Derek Childs storms a Castle or two in the new Halo 4 Multiplayer DLC

 

Hailed as the last multiplayer DLC for Halo 4, Castle contains three new maps for War Games.

Daybreak is a map that is rather odd and for a number of reasons. Initially, upon first glance, the map seems quite small, but upon wandering about the map for a minute or so without another player in sight, one will begin to immediately realise the sheer size of the map. Daybreak in that sense is best for those who wish to experience the game online, rather than through a split-screen setup.

The map can be efficaciously used for both deathmatch oriented battles and for team games the likes of CTF, with two easily recognisable basses allocated to the map. Each base contains a jump pad of sorts; the base to the north contains a pad that leads up a vertical chamber that allows one a great vantage point to snipe unwilling foes, whilst the one at the opposite base allows a player to quickly converge on the location of the turret, to ensure that nobody can easily escape their grasp.

Both bases contain a heavy machinegun emplacement that allows for a wide area of cover, with additional Warthogs, Mongoose and Ghosts positioned about the environment to bridge the gap between one base and another. The right side of the map is more open; the terrain a more green in colour, with a great ledge over to the side that one will probably rather not take a swan dive off. To the left, the map is more enclosed, with a cave system that one can easily become lost inside due to its repetitive structure.

On the right side moreover a Banshee can be found, which provides an unfair advantage to whoever takes control of it. However, the map seems to be ill catered for such a vehicle, because one is unable to fly to high, else they risk receiving the ‘return to the map in the next 10 seconds or get blown up’ message on their screen. This allows the Banshee to be quite easily commandeered by those on the ground who wish to rid the current pilot of their enjoyment.

On top of this, the default weapons that will be deposited into the map include none other than sniper rifles and fuel rod cannons that will prove to be of worthy assistance.

All up, Daybreak seems like a combination of many ideas randomly strewn together that altogether proves effective, though the entertainment can really only be enjoyed with a wealth of players to fight against.

The second of the three maps is Outcast, which is set within a mining installation. On the far side of the map, a vessel will often appear to escort miners from the fallen installation to safety, before returning to acquire more. However, very rarely will one have time to admire the view.

To the right, the map has a number of fantastic vantage points, some of which are additionally equipped with turrets. This allows players the opportunity to get the drop on others, which proves to be a necessary part of this particular map. The wealth of vehicles stored in this environment, from Warthogs to Ghosts, and the vast number of open roads one can drive though means that guns are not the thing you need to be most frightened of; it’s the deranged lunatics behind the wheel of a vehicle intent on splattering other players across the surface of these mean streets that one needs to keep a close eye out for.

Additionally to the right there are a couple of small buildings that one can hide inside for some brief moments of cover, and there are plenty of rocks and other pieces of debris lining the roads for one to hide behind. This becomes a necessity for when certain players decide to take control of the Wraith; you read that right, the Wraith over on the left side of the map. Much like the Banshee in Daybreak, the Wraith offers an unfathomably unfair advantage to those who seize control of the vehicle and thus, take control of the roads, for when this happens the match basically becomes a struggle for survival rather than anything else.

The last of the three maps is Perdition, which is no doubt the smallest of the three maps and the easiest to navigate around; a city where the primary reactor has gone critical, an imminent explosion however being the last of anyone’s concerns as they rush about the complex. The continuous alarms quicken the pace of the map and constantly provide the player with a feel of urgency. The centre of the map is a terrific circular platform that is shrouded in a great red light, furthering the sounds of the frequent alarm. One may wish to be careful here for although these is a railing, falling off the edge proves to be very easy – as Ron, a player who I versed discovered when he tried to run me down in a Ghost and instead found himself flying over the edge and down into the drink. I certainly hope he enjoyed the swim.

Much like the other two maps in this particular DLC, Warthogs and Ghosts are present, and the paths are very easy to navigate through, making vehicular combat an obliged necessity rather than a choice. However, those who choose to hoof it additionally gain the advantage of the default weaponry, which includes a fuel rod cannon and an incineration cannon, both of which can quickly turn the tide in any game. The inclusion of the energy sword however feels almost obsolete in an environment where one may garner very few chances to use such a devastating piece of Covenant weaponry.

