RSS

Ghost Recon: Wildlands – Impressions

wildlands

In early March this year, two video games are being launched which I’m interested in. Namely, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and Horizon Zero Dawn. Tired of being let down by AAA games bought at launch, I’ve researched both of these titles, in a bid to make sure they are what I thought them to be.

Now, I’m not about to buy two big games in the space of a few days. Not because of the cost, though that should always be a factor, but because when I get a new game I like to play it until it’s completed. This would mean if I bought both, one would sit on a shelf, unplayed, until I was done with the other.

Which one to get, then? Both appeal to me because of the vast, open worlds in which they’re set – I’m an adventurer at heart, so I can happily waste a great deal of time exploring a vast, playable map. As a storyteller, I’m drawn to Horizon Zero Dawn because it appears to have an interesting and complex storyline, something I can really immerse myself in. Ghost Recon: Wildlands, on the other hand, has four player co-op, and that is what tipped the balance in its favour.

So when I was selected to take part in the closed beta for Wildlands, I saw it as a good chance to get stuck in and test it to death, to really ensure it met my expectations, and lived up to its promise.

I’m sorry to say, it failed in that regard.

Don’t get me wrong – the game has a lot of good points, and they may be enough for a lot of people to derive a great deal of enjoyment from it. So let’s start with those good points, shall we?

  • Gameplay: In Wildlands, players have the freedom to do as they wish, with the entire map being open to them from the start. You can hop into and operate any vehicle you see – a range of cars, pickups and SUVs, trucks, motorbikes, various boats, choppers, and aeroplanes. How to achieve a mission objective is entirely at the player’s discretion. Do you use total stealth, and sneak in like the ‘Ghost’ operative you’re supposed to be? Do you go loud, and blast everything you see into oblivion? Do you make use of the local rebels, and have them create a diversion for you? Maybe you’ll wait for the cover of darkness, or a passing storm, and make your move then. The choice is infinitely yours.
  • Visuals: Wildlands looks good – it’s bright and colourful, with impressive draw distances. This means you can crest a hill and be greeted by a sweeping vista of fields, forests and snaking rivers with a backdrop of rugged, snow-capped mountains. It really gives you a sense of being in a vast, wild land, reinforced by the knowledge that in the full game you can travel all the way to that distant mountain range.
  • Map Size: The map looks to be huge. The beta was restricted to one region, and that was big enough for a good few hours of intensive gameplay. This region, however, is only one of a total of twenty one, so take those hours of gameplay and multiply them by that number. Judging by the region available in the beta, it’s fair to make the assumption that the entire map will be full of a range of different terrains, and various objectives to keep you occupied.

Sounds good so far, right? And so it should – many game developers would be happy to achieve just a few of the above points. But, as previously alluded to, there are negative points. So let’s take a look.

  • Gameplay: While there is a great deal to do in Wildlands, with a broad range of ways to accomplish those things, the game seems to be unsure of just what it wants to be. Is it a ‘serious’ tactical shooter, making the player think about the best plan of action before attempting said plan? Or is it a more ‘arcadey’ game, with the emphasis firmly on fun? As it turns out, it’s neither of those – rather, it appears to be a bad mixture of the two. Using tactics, you could stay at a distance and use your sniper skills to quietly take out patrolling guards. This is badly let down, however, when the bodies of those you’ve silently killed just disappear. A ‘serious’ shooter would give patrolling NPCs the ability to spot dead bodies, and raise the alarm, making tactics and timing all important, but that is sadly lacking in this game.

    If you play with the three in-game AI co-op buddies, you can order them to do various things, from waiting where they are, to regrouping, and even coordinating synchronised take downs. Impressive stuff… but sadly let down when you quickly realise they can do all the work for you, taking all the fun out of it. For instance, when I arrived at the final boss fight of the beta, during the ensuing shootout, I got myself shot down (I was playing on the hardest difficulty). Your buddies have the ability to revive you, within a certain time frame, but the AI ones will only attempt this when it’s safe to do so. As a result, as I lay bleeding to death on the floor, my AI buddies took out all of the bad guys, including the final bosses, before reviving me. I’m less than proud to say I ‘beat’ the final bosses while slowly dying on the floor, without having fired a single shot in anger. Not fun.

