Okay so we are coming into the crazy season, where loads of big budget AAA games are about to be released. So today I want to give you my thoughts on some of the biggest releases of the next few months! A lot of great looking games have been delayed to early 2016, so check back soon for my coverage of early 2016 games!
First up is Star Wars Battlefront, if you didn't know this weekend is the open beta for the next shooter coming from the doors of DICE. This time taking on the internationally large name, of Star Wars. I played the open beta back when it was live, and this sadly finished of my decision making process, leading me to the firm conclusion that this is not a game for me. There are many things I don't like about it, but rather than a boring list of the bad, let's look at what makes this game and epic Star Wars Game. The Walker Assault mode will pit two teams of up to 20 players against each other in a bid to defend or assault an AT-AT careering though the map. Bases need to be secured in order to bring the AT-AT down. There are icon locations, characters, weapons and vehicles in the game, including the possibility to play as either Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker, with more of these iconic characters to be featured in the main release. It can not be denied that the simple name of Star Wars will sell this game relatively well, especially considering the upcoming 7th film, but whether the game can stand up to the loft expectations of the name will have to be seen. In my opinion we might be in for a disappointment.
Battlefront is set to release on November 17th or 20th for America and Europe respectively.
Then we have the most annualised game franchise in history, Call of Duty, is back in the hands of Treyarch this year, with Black Ops 3. I played quite a bit of the Beta when it was out earlier in the year, and it felt exactly how a Call of Duty should feel. Personally I have moved beyond that need now, and the CoD franchise holds little for me, however compared to other CoD games, Black Ops 3 did feel good. Certainly different enough to warrant you pick it up, if you are a fan of Call of Duty. Now with the introductions of Specialists, which act like the Super abilities from which vary from a one shot compound bow, to a grenade launcher. They will certainly add a twist to everyday matches. Zombies is making a seemingly triumphant return in Black Ops 3, with a promised bigger and better Zombies experience, not much is known at this stage, other than that it will be set in 1940s America!
Black Ops 3 is set to be released on November 6th!
Then we have the massive Open World game that is Fallout 4, the long awaited game to follow on from Fallout 3, this is one of the games I am most excited about. With more features than I can reasonably list here, it promises to be a game filled with more content than most people will ever get through. A massive open world filled with things to do, along side the ability to make our own villages, around the world, and create them exactly how we want them to be. Right down to having specific things powered by electricity. If you set more than one village up, you can allocate specific people to guard convoys transporting goods between your villages! All of this combined with weapon customisation, and what I can only assume will be more quests and exploration areas than you can hold a stick too, Fallout 4 is surely going to be one of the biggest releases of the year!
You can get your hands on Fallout 4 when it releases on November 10th!
Next up we have possibly my favourite game yet to be released this year, Just Cause 3 promises to build on the explosive freedoms of Just Cause 3, which what seems to be even more destructibility. This time even bridges, along with the plethora of outposts and military structures can be destroyed. We also get our hands on an all new Grapple Hook, which now lets us tether two things together and pull them towards each other, we then have the ability to release them, and create a catapult of sorts! Did I mention that you can have up to four or five of these tethers active at the same time, meaning that if you were so inclined you could pull cars, boats or even planes anywhere you want! All of this set in a massive open world that will take tens if not hundreds of hours to fully explore, and I personally can't wait!
If you can't wait to be let loose in Just Cause 3 as much as me, then mark December 1st in your diary!
There you go guys, the biggest games coming out in the rest of 2015, we have some really good looking games coming out, and I can't wait to bring you all coverage on some of them!
Thank you very much for reading,
Assassin's Creed in the latest in a long line of open world sandbox games, how does this live up to its predecessors? I'm going to break this review down into sections, so it is easier for you to read the specific points you want to, we will have: The Open World, The Characters, The Combat, The Graphics and Performance, The Quality and Quantity of Content, then we will round out with The Verdict. So if you want a short synopsis of whether the game is good or not, check out the very last section. I would also like to say that there are no campaign spoilers in this review, however some of the concepts discussed and pictures below talk about some of the mechanics in the game.
