Halo 5: Guardians review

When the marketing campaign began for Halo 5: Guardians it had us all intrigued, Spartan Locke, out to get a traitorous Master Chief, surely not? I felt a bit let down with the story overall, but my experience of Halo 5: Guardians is positive, let me tell you why.

The campaign sees you play as two teams, the first you play as is Team Osiris led by Spartan Jameson Locke. They are new to the Spartan Program and it’s interesting to hear their dialogue throughout the game – they have a shared objective but are still learning a lot about each other. But we are here for Master Chief, and he heads up Blue Team who have grown up with each other and are almost like family.

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The campaign is essentially one big chase sequence, Master Chief goes rogue after making a discovery he can’t ignore, and Locke with his newly formed team are tasked to bring him in after rescuing Doctor Halsey from her Elite captors. It’s an interesting idea to make a character we’re all so accustomed to saving us turn his back on us – it would have been great to spend more time with the Chief to watch more of the story unfold but we didn’t get that which was a shame. It all felt a bit inconsistent, one minute everything seemed to make sense and then when you were left looking for a bit more explanation and depth into the story.

Throughout the campaign there are some fantastic set pieces and the amount of enemies on-screen makes for some truly epic battles. For the most part, the AI works well – they’ll revive you quickly when you request assistance and respond to waypoints or targets that you prioritise but I did notice some odd behaviour at times from them and my enemies. Most of the missions are pretty linear, but thanks to the huge environments there are plenty of ways to reach an objective or to deal with a group of enemies. The vast environments are worth exploring too, as well as gaining an advantage over your enemies, you’ll find weapon stashes and the odd vehicle to help you on your way – plus the elusive Skulls and numerous intel dumps thorughout the game, which serve to further expand the game’s background.

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No doubt 343 are reading this so take note; Missions that involve talking to people are not missions! Also there are some epic cutscenes that would have been superb to actually play, it was great watching them but I was desperate to take part. The ending of the game had shades of Halo 2 about it and while slightly annoying, I’m already looking forward to how the next game unfolds.

343 have done some great things with Spartan movement in Halo 5, introducing the best mobility and skill set I’ve ever used while playing as a Spartan. Firstly their movement is faster and you have some awesome new abilities to make you feel like you’re a huge powerful tank of a Spartan. You can ground pound enemies from above, taking out three or four smaller opponents at a time, the dash boost helps you get out of some tight situations and you can combine sprint with melee that will send your foes flying. The best move is while you are jumping – zooming in with any weapon allows you to hover – it’s resulted in some of my favourite kills.

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Halo wouldn’t be complete without the co-op experience would it? Frankly I’m no good at Halo beyond the Heroic difficulty so I need all the help I can get from my friends. It’s a superb way of playing Halo and perfect for hunting down all of the Intel and getting hold of all those pesky achievements. What else is great with friends? Multiplayer! Fans of Halo 2 will appreciate the efforts made by 343 but they might feel it’s not quite there… yet.

Despite the route they took with Halo 4, 343 have scaled things back for 5 – there are enough Call of Duty games around if you’re all about loadouts and abilities – in Halo 5 you can expect fast paced action and you’ll have to rely on your own skill to get by – grabbing power weapons first also helps!

The gameplay is fast and frantic and most importantly, fun. During my time online I found a things a bit hard to get used to. Firstly, your shield is nowhere near as strong as it is during the campaign. Also your melee game needs to be strong – its various combos should play a dominant role in your strategy. The mini map needs some work, it doesn’t pick up your opponents until it’s almost too late. I haven’t noticed as much as Rich has, but he often complained about lag when he found himself going up against our friends across the pond, it would be great to be able to select which location of servers we would like to play on.

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The lobby system, while fast, is a bit weird in that it always knocks you out at the end of each match and sets you into a brand new lobby. While good so you don’t end up with the same team, or losing against the same players, it would have been nice to have had the option to party up. You can’t vote for maps either which is a shame. Generally the game modes within Arena are pretty good, the standout mode for me is Capture the Flag, it’s full of action and is the mode I’d go to first if it ever gets it’s own playlist.

