off the bat, areas beg to be explored for salvage, med kits and flares; it’s worth keeping this in mind as several, almost necessary, items such as blueprints for schematics are entirely missable should you not scour each area. At the beginning, this isn’t so much of a problem due to the relative safety, yet later on, it can often prove to be a fatal decision.

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As aggressive as it looks, it’ll only buy you a few seconds

At some point on your travels, you’ll come across enemies; whether they’re angst ridden survivors, androids or ‘that other one’, it quickly becomes obvious that fighting enemies head on is often a risk not worth taking. Due to Isolation incorporating aspects of stealth alongside its deeply rooted survival-horror nature, escaping confrontation at any cost is advisable. You get the feeling you aren’t supposed to fight, but survive; nothing brings that sensation around than when you encounter the Alien.

Exquisitely rendered, its movements are as mesmerising as they are terrifying. It will stalk you, search for you and scare the hell out of you. No videogame enemy has made you feel so helpless and weak since the glory days of Resident Evil. Your weapons and crafted paraphernalia serve only to distract it, and buy you a few seconds to scuttle to your next hiding spot. Lurking inside a vent, wincing under a table and cowering inside lockers will become a consistently uncomfortable routine. Leaning further back into locker as it prowls the room you’ve unerringly declared ‘safe’ is no guarantee of survival.

The gloriously familiar motion detector will become your best friend as you skulk the many corridors of Sevastopol; it not being able to differentiate between friend and foe is a lesson you’ll learn quickly too. Raising your weapon at a seemingly responsive survivor could well cause them to become hostile, whereas shooting the wrong person on sight in a skittish action can easily cause a game over. These are quintessentially the parts which make Alien Isolation a dreaded joy to play, the constant tension, the unwelcoming atmosphere and the fear of instantly dying at the Xenomorph’s ‘hands’. There are sections where simply crossing a room becomes a challenge due to the enemy presence. The fact that the Alien never quite behaves the same way keeps the pressure on too. At some points, between the manual save stations, you may never see it; other times, he’ll surprise you again and again.

Despite the sluggishly reloading weapons not making a dent on the Alien’s hide, your tools can be used to cunning effect at times however. In sections where both the Alien and humans reside, you can lure it towards the enemy in the hope that he’ll do your dirty work for you, letting you slip by (optimistically) unnoticed.

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Really could do with that drink right about now

For all the unbound greatness the Alien sections of the game provide however, there are also sections which drag on a little longer than necessary. Save for a few vaguely taxing puzzles, there are a slew of videogame clichés to work through that come across a little like filler and seem to exist solely to pad the games length out.

There are some odd design choices too; holding your breath whilst hiding in a locker for example hurts you after a short while, instead of say, letting out a loud gasp. Mechanics introduced fairly late on into the game aren’t necessarily drawn attention too either.

Apart from certain aspects of the gameplay, the overall presentation of the game is an enormous selling point alone. Outstanding graphics aside, save for some small framerate issues during cutscenes, it’s the fashion in which Creative Assembly have lovingly captured the essence of Riddley Scott’s universe. Quasi-futuristic computer terminals adorn the space station on top of other futuristic, late 70’s design. The audio also deserves a special mention too, with surround sound or a good pair of headphones being a must. Tracking the Alien above you through ventilation shafts is as distressing as it is rewarding; the clarity of the sound effects play well into the game’s design. If you do happen to own a PlayStation Camera, it can also be used, rather devilishly, as a microphone for another way of attracting undue attention’ as well as a tool for peeking and leaning.

Despite some pacing irregularities and the odd graphical issue, it’s all worth it when you come up against one of the most iconic film ‘stars’ in sci-fi history. Creative Assembly have finally created a Xenomorph to rightly fear; and one that Alien Isolation delivers in spades. It’s relentless, terrifying and capable of punishing each and every mistake you stumble upon. Be prepared to relish the game over screen.

Now that Ghosts is reaching the end of its intended life cycle, it’s time for the fourth and final DLC drop. Nemesis promises a conclusion to the episodic Extinction game mode and four new multiplayer maps; including a tongue in cheek dig at those (including myself) who complained regarding the overly large map sizes present in the initial release.

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Yep, you can ride the minecarts

Goldrush is our first stop, set in an old abandoned gold mine; it’s probably the largest map in the pack and suited best for more competitive games of Domination. Its immediately notable features include two automated mine cart systems, as well as a fiendish area (housing the B Domination point) that periodically changes its elevation. Close games will rely upon players using their knowledge of this mechanic; on top of the winding map layouts to get the jump on their opponents. Once again, Field Orders are made with nostalgia in mind, with this maps unique reward being a pack of wolves, of which are scarily reminiscent of the K9 units of the past.

