Halo: Spartan Assault Review

Halo: Spartan Assault became free with Games with Gold starting early June. For free its definitely worth picking up, however if you paid the full amount for the game I would be disappointed. Halo Spartan Assault is a beautiful game to look at, its done in a typical Halo style with some gritty areas made wonderful with glowing plasma. Apart from graphical beauty however, nothing stands out at all. Missions feel like a chore very quickly, they lack creativity and seem forced to make up levels. Usually there is a single objective, for example, survive till evac, destroy wraiths, get to an certain point etc. This also creates an issue of a lack of difficulty to go with the game. Most levels feel like you needs to walk in one direction and never stop shooting. You will very rarely feel outnumbered and therefore you will never feel like Halo Spartan Assault tests your ability at any time. The only time issues arise in Halo: Spartan Assault is when ammo becomes an issue, which happens often as ammo is sparse at best, its simple to fix though as all that is needed is to find a weapon on the floor. Halo: Spartan Assault was priced at £12 on the Xbox Live Store, average price for a full arcade game. I don’t feel like it lived up to the Halo name. It plays as a top down third person twin stick shooter, very similar to Call Of Duty’s Black Ops arcade zombies map.character movement is done by the left stick and aiming is done with the left stick. Its very fluid and easy to grasp very quickly, aiming is also helped by a mild sticky aim over enemies to help at long range kills. Grenades can become problematic with a lack of throw able distance making them difficult to judge at times. There are many weapons in Halo: Spartan Assault, all are returning weapons from previous Halo games. Halo: Spartan Assault has a poor story that never really grips at any point, it does add some back story to the Halo games that add depth overall, but you have to listen and follow attentively to understand, this is because the story follows 6 different Spartans, each Spartan has their own chapter in the game, with each having 5 missions each, making a total of 30 missions that rarely take longer than 5 minutes each and never take more than 10 minutes. There is a weapon selection prior to each mission, you can purchase other weapons to start with to help make a level easier, it will also help you gain points to get gold stars on each mission if that happens to be what you want to achieve. In game credits can be attained by completing missions or via micro-transactions. There is a co-op in Halo: Spartan Assault, however it is very weak. The simple option would be to have co-op on the main missions. Instead they put in 6 co-op only missions, which means some people may never play them as Halo: Spartan Assault is on-line co-op only. The co-op missions are fun but the experience doesn’t last long, very dissapointing. Returning for Halo: Spartan Assault are dual wielding weapons, something that has been lost in Halo for a few games now. Although there is dual wielding, you do not feel that same fun emotion of actually dual wielding in a first person shooter Halo game. It brings back memories of Halo’s 1 and 2 but never quite recreates the raw emotion that those games created. The issue is that this game never quite gets to the standard that previous halo games have set. The controls are solid and very well done, however there is a lack of map creativity and the story is poor. The game never grips you fully and there is a feeling that micro transactions are almost necessary. The co-op side lacks length and any depth, but can be fun for a short burst with a friend. The graphics are beautiful but the rest of the game lets it down completely, definitely not worth buying, but definitely worth a free download with the games with gold programme.

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World Cup Madness

As the ITV intro goes, Brasil, Brasil! The World Cup is only a couple of days old and already it has started off with a bang! Controversy, close matches and some fantastic goals have featured already and its only day 3!

The highlight so far and possibly the performance of the Tournament goes to Netherlands with their dominant performance over the reigning World Champions and Euro Champions Spain.  Netherlands have sent a pretty big message to every other country with their 5-1 crushing of the Spanish side that has suffered just 3 defeats in their previous 64 matches. It appears that Spain are now beatable even when they dominate with possession, they have lost a spark that not even a “proper” number 9 in the form of Diego Costa (I don’t like that he got to choose his national team to play for!).  Netherlands used the pure brilliance of Van Persie and Robben to tear apart a suspect Spanish back 4 and punished some poor decision making by the spanish goalkeeper and captain Casillas.

Brazil, the hosts are definitely not on form currently, scraping a pretty close win in a game that the scoreline doesn’t show. Brazil were given a penalty that never was, nice dive Fred (great name though). It brings a talking point of punishing players who blatantly dive, they need to be fined a percentage of wage or similar, they are ruining the game.

Disallowed goals are the major talking point so far this tournament. It may spark the talking point of having video replay for possible goals, or give coaches some challenges to allow decisions to get video replays. It would help a lot with poor decision making that are ruining games. Goals change games and when they get disallowed unfairly then something needs changing, its good to see goal line technology, though its yet to be used to its full extent. Now to take the next step FIFA, though FIFA are possibly the worse governing body for a sport in the world and needs a major overhaul.

