The Division

Overjoyed with my recent paycheck, I thought I’d treat myself to Ubisoft’s The Division. Spoiler alert, I returned The Division within an hour and a half of playtime – you’ll find out more about that in this (relatively short and sweet) post.

When The Division was released in March, I largely ignored it. I’d enjoyed Destiny in the past, but I didn’t think that Ubisoft’s attempt at an MMO third person shooter would be particularly good. Their push toward the ‘Ubiworld’ style of game is off-putting, with most games (including a particular favourite of mine, Assassin’s Creed) being a slightly different world with the same objectives; short introduction to the world with control tutorial, large blacked out map that you reveal by attacking and conquering outposts, then fast travel between each one to run between mission markers.

The Divison screenshot
It begins so well…
From Ubiblog

When this genre of MMO third person shooter had been done so well by Destiny, it felt like a cash-in on Ubisoft’s part.

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Halloween Special: Outlast

To celebrate Halloween this year, I picked up a few horror games on the Steam sale to tide me over. Not that I’m a fan of horror games, but one night of jumpscares a year is enough. Last year, I tried Five Nights at Freddy’s but ran out of power at 4am on Night 2, with two animatronics advancing on the office, and noped the hell out of there.

Thankfully I’ve played a bit more of a horror game this year – in fact I’ve played more of 3 – so here are some of my thoughts on Outlast.

The premise behind Outlast is very interesting: you are an investigative journalist, poking around a mental asylum with only your trusty video camera by your side – this comes with a handy night vision setting, so you can use it to look through dark areas. You can’t fight back, you can only run and hide. It’s unsettling to play a game where you can’t really do anything, when you would usually expect to have a Glock and a steady hand. 

Exploring the asylum is nerve wracking, fearing what might be around the corner and running at the first sight of trouble. Just what you’d expect if you were actually there. 

You’re on a timer when you’re in the dark, as the camera battery will drain out so you’re relying on memory and hope that there isn’t something waiting for you in the corner. Batteries are scattered around, but they’re tiny and easy to miss. You are expected to ‘reload’ your battery as well, another clever twist on the usual format.

The story is dripped to you piece by piece as you explore and point your camera at different bits of intrigue and record something. Only once (in my playtime) was something jumpscared into my notepad. It would be nice if there was a little more direction for what you’re meant to be recording, because my camera was up and down all the time – but, in the thick of it, how would you know what’s important?

Outlast is a tense and confined experience, forcing you to stare through a camera lense to see where you’re going to hiding in a locker when a patient is on the prowl. It turns a number of usual concepts on their head to present the story to you, taking the player out of their comfort zone – but, for this experience, it works. You are just a reporter looking for a big scoop, all you have is a camera – even in America you’d be pushed to lug around a gun for protection, let alone finding ammo in a hospital.

Catching Up

It’s been a while – a little bit of writer’s block and a lack of new things to play has stopped me from writing anything for the past few weeks, but I have been keeping some notes aside to help me put something together today. As far as The Gamepad goes, the domain is mine and can be live but I’m just trying to make sure things look good.

At the beginning of the month was Play Expo Manchester, held at EventCity near the Trafford Centre. Tickets were fairly cheap for the day only, so we grabbed a pair for Saturday – doors open at 10, but we’re fashionable and cool, so we arrived for 11.

The anonymity of using my character name on this website is now completely lost. Oh well.

It was a pretty interesting day, although I don’t think I have the patience to stick around for too long – however, we did get to have a look at a couple of cool indie games that I’d like to share with you.

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Pokemon Go

As I’m walking back from my local park, all of my exposed skin bitten and sunburnt, I thought I’d let you know why. It’s not because I have a crippling heroin addiction, though I imagine opiates would be more beneficial to my health than staring down at my screen hunting imaginary animals. If only because I wouldn’t have this crick in my neck and a little further away from a stress induced aneurysm.

Pokemon Go was released in the UK this week, officially, and downloaded illegally the week before by plenty of nostalgic adults who wanted to catch a Pikachu. It has immediately became more popular than Taylor Swift, Kanye West and – I’m starting to get a bit lost, so let’s say – Justin Bieber combined.

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Mini Metro

If I ever wanted to recommend a game that was purely for winding down and not doing anything, it would be Mini Metro. It is a very simplistic subway simulator, linking up new stations with lines and making sure everyone gets where they want to go.

It couldn’t be easier to play; when you start a level, there are some shapes and nothing else. Draw a line between two, another line between the other two and you’re immediately qualified for the job. Keep watching and passengers will appear by stations, loudly declaring their destination. A train will swoop by, collect them and glide them over there.

mini metro 1

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