Wednesday, 14 December 2016

World of Tanks - ISU or SU TD?

World of Tanks has - like it or not - become an entrenched 'go to' game for the BIG clan. Quite simply, as we have observed many times, it's a game you can still play (to some degree) while drinking alcohol!

To be honest, BIG Clan will never be a serious WoT competition team, we like our food, drink and arsing about too much to take the game all that seriously. We just like the fact that we can get together online and shoot stuff without having to think too much about it.

So, here I am still playing this darn game...

The one thing that keeps me interested in this game is my obsession with WW2 Soviet Tank Destroyers. I just love them, they suit my play style and I love it when I one-shot or ammo-rack an opponent and see his hit-points dwindle to nothing in the blink of an eye. I'm evil like that!

For the Festive season, has dropped the price of several of the tanks or announced a virtual 'advent calendar' of special offers on certain tank types. So I have picked up a couple of premium TDs at bargain prices (I like to tell myself)...

The SU 122 44 versus the ISU 122S
I bought two Tier VII Soviet tank destroyers, which might seem over the top but these two TDs play in very different ways. The SU 122 44 is a bit of a derp gun on a T54 chassis, so its fast(ish) and allows you to hit and run. While the ISU 122S has good armour and a gun with a high rate of fire so you can hedge-camp and pick off oncoming enemy with a flurry of hot lead!

I've had my eye on the SU 122 44 for some time as I fancied trying out a bit more of a mobile way of playing tank destroyers. My teammates have the German E25 - which is a very nippy little TD - and I like the look of the way they scooted about the battlefield, snapping off a couple of shots here and there and harassing the enemy. The SU isn't as fast as the E25, but it's faster then my usual lumps of iron.

The downside - there always is one - is that the SU's armour is a wee bit on the tinfoil side. It's not so bad on the front and I have regularly bounced incoming shots, but if your enemy catch you side-on your a wee bit screwed! Short story, use the mobility and don't let them catch you!

The ISU, on the other hand, is more of your traditional long-range sniper. It has comparatively good armour, but loses mobility as a consequence. The highlight of this beast it the high rate of fire from its gun, which spits out 122mm shells every 7.10 seconds...Nice.

This is great, particularly in the situation where you track a vehicle - literally stopping it dead in its tracks - because you can reload quick enough to take full advantage of the stationary enemy. And even if he repairs quickly, you'll still have impeded his progress to cover and so will still get in a cheeky follow-up shot (or two if you are lucky)...

Which is best?
It's fun to compare two totally different styles of tank destroyer, you really have to play these tanks in very different ways. Trying to play the SU 122 44 like a traditional TD will almost certainly end in tears, as it neither has the long-range accuracy or survivability to simply sit in one place and slog it out.

But, hit and run tactics don't really suit my temperament and the random nature of the accuracy of the SU's gun is hugely frustrating at times. Annoyingly, I have managed the occasional lucky long-range snapshot (much to my surprise), but then - bizarrely - I have completely missed (or had shots bounce) on point-blank targets!

The ISU is much more my type of tank destroyer, with the added bonus of the nice rate of fire. And if I had to choose between the two I'd have to go with the ISU 122S.

Added bonus of Premium Tanks
The added advantage of buying Premium tanks for your garage is that they come with a special XP/crew training bonus. A Premium tank will add an extra 50% more crew experience per battle and it allows you to Accelerate crew training. Additionally, you can transfer crew between vehicles of the same type and nation without penalty or retraining.

My Soviet Tank Destroyer collection. Three Premium TDs which support the
training of my two Elite TD crews (the 704 and 268).
This is all excellent stuff if you want to fast-track your crew training. So, for example, I now have three Premium Soviet Tank Destroyers and what I do each game session is that I transfer my Object 704's crew into each of these TDs for the first x2 (or whatever it is) game. By doing this, the 704 crew get the benefit of all that extra crew experience and accelerated training four times!

My Object 704 (Soviet TD) crew. I've used my additional Premium Soviet TDs
to fast-track their training and have nearly completed their final skill perk.
The Elite status of your Premium tank also earns you additional credits per battle and allows you to convert Combat Experience earned to Free Experience. This is a nice little credit earner, which can help fund improvements or your supply of Gold ammo (which can be bought with Silver credits).

