Wednesday 18 January 2017

Games: Something new from something old

Battlefield 1 (XO/PS4/PC); 5 stars; Age: 18+

Published 02/11/2016 | 17:54

Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1

WITH most other high-octane shooters deeply in thrall to technology and futuristic warfare, it took courage for the Battlefield team to look backward in time. But choosing World War I pays dividends in B1’s rich evocation of a century-old conflict.

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A surprisingly engaging single-player campaign splits the story into five self-contained chunks of up to a couple of hours each. It looks exceptional, from muddy forests to hilly pastures to small towns, and the slower pace grants time to drink in the atmosphere. Nonetheless, the enemy lack a brain cell between them and a dodgy Irish accent besmirches one storyline.

Yet, unlike past Battlefields, the campaign is far from a pale shadow of the multiplayer, which is what we really flock to the franchise for. Across 10 maps of varying scale and scenery, battles between 64 players ebb and flow to thrilling effect aided by dynamic weather and destructible terrain. B1’s vehicles and aircraft handle more forgivingly than before and the lack of high-tech gadgets or weapons are hardly missed.

Perhaps Battlefield 1 takes too few risks but it effectively makes something new from something old.

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Mafia III

(XO/PS4/PC) 3 stars Age: 18+

RARELY has the gulf between ambition and execution been so neatly encapsulated as in Mafia III. The writers dreamed up a convincing tapestry of mob turf wars in 1960s New Orleans only for the designers to shackle it wastefully to a sub-par Grand Theft Auto clone.

So you’ll enjoy a sharply scripted storyline encompassing racism and criminal motivation – not to mention a superb soul-driven period soundtrack. But you’ll despair at the buggy gameplay, shoddy frame-rate and soulless mission design.

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WRC 6

(XO/PS4/PC) 3 stars Age: 7+

THERE’S precious little room in the public’s heart for another WRC game, now that DiRT Rally has cornered that market. WRC 6 makes the most of its official licence but it’s too straightforward to topple the king.

It feels more forgiving than DiRT, though that’s a relative judgment – WRC 6’s rallying still demands full concentration on narrow roads. But in practically every other department, it comes second to the leader.

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