    It is also fair to say that you stand more chance of being killed by a bad game mechanic than by legitimate gameplay. Having no jump ability means you can, from time to time, get caught up on a small obstacle which isn’t deemed high enough to trigger the ‘climb over’ mechanic. Having no dive, or roll, ability means if you’re caught unawares, you’re stuck there like a rabbit in headlights while all hell breaks loose around you. You can go prone, but doing so when under fire is always a bad idea.

    And why is it, when I jump into a big 4×4 and floor it in an attempted quick getaway, that flimsy looking tent in front of me, instead of folding like the piece of cloth it is, actually stays just where it is, while the front of my jeep crumples like soggy cardboard? C’mon, people, destructible environments! They are a thing you know.

  • Visuals: As mentioned above, Wildlands is bright and colourful, with impressive draw distances. But graphically, it is lacking. Now, I’m not particularly bothered by graphic quality, I much prefer to prioritise gameplay. And I’m well aware that to achieve large draw distances in a vast open world environment, certain things have to be sacrificed. But the game still looks bland, with various surfaces being dull and almost texture free. Also, in certain areas during a rain shower, the raindrops hitting the floor were represented by very large, very pixelated  ‘splashes’. Now, as this was just a beta, there is every chance that particular visual effect is incomplete, and will be fixed before the final release. But then, there is every chance it might not.
  • Map Size: Again, as mentioned above, the scale of the game’s map looks to be impressive, consisting of twenty one large regions. Which, for me, started alarm bells ringing. The gameplay in Wildlands reminded me very much of Far Cry 4 – namely, taking over the smaller outposts, before moving on to the large ones, and finally taking out the boss. Whilst that was fun, I couldn’t help but wonder if having to do that for each region, basically repeating the same actions twenty one times, would get tedious. Of course, I could be totally wrong in this, and every region might be completely different. There is no way to tell without playing the finished product.

There you go, some of what I consider to be a few of the more relevant good and bad points. On a side note, I have heard a few people comparing Ghost Recon: Wildlands to The Division. Why, I do not know, the two games are poles apart. Yes, they’re both 3rd person shooters, yes they’re both set in an open world. But that’s all. The Division, though being set in an ‘open world’, is still a cover based, linear shooter. The long, straight New York streets restrict your ability to roam freely, and they’re all chocked full of very handy abandoned vehicles, and various barricades which you can shelter behind while you engage the enemy. The ‘boss fights’ are similar – you go where you’re told, when you’re told, your own thoughts on possible tactics be damned. And bullet sponges! Bullet sponges everywhere!

So yeah, don’t use The Division to judge Wildlands, either in a good or a bad way. Just sayin’.

My final verdict on Ghost Recon: Wildlands then? My impression after having played the beta (and yes, I completed all the story line, did all side quests, collected all the things, tested it all thoroughly)? Sad to say, I won’t be getting the game at launch. I’m kinda bummed about that, as I wanted to look forward to it, but the game, in its present form, just doesn’t do it for me. Sorry, Ubisoft.

That being said, all of the above are just my thoughts after playing the one closed beta. It’s all just my opinion, and should be treated as such. If you’re looking to buy this game, or any other, it’s your money you’ll be spending, so you should do your own research, and make up your own mind.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

Signature

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Gaming

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Freedom Through Unity?

Unity in the Community Logo2Can unity can achieve freedom? Yes, of course it can – governments are supposed to be servants of the people, after all. But that only works when the people stand together as one group, one voice. If all a government hears is the clamouring from a myriad of different groups, all demanding their own, individual, wants and needs, then the overall message will be lost in the tumult. A government will then just ignore the commotion, dismissing it as nothing more than background noise, and continue to do as they please.

Far too many groups appear to believe the definition of unity is separatism. “We’ll form a group to demand what we want,” says Group A.

“We feel the same,” says Group B, “but not all your views match ours, so we’ll form our own, separate group.”

And so it goes, on and on.

Unity has only one definition, so strive to stand by that definition. Unity will only work to achieve freedom when all of the oppressed, down-trodden, and forgotten stand united as a whole, regardless of race, colour, religion and sexual orientation. Be one body, speaking with one clear voice, and a government will have no choice but to take notice, to listen to your words.

Do not demand your rights. Your rights already belong to you, they are not a government’s reward system, to be handed out like party favours to those who please them. Remind a government of this, and demand instead that they do as they were elected to do. Demand they cease to be self-serving, and instead revert back to the democratic ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’.

