Monthly Archives: November 2017

Star Wars Battlefront 2 (PS4)

bf2nxgY’all know I have a Star Wars… thing. Let’s not call it an addiction, that’s too confronting, even though it is. I want to inhale Star Wars. Have it shot into my veins and projected straight into my eyeballs.
24/7.
But until such a thing is legally and medically possible (and allowed by Mrs. NerdXGeek), I need to keep myself content by other means. Battlefront 2 being one of them.

Early on, gamers were promised that Battlefront 2 would address all shortcomings of its illustrious predecessor. The main shortcoming being the singleplayer campaign. Or lack thereof. With Battlefront 2’s Iden Versio and Inferno Squad wre can now finally experience the joy of blasting rebel scum solo (and offline!). Inferno Squad is a division of Imperial Special Forces. Following the destruction of the Second Death Star over Endor, the Emperor’s contingency plan is set into motion. Versio and her companions follow the late Sith Lord’s orders to the letter, but their convictions soon start crumbling…

Since I’ve been longing for more content that takes place in the years between episodes 6 and 7, this new storyline is like a breath of fresh air. It’s enthralling, and very well-written. No sooner than you can yeel “No blasters! No blasters!” I’m blasting my way through the campaign, flying TIE’s and gawking at all the wonderfully detailed scenery. Because visually all the stops are pulled. I can even count the pores on the commanding admiral’s pitted face. It’s like I’m wandering through the movies.

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Time to see if multiplayer is just as much fun. Battlefront 2 has been marred by controversy from launch. The random lootboxes and starcards, and the grinding needed to get new characters was frowned upon by many. And, even though adjustments were made, I can get what wound people up in the first place. Whichever mode I play, surviving for more than one minute at a time seems impossible. As soon as I set foot in the arena, I get murderised by a more experienced player. And wether or not the experience comes from just being better or from ‘buying’ upgrades, remains a mystery. The game does let us know what upgrade my murderer was carrying. So I can buy it for myself later on. Or grind for it.

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Still, I’m having a blast. The same visual splendor from the singleplayer is all over the multiplayer too. Everything just breathes that typical Star Wars vibe. I’m sightseeing more than I’m firing blasters in the enemy’s general direction.

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Battlefront 2 is just right on target with everything. Visually, story-wise, Star wars-vibey, singleplayer, multiplayer… It’s just a shame that the wonky lootbox and starcard system controversies drag the rest of the game down with them.

Jan

Need For Speed: Payback (PS4)

nfsnxgThe latest addition to the Need For Speed franchise is all about revenge. Tyler and his crew of streetracers were betrayed by The House, a criminal organization with ties in streetracing, gambling, and just about everything shady. Tyler, Mac and jess thirst for payback, and team up with a wealthy casino owner to take down The House. In order to do that, they need to start out at the bottom…

Payback has about every feature I want in a racing game. There’s shiny supercars that are upgradeable. A gigantic open world littered with races and challenges. Worshops where cars can be repainted, refitted and get stickered. Collectibles strewn about. There’s just so much to do!

The controls are so straightforward, driving a supercar was never easier. In no-time I’m swooshing through the vast landscape. As always, pedal to the metal, drifting, handbraking and boosting with nitro blasts. Good old fun. Each of the three main characters has his own style, so there’s different types of races to compete in. Drag races, offroad, regular streetraces, police chases… Add all that to the many optional events to be found and there’s hours of fun to be had.

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I do have some gripes story-wise however. Take that flimsy plot for instance… I didn’t expect Shakespeare, but anything with a bit more depth and a little less clichés would’ve been nice. Same goes for the voiceacting. I don’t know if it’s the actors or the subpar dialogue, but there a so many cringeworthy moments. Onliners like “Nighttime. This is when I come to life.” Uttered in different variants by the main characters are so full of cringe, they made me burst out laughing nearly every time. The whole plot sinks to the level of a bad B-movie. Which would be fun, if it was meant that way. But unfortunately, Payback takes itself way too seriously.

