Game Review: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

By Sanjeev Mann (@Ask_Sanjeevs )

Traversing across a field, making my way to the next zone with 40 people remaining, I knew something was going down. The circle was coming in by the second and I could hear bullets in every direction. With our group receiving an abundance of casualties, it was only myself and another teammate left to fend for ourselves. The bullets were coming closer and closer. Out of nowhere I was hit, but I had no clue where it came from. I frantically spun my camera in every direction possible and there it was, a muzzle flash from the roof of a nearby building: they were onto us.

Stuck in the open with only a corn field and a couple of trees for cover, panicking, I prone to increase health with bandages. My mate was languishing in a tree somewhere behind me barking out the directions of the bullets and laying down some suppression fire. My hands were sweating at this point, just waiting for my head to be blown off via a Kar98 sniper. It didn’t happen, but the waiting was terrifying to say the least.

This is exactly what you’ll get from the minute you land on the island of Player Unknowns Battlegrounds. Incredibly, the game is still in early access, which means it’s effectively incomplete, and is developed by the man that brought the battle royal mod for ARMA 3, Brendan Greene.

For those of you that aren’t aware, Battlegrounds is battle royale style shooter where players parachute onto a massive island with one objective: survive. Once players land, they must scavenge buildings on the island for a variety of different weapons that range from SMGs to Assault Rifles, Snipers, or even a cooking pan to swing in someone’s face!  

You also need to get a hold of bags to carry bandages, first aid, and weapon parts. The key to success is most definitely loot and, most importantly, gun attachments such as scopes and extended mags. This will make your life a whole lot easier and gives you a much needed upper hand on opponents – this set up will no doubt be familiar to those who are fans of games such as H1Z1 or PC blockbuster ARMA 3.

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Not only do you need to contend with 99 other players in solos, but also a circle which shrinks the play zone every few minutes, and being caught outside of the ‘circle’ results in receiving health damage – think Battle Royale (or its copycat Hunger Games) and you’ll get the picture. The game itself has 3 game modes: solo, duo and squads which consists of up to 4 players per team.

Now lets get down to the nitty gritty: is the game actually any good? Well to put it bluntly, it’s great! The way it makes every second as nail biting as the last is superb. No matter where you are on the map, there’s a part of you that knows an enemy could be around the corner. This is especially the case for high loot zones as a number of players will be frantically looking for loot at the beginning of every game. If you’re too late, you’ll more than likely die a miserable death after a mere few minutes after landing. The plane itself travels in a random direction in every game, which makes most landings different most games. This helps to give each game a different feel from the last. The fact that you can choose when to parachute out of plane adds to this too.

From the off you need a plan. Jumping early to a high loot zone right below the plane will see you fighting it out with plenty of other players, but the loot is more than worth the risk if you survive. You could always jump late and travel a good distance to a quieter part of the island where you’re almost guaranteed to be on your own, however the loot won’t be great and you risk being a distance from the circle when it spawns. Weapons are distributed randomly, but a decent weapon can get you so far.

Even after nearly 90 hours of gameplay, I’ve found myself in the last 10 without even firing a single bullet. Hiding from enemy players and quietly going about your business is a valid tactic for sure. Even when your steadily progressing, you always have a choice: you can stay around the edge of the force-field and wait for its next destination or you can risk it and go straight into battle. You may also find yourself stuck in a room from time to time, anxiously waiting it out, listening to every single sound around you and, dare I say it, on the floor below you! All of these various factors keeps you entertained without the feeling of repetition.

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Weapons are fun to use too, very well balanced , and you can feel a weight behind them. Also each weapon vary in rate of fire, and damage, and no 2 guns are the same.  You could go for short range guns such as the micro UZI, UMP and Shotguns to Assault rifles such as the AK or SCAR-L. Oh and don’t forgot long range guns like the Kar98 or AWM. And as said earlier each vary in damage. Damage also depends on the level of helmet equipped by the enemy. Level 1 being the weakest and level 3 being the best.

With the win percentage being so low, the hunt for victory leaves you addicted and hungry to go back. Winning a game gives you a huge satisfaction, something that is missing from so many games over the past 10 years.