New to Halo 5 is Warzone, simply put your objective is to score 1,000 points by capturing objectives and killing bosses that spawn during gameplay. Capturing all the objectives allows you to attack your opponents base, if you destroy the base’s core it’s game over. What I love most about this mode is that your are constantly having to adapt, changing priorities in order for you team to score the most points. As you play in any multiplayer mode you’ll earn Requisition points (REQ), which can be used to order vehicles and weapons in Warzone and boosts in either multiplayer mode. Choosing the right piece of equipment at the right time can be enough to turn the game – but you can’t just call in a Scorpion from the start.

To use REQ cards in your collection you must first gain energy from killing enemies and capturing objectives – the more energy you have the higher the card you can use. New cards are gainned by opening REQ packs or achieveing certain milestones in your Spartan career – each pack rewards random items. Remember how annoying the cryptarch from Destiny was? Yeah, these can be just as frustrating – I never seemed to get any armour pieces – while Greg opened two gold packs and got several pieces! I can’t see my self putting any real money into these but they are a nice little add-on.

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Despite the slight disappointment with the storytelling and character building, Halo 5 is awesome, it looks stunning – even during multiplayer – there were no drops in framerate and the audio is spectacular, from the incredible score to the sound of the weapons, which have seen an overhaul and sound more brutal than ever before. The multiplayer, especially Warzone is brilliant, there are still improvements to be made but in Halo 5: Guardians you are getting an awesome package.

Thanks to Xbox for supporting TiX

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Just Dance 2016 review

Just Dance 2016 returns to consoles and it’s as bright and bold as ever. Grab a headband, some neon leggings and limber up while I tell you how the world most popular dance game as managed to get even better.

I probably don’t need to explain to you what Just Dance is, but I’m going to anyway. Just Dance 2016 involves choosing yourself a music track ranging from today hits to old school classics and then doing your best to mirror the dance moves you see on screen, the more accurate you are the higher the score.

The game comes with 44 songs for you to dance along to, with hits from Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor and Katy Perry. There are also some classics including Summer Nights from Grease and even a special remix of the Angry Birds theme tune. All of the songs are very well chosen, perfect for parties and also great for working out too.

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What Just Dance does best is theme each dance very well with each song, as you would expect, the Angry Bird theme tune sees you trying to keep in time with Angry Birds while ‘dancing’ to the William Tell Overture will have you racing horses against your friends. It’s brilliant fun and will have people of all ages joining in. Being able to dance with others for certain routines is a lot of fun, our rendition of Summer Nights would have even had Craig Revell Horwood out of his seat applauding.

Some of the routines are tougher than others but because of the way the videos are presented you ultimately just end up having a lot of fun with the game. Once you have competed a routine you’ll see a playback of you dancing which you can share with the world, as well as applying different effects such as a big head mode. The score you get will give you points towards unlocking new remixes of songs, you can also use UPlay points too.

There are some great new modes to get into the groove with also. Dance Party is the main mode which allows you to play on your own or compete against your friends. Dance quest puts you up against some AI opponents over three songs, with the aim of beating them and unlocking further quests. In the true spirit of Just Dance, Showtime mode allows you to show off your moves and lip sync to your favourite songs before sharing it to the world. The workout mode returns allowing you to really work up a sweat while also getting fitter at the same time.

With Microsoft changing their minds and deciding to sell the Xbox One without Kinect, Ubisoft needed to find a way to make sure that they could cater Just Dance to include those who did and didn’t have the much maligned device, without a viable option sales of the game could easily suffer. Thankfully they have managed to find the solution and surprisingly it works really well. All you need is a smartphone and the Just Dance Companion app, once you have connected the phone to the console you are good to go. It actually turns out to be a bit of a party piece as you can have As many people as you want taking part as all they really need is the app, during the time of the review I had no issues with the phone or Kinect itself.

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If you have favourite songs from previous Just Dance games then we have just the thing for you, Just Dance Unlimited allows you to gain access to over 150 songs with new tracks being added weekly. At $40 a year it’s a bit steep in price but if your are desperate to dance to ‘The eye of the tiger’ and ‘Who let the dogs out?’ then this may turn out to be good value.

Just Dance hits all the right moves again, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and doesn’t expect you too either. It’s bold, it’s bright and most importantly it’s fun. Whether you are 9 or 90 you’ll enjoy at least one song and as long as you are prepared to step out of your comfort zone you’ll actually have a good time. Just Dance unlimited is a nice if a bit pricey idea, but will go down really well with fans of the series, also being able to play along without Kinect will see a whole new set of fans being able to access the game which can only help improve sales. Before you ask there are no videos of me dancing and there never will be, it would break the Internet…

Thanks to Ubisoft for supporting TiX

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The Technomancer: First Contact trailer

Upcoming RPG, The Technomancer, has its first official trailer, showing off protagonist, Zachariah, and his three style of combat.

