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Christmas Gunplay

Yes it’s still November, but, Hark the herald angels sing “Glory to the new-born king” …of Christmas gunplay games that is!

Damn, wouldn’t you know it but it’s nearly bloody Christmas again, and with the arrival of the festive season just around the corner our wish list is littered with all the pre-crimbo games we’ve been waiting for all year.

Whilst there are many games out there worthy of your desire, I’m going to look here at some of the top titles competing for your hard-earned cash or that elusive top spot on your Christmas list this year that are centred around gunplay.

First up, cult classic Call of Duty

I worked out I have spent nearly nine months of my life to date playing Call of Duty online. That’s just in game time. New little people have been conceived and born in the time I’ve spent on virtual battlefields under the CoD titles.

Ghosts and Advanced Warfare both failed to meet the mark for me, I found they lacked the holding power of previous versions. Black Ops III, however, has recaptured some of the series’ original magic. This game has pulled me back in big time.

Whilst the single player story doesn’t endear you to the cast as strongly as it clearly want to the new load-out system and skills means it’s actually really fun to play still. And of course with Treyarch producing it means more zombie action. Woo-hoo! They’ve nailed it with slick graphics and a wonderful 1940’s setting. I’m yet to get very far – my friends suck. I hope your reading this – but the Easter eggs keep me coming back for more. Zombie slaying is just as fun as in previous titles and this time a new array of weapons are available that can be customised pre ‘off the wall purchase’. Chuck me some gum – new perks instead of bottles – I’m going for the pack-a-punch.

As expected though it’s the multiplayer that really shouts out loud. Ultra quick paced play, maps that support fluid movement, great level design that gets you using the new jump packs and wall running as well as a neat slide all makes the running and gunning feel terrific. Tons of slick-looking and shooting weapons with strong variety allowing for many viable weapon setups to please most play styles, indeed the series has come back strong with this one. It’s highly addictive and well put together. Rather obviously, this will do well and I’m sure many of your mates will already have it.

Black Ops 3 Zombies

Halo 5

I have a lot of love for the Halo series. It’s my personal favourite storyline in gaming – Halo 1-3 – and it’s been continued by 343 very well. They clearly want to put their own stamp on the series and it shows.

This is Halo at its core, the game you’ve always loved, but with some serious changes that go down well. A more fluid movement system with boost jumps as part of your standard load-out as well as a clamber ability, a whole new large game mode with vehicles and a REQ system. A classic Halo storyline – although a bit disjointed in places – powered along by a brilliant score.

I’ve always felt that Halo bridged the gap between old school first-person shooters like Doom and contemporary ones like Battlefield. The bright colours, timed power weapons and overshields make it feel much less of a ‘realistic’ shooter than the likes of Battlefield and even CoD. That’s not to say it isn’t believable, I straight up feel like a super soldier in a suit bossing around slaying, but the feel of arena is ‘war-games’ not just war. Again, a strong fan base will mean lots of people have already got this one, but if you haven’t it should be a serious contender for your stocking this year.

Halo 5 Warzone

Star Wars Battlefront

Well, Hell! If you ever really wanted to be in the Star Wars films this is your best chance – short of getting a role in the next movie. The sounds and sights are spot on with this latest Battlefront title. I played this with my dad and he genuinely thought he was watching a trailer for the new movie. OK, he’s old, but the point remains the same: the graphics are siiiiick! It is truly beautiful; I was reduced to a gibbering state of awe as I couldn’t handle the Star Warsness of it.

It’s basically a Battlefield game in feel and game style but with a Star Wars skin. The people at Dice have gone to great pains to tell us that is not the case, but come on guys, It is, isn’t it. This isn’t a bad thing as such; this is full on multiplayer grandness. Big lobbies lead to big games filled with all the lightsaber swinging, X-wing dog fighting and rebel scum squishing/empire destroying – depending on your perspective – that you could possibly want. If you like Star Wars and you like videogames then you’re going to have a good time.

As a reminder though, there’s no single player story. There is a Wave mode in which you face increasingly difficult AI enemies but this is otherwise entirely focused on multiplayer. Despite this however, this is a must for the true Star Wars fan, and comes strongly recommend for everyone.

Star Wars Battlefront Gunplay

Fallout 4

“Finally!” I hear you cry “a game that isn’t centred around online multiplayer.” Yep, and this is maybe the best single player experience currently out there, by a country mile in fact. A friend of mine got this on release day, his girlfriend has left him and he lost his job. But he’s over 50% completed and that’s all that matters, at least that’s what he mumbles with vacant awareness that only comes from the truly addict…dedicated.