For those who wish to escape the roads, there are a couple of rooms to be found on the sides, some of which are used for storage and others for high tech computer equipment. Unfortunately, these rooms prove to be the locations where weapons are deposited, so don’t expect to be able to find yourself alone in these rooms for long when the weapons start falling down around you like hail stones.

All up, Perdition especially feels like a parallel environment, with both sides of the map being reminiscent of each other, which, as previously mentioned makes it easy to navigate can also make it difficult to find where all the action is when so much of the map looks the same.

In conclusion, Castle provides the player with some frenetic vehicular combat, however I believe that the previous two Halo 4 DLC’s were more entertaining than what 343 Industries has included in this particular map pack.

At A Glance: Halo 4’s Multiplayer

 

The last post I published upon my blog was my impression on the single player campaign found within the new addition to the gaming franchise, Halo. Now, I wish to take a look at the multiplayer features. True, single player is an important part of the franchise, but multiplayer compatibility has become one of the single most popular and addictive aspects of gaming today.

For those of you who remember the multiplayer matches that were associated with Halo Reach, you will clearly remember that they were, in a word, disappointing. The maps were clear cut designs taken directly from the game. One however does not have to fear the same issue appearing in the new Halo game, with 343 Industries focusing especially on the multiplayer aspects in many of the interviews and previews they were showcasing before the game’s official release.

In Halo 4, the multiplayer can be found under the title of ‘Infinity’ the name of the UNSC Spartan super carrier. The multiplayer features of this new instalment are surrounded by a back-story; to keep their skills sharp, the Spartans on board the vessel continuously engage in ‘War Games’; where they upload themselves into holographic interfaces and fight one another in tactical game play, so they are expertly prepared for whatever is awaiting them on the battlefield.

Now, not only is this a new addition to the multiplayer system, but adjunctive changes have being applied as well. One, is the system of altering your general character. In Halo Reach, one had to earn credits to purchase new bits and pieces from the Spartan Armoury to beef your Spartan up with new pieces of equipment to make their physicality more, in a word, awesome. Playing the campaign and the multiplayer features of the game allowed the gamer to acquire points to spend, and additionally allowed them to ascend to higher militarised ranks which further unlocked new equipment, from helmets, to leggings, and even voice talent.

In Halo 4, the credit system no longer applies, but the rank capability certainly does. One will immediately find that almost everything is locked off, and by successfully completing multiplayer based battles, the gamer will be able to ascend to higher militarised ranks within the Spartan Program, and hence unlock new equipment and features that can then be applied to your character.

Another new feature are load outs. Players who couldn’t get enough of Firefight in Halo Reach might remember the automatic load outs that one could select from upon spawning. In Halo 4, one can gain access to load outs by completing sections of the multiplayer campaign, and can even design their own, which makes the game far more hands on and therefore, more fun, allowing you to begin any match any way that you want.

Now, on the subject of Firefight, that is another change which has being implemented; simply put, there isn’t one available with this particular new instalment. This may be considerably disappointing to some gamers, however, the replacement is the newly formed Spartan Ops, an XBOX Live only game where players sign in and complete operations together in teams, many of the missions having some reminiscence of the single player campaign. Although I myself have had very little experience with this particular game type, 343 Industries is promising much more variety in the coming weeks as other matches become available on Live, and the general speculation from many reviews is that such content will be unbelievably awesome.

Moving back to War Games, there are an additional three new game types; Dominion, Regicide and Extraction, along with the return of the Flood game type from Halo 3. Flood has being altered however, and now when someone officially becomes a member of the parasitic team, they completely change into a creature, rather than continuing to retain their Spartan appearance.

Other changes include small new designs with game types, including the ability to carry the flag with a pistol in Capture the Flag, and have unlimited ammunition for your side arm, allowing you to blow away bad guys from afar, whilst smacking them with the flag if they wish to pry it from your fingers. Oddball also comes equipped with the ability to throw the ball to team members, which means that when one is near death, they can attempt to throw it to fellow team members as to ensure it stays on their side for a period of longevity, rathe than having it fall immediately into the hands of the enemy. There is also of course the many new weapons, which add a new flavour to the fight. Trying to dodge rounds from the new Promethean weapons which can eviscerate you with a single hit (especially from the Incineration Cannon and Binary Rifle) is incredibly challenging, and the new ‘no grenades in the map’ policy (unless you specifically alter your map capabilities and change such a fixture), makes grenades more precious than ever before, the days when you could throw them around willy nilly being long gone.

