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.

Advertisements

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!

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.

The Quest is Over

When I started my blog, the idea was that I was trying to find a game which would not, at some point, push me to the point of launching my joypad. Today the quest is over and I’m pleased to announce the winner was… er, well no-one actually.

We’ve all done it, come to a point in a game where it’s harder than Chuck Norris dipped in vinegar, baked in an oven and covered in nail varnish. We rage quit or at the very least we shout at the game and boldly claim it’s cheating.

My problem is I can launch my joypad before the game has started!

When loading Gears of War 4, (a game as deep as a puddle), on my Xbox One X, I got the message we all like to hear, ‘Your game is ready to play’. As Matt Hardy would say “WONDERFUL”, the fact only 30% of the game has loaded is not an issue, I thought, as there must be enough loaded to start the first level.

Wrong!

I could get to the title screen, I could select menus, but as soon as I tried to start, a message along the lines of “please wait, game is still downloading” was displayed. It would be another 2 blooming hours before the game was actually “ready to play”.

It’s fair to say my Xbox One X’s pants were truly on fire and my joypad was launched before the game had even started.

And therein lies the problem. I will never find a game which does not frustrate me because the least little thing can frustrate me at times.

Load times frustrate me. Doors you can’t open frustrate me. Low waist height walls you can’t jump over, frustrate me. Jumpy platform games, frustrate me. Enemies dropping weapons and I can’t pick them up frustrate me. Writing this list frustrates me.

But games excite me, they take me on adventures and journeys which blow my mind, I live to game. All these frustrations, all these quirks, all those broken joypads are just more XP for my gaming CV. I need to stop looking for ones that don’t move me to the point of launching my joypad and embrace the fact that they do.

So I’ve decided to end the quest and I’ve realised that actually talking about them, hell actually deliberately finding them is more fun to write about than a game so perfect it becomes beige.

Vanilla Ice, yes please, Vanilla Nice, no sir!

And so my first small change in order to get me to enjoy my blog, is to stop looking for perfection and talk about the imperfections.

The quest has ended, but Launches Joypad continues…

Fallout 4

Fallout 4

My quest to find a game which does not frustrate me to the point of launching my joypad continues and this week I finally finished Bethesda’s mahousive game, Fallout 4. Did I find my perfect game or did it make me want to set the world on fire? It’s time to find out…

To paraphrase Douglas Adams; Fallout 4 is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to Fallout 4.

And I guess that’s half the problem for me…

When you have to do boring adult things, like work for a living, the 100 or so hours needed to fully appreciate a game on the magnitude of Fallout 4 is as hard to find as a helpful traffic warden.

This is a shame because Fallout 4 is brilliant, maybe not as good as Fallout 3, but epic nonetheless.

* Spoilers ahead * Fallout 4 moves it postapocalyptic vision to Boston and you play as a sole-survivor of a cryogenic vault, who during his time ‘on-ice’ witnesses the murder of his wife and the kidnapping of his son. As soon as he is thawed out he sets out on a quest to find his son.

And that is essentially the plot, (War and Peace it is not!).

But don’t worry futuristic and yet strangely set in the 1950’s fans, there is so so much to do, you will not get bored! Immediately you are dropped on the edge of a map spanning a million miles, with tens of thousands of missions, hundreds of thousands of characters and many other statistics I have just made up.

And that’s what I love about this game so much, you’re dropped in a vast map and basically told to go and have some fun. You can just do the storyline if you want, but you will miss out on Fallout’s quirky humour, the joy of finding a comic out of the blue which boosts one of your attributes or the pleasure of winning a persuasion argument and Fallout’s character popping up on-screen, giving you a wink and doing pointy gun hands at you.

The one criticism I do have is that it’s a bit easy. Fallout 3 fans will remember the power armour which, from memory, you don’t get until near the very end of the game. For some reason you are given one really early on and there are several scattered around the map for you to find. The fusion power things are plentiful and so if you ever do have a battle which is a bit tricky, it’s actually not an issue as you just pop back to wherever your power armour is stored and go straight back to battle and kick some mutated creature’s butt.