I look to support England this tournament as always, I also Like the USA though they are unlikely to get through the group of death. I don’t think either of these teams will win the whole tournament however, this may go to either Germany or Netherlands.

England play tonight, chances are it will be a dull draw, however, it is a World Cup game, these happen every 4 years and we are not guaranteed to qualify. Get behind the lads, they need the support, the talent is there, they need a little push and some luck to get through though. Come on England.

 

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GTA Online Auto Aim

GTA Online is one of my favourite On-line experiences I have played on. It merges so many aspects of gaming into one large game. There’s the sandbox gaming aspect to start. Then you can play multiple variants of games, you can race and have as much fun as pure racing games. You can play death matches that are on par with some shooters. On top of these there are capture modes and team based missions to do as-well. I love it a lot, however my only gripe is the issue of auto aim and catchup on races.

Auto aim simplifies shooting in GTA to make it an easier more enjoyable experience. This is great when playing the story, especially as it helps find some sneaky enemies hiding around corners. It also helps massively with shooting targets driving past, however, auto aim does not work when you are driving a car which makes it much harder. I don’t mind auto aim on single player, however when it pushes over to multi player I have a bit of an issue.

Death matches are pretty dull at times, this is because the games are literally a test of who can pull the left trigger followed by right trigger fastest. You cannot help but feel like there is a complete lack of skill going on. Now there are options to force auto aim off for all players, however the problem is that the default setting is to have it on, which seems counter intuitive considering the games should be competitive and the most skilled player should shine through on every occasion, not to say the skilled players are not rewarded when auto aim is on though, but they are as consistently high. Targeting players at range isn’t difficult at all, getting in a car is stupid and a certain deathtrap as well!

So, how do we fix this issue? Well its very simple, take away auto aim completely, it takes away skill and gives very little to enjoyment. So Rockstar, I plead to you to take away auto aim or at the very least make the default option on death matches to have auto aim off. Please and Thankyou!

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Digital Vs. Discs

With next gen consoles comes the next conundrum, digital vs disc copies of games. As one of my friends said, why do they even bother putting disc trays on the new consoles, they shouldn’t be needed any more.

Here’s the issue, for some strange reason digital copies of games available on Xbox store or the PS store are consistently more expensive than the hard copy counter parts available on the high street or on-line delivery stores. This makes no sense to me they cost £10 more with no chance of re-sale, so you loose money at first with no chance to get anything back! It makes no sense!

Hard disc copies of games should cost more because they have to make boxes for the game, the manual (which are becoming worse every year) and the disc, then they need to send them out to various places around the world. Although it won’t cost much per game, the costs will be felt over the whole shipping amount. The only time I really want a hard copy of a game is when they come with something more in the box, like GTA and Elder Scrolls give you a map, simple yet much appreciated.

Disadvantages with digital copies of games is firstly you cannot sell the game on when it gets stale. Secondly, the time it takes to download can take a long time and in some cases people have download limits, lack of internet isn’t an excuse any more, pretty much everyone has it, if you have a next gen console without internet, then something is wrong. Finally, you cannot lend a game to a friend to play for a couple of days, not a problem that happens often, but it happens enough to make it annoying.

So, what needs to be done? Make digital games cheaper than hard disc copies, this way games developers will make more money in the long run, they won’t have to loose out to pre-owned sales and there will probably be much less piracy. Seems like a win win in my eyes. On top of this, sales can happen like steam does, PC gamers never seem to complain too much about steam downloads, they are always cheaper and then they get sales as well. Consoles are lagging behind and need to catch up!

I feel there must be a reason this hasn’t happened earlier. I feel like it could be people who don’t like change, so complain when its announced. I’m sorry but change has to happen to progress, get with the times and embrace it.

To finish, make digital games cheaper, it will make gaming easier. Thanks!

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Roller Coaster Tycoon

Roller Coaster Tycoon, probably a game that every single person I know has played. One of the great childhood games that if you hadn’t played then something was wrong.

Roller Coaster Tycoon came in and changed the gaming world. It became THE game to play. Being released in March 1999, this game is now over 15 years old but it still plays perfectly on Windows 8 and so it should work perfectly on all Windows platforms.  Its written in X86 Assembly code which is extremely strange for games of that era.

I found Roller Coaster Tycoon on a website called Good Old Games and it costs $5 or £2.79 and this included the 2 expansion packs the that were released at a later date, adding more rides and much more difficult challenges and some very strange areas to build.

The game is as familiar as ever! It takes 5 minutes to get into the swing of things again. There seems to be a replicated start to everyone’s park, the Merry-go round seemed to be the first placed ride of most people.

The game get much more difficult as you get to the levels that very few people seemed to get to when we played it in 1999. You start on simple flat lands with plenty of help on layout of park and some money. Later areas start on a complete blank canvas and to make it hard they don’t have too many flat areas. This means that you are forced to make your own roller coasters instead of using pre made ones that the game offers.