Subzero, an evacuated submarine base located in Canada, it plays host to the classic three lane design and is probably the most balanced map here in terms of engagements. Narrow, claustrophobic tunnels pave the way towards open areas that reward risks, meaning gunfights between different categories can and will occur at any point. Vantage points are fairly commonplace; lending those sneaky players a consistent advantage, however due to the more traditional layout, there’s fortunately, often a way out. Subzero’s Field Order certainly falls into the obscure category; once acquired, you’ll summon the ‘snow beasts’, ethereal monsters that wouldn’t look out of place in a snowy episode of Lost.

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A familiar looking snow map

Dynasty is unfortunately the weak point of the pack, featuring a unique, if not a little bland, Chinese lakeside village. With most of the action centralised around the middle two buildings, flanking around the sides is your best bet for survival. Unfortunately, due to the colourisation of the surrounding walls, you’ll often find people propping up the fortifications; blending in surprisingly well in the process too. Much like the other DLC maps of late, Dynasty also has its unique Field Order throwback, this time paying homage to the harrier strikes of Call of Duty past.

Showtime is a map that Ghosts could have done with a long time ago. A reimagined version of the smallest map in Call of Duty history, the claustrophobic Shipment from the first Modern Warfare, Showtime will test both your reactions and your patience. Set up as a suspiciously staged combat arena, Showtime offers the kind of fast paced action that was often dubiously missing from Ghosts. There are still points to perch upon and overlook the map, alongside the outer perimeter which begs to be patrolled with an SMG. The central arena tempts you with the lure of shotguns, whilst reality offers silenced weapons. It’s easy to rack up the kills in Showtime, what’s more difficult, is keeping a streak going whilst being mindful of the incessant spawns that surround you.

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You’ll be praying it’s this calm before too long

Exodus is the final stage in the Extinction saga; as with previous episodes, you’ll have to deal with just about every species so far, alongside the Ancestors, a new group of enemies that possess some pretty nifty mind control abilities. For those who’ve spent their time collecting the hidden secrets in the multiplayer maps, progressing through this final chapter will grant you a cheeky Extinction egg patch to show off in multiplayer.

Whilst it’s not the worst map pack in the franchise, I would have hoped for the final DLC pack for Ghosts would have ended with a more memorable bang. After starting so strong with the first two packs; including weapons, original killstreaks and interesting map designs, it’s a shame to end with a predictable bang. The maps Showtime and Subzero elevate the pack nicely and the Field Order rewards are a nice trip down nostalgia lane, yet unfortunately re-raise the ever present issue of Ghosts’ killstreaks.

As a pair, both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light were surprise hits on the last gen, both sported great graphics, lighting and sound; whilst also encouraging its stealth and survival mechanics. They also told a great tale too, provided you were a little clued up on Dmitry Glukhovsky novels on which the games were based upon. Developers 4A Games have not only re-mastered both games, but also included all previous instances of DLC alongside rejigging some of the narrative aspects too. A lot of effort has clearly been put into this package, but has it paid off?

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This isn’t going to end well…

Simply put, yes! The Metro has never looked so ambivalently bleak yet gorgeous, if you think it looked atmospheric before, you’ll still be shocked. Metro 2033, originally released in 2010, was a great, if not flawed, survival stealth game. Unfortunately, some of the problems that plagued the original still persist here too. The pacing of the game still seems a little off at points, with some sections dragging on a little too much; the enemies still have an inordinate amount of health to exasperate the stress of ammo worries; the AI can have its ‘moments’ too of course.

All of these points are quickly glazed over however, as the game immediately draws you into its thick atmosphere; not relenting until you’ve prised the controller from your sweaty paws. Venturing outside was, and still is, a nerve-racking affair. Not only is there the inherent threat of a mutant swarm attack, but also the ever present gas mask timer being a constant dilemma of either spending time scavenging for items, or sprinting for the finish, hoping what you have in reserves is enough to carry you through.

4A Games newest iteration of their engine fortunately eliminates many of the issues present in the original too. The frame rate is silky smooth without compromising the aesthetics, leaving you to pan the camera around like a developer showcasing demo, savouring the darkness before it envelops you.

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At times like this, your gas mask should be the first priority

Whilst Metro 2033 was filled with survival horror elements, Metro: Last Light instead, focused on becoming more of a horror shooter. Ditching many, standardised HUD elements increased the level of atmosphere too, yet the game took a different route to ‘2033’ in that action took precedence. For those who felt that way, 4A Games have responded by letting you choose your desired playstyle. Upon starting the game, you can opt to play it in a more survival oriented way, where stealth and ammo conservation should be taken more into account. Or, in traditional shooter fashion, there’s Spartan mode, where you get to play with your toys and not worry so much about creeping in the dark. It’s a nice choice that lets players have a little more input in deciding how they wish to play the game.