The Open World
So first we will look at the open world that serves as our playground, and Victorian London is the backdrop to our adventures. This isn't what could be classed as an enormous map at our disposal, nor are the six available boroughs truly unique, with there being little noticeable difference between them. However the immersion of the map is very possibly the best in the series. When strolling, climbing or speeding my way through London, I feel like the whole City is industrial, like I can almost smell the pollution, feel the poverty or catch the trains.
Traversal through the City has been sped up due to carriages, trains and the new grapple hook, though sadly despite what I said in my initial impressions, that the free running had changed little from previous games. The more time I have spent with the game, the more I have come to the conclusion that your character goes where you don't want them too, or gets stuck on ledges, with a greater frequency than previous games. In my opinion this is something that critics and gamers alike have been complaining about for years, and not only has it not got better, now it feels to be getting worse! Many a time has my character frozen while climbing up a building, seemingly refusing to climb and further, until I let go of the analogue stick, press back up on the stick, and off the character goes. I am also sure this is not the game freezing as the rest of the world continues to carry on progressing in the back ground. My last comment on the open world, is that the architecture is very similar throughout the game world, I would have liked to seen greater diversity between the housing and warehouses, alas there is little change.
Despite the previous section being a mixed bag of good and bad points, the characters in Syndicate are really, really good. Now with two protagonists in place of one, Evie and Jacob Frye take up the mantle left from previous games and they run with it. There is a clear, close relationship between the twins, and sometimes there is love and agreements, while other times there is irritation, however no matter the banter between the two of them, it is always a pleasure to see both of them on screen together. There is a reasonably good supporting cast as well, with the highlight being Alexander Graham Bell, he takes the traditional character, as with previous games, of the inventor for the twins. There are other famous faces sprinkled through out the game, but for the sake of a spoiler free review, I shall leave them unmentioned. Both Evie and Jacob have seperate skill trees, which must have skill points put into each one, though sadly both skill trees are identical, and already I have filled 75% of both their trees. While none of the perks totally change the way you will play as a character, they do finesse their individual play styles. There is also a sperate skill tree(which I won't name for spoilers but it is apparent once you gain access to it), which unlocks perks for both characters. There is one in particular which is a necessity, it is called Notoriety, and will make your visit in London, much more pleasant.
The combat of Assassin's Creed has always been a factor of the game which has been good, but not amazing, this view of combat hasn't changed in Syndicate. Now there is a combo meter in the bottom left corner, and truly highlights how long combat can take. For example, there is a trophy for getting a 40x combo, I earned this on day 1, just from fighting a singular(though higher level than me) enemy, to put that another way, I had to press Square over 40 times, just to take down one enemy! I can't quite put my finger on what has changed, but I think it could be summed up as easily as the enemies have far too much health. I would like to say that you will come across enemies with that much health on very rare occasions, however it is not rare to see a foe that will increase your combo by 8-10 times. I feel like the combo meter has highlighted how much of the combat comes down to mashing buttons. Most of your time will be spend with your finger on the square button, with the semi-frequent press of circle to counter, X to break the foes defence, and occasionally triangle to dodge a bullet. Also customisation of combat(as with nearly all customisatoion) has left the franchise with Syndicate, unlike previous games, you can't buy unique weapons that make you have to play differently in battle, now there is a notable difference between Evie and Jacob, but little way to change the weapons of the individuals. For example Jacob will only be able to use knuckle dusters or daggers, while Evie can use her dagger cane or a dagger. Gone are the options to have swords, or halberds(the long axes), and I feel like this has lessened the variety of combat further!
The Graphics and Performance
The graphical prowess of this game is undeniable everywhere you go, there are amazing particle effects flowing from the rooftop chimneys, stunning shadows that can be seen in great detail from great distances, awesome character animations(most of the time), the list goes on. This is a truly beautiful game that rewards plaudits just for how it looks alone! The performance of the game doesn't let it down either, with a rock solid 30fps, which to my eye has never slowed down, I'm sure it has wavered a little, but I've never noticed it with my eye! All in all, this section is a huge success for Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and I can't wait to see what else Ubisoft can create on the Anvil engine!
