For Honor

For Honor

A War Ultimately Won

When For Honor was originally announced as Ubisoft’s brand new IP back in E3 of 2015, it was met with a fair amount of uncertainty and scepticism, and for good reason. Ubisoft didn’t have a very good track record at the time, with titles such as Watch_Dogs and Assassin’s Creed Unity leaving fans disappointed and unhappy with the publisher in general. It started generating more enthusiasm and excitement over the course of another E3, alpha tests, beta tests and incredibly effective advertising. For Honor definitely isn’t the pristine shining masterpiece it set out to be, because it definitely has chinks in its armour, but ultimately, that armour proves to be impenetrable.

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For Honor’s season pass is set to add a wealth of content over the next year.

Knights, Vikings, Samurai

If there was one thing I was still cautious about with For Honor up until release, it was its campaign. I was worried it’d be shoehorned in much the same way that other online focused titles handle story modes, such as the original Titanfall. Luckily enough, all of these worries were swept away within the first hour of the campaign, and while it’s nothing special, it’s certainly enjoyable. The campaign is split into three different chapters, one for each faction which are the Knights, the Vikings, and the Samurai. Each chapter consists of 6 missions, and all of it is playable in co-op. Most of the missions in the Knight and Samurai chapters got pretty repetitive, aside from one or two standout missions, and the overall tone of the story feels way too serious, especially when there’s some comedic elements to be found in the Viking chapter. None of it ever gets boring, but there are certainly some standout missions, like storming a beach in order to siege a Feudal Japanese fortress or stealthily making your way through a Viking camp in order to sabotage one of their contraptions. For Honor shines during these missions, and while it’s not very representative of the brutality and harshness of the wars back then, it’s nice to see the development team toss that aside for some truly epic set pieces. The story is very passable too, with the main antagonist Apollyon trying to manipulate the different factions in order to usher in an age of war. It’s a fairly predictable plot, and most of the characters are fairly one note, but seeing how everything unfolded and connected was pretty cool to see. It certainly doesn’t reach the storytelling heights of The Last of Us or Resident Evil VII, but it certainly isn’t the half-baked campaign I expected it to be.

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The scale and size of some of the battles are truly awe-inspiring.

A Dance of Offence and Defence

For Honor’s greatest asset is undoubtedly it’s unique directional attacking system, which is easy to learn, hard to master, and deceptively simple. You have light attacks and heavy attacks, which can be executed in 3 different directions. The direction of the attack is the direction that your opponent must block in, in order to avoid taking damage. It’s a very simple premise, but once you get into attack cancels, dodging, guard breaking, combos, and stamina management, For Honor’s combat system becomes a deep, intricate dance of death where every single input matters. Learning the ins and outs of each hero¬†will give you a significant edge in combat, and grasping some of the more technical concepts takes time, thought, and dedication. There are 4 different heroes for each faction, making for a total of 12 heroes, each split into different classes. These classes include disablers, tanks, assassins, hybrids, and vanguards. Each hero has their own weapons, combos, abilities, health, agility, damage, the list goes on. Long story short, each class has their strong points and their weak points, and while there are a few balancing issues at this stage, each hero has some sort of counter. This means that combat always keeps you on your feet, smart decisions and utilising all of your hero’s techniques is paramount to winning a single duel, and it’s incredibly refreshing. Take the Warden for example, who is considered one of the more basic heroes in the game. The Warden is seemingly an incredibly simple class, but upon further experimentation I found that he/she can also be one of the deepest, with a homing guard break that can be cancelled out into a normal guard break. All of this at least applies to the Duel Modes, where players can 1v1 and 2v2 in a test of raw skill, where gear is purely cosmetic, and hero abilities can’t be used, but more on those later. For Honor is at its absolute best when your best of 5 match comes down to the final round, and the victory could go either way. It’s truly intense stuff, and I found that I kept telling myself to play 1 more match before I stopped playing. Unfortunately, For Honor doesn’t manage to hold the same magic in its 4v4 game modes, and this is due to multiple reasons. While the spectacle and idea of it is cool, For Honor’s combat system isn’t built for large fights, and engaging more than 2 players at a time during combat often devolves into mindless spamming in hopes of bagging some sort of victory. Dominion acts much like domination in the sense that there are 3 different control points to capture and hold, while your forces and enemy forces (controlled by AI) attempt to push, take, or hold these zones. I can definitely see where Ubisoft was going with it, and while it provides some initial enjoyment, those who want to play For Honor for its deep and technical combat system, will find it gets boring quick. Elimination doesn’t suffer as badly, due to players being pitted against each-other in different parts of the map, but it still often devolves into spam when rounds go on for too long. Skirmish is simply a team death-match mode and much like the other 4v4 game modes won’t hold interest for long. I spent the majority of my time in 2v2s and 1v1s, as most other people probably will. I certainly think there’ll always be a lot of people who enjoy the 4v4 game modes, but they simply just aren’t for me, and I’m sure there are some other players who feel the same way. Maps on the other hand are all spectacular, and I never found myself dreading one particular map. They’re all well designed, with a number of environmental hazards, verticality, and varying environments. Finally, when completing a match, you’ll be awarded with gear and Steel, which is For Honor’s in-game currency which can be spent on more loot drops and/or heroes. Like I said earlier, the gear in 1v1s and 2v2s are purely cosmetic, because the buffed statistics become null and void to make them as fair as possible. In 4v4 game-modes however, this gear buffs and nerfs different stats such as sprinting speed, damage output, defence, or health gain on the visceral executions you can perform. My one biggest problem with the loot system, is that gear can be purchased with real money, meaning that there’s a small element of pay-to-win within the 4v4 game modes. The gear doesn’t provide an incredible edge, but it’s enough to change the tide of a match if used properly. Finally, each hero has a different array of abilities available to them to give them an edge in combat in the 4v4 game-modes. These range from things like smoke bombs to a hail of arrows. They can be changed and customised before you enter a game, and add a layer of complexity to otherwise simple 4v4 battles.

