The TBoD Podcast – Halo 5 Special – He Meant Raiders

Hi everyone,

Halo 5 Special – He Meant Raiders

Thanks for joining us for the first episode in our Halovember bleed over, we are delighted to once again be joined by Woaf and Dunderkitty as we dissect the ins and outs of Halo 5, starting with the multiplayer and finishing up with a spoiler heavy second part focusing on the campaign side of things. If you haven’t beat the game yet only listen to part one, those of you hardcore enough to have completed the full journey of Blue Team and Osiris stick around and see if you agree with our analysis.

The TBoD Podcasts – 74 – You Look Titan Those Pants

howdy Guardians,

This week The Qum Ninja and myself are joined by ThisIsReklaw and Cut_Masta_C to talk about our early experiences in Destiny. Crinbot makes a cameo apperance as our musical maestro as usual, hope you enjoy the show, make sure you hit us up with your Destiny epic moments either in the comments below or via facebook, twitter etc.

right click and hit “save as” to download

menko out.

Review: Bioshock Infinite

BioShockInfinite_HERO_RGB

God only knows what I’d be without you…

Before we get going, I must admit that over the last couple of years I haven’t had the time, or the money to splash out on every big title release. If I’m going to invest anything from 12-50 hours on a game, then I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my time, or slogging my way through a story which I don’t care about, with characters that are less engaging than a Mii avatar. But with the return of the Bioshock series, there was never any doubt that I’d be picking this up, and within 10 minutes of playing, it all came flooding back…

Or did it? On the surface it doesn’t seem to follow the mould of Bioshock. No Rapture, no confined spaces, and the dark dreariness is replaced with saturation all round. This time the story takes place on the floating city of Colombia, which was built to spread the word of the American dream. You take up the role of Booker Dewitt, an ex Pinkerton, and now private investigator who has been given the job of bringing a girl back from Columbia, and wiping away his debt. Seems simple enough.

But of course it never is, or at least, never should be, and the story gathers momentum at just the right pace before turning everything on its head, shaking you about, putting you back down again, and telling you to get on your way. The introduction of Elizabeth is perfect, and its credit to Ken Lavine and his design team that she is so appealing, aesthetically and vocally. You want to spend time with this character, and rather than be a hindrance as some secondary characters are, Elizabeth always feels like she belongs there with you. In fact, she is often helping you out by throwing medical kits, ammo, salts etc. when you’re running low. She is a great addition to say the least, and if you don’t believe me, look at some of the marriage proposals on Twitter.

bioshock-infinite-screenshot-elizabeth

The gameplay has moved away slightly from the previous Bioshock’s, and Infinte feels more like a standard shooter. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, and with the Skyhook, Booker’s melee weapon, and transport all wrapped up in one, you can change the dimension of a fight in an instant. One moment you’re desperately taking cover, the next you’re speeding through the sky on a make shift rollercoaster while firing at enemies. It’s great fun, but it perhaps could have been pushed even further, and used more often. The plasmids of Bioshock 1 and 2 are replaced with Vigor’s, which essentially do the same trick. They never feel quite as fun as they did in the originals, though, but are handy nonetheless. Another small gripe is on Xbox and PS3, you can only carry two weapons at a time, which obviously doesn’t happen on PC, and when changing Vigor’s, it sometimes feel like a break in the action. These are minor things, however, and don’t really detract from what is a great FPS. The hacking mini games are missing in Infinite, but for me, it’s not a departure I miss. Instead, Elizabeth will unlock doors and safes for you, providing you’ve found enough lockpicks on your travels.