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A couple of hints: The log flume is the best consistent money making attraction, when its available make its really good and make the line long. Go-karts are always popular, make sure they are exiting tracks and people will come even if races are only a lap. Always remember to up the price of umbrellas just before it begins to rain. Also, park advertisements help with a quick burst of guests, use it just before your game ends if you need a boost.

I fully recomend playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, for £2.79 its a steal and it gives hours of fun.

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No Internet

People wonder how people would cope with no internet, I can tell you now that it completely sucks. Particularly as I do not have a phone, my only point of contact has gone. I have to go to other people houses to pick up internet, at least for the foreseeable future.

Our contract at the Uni house ran out a few days ago, we can’t extend it by one month, which isn’t too bad as Virgin Media is possibly the worst provider. We are looking into getting a month contract, it would help us all out with work etc. Updating my website will be difficult but I will try to get something up every two days.

You don’t realise how much you depend on the internet until its gone, its really strange. Its particularly annoying that it died when I was watching the first fight between Froch and Groves.  I can’t watch Netflix etc. Which is annoying as the DVD supply is a little bit low. No playing games with friends, and I will not be able to download the Free games with gold games this month, though I will have them ready to download in the future. P.S. Halo Spartan Assault is ok but I wish I didn’t buy it.

The alternative plan for now will be step 1, look for a 1 month contract. Step 2, find internet cafés nearby and abuse them to get content up. step 3 go home and get ready for the open.

I will survive without internet for now, It will be annoying after a while though. Content will keep flowing onto my website though so don’t worry about that!  And just incase anyone asks, I am still alive! Till the next time I get connected to the internet though.

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Season Pass

I’m not a huge fan of the season pass, I’m not really a fan of a lot of DLC, particularly the ones that literally add a skin to your gun… Looking at you Call of Duty!

10 years ago DLC didn’t exist, mainly due to bandwidth and download limits, back then you had the option to buy expansion packs. Pretty similar to GTA’s stories expansions. Expansion packs bought you tons of content, pretty much like a new game, even the original Sims did it well, adding plenty of objects and areas with each of the many expansions (they were all awesome!)

First Person Shooters seem to do the worst DLC, its consistently 4 “new” maps, of which one is probably a re-make. Thanks for putting a texture layer over an old map, that must have taken loads of work! To make things worse they try and add a weapon or 2 and try to sweeten the deal. At $15 per pack, making it $60 overall, the season pass seems like a bargain, but being priced £50 its not much of a saving, and you have no option a getting out.

Some DLC is good though, GTA V has been adding free DLC since release, they havn’t been adding new areas, just new vehicles, weapons, clothing, missions etc. Its good to see a developer throw out content to keep people going back to the game. At least most games don’t give you the same game and change small things like DLC, Saints Row 4 did this, it was pretty much Saints Row the Third with some extra content, definitely not worth $50.

 

 

I think I will end my little rant here, I don’t like DLC when it doesn’t offer me a lot of new content, 4 maps is not enough, especially when the game doesn’t work like BF4. I definitely don’t like being kept in by a season pass, its unfair to loyal players to force them to buy a game, then fork out the price of a game straight away for DLC. Until the whole gaming community turns, nothing will happen, unfortunately we will be forced to pay big prices for small updates for a long time.

 

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Call of Duty Campers

Some things in video games are frustrating, then there are Call of Duty campers…

I’m slightly biased on this topic, I see Battlefield as the slow paced game, where camping is more acceptable as the game modes generally implore attack and defend gameplay. Call of Duty in my eyes is the fast paced run around like headless chickens game where you should constantly be moving, no movement=lack of kills consistently for me! The most efficient way to kill in call of duty is to be where the enemy is, it seems simple enough put that way.

I get camping to a certain point, during a game of search and destroy when defending is where camping becomes a viable tactic. However when you find a person on team deathmatch, sat on the outskirts of a map, in a corner with ghost on, theres a problem. As Alex Sinnott puts it, they are “fuckwits”. I wouldn’t go as far as that term, however they are probably the most bitched about topic in the Call Of Duty series.

The other hated thing about MOST campers is that they generally aren’t good players, they use the element of hiding to make their skills seem better, however I do not see where the pleasure of gaming comes in when you sit in one place for 10 minutes at a time. I get bored sitting still for 5 seconds, but I’m a more impatient player than most, fast or nothing in most cases for me!

I’m not entirely sure where to leave this blog. I could say stop doing it because its really annoying, but too many people aim to annoy people. I guess the best way to end this would be to say that if you are a camper I have this to say “I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills acquired over a very long career in the shadows, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you stop camping now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you. And I will kill you… many times over.”