However, dear reader, this unfortunately is not the game which stopped me from launching my joypad. There are 2 main things which frustrated me to the point when the joypad suddenly levitated above my head.

Firstly there is the crafting system. One of Fallout 4’s new additions is the ability to ‘build’ a settlement. Now this is not a bad idea, but the mechanics feel like trying the hammer treacle to the wall. Also, it turns the game into Farmville, which is all well and good, but when you quickly realise that partaking in the crafting has absolutely no bearing on the game, it does feel like a bloated add-on which is sapping that vital time I do not have.

But the main thing which launches my joypad and I’m afraid it’s a hangover from Fallout 3, are the Pip-Boy controls.

They are so cumbersome and unnecessarily complicated. Menus, sub menus, lists, long bloody lists, another menu, oh dear I’m in the wrong menu, how do I come back out? No don’t come out of Pip-Boy altogether, oh crap here’s a mirelurk, where’s my weapon gone? Ow! you overgrown crabby bastard! *launches joypad*.

I think this is a leftover from the original PC Fallout games and I can imagine the Pip-boy works better on a PC, but for a console it doesn’t work. I will admit though that I didn’t discover the Pip-boy app on the iPad until late on and running this does make life a little easier. A touch screen Pip-boy does make more sense that the button crunching mess Fallout sometimes becomes. I hope they develop this concept further for future Fallout games.

But I do love this game and the 40 or so hours I did manage to find was a worthwhile experience. I love being able to explore vast spaces, with no pressure to follow storylines and the added Fallout humour just makes this a joy to play.

The 4K enhancement for the Xbox One X does make this a beautiful looking game and it’s a pleasure to see all the usual Bethesda bugs in glorious UHD. Dogmeat hovering above a chair, characters getting stuck in walls and the weird rainbow reflections texture glitch have never looked so good!

It’s far from perfect but it’s my kind of game and whilst it may make me want to launch my joypad, it doesn’t make me want to go full on nuclear!

30 Day Video Game Challenge – Day 6

Day 6 – Most annoying character

They say familiarity breeds contempt and this is demonstrated by my nomination for most annoying character.

Fallout 3 is possibly one of the best games ever made, but boy is it a big game. A huge game. A lose your wife, family and friends where the hell did that 100 hours of my life go, game!

For that reason, you meet certain characters over and over again and there is one character who, because you meet her early on in the game and because she runs a supply store in one of the first towns you came to in the game, you meet her…. a helluva lot!

The most annoying character I’ve ever come across is Moira Brown, the Craterside Supply Store owner in Megaton!

She does nothing wrong per se, in fact she’s very helpful, especially early on with his sub-tasks and supplies which help boost your character, but the problem is you visit her a lot and whilst Fallout 3 is massive, Moira’s vocabulary is not.

‘Hey don’t mind the smoke. It’s perfectly safe to breathe. Really!’ is funny the first time, maybe the 3rd or 4th time, but by the 20th time of hearing it, I just want to launch my joypad. Get a decent extraction system in place then, (or just open the freakin’ door!).

‘Huh. Did you know the human body can survive without the stomach or spleen? Oh, what’s up?’. What’s up? Probably the fact this is the 80th time I’ve heard this ‘fun’ fact, arrrgggggh! Learn some new blooming facts will you? After all, I did spend 10 hours collating a freakin’ book for you! *launches joypad*

But the phrase that grinds my gears is ‘Good Hunting!’. I conservatively estimate she has said that to me around 200 times, just say ‘Bye’ or even better, nothing at all!

Sorry Moira, it’s not you, it’s me, I can’t do routines and the same old thing day after day and after hearing your inane chatter for the millionth time, I find you the most annoying character of all time!

Thanks for the Wasteland Survival Guide though….