The Quality and Quantity of Content
This is a tricky topic for Syndicate, on the one hand if you look at your map after even a few hours in the open world, you will see at least parts of it(you are lead to more areas as you progress) are absolutely littered with icons of things to do and see. However under closer inspection you will see that Ubisoft has stepped up their collectables game this year, with many of the icons being such. To some degree these are useful, with pressed flowers unlocking new colours for your characters, and music boxes which are said to unlock a mysterious crypt once all 30 are collected. I personally get the feeling that there are a few side quests that they have hidden behind the collection of many collectables, which I personally don't like. You can't go round a corner in Syndicate without running into another collectable, I find this "filling" quite annoying, as it makes the map look much more alive than it in actual fact is! In terms of the story missions, so far I haven't come across anything to break the bank, for the most part they are good, well designed missions. For the most part our old, most hated missions which usually involve following someone from afar, have stayed out of Syndicate, though I have come across one in a side mission. There seem to be a good number of side missions, and they form into more of a chain than in previous games. So your map won't be flooded with side quests, rather a small number of quests that are like mini campaigns. I like this move a lot as it feels like you are progressing even in the side content.
In terms of wandering around the world, there are a nice number of mini missions all over the place, these usually involve you weakening the Templars hold on that area, and can be taken on either with stealth in mind, or a guns blazing approach. If I had one criticism of the main campaign, is that it feel like the task of removing the Templars from London is a massive job, not in the nice way of "ohh look at all these activities to complete", more in the sense of "right let's go and kill this local leader, just like the previous half dozen".
I summary, there is plenty of content to keep you busy, most of it is to a good standard, though nothing tears the rule book to shreds, then there are some missions that feel like they are copy and pasted across the City to give you more things to have to do. So if you want to play the Campaign, you will have a good time, if you stray of the beaten track into the world, you may find yourself questioning if you have done this before, many times.
Okay guys, we have reached the precipice of this review! So in summary Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a very good game, but one which if it had received as little as 6 months more polish and refining, could have been a game to go down in history. As it is, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a game you should pick up straight away, if you have played previous Assassin's games, and have liked them. If not, there isn't enough new here to warrant you picking it up. Which brings me to my numerical score of:
Thank you very much for reading,
This morning I received a review copy of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and have so far played between 3 and 4 hours, but I wanted to bring you all my first impressions before the shops sell it at midnight and tomorrow! We know take to the streets of Victorian London, and helm not one but two new protagonists in our fight to rid the Templars off our cherished streets. We will be able to foster gangs, ascend the landmarks, take our crusade to rid Templar crime from the beating heart of Britain. So at the beginning of my first impressions, it seems only right to start at the opening of the game, which I must say is probably one of, if not quite possibly the best openings of all the Assassin's Creed games. I naturally won't spoil the slightest thing, but rest assured, the opening 45 minutes or so, are stunning, with one or two very memorable events.
Possibly the first thing you will notice in Syndicate is the graphical prowess this games puts forth, even a step up from the aesthetic masterpiece that was Unity, Syndicate truly does let us loose on the streets of a real, breathing City. However, this is where I come across a problem with the 8th instalment of the Assassin's Creed franchise, although these games are known for having massive open worlds with a plethora of free running opportunities, Ubisoft have never quite managed to make the traversal feel organic. If you pick up any of the previous games, you will notice rather quickly that on unfortunately frequent occasions your character doesn't go where you want them to, rather bizarrely sticking to another object, and then refusing to climb to where you want them too. While this problem hasn't worsened in Syndicate, neither has it been fixed, which after so long, I find equal parts unacceptable and saddening. However that is one of the few problems with the game I have after my time with it, so we shall move onto the sections of this game which truly shine.