This last part is something that players - particularly those that suffer at the hands of your 'Gold ammo' - completely overlook (probably deliberately). As these people still insist on calling you a 'Gold noob' as if you have paid to win, when all you have really done is bought Gold ammo with Silver credits that you have earned by killing tanks. It's the gift that keeps on giving! (I never pay real money (Gold credits) for Gold ammo...It's all 'bought' with Silver.)

....Postscript: The SU-122-44 can't snipe...
While not the best game I've ever played, it does illustrate that the SU can pull off a traditional TD play style if it has too. In this game, I managed to fire off a few nice long range shots (and actually hit a few things)...

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Sniper Elite 4 off to a bad start

I was very surprised when I found that I thoroughly enjoyed playing Sniper Elite 3 on the PC. Being a First Person Shooter fan I had always perceived Third Person games as something of an inferior graphical compromise for console players. But, despite my scepticism, I found this format a completely delightful and perfectly suited to the sneaky stealth theme of the game.

Anyway, I was looking forward to the next irritation of the franchise so when the first 'teaser' trailer was released I eagerly settled down to watch it....

However, what would a game teaser be without some sort of controversy? Bearly 25 seconds into the trailer I had to hit the pause button as I couldn't believe my eyes...

In case you can't spot the glaring error, here's a not so subtle clue - look at the German flag. Yes, some pathetic PC marketing numb skull has substituted the Nazi flag for a modern German flag!

Now, there are good reasons not to display the Nazi flag, the principal reason being why should we perpetuate its mystique. But, more practically, also the use of the Nazi flag is actually forbidden in some countries, so it's quite normal to replace its use with an alternative symbol (scale modellers will be very familiar with this issue).

However, what Rebellion Games have opted to do in this case - instead of replacing the swastika with an 'iron cross', which is the usual tactic - is to replace the hated Nazi flag with one that is clearly (despite being in monochrome) the modern German flag, or Bundes tricolour.

The flag of modern - post-Nazi - Germany, since 1949
To me, this is not only historically incorrect but deeply offensive to modern Germans who have worked so hard - for several generations now - to separate their national identity from that of the Nazi ideology. The use of the modern German flag is not only deeply insulting but shows a breathtaking level of ignorance and sensitivity on the game developers part.

This has really spoilt my enthusiasm for the game, and I really hope Rebellion make some sort apology as it's the least they could do. While America and Europe seems intent on moving back to far-right politics there are people - like my father's generation and mine - who still abhor the Nazis and think that there is no justification whatsoever to glorify them or otherwise excuse ideas that are blatantly Neo-Nazi in sentiment.

The pre-WW2 German Marine Jack (Kriegsschiffgösch). While
not historically accurate is an often used acceptable alternative
representation of a German military flag to the hated swastika.
As far as I am concerned Germany is forgiven for its past, and while we mustn't forget we must also recognise how humiliating it is for the German people to be so closely equated to their wartime regime, as if the two were completely indistinct.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Back, with an old moan!

It's been a long time since I posted here, this was due to a long illness and slow recovery. But I'm getting back to my old self again and have a backlog of news and items to get through. But I thought I would restart with a bit of an old moan...

The OV-10 Bronco light attack aircraft of the US Army.
'Low-tech' air support for counter-insurgency
Yes, this is a bit of a bug-bear with me, that the Royal Air Force (and US Air Force for that matter) has consistently ignored the potential of turbo-prop driven ground-support aircraft for asymmetrical warfare. It's another one of those military 'lessons learned' that has been forgotten again, as during the Vietnam War the US rediscovered the advantages of turbo-prop attack aircraft like the OV-10 Bronco.

Today's airforces much prefer hugely expensive, high-tech fast jets for the role of ground attack, even though it was pretty obvious in the case of Afghanistan that this approach was like using a sledge-hammer to crack a walnut. But it's not just a question of expense, slower turboprop aircraft have a real advantage as steady weapon platforms and also have good endurance for long loitering times.

Now, I won't dwell on the lengthy pros and cons and why I think it is that NATO air forces consistently ignore the validity of light attack aircraft - this is all very well documented elsewhere. Rather, the essence of this rant is the hypocrisy of the air force chiefs who have dismissed the idea that 'slow movers' have a place in a modern air force...

Just this week I discovered a wonderful YouTube video showing the first additions to the fledgling Afghani Air Force...

Now, what annoys me about this is that the new Afghan Air Force is a product of US military foreign policy in combination with US Air Force advice and training. So, to cut to the chase - while the US and UK air forces deemed turboprop attack aircraft - like the A-29 Super Tucano - inappropriate during their stint at running air support in Afghanistan the US Defence Department now sees this type completely adequate now that the Afghan's are responsible for their own defense!

A contemporary of the A-26 Super Tucano is the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-9.
Like the Tucano, it's primarily an advanced trainer but has been designed to
fulfil the role of light attack. It can be armed with a variety of weapons 'pods'.
Picture source: Wikipedia

I hope to monitor the performance of the A-26 and read some of the actual mission reports as it comes into actual service with the Afghans. Hopefully, I can bring you more videos of this wonderful aircraft in action.

Postscript: I use the term 'low-tech' to describe this sort of aircraft, but - of course - I use this as a relative term when comparing them to, say, a Eurofighter Typhoon or an F-35. The A-26 is actually a pretty high-tech piece of kit as far as it's systems go and is far more effective than something like a WWII Hawker Typhoon or Republic Thunderbolt in its accurate delivery of munitions. 

Below: Here's another example of a 'low-tech' turboprop attack aircraft in action, this time with the Slovenian Air Force. This time it's the Pilatus PC-9 (a commercial competitor to the A-26, made in Switzerland). Just listen to those gun pods rattle!

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Division - My role

My role in the game is primarily dictated by my preference to play as part of my friends' team.  To be honest, I'm not a role/loadout nerd so concentrate on getting my team role and it's loadout organised and just run with that when I'm doing solo. Basically, I'm a bit lazy.

Broadly speaking, I am a marksman. I like playing a support role in my team, giving covering fire from the back and overwatching my fellows then jumping in close when they need some medi help. For close-up occasions I am currently running the AUG Para SMG, for close protection or when I am in danger of being over-run.

Support  Marksman
Unlike a sniper, I like the ability to be closer to my teammates (literally, just behind their backs) and I have picked an accurized assault rifle so I can 'mix it' when needs be. My teammates are quite aggressive players, so this means I can't afford to get too detached from the group and have to be ready to jump in if I have to medi or revive.

For this reason, I have settled on the High-End Tenebrae - which, in reality, is just a fancy SCAR 'H' - which I crafted from blueprints that are available from the vendor back at the Post Office base. The Tenebrae suits my preference for the FAL type rifle, as the SCAR 'H' (H is for 'Heavy') is the spiritual offspring of FN's FAL (The SCAR rifle also being manufactured by FN). In the real world both the FN FAL and the FN SCAR H are chambered for the 7.62 x 51mm NATO round.

My Tenabrae Set-Up
Being a marksman rifle I think stability, accuracy and damage are pretty important, but being able to critical hit is also a very potent facet of a set-up for this type of rifle. So my gun mode collection is currently as thus...

Scope - CQBSS scope (8x), Headshot Damage: 19.50% ~ Accuracy: 21%
- The CQBSS scope is - in my opinion - a great hybrid marksman scope. Some try to stick a high-zoom telescopic sight on their marksman rifle (indeed, the Tenebrae comes with a 12x zoom scope by default) but as I work closer in I like a lower zoom and a more open reticle.

Magazine - High Velocity: 7.59% Critical Hit ~ Magazine Size: 87%
- By default, the Tenabrae comes with a 20 round mag and if you use the rifle as I do, as a part-time assault rifle, you will soon find this very limiting. Getting your mag size up should be a priority, with critical hit as another high priority.

Vertical Grip - Initial Bullet Stability: 37.50% ~ Accuracy: 20%
- Stability in a high-recoil rifle like the SCAR H is important, without it your gun will be jumping all over the place as you maintain a steady follow-up shot stream. A bit of accuracy never goes amiss either, so keep crafting your favoured grip for better stats!

Compensator - Horizontal Stability: 36% ~ Stability: 36%
- Stability again! I haven't bothered with a suppressor (however cool it looks on a marksman rifle). This gun is loud and proud!

So, as you see I have concentrated on stability to offset the recoil of this heavy gun, plus some damage/critical and finally, I have added a bit of an extended magazine (this really makes a difference if you want to use your marksman rifle as a semi-assault rifle as the basic mag only holds 20 rounds).

But, I am constantly trying to refine these mods by re-crafting to see if I can improve the stats on them. For example, I am re-rolling my magazine frequently to try and up the size of teh mag closer to 100% and also to see if I can get the critical hit up.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Division - Done!

Well, not really done but, rather, I have completed the basic 'story mode' element of the game. This is the solo and co-op AI-adversarial part of the gameplay and lead you through a plot which uncovers the who and why of the bio-terrorist attack that is at the heart of this game.

All investigations into the plot of The Division are completed. I found 100% of
all the clues which build up who was responsible and why the bio-attack on
New York happened. You don't have to do this, you can progress without doing
absolutely every part of this 'paper chase'.
Simply put (no spoilers here), the story mode is a sort of training event which leads you to what Ubisoft was perhaps hoping would be the icing on the cake of their blockbusting game - your Dark Zone incursion! The initial part of The Division has you - aside from investigating and revealing the plot - upgrading your weapons and abilities and honing your skills to a point where you can confidently cope with the challenges of the game's PvP arena.

I chose to do every element of the investigative paper-chase in the game - which had me scouring Ubisoft's virtual New York for 'clues' - but this game of 'hide and seek' is optional. My BIG clan friends chose to skip this, only completing a proportion of the story-driven tasks as a bi-product of completing the main and sub missions. I am, however, a bit anal about such things!

My player character as he was when I completed the story mode of the game.
To me, Ubisoft did not make the completion of the investigative part of the game as integral to game progression as it perhaps should have been. The fact that you can 'skip past' the whole plot-line if you want detracts from its relevancy and questions why you have a plot at all if it has no bearing on your progression to the finale. But, apparently, some players don't like stories and just want to shoot!

Anyway, by the time you reach level 30 you should be a fairly adept user of the game's mechanics and ready to face other players directly in the gladiatorial area of The Dark Zone. The flaw in this is that this zone is inhabited by some very (very) high-level players (who have no lives) and you will have your butt handed to you when you encounter them...A bit of a flaw i Ubisoft's plan!

Role on the DLC is what I (and many others) are saying.

Friday, 15 April 2016

The Division - My impressions

The past couple of years has been rather disappointing gaming years for my gaming mates and me. The major 'blockbuster' games failed to ignite our passion and our little friendly gaming clan has somewhat disintegrated as we all went our separate ways with a variety of single player games that piqued our individual interest (at one point I got heavily into Sniper Elite 3, which none of my friends showed any interest in)!

So I was taken a bit by surprise at the title that has gotten us back playing together, as it isn't our usual first person shooter, multiplayer online battlefield game. In actual fact, it's Unisoft's The Division.

First-person to third-person
I'm tempted to ask what happened to second-person, but I'll skip that! Since BIG clan - that small group of casual (more interested in drinking while playing) gamers got together we've always been interested in FPSs. From Battlefield to Call of Duty (when pushed) to Bad Company and Borderlands, we've always preferred our twitchy gun action 'in our face', so to speak.

The action can be intense sometimes, especially if you opt to enter the PvP
'Dark Zone'. Outside the zone, the AI enemy is only a challenge in numbers.
I already mentioned Sniper Elite - which is third-person - and my failure to interest my friends in joining in the co-op goodness of this game, and yet, when I think about it, Sniper Elite 3 and The Division have certain things in common. Maybe it was the background story of The Division that enthused my mates and got them to overcome their aversion to playing a third-person view character?

New York, New York
I missed all the hype about The Division completely, that's how far out the loop I am with games these days. So when my clan-mate BIG-Magnus contacted me to tell me to 'buy it now' I was a bit non-plussed. A third-person co-op shooter based in a post-biological-disaster New York? That didn't sound like 'our sort of thing' (and bad memories of DICE's ill-fated Battlefield Hardline popped into my mind for some reason).

One of the strange story-telling vehicles for the game is a sort of augmented
reality device, called an 'echo'. This shows you events that have taken place
during the disaster which overtook New York, like puzzle pieces.
But I'm so glad I wasn't put off because The Division was no-where near the insipid and bland experience of Hardline. For a start, it's not a mass multiplayer online free-for-all - it's a group co-op (sort of) 'RPG', third-person shooter that also has a multiplayer PVP facet.

But what captures your attention most of all about this game is the absolutely stunning digital reconstruction of a post-apocalyptic New York. It's so immersive.

My search pattern through just one of the 17 districts which make up this virtual
New York. You can opt to skip the story 'puzzle' and simply hit the side and main
missions. But in doing so you loose something of the atmosphere of the 'plot'.
Now, I've just been playing Fallout 4, so I thought I knew what good post-apocalyptic Americana looked like. But, The Division makes Fallout 4's world look like a Disney cartoon!

The gameplay
OK, forget about the super enthusiastic hyperbole about how good a job Ubisoft has made of their New York - what's the game like?

One of the areas where the excellent graphics crosses from simple eye-candy
into being an active part of the gameplay is the changing winter weather. Here
a sudden 'white out' blizzard makes gun-play a might difficult!
It's OK. The storyline is fairly interesting and the associate 'plot' based co-op paperchase (masquerading as an RPG) can be challenging at certain times, but I found myself in the same 'shoot and loot' territory as Fallout 4, without some of the crafting incentives of that game (though there is a supplementary crafting element to The Division, it isn't as central to the game as it was in FO4).

There is a paper-thin attempt to get you involved in a building process, but it's a pretty linear pre-scripted event. As you progress in the game you collect items and credits which allow you to upgrade your main base. And as you 'turn back on' the city's utilities, security and medical facilities you - in turn - receive more perks and talents that help you with your combat.

Searching through rubbish can be one of the challenges as you have to keep
a sharp eye out for discarded loot and 'investigation' items. Mobile phones are
scattered about the map and by listening to voicemail you build up a sense of
what happened during the disaster.
But this is no Fallout 4 'base building'. You are restricted to pre-set elements which you can reactivate in your base, the only thing you can determine is what order you choose to turn things back on. And in the end, the overall effect is the same.

Shooting, weapons and adversaries are likewise so-so, but the missions are fun enough if you play with friends (the challenge increases with more players). Modification and types of weapons are a bit limited and there are no 'super-weapons' (forget any sort of alien plasma doomsday pistol), weapons are restricted to the limitations of real-world technology (sort of).

A game within a game, if your priority is gun-play or an integral part of the
storyline. The 'intel' you collect as you go along reveals the 'plot'.
However, about level 18-20 (out of 30) you twig to the routine and that upgrading weapons and perks and what-not is just a means of cranking up the challenge of some very similar looking missions. It all feels like pre-level 30 is just 'training' for what Ubisoft hoped would be the main event as far as challenges is concerned - the Dark Zone.

In conclusion
The Division starts well, but ultimately cools down in the excitement it can illicit from the player. I think Ubisoft missed a trick when it didn't open up the chance for you to actually join one of the gangs as part of the storyline - in a similar way to how you can choose to join a faction in Fallout 4. This would have opened up the possibility of a variety of different endings to the game, thus making it a little less linear. Plus, let's face it, it's fun to be 'bad'!

Technically, you are not alone (whether you play solo or co-op) in your quest to
bring order back to the streets of New York. These NPC's are part of the 'JTF'
militia which patrol the streets and take on criminal activity. But you will find
them a somewhat impotent force, and often - amusingly - only turn up AFTER
you have resolved a problem.
No matter how complex the game, and the reconstruction of New York, all road lead, inextricably, to 'Rome' as it were.

