Halo 5 Campaign Review

Halo 5 Campaign Review

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I don’t know why I bought Halo 5 for launch day. I enjoyed Halo 4 but only for its campaign; I gave the multiplayer and Spartan Ops a few tries but the lack of Xbox Live! Gold meant that lasted a whole two weeks before I never touched it again. I suspect it has to do with my unending search for the next Halo: Reach campaign. That was an excellent and challenging adventure that tackled the Halo fiction from a different angle instead of being another galaxy saving romp.

I finished Halo 5’s campaign in four sittings and while I found it enjoyable in many respects, it left me feeling empty. The story was another one of those “save the galaxy” arcs that the Master Chief was no stranger to. The marketing wanted me to believe Locke was hunting down the Master Chief for disobeying orders but that was nothing more than a minor tiff. I wanted it to be more than a minor moment. I wished we spent more time tracking down the iconic hero and feuded with him. Instead, the situation culminated with a cutscene. Locke cracked the Chief’s visor a smidgen then the two heroes were off chasing down crazed Cortana and her plan for peace through total annihilation.

The decision to move to 60 FPS was the right choice. The game played sublimely and I cannot believe it took six games before they made this decision. Unfortunately, a number of compromises had to be made to maintain the framerate, the expected elevation in graphical fidelity and all the things Halo was known for including its larger scale battles.

343 Industries and Microsoft weren’t going to allow the next big Halo game to make its debut on the Xbox One and not be a looker. While the art direction was top notch, it still couldn’t hide the fact that the game didn’t run at 1080p at all times. It was fine in enclosed areas but when it got hectic in the larger battlefields, I noticed the game was a little bit blurrier than usual.

While the size and scope of the battles was larger than Halo 4’s, it failed to match the larger free flowing battles of earlier instalments. I was fine with this concession though. I’m not playing Halo for its vast worlds. I was looking forward to duelling with Elites and other enemies in moderately sized arenas; it’s the Halo sandbox that I was after. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like the enemy A.I was improved all that much. Disappointingly, Elites and other equivalents weren’t nearly as aggressive or cunning as the ones found in Reach.

The Covenant compensated their lack of Elite ferocity with numbers. The Prometheans continued to teleport around annoyingly like they did in Halo 4. Both employed more power weapons than I could recall. A recurring boss called the Warden livened the encounters at regular intervals with his copious amounts of hit points but instead of making his encounters more interesting through an ever expanded repertoire of tactics, subsequent encounters merely spawned clones of himself. By the end, the Warden reminded me of all those Destiny damage sponges that I found so very boring.

343 Industries took the time to create six characters to team up with Locke and the Master Chief. I liked how they were simply known as Linda and Frederic. They could have gone down the route of making them clones but they didn’t and I appreciated the effort. The last game that had three other A.I companions was Halo: Reach but in that game they didn’t design an encounter that was clearly meant to be tackled with 3 other live companions. The fight with multiple Wardens was a mess of my companions being too distracted to rescue me and the Wardens ganging up on me. It was silly and I don’t want to think about how that fight would be on Legendary difficulty.

I wasn’t against Halo 5’s move to introduce aim down the sights (ADS). I thought they handled it very well in this game; ADS didn’t affect a weapon’s accuracy. The different sight views gave weapons a bit of personality with their elaborate animations and styles. I also commend 343 Industries for their integration of the modern movement system seen in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I think they did a fantastic job and even outdid Call of Duty in that department. I don’t know if they should go down the path of adding wall runs in future installments but who knows what the future has in store.

I’m trading in Halo 5 for $35 over at my local Bestbuy. I don’t see myself replaying it and I didn’t develop an attachment to it like I did with Halo: Reach. It’s a solid Halo campaign but once I got passed the shift to 60 FPS and got down to it, I was left wanting more out of the game. I wanted the next jump in Halo artificial intelligence and campaign design. I didn’t want another story about how the universe can find peace if it was purged of all that was evil. I found the entire campaign too rote for what’s dubbed “the next big Halo game.” I was lenient with Halo 4 because it was 343 Industries first crack at the franchise. It was a bit formulaic — especially coming after Reach — but they needed to find their footing. I didn’t expect Halo 5 to stick so close to the formula again.

Verdict:
It’s okay

Ratings Guide

Checkpoint: Chevy Volt 2016 Edition

Checkpoint: Chevy Volt 2016 Edition

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

So after a nearly a year of waiting, I finally test drove the Chevy Volt 2016.  I enjoyed my hour or so with the car. It didn’t matter if it was through suburbia or highways, it was enjoyable for myself and my passengers.

The Looks

I knew exactly what I was expecting after months of ogling the thing through official photos and GM-Volt forum posts. Even the size wasn’t a surprise to me since the 2015 Volt was virtually identical in size with the 2016.

The Drive

The most noticeable difference in the drive was visibility. The 2016’s front visibility felt liberating compared to the 2015’s which was slightly claustrophobic by comparison. I’m sure I could have gotten used to the 2015’s much narrower view but with the 2016, I didn’t have to. I also want to say the side window visibility was also improved as well. I’m not 100% certain but I believe they increased the size of those windows. The rear visibility was more or less the same though.