The game isn’t perfect by any means: loot sometimes refuses to be picked up, annoying latency problems, and occasionally mushy textures can cause problems and prevent you from playing when in the plane or after launching out of it. Two issues which seem to have remained constant is the game not loading in time and game freezes for a small number of players. Thankfully, updates are coming out regularly which makes the £26 price tag seem worth it, especially considering most AAA publishers don’t even put this amount of effort into fixing their games’ issues. 

It’s no wonder that Battlegrounds has sold a ridiculous 4 million copies since its  release on Steam 3 months ago – breathing new life into the battle royale shooter genre, Player Unknown has provided a game that is equal parts exciting and anxiety provoking. It may not be a technically perfect game, glitches are common here, but the game does enough to alleviate any issues these might bring about. Overall, Battlegrounds can stand up proudly as an example of early access done right – a rare and valuable achievement. 

8/10


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First week with Fallout 4: A Sorta Review

Foolishly enough, I was planning on reviewing Fallout 4 for some point this week. Obviously not the full game but I hoped to have at least finished the main campaign. Over 20 hours in and I’ve not even scraped the surface of Bethesda’s massive and weirdly beautiful post apocalyptic world so instead of trying to give a review that I can’t justify writing without finishing the game, I’m gonna give my opinions in the style of a diary. Though instead of feelings and stories about lassies you find attractive, it’ll be leaning more towards running for your life away from colossal mutant creatures (so not too different from the bullies you faced at school). Without further ado, here we go.

Day 1

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Unashamedly, I spent far too much time customising my character but then again I did the same in Skyrim. While I made my character look dashingly handsome and roguish, a thought popped into my head: does my wife’s appearance permanently have that default look. Sure enough, after a few”enhancements” to her cheeks and lips as well as turning that forehead into a fivehead, I created arguably the most vile looking creature to ever grace the planet. Well, second if you include Donald Trump.

After that came the tutorial itself, where I got to choose my abilities by answering the door and being able to have the robot Codsworth say “Liam” which caused me to shit myself a little bit. To avoid any spoilers (though if you haven’t picked up Fallout 4 yet then I pity you), me and my family, consisting of my aforementioned Donald Trump wife and son Shaun ended up in Vault 111 and unsurprisingly things went to shit. I escaped my underground hell to make my way to the surface and immediately got blinded by the sunset. Wonder if they have any Ibuprofen in the wasteland?

Day 2

Making my way down town, sprinting fast, mutants pass, now I’m crippled. Thankfully this wasn’t my first taste of death as I met Dogmeat just a few minutes earlier, minding his own business before a pack of mutated mole rats attacked. I blame Ron Stoppable.

Dogmeat managed to take on quite a few by himself and the new combat system made easy pickings of the rest with the first person shooting being far more accurate than previous iterations but still strategic enough to not be a direct copy of COD.

“Finally, an AI character who ISN’T a hindrance” I thought to myself. This, of course, was before I faced my first Deathclaw (think the Xenomorphs from Alien but far bigger and nightmare inducing) where, for some reason, Dogmeat blocked me into a corner. Then the Deathclaw made easy work of my jumpsuit and tore me to pieces. Man’s best friend my arse.

Day 3

The thing about Fallout that appeals to me is the world. I can’t think of any other game with the same amount of character than Bethesda’s rendition of a post nuclear America with the mid 1900’s aesthetic abundant wherever you go, giving off a chilling, eerie vibe. As well as this, the world is so full of stuff to do that there’s no way you’ll simply go from point A to point B without stopping by a few dozen places. This is what happened on my way to save a settlement that had been attacked countless times by raiders where I found a lone settler having troubles with this dam looking contraption.At first I thought it would be a simple “find the plugs under water, turn them off” which led me to get radiated to fuck which dramatically reduces your health until you find radaway.2884112-fallout4_e3_cityvista_1434323956

Thinking the end was over, I walked up to the settler to get my reward as he stared blankly into my eyes, showing off how terrible the characters in this game even on the current gen consoles. Oh, and then a mutated pack of crabs called Mirelurks cut my head off. And Dogmeat just stared at my lifeless body. Fuck you Dogmeat.

Day 4

Spent the whole day running away from Dogmeat, hoping he’d realise how raging I was with him. He followed me before I fell off a cliff and crippled my legs, a fall that should have killed me instantly. Think it was the game’s intention as Dogmeat “playfully barked”. Again, fuck you Dogmeat.

Day 5

Fallout 4 not only polishes any gripes that I had with Fallout 3 and New Vegas but it also adds some new mechanics of its own. Settlement building is one of these new gameplay elements where all junk both in your inventory and the surrounding area can be used to make your own town.

Sounds addictive right? You’re not wrong at all, in fact the crafting system in this game is almost as addictive as the quest themselves as I’ve spent more time than I’m proud to admit making a defence tower for Sanctuary. Not only is it fun but it makes my urge to loot and carry everything in sight actually beneficial, making me feel good about my hoarding problem for once. This time Dogmeat didn’t lead to my demise, instead proving useful by finding useful materials and not being a pain in the arse. He’s since been forgiven and a doghouse has been built to repay him for the good deed of not killing me.

Day 6

Need to find materials. Need to add another turret to the tower. Need to craft stronger power armour so I can be the human embodiment of the Batmobile. It’s 2am but I NEED TO DO EVERYTHING.

Day 7

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Fallout 4 has been out for a week now and I still can’t get over how full of things to do it is. I’ve explored a 1/4 of the map and although many people have complained about the size of the world being smaller than other games like Just Cause’s Panama, the level of detail and the amount of fun I’ve had is something that I haven’t experienced since Batman Arkham City. The story is engaging, the gameplay has been vastly improved and although Fallout 4 has adapted to fit into the current standard of games, it never loses any of the series charm. It’s still funny, it’s still horrifying, it’s still jaw droppingly beautiful despite looking like a 360 game.

Fallout 4 might not be the best looking game ever or the biggest. It’s got glitches and bugs. It can be infuriating at times. But it’s Fallout and its charm and quality outweigh any technical problems. Game of the year? It very well could be.

Big love, Liam x

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Life Is Strange: Game of The Year?

2015 has been full of blockbuster games like Call of Duty. So how did a game featuring two teenage girls manage to steal the Best of 2015 crown?

I knew you were important the moment I saw your first selfie,” says a familiar yet mysterious voice as soon as Life Is Strange’s finale boots up, a line that, out of context, sounds tacky but when the previous four episodes of this episodic extravaganza are taken into consideration, it’s enough to send a chill down your spine.

Life Is Strange is undisputed brilliance

Unlike most games in the adventure genre, LIS has more in common with Telltale’s The Walking Dead than the likes of Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry as you solve puzzles, interact with different characters as you try and make sense of what the hell is happening. This makes protagonist Max all the more relatable as she is equally clueless, trying to cope with the challenges that face every teenager like making friends and being successful. Oh, and time manipulating powers. Almost forgot that.

This isn’t Back To The Future-esque time traveling where you’ll go back to different eras like World War 2 or the 60’s. Instead, the player has the ability to rewind time to help tackle problems and erase mistakes, by minutes rather than millennia. The function works so seamlessly with what’s going on around you in Arcadia Bay that it never feels like a gimmick.

Your curiosity is often accompanied by a niggling feeling that something around the corner is going to bring your journey to a swift end.

Weirdly enough though, Moris says that this isn’t the most talked about thing in regards to Life Is Strange. Talking about the backlash from the game following two female protagonists, he said “I think a lot of the thinking that happens in the industry right now is still based on cliché that was inherited from the 90′s, where only 15 year old boys who wanted hyper sexualised female characters or to be bad asses and those big guys going into war played games.

Publishers think it’s not going to work because it has a female character, so they wont invest into the marketing of this game. Then it doesn’t work – because there is no marketing – but the blame lands on the game having a female lead character, and the cycle goes on and on and on.”

Not only are the characters great but also the story that spans over the five episodes never gets boring or predictable. The main plot of the game concerns the disappearance of Chloe’s friend Rachel and as the game progresses, it starts to become more twisted and dark. At points your curiosity is often accompanied by a niggling feeling that something around the corner is going to bring your journey to a swift end.

