Apologies in advance, because a fair amount of this column isn’t going to make much sense to anyone who isn’t familiar with this game or its predecessor. And even though I’ve already spent a decent amount of time with EA UFC 2 (including two EA Access trial periods, a full trip through career mode and a couple of hundred online matches) I’m treating this as my first impressions rather than a review. It wouldn’t make sense to do it any other way. I logged over 300 hours into the first game, and by the end, after several substantial free updates, it had been so finely-tuned on a mechanical level that it felt like a completely different game. I expect the sequel to receive similar treatment; I hope so, anyway, because despite all the positive things I have to say about it, there’s some stuff that absolutely must be fixed for the game to be sustainable in the long-term. Still, I’ll get to that.
Broadly, though, EA UFC 2 is an excellent sequel. It’s improved in all the right areas, the old features have been expanded and developed, and the new additions are interesting and sensible. The roster is huge, it looks sensational, the attention to detail is astounding, and it’s by far the most in-depth and faithful representation of MMA I’ve ever played. If you liked the first one, you’ll definitely like this. Consider that your recommendation.
Continue reading First Impressions – EA UFC 2
Whatever your girlfriend might think, bigger isn’t always better. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands is big. The biggest the series has ever been, easily. But it’s far from better. Wildlands couldn’t hope to compete with the two Advanced Warfighter games from 2006 and 2007; and it’s even inferior to the stripped-down Ghost Recon: Future Soldier from 2012. It’s just big. Bloated. Unhealthy. If size matters to you, then so might Wildlands. I guess the heart of the series is still in there. But it’s covered in fatty deposits and it only beats once every few hours. Wildlands moves, but it never feels alive.
Again, and again, I’m reminded that not everything needs to be bigger; that not every video game franchise needs to expand outwards. Ubisoft’s death-by-a-thousand-icons design is wearing so thin these days that I can see straight through it. And to think that an open world used to mean something. Used to matter. It stood for things – possibility, freedom, fun. It was the kid’s toybox writ large; “play” personified. Now it’s a rote checklist of mundane distractions. Wildlands has all the usual suspects. You can sweep weapons, upgrades and skill points into your trousers like a cartoon bank robber, pester convoys and patrols, lead the toothless rebel populace around like sheep. Interrogate this guy, kill that one, capture the other. Blow this up. Defend that. Stop for a minute. Paint shark teeth on your gun, try on a new hat. Do these sunglasses go with this outfit? Remember, a tattoo is for life. Pick something artistic. There are outposts to capture. You want to look good while you’re warmongering, don’t you?
Continue reading Review – Ghost Recon: Wildlands
For Honor imagines an alternate Middle Ages in which medieval knights, Vikings and samurai all live within about five minutes of each other, which funnily enough is the kind of world I’ve imagined for so long that I feel as though I should be getting royalties from this. I’d be doing pretty well for myself, too. For Honor has shifted a remarkable number of copies considering it’s a multiplayer-focused duelling simulator. I suppose even for adults there’s an implicit desire to find out which of your favourite historical warriors are the hardest. It’s a timeless argument that has its roots somewhere in kids insisting that their dad can beat their mate’s dad in a straight fight. That idea has a lot of legs. For Honor is a franchise waiting to happen, really. Maybe the sequel will explain where all the pirates went.
One of the first things For Honor asks you to do is choose which faction to belong to. I selected the Vikings because I feel as though my life has a lot less raping and pillaging than I’d like, but it turns out the choice only applies to multiplayer, and that regardless of who you choose to align with you can play as whoever you like, thus rendering the choice utterly meaningless. I’m glad I agonised over it for half an hour, because it isn’t as though I have anything else to be doing.
Continue reading Review – For Honor (Story Mode)