The drive was similar to the 2015’s. It got off the line with a pep and did a decent job ramping up towards highway speeds but I wouldn’t call it exhilarating. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t miss the feeling of 200+ horsepower on the highway. I would have preferred if they injected an additional 25 HP but you know what? It’s not a deal breaker for a driver like myself; I’m the furthest thing from an aggressive driver and can easily manage.

The ride is supposedly quieter than the 2015 Volt but I couldn’t really tell. I was in electric mode in both vehicles so if there were improvements in quietening the internal combustion engine, I didn’t get to experience it.

I tried out the “regen on demand paddle” which was more like a button than an analog paddle. This made for very abrupt stops at the tail end of a slow down. I’m going to have to combine it and the regular breaking. I must admit: that regen on demand button is fun to use. Braking with a button turned breaking into a game of sorts.

Comfort

The redesigned center console is fantastic. It’s functional and looks great. The 8″ touch screen fits well and is the clear highlight of the car. I didn’t manage to try Apple Car Play but Sirius XM worked nicely.

The seats were comfortable throughout the ride for all passengers. The feel of the leather appears to be a step up from 2015’s which was what I was hoping for. The steering wheel’s leather still felt a little too plastic for me.

I wasn’t a big fan of the raised left foot rest; it’s a little too raised. I didn’t recall it being a thing on the 2015 Volt.

We tried sitting with three people in the back it wasn’t comfortable for 5’8″ person like myself. We three thinner asians fit in the back but I was too tall for the middle seat; it was definitely made for children or shorter people.

Making It So

I was happy with what I drove and barring some significant hurdles, I believe I’m going to own one.

I started Halo 5: Guardians earlier this week and I’m just about done the campaign. The lack of Xbox Live! Gold will curb any real desire to play the multiplayer right now though. I really want to try Warzone but at the same time, I hear the cards system that they employ for summoning equipment is a hinderance. It may be time for Black Ops III.

 

 

Did I Ask For This?

posted in: Game News | 0

Microsoft’s Gamescom press conference was alright. They showed more footage of Quantum Break, the first gameplay of Platinum Games’ Scalebound and announced Halo Wars 2 was coming Fall 2016. There wasn’t much in the way of mind blowing exclusives but it was worth the check in. I just don’t know if Halo Wars 2 was the best way to end the conference.

Hot Takes!

  • Quantum Break looks neat and if you’re going to feature the actors behind Cedric and Carcetti from The Wire, it’s bound to be pretty good right? I just hope they don’t lose the silly FMV shows like Alan Wake’s Night Springs.
  • The Scalebound demonstration didn’t start as inviting as I thought it would but by the end of it, I bought into Platinum Games’ monster fighting action game. Is it an action RPG? I saw damage numbers.
  • Halo 5: Guardians continues to look neat because of Warzone. I don’t understand why they’re trying to manufacture hype around the competitive “E-Sports” Halo scene though. I never see it mentioned outside of Microsoft’s press events.
  • They keep showing more and more Rise of Tomb Raider and I like what I see but this staggered release between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One makes me extra cautious.
  • Just Cause 3 looks bonkers and that’s probably best term to use to describe it. At this point I’m going to forgo Just Cause 2 and wait for the sequel to arrive and play that.
  • Forza Motorsport 6 sounds like a substantial upgrade in the details department and if I were in the mood for a driving game, I’d consider picking this one up.

And that was Microsoft’s Gamescom 2015 press conference and what I took away from it. Halo Wars 2 doesn’t do anything for me but I’m interested in seeing it in action. Maybe it will be awesome on PC and it’ll convince me to try a Creative Assembly RTS for the first time.

I didn’t ask for it but I’m glad Microsoft put on a good show.

 

Savestate: AAA Sky Falls

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

Assassin's Creed Unity Glitch

AAA games faltering

DRIVECLUB, Halo: Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity are still suffering from technical issues. They have networking issues, graphical glitches, performance drops and sometimes a combination of all the above. And these are just the high profile titles that have severe issues. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has its own controversy over dedicated servers but it’s being overshadowed.

Instead of dwelling on what is happening, I want to know why this is happening. The easy answer is to blame aggressive publishers that want to make holidays. But we’ve seen plenty of publishers make those timelines in the past.

What’s changed for this year?

Although we’re technically a year into the newest generation of consoles, we’re still not out of the woods yet with regards to console transition issues. Seven years ago, the first Assassin’s Creed debuted to horrible framerate issues and bugs as well.

In the case of DRIVECLUB, you can chalk this up to inexperience with networking. For the folks at 343 Industries, I can’t imagine it’s easy to get four titles humming along nicely (even if they’re remasters).

These are just excuses that I’m making up for these developers. They’re not going to tell us why these games are broken but they’ll continue to ask for forgiveness and patience while you wait.

Consumers are paying money for working products and if they can’t deliver a working product within the launch window, they should be eligible for refunds. It might be tough to convince a retailer to take back an opened game, but those who’ve purchased titles from Sony or Microsoft’s digital stores should receive a refund if they so desire.

Also, thank goodness for built-in recording and screenshot functionality.

Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack #1

Over at Nintendo’s little island of fun awaits Mario Kart 8’s first DLC pack. I bought it the dual pack and look forward to trying the new content. I just don’t know if it’s going to be sooner or later.

Random Thought of the Week

I’m addicted to Florida Natural Fruit Snacks.

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