I really hope Ubisoft rectify some of the sameyness of the missions in the forthcoming DLC, because if they do that they will have a classic game on their hands (at last). At any rate, The Division is a road sign which points to how games worlds can be...My friends and I spend a lot of time wondering what a Battlefield title would be like with the level of detail that there is in The Division.

As a solo game, you will not, I think, want to play this game through more than once. As I said, the fact that you can't play it through the first time a 'good guy' and then play it through again as a gang member or as one of the adversarial groups is a real faux-pas on Ubisoft's part. However, as a co-op game, it does offer you a lot of fun as your friends and yourself make it hard for each other to complete fairly straight forward missions!

But wait, there's more...
Now, the above is a sorta fair overview of the game - it's looks gorgeous, but it's flawed. But I don't want you going away thinking what's the attraction then?

An almost completely insignificant aspect of the game, but one that gives me a
'feel good' buzz, is the handing out of aid to 'civilians'. I would have been even
more happy if Ubisoft ha included even more humanitarian missions.
I have thoroughly loved playing this game - because, to my mind, 'playing' the game means taking part in the paper-chase across and exploring (digitally at least) one of the world's great cities, New York. The shooting bit is a bit of a plus!

Believe it or not, I have enjoyed some of the touches which are little more than asides in the game. The giving out of supplies to the locals, being heckled at from windows by the Native New Yorkers! The only thing that is missing is the local food shops not being open and I would feel like I was on vacation in The Big Apple.

Once again, a tiny touch that has no real effect on the game but is a wonderful
aspect of the atmosphere of the world Ubisoft has created is the 'heckling'.
New Yorkers 
Now, I will stop at this point as all my commentary - thus far - has been based on my experience as a player pre-level 30 and pre-completion of the storyline part of the game. I did do a couple of Dark Zone incursions, but up until now I have been involved in The Divison as a game that, in many ways, feels like Borderlands (and, dare I say, even a bit like some of Left4Dead 2) in that I've been playing a co-op, story-led, shoot and loot action game.

By the time you reach level 30 (and perhaps even earlier if you are an avid fan of watching vlogs about the games you play and how to improve your play) The Division changes slightly. It becomes a bit more serious - if the whole story about biological armageddon wasn't serious enough for you - and you really start to begin to hone your skills in preparation for serious Dark Zone PVP battles.

So, more about that later.

As to the story-driven aspect of The Division, I would rate it 3.5/5...Can the Dark Zone adventure lift it to a 4/5?

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Into the Dark Zone!

I was sort of forced into this. I was going to wait until I had completed the basic story mode before moving onto the more adversarial 'Dark Zone' - but I caved into peer pressure.

There is a lot written online about the merits (or otherwise) of The Division's Dark Zone, the sum of which has turned me off trying it out. So being dragging in was probably the best thing, in the end, otherwise, I might have put it off until I had tired of the game and never tried it. And this, as it turned out, would have been a real shame.

I'd allowed myself to be put off on the insistence of one of my gaming friends that the (quote) 'Darkzone is shite'! Which just goes to show you shouldn't always listen to your friends, because I really enjoyed my first DZ experience...

I was told after this first trip into the Zone that I had an easy session and that most trips are a lot more hairy. I hope that is the case because I'm ready for the challenge.

But at its heart, it's quite a cool idea and can be pretty exciting - although the caveat is that it may turn out to be a one trick pony. The fury of a hard gun fight against strong odds, then the nerve-wracking experience of getting to the pick-up zone and - finally - the heart pounding defensive stand to protect your haul (also, there is the little matter of getting back out of the zone alive).

I can see how this will be appealing, and a challenge, the first - maybe - dozen times, but after that?

One facet of this I haven't mentioned is the Rogues Agents. Other human players who inhabit the Zone and can be neutral, or a right pain in the bum!

