Thursday, 23 October 2014

Sneaking and motorbiking!

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Finally on sale, I jumped in and bought MGSV:GZ, mostly to finally get my hands on the MGS creator's, Hideo Kojima, newest gaming engine. For me it was a huge deal that the entire game and gameplay finally has been built up from the ground again and renewed. Playing the old MGS games, including MGS4 of more recent time, feels archaic. The controls are stiff and clumsy, and do not suit the smooth and stealthy setting of the series. Luckily in MGSV:GZ it plays like a modern third person game.

The game sets itself around an army prison camp, which you must infiltrate and extract a child during a rainy night. The game sets you far from your goal and introduces you quickly to the concept of a far more sandbox based playing field. Now you can fairly much take the route and style of getting there in your own hands. I also like that you can actually get there by being more action orientated, but thus making it even harder for yourself. It's more about letting the player take choices, rather than forcing a certain way of playing on the gamer.

At times the game can be fairly unforgiving and tricky to avoid being seen, but once you get into things it really shines as a game. The game looks good on the PS4, with crisp and clean looking graphics running at 1080p@60fps. While it may not have the level of detail and amount of fancy effects like other games of the current gen, it looks very nice in a clean way. I guess we once again have to suffer for the benefit of still releasing games on the PS3 and 360, sadly.

The main story mission, which works as a prelude to the main MGSV game coming next year, has a very cool ending and will keep you excited for playing even more. Luckily they have added a few extra missions to complete around the map. All of which take part at various daytimes and weather conditions, further showcasing the new engines diversity. One mission has you sneaking into the camp on a truck looking for secret intel, another is action focused and begins with letting you take the role as a helicopter gunner. All in all, it's a rather large and varied package for a cheap price to try out the "new" MGS!

While good looking, smooth 60fps framerate (sorry last gen, you get 30!) and far improved visuals, combined with a far more sandbox layout, the game still feels slightly clunky compared to lets say the latest Splinter Cell. Stealth games, with a lot of commands and equipment will always play a little slower and more cumbersome then run-of-the-mill third person shooters. The improvement compared to old MGS games though, is huge and feels like going straight from a PS1/PS2 game to current gen. My biggest gripe are the old-school, animations of Snake, damn it Japan, get those player animations up to date! They are robotic and look really out of place, like sticking animations from two generations back in modern game!

This title is an exciting new turn for the MGS franchise and Kojima, it gives us a great idea of how well MGSV: The Phantom Pain will work out gameplay wise. It refreshes my view of the series and gives me hope that it has returned completely rebuilt, almost like a reboot. Recommended for a low price and a fun sandbox army camp to explore and play in, though the main campaign mission won't take you more than around an hour. The hidden gem in here though, is using your time to mess around in the game world, and have fun and try out various strategies. Doing this will make it many hours worth.



Trials: Fusion

Most people have probably played a Trails game of some sort through the years. My main console from last gen, the Xbox 360, delivered two excellent Trials games. This time around it's ready for the current gen and looking more spectacular than ever!

Just like before Trials Fusion plays wonderfully and puts you through some amazing scenery to completing each level. The game is all about controlling your bike in a 2D game fashion, with increasingly difficult and challenging tracks. For this version they have really pushed the size and scenery of the levels. You jump down huge mountainsides, skyscrapers or desert hills. Each cup, which contains many levels, has a scenery theme. Each cup is opened by winning enough medals to unlock them.

The game really encourages the plays for one more try, with it's instant reloading to checkpoints, or if you're hardcore: right from the beginning. Completing a track fast and without failing earns you gold medals, which again unlocks new cups and levels. It's addictive and oddly balances perfectly between satisfying fun and frustration! Each fault you make, makes you try even harder and soon you start making perfect runs, but the road to get there is tons of practice and endless restarts!

There's even training levels that gradually learn you more ways to control your bike even better, as you progress through these you also get more powerful, yet more difficult to control, motorbikes. The later cups are a serious challenge, and I almost couldn't beat half of them. Over time you will get hang of the challenge of perfectly balancing your bike and making your way over huge gaps, jumps and hills to complete the difficult levels.

I've enjoyed Trails Fusion, it has a fantastic presentation, with spectacular tracks and looks incredible sharp. There might not exactly be anything revolutionary new here, but it's still as fun and addictive as the previous games. There's a comprehensive track editor for those wanting to make there perfect challenge (or nightmare) of a track to ride. Which again gives you an almost endless amount of tracks to download from other users.

If you enjoyed the previous Trails games you'll like the visual upgrade to this one, though there is not much new in terms of gameplay here. Those who never have played these games, and you don't need to be interested in racing games, really should consider this game for their Xbox One or PlayStation 4!