Gears of War – Ultimate Edition Review

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Nine years. It has been nine years since the original game appeared, a game put up as the Xbox 360 poster child and the title that for many went on to define the console every bit as much as Halo. Nine years since the phrase emergence holes, locust and eat shit and die was a thing. Nine years is a long time for mechanics to hold up, let alone still be enjoyable. Which makes it all the more impressive that it manages to still thrill, entertain and satisfy.

Of course, a lot has changed in those years, not least three other Gears titles that have expanded on the mechanics and locations of the lore. In light of this the more compact nature of the original title is both a blessing and a curse, a game with a simple plot that equates to get the bomb and make sure it explodes. In between the rule is to shoot everything, chainsaw as much as possible and try not to get blown into little pieces. Taking place in a relatively limited amount of locations the accusation that Gears was always a brown game with splashes of red is not entirely undeserved.

It is certainly not an ugly game, however, and the upgraded visuals show off an art style that can still impress today. While this may not be in the same league as other titles releasing this holiday season the destroyed beauty aesthetic holds up in creating stunning vistas. There are some performance hitches and pop in, most commonly at the start of each act, but these are few and far between and rarely impact the moment to moment running and gunning.

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That moment to moment is still the defining feature of this game and still creates an intense thrill when you find yourself in the middle of a firefight. Coming back to the game highlights the quality of arena design that Epic managed to create, each a little puzzle of cover and tactics where thinking on your feet is as much part of the skill as finding the best place to hole up and fight back.

Added to that the weapons remain outstanding to use. Figuring out how to convey both a feeling of viciousness and weight is an art that the Gears had nailed down from the start. Amplified by the way the locust are eviscerated there is a unique feeling to the arsenal that has rarely been replicated in any other shooter. They sound violent, they look violent and when used they act violently. Combined with outstanding sound design these are weapons that you want to shoot when playing, they provide that all-important feedback loop that makes you want to progress simply to find more reasons to use them.

Which does bring us onto an issue? While the more linear nature of the level design never stood out before progress has not been kind to this particular aspect of the original game. Corridors lead a linear path into  occasionally expanded areas, but the confined spaces can feel too prescriptive during level progression, leaving opportunities to explore limited to simple collectible hunting in amongst the grey and brown hues. There is also a lack of verticality in most of the levels, everything taking place on a mostly horizontal axis in front of the player with the occasional requirement to look upwards.

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There is also a noticeable dip in chapter five where the proliferation of the torque bow, a one hit kill explosive weapon, creates an annoying stop and start rhythm to the combat which previously had been more free-form and explorative in the way it presented itself. This leads to a higher degree of frustration as the peeks out of cover initially used to scope the environment can lead to an instant death and a trudge back to a checkpoint that can be placed before a major firefight that had just been completed.

Which leads to the odd issue of a shooter where nothing is unexpected, everything is in front of the player and few surprises exist. And that is if you are playing it new, having never set foot in the original title on the Xbox 360. Despite this, it provides an adventure that retains all the impact and enjoyment that heralded the influence it retains to this day. Playing through this again shows just how well Epic had crafted a game that relied on a simple premise with an outstanding execution. There are few experiences with a gun that can match the lancer bayonet, which means this old age shooter can still mix it up with the best out there.

Pro’s

Still a well crafted top class shooter

Cons

Some pacing issues

Very linear

Score Xbox One 8/10

The Ultimate Destiny Money Saving Guide

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We all know that if we want to buy the digital versions of newly released games we are going to be paying a premium. Yes it sucks, but at the moment we have to just suck it up. Luckily there are ways of making your money go a bit further when buying digital games if you know the right tricks.

With Destiny being released very soon, we are getting lots of queries about how to get the digital versions cheap, so we will list a few ways of getting the most for your space bucks here.

Destiny Buy Last-Gen Get Next-Gen Free

News was recently released that for those people that buy the PS3 or Xbox 360 digital versions of Destiny, for a limited time you can download them for PS4 and Xbox One for free.

