Sunday 17 December 2017

Digital Life: Aliens, prepare to die! (Again)

Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Same old Halo yet again? Yes, it's fair to say eight years after the first Halo was released in 2002, we're still fighting roughly the same aliens with similar weapons in a familiar universe.

Except for Halo Wars' diversion into real-time strategy, 'twas always thus for Bungie's first-person shooter. Five games in, though, Reach is the pinnacle of the series, like a compelling remastering of its greatest hits.

Should you care that it has little fresh to show the eye thanks to its habitual palette of rock-strewn terrain and purple alien bases? No, because it's still a beautiful world soundtracked with immaculately cued stabs of music.

Should you suppress the sense of déjà vu as your trooper runs into yet another pocket of squealing alien grunts and their growling leaders? No, because the gunplay has been tweaked to within an inch of its life for maximum fun.

Into this mix, Bungie throws a curveball -- a new set of abilities including a jetpack and invulnerability.

It makes for an interesting addition to the single-player mode but adds a radically new dimension to multiplayer. And that is where Reach will find its place in your games collection, long after you've finished the story.

If you've never warmed to Halo, Reach won't change your mind and it's sad, but not surprising, that Bungie took so few risks with this final Halo.

The makers of download-only Shank have clearly spent much of their formative years watching Tarantino movies.

A stylised sideways-scrolling beat-em-up in the vein of Double Dragon, it stars a lone-wolf hero dispatching endless hordes of bloodthirsty hoodlums with guns, knives and, ahem, chainsaw.

The combo system helps make up for the predictability of the enemies and the visuals have a quirky freshness. But it doesn't take long for Shank's appeal to wear thin.

It was disheartening to see massively multiplayer shooter APB shut its doors last week just a couple of months after launch. But Global Agenda has a better shot at the same market, aligning itself more closely with the tropes of World of Warcraft while giving those with an itchy trigger finger plenty of action.

It started as a subscription-based game like WoW but recently converted into free to play, with the option of buying "booster packs" to increase your stats. Or cheating as it's also known.

Its futuristic Fallout-style world isn't as attractive as its inspiration but Global Agenda offers a lot to explore with trigger-happy friends.

Irish Independent

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