Halo: The Master Chief Collection

The new update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection has landed and it’s a whopping 73GB, (yowser!). If you’ve got a broadband speed as slow as mine, then I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to playing this in the spring. Those who only have a 500GB HDD will also have to make the agonising decision about which game to delete to make room, (bye bye Dead Rising 4).

So after the mammoth update and after 2 hours of Halo CE gameplay, here’s 5 things that I’ve learned so far from the 73GB Update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

No.5: I didn’t have to delete Dead Rising 4 after all

It turns out that once the download hits around the 5% mark, you can go to the main menu and then select which updates you wish to download. So if Halo 3 is your bag, then no need to download Halos 1 thru 4, just select Halo 3 and off you go, (well, off you go after another 1hr or so of updates!). What a great idea and I hope that other studios latch onto this and offer a ‘partial’ download rather than having to download the entire before play can begin, (I’m looking at you Gears Of War 4 and all 100GB. No you’re not ‘Ready to Play’ after downloading 20GB, you really, really are not).

No.4: OMG look at that 4K goodness

The original collection and the updated graphics, lights and textures for Halo CE already looked really good, after the update they look jaw droppingly beautiful. OK so for the cut scenes not a lot of work seems to have been done, but there are noticeable higher details in, for example, the cloth of the uniforms. It’s when you start playing the game that you notice that the already bright colours, now require sun glasses, the detail on the grunts are amazing, (if you’re unfamiliar to the series, these are creatures, not farts) and the motion feels silky smooth. For me, an already stunning looking game has got even better.

No. 3: I still keep flipping between original game and updated game

I can’t help it, it’s a habit, I really enjoy seeing how the game used to look on the original Xbox version compared to how it looks today. I wish more remastered games would do this as it is genuinely interesting to see how far games have come in 15+ years.

No. 2: So far load times are still slow

One of the promises from the update was that load times would improve. Now looking in more detail I think this is in relation to Multiplayer, not Single Player campaigns, (I don’t do multiplayer, so I can’t say if that’s improved or not). For what it’s worth, load times between chapters in Single Player campaign still feels very slow and a cup of tea can easily be made in between. Sometimes there’s even time to bake some biscuits to go with it.

No. 1: It doesn’t make you a better player

Sorry, but if you’re a bit crap at FPS like me, then the update has not brought anything to the table to make you better!

I’m being harsh on myself, I’m normally OK if you can squeeze the left trigger and aim a bit, but Halo does not support this and I always forget and end up wasting a grenade! I’ve never really got whether headshots make any difference or not as I still seem to go through rounds and rounds of ammo before dispatching a grunt, (again, I don’t mean farting!). But that’s OK, because with a game looking so beautiful, easy to pick up and genuinely exciting, getting my arse kicked by The Covenant is a small price to pay.

If you’ve got the room on you HDD and enjoyed Halo: The Master Chief Collection, then I recommend downloading the update, you won’t be disappointed.

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Infamous: Second Son

Infamous

The game which has launched my Joypad this week is Sucker Punch’s 2014 PS4 exclusive, Infamous: Second Son. I seem to remember this was a launch day game as well, but I opted for Watchdogs instead. In hindsight that was a mistake for 2 reasons, 1) It got delayed and did not release at launch, meaning I had no game to play on launch day, (I would just like to say thanks to Ubisoft for this and I really enjoyed looking at my £350 piece of plastic). 2) It sucked balls.

So after a 4 year wait, I finally managed to get my mitts on the game and the best part is, thanks to Sony PS Plus free games last September, is was free (I love you Sony and want to give you a big kiss). But was it worth the wait?

Infamous is set in a world in which some humans have started to gain special powers, (and are known as Conduits. I had the conduits once, but thankfully it cleared up after a few days), the protagonist, Delsin Rowe, has the ability to take on the special power of any Conduit he touches. Think Peter Petrelli from Heroes, but with a less wonky mouth.

Not everyone is happy about this, least all the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P.) whose aim is to imprison the Conduits and to keep them out of society. The main b’stard is a Conduit called Augustine who has the ability to make concrete, (out of thin air I mean, I’m not suggesting she carries some cement, sand, gravel, water and a mixer around with her. That’s not a special power, that’s a small building company).

Set mainly in Seattle, you follow Delsin, learn new powers, wrestle control of the city from the D.U.P. and ultimately confront Augustine.

