Ubisoft and the Bastardization of Ghost Recon

This company is a heroin addict who needs its IP children to be adopted by a caring foster parent before it’s too late.

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Ubisoft, a company whose mission statement is mediocrity first and players second, has decided Wildlands will be the next installment in the Ghost Recon franchise. From high atop his ivory tower of corporate villainy, Yves Guillemot cackles deviously as he knowingly squanders 4 years of developers’ precious time on this planet, forcing them through wage slavery to produce yet another copy-and-paste open world borefest, squandering his underling artists’ valuable talents on a project he knows a disabled infant could produce comparable results for.

Where’s the issue? Is it the bland, uninspired open world? The wonky, B-grade shooting? The physics-less vehicles? The complete and utter lack of anything inspiring or original under the hood of a bland third-person shooter masquerading as a beloved tactical stealth franchise?

Could it be all of these things, perhaps?

Yes, it could. Now we’ve got another The DivisionFar Cry Primal, Watch_Dogs 2 to add to our collection of generic Ubisoft garbage.

Capture outpost A, slink around to outpost B. Use a helicopter to fly to outpost C and liberate the resistance. Protect a VIP as you escort him back to outpost A. Rinse and repeat for fifty hours. Jesus Christ, what a downgrade from Future Soldier, a game that came out over half a decade ago. Trading a tight, engaging and tactical linear narrative for a blase open-world snoozer is the dumbest yet most frequent misstep Ubisoft seems to love to make these days. Hope they love making it without my $60.

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World Exclusive: The Division Review (PC)

Having procured myself a copy of a game the world is dying to play, I couldn’t not go ahead and break the nonexistent embargo to provide you all with my thoughts on the next generation of third person shooter MMO RPGs. With online servers currently live for last-minute dev testing and nothing more, I’ve gotten ample time to play through the experience in its entirety. Here’s my full-fledged review of The Division.Tom_Clancy's_The_Division_Box

A desolate New York Cityscape enters my view as the chopper drops off my custom avatar into the middle of a virus-outbreak hot zone, and right off the bat I know I’m in for something revolutionary. Let’s take it back a second, and analyze that first part. Innovation number one of The Division: custom avatars. I can make my guy (or girl!) look like he’s white, Mexican, Asian or even black. He (or she!) can even have black, white, blonde or brown hair. In other words, the customization is detailed enough that it’s like looking into a mirror every time I see my character.

Now, let’s get to talking about the wintry NYC cityscape that makes up this game’s map. What can I say: it’s a breathtaking experience. All the grays and whites are so varied in color, the urban jungle literally pops out at me every time I turn the game on. And the snow, the snow does visual wonders. I practically forget it’s concrete tower after concrete tower from start to finish on the map solely because of how alluring the snow textures are. Star Wars Battlefront, eat your heart out.

Of course, the core of any video game is its gameplay. So how does The Division‘s stack up? Pretty damn well, I’d say. It’s visceral as hell, with enemies constantly firing bullets at you. It’s innovative as fuck, letting you do this insane new thing where you can close car doors. Not re-open them, but hey, don’t want to push too many boundaries before the sequel comes out, am I right? It’s immersive as shit, letting you crouch behind cover, a cutting-edge feature sure to spawn tons of copycat third person shooters down the line. It’s revolutionary as piss, giving enemies health bars so you can actively see how much damage your gun is doing to them. What other game lets you keep tabs on enemies like that?! But most importantly, it’s dynamic as cunt. You can play your way, anytime. Care to shoot a bad guy? Go ahead. Want to fire a gun at a not-so-good dude? The world is yours. Down to penetrate some unrighteous skulls with bullets? Have it your way. You choose your play style in The Division.

And the premise shouldn’t be undersold for its ingenuity. A deadly virus being spread throughout an urban population? That’s never been done before in the entire medium! Ubisoft isn’t just breaking molds with their storytelling. They’re making new ones.

You’re probably wondering about content, at this point. Just how much gameplay can you expect to enjoy in The Division? As much as you want. If you like missions where you collect stuff, get ready for the Game of the Year, baby. This shooter sends you on hundreds of missions where you procure supplies, guns, more supplies, food, and even supplies if  you 100% everything else. And rumor has it, if you 240% complete the game you can unlock an Aiden Pearce costume. GG, Ubi.

