Star Wars Battlefront II – 3 mins of Gameplay

With less than a week until the release of Star Wars Battlefront II and to prove we really are the nerds we claim to be here at Retro Ramble; we took part in the Pre Release BETA – which for all you normal people means we were able to trial the game before anyone else (well anyone who didn’t also sign up that is!).

The video below offers 3 mins of gameplay from one of the Multiplayer game modes, Galactic Assault as Retro Ramble’s Charlie McGhee tries to take out a many AI controlled enemies as possible before a human opponent can spoil his fun. There is a noticeable improvement in the graphics and gameplay which considering how good the first game’s were is really saying something.

Galactic Assault – 3 Mins of Gameplay on Fondor

First Impressions

Last time we were speaking about Star Wars Battlefront it was to have a little whine and moan about how EA DICE were drip-feeding all the decent levels by way of a season-pass-only-DLC (aka Downloadable Content). Well, the good news is that from the first glimpse of Star Wars Battlefront II, It seems that our concerns, shared by many other Star Wars/EA DICE fans, have finally been answered.

Not only does Star Wars Battlefront II come with a more in-depth single player arcade mode than the last iteration but the game itself spans every Star Wars film in the known saga.

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Does this make up for the prequels themselves?

Probably not, but it does go someway to lessen the damage done. Will there still be a massive amount of DLC that you need to pay extra for?

Probably!

However, given that Star Wars Battlefront II finally offers players the ability to reenact every battle from every Star Wars film, it does make the game more attractive and a worthy investment for any Star Wars fan.

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Star Wars Battlefront II – Darth Maul Naboo Palace Work Out

Not only did we check out starfighter levels but we also had a few goes on the Darth Maul level set in Naboo Palace. Lots of fun to be had but it should be pointed out it takes a while to get used to the concept that Maul can’t deflect any laser blasts for some reason. Maybe, as this video shows it would make things totally imbalanced, yet more inline with how Sith are portrayed in the films.

 

Extras:

EA DICE recently confirmed Jar Jar Binks was going to be added as a playable character. As one might expect a fan has already been kind enough to render an image of what they hope this could mean for us all!

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GAMEPLAY: GTA V Online – Recent Updates / DLC

Grand Theft Auto V was first released on the PS3 back in 2013 so the game is itself quite retro to consider this worthy of our attention here on RetroRamble.

Despite being around for so long the game continues to draw an enormous online gaming community and was the 2nd top selling game of 2016 which is unprecedented.

Having being upgraded for the PS4 with improved graphics (first person views, improved draw distances etc) not to mention a bunch of impressive updates and more recently DLC (downloadable content) its clear that Rockstar not only had big plans for the game from the outset but also had the skills and in-house techies to successfully pull it off.

Rockstar, not one to rest on their laurels have released a steady amount of DLC and most importantly for gamers have done so completely free of charge.

Here’s an overview of some of the best DLC Rockstar have provided for free (for a full list go here):

  • Import / Export Update
  • High Life
  • The Heists
  • Bikers Update – Motorcycle Clubs
  • Stunt Series
  • Gunrunning
  • New Adversary Modes – Tiny Racers, Land-grab, Bunker Series etc
  • plus many more seasonal updates

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Obviously, if you want to get your hands on all the DLC has to offer and don’t have the hours to invest you may be forced to invest in the in-game cash they offer through their Shark Credit Cards. To be honest I think this is one of the fairest uses of DLC I’ve seen on the current generation of consoles.

Its for these most recent updates that we felt it necessary to revisit the world of Grand Theft Auto V, the most recent update Gunrunning has brought with it a host of new features with are most definitely worth a look. What’s great about these updates is that they seamlessly integrate themselves into GTA Online and heavily weighted towards players working together and minimising the load times – the only real complaint anybody could level at the near perfect game.

As per usual, I’ve compiled some gameplay videos – its worth pointing we at RetroRamble are only casual gamers and not heavy Youtubers so don’t expect any voice over or killer moves in these videos. They are simply an attempt to show some of the highlights these new updates bring with them.

Before we delve into these new updates if you’re wondering how else to quickly in-game cash one nugget from RetroRamble would be to get involved in any of the Rockets vs Cars adversary games which are a lot of fun and come with big payouts for the winning team.

Here’s a quick look at what to expect.

Gunrunning & Bunker Series

To get started in Gunrunning you’ll need to either be a CEO of a business as per the High Life update, a VIP with SecuroServ or the President of a motorcycle club. Each of these requirements cost cash but if you log in to GTA you’ll no doubt be rewarded by Rockstar with a cash boost simply for playing the game – its obvious they’ve recognised that many people who love the game simply don’t have the hours available to open these new features and not everyone is happy with paying for the Shark credit cards to speed up this process.