The game itself is visually stunning. It’s hard to believe this is a 4 year old game and the colours, textures and details are all of a high quality. Both the powers and the city contain a lot of neon colours and they look beautiful, kind of like an explosion in a Skittles factory. When it rains, you find yourself transfixed at the water textures and the level of detail going into the water droplets and puddles, (this is definitely due to the high quality of the detail and not that chocolate brownie I brought back from that café in Amsterdam). The city itself feels populated, vibrant and alive.

The gameplay actually feels a lot like Saints Row IV. The running at high speed, climbing and jumping over buildings and constant battles with alien like creatures is very similar to the adventure in Stillwater and way more fun than Gat Out of Hell, (but to be fair, watching already dried paint not dry, is way more fun than Gat Out of Hell). It also has a smattering of Jet Set Radio / Sunset Overdrive to it, but Infamous definitely feels like a solid game in it’s own right and not a poor copy of these other classics.

If I have one criticism, it all gets a little bit repetitive. As you clear the city district by district, the battles are the same, the side missions are all similar and there is a distinct feeling of deja-vu. That combined with a distinct feeling of deja-vu and it can get a bit monotonous.

That being said, the boss battles can be challenging and do keep you invested in the game, although once you learn the ‘key’ to defeating the bosses, this can become a bit easy.

Overall though, this is a fun game that does not take itself too seriously and looks stunning. Well worth the price tag of free! If you were lucky enough to put this in your library back in September last year, but have not got round to playing it, then I recommend doing so as it’ll keep you entertained for a few hours and is not too taxing.

Also it’s one of those games where a 100% completion is very possible and in less than 20 hours of game time. So far GTA IV is my only 100% completed game, (and I swear, if I see another pigeon..), am I about to finish my 2nd? Stay tuned!

David Brent: Life on the Road

“Let’s have a spin off movie based on The Office, (UK), but focusing solely on David Brent”, said absolutely no-one ever. During the recent heatwave, which has seen me hotter than the surface of the Sun, I’ve struggled to game but I have managed to watch a few movies I’d been meaning to watch for a while. When it comes to David Brent: Life on the Road, I really wish I hadn’t bothered.

The Christmas specials of The Office tied up everything very nicely in a sparkly box with a big bow and a tag which read, “Well that just about ties things up very nicely”. Brent found a date who did not despise him and told Finchey to go forth and multiply, Dawn and Tim finally got together, (no YOU’RE crying) and Gareth finally managed to get his stapler out of the jelly, (that’s not a euphemism).

So apart from Ricky Gervais’ ego and wallet, who on earth thought making a spin-off movie was needed?

Well Stephan Merchant didn’t for one. Citing a diary conflict and project conflicts, his reasoning was the entertainment version of ‘my dog ate my homework’ and I firmly believe he thought it was best to leave it as is and to avoid the potential stink fest. Gervais obviously didn’t…

So was David Brent: Life on the Road as bad as I thought it would be? Unfortunately, yes.

There are glimmers of the humour which made The Office so funny, but they are few and far between. Instead what we have is a 90 minutes live music video with some lukewarm sketches in between songs. The songs themselves are not hilarious and I have absolutely no idea why we need to hear the whole of the song, where a 30 seconds clip from the song would have done the job. The whole thing is just padded more heavily than an anxious American Footballer.

Brent also seems to have developed an odd laugh which he does in each and every scene. It’s more annoying than a mosquito buzzing around your head asking if you have claimed back PPI.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Ricky Gervais, I think he’s very funny and can create some hilarious, cringy and at times emotional comedy and drama. However, I’m afraid David Brent: Life on the Road contains none of these things.

In my other life, I write a bad movie blog and whilst this would not quite make our top 100 Bad Movies list, it would get an honourable mention.

Sorry, but me no likey.

I’m Melting!

The UK earlier this morning

At the moment in the UK it’s hot, really hot, McDonald’s Apple Pie filling hot and it’s been like this for several weeks now. As I write this, we have gone 54 days without any significant rain and this week the temp has not got below 30C during the week and 20C at night. Outlook for the rest of the week? Hotter with a significant chance of Colin resembling the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.

So why am I boring you with a weather update? I suspect some of you who live outside of the UK regard 30C as a pleasant spring morning and may be wondering what all the fuss about. Well unfortunately we are just not built to survive these sorts of temperatures for a prolonged period. We are used to drizzle with a fresh northerly wind, max temp 18C. Anything hotter and we stop functioning and that is what has happened to me.