'Manz28' (the level 27 player in the center) intervenes just as we are about to make our extraction
of booty from the Dark Zone. Luckily, there were more of us so he and his mate thought better of
trying to rip us off! Fighting off two sets of adversaries might have ended badly for us.
We met two rogues on our trip, but they were the same level as my friends and didn't bother us. Had there been more of them, or they were of a higher level or there were less of us they could have made things very difficult for us. They could have could have 'mugged' us for our booty.

This potential intervention adds a bit of unpredictability, which raises the tension.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Division (PC)

Another long drought in postings brought on by another long drought of computer games. There have been a couple of games that fleetingly grabbed my interest - most notably Insurgency and Fallout 4 - but their attraction was short-lived, particularly as my game-playing friends never took to them.

However, and I have to say rather unexpectedly, I have been enthused by the recent release of Tom Clancy's The Division on the PC...

The Division (PC) - New York in winter!

Set in a post-apocalyptic New York...Yadda, yadda, yadda...

Shoot stuff and collect stuff, basically. But the game is worth mentioning for it's absolutely gorgeous environment. The gameplay maybe run of the mill - and there are questions about its longevity - but there can be no question about the fact that - graphically - Unisoft have raised the bar. It's really hard to imagine going back to Call of Duty or Battlefield gaming environments after playing The Division!

Trudging through the winter cityscape with its eye-popping level of detail is a sheer pleasure in itself, and in some ways the missions get to become something of a side-event as you tour their version of New York.

Of course, shooting stuff does still get the blood pumping at times - at least, until you realise that one encounter with the gangs of bad guys that roam the wrecked shambles of the city is very much like another. To distract you from this, there is a fair amount of searching and being rewarded upgrades, but over the course of time, you realise that the actual progression through these upgrades is somewhat limited in the advances they can actually deliver. They really only suffice in 'keeping you afloat' in terms up your levelling up.

TheDivision 2016-03-20 11-14-11-22

Don't get me wrong, this game isn't another cul-de-sac - as was Fallout 4 - but there is an ever growing fashion for 'crafting' among gamers (as a reason to collect 'stuff') that isn't quite satisfied in this game. Neither is the base development aspect much more than perfunctory - there is no base building here, as there was in Fallout 4.

Weapons and combat are 'OK'. Though I have yet to undertake the PvP component of the game by entering the much dreaded 'Dark Zone'! (The consensus among commentators is we wait until we hit level 30 before we venture into that zone and take on real human adversaries.)

Cleaning up the Cleaners, in The Division (PC)

There are some really nice touches, like the 'civilian' survivors that are dotted about. Some games provide cityscapes that just feel totally empty - looking at you Battlefield 4 - but in The Division there are people about, many of them are just 'hiding' It's rather amusing - and quite immersive - when every so often an NPC opens the window of a first floor apartment to shout at you or - in one quite bizarre situation - started taking photos of me 'doing my thing'!

But interaction with the civvies is quite limited, which is a shame.

Well, that's my thoughts so far, but I'll end on a positive note, The Division has engaged my friends and I, to such an extent that we have been getting together online again after a long hiatus. So, for that, it has definitely been well worth the purchase.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Fallout 4 settlement building tip (PC)

I know I haven't been posting regularly, but that's because between work and playing Fallout 4 I've not had much time to do anything else! And on the subject of Fallout 4...

I will be doing a 'review' - well, not a review really, as by now all the reviews you'll ever need have been done. What I will be doing is giving a report on how I feel the game has developed, for the player point of view, now I am about (I estimate) about mid-game-ish.

This will be a video walkthrough of a couple of my settlements with a rambling commentary about the game. But in the meantime, here's a rather useful video if you a settlement building fan and a PC user. There's been lots of very nice videos done by Xbox players on how to exploit the object clipping 'glitch' in oredr to make structure fit together better, well here a PC version I've just found...

ALSO...Another annoying thing you will come across - and you are a bit anal about your settlement building - is the dead body glitch in the game. This is bloody annoying and is noticeable when you try to clean up your settlement area after you have cleared out the bad guys...Some dead bodies just keep reappearing no matter what you try. Here's the 'cure'...

Hope these tips help you out.

I'll be back when I'm ready to do my Fallout 4 player experience video.