Due for release in early 2016, The Technomancer plans to offer three dynamic combat styles:

• Staff: Highly mobile long-ranged melee to hit multiple targets.
• Rogue with knife and gun: Agile, mobile, with dodges, rolls, and effective CC with the gun.
• Protection with mace and shield: Parry, block, and beat them to death with powerful attacks!

Additionally The Technmancer will feature a deep, modular crafting system changing the visible and active qualities of clothing and weapons forged from scrap you find. A vast and interesting game-world to explore with Mars as the setting, cut off from Earth for 120 years. And a focus on choice, where missions can be completed multiple different ways: avoiding combat, romancing companions, crafting items and more.

Roll on 2016.

Dead Rising: Watchtower released on We Are Colony

It’s that time of year again where monsters pretending to be children ring the door bell and threaten to brutally maim you and your family… or they want sweets, I don’t know. I lock door, turn off the lights and watch a scary or gruesome film, ignoring the outside world entirely.

Well this year digital streaming site We Are Colony have a new release that’s ideal for Halloween watching, Dead Rising: Watchtower.

We reviewed Dead Rising: Watchtower when it hit Blu-ray and DVD and found the gory and energetic videogame adaptation to be an enjoyable if slightly flawed zombie flick. Now you can see for yourself whether it’s your kind of undead delight, by renting it through We Are Colony. Even better, We Are Colony also have some behind the scenes content for the film – including interviews, stills and making of documentaries.

With videogame to film adaptations so regularly missing the mark, Dead Rising Watchtower is absolutely worth a watch to see how tantalisingly close this adaptation gets to cracking that problem. The authenticity of Watchtower to the videogame source is excellent, giving fans of the games a great new chapter to the story and new comers an ideal introduction.

Dead Rising Watchtower releases today on We are Colony and can be rented for £4.49 or bought for £9.99.

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New Killer Instinct Back Stories – Glacius

glacius Killer Instinct
Another new updated back story from the crew over at Ultra-Combo, this week we get an insight to Glacius’s race and learn the story of how he entered the Killer Instinct Tournament.

The alien being called Glacius hails from a distant planetary system where he serves as a galactic marshal, hunting down lifeforms that have violated any of the “88 Decrees” of the Alliance of Worlds. Powerful telepathic beings, Glacius’s race has the ability to bend simple molecular structure to their will, encasing their relatively defenseless bodies in all manner of protective shells. This gives their species an ability to adapt to environments easily and turn local resources from any planet into native forms of defense and attack, allowing them to move from planet to planet, and thus always with a means of besting their quarry. A faint distress signal reaches the marshal’s relay network, sent from the fringes of known space. The location is pinpointed on a developing world, the only data available on it found in the deep archives. A notorious criminal from decades earlier had fled into deep space, pursued by the marshals until a final battle took place near the planet. The criminal’s ship was heavily damaged in the battle, lost control, and burned up in the atmosphere. The case was considered closed and the criminal filed as deceased. Responding to the odd, ancient transmission, Glacius’ ship is attacked by weapons technologies this race should not possess – ones that only an elevated species would have access to. Unprepared from such an assault, his ship is heavily damaged and it crashes in Antarctica. The impact from the crash destroys Glacius’ native shell, so he quickly adopts the arctic ice to his body, forming a new shell. Then he sets out to find the origin of the weapons used on him, and those responsible for the fake signal as well as the attack on his ship. His transition to a new shell takes some time, however, and during this metamorphosis he discovers that components of his ship have been removed, including the highly confidential dimensional fold power core, which allows his ship to move great distances through space. As a security measure, it should have detonated on removal from his ship, but it did not self-destruct. As he sets out from the crash site and observes the creatures on Earth, he realizes their technology is corrupted – they have been exposed to ideas and technologies they should not yet have, a serious violation of several of the “88 Decrees”. Glacius is lured into the Killer Instinct tournament through carefully orchestrated clues to his core’s location. He plays along with the leads, knowing he is being set up for some unknown purpose, but confident in his ability to defeat anything this planet can throw at him. He assumes that he will eventually confront the one responsible for his crash and the origin of the alien tech that has uplifted this world. Finally confronting Sadira, Glacius defeats the one whom he suspects holds the answers, only to realize she too was playing a part in a greater manipulation. He watches as she uses samples of his genetic code taken during the battle to bypass the safeties on the fold core and open a wormhole to… elsewhere. The portal opens only briefly before it collapses, but Glacius recognizes the importance of this act. Someone on this planet now has control over a fold core, meaning they can bend space to their will. This is a serious violation of the “88 Decrees,” and to leave now would be a criminal act on his part. His path set before him, he vows to search further and discover the holder of the core before they can abuse its powers. During his training, Glacius studied the dangers of folding space and the powers it could unleash in the wrong hands. Misuse of this power could open doorways to places best left sealed and cross not only simple distance, but dimensions, some of which contain things that have been “removed” for the greater good due to their corruptive natures. Fearing the corruption that comes from contact with these beings, Glacius focuses on improving his Hail technique to keep these new horrors at bay.