Let's take a look now, at the two protagonists of this Assassination filled outing, Evie and Jacob Frye. The new twins to helm the game are both very different, but also similar to each other. In an act that could very easily be classed as gender stereotyping from Ubisoft, Evie is level headed and wants to take the reasonable, direct approach. While Jacob wants to foster a new gang to rival the Templars gang, The Blighters. They both handle very differently from each other, as Evie has a more fast paced approach to combat, while Jacob opts more for slow but brute force, with his fists being a large aspect of his fighting style. I am pleased to say that there doesn't seem to be a share animation between them, with both characters acting, looking and playing with a suitable difference. Also I was overjoyed to see that the feature to switch characters at any point while in the open world(not missions). Simply go into the pause menu and press R3 and you will be taken back to the game as the other character. It is a snappy shift as well, with there being a hiatus from action for no more that 15 seconds as you change characters. Also you are spawned into the new character in the exact same place, so you should have no worries that you will have to get to a specific location to change characters. All in all, I think Ubisoft have done a marvellous job of implementing multiple playable characters, though I would like them to commit to a shift in character and give us a solo, strong willed woman in the next game.
Assassin's Creed games are now synonymous with being stealthy in at least some ways, and I am very glad to see that these mechanics have been broadened and improved in Syndicate. Now with the ability to enter "sneak" mode, simply by pressing X(on PS4), and your character of choice will remove their hat, and don their hood. While they are sneaking they are more agile and harder to detect, they also have different animations, such as hiding behind a stack of wood, or maybe peering round a corner. Also while sneaking, your character is surrounded by a white ring, which shows near audio spikes near you, this basically means that you don't have to go around with Eagle Vision(which is now unlimited) active just to be fully aware of your surroundings. There is also the ability to move the bodies of unconscious or slain enemies, so in theory you can avoid detection longer. However even if you try to pick a body up while sneaking you stand up, and go through an animation that lasts a good few seconds, very soon after being told about this feature, I was detected by another enemy, due to standing up and picking the body up. So I have since taken to leaving the slumbering bodies on the floor, and continuing with the silent breach of the building in question.
One of the other new features(or at least in a more advanced way) in Syndicate are environmental kills, these come in the form of precariously balanced objects, which when hit with either a bullet or a throwing knife collapse, and kill any unwitting enemies who happened to be walking or standing beneath! This normally would be very satisfying, and to some extent they are, but I was left with the distinct impression that foes had specifically places there, just to be the victims of an "accident". Thankfully such precipices of danger are few and far between, as they do take away some what from the immersion that is other wise amazing in Syndicate.
Finally, I would like to say that the music in this game is exceptional so far, with the score seeming to change and crescendo in exactly the right places to synergies with with the action on screen. For example, while I was climbing one of London's most famous landmarks, a rousing orchestral number was played, which suitably reached it's peak when I was near the summit. Looking next at one of my fights in a sinister looking building, which dramatic drum music was being played, at moments the music could be operatic, and a few minutes later it might feel like the very essence of industrial London is being portrayed via the soundtrack. Simply stunning, the music of Assassin's Creed Syndicate is something to behold, and a standard other games should aspire too!
That will do it for me, all in all I am have a lot of fun with Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and I would recommend you pick up this stunning portrayal of industrial London. It is released world wide on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in a few short hours from when this is first being released, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter if you will be picking it up!
Thank you very much for reading,
Today I want to talk to you about the 5 best things that have been added into Destiny with The Taken King. There have been a plethora of changes in the last month and a bit, both from Patch 2.0 and the Expansion its self! First up is the Strike Specific loot you can now earn.
If you weren't aware, different strikes now reward specific loot, rather than just general Legendary gear, you can now earn specific loot. Now mirroring Raids in a small way, every time you complete one of the new or reimagined(Undying Mind and Cerberus Vae III) you have a chance to pull one of the new exclusive pieces of Gear. So far I have only earned two pieces of gear, interestingly both from the new S.A.B.E.R 2, firstly a Legendary Machine Gun which goes by the new of Baron's Ambition. This is my favourite Heavy Weapon at the moment(Sleeper Simulant Review soon!). The second(and I believe final) piece of exclusive gear you can score from S.A.B.E.R 2 is the Devouring Maw helmet for Warlocks, as you can see it is a rather impressive, unique looking helmet! There are roughly 2 pieces of gear per Strike, so I won't go through the all, but the highlight is the Fatebringer 2, which can be wrested from the grips of either of the Venus based Strikes, Undying Mind or Echo Chamber(PlayStation exclusive Strike) Imago Loop(NB according to the Armoury, this can't spawn with Firefly)!