Life Is Strange is undisputed brilliance and a strong contender for game of the year. The dark and emotional story, perfectly suited soundtrack, the entertaining cast of characters and the beautifully crafted world of Arcadia Bay left such an impact on me that it was a shame to have to leave it and with a season 2 recently being confirmed, I just hope more focus will be put on this interesting setting town full of corruption and bleakness.

To read my full article, click Life Is Strange final copy!

 

Star Wars Battlefront Beta impressions 

In news that will surprise no one, I love Star Wars. Ever since I was a youngster, lying on the couch watching the original trilogy on VHS, I’ve always had an attatchemnt to George Lucas’ epic saga.

That’s what made purchasing the original Star Wars: Battlefront games on PS2 so easy. You have the rebels fighting the imperials but unlike the movies, you’re not just witnessing it from the perspective of Luke or Solo: you’re on the battlefield, dodging projectiles and all sorts. Many hours were spent playing Galatic Conquest, which no doubt led to the premature death of my trusty PS2, and although the games haven’t aged all that well, it still holds a special place in my heart.


The series then went into hiding for almost a decade and when developers Lucasarts were closed down following Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm and, in turn, Star Wars itself. We all thought this meant that Battlefront 3, which had been in development for years after the 2005 release of its predecessor, was all but gone.

Then it happened. The teaser trailer in 2013. The subsequent reveal trailer in 2014 and all the gameplay that followed. There was Hoth, there was AT-ATs, there was John Williams’ iconic score. There was all of this and more that made Star Wars fans everywhere have to pinch themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming.


So this is what made downloading the Beta last week a no brainer and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. The beta definitely wasn’t without fault and maybe I’m best addressing the elephant(or AT-AT) in the room: Walker Assault on Hoth.

Before I go into criticising the mode, let’s give a brief description on what you actually do. In the 40-player Walker Assault mode, the Rebel side tries to destroy two Empire AT-ATs by securing outposts to call in Y-wing bombers. Empire forces, meanwhile, try to keep the Rebels from activating the command posts. All sounds fairly fun on paper but if you play it for even a few minutes, the cracks begin to show.


Unbalanced is pretty much the only word that can describe it as playing as the rebels is only enjoyable if you’re some respawning sado masichist. The imprerials definitely have the upper hand with the ability to take control of the AT-ATs to go on a full on massacre though thankfully this isn’t on demand, instead a randomly chosen event that doesn’t happen too often.

A lot of people have said that it’s down to strategy and that over time they witnessed the rebels winning more and more but when the developers of the game, Dice this time round, are saying it’s unfair, there’s definitely something that needs done. However, on the rare occasion when the game actually feels balanced, it was a hell of a lot of fun and felt like a proper Star Wars mode, unlike Sullust’s Drop Zone which, although enjoyable, feels like a Battlefield game mode with a Star Wars skin on.


Despite this, I had a great time with Battlefront. Walker Assault might have its aforementioned unbalancedness but it was still highly enjoyable and just knowing I was fighting on the iconic snowy planet from Empire Strikes Back gave me chills, no pun intended. Even the Survival mode, which can be played with friends and on your own, was a heap of fun and if there’s even more planets to play on with greater enemy variety in the final product, it could be a solid alternative to COD’s zombies.

I’ll close this post on a note since I did witness a lot of people getting awfully negative about Battlefront over the past week and of course they’re entitled to it. After all it would be a bore if everyone just agreed about everything and just made do with what they have so this in no way me moaning about them moaning . However, what these people have to bare in mind is that it’s just a beta. Since it was released, 3 new game modes have been announced and DICE have taken all the feedback on board to try and craft the best game they can make. I remember the Halo Reach beta being a bit of a disaster and it still remains one of the best multiplayer games I’ve had the fortune of experiencing.

Take off the rose tinted glasses and you’ll see a game that’s full of potential and fun if you give it a chance.

So what are your thoughts on the Star Wars Battlefront Beta? Love it? Hate it? Leave your opinions, both good and bad, in the comments below since I’d love to see what you thought of it. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @blinkclyro for some more fanboying.