With the addition of all the DLC crammed in, (such as the insanely useful firing range) you might have accepted that alone would have been enough to sell as a package. Yet once again, 4A Games have gone the extra mile; even extending areas and adding new sections of lore to help keep interest high as you explore the beautifully dystopian wastelands.

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Metro can often be eerily pretty

Whilst Metro: Last Light was only released last year, it’s also still benefited from the next gen brush considerably. A fresh lick of paint ensures it looks as good, if not better, than several games out at the minute, all whilst maintaining a healthy 1080p on PS4.

In all, these are two games that may easily have passed you by; despite Metro 2033 showing its age slightly with some occasionally wonky facial animations and such, it’s still a fantastic package. Due to the style of play each game encourages, it’ll likely be a fresh experience too; it’s certainly a far cry from some of the modern shooters we’ve all come to know. If you failed to grab these on their first passing’s, you owe it to your PS4 to pick Metro Redux up, not only are they more accessible than before, but they’ll hopefully pave the way to a sequel.

As an unfortunate by-product of the Western gaming industry churning out hit after hit, it’s becoming rarer and rarer to see newly released JRPG’s cross our paths. Fortunately at least, Bandai Namco doesn’t quite see it that way. A sequel, and yet another entry in the largely brilliant ‘Tales’ saga, Tales of Xillia 2 promises to empower you with choice during Ludger’s adventure across Elympios, can they live up to their own lofty expectations?

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Hilariously fat cat not pictured

It’s a rough start for our protagonist Ludger. Chasing his dream and following in his brothers footsteps, he gets a shot at becoming an agent of the Spirius Corporation, unfortunately Ludger fails the ’exam’ and instead we’re laden with his second career choice, becoming a chef. It’s not long however before we’re introduced to the core of our storytelling, ragtag group of archetypal misfits. An inhumanely fat cat named Rollo, a small girl who essentially shouts out in a train station that you’re an abductor, and finally some not at all innocuous guy asking for directions. This is all punctuated by a terrorist attack on the prestigious Ceremonial Train pulling into the local station where, coincidently, Ludger is about to start his first day of work as a chef.

Things inevitably escalate quickly; it’s up to Ludger and his new friend Jude to fight their way through the repetitive train carriages, in an on the rails style, battle system tutorial. Not long after being confounded with the short series of plot set-ups, one of the oddest gaming mechanics ever dreamt up rears its greedy head. Due to some pretty hefty medical bills, undertaken without our permission I might add, we find ourselves in some extortionate debt. 20 million gald’s worth of debt to be exact.

Starting out with an open mind, I was quite intrigued by the concept. Here was a video game dealing with several true to life, serious issues. Terrorism, debt, campaigners and rival corporations all participate in what should have been a mature narrative. Instead, the debt you find yourselves in is taken to a whole new level of irritation once you get past the first few hours. Due to your liabilities, there are sanctions put on your ability to travel; once you pay the required amounts, these get slowly lifted, allowing you to progress to the next area. With a bounty board full of small quests and epic enemies to vanquish, gathering gald for your next payment is fairly simple. Kill three Ribbits, grab a handful of sand from the nearby beach and find a lost cat. You get rewarded in gald and materials on top of getting to explore the surrounding areas, sounds good so far.

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Usually there are a lot more numbers on screen

The issue being that once you have over a certain amount of money, essentially someone rings you and ‘requests’ payment. At one point I was flush with over 15,000 gald after grinding some levels and completing menial tasks, only for every screen transition to have to pay an indeterminable amount to the interrupting debt fairy. Considering each area might only take 10-20 seconds of jogging from one side to the next, it was fair to say it got quite annoying after the fifth or so time it happened. I’m used to saving up a little pocket money in anticipation of the next cities worth of shops, but unless you spend every penny, you’ll be frequently harassed by your creditor. Aside from the frequency of disruptions, the episodic story progression is also hampered too, with areas locked until you pay up.

As far as the story goes, it’s the usual inter-dimensional affair, with strange happenings, pocket watches and alternate realities. Across the 50 hour campaign, you’ll come across returning characters from the previous game along with some new faces. Aside from the main plot, of which it warns you before progressing, (a great thing in a JRPG!) there are also character plots that offer insight into your companions and are often easily as enjoyable as the main story. Other distractions are also on offer such as the addictive Kitty Dispatch where you end up finding cats and sending them off to hunt for items.