Bethesda have done it again, despite some bugs that crop up – pretty expected from a massive open world these days – the game is wonderful. It plays very well, has a good combat system, and has some extreme depth to, well, everything. Skill trees, weapons, characters, and a build your own settlement; this game provides ample content for you to delve into. Think Skyrim with guns and set in a messed up, mutated future.

Whilst taking up days of your life, the solo play means you can jump in and out of it at leisure without feeling like you’ve been left behind. It has good graphics – not incredible though – given some room due to the vast open world it’s running as backdrop, it’s seriously immersive with its story and has lots of little things to keep you entertained, such as funny characters, side quest, interesting weapons, crazy mutants. This is another must have entry in the series.

Fallout 4 gunplay

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Although out since September I’m still giving this an honourable mention as it’s just so friggin’ good! This is gaming done right. I’ve never really played the MGS series, but got tempted in when Ground Zeroes came out. I played it through again and again for weeks, now the Phantom Pain is out and I’m putting it up with some of the best open-world games I’ve played. The maps are very large and can be explored freely with the missions taking place within confined areas in the maps. The story is nuts, plain old out there crazy storytelling, which is great and everything I’d expect for the next edition in a series infamous for its convoluted plots.

If you played the Splinter Cell games you’ll get along with this. It’s ultimate stealth operations and you really do have a huge amount of options for how to do 99% of the missions. Konami said ‘the most strategically unparalleled game every created’ and I think they might be right. Fantastic graphics, good control system and menu access, and an abundance of weapons/equipment to choose from brings the open-world experience to life. I have spent hours on his game and will spend hours more. There’s also the addition of a multiplayer mode that, whilst quite different to a classic head to head, is also very good fun.

MGSV Gunplay

There you go, five of the top gunplay games out right now that you can get for Christmas. Slip on your slippers, grab your energy drink of choice and settle down. The weather is crap, perfect for melting into your seat for a few weeks.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain review

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is excellent. It’s hugely ambitious with sky high expectations from it ravenous fan base, and yet it still manages to surprise, even astound us with its excellence. However, this is not the Metal Gear Solid experience you were necessarily expecting.

Metal Gear Solid V kicks off after the events of the prequel Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes title. Protagonist, Big boss, has been in a coma for nine years following the attack on Mother Base at the end of Ground Zeroes, with the world largely believing he’s dead. Once you come to, the adversarial private military force XOF quickly try to kill you, finishing the job they started back in Ground Zeroes, and after an exhilarating escape from a hospital in Greece, begins the journey of revenge for Big Boss and his allies.

The first hour is utterly superb, hitting a sense of exhilaration seldom seen in the medium, let alone the stealth genre. It’s a brilliant way to kick off the story, bringing the classic, comic-book, over-the-top villains and action to centre stage in much the same vein as previous entries in the series. However, after this intense sequence the tone shifts dramatically to a more subtle and serious one. It can’t help but feel incongruous. However, after mere minutes in the first open-world location, Afghanistan, new qualities come to light.

MGSV TPP 4

This is a very different Metal Gear Solid, the cut scenes are typically short, the dialogue snappy, the sense of freedom immense. Instead, actions speak louder than words, and you’re not simply watching a tale and interacting with it loosely, you too are put through your paces.

The Phantom Pain is expertly crafted to frustrate, bewilder and delight you in highly precise manners, with the intension to make you feel like you’ve experienced similar emotions and struggles to Big Boss, and it achieves this brilliantly. Revenge seems so simple to begin with but becomes more complex as you chase it. Much in the same way your rebuilt Mother Base starts as a small installation and grows to include hundreds of staff that support you on the battlefield in myriad of ways. Yet this complexity is handled terrifically so not to overwhelm you, drip feeding you more options as the hours pass to gradually teach you the ropes and  as you gradually change your driving focus from revenge to control.

Of course, as series fans will know, Big Boss is the central villain of the franchise, here we see how that transition from hero to villain occurs, or more accurately, how the myth of Big Boss relates to the man. This is an important tale in the overarching mythos of the series, and its subtle telling is all the more powerful for its results.

MGSV TPP 2

This may, however, initially disappoint series veterans. This isn’t the same exposition heavy Metal Gear storytelling from the earlier titles. This feels far more enclosed and isolated, ideal for newcomers, meanwhile the nuances for fans are largely tucked away in audio cassettes.