If you’re not won over yet by the groundbreaking innovation that is The Division, I’m not sure I can save you. But, I can try. If you’re on the fence about forking over $60 for the game and aren’t sure if you’ll be satisfied with your purchase, allow me to ease your nerves. You only need to spend $40 extra dollars to guarantee year-long satisfaction with your purchase and experience unsegregated gameplay through the revolutionary season pass system. With this, you can pay for the whole game up front and let the content come to you at a carefully planned pace designated by Ubisoft to ensure maximum fun over the course of the year. This game has your best interests for the next 365 days in mind from day one. You can’t beat that.

While I could comment on the expert voice acting and stellar performances in The Division, I just can’t find the right words to describe them. Same goes for the graphics, which have only been exponentially upgraded since E3 2013. So instead of rambling about all that, I’ll finish my review on this note: if you trust Ubisoft to deliver a quality product, then you’ve had this masterpiece coming at you for a long time.

Top 5 Reasons The Division Will Suck

5.) It’s an Ubisoft game, meaning not the one they showed at E3.Tom_Clancy's_The_Division_Box.jpg

Remember when this game was first advertised at E3? The graphics were stunning, the atmosphere was great and the gameplay looked intense as hell. Fastforward to now and the graphics have seen a MAJOR downgrade (the Ubisoft guarantee, a la Watch_Dogs, R6: Siege, etc.), the atmosphere has been replaced by an uninspired “shoot shit and roam around a boring sandbox” vibe and the gameplay? Pfffffft. None of the windshield-shattering bullet impact from the E3 showings is present in the beta. None of the detailed granules of chip damage as terrain gets torn through. It’s just a shoddy hit box mess of a bland, under-detailed shooter.

To put this in perspective, the developers’ biggest selling pitch is that you can close random car doors. Closing fucking car doors, people. You can’t even re-open them. “NEXT GEN SHOOTER MECHANICS!!!!!1!!!! INNOVATION1!!!”

4.) A Season Pass.

So we meet again, cut and planned additional content before launch.

3.) It plays like the Star Trek movie tie-in video game. That’s a MASSIVE insult.

It’s painfully generic. We have an over-saturated shooter market as is, no need for shit like this filling it. This game plays like Defiance, for Christ’s sake. DEFIANCE. Minus the somewhat fun dune buggies. That leaves The Division with janky-as-fuck animations, weak shooting and a lackluster series of hallway-like street fire fights with minimal strategy required on its game play resume.

2.) The beta is exactly what you’ll be getting in the full release (which is to say, nothing good). 

“IT’S JUST A BETA LEAVE THE DIVISION ALONE OMFGKESDC” said every idiot Ubi-apologist ever. Listen up, clowns. We’re a little over three weeks from launch. If the game you’re playing in the beta looks like piss and plays like piss, odds are in THREE WEEKS it’s still going to be piss when you’re dumb enough to plop down $60 for it. Is it bland and uninspired? You bet. But that’s a core design flaw that would take YEARS to remedy. Not weeks.

1.) It’s more over-hyped shovelware.

You’re paying for a game that looks like what would happen if the Metro 2033 developers didn’t give a shit. You’re paying for a game where you run around poorly mapped streets of a virtual NY piling THOUSANDS of bullets into assholes only wearing hoodies who won’t die. You’re paying for a desolate, washed-out, E3 downgraded Ubisoft game with minimal heart put in and the appropriate amount of quality to match. It’s got shoddy as fuck voice acting, piss-poor story telling, a pathetically bland and empty open world and gameplay that we’ve seen in hundreds of generic third person shooters before. If you want to be known as the idiot who paid for a game sold on Ubi’s trademark lie-hype, be my guest. Pay for a game that’s selling you on the promise of being able to close car doors in “intense” firefights.

Those of us with brains will be laughing on the sidelines with our wallets still intact, but don’t mind us.

Review of “Rainbow Six Siege” for PC

In a world dominated by piss-poor Battlefront reboots and multiplayer exclusive Titanfall template knock-offs, there exists Rainbow Six Siege, a game that admittedly falls victim to both of the aforementioned titles’ most damning symptoms: not a lot of content, and no single player experience worth a damn. And yet, even with those drawbacks in mind, I’d still highly recommend you go out and get it… on a few conditions. Read on and let’s see if Rainbow Six Siege is right for you.R6S_Screenshot_2_196930

Siege‘s biggest selling factor is its gameplay, plain and simple. It’s the twitchy, thinking man’s Call of Duty, requiring even sharper reflexes than the aforementioned title while also demanding a level of planning beforehand. No matter how fast your trigger finger might be, an opponent who’s booby-trapped the ceiling, doorways and floors and is hunkered down behind layers of wall reinforcements will always be faster. As such, you can’t just be smart, and you can’t just be fast to win. You have to be both. Click here to read more

Worst Publisher of 2014 Goes to…. Ubisoft!