Once you’ve achieved one of the above you will get the option to buy your own bunker and once you’ve bought one of these you’ll be able to purchase a Mobile Command Centre (basically a rip off of the lorry that Knightrider used to drive into or more recently what the bad guys in series 3 of Fargo drive around in) see below.

Many players may be put off by the cost associated with purchasing these items, worry not since you don’t need to have them to enjoy them since you can simply team up with players who already have access before making your mind up.

Gunrunning – Dawn Raid Adversary Mode

 

Bunker Series – Bunker Series Adversary Mode

CONCLUSIONS

The result of these updates is that other players you bump into in the Los Santos may well have upgraded their SuperCar for a Armoured Personnel Carrier or Tank and you’re frequently offered the opportunity to take part in / or completely disrupt movement of guns, drugs or other nefarious items being organised by other players.

This new dynamic, not to mention the addition of challenges (mini games that don’t require any lobby screen loading to take part in) are a welcome move for Rockstar and something I believe breaths new life into the already proven game.

At a tempting £25.00 on Amazon and even cheaper second-hand, if you’ve not already checked out GTA V, there has never been a better time to do so.

GAMING: Horizon Zero Dawn (2017) – PS4

What’s the deal?

A masterpiece 6 years in the making and definitely the most beautiful looking game I’ve played in a long time. From majestical snow-covered mountains to arid dessert to tropical jungles, the landscape is truly breath-taking at every turn.

However, the quality of this game goes way beyond something that is merely aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The entire environment feels alive, mystical and at times slightly terrifying as the robo-baddies you take on become larger and more complex as you progress through the game.

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What works?

The story – yes, post-apocolyptic is nothing new but this is a truly engaging tale that resonates with the latest technological advances we are witnessing today and where these could lead if not properly policed – regardless of how far fetched things get during the last act.

Whereas a game like Fall Out uses the setting of nuclear destruction and all the potential what if scenarios an all-out nuking of planet earth could create, the apocalyptic future used in this game is surprisingly original. Rather than a wasteland of radioactive humanity, Horizon Zero Dawn is about a last ditch attempt to save the entire planet (plants, animals and any other form of bio-matter), rather than simply the human race. It’s a sobering premise to begin with and as bleak as this future may sound the setting is anything but with Guerilla Games proving once again the graphical possibilities of the PS4’s gaming engine.

The controls and gaming mechanics gently introduced in the first few levels via a subtle tutorial are easy to grasp and enjoyable to put into practice. The game offers a great blend of exploration, stealth and full on action giving you the choice as to whether adversaries are to be engaged or completely avoided.

Given that each adversary can be taken down via a number of ways this adds a dynamic to the game missing from other titles like Assasins Creed or The Division where gameplay becomes mind numbingly repetitive. Rather than simply standing over a hidden box and holding down a button to regenerate or resupply everything in Horizon Zero Dawn is based around hunting. Whether its the adversaries you need to get past or scavenge for parts or the other more docile wildlife whose carcasses can be converted into health and weapon upgrades you’re always left with the choice for how much you want to hunt.

In addition to being beautiful and fun to both explore and play its also worth mentioning just how huge this game is. In the beginning fast traveling across the map costs you resources meaning that you need to choose wisely as to which trips you will do on foot and which you will opt out of. Later in the game, you have the option of unlimited fast travel but that too can be a curse since you normally need to restock your supplies after each major encounter.

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What doesn’t work?

Some aspects of the plot, such as the talking heads exposition gets a bit tired after a while, especially since there’s no reason why more of it couldn’t be delivered by characters while playing the game which is something the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Uncharted have executed with more finesse.

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The fact that early on in the game you seem to spend as much time searching for potions and plants to heal your wounds as you do in battle itself can feel like hard graft but to be honest you’re too distracted by the gameplay and graphics to care.

There also seems to be some inconsistencies in the facial graphics from time to time and in some towns traders talk over each other, which, when there are 10 in the same area all taking at the same time is slightly annoying.

Who should play it?

Anyone who enjoys a good RPG and owns a PS4.

Enough said. If not now then at least when its come down in price, this is not a title to be missed.

If you own a PS4 Pro, then this is exactly the type of game you bought it for.

 

RETRO RATING – 9/10

 

Charlie McGhee Retro Ramble 2017

GAMING: For Honour

What is it?

Hack and slash fighting game where you get to fight as a knight, viking or samurai in 4v4, 2v2 or 1v1 dueling battles.

Initial release date: February 14, 2017
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Genres: Action game, Fighting game, Hack and slash

What works?

Ubisoft definitely spotted a gap in the market for the type of fighting game we’ve not seen for a while. It’s also a clever move for them to capitalise on all assets and IP they’ve already developed in titles like Assasins Creed and The Division. Graphical Design is of the usual high standard you would expect from Ubisoft, as are the fluidity of movement and controls whilst playing.

