Quantum Break

Alan Wake is one of my all time favourite games in spite of its flaws.  A horror themed, atmospheric third person shooter with an utterly bananas story.  Quantum Break is a science fiction themed atmospheric third person shooter with an utterly bananas story…ABOUT TIME TRAVEL!  By all rights I should love this game.  And up to a certain point I do.  But more about that later.

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Look!  Alan Wake exists in this game!  It made me very happy when I saw this little nod.

You take on the role of Jack Joyce, looking for revenge for the murder of his brother due to his involvement in time travel experiments.  You’ll travel from place to place fighting off members of Monarch Solutions who are looking to create a bunker for the best and brightest to save them from the end of time itself.  Obviously this makes them the bad guys because TIME TRAVEL!  The third person shooting itself is fairly ordinary, but the special abilities you get really add to the experience.  Special abilities?  Did I not mention those?  You can use time powers (because TIME TRAVEL!) to teleport around, freeze enemies and generate a protective shield.  This really elevates the combat scenes as flanking enemies, freezing them in a time bubble, filling it with bullets before it unfreezes and unloads all the ammunition at once is incredibly satisfying.

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From time to time the game world freezes for puzzle solving resulting in some gorgeous looking scenes.

It’s a good thing to combat is fun as that’s what you’ll be doing for 90% of the game.  There’s a little exploration allowing you to find items that explain other things going on within the game world.  Reading these can really give the universe some depth, and certain items you find and choices you make will change what you can find and what they tell you.  For example, choosing to have the villains take a hardline approach to people who get in their way results in protests later in the game that make things somewhat easier for you.  It’s a nice feature that encourages replaying the game.  There’s also an entire live action TV show in the game that focuses on certain minor characters that expand the universe further still.  Whilst cheesy, I did enjoy these segments.  Regardless of what you think of the game, the developers worked really hard to create an expansive and atmospheric world.

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Looks like there’s some more enemies arriving.

The world, the combat and the visuals are really rather good for the majority of the game, even if the story is a bit all over the place at times.  Then you reach the final chapter and good god does it take a turn for the worse.  Now I should point out that I was playing on Hard mode (humblebrag!) and the game had been a reasonable challenge throughout, but the final boss was a cheap, overly long difficulty spike.  The final boss should be a challenge, but this was just silly.  You will regularly be killed without any idea of what killed you, the boss can one-shot you and it’s not clear what you’re even meant to be doing.  Worst of all, the boss signposts his attacks with a red glow, but when you are damaged your screen turns red making it impossible to see this telegraph.  It really brought me down after enjoying the rest of the game so much.  Thankfully the rest of the game had been fun up until that point, but it did leave a sour taste in my mouth.

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A train randomly turns up and crashes through a building. Because TIME TRAVEL!

Quantum Break was developed by Remedy and published by Microsoft.  I played the game on XBox One and would recommend it if you enjoy story driven games.  Just don’t play it on hard!

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

If you’ve ever played a Metal Gear game, you’ll know that the plot is utterly bonkers and near impossible to explain.  If you haven’t played one, the plot is utterly bonkers and I’m not going to try to explain it.  In short, Snake/Boss (they’re the same person with different names, don’t ask) is out for revenge after being hospitalised for 9 years when his military unit was attacked.  Cue about 30 hours of whales made of fire, psychic gas mask children, invisible teleporting soldiers and giant nuclear powered death bots.  Oh, and Snake has a robotic arm.  That’s probably important.

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The game looks absolutely gorgeous.

Plot lunacy aside, this game is great fun to play.  You play mostly from a third person perspective with stealth in mind.  So you can grab, stun or tranquilize enemy soldiers, or just go nuts with a rocket launcher.  Sneaking around, interrogating soldiers whilst listening to 80s music (the era it’s set in) is tremendous.  Throwing out a smoke grenade to hide your movements from the enemy soldiers whilst listening to She Blinded Me With  Science has yet to get old.  There’s a very open world to play in normally with a lot of options to approach your objectives.  More options are given when you can choose a buddy to take with you on the mission, from Quiet the half naked sniper (she’s bloody noisy for someone called Quiet) to DD the magic ninja dog.

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DD!  You rescue him as a puppy and train his up to go on missions with you.

The main missions are really entertaining and varied, but there’s a lot of fluff in between which got in the way of some of the enjoyment for me.  You need to manage your military group by kidnapping (by attaching balloons to them!) and assigning enemy soldiers to jobs on your base which you have to keep expanding.  It gets a little tedious after a while and I just wanted to get back into the story and adventuring around the large environments.  When it lets you get on with scouting enemy encampments, sneaking in, and horribly screwing up resulting in a massive shootout though, there aren’t many games that are more engaging.  It’s a very satisfying game!

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You go from mission to mission in a helicopter that you can call in at any time.

Metal Gear Solid V was developed by Kojima Productions and published by Konami.  I played the game on Playstation 4 and would recommend it to pretty much anyone that enjoys games!

Rainbow Six: Siege

I like multiplayer shooters, in spite of being terrible at them.  Bad.  Just plain awful.  My Counter-Strike record will attest to that.  Rainbow Six: Siege is just that, a multiplayer shooter that I’m bad at.  2 teams of 5 face off against each other to either attack or defend an objective.  Attackers will scout the area and plan their offense, whilst defenders will lock down the objective with blockades and traps.  Best of 5 rounds.

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Attackers scout the area ahead of rounds using drones to find weak points.

So far, so simple.  The real fun comes in with the different operators, selectable characters with specific skills.  Counter-terrorists have Thatcher with EMP grenades to destroy enemy traps, and Sledge with a hammer to break down barricades quickly.  Terrorists have Mute who shuts down drones and Smoke with remote traps.  There are a total of 22 operators so far.  These really add a lot to the game and differentiates it from most team based shooters.

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Being really bad at this game means I rarely see this screen.

The weapons feel powerful and there’s a good variety of different levels and objectives to keep things fresh making this good fun to play in a group.  Trying to play with random players though opens you up to running into griefers, and this game has its fair share which can spoil an otherwise enjoyable game.  To many matches have been spoiled by team killers and quitters.  No fun!  Still, when it goes right, it’s tremendous fun, regardless of how terrible at it you are!

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Action tends to be in sudden, quick bursts as team members run into enemies.

Rainbow Six: Siege is developed and published by Ubisoft.  I played the game on XBox One and would recommend it if you have a group to play with.