You want freedom through unity? Then work for it. Stop being so self-centred. Stop being so selfish about your own, individual needs. Put aside your differences, forget your prejudices. Stand shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters from the human race, and speak with one loud and clear voice.

Together we are we, and we will be free.

Just sayin’…

Rant over.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

Signature

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 2, 2017 in Rant, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Resurrection

Well hello there, how’re you doing?

Since before last Christmas I’ve been working on a collection of short stories. The stories had been knocking around in my head for quite some time, and so I thought they deserved to be brought into the world. I had a title for the book of this collection. I had a cover all worked out. I had a list of the stories I was sure I wanted to include, and a list of others I’d put in if there was room.

I set about this task in good spirits. I mean, how hard could it be, right? I had everything I needed. Piece of cake.

Wrong.

Every time I worked on one story, my mind would wander to another. Work on that other story instead, and I’d be thinking about yet another. Progress was slow. Progress was painful.

Something was wrong here. The words weren’t flowing and I needed to find out why. This past weekend I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, peering into the recesses of my mind, looking for the cause.

And I found it.

Sunset behind the clouds over Quintrell Downs in Cornwall.After I’d published my short story ‘Watcher’, I started work on another, longer tale. The story of Paul Bowscar came to life rapidly, the boy would never shut up, his tale needed to be told, and he was damn sure he was going to make sure I wrote it all down. He was constantly in my head. Talking incessantly, eager to be heard. Morning, noon and night.

Then one day – silence. Nothing at all. Paul had left, gone to wherever his own negative bind had taken him. The words dried up, the story stalled.

But no longer. Paul is back. Maybe he took exception to me writing things other than his story, who knows. But back he is, and it’s time to complete his tale.

So, The Negative Bind has been resurrected. How long will it take? Who can tell, and Paul certainly isn’t telling. He’ll get to the end when he’s good and ready.

Small excerpts might be posted from time to time. They might not. But this story will be told, one way or the other.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

Signature

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2017 in Books, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well then, Merry…

_93108026_c58ad6b5-73c6-4a4e-842f-4589074f2895

So here it is, merry Christmas, everybody’s having…

What? Wait…

Everybody isn’t having fun. A cold December rain is pelting against the window, a brisk gale is blowing soggy, dead leaves into the face of any poor pedestrian unfortunate enough to be outside. Low clouds race across the sky, the colour of lead, and just as heavy with the gallons of rain they carry. It’s midday, yet I had to put the lights on in order to see what I’m doing.

Talking of lights – the lights on my Christmas tree are flashing crazily, though they’re not supposed to. They’re static lights, just meant to sit there glowing prettily, not try their hardest to mimic a deranged 80’s disco strobe light. Still, last year they didn’t light up at all, just emitted a low, ominous buzzing sound if you were brave enough to plug them in, so I suppose it’s a step up.

My central heating works when it feels like it. Right now it feels like it, and it’s akin to a tropical jungle in here. I’m kind of worried about the way the carpet is steaming, and I’m sure I heard a giant anaconda hissing from beneath the sofa. Later on the heating will go on strike again, and I’ll be back to battling polar bears for the best spot on my little iceberg.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut, you know what? I’m content enough. I forced myself to get prepared for Christmas early this year, and yesterday I finished up everything I needed to do. Presents have been bought, cards written and posted. I have enough food, and more importantly, alcohol, to see me through to the 27th. No fighting through hordes of zombie-shoppers for me, no arguing over the last Christmas pud on the supermarket shelf. I’ve been smart, for once.

So the rain can pelt the windows as much as it wants. The wind can blow and howl until it’s blue in its figurative face. Storm Barbara can do her worst, I don’t give a fuck.

It’s Christmas, it’s a time for giving. And no, I don’t mean the overpriced crap that is bought for family and friends in a vain attempt to outdo said family and friends. The greatest gift that can be given is friendship and understanding.

Okay, so that might be two presents. But still…

With all the shit going on in the world right now – the terrorist atrocities, the civil wars, the Western fuelled conflicts, the racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, not to mention orange hued Trumps – take a step back, inhale a deep breath, relax, and be thankful you have those friends and family around you.

Smile more. Be pleasant. Treat every stranger as a friend not yet met, not as a potential threat. Be forgiving. Be understanding. Learn the art of patience. Winning really isn’t everything – it’s more important to have fun and make others smile.

Love. Laugh. Live life as though it’s the only one you’ll get.