Visually, this game pushes the current gen consoles to the limit, and if anything, a little too far. Some of the textures on PS3 I noticed were a little messy, as the developers fought to make this look as beautiful as possible. It kind of made me want to have played this on PC, which from what I’ve seen, looks incredible. That’s not to say it doesn’t look like fantastic on the console, mind. I have heard that it looks a tad better on PS3 than Xbox, so if you have the choice, it may be worth picking it up on that. The research that has gone into creating a believable city is amazing. Rapture was one of the most atmospheric settings in any game, and Columbia carries on this trend. The game is set in 1912, some 50 years prior to the original, but the technology is still decades ahead of its time. The developers have pulled out all the stops with the design. It has a feeling of Atlantic City in its heyday, with boardwalks, beaches and a good old fashioned funfair, complete with a few mini games. The locations never feel stale, and there is always something on offer, even in the few sections of the game where you revisit the same locations. You really feel like the city is alive, and if you take your time soaking up all the city has to offer, you’ll immerse yourself even deeper in this world, and add a couple of hours of gameplay to boot. It’s fantastic how the mood can change so drastically in just a few seconds, by changing the lighting and setting. For my money, I enjoyed the setting of Columbia more than Rapture. It has more life, more believability, and more surprises.

I could talk about this game forever, and plan to, but probably not here, as I’ll spoil it all for you. This game isn’t quite perfect, but to me, it is so, so close to it. If you’re a fan of a gaming, and don’t play this, you’re missing out on one of the best, if not the best game on this console generation. I don’t think I’ll play a game that will come close to this for a long time.

Cartoon Robinson

http://www.leerobinsondraws.co.uk

Spartans IV hire

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Spartan Ops Season 1.5

In the build up to Halo 4 one of the things that excited me most was Spartan Ops. Something that promised to combine the excitement of multiplayer and the simple thrills of firefight with the deep and immersive story elements of campaign was riviting to a cannon head like myself.

Having been somewhat underwhelmed by the first half of season one, I was beginning to long for ODST’s firefight, but still held tight to the thin glimmer of hope that the return of Palmer, Dalton, Thorne and co would prove to be more engaging and exciting… luckily it was just that.

UNSC_Infinity_SpartanMarsInfinity, underused in the campaign gets shown off to a greater degree here

Despite my misgivings for the first five episodes I still always looked forward to the opening cut scene each week, the beautifully rendered, the short but always impressive bites of story we were treated to were brilliant, not least because of the characters. Thomas Laskey captain of the UNSC Infinity would already be familiar to most of you from the campaign and probably from the live action web series Forward Unto Dawn and for me he was the real star of show here. Palmer however seemed to be a little psychologically unhinged and somewhat unfit to command the legions of Spartan IVs, Infinity AI Roland is a great character and it’s nice to finally see another smart AI other than Cortana getting some screen time, the addition of a couple of characters recognisable from the main story and the extended fiction in Jul M’dama, leader of the covenant splinter faction composed mainly of the ‘Storm Sangheili‘, along with none other than Dr Catherine Halsey only served to further the excitement and the way that story develops through the second set of five episodes and serves to heighten the Spartan Ops experience.

spartan palmerSpartan Plamer, The poster Spartan for crazy

The main thrill of the second half of Spops is the feeling that your characters “Fire Team Crimson” are really making an impact on the story and garnering more respect from the key players in the story of the Forerunner shield world Requiem. Where in the first half it felt as though it was all about Majestic in the latter stages it is Crimson who take center stage. This is good because this bunch of arrogant and annoying Spartans really were starting to get old (with the exception of Thorne), luckily Majestic take a back seat from episode five and onward. As the story plays out the episodes begin to gather pace and it really starts to feel like a Halo campaign rather than a set of boring “go here, press this, defend this, leave” errands, yes there are still elements of that but the maps and the way they are used in the second half, breathe a new life into the beast that is Spartan Ops and finally start to make it look like a worthy successor to FireFight. I won’t go into detail about the missions because I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who are yet to live out the experience which builds to an unexpected, exciting climax.

imagesThorne, he may have Hollywood looks but he’s got Spartan skills

Playing through with a group on Legendary is already very tough but I can’t help but feel that the addition of a FireFight-esque lives system would hike the tension levels and make the whole thing a little more interesting and challenging, 343 are promising to re-run the episodes though and hopefully this is one of a number of things they could and should add, skulls would be nice, as would a theater mode and having your medals show up as you earn them ala multiplayer and FF would be a nice touch, that said I wouldn’t have too many complaints if they didn’t add any of these features because this method of story enhancement has now proven itself as a more than worthwhile escapade. Plus it was free, all ten episodes of season one for not a penny is a complete bargain.

It’s a smart move from Halo’s new grand overseers at 343 because not only was it an excellent way to increase the games longevity and keep the fanboys happy between map packs, it could also prove to be a nice cash cow in the coming months should they decide to release what would most likely be a pay to play second series. We saw the success that Tell Tale gamesThe Walking Dead‘ game garnered with this kind of episodic content winning praise from all corners, including a game of the year award, this kind of game shows developers exactly what gamers are willing to pay (in time and money) if you put out quality even in small doses.

images (1)“Just let me figure out what you have to do next Crimson”

“Is it push this button?”

“…… Yes”

So what does the future hold for Spartan Ops, well it seems that the overall reception has been positive with most of the folks I have spoken to admitting they would be more than happy to pay up to 1200 Microsoft per season, I don’t think they could quite get away with charging 400 msp per episode without seriously increasing the number of chapters contained in each weekly release but who’s to say they won’t try.

468px-Spartan_OpsLets open a can of whoop-ass Spartans

eremenko

The power of 4

Red Guy – “Oh Shit!”

After our too long absence Quim has talked about his enjoyment of the Master Chiefs fourth outing so what I have to say is hardly going to be surprising but since we love Halo so much I thought I’d mutter on about it for a bit.

It’s a mammoth task 343/Certain Affinity have taken on. In attempting to recreate an experience which defined the console multiplayer fps experience, it was never going to be easy. So how close have Microsoft’s in house design company come to taking forth the mantle from Halo’s original creators? Damn close, so close in fact that Bungie would feel the clamy breath of the new wave Spartan IV’s on the back of thier necks, were it not for the Mjolnir armours visor being in the way.

For me this is the stand out new weapon, it was hard to believe any pistol could top the magnum or the plasma but if anything can this is it.

The pace and flow of the game is perfectly measured and all of our fears about ordinance, weapon waypoints and instant respawns were completely unfounded. What 343 have achieved here is nothing short of spectacular dragging the most possible from the 360’s ageing hardware but more importantly making sure Halo once again feels special and different to the other fps offerings out there.

As a Spartan the idea is that you are a super soldier, gun fire, explosions and vehicle warfare hold no fear for you and your mastery over any weapon you lay your armoured hands on. This is the essence of Halo and it shines through once again. The rush you get from scoring multikills, headshots and vehicle takedowns is something that just can’t be matched by other shooters. We’ve played it half to death now and each match is still insanely enjoyable and leaves you gasping for breath and wrestling with the familiar Halo shakes.

New game mode Dominion is certainly the pick of the bunch, taking elements from Battlefields Conquest mode but creating an altogether original monster that creates some really tense and exciting moments.

There are clearly still some teething issues with the matchmaking system and the servers (all of which could probably have been identified and abolished with a brief beta). The strain was way too much on the opening week rendering the multiplayer pretty much unplayable at peak times and more recently problems have been appearing that are at times game breaking, lag, glitches even mini Covies have all been well documented. However all of this can be forgiven because of the love and dedication that has gone into crafting the maps and the game types.

Personally I was never on board with the idea of loadouts and weapon unlocks for Halo as it does detract somewhat from the purity of Spartan combat but I have to say they have implemented them well here. Progress is much slower than it is in some games of this type but that’s to be expected when 343 have worked so hard to maintain the balance of the the previous games in order to make sure no one ever really feels as if they are at a disadvantage simply due to their lack of unlocks. This in itself is testament to the amount of thought that has gone into overhauling a game without destroying it’s core. I don’t think I have come across a single player online who had any problems with the way the game plays the only issues seem to be about the networking. Joining games in progress is never fun especially when you are dropping in so close to the end of a fight but that should mean you get into the game quicker….. it doesn’t work however, the whole matchmaking just seems broken especially when playing in a larger party. Many times we have had to resort to playing custom games which is actually pretty fun, especially game types like hog wars and 8vs8 Griffball which are epic.

All this said weekly playlist updates are working well to keep things fresh thus far and with more game types like griffball and assault on the horizon along with new maps and stacks of forge efforts already kicking about things look good for the future of Halo.

Spartan IV’s ….. they ain’t no Master Chief … but they’ll do.

Also the campaign is pretty damn sweet.

Thanks 343

eremenko