Batman: Arkham Knight review

“Remove yourself from the piece.” This is a piece of advice, well not so much a piece of advice rather than a rule, that I got repeatedly told during my first year of journalism. While it’s easy enough to stick to this rule while writing about the news or something miscellaneous, it proves to be far more difficult when it comes to something you’ve got a great interest in. I’m sure anyone who’s read any of my pieces about Biffy Clyro can see what I mean though I never was subtle about my love for the band.

When I got Arkham Knight, the final chapter in the Batman videogame trilogy by Rocksteady, I knew I’d face this same issue again. However this wasn’t due to the fact that I’ve been a fan of the Caped Crusader since I was a child. Although I’ve followed the superhero through the majority of my life, watching the Christopher Nolan film trilogy countless times and religiously viewing the 90’s animated series, there’s something about the Arkham games that’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

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I can confidently say that this pure disbelief at how immersive a game can be is not only still part of this explosive finale but it’s been somehow improved beyond my expectations. The first thing you’ll notice as soon as you start up the game and create a new save file is the absolute scale of Gotham, standing on a radio tower and seeing how much area you have to traverse. As cliche as it sounds, Gotham is a character in itself, gothic architecture perfectly matching the dark atmosphere that shrouds every inch of the city. From the grand buildings of Founders Island to the conveniently named Bleake Island’s broken down homes and abandoned buildings, there’s a real sense of variety that helps each part of Gotham stand out.

This variety is well needed though seeing as you’ll be spending countless hours gliding over and driving through the gritty streets fighting some of the batman’s most notorious villains. The main story will take up a large chunk of your time and will have you tackling the Scarecrow’s nefarious plans to pollute Gotham full of his fear toxin which, if you didn’t already guess, transforms its victims into violent individuals tortured by their worst fears.Despite the fact there’s not any scenes as creative as the nightmare levels from Arkham Asylum, the story is still interesting and once you’re inevitably inflicted with the toxin yourself, the plot becomes even more interesting.

The main campaign is far from terrible but a few things hold it back from being truly exceptional. Arkham Asylum was called so because of the Asylum it was set in, Arkham City was called so because of the city it was set in and unsurprisingly enough Arkham Knight is called so because of the name of the main villain. After the amount of hype the character received in previews, it disappointed me how Rocksteady treated him. Anyone with a reasonable knowledge in Batman will know who he is and even if you don’t, you’ll be able to guess who it is if you remember the most important rule in entertainment: if you don’t see them die then they’re not dead.

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One of the game’s major selling points also suffers some flaws. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the Batmobile in this game. The driving was perfect, making light work of any trees, fragile structures and bins that got in your way and I’ll even back up battle mode which has been criticised by a lot of reviewers. It was consistently challenging and as long as you go into the settings so that you can toggle the mode, the controls are near enough flawless. However this battle mode brings with it something that I just can’t let slide by and that is stealth sections in a tank. Yeah I said it. Stealth sections. In a tank. Now I know that this might have seemed like a fun wee idea by some developer at the time but so did communism and look what that lead to it.

Fortunately the plot does hold your interest and you really do feel like this is the endgame. In past games you felt like, yes, you were at risk but Rocksteady never really took any punches at your feels until the end of Arkham City. Now every character you come across, regardless if they’re a villain or ally, is just as vulnerable as you are. You might have your batmobile and your belt full of gadgets but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I was outnumbered and on the brink of failing. It’s not an easy game either with some sections even at normal difficulty forcing you to prove your worth. It might be the weakest story in the series but it’s like saying Return of the Jedi has the weakest story in the Star Wars trilogy.

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Despite these problems I had with the game, I had an amazing time with Arkham Knight. The combat is as flawless as past iterations and has had some tweaks such as environmental takedowns and better animations, you can even get the batmobile involved and fight alongside Nightwing, Catwoman and Robin. The side missions are also a blast to play through, providing some of the game’s best moments including an appearance from one of batman’s lesser known antagonists. Of course there’s the riddler challenges as well which are just as difficult before and will be a challenge to get through but will be essential for you getting that 100% completion rating and the real ending to the game

Overall Arkham Knight is one of the most entertaining games I’ve played in years and is the first game I’ve played on PS4 that’s felt like a truly next gen title, utilising the console’s specifications to deliver an immersive experience that makes you feel like the Batman, finally allowing you to relive those childhood dreams.