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: Star Wars Battlefront (EA)

Just like Beggar’s Canyon back home!

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Star Wars Battlefront may have hit stores over a year ago but it’s only in the last few months that we finally received the last of the DLC (in the form of the Rogue One Scariff Map) and can now view the game in its entirety. Its for that reason that I decided to give it the full “Retro Review” treatment and I hope you enjoy the article below.

  • Released: October 2015
  • Yay!: what every Star Wars fan has been waiting for.
  • Nay: only 40% game content included in original release.
  • Overall: 8/10

BREAKING NEWS: since writing this post EA announced in January 2017 that they will release Battlfront 2 in 2017 and, in response to the main complaints highlighted below, will feature a lot more content, including a Single Player Campaign, more maps and more heros from other episode’s in the Star Wars franchise.

Who should buy this game?

Well, if you’re a fan of either Star Wars or any type of First Person/Third Person Shooter then it’s definitely worth a look, obviously if like me you’re fan of both then this should be a no brainer.

“Impressive. Most Impressive.”

My last dealings with Battlefront were back on the Playstation 2 and that incarnation, as welcome as it was at the time, is a far cry from the heavily multiplayer focused title that Electronic Arts (EA) have given us.

Not only do you get to run around in one of the most beautifully designed sandboxes available on today’s consoles, the game is much more evenly balanced than a lot of other multiplayer games out there. It even offers a 3rd person perspective for those of us who overdosed on FPS a little too much in the early days of COD and swore to remain firmly in the safe confines of being able to at least see ourselves get shot in the back – you know who you are!

One of the things that got me most excited about this game in the run-up to its release was the fact it would be developed by EA DICE. For the uninitiated, EA DICE gave us the Frostbite engine which has been used in a few other EA titles, most notably for me, in the well-known FPS military franchise, Battlefield. Frostbite has also become so reliable that EA have even based the latest version of FIFA on it, much to the delight of many a gamer.

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Rebel base on Hoth from Empire Strikes Back.

Thanks to this type of pedigree, and very much in the fashion of a shooter like Battlefield, the game offers a whole host of multiplayer game types to choose from. On first glance there were around 15 game settings but the number was increased with subsequent Downloadable Content (DLC) packs that included additional game types. Whichever way you look at it, there’s a tonne of different ways to meet the common objective of blowing stuff up or shooting as many opponents as possible in the face!

Whichever way you look at it there’s a tonne of different ways to meet the common objective of blowing stuff up or shooting as many opponents as possible in the face!

In regard to the gameplay itself, you get to do all the things you’ve seen in Star Wars films again and again. From intense Infantry based combat to flying X-wings, TIE-Fighters, the Millennium Falcon and Boba Fett’s Slave One in Fighter Squadron.

Whether it be a massive multiplayer online environment like Supremacy offering full scale 40-player-ground-to-air battles of Rebels versus The Empire, or the much more infantry based games like Blast, Droid Run or Drop Zone there is plenty to keep you coming back for more.

For me personally, well at least for the first 6 months of owning this title, it was all about Fighter Squadron. Air-to-Air multiplayer dog-fighting at its very best, so much so its easy to conceive that with a little tweaking this could even have been released as a stand-alone title of its own.

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Darth hiking on Endor.

As well as all the iconic sound effects you would expect to find in a Battlefront game, from thermal detonators explosions to the scream of incoming TIE-fighters, there’s also the entire back catalogue of John Williams’ original score belting out in the background to make you feel like you are in some way part of a story taking place somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.

As someone who grew up with the originals, I have to say the highlight for me is Battlestation that arrived with the Death Star DLC. Here you get to hop into your X-wing, or even Luke’s Red 5 once you’ve found the Hero icon and complete the Trench Run whilst being chased by Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced and the rest of the opposing team.

On one occasion I actually managed to get both Luke’s X-Wing and be selected to do the Trench run in the same game – however whether it was my proton torpedo that hit the exhaust pipe or the player behind me I’ll let you be the judge – you can watch the video of my “performance” here. Obviously, like any other game reviewer I’ve only included a video where I don’t crash and burn every 10 seconds!

Out of the nine maps – well, all four of them in the original release (wow, thanks EA), all have been taken straight from locations either featuring in / referred to in the original Star Wars trilogy and the attention to detail is impressive to the point of distraction. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been killed for standing around admiring the scenery.

It’s no surprise that the game actually went on to win awards for the quality of its’ graphics. Maybe a little too good, perhaps if more attention had been spent on creating a larger universe to explore rather than making each ice cave on Hoth look as realistic as possible, the end result would have been more satisfying.

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The last DLC featuring new map from Rogue One.

The first of the DLC gave us The Force Awakens planet of Jakku and this was followed on a quarterly basis with the Outer Rim featuring Jabba’s Palace, The Cloud City of Bespin, The Death Star before finally Rogue One’s Scariff in December 2016. To get an idea of just how significant these DLC packs were you can watch them all here in our Gameplay section.

For me, the Outer Rim and Bespin should have been included in the original release but the Death Star was worth the wait and the true highlight of the game. Given that Battlestation enables you to play objectives based on Episode IV and it works so well, its a wonder they didn’t base more of the multiplayer games on memorable scenes from the films.

Combining the best of an established FPS that EA DICE offers and grounding it so beautifully in the Star Wars universe was a master stroke by Disney/EA and is something I’m truly happy has come to pass. A cynic might say that such an obvious success is one reason why EA or Disney decided to milk it as much as they have.

“Your over-confidence is your weakness.”

As you might imagine, with me being such the Star Wars fan, not to mention someone who appreciates a good FPS shooter, I love playing this game and in the beginning I couldn’t find fault with it.

After a while I started to find that as addictive as it was to play, the game left me wanting. From a marketing point of view, can you really criticise a game whose customer’s main complaint is that they want more of it?

Maybe…maybe not. But given I paid the full price for what turned out to be 40% of a game, I’m gonna anyway!

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“I can feel your anger…”

The timing of Battlefront‘s release was obviously no coincidence to ensure it took full advantage of both the upcoming release and later success of The Force Awakens, not to mention a revived love of all things Star Wars. As a result, it was priced like any other major console release would be, set firmly in the $60/£60/70€ price range. Had it actually arrived with the all DLC that we now have one year later I, like most people would be okay in paying that.

Anyway, as I’ve already said, since this is really the only complaint that I or anyone else has shows what an awesomely fun game this is to play. I just feel that EA are not doing themselves any favours, not in the long run anyway.

Conclusions

Battlefront delivers an impressive, engaging and almost fully immersive Star Wars experience perfect for both fans of the franchise or anyone looking for the type of accessible fun an arcade shooter like this offers.

Despite how much of a problem the DLC has been for me, well retrospectively in terms of what I invested in the title, it hasn’t stopped me enjoying it one bit. It’s nonce-sense that EA thought that they could get away with this in the long-term. I mean, from a marketing point of view they have succeeded. Mugs like myself and millions of others fell for the hype, bought the game, loved the game and signed up for the DLC – but The Internet Never Forgets and it may cause problems for them in the future.

All that said, and due to this staggered DLC release being over, there really has never been a better time to buy Battlefront.

If you’ve not bought it and own a console, the game is finally both available in its entirety and more interestingly for you, at the price tag it should have started at.

You can pick up a reasonably priced copy of Star Wars Battlefront here.