The battle system has had some tweaks here and there; for the most part it’s still the combat system you know and love. Happening in real time, and with incredible depth and intricacies that won’t even be useful for the first quarter of the game, it’s a constant learning process; deciding which artes are best used in what situation is tricky enough, never mind the linking and chaining potentials. Also new to the party are Ludger’s additional weapons, the hammer and the dual pistols, both of which can be swapped out mid-combo to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. Levelling up has taken a different route too; instead of the Lilium structure, we now use the totally distinguishable Allium system. The variance being that you can now align yourself with an element to further customise which skills you learn first.

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It’s honestly never this dull in battle

Presentation is unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag; for every positive, there’s a corresponding negative. The load times between areas are incredibly fast, however the pop-in for all the ancillary NPC’s takes a noticeable while. The beautiful, cell shaded, anime look gets offset by the restrictions of the draw distance. The voice acting is fantastic, yet for some reason Ludger, the protagonist, is essentially mute, save for some clichéd grunts. The areas are all packed with enemies and treasures to seek out, yet most are reused from the previous game. The list goes on; however it’s safe to say that on the PS4 most, if not all, of the issues would be resolved.

Tales of Xillia 2 is a difficult game to rate, areas are revisited, re-tread and reused, the choice system matters little except for a few instances and the game forces an irritating mechanic on you with the incessant debt repayments. On the other hand, it raises sensitive, real world issues; it pays attention to the little things gamers like such as quick load times, responsive menus, rewarding you for having save data from the previous game and it even has a quick save, extra marks for that inclusion alone! For players new to the series, I would probably recommend you pick up the first one before trying this; if you’re a fan of the ‘Tales’ games, you’ll likely have bought it, played it and enjoyed it anyway!

Due to the mysterious absence of a flagship golf title for the PS4, HB Studios could well accomplish what many smaller studios cannot; breaking into the heavily defended sports game market. Teeing off against the big hitters directly could potentially spell disaster, yet with the fortunate break in the market, can ‘The Golf Club’ fill the void?

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How many eagles are in this screenshot?

As far as simulations go, the competition has never really fulfilled its promise. Being able to alter the ball’s trajectory mid-flight has always seemed like an unnecessary aid; the changing of clothes giving stat increases has bewildered too. That sort of thing is nowhere to be seen here, and with it, comes both benefits and drawbacks.

The gameplay itself is one of the crowning factors; despite it using the tried and tested formula of swinging the right thumbstick, it can be punishing yet rewarding. With a general lack of tutorial, you’ll find the first few games potentially frustrating; however sticking with it will yield better results eventually. Much like the real life version, practice makes perfect and you’ll (mostly) stop fluffing each and every shot. Accuracy with the right thumbstick is paramount and even a slight skew will alter your stroke. If you think that’s a little rough however, you’re in for a world of pain when it comes to putting.

Even though the generic elevation overlay is present to give you an idea of which way to angle your putt, there are no other indications of how your shot will pan out. You must manually gauge the power and finesse; yet without any feedback (other than the onscreen results) you’ll often not know exactly what you did wrong. Whilst this may put some people off, I believe it works in its favour; striving for the pursuit of perfection in golf is surely the initial draw anyway.

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It’s probably more unintuitive than it looks…

Aside from the gameplay, there are also several other greatly notable features present too, namely the highly touted course creation tools. Due to the lack of any official pre-made courses, when you’ve had your fill of the excellent selection on offer, you can try your hand at creating your own. The versatility of the creator can be quite staggering, it can let you procedurally create an all new course in just a few steps. Choosing the general backdrops, tree densities and adding exotic background paraphernalia is simple and works well for what many people will desire. But it also caters for those seeking true customisation too. Individual tiles can be altered, even if it is a little fiddly, yet it does mean that you can create whatever you fancy and share it online for others to play.

Much akin to the Autolog system in the Need for Speed games, Golf Club also incorporates similar social aspects. Updating you with small objectives and tasks helps give you something to strive for if you’re so inclined. And that’s a good job too considering the general lack of content and progression on offer.

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Good luck!

Whereas other games in the genre might have some light RPG elements to give a sense of development, The Golf Club sacrifices these in the hope that the feeling of genuinely getting better at the game will be reward enough. Similarly, as other games often incorporate a career mode of sorts, once again, Golf Club feels sorely lacking. With only three game modes on offer, you’ll generally have to make do with creating your own objectives to keep the sense of longevity alive.

In terms of presentation, The Golf Club won’t be the most jaw dropping game on your PS4, but it’s by no means a bad looking game; the Alpine backdrop in particular looks predominantly eye catching. The tiled menu system feels modern and crisp and the load times are often impressive too, a slight downer being the commentator’s occasionally uninterested demeanour.

For a digital only title, Golf Club can often be impressive, the simple yet rewardingly difficult gameplay demands mastery. The course creator and its combined social features recompense creativity, even if, great user created courses can easily be lost in the ether due to the lack of a trending system. The lack of a career mode stings almost as much as the occlusion of tutorials for the many sections that demand them too. However, for those craving a next gen golfing experience, you could worse than take a tour of The Golf Club.

It’s finally time to catch the fever. Since Train Fever has a minimalist design I thought I’d just jump straight in and get started. Starting up a new game brings up the option to play two simple tutorials. The first is for setting up a simple bus route and the other for a train line. Everything went smoothly but after I’d finished both sections of the tutorial I realized I had no money left after my tracks had been automatically built using bridges and tunnels. Not too much of a problem, I merely restarted having learned my lesson and I appreciated the freedom to make mistakes but perhaps such freedom is out of place during a tutorial.

So I started my new map and set about deciding which two towns to connect. I set up my bus routes easily. Each town has a limited amount of road already laid out for you to work with. Placing a bus stop on a section of road creates a point for citizens to wait for a bus to arrive. And then you create a route using however many of these stops you want and assign a vehicle to it. The vehicle then begins work and eventually you should earn money from the route.

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There was a certain satisfaction in deciding on how many vehicles to assign for efficiency and cost effectiveness. And making an efficient route isn’t quite as simple as it first appears. Things like placing stops on the correct side of the road can make a significant difference in how long it takes for your busses to complete their route. But ultimately once a route is set up there’s very little for you to do but build new ones.

For train lines it’s a little more complicated. Not because there’s any difficulty, of course you’re route options are rather limited but that should make things easier. And it does once you’ve built the track but the building itself can be a torturous experience at times. Countless times I would drag the track tool only to see it was unavailable due to ‘Terrain alignment’. That’s all the so called help you get. There’s no indication on how to make it right and considering sometimes a bridge or tunnel will be created when needed it’s rather confusing when that doesn’t happen. So many times I found myself dragging the endpoint of my track around like a fool to try and find a valid spot with no success. I also found it frustrating that track would be cut into the scenery at times when it could just as easily have been placed on the surface level.

And creating a long length of track is even worse. To select the correct track to extend you have to have the camera fairly close. Not zoomed right in but still enough that you’re view of the map is limited. And you are unable to move the camera with track selected. So you’ll have to build it up in smaller sections, which quickly becomes a pain.

But the UI is slick even if it’s only because there isn’t much of it. There are very few elements at all and each of them has a purpose. Clicking on an element often opens up a widow in game that can be moved and closed like a window on an operating system. So Train Fever gets a very raw feel. Everything has its place and nothing is there unnecessarily or just to make things look better. Having said that I can’t help but feel this is partly because Train Fever has little more to offer.

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The level of detail is nothing short of amazing. Each coble that makes up a street feels as though someone has carefully placed it. Each citizen has a ‘thought process’ in deciding how long they are willing to wait for their transport or how far they will walk. There’s so much detail embedded in Train Fever but so much of it seems misdirected. For example it’s great that everything looks so good but I’d far rather be able to zoom out with more than around 1 frame every 5 seconds. The map is impressively huge but therefore I need to be able to scroll the map while I have the track building tool selected.

Train Fever has a lot in common with Banished. Banished had no objectives or rewards other than to survive. It was difficult and its lack of accessibility meant it was reserved for those who loved city building. Train Fever is largely the same. Once you’ve built your basic infrastructure you expand and grow. And as time passes you’re transport will become more modern. And the changes in era are impressive as your trains, busses, buildings and technologies become closer to the year 2000. Train Fever’s coverage of time is truly impressive.

But unfortunately were time in-between growth on Banished was spent balancing consumables and keeping people healthy Train Fever offers you very little. You build a new line of either busses or trains and eventually it makes money. Then when you have enough you can build another. I’m glad Train Fever doesn’t lose focus and try to be a full city builder and I love the detail and effort that’s clearly gone into it. But without resource management or people complaining about needing transport or something in between it can quickly become boring. When Banished kept me hooked by making me constantly check supply and demand, population growth and consumption Train Fever allows me to do nothing.

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There’s certainly fun to be had in Train Fever and it’s well designed at least as far as a transport manager goes. It looks great and the attention to detail is incredible. But without objectives Train Fever needs to provide us with something to do. There simply isn’t enough to keep even some hardcore fans interested for too long. On top of that the build tools can be awkward or temperamental and the optimization is far from perfect. Train Fever can be good fun for a little while but anyone other than the hardcore will struggle to find much entertainment value in it after a couple of hours. Nevertheless it’s an incredibly impressive game especially for such a small developer. With a few bits of extra content or maybe some custom scenarios Train Fever could be a great game but as it stands it’s ‘only’ good.

 

Well Bungie decided not to carry over progress from the Beta. A good choice for game progression but it does mean that this is the third time I’ve climbed to level 12. And I don’t care at all. I just needed to get stuck in and explore worlds, level up and find loot with my fellow guardians.

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When you start you’ll have to choose between three classes, The Titan, The Warlock and the Hunter. They all feel completely different and they all come with an alternate class to level up once you reach level 15. Your characters race is purely cosmetic and will only be seen in The Tower (Destiny’s social hub) anyway so don’t worry too much. It’s not easy to say which class is for who but Destiny doesn’t limit you. My first character is a Hunter but I like to unload all hell into something, usually with a shotgun, and then run off and get my health back. It works well, so long as you know your limits. But the great thing is I never felt even remotely limited by my class. Apart from the fact there’s another subclass I can switch to whenever I want, I didn’t feel I had to use a sniper just because I’m a Hunter. In fact I rarely did.

Once you’ve sorted your character out a good way to start is definitely with the campaign, although in truth they’re really just missions to complete that are limited by level and not order. There’s a decent sci-fi story that leaves plenty of room for expansion down the line. The few characters you meet are only met briefly but seem like they may have a bigger part to play in the future. Progression hits the sweet spot, nothing is handed to you for free but there’s always something to look forward to. Although during my campaign experience, which I mainly played alone,  there were a couple of times when I thought the action was becoming a bit formulaic. Turn up, follow a marker, kill something, follow a marker, rinse, repeat. But that’s mainly because it’s difficult to remember that Destiny is really an MMO and is definitely not targeting the single player experience. But the campaign is so close to standing up on its own without the other features that its easy to forget.

My main gripe is that without my friends online I played alone. For those who haven’t played the Alpha or the Beta when you proceed to the start of a mission you still play in the open world. Other Guardians are going about there business but they’re not directly in your fireteam. When you cross an invisible threshold respawning becomes limited and the mission begins. At this point only your fireteam are present. So three guardians all walk into a mission alone (this isn’t a bad joke), with a public fireteam setting and play three separate missions. For a game so focused on co-op and team play this is just madness. Worse still there’s no way to see where the boundaries are and once you’ve crossed it it’s too late. I’m not saying I want a big ugly menu to come up every 10 seconds but perhaps an option that allows automatically putting similar guardians that are right next to each other and clearly on the same mission into a fireteam together would be good. The amount of times I’ve crossed that threshold alone as others do the same thing is just crazy.

However, on one occasion someone actually joined me! They must have known where the super secret line was. And we proceeded with the mission efficiently communicating silently in that way only gamers can. It was actually my penultimate mission and my friend stayed with me after the mission as I continued into Destiny’s finale. I don’t know if he/she had seen it before but we explored the areas together and completed our mission. We shared a dance and parted ways. I only wish Destiny had helped make these random encounters happen more often. It makes it easy to join a friend, or even someone with a public team but the invisible threshold makes it almost impossible to set up a fireteam with random players. (Just as a note, the PS4 doesn’t recognize people in your ‘players met’ list so don’t rely on that like I did.)

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Your environment plays a big part in playing Destiny. Knowing if you can make a jump might be the difference between life or death. Escape or landing right in the middle of a horde of very angry ‘men’. If you trap yourself it’s particularly bad news and often the AI will take advantage if it can. It likes to flank. And it doesn’t always mindlessly run into fire; although it does it a lot. If there’s only one or two enemies left alive the enemy tends to hide and make you come looking. More often than not the AI comes looking for a fight but it can be clever when it needs to be.

Which leads me nicely onto the topic of bosses. Bungie weren’t afraid of making a big aggressive sponge to soak up hundreds of rounds, crates of grenades, half a dozen rockets and still come back for more. And that’s not an exaggeration. Bosses are an actual challenge. Fights often form a pattern of shooting, dodging attacks and shooting again but they’re good fun especially with friends. Everybody likes a boss they can really get stuck into and Destiny will not disappoint.

The bosses are particularly prominent In Strike missions which form Destiny’s repeatable co-op missions. Those who played the Alpha and/or Beta will understand how tough these missions can be. And when you hit level 18 there’s another set of extra difficult missions for you. That’s my weekend sorted.

Or there’s the crucible, Destiny’s PvP offering. There’s a decent selection of game modes to keep you interested and the gameplay is exciting and fun. Apart from one mode, everybody plays with the same stats and equipment. You can select your weapons but your armour will be as effective as your opponents and your auto rifle the same power as theirs. And of course if you really want to test your skill and equipment you can play with your actual character, level and all. But so will your foes. It’s nice that it’s included but I can see this very quickly becoming reserved exclusively for the elite and people with more time than you. Time will tell. But at least the options there.

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And of course everything you do will earn you something. Your character has a Vanguard level and a Crucible level. The Vanguard represents PvE and Crucible PvP. This level acts as a reputation and at higher levels will unlock exclusive gear that you will want. Completing missions in the Crucible earns you crucible reputation and completing strike missions earns you Vanguard reputation. Each one also has a currency which is earned in the same missions, with a limit of 100 a week for each. You can get a lot done with 100 Vanguard/Crucible marks and earning that many will probably take a week anyway so that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone.

But one one the best ways to earn rep is by completing bounties. Updated every day, bounties will offer you tasty rewards for completing certain tasks. You get a large chunk of XP too, in fact completing bounties is by far one of the best ways to earn levels. Bounties play a key part in earning levels and there’s usually at least a couple you can complete no matter where you are in the game.

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And once your finished with all that and you’ve reached level 20 the game really begins. Although 20 is the cap for levelling up conventionally there are ‘light levels’ to be earned after this. By equipping various rare armours and equipment you can level up past 20. Plus there’s a simple but clever system were your XP gets converted to ‘light motes’ which act as currency for some really nice items so earning XP after reaching the cap isn’t a problem. There’s loads to do after 20 and that’s after a 40 hour playthrough to get to 20 with one of the six classes available. Destiny certainly has enough content for MMO, RPG and FPS fans alike.

Presentation is truly exceptional. Destiny is a marvel to look at and the original soundtrack is somehow both reverent and triumphant. It looks beautiful all the time. Nothing feels rushed or uncared for. Seeing is believing. And if you’ve got a good headset or sound system Destiny definitely benefits from high volume. Auto rifles are tinny and sci-fi-ey and the Heavy Machine Guns (not sure why they’re not called LMG’s) are really chunky.

In short Destiny is a marvel. It does almost everything right apart from a few minor niggles. But far more importantly it’s something new that finally pushes the increasingly stale MMO genre forward. It’s great looking, great sounding, endless fun filled with both competitive or cooperative levelling and looting. There’s more content than you could ask for and I’m quite happy doing the same things over and over in Destiny, because it’s just fun. Destiny has become legend before we even got chance.

All too often pool games have a habit of not quite striking a balance between you being able to win every game in a single turn or your opponent winning every game in a single turn. Well pure pool has a simple but effective way of making sure you don’t have to be a professional pool player to play but still not let you win without challenge.

Pure Pool_1

So you get showing were the cue ball will go and then where that will leave the ball you hit. When this happens there’s not a huge chance of you missing unless you make a mistake, which is unlikely. But were pure pool kept me interested was when you hit a sharp angle or take a shot from long range. When this happens the markers begin to fade and make it difficult to see exactly what you’re going to hit. There’s just enough for you to take a decent shot but you’re not able to take perfect shots across the table every shot. Not only does this add a challenge and skill to Pure Pool but Its also so rewarding when you get a good shot and the game isn’t there to jump in and take the credit with its training wheel UI.

There’s not a whole load of excitement that can be injected into a pool game as far as graphics are concerned. But the tables, balls and cues are well detailed. The backgrounds look nice but spend their time our of focus which is either not to be distracting or because they’re low fidelity. Considering the amount of time you’ll spend looking at them they do their job just right. It looks pretty and saves power for the important things. Everything is smooth and the UI is as minimalist as possible. It doesn’t intrude and it always feels like it was made to help rather than hinder you.

The main menu is as minimalist as possible too. There’s very little for you to do before you get in and play. There’s a few different game modes to play around with but Pure Pool has one priority and that’s to get you into the game and playing pool. It’s a simple process but it’s one that a lot of games miss (*cough* EA Sports menus *cough*). I just want to play pool and Pure Pool just gets it done.

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Pure Pool is great fun and it does what it says on the tin without any fuss or flash. It looks nice, the UI is exactly what you need and there’s plenty of difficulty should you want it. Or you can always go online. And because long shots aren’t just as easy as short ones there’s actually a point to things like were the cue ball ends up after a shot. It’s great fun and a welcome change of pace from the racing and killing.

 

It’s that time again, Invasion, the third DLC drop for Call of Duty Ghosts has arrived, offering the usual four multiplayer maps and a new Extinction episode. Whilst not directly offering any new weapons with this pack, a free timely patch ensures everyone gets to play with two slightly modified variants of existing weapons, DLC or not.