While everyone under the sun can find a reason to hate EA, I’ve personally always thought they were at least trying to be more consumer-friendly than Ubisoft. This year proves my point: at every turn of 2014, Ubisoft has found a way to screw over their loyal consumers by releasing deceptively advertised products to the far worse downright broken ones.

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To kick off the blockbuster gaming year, in May Ubisoft released Watch_Dogs, on my birthday, no less. So, I go in with my brand new PC, all hyped up that I’ll be playing the prettiest and most immersive version of Watch_Dogs… I learned a lesson that day. The game looked like crap, ran like crap, the gameplay was extremely under-baked compared to what was advertised, and to top it off file diggers found REPRESSED E3 files containing visual enhancements that were deliberately ripped from the game for the sake of reducing PC-to-console parity. Un-fucking-believable.

After that, I decided that I would boycott Ubisoft’s big-budget triple A titles until they clearly got their shit together (Valiant Hearts was the only thing I’ve bought from them since, and that’s far from a major release), and it looks like I’ll keep waiting. Because as of 2014, both of their major holiday releases, Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, were utterly dominated by bugs, ranging from the humorous and benign to more serious issues of the game-breaking variety. Not to mention that Unity looked like nothing more than a visual improvement over past AC games. And Far Cry 4 would be a great game… if it didn’t look like a region-swapped Far Cry 3.

Maybe Ubisoft likes treating its consumers like abused spouses. But there’s a line, and any self-respecting consumer should know by now that they’ve long since crossed it and aren’t worthy of your $60 investments anymore.

Far Cry 3: More Than Meets the Eye

While I never did a proper review of Far Cry 3, I did in fact play it from start to finish. The reason I never wrote a formal analysis of its positives and negatives was that the majority of the game cozily resided in that “it’s fine, it’s alright” category alongside other unremarkable shooters. But now, as I reminisce upon gaming’s brighter moments in recent memory, the third Far Cry installment keeps coming to mind. At this point, I think I’ve successfully narrowed it down to two core reasons, two aspects that make FC3 stand out as one of the best games ever made; the quintessential “Shawshank Redemption” of the medium.images
One aspect is in the characterization. The main characters, namely Jason and Vaas, do not follow the tropes of regular survivor character arcs. They both end up as characters who enjoy killing, the blood lust, the insanity of it all. The player’s character, Jason, is not the kind of character the player can relate to. He starts off spoiled college kid, and ends as a serial killer who realizes he’ll never fit in with society again, but accepts that fact. His distance from our warped perception of redemption makes him that much more intriguing as a character. Vaas falls into the same category, but as more of a reflection for Jason to parallel himself with. Vaas shows what could become of Jason if he forgets to temper himself, as Vaas is the violent sociopath with no grasp on regulation that Jason is slowly evolving into. Not to mention Vaas is an exceptionally well-written character, featuring monologues so memorable that they’ve spawned some of the greatest memes in gaming history.

The other aspect that really separates this game from the rest, in my opinion, is the soundtrack. While I have favorite video game soundtracks, such as Remember Me‘s, Far Cry 3 just takes things to an entirely new level. It literally translates the theme of surviving against all odds into tracks of music, whether it be through Jason’s drug-induced reserved dubstep beats or the beautiful main theme used for Jason’s final speech regarding his reflection on what he’s become. While I’m not a fan of Brian Tyler, he’s certainly not bad at what he does, as can be seen in Iron Man 3. But this, in my opinion, will forever be the highlight of his career. His other soundtracks play it safe in that “heroic and bombastic” sort of way, whereas this soundtrack enraptures itself in the idea that the jungle is a place of foreboding and mystery.

I can sadly say that given Ubisoft’s track record, I highly doubt the developers even understand what made Far Cry 3 special and that Far Cry 4 will be nowhere near as consummate as its predecessor.  Let’s hope they prove me wrong.

Review of Assassin’s Creed III for Xbox 360

Three years of development, massive budgets and a colossul swarm of fanboys still aren’t enough to save Assassin’s Creed III from mediocrity.