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The Orochi is easily one of the most agile heroes in the game, but has the least health too.

Technical Chinks in Shining Armour

If there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s that For Honor looks absolutely gorgeous no matter what you’re doing in it. Environments are beautiful, character models are detailed, sparks fly as swords and shields clash, and to top it off it all sounds excellent. It’s unfortunately locked at 30FPS on console, making PC the more attractive option, but it’s definitely still playable. For Honor’s biggest problem however, comes in the form of its connections and stability. For Honor uses peer-to-peer connections, meaning that if the host drops out, it can often cause long wait times before gameplay starts again. I found myself dropping out now and again in 1v1s and 2v2s, but even more so in 4v4 game modes, making it hard to ever fully complete them. I can see why peer-to-peer is used in a game like For Honor, but in the end it creates more problems than it fixes. Dedicated servers would’ve been a much better option, and while it’s a fairly inconsistent issue, it still arises enough to be a pain.

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For Honor supports the PS4 Pro, with an upgraded resolution and more stable levels of performance.

Verdict: 8/10

Ubisoft’s attempt at a medieval warfare game has certainly been a fruitful one. While its campaign is nothing to write home about, it does provide some awesome set-pieces and awe-inspiring battles to take part in. It’s battle system is incredibly deep, and hours upon hours can be sunk into learning it’s mechanics and various systems. It’s such an intricately designed combat system that ultimately works perfectly in 1v1 and 2v2 game-modes, but not so much in 4v4 ones. While technical hiccups sometimes get in the way of your experience, it’s never enough to put you off the incredibly enjoyable game that Ubisoft have come up with. For all of it’s flaws, For Honor more than makes up for it, and it’s a war that Ubisoft ultimately won.

Positives

-Awe-inspiring set-pieces

-Incredibly deep combat system

-Duel and Brawl game-modes

-Varied heroes and unique maps

-Strong performance and stunning visuals

Negatives

-Small element of pay-to-win

-Peer-to-peer connections

-4v4 game-modes might be found boring by some

Thanks for reading guys, up next will be an article. There’s a load of stuff I want to cover next week, including Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nintendo Switch, and Breath of the Wild, so keep a look out for those.

Thanks again, Harry.

Pokken Tournament

Pokken Tournament

The Fighter We Always Wanted

Th one thing that I always wanted when I was younger, was a 3D Pokemon game. Pokemon Battle Revolution and Poke Park did the job for the time being, fast forward a few years and Pokken Tournament is announced for the Wii U. Originally a Japanese arcade game, Pokken Tournament is a Pokemon/Tekken hybrid fighter. The roster consists of 16 Pokemon, all from different regions and generations. Pokken is a fresh, deep, inutuitive fighting game, that welcomes newcomers to the genre, while still catering to the hardcore players who love very mechanical fighters.

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Five of the fighters in the game. From left to right: Pikachu, Lucario, Machamp, Gardevoir and Suicune.