This moves very nicely onto my next point, which is the changeable aspect of strikes. No longer can you play a Strike hundreds of times and know exactly what is coming next. Now there are a few instances per Strike which can spawn different types of enemies, usually the normal enemies of Taken. For example on Cerberus Vae III, if you get a Cabal batch of enemies, the well known Tank will appear which you have to dispatch. However there is now a chance a Taken Champion(oversized enemy with a lot of health), and you have to fight him instead. This variety of combat mixed with the new varying lines your Ghost can read, means that repeated plays of a Strike can yield different enemies, and new bits of lore to sink your teeth into! I have played all of the new Strikes many times and I have seen all of the different versions, and there isn't one I don't like, they are all very fun, and it's always intriguing to see which race I will be fighting in the same area this time!
Next let's talk about the loot you get from these Strikes, it is a deceptively poor show of loot from the end of Strikes. Roughly only 1 out of every 3 or 4 Strikes(Heroic) will you get a Legendary Engram, if you cast your mind back to Dragon Strikes before The Taken King, Legendaries were nearly guaranteed every strike. So yes on balance, the strikes give us fewer Legendarys, but now the chance of getting a Legendary from a Rare Engram has been increased massivley(atleast 10 times in my oppinion. Put it this way, before The Taken King, with roughly 200 hours spent with the game, I had earned exactly 6 Legendary items from Rare Engrams, in the 45 hours I have already spent with The Taken King, I have had at least 10, quite possibly more. So all in all, we are getting worse loot from Strikes, but I'm okay with that, because if you don't like the loot you get, it can often be used as infusion fuel for your existing items. This is because even Rare Engrams can be a considerably higher Light Level than your existing Legendary, which synergises incredibly with the new Infusion, so you are still levelling up with the Legendary Chest piece(for example) that you got at the beginning of your journey in The Taken King!
Right the 4th item on my list is how the game has changed to allow you to do more from just one account. Before, you would ideally need 3 High level characters in order to get the most from the game, notably the Weekly Strike, Nightfall, and any Vanguard or Crucible Marks. However this has now been changed, so there is a Weekly Strike Playlist, which you can do 3 time on one character if you so wish, though you won't get the guaranteed Legendary Engram per character. You will still get the 30 Legendary Marks. Which leads onto the fact that Legendary Marks(the new currency that replaces Vanguard or Crucible Marks), are Account wide, rather that specific to each character. You still need 3 character(rather high Light Level) if you want to run the Nightfall 3 times per week. The one thing that I would like to be moved from Character specific to Account wide is faction reputation. For example, my Hunter is Rank 2.75 with the Crucible, and my Titan is just into Rank 2, this means that I am currently unable to even start the Exotic quest which leads to the Chaperone, as it requires at least Rank 3 to start it. I appreciate that I might be on my own with this one, but it is a change I would really like to see.
The 5th and final thing on my list is the Bosses in the new Strikes, no longer are they bullet sponges who stand roughly in the same place and take all of your damage(at least with no change in attacks), the new Taken King Strikes, the Bosses are different. For example the Hive Knight, Alak Hul, his arena is near total darkness, and he randomly appears and disappears, meaning that you are always having to be on your toes, lest he spawns in next to you and possibly kills you with one swipe of his oversized axe. I won't go though the other new Strikes in case you haven't played them and want the surprise, but rest assured they are far superior to the Strikes we got in Year 1.
All of these additions are my favourite with Patch 2.0, and The Taken King, and add immensely to the overall new feeling of the game. Do let me know what your favouirte additions are in the comments below or on Twitter!
Thank you very much for reading,
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!