So here we have it, after swearing he would never get into bed with EA, then in typical Dana White fashion signing a deal to have them produce their UFC videogames for the foreseeable future, we are but a couple of weeks away from the official release of EA Sports’ UFC, the first in what seems likely to be a new yearly sporting franchise for the publishing monolith. The demo has been out on Xbox One and PS4 for a few days now, so this article will focus on the positives and negatives of the demo, and a last preview of the full game.
If there is one thought that you will come away with after finishing Wolfenstein: The New Order it is that you will be thankful that World War II did not go the other way. Actually, scrap that, you will come away with a second thought as well, that you just finished a bloody (literally) good game.
Wolfenstein presents an interesting scenario. What if the Nazis won the Second World War? Admittedly it is a theme that has been explored before, but never with much success. However Machinegames have managed the rare trick of making an FPS game, and a World War II one at that, that is both sumpremely fun to play and thought provoking and nuanced when the situation calls for it.
‘Nuanced?’ I hear you say, ‘Have you not seen the trailers?’. I accept that the trailers for the game are full gratuitous violence, and the game is as well when it wants to be, but it will also make you think about the consequences or the war you are fighting more than any shooter in recent memory. It is unashamedly mature, both in content and theme, and is a better game for it.
You star as BJ Blazkowicz, a Polish-American, who after a failed sabotage and assassination mission that acts as the games prologue goes horribly awry, you awake from a fourteen year coma to find that the world you thought you knew has changed completely. The Nazis won. They have started an oppressive regime where everyone either falls in line or gets brutally dispatched of. And thus begins your mission to fight back and take control.
The game overall is very well presented. The graphics are among the sharpest yet seen on new gen consoles and the soundtrack and voice acting are stellar from everyone involved. It really helps the sense of emotion evoked when the script is acted so well.
Happily, the game is just as impressive once it puts a gun in your hands. Relying on the ever impressive id tech engine to power the shooting (the same one that Rage ran one), the game feels right at home when you are blasting enemies to bits. The guns all handle uniquely and have just the right amount of kick to make combat challenging without ever being frustrating. Whether you are picked guards off with a silenced pistol or throwing knives, or simply shredding enemies with dual wield assault rifles you will feel equally empowered.
This leads onto the variety of gameplay Wolfenstein offers. Despite levels generally appearing quite linear, there is an almost sandbox type feel to the combat. Each area generally has a number of paths that can be taken and approaches that can be utilised. Sometimes it can be better to sneak in, taking out a bases commander silently before he can call for backup, sometimes it can be better to run it and let all hell break loose before enemies can react. Pleasingly the game never pushes you into either approach, leaving you to make you own mind up without ever making you feel like you have chosen the wrong option. The game is also just difficult enough on the default difficulty to encourage you to consider your approach every time.
Wolfenstein is also a lot longer than the typical ‘modern’ FPS, clocking in at about fifteen hours minimum, building to over twenty if you search out every collectable and secret. Machinegames’ decision to avoid multiplayer seems a wise one, not diverting attention away from the campaign and shoehorning in a by-the-numbers online option just to approve some business executive somewhere, particularly with the abundance of one FPS’ to choose from currently.
Being such a long campaign, it is testament to the developers work that it never feels like a chore. Wolfenstein has a subtlety that most FPS campaigns lack. Many are so intent to force explosion after explosion down your throat but not this game. When you aren’t shredding Nazis, the game has plenty of ‘downtime’ between combat to give you time to recover. This also has the added effect of making the set pieces all the more powerful when they do crop up, as you are not bombarded with them and therefore desensitise to them. It also mixes up gameplay with various segments, such as an on-rails turret section early in the game, that actually feel warranted rather than just filler.
Despite my so far glowing account of the game, it is not faultless and there are a few issues which can occasionally break the immersion of the game. Firstly is the enemy AI, which is a bit of a surprise given the engine used is the same one that powered Rage, which had some of the best enemy AI of an FPS I have played. Guards range from having X-Ray vision, seeing you when you a seemingly fully concealed, to not noticing or reacting to a dead body two feet in front of them. They will also get stuck running in circles or into walls periodically. It isn’t enough to break the game, but can break the illusion of the game a tad.
Also, the games item collection system is seeming stuck in the 90’s, which at first seems a refreshing change from the current trend of ‘hide for two seconds to recover full health’. However this turns to frustration when you realise that every item has to be picked up manually. That means all health and armour refills and even ammunition has to be collected with a button press. Given how much ammo and health you will burn this becomes a serious chore. I eventually just walked around periodically pressing the action button to collect the inevitable items in my path.
However neither of these issues take away from what a surprisingly great game Wolfenstein: The New Order is. Not many people gave this game a chance, dismissing it before it was even released as a mindless ‘shooter’. This game is so much more than that. The shooting, story and presentation are all excellent. It is great value with a fifteen hour campaign you will want to play more than once and has just enough nods to the series lore to bring a smile on returning fans faces. I hope peoples preconceptions do not hurt the sales of this game, as it is far more worthy of your attention than you may think. Do yourself a favour and give it a chance.
Welcome to the Future. Those words will ring in your ears every time you load up Trials Fusion, the newest of the masochist motocross games from developer Redlynx. The words seem fairly apt to begin with, especially when played on a shiny new gen console. The graphics pop with dazzling lens flare, smooth frame rates and gorgeous, incidental details whilst maintaining an overarching sci-fi vide from start to finish. However, the longer you play, the more that opening sentence begins to feel a tad ironic as you reach the realisation that a lot of what is on offer has been done before.
In the interest of full disclosure I am going to preface this review by admitting that I never played the first Dark Souls, not even a little bit of it. Although there is some regret of never having sampled the previous entry in the series, it has in turn allowed me to approach the sequel as a fresh entity, without any preconceived notions of what to expect. So has From Software’s mercilessly difficult RPG hooked its teeth into me as it has so many others? You bet your ass it has.
Your journey begins as you awake, a cursed being in the strange new realm known as Drangleic. Soon after creating your character, the game has a small, tutorial like area to show you the main mechanics before unleashing you into the mysterious, danger filled world and leaving you to your own devices. There is a story linked to the curse that afflicts your character and the search for a cure, but this by and large plays second fiddle to the wonderful exploration. Read more …