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

So over the next few days, eat too much, drink too much, laugh too much, love too much. Be grateful for what you have got, forget what you haven’t got.

Have yourselves a very merry Christmas, and I’ll see you soon for the new year.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

Signature

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Random

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Story! New. Buy it. Now.

So, just a quickie. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a quickie…

Christmas is almost upon us. Peace on Earth. Good will to all men. And all that other happy stuff.

Bah humbug.

Stuck for a present to buy the person you don’t really like? Well, I have a short story published on Amazon – the link is over on the right somewhere. It’s cheap too.

So that’s sorted then. Excellent.

twentysevenOn the other hand, if you want a really good story to read, then this bad boy by Jack Binding came out yesterday. I haven’t, as yet, had the time to read and review it myself (sorry Jack), but having read Jack’s other stories I have no doubt it’s well worth the buy and read.

So, do yourself a favour, click the image, or >>>HERE<<<, and buy yourself an early Christmas present.

I might write again before Christmas. Then again, I might not. Either way, have yourself a good one. Try not to kill anyone. Save it for the new year, it’s more apt.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

Signature

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Books

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Key

Quite a long while ago I was challenged to write a story based on a certain image.

key This image, to be exact.

Well, as so often happens, life, and various other things got in the way and the story never got written, although I had a good idea of what I wanted to write. Time has gone on, far too much time, and I’ve been so caught up in doing other things – earning money in order to be able to pay the bills and feed oneself, what a drag that is – that I haven’t done any writing for myself.

Plenty for other people. None at all for me. Now, that kinda sucks, so I decided it’s time I did something about it.

And shock horror! Today I actually put pen to paper. Well, typed words on a screen. Same thing. I didn’t produce much, a thousand words or so, as the writing machine is kinda rusty due to lack of use. But it is oiling up nicely. The words aren’t exactly flowing, but they are seeping out slowly.

Who knows, if you’re good I might even post an extract.

Or not.

Anyway, as always, that shallot.

Laters…

Signature

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Red Dead Two?

What does it mean?

rockstar

So yesterday, Rockstar Games tweeted the above image, and also placed it on the landing page of their website, subsequently setting the gaming portion of the internet on fire. But, why?

Intriguing. Because of the logo, it’s more than likely a Red Dead Redemption announcement is on the cards. Ever since the release of the highly popular Red Dead Redemption video game, people have been eagerly waiting and hoping for a sequel.

Rockstar has a proven history of similar teasers. They’re not a company who spends time advertising and discussing what they’re doing as they’re doing it. Rather, they just get on with things and then make an announcement or a reveal when they’re good and ready. But, in all honesty, any new game announcement from Rockstar is worth sitting up and taking notice of.

If it is a new Red Dead, then when will the new story be set, which period of history will we see? Well, no point being in the Wild West, as, obviously, they have already done that. Similarly, there’s no need bringing it to present day as you’d just end up with GTA VI. So, from the end of the Wild West era in 1895, what do we have, in the US, that would make a good backdrop for a story? Well, there was the World’s Fair in 1904, followed by the slow birth of modern technology. As exciting as all that would have been at the start of the 20th century, for a Red Dead setting it would be a bit bland. Then there’s the creation of the FBI in 1908, but would that suit a character like John Marston, or his relation/descendant? I think not. For all his good points, he is still an outlaw at heart. The US joining World War I in 1917 would have been a possibility, if not for the release of Dice’s Battlefield 1.

If it was me, I’d move forward to the early/mid 1930s, and more specifically the ‘Dust Bowl’ – the area of the Great Plains region devastated by drought during the Great Depression. For a character with the cliché traits of Marston – bad guy with a heart, willing to go to any lengths to protect those he loves, even though he’s supposed to be the ‘romantic loner’ – there is ample scope for a very immersive story line. Whole towns emptied as the crops failed, and money and food ran out. Residents packed up all they could carry and moved on, in the hopeless search for something better. Unscrupulous companies and businessmen took ruthless advantage of the needy. A whole class of society dispossessed, left with no choice but to go to any lengths in order to survive. Marston, or more likely Marston’s son/daughter, would definitely have any number of causes to throw their weight behind.

But those are just my thoughts.

Whatever the game turns out to be, it’s Rockstar, so I’m sure it’ll be awesome and worth waiting for.

If you have a specific time period you’d like to see a new Red Dead game to be set in, let me know in the comments, it would be interesting to see other’s ideas on the subject.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

Signature

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: