Thoughts: Call of Duty – Black Ops 3

codblops_skullmagic

After the last three iterations progressively shed their now-tedious modern trappings I think we can say that, even without the recent announcement of the frankly ridiculously-titled Infinite Warfare 1 , the Call of Duty franchise has now fully committed itself to being a proper near-future sci-fi shooter. If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from Ghosts and Advanced Warfare it is that the supposed genre trend-setter is evolving in response to its competition – slowly and at times painfully, but the move to that sci-fi setting opens up a more interesting design space to the various developers involved, allowing them to introduce mechanics that should fundamentally change the way the game plays – at least in theory. I bought CODBLOPS 3 (I love that acronym) because I’d heard it had improved movement mechanics including wallrunning and double-jumping, which intrigued me since it appeared that this would be the franchise’s first real response to the unfortunately short-lived Titanfall . Having finished the single-player now I feel that it’s also the first CoD game I’ve played that’s really started to explore the possibilities of the sci-fi setting. But the catch here is that exploration always carries with it an element of risk, and Black Ops 3 is a long, long , way from being an unqualified improvement on what came before.

Continue reading

  1. Annoyingly this happened literally the day after I wrote the bulk of this review, meaning I’m now not so much making an observation as I am stating the bloody obvious.
Tagged , , , ,

Thoughts: The Banner Saga 2

tbs2_title

The Banner Saga 2 might end up being the most surprising game I play in 2016. My reaction to the first was decidedly mixed , and somewhat tepid even in the best of places, so I’m downright astounded that the sequel has leapt straight onto my list of contenders for Game Of The Year.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Thoughts: Hitman

hitman_silent

Specifically the Paris level, as Sapienza isn’t out until later this month.

Hitman is receiving a bit of a drubbing in its Steam reviews. It seems people are upset about the fact that its online and offline play modes are segregated, with different saves for each and a game system that will somewhat over-zealously yank you back into the menu whenever you lose connection. And I can definitely see how this would be annoying if you have a poor connection, although it’s not like Hitman takes the infinitely-worse step of forbidding offline play entirely. People also seem to be a little upset about this new Hitman’s episodic structure whereby it’s been split up into chunks of game consisting (essentially) of a single level; this first episode consists of two training levels plus the Paris Showstopper mission, and has no doubt been shoved online in order to fund the development of subsequent episodes. I’m a little less empathetic about this complaint, however; since each Hitman level is entirely standalone an episodic structure could definitely work, and so all it has to do to succeed in my book is to provide enough content per episode to justify the asking price.

So: is episode one of Hitman worth £12?

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Thoughts: The Division

division_shield

The headline “ Why The Division isn’t Destiny for the PC ” edrew hollow chuckles from me when I read it the other day. Because it is. It totally is, and trying to pretend otherwise by implementing some nebulously misguided quality standards as a bar separating the two is simple overcontortion of an argument to generate inevitably clickbait-y column inches.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Thoughts: Day Of The Tentacle Remastered

dott_bestlines

So-called “Remastered” editions of classic games have been very much the in thing for the last few years, this being a relatively low-effort way to get money for old rope. That the remasters often turn out to somehow be worse than the originals, either through technical issues ( Age Of Empires 2 , Homeworld ) or because they completely miss the point of what made the original games great (the Monkey Island remasters) hasn’t at all dissuaded developers from their efforts to tap directly into gamers’ nostalgia glands, and so now it is Day Of The Tentacle ’s turn to be disinterred, spruced up a little bit and rudely thrust back into the limelight.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Thoughts: The Steam Link

steam_link

Yes, I own one. No, it’s not very good.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Thoughts: Grim Dawn

gd_loot

Grim Dawn is an indie ARPG that’s fresh off the Early Access train. I had… well, I’m not exactly going to call them high hopes, but at least a reasonable expectation that Grim Dawn wouldn’t suck, as developers Crate Entertainment were formed from the remnants of Titan Quest developer Iron Lore1, and Titan Quest is pretty well regarded as far as ARPGs go. As usual with ARPGs I roped in my usual co-op partner Kenti to play through the campaign with me. The good news is that we had absolutely no problems with the netcode; after a year in Early Access Grim Dawn’s co-op is solid as a rock. The bad news is, unfortunately, everything else.

Continue reading

  1. Also responsible for  Dawn of War: Soulstorm . But we don’t talk about that.
Tagged , , ,