Pharaoh, an ancient multi-levelled archaeological dig site located in Egypt; plays host to diverse gunfights due to its myriad of sightlines. Close quarters combat in the catacombs is encouraged due to the inevitable tight corners and lower light levels. Venture outside however and you may wish to alter your setup due to the map significantly opening up. As opposed to the tight, run and gun nature of the tunnels, the opposite side of the map plays best for long range engagements down some nasty lines of sight. Proceeding with caution around this area is advisable due to the many spots which can overlook popular routes, expect many a prone player. Much like the second DLC pack, Invasion offers unique Field Order rewards for those lucky enough to receive them. Pharaoh houses an interesting one; the great Anubis will grant you every perk on the game for a few lives, use them wisely! Despite the map being fairly balanced; discarding the inevitable camping epidemic, there are some odd design choices such as pots of scarabs that will instantly kill you should you wander near whilst they get broken.

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Beware unnecessary scarab pots

Departed is a vibrant, medium sized map located in Mexico during the ‘Day of the Day’ celebration. Standing proud as one of the better maps of the pack, Departed offers a familiar style of play with large scale battles occurring in the centre of the map, whilst flank routes litter the outskirts. Due to the variety in routes, most weapons can be efficiently utilised here, the Assault Rifles may take an edge, but that could apply to many scenarios in Ghosts! Whilst still playing out as a genuinely fun map, it’s the art direction that will stay with you longer. It’s always nice to have some colour in a warzone; Departed feels reminiscent to some of the popular Black Ops 2 DLC’s in that regard. The special Field Order is once again unique, in that it turns you into a Death Mariachi, complete with dual wield revolvers. Kills will grant you weaker versions of yourself acting as squad mates, up to a maximum of two, giving you even greater control of the map.

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It’s not brown and grey!

Mutiny is pretty much exactly as you might expect, a small map centred around a pirate ship, offering chaotic close quarter battles with little chance of respite. If ever there was cause for a silencer on your weapon, this will be it. The shorter engagements mean the range stats will be largely unaltered for most gunfights too, limiting the penalties. If gadding about like a reckless lunatic isn’t your bag, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be, there’s always the central position to set up camp on. Fortunately for everyone else, the central ship, and its inhabitants, stick out rather nicely due to the plethora of flank routes adorning its sides. There are two special Field Orders on this map; the first is the rather predictable ‘Cannon Barrage’ which effectively is the ‘Mortar Fire’ Field Order from Warhawk. The second is decidedly more exciting with the summoning of two ghost pirates that will hunt and destroy your enemies on your behalf.

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Aaaarrr, inevitably…

Favela, the inevitable pack remake from the beloved, (save for grenade launchers) MW2. A map offering high levels of verticality and range in the right positions with dangerous close quarter battles that will test your reflexes, and your ability to spot a hidden enemy. The higher tiers of buildings provide greater vantage points at the expense of being accessible from more than one entrance, either via the usual staircase or some risky parkour. Hopping from building to building across scantily clad scaffolding before knifing that pesky sniper is as rewarding now as it was in 2009. Sitting in a corner is as viable as ever on Favela; sprinting around the map and not checking your angles is likely to get you killed unnecessarily. The infamous ‘ditch’ area still remains to give objective hunting players something to keep in mind too. Games of Domination flow well as the power points are constantly being contested to cover flag positions; as usual, good team coordination is required to secure a win. Harking back to MW2 fame once more, the revered AC-130 returns in a spiritual form due to the unique Field Order on the map. Named instead the Y-8 Gunship, it will either rain down destruction on a hapless team, or be utterly useless if used against people already inside a building.

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Prepare to get stressed out at snipers once again

Awakening is the latest episode in the Extinction saga; and is probably the best so far. Rammed with new features and mechanics, Awakening is more akin to the fan favourite’s zombie mode than ever. The objective is to reach the ‘Cortex’ which holds the secrets of the Ancestor’s psychic powers, obviously bypassing all manners of hell first. Standing in your way will be three new enemy types, Gargoyles, Mammoths and Bombers with each providing their own threats. The flying Gargoyles will not only take a surprising amount of punishment, but can also volley acid down on the player. The Mammoths can spawn Hunters seemingly at will and also frustratingly burrow underground, whilst the aptly named Bombers are like a biological version of the Hunter Killer from Black Ops 2. To combat these weird and ‘wonderful’ enemies, you’re also given a few toys and tools to play with. For a start, the jump height is increased tremendously, letting you reach areas that would have been previously inaccessible. The buildable items return from the last episode and lastly, the newly implemented ARK attachment can be found loitering in hidden areas too.

Overall, Invasion is another great map pack, and whilst one or two of the multiplayer maps are a little weak, the others make up for them in spades. It’s a little disappointing to not see another new weapon added to the mix, but the free automatic PDW and knife are nice additions. One of the main draws in Invasion, surprisingly seems to be Awakening, the new Extinction map which improves on its predecessors in most areas, and may even sway some of the dedicated zombie fans. Once again, it shows that the developers have listened to their fans requests and offered smaller, denser maps with more opportunities for movement; of which can only be a good thing.

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