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But let’s not forget the main reason for playing: racing! I can ignore the story, even though there’s so many cutscenes interrupting playtime. Not only plotadvancing scenes, but also action sequences. Nice, but I would’ve rather played through these action scenes myself. Now I’m getting the feeling I’m only allowed to drive from stunt to stunt, but not allowed to perform one.

Let’s stick to racing then. Which is great fun on its own. With each victory I come closer to taking down The House. I need to beat other crews first, and every race has a level assigned to it. If my car’s level is lower, my chances of winning are small to non-existant. I can level up by replaying earlier races. Again and again and again and again… If that’s too tedious, I can also whip some real cash out and buy my way up via microtransitions…

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Payback also found a new way of upgrading cars. Where I expected having to buy and fit parts to my car, there is now the speedcards system. After a victory, I’m allowed to draw a random card. That card is an upgrade for a random part, of a random level and a random brand. If I have no need for the card I’ve just won, I can sell it. It’s all great at first, but further in the game, getting that specific card I need depends too much on luck. It degrades the whole upgrading from an art to a base level of gambling.

What to do with Need For Speed Payback. On the one hand, I like nothing better than racing through the open world with its vast landscapes and detailed vistas. On the other hand, the story, the grinding and the wonky upgrading throw a spanner in the cogs.
One and a half thumbs up, one thumb down.

Jan

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (PS4)

wolf2nxgThe nazis. Has there ever been a group that’s been used more as antagonist in games? I don’t think so. There’s just something about blasting apart a fanatic that’s so oddly… Satisfying. Even more so when you’re doing it inside the Wolfenstein franchise.

In Wolfenstein 2: The new Colossus, players once again take on the role of Billy B.J. Blazkowicz. At the end of the previous episode, B.J. was left horribly wounded and mutilated. At the start of this new installment, he awakens from a coma to the sound of blaring alarms. Paralysed from the waist down, he already has to repel Nazi boarders from the submarine he and his resistance pals are on. Which is not an easy feat, considering he’s in a wheelchair. Strafing becomes near impossble, rolling forward is incredibly slow and don’t even get me started on shooting with one hand and steering with the other.
Just like real life.
At least, I think so.

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Fortunately, Billy can scavenge some powerarmour real soon. The armour has him skipping about, just like before. What also feels familiar to previous games are a few of the elements that made playing that extra bit fun. The dual wield system, for example. The ability to use two different weapons at the same time is just so much fun. Or the perks, with which one can upgrade Billy’s abilities. New to this game are the assasination missions. At certain points in the game, Billy can find intel. Whenever I have a certain number of those, I can play an optional assasination mission. While short and not obligatory, these missions reward players with gear that was only available through some ingame choices. Take one choice, lose the gear that was behind option number two. Or get it by doing these assasinations.

Visually the game is just rocking it. Wether strolling through a submarine, hiding in the streets of a ghetto or trekking through the New Mexico desert, it just feels real. From the tiniest grain of sand to the gritty interior of an enemy base… I just believe I’m there, no matter how over the top the plot is.

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Storywise everything is perfect as well. BJ and his crew fight against a naziregime that won WWII. The United States are now a Reich territory and that has consequences. These are not the sixties you know. These are sixties without The Beatles, but with German popband Die Kaefer. With urban streets where German soldiers and KKK members are fraternizing. It all makes for a believeable “What if” version of the postwar period, with an extreme amount of detail.

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The game is quite long, and still has a great replay value. Wolfenstein 2 is rich with extras. Star cards, gold,… Each level is bursting with collectibles that players can only find if they search every nook and cranny of the environment.

I can not recommend Wolfenstein 2 enough. A must-have, a great game, a nazishooter deluxe,… Call it what you will, but go get it right now. Your Playstation/PC/Switch/XBOX deserves it.

 

Jan