When the simple action of picking up a remote, switching on the TV, picking up a joypad, switching on a console and choosing a game to play, results in melting like a nazi from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, you know it’s probably a better idea to go outside in a vain effort to cool down. Unfortunately there’s an awful lot of beer gardens out there…

So this is more of an update as to why I’ve not been blogging recently. I have struggled to ‘launch’ launches joypad, but so far that’s been due to being indecisive and trying to work out how I want to approach it.

However, for now I’m struggling to leave the beer garden and as it’s my round next, I probably stay for a bit longer…

* hic *

Is This The End For Solo Gaming?

Copyright: Activision

With the recent announcement from Activision that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was to be multiplayer only with no solo campaign, my final piece of interest in this stale franchise disappeared completely. I have no interest in playing online with other players, hell I play video games to get away from people not to interact with them. But this move towards online multiplayer only gaming seems to be gathering pace and I’m worried that the 1-Player game will die out.

I used to play a lot of driving games and I was pretty good at them, or at least I thought I was until I made the mistake of racing against others online. My arse was handed to me and I was so far behind in one race, that the session actually timed out before I’d even crossed the finish line. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. It was all a myth, yes I could beat the AI, but actual fellow gamers? No chance. I was less Alonso and more Alonslow.

I also attempted to play Fifa online one year and I have to admit, I was that player whose connection was ‘lost’ during the game. In truth the only thing lost was my temper as I bicycle kicked my joypad into controller heaven.

Whilst I love playing games, I’m not particularly good at them. But I’m absolutely cool with that as for me it’s about the escapism, the experience, the emotions and not about uploading my speed run onto YouTube and claiming what a bloody good bloke I am.

I’ve recently been playing the Unchartered series and I have absolutely loved them. I’ve escaped to places I will never visit, I’ve been on the edge of my seat and I feel I’ve developed a man crush over the charismatic Nathan Drake. The thing I’ve loved most, however, is that the 40 or so hours I’ve spent playing the series has just been about me and a digital world I can lose myself in.

I don’t feel I would have got the same experience if some snotty tosspot from the other side of the world is shouting at me to ‘find cover, find cover, pick up the gun, oh come on you *bleeping* idiot, I thought you said you was good at this’ in my ear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-multiplayer and I understand there is a need for games like PUBG, H1Z1 or Fortnite and that gamers have a lot of fun with their friends playing these games; but it’s just not for me. My worry is that studios, who seem to be on a mission these days to milk every last penny out of gamers, seem to be abandoning the solo playing, unprofitable games for more of these open world battle royale money spinners.

With the heavy rumour that another one of my favourite series, Fallout, will be online multiplayer only with the next game, Fallout76, I really worry. I guess we’ll found out at E3 whether or not it is true, but if it is, then my time in the wasteland is over.

So this is a plea to studios; please don’t abandon the solo player, some of us play games for the experience, to be wowed, entertained, to be immersed in a gripping storyline or beautiful world with no-one else around. We don’t want to stay in cover for 30 minutes until some git snipes us in the head or to be 7-0 down in 5 minutes or to be shouted at by someone half our age because we forgot to pick up an RPG and now we’ve accidentally fallen off the roof, or because we can’t remember the bloody dance we supposed to do because we’ve won a chicken dinner or something…

So please, I beg you, don’t make The Last of Us, The Last one for Us.

Greatest Royal Rumble? (Part 2)

GRRSo I’ve just realised I owe you a part 2 to my review of WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble.  Oops, it feels like forever now, but here goes:

Brock Lesnar beat Roman Reigns in a Steel Cage Match and there was more that a whiff of ‘botched’ as the men crashed through the cage and quite clearly Reigns feet touched the ground first.  This would mean, under the rules of a Steel Cage match, that Reigns should have won.  Quite why WWE have decided to bury Reigns after building him up as the next big thing for 3 years, I don’t know, but keeping the belt with a part-timer, just doesn’t sit right with me.

If I was to tell my boss that I wanted a pay rise, employee of the year, but I’d only pop my head in when I could be arsed, he’d rightly show me out the door with a size 10 up my rear end.

Then we had the Rumble itself.  Strowman won, which makes sense as he is being built up as this indestructible machine, so why not have him beat 49 other guys?  It was largely uneventful, with not many surprises and the only real excitement was Titus O’Neil tripping over during his entrance and sliding under the ring.  Seriously track it down on YouTube, it’s hilarious!

So was it the Greatest Royal Rumble?  N’ah, not by a long chalk really.  The whole event just felt like a house show, with a little more razzle and dazzle as they tried to impress a new market.  It was enjoyable but not memorable.

I must say though, my choice of lager and maize based snacks was first class and I look forward to revisiting them at the next PPV.