The battlefield will also feel strange to series veterans. Ground Zeroes laid the ground work in teaching you the mechanics but the open-world locations of Afghanistan and Africa offer such immense freedom that it’s hard to comprehend. You can approach a mission objective however you see fit, whether that’s sneaking in and remaining completely unseen, knocking out guards with tranquiliser darts and chokeholds, or go in noisy with means to slaughter everyone, it’s completely up to you. However, it’s even more freeing that that. You can call in support helicopters to bomb locations or cover you, or have new equipment dropped into the area of operation for you to use. Your cassette player can even be used to fool guards into thinking you’ve been killed if you find a tape of a guard saying “enemy eliminated”, or amusingly, if you find a tape of someone being violently ill you can hide in a toilet and keep guards away from the area by playing that. The options are innumerable, and it’s wonderfully compelling figuring out what you can do and then deciding what you want to do when approaching a new challenge.

Moreover, missions often change midway through, either because you’ve gathered intel and are moving on to the next objective naturally, or because you messed up and things got out of hand, requiring new equipment and tactics. Additionally, mission often have side objectives you’re unaware of until you discover them, such as prisoners you can extract. Furthermore, you’re always looking to expand the abilities of Mother Base, so by using the Fulton Recovery System you can extract enemy soldiers to turn to your side, as well as equipment such as static machine guns, mortars, even vehicles and crates of resources – once you have the more advanced Fulton upgrades. The missions are so much more complex and interesting that they may first seem.

MGSV TPP 1

This is further enhanced with the buddy system, which lets you bring a horse, dog, personal metal gear walker, or Quiet the peculiar and deadly female sniper. Each can support you in different ways and help with different playstyles. The walker is excellent at making you a one man army; when equipped with a shield on your back and a Gatling gun on the front you’re near unstoppable. Meanwhile, D-Dog is perfect from distracting enemies if stealth is more your style.

Furthermore, you can research and build new equipment and weapons at Mother Base and these enhance you option even more, allowing you to equip deadly new tools and items to yourself and your buddies to help get the job done. Moreover, as you grow Mother Base the more it can support you, with one aspect of that being combat teams you can send out on missions. Some of these mission affect the battlefield, such as disrupting the supply of weapons and equipment to enemy soldiers, which is critically important as the enemies adapt to your tactics.

As you come across enemies they gradually learn new tactics to counter your own. If you’re a fan of headshots then prepare for enemy soldiers to start wearing helmets. Having your combat teams disrupt the supply of helmets can be a godsend in the trickier missions, and boy do they get tricky. As the story progresses the enemies become more dangerous, with new weapons, equipment, larger numbers, higher vigilance and an overall superb AI. They quickly react to your presence, calling in reinforcement, going on patrol in pairs or more, and using highly aggressive tactics if they spot you. Moreover, from Act 2 some mission enhance the difficult by restricting equipment or forcing you to complete them completely undetected, and whilst this feels like padding when you first come by them, it becomes apparent how well they fit in with the overall story and theme in the end.

MGSV TPP 3

Indeed you can approach a mission from so many different angles that if you do have to replay them, either due to continued deaths or you want to increase your score for that mission, then there are many other approaches you can attempt. As such, frustration rarely rears its head, albeit for a couple of story missions that have you facing off against powerful bosses or overwhelming odds.

In addition to the 40 plus hours of story missions and 150 optional side ops, a multiplayer component is present to tide you over until Metal Gear Solid Online launches in early October. You can create a Forward Operating Base and manage it much like you do Mother Base. However, your FOB can be attacked by other players who can infiltrate and steal resources by using the Fulton Recovery System. When it occurs whilst you’re online you’ll get the option to stop them head on yourself, otherwise it’s down to the AI and the security forces and equipment you’ve developed for them. Meanwhile, you can also attack other player’s FOBs and try and steal their personnel and resources for yourself. It’s a fun aside that can get highly competitive.

Indeed Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an exceptional game. It’s mechanically superb, allowing you to take a stealth or action approach with fluidity, its open-world design is unmatched in the action and/or stealth genre, offering extreme freedom that offers oodles of replayability, and the story is intriguing, profound and subtly spun with a focus on action rather than words. Its different approach to the Metal Gear Solid formula may initially disappoint series fans but this is, by far, the most intuitive version for newcomers and an incredible finale from creator Hideo Kojima.

Thanks to Xbox and Konami for their support 

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MGS5 bug could corrupt your save file

Hey there, Hello? Yes, you, crouching in the cardboard box, we can ALL see you, you might want to read this.

The official Konami Twitter account has tweeted the following:

[Important] Do not use Quiet while playing Mission 29 or 42, it may corrupt your save file!
Please RT to spread the word!

There is no talk about a fix yet, but as soon as we hear anything we’ll let you know.