Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rainbow Six Siege Review

Ahh... a hard-fought victory
  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Release Date: 2 December 2015
  • Time played: 44 hours

"Co-op games. If only there were more good co-op games out there."

That’s probably the thought that went through my mate, Speirs’s mind while browsing the Steam catalogue for a new co-op game to play. Eventually he stumbled upon Rainbow Six: Siege which sounded like it had promise. He bought a copy of the game for himself and then generously gifted me a copy too! Chooooice!

Unfortunately, Speirs tried to play co-op with his brother but it turned out to be quite a challenge for them, so much so Speirs posted his first review on Steam ever, and it was a negative one.

Fair cop

Anyway, by that stage, I had only played maybe one or two of the tutorial missions known as "Situations" so things already looked grim judging by his account, although eventually I managed to get through all the Situations and even played a few rounds of 5v5 as well as Terrorist Hunt (co-op mode against bots). So, 44 hours later, how is it?

What I like:


Less is more approach

In Rainbow Six Siege you get to pick an "operator" to play with which specialises at a particular skill and has their own unique weapons loadout. For example, Sledge is able to breach barricaded windows and doors in one hit with a breaching hammer while I.Q. can detect enemy explosives. Each operator has a different special ability which adds a degree of role-playing and the game enters the territory of class-based shooters like Battlefield or Team Fortress 2 as a result.

I also love the limited choice of weapons (1 of 2) which reminds me of BF2 days. They’re also applicable to whichever faction you play as, e.g. the SAS can use the L85A2 and the GIGN can use the FAMAS. Although there are some weirder choices of weapons in there too (Magpul FMG-9 for the SAS? Seriously?)

It's actually fun

When it works, it's heaps of fun whether it be on Terrorist Hunt mode or Multiplayer; In Terrorist Hunt mode, you can team up with four other friends to do co-op missions against AI terrorists, whether it's defending a hostage against their attacks, extracting a hostage, disarming bombs or just plain "kill 'em all". It's a great co-op experience and an excellent alternative for those who prefer to play with their close circle of friends instead of subjecting themselves to the Idiots of the Interwebs - because let's face it, even though you've read those reviews saying the community on Rainbow Six Siege is "so nice", we're speaking in relative terms here - you've still got your mix of top blokes/gals and douches.

Speaking of Multiplayer mode, if playing against humans is your cup of tea, this is the mode for you. Multiplayer mode pits a team of five players versus another team of five where you get similar modes to Terrorist Hunt but with slight alteration to the rules. Also, since you're up against a small team of lethal human players, different operators are more effective in Multiplayer that might not be as effective in Terrorist Hunt.

In fact, the game is very addictive once you've had a taste of victory because it's often hard-earned.

The game also has a Ranked multiplayer mode that I didn't bother trying and you're also able to play the Terrorist Hunt mode in "Lone Wolf" mode (i.e. solo) although these missions are meant to be played with a full squad so it's usually quite a challenge doing it alone against hordes of AI terrorists.

Different avenues of attack

This is the bread and butter of Rainbow Six Siege. On each map, you'll have different avenues of attack but not just two or three doorways; despite there being many walls or rooftops that are impermeable to any damage, there are enough left to make things interesting and unpredictable. To mix things up even more you can choose at the beginning of the game where to spawn and defend (at least on Terrorist Hunt mode). Consequently, while knowing a map inside-out helps, unlike other FPSs where you can find prime camping positions, no such thing really exists in Siege due to the fact the enemy can alter the map to give themselves a tactical advantage.

It's like Counter-Strike, but tactical

It's like Counter-Strike to a degree but describing it as Counter-Strike would be selling itself short. Unlike Counter-Strike, you have drones and cameras you can use for gaining an edge in intelligence, defensive barriers such as barricades and reinforced walls, booby traps that can kill or injure unsuspecting enemies, and the ability to rappel up and down walls. It's not just a matter of camping at the bridge in de_dust and mopping up everyone with an AWP and deagle.

Just lying around

I appreciate the attention to detail they’ve managed to incorporate into this game, even something as simply lying down on the floor instead of going prone on your stomach is something that you hardly ever see in FPS games yet it helps so much with the realism since why aren’t you able to do such a thing? Rainbow Six: Siege gives you that flexibility.

What I dislike:


Matchmaking

Matchmaking takes time and for the first few games I tried to play of Rainbow Six Siege it took several goes and waiting for 15-20 minutes before I could finally enter a game. I’m never sure if it’s because the time I play just has low traffic or whether there’s something wrong with my connection (or if it's simply because I'm playing the least popular game mode). However, another night, everything worked flawlessly – I managed to play with four others with a ping of 100 on my ADSL2+ connection. Also, when I eventually convinced two clanmates to play with me, it was then much easier to find an available game (three fifths of a squad anyone?).

Ultimately, I think it would still be better if they had a server browser with dedicated servers though.

Also general connectivity issues are a pain too where sometimes you lose connection to the master server and are unable to play any multiplayer (it is primarily a multiplayer game after all). I also did experience a similar situation to my mate Speirs where I couldn't join a game with my wife even though she was in the same squad, but eventually we found out this was, again, a server issue, rather than anything else.