Another change, like with the grenades, are the weapons themselves. As previously mentioned, grenades in Halo4 multiplayer can become incredibly scarce, and so too can the ammunition. Throughout each match you will frequently hear what can only be described as explosions – this is the sound of new weapons being dropped into the map, the HUD displaying the distance between you and these items. Players who enjoyed Firefight in Reach will see how this is reminiscent of the weapon drops in that game type.

On top of this, a player can be rewarded for their accomplishments, anything from ending a player’s killing spree, killing a large allotment of players or extracting vengeance upon someone who killed them being ways to gain access to one’s own personal weapon drop. Note however, this is only available in select game types. Each time this occurs, by using the D-Pad, a player is able to select from a rare few items to be immediately blasted down in front of them for pick up. This can efficaciously turn the tide of a single battle.

Back however to the lack of ammunition. In many circumstances, I found that weapons and grenades began to stop being deployed back into the map, and instead each player was forced to use all that they had at their disposal. For instance, in the level ‘Adrift’, my fellow gamers and I were eventually down to nothing but pistols, with absolutely nothing left to scrounge, and our only hope was to eventually bonk each other over the head, before respawning with enough ammunition to give players unfair advantages over those who were not newly endowed with fresh artillery.

Additionally, in regards to unfair advantages, in maps the likes of Exile, where players were given access to a vast majority of vehicles, those who had access to the Scorpion were especially capable of devastating the opposition. I myself managed to acquire a cool 350 points whilst driving around in the metallic beast before accidentally blowing myself up  because a certain enemy decided to fly her Banshee too close to my turret. True, the tank does indeed make winning far easier, and I’m not saying that to win is a bad thing, but it certainly lacks a challenge when your opponents, whether they have a Warthog with a Gauss Cannon, a Ghost or a Spartan Laser are unable to prove themselves a significant threat because at the press of  a button you can successfully decimate them all. My point is that to win without challenge fails to constitute an amazing win that one should be entirely proud of.

Moving on, as with previous games, the Energy Sword and Gravity Hammer make fighting up close and personal unfathomably fun, with bodies being tossed about the map with unparalleled power. Explosive weapons the likes of the Rocket Launcher and Spartan Laser will again make you flee like a Grunt if you are not as well accommodated in the map as your opponent, and the vehicles continue to add that special flavour that some games have not yet being able to replicate.

Continuing on with the weapons, on frequent occasions, weapons the likes of the Battle Rifle, the Rocket Launcher, Spartan Laser, Sniper Rifle, Sticky Detonator, Gravity Hammer and Energy Sword failed to make huge appearances within the campaign. With the influx of many new weapons into the game, thus could be understandable. What multiplayer does effectively well is allow the player the use of these amazing pieces of equipment more often, which is unbelievably fun to experience because such weapons desrve a far larger place than what 343 Industries provided within the single player storyline.

With other new changes to the game, along with maps that have being specially designed for this new installment in the Halo franchise, the multiplayer feature is looking to be an exciting new look on one of gaming’s most popular shooters. Can’t wait to experience what other secrets the Halo 4 multiplayer is dying to reveal. Additionally, any DLC that 343 Industries chooses to bring out in the future will be really well appreciated and enjoyed, because the designs for the maps in game are not only unique and well designed, but continuously add new and exciting challenges.

Thank you for reading!

If you wish to fight by my side, follow me on Twitter: @DerekChilds1

If you wish to have me as your friend on the battlefield rather than as your mortal enemy, come help me stop the Covenant on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/derek.childs.94

Doom3 BFG Edition – is this the Biggest Friggin’ Game in the Doom franchise?

 

Last week in Australia, our shores were graced by the arrival of no, not more ‘boat people’, but by Doom3 BFG Edition, which comes equipped with the original Doom, Doom2, Doom3, the mission pack, Doom3 Resurrection of Evil, and a new campaign consisting of eight levels titled ‘the Lost Mission’.

Doom3 in itself was a terrific action shooter that went out of its way to make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and boy did it succeed! The high definition reboot of the action classic is graphically sublime, and cannot be faulted in any way with the seemingly stupendous visuals that it throws at you in every frame. The in game movies have been beefed up along with the general gaming experience to fully immerse you within a realm that has been graphically redefined.

The monsters look absolutely terrific, and some, especially the Pinky Demon seem especially grotesque in their appearance.

The sound is in your face, exploding out from the speakers with an unrelenting fury as it envelops everything within the vicinity.

Moreover, the game itself has not been changed, so gamers will be able to expect all that they once endured and suffered at the hands of Hell’s demon spawn to once again suffer some more.

Suffering is the right term though for those of you who think I have lost my mind. Playing the game on Veteran – I had forgotten just how difficult it could be. It is easy though – as long as you don’t get hit by anything. After a couple hits you’ll find your character lying on the ground with his legs and arms in the air, so you need to be extra vigilant whilst exploring the UAC Mars Facility for the enemy can come from everywhere and anywhere.

There is also the fact that id decides to teleport in a demon or too into a room if you fail to leave in an unspecified time frame, or you decide to begin retracing your steps in an attempt to find some health or are looking for the cabinet that wouldn’t open before because you failed to have the right combination.

However, one will not suffer at the hands of the boss monsters. As one will recall, the boss creatures from the Doom games are never that complicated – all you require is ammo – you can never have too much of it. From the original Doom, in which you blasted the Spider Mastermind a couple times with the BFG to make ‘im blow up till now, the bosses of Doom have never offered the worst challenge imaginable, and most of them (minus the guy at the end of Resurrection of Evil, unless you have the strategy down) will be taken out on your first attempt.

The multiplayer experience moreover for those enjoying the game on console is strictly for online multiplayer, so don’t expect to go round fragging your friends in a split screen game.

However, id compensate for this by allowing the original 2 Doom games to come equipped with such a function.

Yes, Doom and Doom2 can be played on all platforms now, which is really impressive, although don’t go expecting the graphics to be any better than they once were. Hailed as the greatest graphics ever conceived back between 1993-95 when the games were originally launched, now they seem rather obtuse in comparison to games of today, but the fun they will provide has not at all been extinguished. What’s more, both the Doom games come equipped with all of the add on packs that were conceived, so for Doom you have all four original terrifying episodes, and for Doom2 you are granted the ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ game as well.

What is a little upsetting for the biggest Doom fans might be the fact that Evilutions (which wasn’t exactly the best Doom game ever) and the Plutonia Experiment (or, as I like to call it, the hardest Doom game ever – people may remember a secret level filled with Cyber Demons!) are not included in this limited edition reboot.

However, as previously mentioned, the multiplayer is capable of allowing gamers who experience BFG Edition on console the ability to either play the campaigns co-operatively or in a death match via split screen. Massive Doom gamers will no doubt remember the fun that Doom multiplayer provided back in the day – I mean, it was what, the first ever game that allowed people this opportunity?! That fun has returned and is exceptional!

It feels incredibly fun to once again blast your enemies away in these original Doom conceptions, although at the same time the music and the sound of all the items respawning is no doubt capable of making your brain turn to juice as you slowly but surely lose your mind.

I guess the only negative feature of the original games is the weapons – the keys to select which one you wish to use are incredibly fiddly and never will you properly get used to them, which becomes especially annoying during a massive fire fight. If that’s not enough, not all of the weapons are in the order they once were on PC all those years ago – you would expect the Super Shotgun to come after the Shotgun? Nope, it comes in as one of the last weapons.

However, do not let this little addendum cause you dismay; the original games are just as fun as ever before!

Moving back to the Doom3 series, although Doom3 in itself looks fantastic (although once or twice you can see something’s a little off but that happens in all games), when it comes to Doom3 Resurrection of Evil you can clearly see a difference when you start to play – it is as though whoever was involved in rebooting this particular campaign into high definition lost their passion after being involved rebooting its predecessor.

