The Division beta – impressions

One of the most hyped games for this year has to be Tom Clancy’s The Division, an open-world MMORPG set in a locked down New York after a pandemic outbreak.  I got access to the beta of the game over the weekend after pre-ordering, and I must admit it’s very good indeed.  I haven’t actually managed to partake in some of the much talked about co-op gameplay or the PVP dark zone sections, but just exploring the disaster-stricken New York streets, taking on scavenger gangs and completing side missions as well as the beta’s main mission … has been a lot of fun.

Division beta 1

screenshot captured directly from my PS4

Visually the game has had a bit of a downgrade since the initial E3 reveal but that was to be expected considering the game was first shown before the Xbox One and PS4 were even released.  But with that in mind, how do the visuals stack up in this near-finished version?  Very good indeed actually.  There are a ton of effects at work, impressive weather such as wind & snow considering the game is set at Christmas, and a wealth of detail on buildings, the road, and cars (yes you can still close that car door, folks!).  The lighting is very atmospheric and with what appears to be a dynamic weather and day / night cycle the game shows off it’s true beauty the more you play it.

division beta 2

screenshot captured directly from my PS4

Gameplay-wise (with similarities to Destiny) you create your character (well, their face and gender but I didn’t do much with this aspect when first booting up the game), and then are introduced to the world, following the storyline of an agent flown into the crisis and having to make his (or her) way to the base of operation – a hub environment that you enhance and develop as you go on missions and complete tasks.  It’s a good idea and one that will mean there’s more than just a develop character / stats excuse to keep on playing.  I wonder if this is the only base of operation or if there will be others in different areas the player can develop?  The core shooting feels good too, with an excellent cover-based mechanic that enables the player to run to various areas of cover very easily, making for some exciting encounters.  The character / NPC designs are very detailed and slickly animated making this game feel very next-gen overall.  I think it will be a game that could become quite addictive also as more missions become available and various quests are discovered.  The enemy characters at this stage seem quite samey (all violent hoodies it seems) but that could change once the game is out and we could get boss fights.  It’s too early to be sure though.

For now The Division is looking to be a solid game to invest a ton of time in so I can’t wait till March 8th!

A classic returns

This blog has mostly moved away from reporting on video games in recent months, as I feel it isn’t really what I started this site up for.  But every now and then I just feel the need to tell the world about certain games.  Jet Set Radio (aka Jet Grind Radio) is one such beast, newly released last week on XBOX Live Arcade and Playstation Network, this HD re-make of the Sega Dreamcast original has thankfully for me, lost none of its magic.  The game has you as a member of a street gang who travel around a cartoon version of Tokyo claiming their turf by spraying graffiti and chasing off rival gangs, whilst at the same time avoiding the Police (or Army, or Assassins).

Developed by the now defunct Smilebit and released by Sega in 2001, this is a game with a very unique identity.  The game is just pure fun to play, challenging due to strict time limits and  a quirky control method that takes a bit of getting used to – but for about £5 this is a steal and worth every penny.  The game is also huge with various vibrant districts to skate around and just enjoy exploring, and the cast of characters are pure Japanese  brilliance.  Now the icing on this wonderful cake is also its bubble-gum pop soundtrack that mixes dance, techno, rock and synth wonderfully to create a possibly bonkers gaming vibe.

The HD re-release looks gorgeous.  The graphics are very colourful and the art design has not dated at all.  Ok there are a few low-res textures, pop-in rears its head (as it did in the Dreamcast version) and glitches and a few audio stutters do occur.  These could all have been addressed, but this is still far from a lazy port.  In widescreen on a big TV it all just looks stunning and with a silky smooth frame rate – I couldn’t help but be blown away all over again.

The 2nd greatest game I have ever played (next to Half-Life 2).  Essential for any ‘true’ gamer’s collection.

Gaming heaven!

I know it makes little sense, when us gamers are relatively ignored during the summer, only to get a shed load of new releases all thrust onto shop shelves at the same time.  Too many games and not enough money I hear you say – but wait!  Think about what as a gamer you enjoy the most, be it shooting everything that moves (then go for Gears of War 2 obviously) or do you want horror and atmosphere to your carnage?  Go for Dead Space.  Or maybe you’re a bit more patient, and want to explore a large free roaming world?  The best bet is probably Fallout 3, although Fable 2 and Far Cry 2 also hit this mark.  Naturally all the aforementioned games are worth playing (perhaps rent the ones your unsure of and buy the ones you know you’ll love).  At the moment even an impulse buy such as what I did with Dead Space can prove worthwhile.  Even though I chose it over Far Cry 2 – I have had no reason to look back.

Back to Dead Space, I promised an update on my impressions so here it is:

Graphically it delivers on all accounts – some stunning effects (including realistic flame, smoke, dust etc) and some of the best lighting I have seen for some time.  The game is also very effective in scarring the pants off you, with some brilliant choices of eerie imagery; catching a glimpse of a figure in a darkened doorway, or seeing a fellow crew man kill themselves after laughing crazilly at themselves.  Add to this the excellent combat, the weapons and their many ways of using them, the use of telekenisis ala Half-Life 2 and Bioshock, with slow motion ‘bullet time’ and other gaming cliches all given a new lease of life.  Might I also add that I have experienced some of the most grueling action I think I have ever witnessed in a game – it gets DAMN HARD in the later sections of the game, but somehow, I keep on progressing, just getting through the mayhem by the skin of my teeth.  It’s never unfair, and you always believe you will do it – just one more go!

The designers of this game just got everything right – which nine times out of ten just doesn’t happen.  Hands down the best game this year (and everything Alone In The Dark completely f***** up), at least until I get my hands on Gears Of War 2….and a little game that could be the best damn thing ever, Mirror’s Edge – check out the demo on XBOX LIVE and PlayStation Network now!!

Super Street Fighter II: HD Remix

Coming soon to XBOX LIVE Arcade and Playstation Network (PS3) this is shaping up to be the ultimate Street Fighter prior to the highly anticipated Street fighter 4

Anyway, check out these images, courtesy of GAME SPOT

superstreetfighter2pic1.jpg     superstreetfighter2pic2.jpg     superstreetfighter2pic3.jpg