Climbing the Ranks

Pokken Tournament doesn’t have a story mode, it’s rather a single player mode with some story elements. You’ll start in the very bottom league with your partner Pokemon of your choice.You can switch out this partner Pokemon to any other fighter whenever you can visit My Town. My Town is where support Pokemon can be changed, your trainer can be customized and your adviser can be changed too. This makes for a really unique, personal touch, and there are a fair few customization options to look into here. As you climb the ranks you’ll encounter a Trainer and her Shadow Mewtwo now and again, who detects large amounts of SP from you and your partner Pokemon. These are the main story elements. It’s fairly minimal in terms of story simply because this is a fighter, and it’s nice that they made the effort to include a single player mode.

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The shard in Mewtwo’s shoulder is a SP crystal.

A New Type of Pokemon Battle

Pokken Tournament’s fighting system revolves around two main mechanics; phases and rock, paper, scissors. Pokken’s fighting system has two phases; field phase and dual phase. Field phase takes place on a 3D plane, and mostly consists of ranged fighting. Certain attacks will cause a phase shift into the dual phase. The dual phase takes place on a 2D plane and mostly consists of high damage, close combat. Dual phase is where most damage is put out, meaning you want to phase shift into dual phase as quickly as possible, to unleash devastating combos onto your opponent. The rock, paper, scissors mechanic is similar to how typing works in mainline Pokemon games. For example, blocking is countered by throwing, but at the same time, blocking counters normal attacks. This makes the combat system fairly strategic, and having to think on the fly about what you want to do next is exhilarating. Over time, SP or Synergy Points will be accumulated. SP can then be used to enter Burst Mode, which means you do more damage and some attacks are changed up. While in Burst Mode, a Burst Attack can be performed, which is the equivalent to a super-move. These all look amazing, and are all unique to each individual Pokemon. There are also sets of support Pokemon, which you pick at the start of each round. These support Pokemon can damage or debuff your opponent and some can even heal your fighter up a little! All the arenas are unique, and they vary in shapes and sizes. Some are ovals, some are circles, which makes for some unique variation when playing multiple matches. There is a fully fledged training mode for beginners and pros alike and tutorials varying in difficulty. The online play was incredibly smooth and I can definitely see people getting longevity out of it. The only problem I had with Pokken, is that it’s sometimes hard to be mindful of each and every mechanic, although i’m sure that comes with time.

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This is a phase shift, from field phase to dual phase.

A Very Technical Fighter

Pokken looks, plays and sounds amazing. The character models for each Pokemon are detailed, right down to the fur, and their attacks can be clearly linked with actual moves from the Pokemon Universe. Each stage looks awesome, even though the backgrounds are more often than not iffy. The game runs at a solid 60 frames per second, and drops down to 30 in local multiplayer. There are multiple forms of control, including the Wii Remote, Gamepad, Procontroller and more! There are even controllers coming out soon, if they haven’t already, which are made for Pokken. The option for Japanese dub is fantastic for those who are interested in it and the English voice acting sounds like it’s pulled straight from the anime. Pokken’s production values are fantastic. The only amiibo support for the game right now, is to tap the Shadow Mewtwo card which comes with the first shipment of the game, unlocking Shadow Mewtwo as a playable fighter, which is really cool. Supposedly, there is more amiibo function in the future.

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This is a shot from Dual Phase

Verdict: 9/10

Pokken Tournament is a fantastic entry into the Wii U’s library of games. It’s a deep, intuitive, unique hybrid between Pokemon and Tekken, that’s simple enough for beginners to enjoy, but deep at the same time for pros to sink their teeth into. Although it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes in terms of mechanics, Pokken is an enjoyable experience for anyone, alone, or with friends.

Positives

-Looks and runs amazing

-Deep combat system

-Phases

-Roster

Negatives

-Mechanics can be a bit overwhelming at times

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

The Perfect Storm

As a long standing fan of Naruto in all of its forms, I was extremely excited for the conclusion of the Storm games. Storm 4 being the 6th and supposedly final entry into the series, expectations are high for what CyberConnect2 call “The Perfect Storm”. So does Storm 4 meet these expectations and serve as a fitting conclusion to the series? I’m glad to say that it sure does.

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The spectacle in some fights is amazing.