The graphics in game do not look quite as beautiful, and the cinematics – they have not even been changed. These parts of the game, of which there are quite a few mind you, look exactly as they did back in 2005, which isn’t all that bad – but when you compare it to Doom3 you can clearly see the graphical differences and feel a slight ping of disappointment.

Again, when playing Doom3 and its sequel the keys to switch the weapons can be a little annoying, but less so in these particular games than they are in the originals. Upon acquiring the special artefacts found in either game, these can be accessed just by pressing the left button on the D-pad, although it is annoying when the game fails to register your pressing need for the artefacts and so decides against giving them to you – often resulting in a rather unpleasant death.

As for ‘the Lost Mission’ and the eight ‘levels’ of entertainment that such a campaign provides – I’m sorry, but I have to ask – what’s the point? This particular campaign will take you less than two hours to complete on Veteran difficulty, and the supposed ‘levels’ (hence the reason why I put such a word in quotation marks before) are incredibly minuscule – in fact to even call them levels is a downright insult to the levels in the other Doom3 games which are by far larger in size than what you shall experience in this campaign.

In this new campaign you find yourself in the shoes of a member of Bravo team after this small militarian group were attacked by ravenous demons in the Empro Plant. Waking up to find you only have half your health left, if you are anything like me, you begin by thinking ‘what’s the point?’ (as previously stated).

In Doom3 and the sequel, the games both focused on you bringing a stopper to the invasions that had taken over the base. The objective, as you will find later on in the second level, is as follows; a scientist is in need of your assistance. Believing himself to be the only person who has survived the invasion, he needs you to be a good boy and go into what he calls ‘the other realm’ (why can’t he just call it Hell?) and switch off a teleportation system there that is still online and linked to the UAC Mars Facility. Worse still, the demons could use it as a means to travel directly to Earth! Good times!

Much of what you shall find in these eight levels look to be rehashed from the Doom3 experience. Segments in the Empro Plant and the Mars City Underground will leave you with great feelings of déjà vu, and the secret ‘Exis Labs’ that is supposed to be capable of bettering the Delta Complex upon completion looks exactly on several occasions like sections of the Delta Complex that it is supposed to be bettering!

A couple sections in the game are new, including running around, trying to hopelessly find the code to the cabinet with the double barrelled shotgun in it; fighting a couple of the enemies that appeared in the mission pack; the updated looking teleportation units, which look considerably impressive mind you, and at one point using the ‘Grabber’ to send energy from one pylon to another (think Portal, but less challenging).

When you eventually do find yourself in the midst of the ominous ‘other realm’, this I have to say does look very different from previous experiences in the Doom3 games – if anything, it looks a lot like Hell did back in the original Dooms, which classic fans will no doubt be impressed by. The final boss is nothing special though, but the big bastard will have you on your toes on a few occasions, but as long as you run and gun you will eventually prevail with very little injury on your first attempt.

All three campaigns for Doom3 furthermore will take you less than ten hours to complete on Veteran, however, don’t do what I did and play them all one after the other in a row, else you might find that you suddenly become Doom3’d out!

Long story short – you simply must buy Doom3 BFG Edition as to partake in the HD Doom3 campaign. The multiplayer aspect in the original Doom games is an additional reason to add this game to your collection, whilst the rest of the Doom experience seems a lot more like random bits and pieces that will mildly entertain you if you have nothing better to do.

All in all, a quick little appetiser to entice you for Doom4, which is supposed to come out on the 31st of December this year, but who knows? What can be said about id is that their games are always long awaited and very fun, with no bugs to speak of. However, never have they been really good at keeping to their schedules, i.e. Doom3 – meant to come out August 2004, then September and then October, and then eventually came out mid 2004. And don’t even get me started on Rage!

In summary:
8/10

-Doom3 graphics are sublime

-Doom3 cinematics are beautifully articulated

-Doom and Doom2 multiplayer is fun

-Doom and Doom2 graphics remain unchanged

-Doom3 Resurrection of Evil graphics seem less than exceptional in comparison to Doom3

-Doom3 ‘the Lost Mission’ seems pointless and trivial, yet flawlessly presented graphically

-Doom3 multiplayer strictly online

-Switching weapons is a lot like putting a red hot iron down your trousers – it’s a risky business

-Many levels, but rather short in all