As expected, it was the 1v1 duels that I find the most enjoyable when playing this game but its worth pointing out that once I felt more comfortable with the controls I decided to try out the 4v4 and 2v2 modes and have to admit that there is a lot of fun to be had in Dominion if you play on a team that has half an idea.

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It’s also worth pointing out that Ubisoft have given players as many options to play as possible when choosing what sort of FIGHT they want to hop into. In addition to playing multiplayer games against other online teams of 4v4, 2v2 and 1v1 you also have the option where you and 3 other players see how well you fair against the CPU or “AI Bots” as they are referred to. Maybe this abundence of choice is not generous, maybe its actually an attempt to hide the fact how content-lite this game is, who knows?

The control system or “moveset” has obviously had significant thought and testing behind it and once you get the hang of it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable battle making attack and defense as important as each other and making you think twice about which type of warrior you decide to fight each Battle. There’s plenty of opportunity to get to gets with the controls since the game offers a mixture of other online players to choose from or “bots” should you decide to practice your moves by playing the CPU.

Like we saw with The Division, the pairing up of players in the multiplayer lobbies is both rapid and robust, however in today’s age of established inexpensive cloud servers coupled with real time analytics of how many people are installing the game on their consoles, there really is no excuse for a game developer not having enough server capacity to deal with how many people end up wanting to play on them.

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What doesn’t work?

  1. This is a multiplayer game and should have been priced accordingly.
  2. This is a multiplayer game and multiplayer games require dedicated servers to work.
  3. Not only are there no dedicated servers, the server side of things is not even managed by Ubisoft??

The result, the best part of a mediorce game, namely the multiplayer, doesn’t work because the developer is too tight to invest in a suitable network environment to host everything on.  As they say in America, go figure.

In terms of content, this game falls foul of all the same problems as many other Ubisoft titles; looks and plays great but you quickly work out there is no substance to any of the characters and the gameplay is going to be formulaic and repetitive

Conclusions

Looks and plays great in the awesome multiplayer (when Multiplayer actually works) but terrible single player experience.

Ubisoft and EA Games may have the biggest releases but they are both guilty of causing the biggest problems we all experience with gaming today. We need game publishers that put the fans first and invest a couple of years making (and testing) a game so it stands the test of time. Good examples are the likes of Rockstar (GTA V) and Naughty Dog (Uncharted, The Last of Us) who care more about the final experience and the legacy of the games they create for players rather than simply churning out title after title that perform well on release but dive in sales shortly after.

Its clear to me that the only reason Ubisoft tacked on the Single Player mode was to ensure they could qualify in the top tier of AAA game sales. There is no denying that for Ubisoft making money is as important, or maybe even slightly more important than making good games. There is so much focus placed on getting you to sign up for Ubisoft Club or getting you to care about the games currency system of “Steel” all in an attempt to rob you from even more of your money, despite already getting you to pay more than you should for this game.

All that said, the Multiplayer does actually make this a worthy purchase since its addictive enough to keep you coming back to play again and again which defeats any problems I may have had with the following niggles:

  • the cretinous plot of the single player
  • the dodgy menu system
  • the joke of a multiplayer game lobby system
  • over the top, melodramatic voice acting….”I am Apolyon” LOL.

Overall: 6/10

Suggestion: This game is worth playing but not at the current price tag, suggest giving it a go in 6-12 months once all the DLC has come out and can be bought in one purchase.

 

 

 

 

GAMING: Battlefield 1 (EA)

Battlefield 1 is a First Person Shooter (FPS) set during the First World War. As with previous games in the series the focus of the game is mostly on the multiplayer side of things. That said, there is a great single player campaign that’s worth a look if you are that way inclined, I just wouldn’t advise that you buy this game if you ONLY want to play single player, not unless it had been heavily discounted.

  • Released: October 2016
  • Yay!: Beautiful, Accessible, Enjoyable WW1 FPS,
  • Nay: Once again content from EA will be drip-fed via DLC.
  • Overall: 8/10

Who should buy it?

If you like a good shooter then it’s a no brainer, you should definitely buy this game.  It looks great, its easy to pick up and it makes a nice change from the more modern based shooters we’ve been bombarded with for the last decade. You should also buy this game if you are a casual gamer and like the idea of being able to switch on your console and get stuck in for half an hour and actually feel like you’ve had a decent game of something – as opposed to faffing about with your load-out for 2 hours. If you enjoy this game I also highly recommend checking out some of the titles in the Battlefield series like Battlefield 3 or 4.

Who should NOT buy it?