*Update* At Backlash the quality of beverage and snacks outweighed the quality of the event yet again.  Here’s hoping Money in the Bank is better…

Greatest Royal Rumble? (Part 1)

GRR

Another small change I want to make to this blog is occasionally blogging about other things which I enjoy. Having been a wrestling fan most of my life and with WWE’s recent Greatest Royal Rumble event, I thought now might be a good time to switch gears and talk about rasslin’!

I was going to write this last weekend, but as this blog contains spoilers, I thought I’d leave it a while. If you haven’t watched it yet then please stop reading *Spoilers Ahead*.

So here we are, a few days removed from WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble and rumour has it that Jinder Mahal has still not reacted to Jeff Hardy’s whisper in the wind, (rumour also has it that Ronda Rousey is still pointing at the Wrestlemania sign). So what did I make of it?

Well one of the things that stood out for me was just how much space there was on the arena floor. I have no idea what the capacity of the stadium is but there seemed very few seats at ring level and enough room to put a second ring, a third ring and Braun Strowman’s lunch. I’m guessing it was because of security as the Saudi royal family occupied the ring level seating, but it just created no atmosphere. Next year they can host it in our local library if they wish to have more noise.

The event kicked off with Triple H vs John Cena in a paint by numbers exhibition match, (that wasn’t the stipulation, btw, no-one had to finish a watercolour paint by numbers picture to be the eventual winner, although that might have been more exciting than the match). With no storyline, this was just 2 veterans putting on a match and it was largely forgettable. In fact if I hadn’t gone to Wikipedia to get a list of the matches, I would not have remebered they were there at all!

Coincedentally I’d completely forgotten about the next match, Cedric Alexander vs Kalisto for the Crusierweight Championship. So at this point, I will review my lager. I chugged on Coors Light throughout the event, a crisp drink that refreshes and the modest 4.0%ABV ensures that the headache in the morning is kind and the stomach cramps minimal.

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs Cesaro and Sheamus was the next match and I really like Matt Hardy and his Woken, (previously Broken), universe. However, for me it only really works when in the Hardy compound and when they are allowed creative freedom. When it comes to the wrestling it’s quite pedestrian and flat and unfortunately this match continued that theme. Hardy and Wyatt would go onto win the belts, which I have no problem with and I hope they are allowed to build on the fantastically weird Ultimate Deletion from earlier in the year.

Jeff Hardy vs Jinder Mahal match was next and actually, apart from the very late reaction to the Whisper in the Wind, Mahal actually had a good match. Hardy seems to bring out the best in Mahal and actually makes him watchable. I absolutely hated Mahal’s title run last year and it resulted in some of the worst PPV matches I have ever seen. He’s mid-card, at best and to be pushed by WWE for business reasons just sucked. Anyway, Hardy won and overall a solid match.

Apparently the Blugeon Brothers vs The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship was next?! Completely forgot about that as well, (might have been my ‘comfort break’ time). So all I will say is Lidl’s Bacon Fries are excellent value at 85p and in a blind taste test, would be hard to distinguish from Frazzles. Low in saturated fat, you can shovel these into your piehole safe in the knowledge that your arteries will not get too much of a kicking.

Next, Seth Rollins retained the Intercontinental Championship, defeating Samoa Joe, the Miz and accidentally smacking Finn Balor in the eye with the belt. I like Joe and it’s good to see him back in the ring, but surely it’s time for Balor to get a push. He’s was massively hyped a few months back and yet I’ve won as many belts as Balor this year.

AJ Styles vs Nakamura was next and after, in my opinion, a solid but ultimately disappointing performance at Wrestlemania, we got a solid, but ultimately disappointing performance. Is the low blow really the only move Nakamura can do now? Seriously, AJ just has to wear a cricketer’s box and Nakamura’s master plan goes out the window. This is getting dull fast, I hope there is gear change soon.

Then we had the Undertaker vs Rusev in a casket match. I love the Undertaker, he has given so much to pro-wrestling and WWE, but I really think it’s time for him to hang up his hat, gloves and rather heavy looking coat. He looked slow, lumbered around a bit and actually nearly fell over for absolutely no reason. He ultimately won, but it was clear Rusev and indeed Aiden English kinda got themselves into the casket under their own steam. The big man is a legend, let’s keep it that way.

Well that took me a bit longer than planned and I’ve run out of time! So I’ll continue with part 2 in a few days. Still to come, Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns, the ‘Greatest’ Royal Rumble itself and my overall view…