For our fans who will be entering the Destiny universe first on PlayStation®3 or Xbox 360 we have some great news! For a limited time, whenever you buy a digital copy of Destiny, you will be able to download the next-gen version within the same console family for FREE.

Full details can be found here

*We are not entirely sure if this applies to all versions of the game or just the standard edition

Deals

Most of these deals will require you to use the CDKeys discount code, full details of which can be found here

The discount code can only be used on one product at a time, so place each item as a separate order to maximise your discount.

Xbox One / 360

The Xbox 360 version is £49.99 on the Xbox Store but you can get it for £41.71 by picking up this deal

The Xbox One Launch version is £54.99 You can get this at a reduced price of £46.36 by picking up this deal and this deal and combining the credit. It is best to place them as two separate orders as you can only use the discount code stated in those deals on one product at a time only.

Xbox One Destiny® Digital Guardian Edition is £84.99 but you can get it for £72.51 by picking up this deal and this deal and this deal

or

Xbox One Destiny® Digital Guardian Edition is £84.99 but you can get it for £83.42 by picking up two of this deal – This will then leave you with £16.60 spare credit to spend on the Xbox Store

or

PS3

The PS3 version is £49.99 on the Playstation Store but you can get it for £41.58 by picking up 2 of these deals.

PS3 Destiny® Digital Guardian Edition is £79.99 but you can get it for £67.35 by picking up 2 of this deal and one of this deal. We are not entirely sure if the free next gen upgrade applies to this version, so please do your research first. remember, place each item as a separate order to be able to use the discount code for each one.

PS4

Option One : The PS4 bundle is £54.99 but can be picked up for £46.57 by picking up 2 of these deals. That will give you £50 discounted credit, then you can pay the remaining £4.99 as you normally would on the PSN or you can use this deal too and save another 26p.

Option Two : Pick up this deal and this deal for £49.72. This will then leave you £5.01 spare PSN credit

PS4 Destiny® Digital Guardian Edition is £84.99 but you can get it for £72.09 by picking up 2 of this deal also this deal and this deal 

Disc versions

You can pick up the disc version on PS4 and Xbox One for £34.85

Season passes

Xbox One £30.12 here

Xbox 360 £30.12 here

PS4 £28.93 here

PS3 £28.93 here

Hardware

Get an Xbox One with Destiny for only £319.99 here

Get an Xbox One console, Destiny and Halo Masterchief Collection for £349.00 here

Get a PS4 console plus Destiny for £329.00 using this deal

These were the best deals available and in stock at time of publication, if any of the deals expire you can take a look at CD Keys.com & SimplyCDKeys for alternative deals. If you can find a better combination of pre-paid credit deals to get the games cheaper than we have stated, please use the comment box below

Please check all prices, offers and discounts are still active before you decide to purchase

 

Games With Gold September 2014 – What’s Free

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Here is the list of free games available on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One to Gold Members only. Don’t forget you can save lots of money on Xbox Live Gold Membership and Microsoft credit here

Source : Xbox.com

Get £25 Xbox credit for just £22.31 here

Get £40 Xbox credit for just £35.15 here

Get £50 Xbox credit for just £41.71 here

Everything That Is Wrong With Call of Duty: Ghosts

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Everything That Is Wrong With Call Of Duty: Ghosts    **SPOILER ALERT**

Call of Duty: Ghosts has come under a lot of fire for many reasons and I understand why. The game itself feels less like any other Call of Duty I’ve played, I find it disappointing- but it would be important to say I don’t hate the game. I feel indifferent to it. To me it just doesn’t feel like Call of Duty. So I’ve decided to go through and highlight some of the games shortcomings and list exactly where I think this Call of Duty game has gone awry, and where it is too much of the same.