Now, that may sound a bit harsh, but that’s really the feeling you’re left with once you finish the story and dabble in the multiplayer. Of course, there are some fantastic segments in ACIII, just not enough to make it the poster child of the series it’s supposed to be.

Story: Connor Kenway (Native American name: Rhadkjaspeiuofuh) is hellbent on creating a free and righteous society throughout the thirteen colonies of America, and to do that he must combat the Templars, who *seem* to have allegiance with the British. To be honest, the novelty of seeing Connor interact with revolutionary heroes never dies, which is why half of the game is simply phenomenal.

Sound: The music is good. It’s got that late 1700’s vibe to it, what with the little drummer boy and flutes. It’s nice, fitting and plays at all the right times. Voice acting is fantastic, and whoever voiced Connor and Achilles deserves a pay raise. Sound: 9/10

Presentation: The visuals are gorgeous. It’s a fact. Clothing has fabric marks, tracks are left in snow and water splashes when you step in puddles. Everything just oozes detail, and that definitely takes the game far. But what holds it back from true greatness is the fairly high quantity of annoying bugs. Why can’t Connor run up that tree stump? Because he’s falling in place with no signs of stopping. Why won’t he attack those soldiers? Because the attack button isn’t functioning. Why is Connor stabbing a rabbit with no knife in his hand? Because loading textures are overrated. Presentation: 8.5/10

Gameplay: The typical Assassin’s Creed fare, minus that silly rope sliding nonsense from the last game. Connor’s “duel wielding” doesn’t do scratch, and the combat is as awkward as ever. If there’s more than five soldiers in a fight, you’re boned. Countering still doesn’t effectively displace enough enemies for you to ever attack without getting punched in the balls milliseconds later, and the entire affair dwindles down to how many deaths you can induce by surprise.
Platforming is fun as always, with the highlights of the game being those moments where you can nimbly jump from tree branch to tree branch in the thick of winter with snow pounding on you and troops below unaware of your parkour. The only times scenes like this are interrupted is when the already mentioned glitches arrive, which is rare but common enough to be a nuisance.
Stealth is crappier than ever in this latest AC installment, with relatively little of the game having anything to do with sneaking and hiding. The vast majority of missions see you running straight in to the thick of the fight and cutting heads off, which makes you feel more like Chuck Norris than an assassin.
There’s an entire Naval Combat system that really doesn’t add much to the game as a whole, but deserves to be addressed. If anything, it’s the most refined part of ACIII and is actually pretty fun as a gameplay type. The ship handling is solid, the physics are great and the overall sense of being a pirate is fun. The only gripe I have with the ship gameplay is that there’s too much stuff going on at the same time (manning the cannons, changing mast positions, observing wind flow and piloting the ship at any given moment) but there’s only three or four mandatory ship segments in the entire game so it’s not that big of an issue. Gameplay: 7/10

Multiplayer: If you eat an apple, you taste apple. If you eat the other side of the apple, you still taste apple. The apple is AC Revelations multiplayer. The other side of the apple is ACIII multiplayer. They’re practically identical, just with two new modes and a couple new faces/maps. The only new mode worth mentioning is Wolfpack, which is the AC embodiment of COD. You go around with three other people, killing assigned targets as a group, which boils down to a bunch of idiots stabbing everything in sight. Fun, but the mode should really be called Assassin’s Ops: Black Creed instead of Wolfpack. Multiplayer: 7/10

Length: I’m a little disappointed. “Fourty hours to finish the story!” the gleeful developers said, making crowds ooh and aah at press conferences. “Fourteen hours to finish the story and twenty six hours to do the sh*t sidequests.” I said, popping the single player disc back into the case with disgust. The core of the game lasts under fifteen hours. It’s a fact. And literally six of those hours see you playing as everyone BUT Assassin Connor, so really it boils down to about eight hours of quality gameplay. All of the sidequests are generic, repetitive and have almost nothing to do with the story, and the entire experience just dies after sequence eight.
And then there’s Assassin’s Ops: Black Creed to add on another fourty five minutes of gameplay. Length: 3.5/10

Overall: This game gets 6.8 tomahawks out of 10. It’s not even at the average benchmark. There are moments of sheer brilliance like when Connor is dodging bullets in the Battle of Bunker Hill, but these scenes are short and only constitute brief segments, spread out over four story sequences. The other sixty or so hours worth of content in ACIII just isn’t interesting enough to justify a purchase.