All posts by Tom Smith

A gamer of many, many, (some would say too many) years. Would try my hand at any genre. The majority of my collection is mainly made up of FPS, strategy and sports titles.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate IGN launch party

Seeing as everyone has gone Back To The Future crazy recently, on Tuesday October 20, I took a trip back in time to Victorian London with thanks to Ubisoft and the IGN Premiere launch event, for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. And what a show they put on…

As you enter the secret location in London Bridge you are handed £20 worth of Victorian money to spend and then greeted by a cockney Victorian showman describing what awaits. Just watch out for the infamous Rooks gang!

Walking down the Victorian street with the lucky few hundred other people who managed to get an invite, we were greeted by firepits, and a flower girl handing out dying bunches of flowers while flirting with everyone. I obviously headed straight to the pub…

 

The atmosphere in the pub was highly charged with anticipation about what the rest of the night would bring. Plenty of people had turned up in their Assassin’s ware, there were a couple of ‘Victorian cockneys’ playing on the piano and having a good old sing-along. All very London, all very Victorian. I had a pint of lager but also on offer was cider and Assassin’s punch, I had quite a lot of that later on and it was lovely, unfortunately my head didn’t think so the following morning!

I then wandered outside and came across a wrestling contest between two men armed with sticks, another chap in a top hat was going through the gathered crowd and taking bets on who would win. I gave him £1 of my Victorian money and watched on. I picked the wrong wrestler. Oh well, what more can I find to do?

Throwing knives? Go on then. This proved very popular as you got to throw knives and axes at a wooden board, it was very tricky to get the action right so the blade would stick in to the wood. Great fun though. I then turned around to see a Tarot Card reader, there was always someone sat there so I didn’t get to know what my future held.

Another stall, and a very long queue, across from the knife throwing was where you picked up your Assassin’s Creed leather key ring. The queue was long as you could also get your initials stamped on to a metal plate on the leather. Very cool keepsake.

For those that needed food as well as drink there was a Victorian market to feed the hungry masses. Lots of choices and plenty of characters were on hand to serve you and give you a cheeky smile and funny quip. Jacket potatoes, hot chestnuts, broth, bread and cheese and a stall selling gin & tonic.

Then on to the reason why we were here – to get hands-on with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. A large room with 30 or so screens were available and you got to play the game for about 25 minutes a time. As the night wore on it became more and more easy to find an available spot as lots of other people took advantage of the free drink on offer.

At approximately 8pm, IGN started to broadcast live from the event. Cameramen, lighting and sound guys, producers and interviewers wandered around the area talking to people and giving the online community a taste of what was on offer. There was also the opportunity to watch a never-before-seen gameplay demo with live commentary from the game director, Scott Phillips, and a live Q&A in the pub area.

After all this it was back to throwing knives, drinking punch and playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate before we unfortunately had to leave at 10pm.

The event proved very successful and everyone really enjoyed themselves. I’m hopeful that IGN will continue to put on these themed nights for future game launches.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 review

And so we reach the time of year where PES and FIFA have their annual face-off for the title of greatest football game. For many years it has been FIFA that has won the title hands down but this year there was hope that Konami had upped its game considerably and was looking for a last minute winner that would see them snatch the title away from EA Sports.

So when I was asked to review PES 2015 this year it was with anticipation rather than dread as I started the download…

PES 3

One thing that does stand out straight away is the initial presentation. Navigating the menus is very easy and PES 2015 is packed full of game modes. There’s the usual Master League with the unlicensed teams and random stadiums (I still find this endearing and annoying at the same time) and there’s the Champions League. I just love playing this mode for the presentation and Champions League theme alone. It’s just like sitting down on a Wednesday night watching it on television. Brilliantly done.

There’s also myClub. As soon as you start playing this mode you instantly think of Ultimate Team from FIFA. You control a club and build your dream team using managers and agents, ensuring the chemistry is right among your players. The use of agents is a nice touch, the better the agent you employ then the better the player he will be able to sign for you. Yes, you don’t do the scouting, your agent does. It’s a nice idea but I still prefer FIFA Ultimate Team.

Become A Legend is exactly what you would expect. You control just one player within the club and progress through his career. While playing a game in this mode I did find it annoying that even when I was in a brilliant position and clean through on goal my teammates would either look for a ridiculous pass to someone else or over hit the pass to me. I got subbed a couple of times meaning you have to watch the rest of the match, thankfully there is a fast-forward button. Once I was off the pitch then my team would instantly turn into something akin to Real Madrid and start playing teams off the park. Frustrating to see. Maybe it’s just me…

PES 1

Along with the UEFA Champions League there is also the Europa League, the Copa Libertadores (South American equivalent to the Champions League), Copa Sudamericana (I guess you could say the South American equivalent to the Europa League), the Asian Champions League and football leagues and cups from all over the world. Like I said. There is a lot to do and take part in.

Obviously online play is there. You can take part in a league or enter a cup competition. The usual fare.

There is also the obligatory training skills section. Improve your shooting, passing, crossing, tackling.

Now on to the nitty-gritty and where it matters, out on the pitch. Before leaving the changing rooms though you need to make sure your team is set up the way you want it to be. Pleasingly, choosing formations and amending your squad is an improvement and is much more easier and flexible to use than its FIFA counterpart. Right, I’ve got my team set up the way I want, there’s no way I can lose this match so let’s get out there.

Sigh.

I don’t know whether we’ve just got used to the polish and finish of FIFA but my heart sank when the players lined up in the tunnel and then out on the pitch. It’s not that the player models don’t look like their real life counterparts, it’s just that they look so flat. Stood there on the pitch you could be forgiven for thinking they were made out of cardboard, and there’s also a halo effect around some of the players as they line up before kick off. It just looks cheap and amateurish compared to what we know can be done. On current generation consoles this is unforgivable.

Kick off. What’s this? So the team I meticulously set up beforehand now lines up in a totally different formation. I set up with three at the back and a holding midfielder sat in front of them but for some reason the holding midfielder has decided to play at left-back and the left-sided centre back has gone to right-back! Very annoying.

PES 2

I’ve seen some people say that the AI is much improved, and it is. Players do make some decent runs off the ball, and not always too but that’s to be expected as players don’t make the same runs all the time in real life. It can be infuriating when you’re expecting someone to make a certain run and then they stand there but I quite like that.

One aspect that is annoying with the AI is that it’s possible to win a game by just letting the other teams defence have the ball. If you’re set up correctly they will just keep passing it along their back line for what seems like ages, even when they’re supposed to be chasing the game. They don’t even try to attack.

Also half of your team, usually the whole of the midfield and forwards, will also be knackered by about the 60-65 minute mark. All these little niggles may not sound too bad but they soon add up to be just plain annoying and take away some of the enjoyment in playing the game.

The commentary by Jon Champion and Jim Beglin is not too bad but after a few games it does become worryingly predictable. Even if you’ve played like toilet and the game has ended 0-0 with hardly any shots on target, Jim will summarise along the lines of: “That was a great game. I could’ve watched that all night.” Really Jim? Really?

Don’t get me wrong, PES 2015 is not unplayable and when it works it’s a joy to behold. Playing a lovely sweeping move that ends in a glorious diving header is brilliant. When it works it’s superb, it just doesn’t work often enough. Passes go astray for no reason. Once again you will get booked for a perfectly timed tackle, I admit this is a problem on most football games and I doubt it will ever be resolved properly.

Given its problems in the past, PES 2015 is another big step forward for Konami. Maybe next year it will hit a screamer from 25 yards to take to the title away from EA and FIFA.

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http://youtu.be/tzI700Jy7VY