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GTA V Race Tips

When I play GTA Online, the game type I play the most is races. This is because I really enjoy GTA races, and the payout and experience is pretty good, especially for the winner. Here are some GTA race tips.

The only issue with racing on GTA is the people, they are either really bad, or actively look to spin you for no reason but personal enjoyment. So I thought I would help some people with simple tips to go faster and stay out of trouble.

  1. STAY OUT OF THE FIRST CORNER SMASH. The first corner is a definite smash-up waiting to happen in every GTA race, particularly when there are 16 cars going into a tight corner, the best way to ensure safety in these situations is to place your car on the outside or inside of the track. The crashes almost always happen in the middle, 90% of the time being on the sides will keep you out of harms way, just remember to slow down and try not to cut across the track on the exit.
  2. USE THE RACING LINE. It surprises me how little people know of the optimum racing line. Most players race with little idea of how to do it well. You want to make the corner as open as possible, you do this by going from the outside to the inside of the corner (apex) back to the outside. You will find that you exit speed will improve a lot from this.
  3. EXIT SPEED IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CORNER SPEED. What I mean by this is that most people throw a car into the corner a excessive speed and loose all the momentum from siding. The optimum way to race is to not slide, a sliding car is a slow car in most cases. (You will need a handbrake for hairpins though, most cars don’t have the turning circle to manoeuvre them effectively.) Slow down more for the entry of the corner and accelerate through the turn, you will have a lot more speed through the rest of the track this way.
  4. ACCEPT BEING OVERTAKEN WHEN CATCHUP IS ON. Don’t swerve side to side, trying to break the slipstream, it doesn’t work well and will most likely end it you and the car behind spinning off. You will get your chance a overtake the car that has just gone past, its how catchup works, however you should try and block when its the final straight!
  5. HOW TO REACT TO A RACE TROLL. When someone is actively looking to spin you, the easiest way to avoid contact/being spun is by braking. If the troll keeps attempting to spin you then you have my permission to spin them out. However, don’t assume that they are out to spin you, sometimes they may have been hit into the situation, its not nice being blamed for something out of your control.
  6. SLIPSTREAMING IS EFFECTIVE. Use it effectively to control the race from the front, with catchup it is sometimes better to wait behind first place till the last possible moment. 
  7. USE THE BEST CARS. Make sure you have the best cars for each race, don’t use a Sandking for off road, use a Sanchez or a Bifta. Most Super cars are closely matched, the Zentorno is my personal choice. Muscle cars are between the Ruiner, Dominator or Gauntlet. Sports cars are closely matched, the Elegy is the easiest to drive, then the Jester and Feltzer are close behind, with the Massacro. The only Sports Classic you should use is the Monroe, the Z-type got its stats reduced. Motorbikes are a toss up between the Akuma and Bati 801, its personal preference there. For Sedans I use a Schafter and coupe’s an Exemplar.

Hopefully with these GTA race tips you should find yourself higher up the leaderboards at the end of games. GTA V races should become a much funner experience as well.

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COD: Black Ops Zombies

My friends and I have recently been playing older games on the Xbox 360. Recently we have rediscovered the Call Of Duty Black Ops zombies and we have loved it!

We have been polishing our skills and re discovering all the secrets to each of the maps. One thing that needs pointing out it that the music easter eggs are pretty bad on most maps! However we always end up doing them, normally to our hatred 5 seconds after it starts.

Best thing about this zombies is the maps are all really good, there is a mix between challenging maps and more open zombie training maps. Obviously we started on Kino Der Toten, its the map that defines Black Ops Zombies. Its simple layout makes it easy for everyone to remember how the basics of zombie gameplay works.

When we first started playing I had forgotten where all the Perk-a-Cola’s where, what guns where on the walls and on some maps, the general direction we would normally go from the start, I still have no clue how to navigate Shangri La!

Quickly after getting back into the swing of things everyone seems to go back to exactly how we were 4 years ago, its great when it feels like you never went away from a game. Banter returns, everyone remembers their roles etc.

As one friend pointed out, there are times when friendships are tested. For example, who gets to play as Nixon on the map FIVE, we are simple beings at heart… the small things matter most. Being able to shout AROOOO is just fun. (We are big kids)

Remembering the point of zombies is important, how long can you last. We have set some pretty decent scores for us. We are normally playing with 4 players and we average round 25. As a two player game we have made it to round 39, its not hard to make it that far, its just takes too much time and we got hungry!

I would recommend you go back and pull out any Cod with zombies on and replay some maps! Definitely some of the best Co-op adventures I have had have been Zombie based, Cod is just very good at making it fun with some mild frustration, YOU DAMN MAGIC BOX

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