I am enjoying these new back stories they are creating for all of the characters, I would like to see how or what they will do with Fulgore and Chief Thunder’s stories soon.

 

Battlefield 4 Community Operations breaks out

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Battlefield 4 is still going strong with support from the devs and a thriving community to help it grow. Coming with the latest update for Battlefield 4 is the new free Community Operation Outbreak map, this is the map the community have had the opportunity to provide Dice with ideas and feedback to create.

Operation Outbreak has you fighting in the jungle over a Medical Clinic, Temple, Ghost Town, Logging Camp, and Palm Oil Plantation – all of which were created based on feedback and suggestions from the Battlefield 4 community.

You can find a full list of patch notes for this update right here, if anyone has trouble installing you can find help here. Welcome to the jungle soldier.

Ultra Street Fighter IV horror costumes galore!

Ultra Street Fighter IV
This week sees the release of some fresh content for last gens Street Fighter which can be found on Xbox 360, Steam, PS3 & PS4, there is something for everyone within these packs as every character has a new horror style outfit and they come in a variety of different packs. Individually these packs weigh in at £3.29 / $3.99 each so you can buy the ones for your favorite characters or you can purchase the complete costume pack for £14.99 / $19.99. Here is a peek at my favourites from each pack, who do you think has the best costume in the pack?

2014 Challengers Horror Pack
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Arcade Challengers Horror Pack
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Brawler Horror Pack
Ultra Street Fighter IV brawler zangief
Challengers Horror Pack 1
Ultra Street Fighter IV challengers 1 dudley
Challengers Horror Pack 2
Ultra Street Fighter IV challengers 2 adon
Classic Horror Pack
Ultra Street Fighter IV classic gen
Femme Fatale Horror Pack
Ultra Street Fighter IV femme fatal chun li
Shadoloo Horror Pack
Ultra Street Fighter IV shadoloo bison
Shoryuken Horror Pack
Ultra Street Fighter IV shoryuken ryu

Spotlight Sale gets dressed up for Halloween

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Some good Halloween deals going on for Xbox, with State of Decay, Resident Evil and Zombi discounted to decent prices and Titanfall Deluxe Edition going down in price again which is a good buy for anyone who does not already own it. After playing Zombi U way back when it was released I will be snatching up Zombi at that price! what games will you be picking up?

The deals are available until November 2nd 2015. Remember to check your local territory for availability and pricing.

Xbox One

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*Deals with Gold are valid for Xbox Live Gold members.

WWE 2K16 Powerbombs onto the scene

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WWE2K16 is here and sporting the largest WWE roster ever in video game history which can only get bigger with character creation and potential future DLC. Create and define your very own WWE career in the my career mode, create and manage your own WWE universe, create your own championship belts, divas, superstars, shows and arenas! WWE2K16 is available to purchase now in the Xbox Store for $59.99 and a slew of add-ons has followed in suit,

Purchasing the Digital Deluxe version will land you the Arnold ‘The Terminator’ Schwarzenegger Pack with two versions of the playable Terminator character.

Minecraft: Story Mode episode 2 out now

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Telltale Games have released Minecraft Story mode part 2 this week.

Travel across the Overworld and beyond as the Wither Storm looms closer, destroying everything in its wake, time is running out for our heroes. Find the legendary figures and try to stop the impending threat –what choices will you make in this exciting episode?

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 2: Assembly Required is out now on Xbox One & 360 for $4.99 or purchase the Complete Season Pass for $24.99