Don’t buy this game if you prefer a shooter with a 3rd person perspective, or the “Tomb Raider” view as George and I referred to it growing up. Also don’t buy this game expecting it to be like anything from the Call of Duty series. The single player has got better but is not as well produced as the Call of Duty (COD) episodes. That said, I do find the multiplayer more balanced and mature looking than many of the COD games. This is reflected in the audience playing it, well mostly.

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What works?

The game is gorgeous, playable, fun, satisfying more than it is annoying and most importantly for a Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) title its really accessible so there are tonnes of people playing and you never know what type of game you’re going to get. Like the battles themselves you get to take part in many different types of battles from being deep in the trenches to the sands of Saudia Arabia to being deep in the woods.

Unlike playing Call of Duty, the larger multiplayer games like Conquest, Rush and the new Operations setting really feel like all out warfare. Your in a plane, you get shot down, so you parachute and land on a rooftop, the building you landed on is then levelled by a tank, which is then blown up and suddenly it’s all gone team deathmatch! You get the idea…

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What doesn’t work?

Too many automatic weapons for the purists I would say. I’m sure its entirely accurate and all these weapons were in existence back in the early 20th century but I’ve had many battles that seem a little out of place.  On many an occasion battles have descended into the type of skirmish you’d expect to encounter in the Second World War not the First World War. Another thing that annoys me a lot, even though I normally like the sniper load-out is that being a sniper is way too easy, which means too many, many people play as snipers.

The problem with this is that its only a matter of time before those of us run n’ gunning it get sick of being picked off and become snipers ourselves…you dig? Battlefield has 4 different load out types for a reason (Assualt, Medic, Support & Scout) choose wisely my friend and you’ll have a ball. Just don’t pick sniper every frickin time!

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Conclusion

Whilst its nemesis Call of Duty blasted off into a rather bleak future of space-based battle, EA decided with Battlefield it was time to roll things back and remind us just how savage, sluggish and brutal the Great War must have been. Given that its been around 100 years since it ended it seems a rather fitting time to do this and given the end result no-one can accuse EA DICE of not handling this part of history with the uttermost respect on the part of those that fought in it.

Battlefield 1 is a gorgeous, glossy fun game to play. However, given the response its received from hardcore fans of the series, has EA DICE made an mistake by focusing too much on making the game attractive to casual gamers and taking away the key features that made it stand apart from other FPS games?

Then there’s the DLC, only 1 has arrived so far, its nice, but its a map that’s clearly been adapted from the Single Player game so it feels like a staggered release rather than a valuable extra.

As mentioned in our article about Star Wars Battlefront, also developed by EA and built using the same tools, by making these games both content-lite and noob-friendly is EA DICE losing the identity and fandom that made them so great in the first place?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

 

 

Hitman Sniper (iOS)

Charlie McGhee has been playing Hitman Sniper on his iPhone and thinks you should too. Here are his thoughts on why its a great smartphone game plus some  videos of Charlie’s own gameplay to give you an idea of what its like to play.

What is it?

If you’re into gaming you’ll no doubt be aware of the Hitman series that dates back to the PC and PS2 in the early 2000s. Since then 6 games have been released spurning a host of games for tablet and smart phones including this little cracker which was released in 2015. The game is a FPS but centres only on sniping activity and as Agent 47 although you are never threatened by counter-attack you can and will fail missions for being too aggressive, alerting the wrong people or not fulfilling the specific mission objective. Rather than a straight forward FPS this is more of a puzzle game where completing the mission requires you to focus on taking out targets in very specific ways. From shooting balcony glass to cause targets to fall to their deaths to shooting patio heaters to cause an explosive death the game continually challenges players to be as creative as possible.

What works?

For me, the production quality of this game is top notch, soundtrack and in game sound effects are 10/10. In terms of graphics these are as good as is possible on current iOS devices which to be fair is currently somewhere between what you’d expect to see on the PS2 and Xbox back in the day.  The game is quite addictive since what starts out as a satisfying point and shoot quickly changes with each mission requiring you to find a new way to take out targets without being noticed or in a particular order. The options available leave plenty of room for manoeuvre and keep you coming back for more.  The best thing about this game is you can have a satisfiying game in 2-3 minutes so ideal for short bus/train/metro rides.

What doesn’t work?

As addictive as the game is, apart from a Zombie survival-type mode that was added later there’s only really one location, albeit there are techinically 3 buildings and surrounding estates where targets will be located. As we’ve said before on this blog wanting more from a game is not necessarily a negative. Square Enix Montreal have done a great job with this title, so more please! As its their most successful game to date let’s hope it’ll be updated shortly.

Who should play this?

Anyone who’s every enjoyed any of the Hitman games or anything similar, plus anyone simply looking for a short gaming fix on their daily commute.

Gameplay (Charlie McGhee)

Wanna see what it’s like to play, well so do the game’s developers since they’ve made it incredibly easy to upload your own gameplay to Facebook and Youtube.