It all starts with the Campaign. Am I the only one with a bad case of Déjà vu?  During the first mission, ODIN is unleashed and Logan (played by you) and Hesh manage to survive the blast from a flying gas tanker. Once you awaken you may think you were playing a remake of the last mission from Modern Warfare 2. It is in fact a cut scene that has been recycled. The fact they seemingly did this does them no favours, when people all over the internet are claiming that every game is a re-skin of the previous. It takes more than four years for CoD fans to forget what many consider the greatest Call of Duty of all time.

The Campaign also doesn’t deliver as much of a punch as previous core games of the series. It’s not as emotionally captivating as the Modern Warfare series – it doesn’t take us through as many twists and turns as the Black Ops series. It feels almost hollow, with the main focus being on becoming a ‘Ghost’- which y’know, is the most important thing during the end of the world- well that and your attack dog.

Multiplayer… Now where do I begin? Since day one it has been riddled with spawning issues, framerate issues, a lack of what I would define as good killstreaks. Seriously unbalanced weapons and not to mention some very poorly designed maps.

I have video -clips in my OneDrive/XboxOne uploaded of some serious spawn killing, I’m sure other seasoned players can testify to this, as do the videos I have linked on this piece.

I’m not just talking about camping in or near a spawn and picking off people as they run out. I mean people spawning in front of me and me in front of them.  Now, you would think that as the maps are so huge this should NOT be happening, that there would be a radial spawn field that would make sure there are no opponents within that specific area before you spawn. What makes me laugh, is there has been several updates yet none really seem to address the problem.

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The frame rate issues have only really came about since the update that prepared for the Onslaught DLC pack. Although it is less noticeable on smaller maps- maps like “Stonehaven” have been affected with reports of between 45-60fps fluctuations on this map particularly. Also the field order for the map “Containment” creates a plethora of frame drops, leaving the experience feeling partially broken. Whilst aiming down the sights of a sniper rifle you will get about 30fps, frame rates are also dropping because of explosives and effects that use an alpha base. 60fps is what Call Of Duty is really known for, yet some report frame rates below 20fps and it’s yet to be fixed.

Before fix

After Fix


The kill streaks: In the beginning we had bulletproof dogs and invincible squad mates, now that they have leveled and balanced them to a degree. But what’s the point in going for high kill streaks when in all honesty-they suck? Gryphon’s are useless, unless you’re a perfect shot- they almost always take two shots (with explosives?). LOKI is pretty useless because of the sheer amount of buildings to hide in (same situation with Helo Pilot), not to mention how long it actually takes to fire and for the shot to be received.  Rather than kill streaks they should just allow you a pack of IED’s for your kill streak. How often can you escape an IED? Even with lightweight and marathon if you tripped that IED you will most likely die even if you’re the other side of a wall.

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The maps are generally pretty awful. A lot of them are far too big, and offer far more to campers than to people who enjoy fast paced action (which is what Call Of Duty WAS). It seems like you have to run 3 miles to see anyone, only to get killed by someone who has just spawned behind you and shot you in the back. There are FAR too many head glitching points, the game seems to give unfair advantage to those willing to use the dirty tracker sight and sit in one place the whole game.

OVERALL , I can honestly say I don’t hate the game, I’m just disappointed with it. It doesn’t offer much in terms of mixed game play, like previously stated- it seems to ally itself with CoD campers. I am a rush player, and have found I have to slow myself down and adapt to this game. I honestly think that maybe Infinity Ward is tired. With Respawn Entertainment (seemingly the talent of Infinity Ward) releasing Titanfall later this month it will be interesting to see how many players will actually remain on Call of Duty: Ghosts.

I think there is a possibility that the combination of Raven, Infinity Ward and Neversoft may be removed from the cycle if Sledgehammer does well and IW do not step up to the plate with their next game.  All the problems with this game so far seem like amateur mistakes; maybe these are something to do with Raven and Neversoft? I don’t know, but this is not what I expected from Activision and Infinity Ward.

 

Author: Mark Kerry

Platform Played: Xbox One

Videos Courtesy of DigitalFoundry and satantribal