Not as tense as SWAT4

On a spectrum with Counter-Strike on one end and SWAT 4 on the other, Siege is definitely closer to SWAT 4 but isn’t quite there yet. SWAT 4 encourages you to use less lethal methods and to also follow proper police procedures like telling the criminals to surrender before shooting first. The more criminals you are able to arrest, the more points you are awarded. In SWAT 4 there’d always be that tense moment where you’re shouting at a criminal to drop their weapons wondering if they were going to comply or whether they were going to blow your face off. Gripping stuff, but not something that is present in this.

Score – 8/10 (Pretty Good)

Besides the occasional connectivity issues I can't really find much else to fault with Rainbow Six Siege. The dynamic nature of the maps where you're able to open new avenues of attack to gain a tactical advantage means you'll always be kept on your toes. Intelligence is key but so is co-operating with teammates since unlike other FPSs where you can be a jack-of-all-trades, in Siege each of the operators are meant to serve a certain purpose, and if you squander that special ability, it's game over for your squad. It's a very addictive game and definitely my favourite multiplayer game for the past couple of months.

Is the game worth $64 AUD?: Almost, but a fairer price would be $50-60 considering the game is effectively multiplayer only. Although the conundrum about purchasing later when it is discounted is whether there will still be a community to play with! But this is the issue with just about every multiplayer game out there and is not limited to Rainbow Six Siege alone.


If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official Rainbow Six Siege Website ]




Monday, May 23, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #231 - Sid Meier's Colonization - Hornpipe (Amiga)



Original Soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs, Ken Lagace and Roland J. Rizzo

Amiga Soundtrack by: Allister Brimble and Anthony Putson

Aye matey! I do love me a good hornpipe and that's exactly what you get when you play Sid Meier's Colonization! This piece of music plays after you've picked the difficulty level, the Empire you represent and your name. You're treated to a loading sequence where you watch as your ship is loaded to set sail on a grand expedition across the Ocean Sea! It's also amazing how similar London, Amsterdam, Seville and La Rochelle look during this loading sequence...

Finally, this track is from the Amiga version of the game which sounds quite superior to the DOS version, so I'll probably just end up using these tracks instead of the good ol' MIDI tracks of the DOS version :). The original soundtrack was composed by Jeffery L. Briggs, Ken Lagace and Roland J. Rizzo but the Amiga version was composed by Allister Brimble and Anthony Putson (and they're definitely no strangers to composing music for PC games :)).

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #231 - Sid Meier's Colonization - Hornpipe (Amiga) ]


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Plug & Play Review

TURN IT OOOOOOOON. WHENEVER YOU CAN. TURN IT OOOOOON. YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN.


  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Mario von Rickenbach and Michael Frei
  • Publisher: Etter Studio
  • Release Date: 6 March 2015
  • Time played: 15 minutes

Plug & Play is one of those weird games where you either get it or you don't, you either appreciate the game on its artistic merit or you just consider it a complete waste of time. Despite the game being released in 2015, the actual short film, which the game is based on, was released a couple years earlier in 2012. It was shown at over a 100 film festivals and has won quite a few awards so there's obviously some appreciation of what Plug & Play is all about, but what exactly is it all about? And does it work well as a game?

What I like:


Animation

Definitely one of the stronger points of the game is its animation and how fluid it is. Michael Frei (the film's creator) has done a fantastic job of animating the film and, in turn, this game. What is even more amazing is he managed to create the whole film using only a single finger on a laptop touchpad.

Beautiful music

There isn't too much music in the game but there's some positively angelic music performed by the Saint Eliyah Church Children Choir, which juxtaposes with the crude imagery and mishaps you'll get to observe during the game (it actually reminds me of the introduction to Mr. Bean).

What I dislike:


Short

The game only took me 15 minutes to complete. So it's a bit longer than the actual film (which is 6 minutes long) but it's very short for an actual game.

Limited gameplay

You'll spend most of your time flipping switches, clicking on people or dragging power cables into sockets - and that's it. It's not really much of a game if you're rating it purely based on interactivity, but it's a pretty good interactive film I guess.

WTF is going on?

You're either going to get it or not; at the very least you'll get some sort of emotional response to it: I felt disgust and confusion. If you like to find meaning out of phallic objects going erect or people shoving their heads into each others' arseholes, then this might be the game for you. I think Michael Rogeau @ Animal New York sums it up best in his title for the interview with Michael Frei:

...Plug & Play, a game that's pretty much about dicks

Okay, I confess that there was one part of the game I did like and that was when it was trying to simulate conversations between lovers/potential lovers; to me it showed the one-sidedness of such conversations at times, on how sometimes people already have their minds made up and are inflexible to change - where decisions can only ever be binary, yes/no, black and white. Which fits in quite nicely with the dichotomies shown in Plug & Play so to me, that was pretty choice.

Score – 4/10 (Mediocre)

In terms of an actual game that is fun to play, Plug & Play fails on that account. So if we were to judge it as a piece of art, well that's obviously going to bring a lot of subjectivity into play. If you can find profound revelations out of fingers going erect when being turned on and flaccid when turned off, or people shoving their heads up the rear ends of others, this game could be fantastic. I sadly didn't though and consequently can't recommend it (except for the part with the binary nature of conversations, that was pretty cool).

However, in terms of Plug & Play being a well animated short film, it succeeds in that regard and if you're curious about what all the fuss is about but don't want to pay $3 USD, you can check out the short film for free here.

Is the game worth $2.99 USD?: No. Would you pay $4 AUD for a 15 minute short film? Only if it blows your mind I guess but in my case it isn't worth the price of admission.

If you like this game, you might like…


[ LINK: Official Plug & Play Website ]