Xbox @ E3 2015


Not long finished watching Microsoft’s E3 briefing and have come away rather impressed.  We got to see a new Gears of War being demonstrated in-game and hell, it looked bad-ass.  Only a glimpse but the next-gen graphics and a new somewhat Chris Pratt inspired protagonist certainly peaked my interest for one of my favourite franchises.  It was also good news to hear a fully remade version of the original Gears Of War would be out this year the wet our appetites for the next instalment.

rise_of_the_tomb_raider1It was also good to finally see some in-game footage of Rise of the Tomb Raider even if the footage shown was a bit heavy on cinematics and less on the actual gameplay – but the snow and weather and ice effects shown were very nice … and considering the game is out in November, I’d say what we saw was pretty much as it will be to play.

I was mildly intrigued with the announced Rare Replay Collection.  The famed studio that made a big splash in the Nintendo days hasn’t exactly wowed audiences since it got acquired by Microsoft back in the early days of Xbox (can we forgive the abomination that was Perfect Dark Zero?) but the chance to rediscover countless Rare gems such as Banjo Kazooie and Conkers Bad Fur Day was mouth-watering.  No word on if said games would be spruced up in next-gen clothing, but considering it’s a compilation, I doubt it.  Rare also revealed a new I.P. in the name of Sea of Thieves, a multi-player open world what looks like pirate sea fairing-thing.  Certainly interesting and the cell-shaded, cartoon visuals definitely appeal.  Excuse me though if I haven’t got massive faith in Rare as a developer these days.


One of the real big announcements was that Xbox One was going to be backwards compatible with Xbox 360.  Now considering the vast library of games for the 360, that’s a big coop for the new console even if backwards compatibility has always seemed silly to me on a new console.  Can’t people movie on?  But considering Microsoft’s struggles with their console this generation compared to the PS4, I think it’s a very wise move to get the former fan base back on board.

Forza 6

There was the expected Forza 6 and Halo 5 Guardians presentations (…wow!), and another glimpse of The Division with what has to be said slightly pared back graphics??  Add to this the recently announced Fallout 4 on Microsoft’s stage along with Rainbow Six Siege.  Then we also came to Holo Lens and the recently announced partnership with Oculus Rift (owned by Valve??) to get excited about, but no word on a price point for either, and surprisingly Oculus Rift had very little being said about it.


So for day one, this was a good showing for Microsoft and Xbox One.  There was still plenty of talk of Indie games and Windows 10 which I’m cautiously optimistic about … yet overall, I was suitably excited.  No shows for the hyped exclusives Quantum Break and Crackdown, but you could say we still got more than a bumper show this year.

Over to you Sony.

Gears Of War 3 – impressions…

I have somewhat mixed feelings regarding the Gears franchise.  Arguably one of the flagship game series on the XBOX 360, this guns and brawn third person sci-fi shooter is perhaps at times a little too macho and gory for my taste.  Yet I played and completed Gears 1 & 2 and still managed to get a lot out of them.  Their gameplay mechanics especially the combat, is superbly realised, but at times the series has let itself down badly with unnecessary (and badly implemented) vehicle sections, and a steep learning curve.  Gears is bad-ass hard at times.  It’s also probably the loudest, noisiest game currently available, something that again can make playing it an uphill struggle.  I’ve rarely been able to play a Gears game for more than half an hour at a time.

Gears Of War 3 however comes to us with little of the fanfare of the previous two, and from what I have played so far, feels much better realised, from a story and gameplay point of view, than the two previous games put together.  It seems clear to me that developer Epic games has honed their craft and delivered what could be a gaming masterpiece, at least on this generation of consoles … with action, character and a cleverly written narrative coming together to pull me into the franchise like never before.  It also has to be said, that along with games like Crysis 2 and the forthcoming Rage, this is visually of the top tire of XBOX 360 games, with stunningly detailed environments, excellent character models and a wealth of effects, showing that when it comes to Unreal Engine 3, creators Epic Games sure know how to pull out all the stops.

In addition to the lengthy campaign (touted as the longest in the series) there is a plethora of multiplayer modes.  Now multiplayer Gears has usually left me cold, mainly down to its round-based gameplay with no respawning.  This means if you die, you have to sit the round out until either team dies or wins.  This means for a novice such as myself, it’s very hard to get good at the game, with many long pauses between play.  Epic have listened to us tried and tested deathmatch fanboys however, and this time given us a traditional, respawning team deathmatch mode, and when you put this alongside other modes such as capture the flag, as well as the acclaimed Hord mode – this is a game that even once the single player is beaten, should last you for months.  I must also add the single player offers four player co-op, and all the multiplayer modes can be played on your own against bots.  In other words, this has it all.

An essential purchase.

The completion list

Here’s a list of the games I have managed to complete.  I get a great sense of achievement out of completing a game, as unlike a movie it’s more about taking part, learning the controls and for the most part, facing a foe and coming away triumphant.  It’s not easy either.  Yet like a movie I prefer story driven games, and get a lot out of a good plot, interesting characters and situations.  Yet finding a game that keeps me playing to the end is tough, so the following list I also consider to be the cream of the crop of current gaming.

PlayStation 5

The Last of Us Part 1 (remake)

+ Left Behind DLC.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Nintendo Switch

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Super Mario Odyssey

PlayStation 4

Assassin’s Creed Unity

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Dishonoured 2 (finished play-through as ‘Corvo’)

The Last Guardian

The Last Of Us Part II

Mafia: Definitive Edition

The Order 1886

Resident Evil 2 Remake

Uncharted 4: A Thieve’s End


Battlefield 4 (finished campaign)

Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare (finished campaign)

Dead Rising 3

Devil May Cry 5

Gears of War 4

Gears of War 5

Halo 5 Guardians

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Life Is Strange

Metro: Exodus

Metro: Last Light Redux

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Red Dead Redemption 2 (main story finished)

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Sunset Overdrive

Titanfall (finished campaign)

Titanfall 2 (finished campaign)

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition


Wolfenstein: The New Order

XBOX 360

Alan Wake

Alice: The Madness Returns


Bioshock Infinite

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 1, 2

Crysis 1, 2

Darksiders 2

Dead Space

DMC: Devil May Cry

Enslaved: Odyssey To The West

F.E.A.R. 1, 2

Gears Of War 1, 2, 3

Halo 3

Jet Set Radio

Lara Croft and the Guardian Of Light

Mafia II

Max Payne 3



Resident Evil 5

Splinter Cell Conviction

Tomb Raider Underworld

Playstation 3

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3


Dead Space 2

Deus Ex: Human Revolution


God Of War 3

Heavy Rain

Hitman: Absolution

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Killzone 2

The Last Of Us

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 3

Portal 2

Tomb Raider

Uncharted 2: Among Theives