Because We’re Friends

There honestly isn’t all that much to say for Storm 4’s story mode, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Storm 4 picks up just after Storm 3, still following the same story line and events of the manga. Of course we knew this would be the case and i’m happy to say that its nearly identical to the manga in its own way. The end of the story is told through outstanding cut-scenes, images and CGI. The voice acting is excellent in both language options (English and Japanese) however I would recommend setting it to Japanese. This is not only because it’s more authentic, but also because the lip syncing in the cut-scenes is only done for Japanese, so I found it annoying and odd when playing in English. For those who are unfamiliar with the manga or anime, but have been following the games, Storm 4 is a fitting ending to this expertly crafted story even if it isn’t as detailed as the manga or anime.

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The fight with the 10-Tails is as cool as it looks.

A Formula Perfected

Storm 4 features 4 main modes from the get-go: Story, Adventure, Online Battle and Free Battle. Story mode gets rid of the open world that Storm 2 and Storm 3 used as a hub world for the story and instead uses a system that’s similar to Storm Revolutions Ninja Escapades mode. You move from level to level in a time line. This time line branches every now and again, telling the stories of Kakashi and Obito, Hashirama and Madara and the overall conclusion to the series. This worked better than I thought it would and is incredibly accessible. Any cut-scene or fight can be replayed from this timeline, meaning you don’t have to sit through battles to get to a particular section you want to revisit. I found this incredibly useful, simply because I wanted to go back and do some of the quick time events again. I finished the story mode in around 6 or so hours and¬†estimated times are shown for both cut-scenes and battles. Adventure mode is set after the story mode and consists of the open world from Storm 2 and Storm 3. In this open world, quest like events can be taken on to earn goodies. Most of these events consist of fighting, fetch quests or a bit of both. You only control Naruto in the open world, but when you pick up memory fragments across the world you enter a battle as whoever that fight is based around. There is also a fast travel system implemented which is a lot more useful than I thought it would be. I managed to do all the events in Adventure mode in 7 hours. Adventure mode was definitely an interesting experience, but I did prefer Story mode. Free and Online Battles are exactly what they sound like. Free Battles allow you to play against computers or a second player as characters of your choice. It certainly adds a lot of replayability to the game and is tonnes of fun to play with friends. The Online Battles are the same, the main difference being is that it’s Online. My only gripe with Online Battles is that they can lag, even if you’re hosting the session. Some games it was fine but others it got in the way completely and ruined the experience. I’m sure some people don’t have these issues and hopefully it’s fixed for those that do. I can see many people sinking hours into both of these modes, hopefully providing longevity to the game. The combat system that the Storm series has returned once again and it is flawless. It plays almost identically to Storm 3 with a few new additions. The ability to synchronize awakenings based on support characters is awesome and the team ultimate jutsu are back too with a few new ones. The character roster has also been expanded once again to 147 ninja, making it the largest roster in the series.

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The game looks fantastic on PS4.

The Smoothest Storm Yet

Like most other franchises, Storm 4 makes the jump to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and it benefits greatly. The game looks amazing in 1080p and runs at a smooth 60 FPS with almost no hiccups. There was one noticeable drop in frame-rate in one of the Story Mode missions, but it never caused any unfair deaths or annoyances. Every arena and open world the game has to offer is faithful to the manga and they look beautiful. The CGI and cut-scenes are exceptional and this makes the quick time events amazing. Yes I did just say quick time events. A staple in the Storm series is what they’ve always been, but they’ve also always been jaw-droppingly awesome and Storm 4 is no exception. I found myself in awe after seeing any one of them play out and even went back to revisit a few of them just to experience them again. The sound effects and music are also amazing, with some themes from older Storm games returning, especially in the Memory-Fragment battles.

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I’m not lying when I say this is the first fight in the game.

 

Verdict: Very Good

If you’re a fan of Naruto, the Storm games or anime you have to give this one a go. This is one of the best entries into the Storm series and serves as an extremely fitting conclusion to a thankfully excellent franchise. The Storm series as a whole has been excellent, and i’m sad to see them come to an end. Hopefully CyberConnect2 work on more Naruto games in the future with the same love and care that they have given to the Storm series. If they choose not to continue with Naruto, I wish them the best of luck and can’t thank them enough for doing justice to the series.

Positives

– Largest roster in a Naruto game

-Fitting conclusion to the series

– Looks amazing

-Spectacle is awesome

-Fighting system is perfect

Negatives

-Minor frame-rate drops in certain missions

Thanks for reading guys, a review for XCOM 2 will be up hopefully in the next two weeks, so keep an eye out for that!

-Harry