What Should You Spend Your Cash On This Holiday Season?

Released this month are some great AAA titles.

Here are my choices. All of these have been reviewed on Xbox One.

1.  Assassins Creed: Unity.

I have played about 15 hours and I have to say it is one of the better Assassins Creed games to be released.  Yes, on occasion it does have some weird frame rate drops (on both PS4 and XB1 but will be patched soon), but overall I am finding this game really enjoyable.  The co-op play is simply outstanding.   If I had to give you a comparison to previous Assassins Creed games I would say AC: Unity is more in line with Ezio’s first foray with Asssassins Creed 2.  I should also mention too that this is probably one of the best looking games I have seen on the new consoles.  Definitely worth grabbing.



2.  Call of Duty – Advanced Warfare.

This is the shot in the arm that Call of Duty needed.  The campaign is really enjoyable this time around and Kevin Spacey adds some much needed gravitas.  What I particularly like with the single player campaign is that you are focusing on one character again, which makes for a better rounded story.  The multiplayer is faster and more fluid than the last few entries and the introduction of the exo-skeleton suits to allows jet pack jumping and dodging.  This certainly adds a new feel for COD, while retaining the series close quarters style multiplayer.  Last year’s Extinction mode is missing but the Horde type Exo-Survival mode is still great fun for those who prefer co-op over competitive multiplayer.  If you like modern first person shooters it would then this Call of Duty will be for you.



3.  Dragon Age – Inquisition.

Finally, a role playing game out on current gen consoles (XB1 and PS4) that we can sink our teeth into.  For those who were worried this was going to be along the same lines as the ok but ultimately disappointing Dragon Age 2, rest easy.  Even though you can play it real time with some great fluid combat the tactical view is also back for all platforms.  This is a big game, which I have not finished yet, but it has all the great Bioware trappings; good story, great characterisation, choices that have consequences and the world looks fantastic.  For the first time there is also a co-op horde type multiplayer mode which is meant to be quite similar to Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer outing.  I can’t wait for the holidays to really delve into this title further.



4.  Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V).

Rockstar has done a stellar effort to bring this to the XB1 and PS4 (PC version out early next year).  The game looked quite amazing on the previous gen hardware but now it just looks so much crisper and clearer, thanks to the higher resolution (1080p for both consoles) and higher resolution textures.  That alone would be enough to delve into this fine game again but Rockstar have also released an amazing first person mode as well.  Until you play the game in this mode you will not understand what all the fuss is about.  Playing GTA V in first person mode is simply incredible.  Walking, driving and even shooting can all be done in first person mode, with additional options that allow for tweaking to your play style.  For example, if you want it to switch to third person when you go into cover you can set that option and then it resumes to first person mode for everything else.  Even all the cars, trucks, bikes, boats and planes you jump into are all fully modelled.  If you have played GTA V on previous gen hardware (360 and PS3) you can also transfer your online character over to the XB1 / PS4 version as well so you don’t have to start again online.  Heists is also reportedly not too far away either so it is great to see Rockstar still supporting this game with content a year after release.  Even if you played the previous generation version last year I still think the new version is a must so you can experience the first person mode.



5.  Far Cry 4.

A more grounded story at the start of Far Cry 4 made me much more interested at the start than the Far Cry 3’s hispter trash.  The new Krayt setting is also pretty amazing to look at.  Game mechanics feel quite similar to Far Cry 3, which is a good thing, but they have definitely been tweaked.  For example, when racing along in one of the vehicles you can press a thumb-stick to have the car follow the road, which allows you to work on dispatching bad guys that are after you by aiming and shooting.  There are climbing mechanics now, but old favourites like the hang gliders and wing suits make a return.  Oh, and you can ride elephants into battle and they can cause havoc by throwing guards carelessly away as well.  Competitive multiplayer makes a return with 5 on 5 using various modes plus the single player campaign allows you to do two player co-op through some missions.   The only slight disappointment at launch is that the Map Editor doesn’t allow you to create maps for multiplayer, just challenge maps at the moment, which makes the Map Editor a bit redundant.  Ubisoft have stated that they are hoping to patch the Map Editor being used for multiplayer later.  Still, as a single player game this looks absolutely gorgeous and makes it feel pretty damn good to be back in the world of Far Cry.



6.  Halo – The Master Chief Collection.

If you’ve never played Halo before, then this is an absolute must have as it contains all four main Master Chief games (Halo: Reach and Halo: ODST are not present).  If you like playing co-op with your friends and want to revisit Halo in a remastered form, then definitely buy this as well.

Unfortunately a slew of bugs and various issues has meant that Halo: MCC is simply not playable for multiplayer.  343 Industries is working very hard to get things right, but the simple answer is that they shouldn’t have released this game in it’s current state.

But getting back to the single player campaigns for now.  Halo 2 has been completely re-mastered (including some amazing new rendered cutscenes) while all of the others have also been remastered to 1080p, 60fps.  This is as good as it is going to get for a series that started with the original Halo in 2001.  It looks fantastic and co-op plays great too.  If you are a single player gamer, this will keep you busy for 40+ hours (about 10 hours for each campaign).  This has been a very ambitious project for 343 Industries and unfortunately it has tarnished Microsoft’s reputation a little.  Halo: MCC had the potential to ship a lot more Xbox One’s and my personal hope is that it will still do so but they need to fix the multiplayer issues quickly.

So in short, if you play single player or co-op, definitely buy this.  If you are interested in multiplayer only – I would definitely hold off until it is fixed.



Great end to the year for gaming.

What I have noticed distinctly this year with all of the games coming out now is that the new consoles are definitely starting to make differences in terms of graphics.  As developers get used to coding for the newer hardware you can really start to see the giant improvements.

Next year we will see even further improvements as the previous generation consoles will be phased out even more and multi-platform games become a thing of the past.  Even in this month alone you have so many great games to choose from and depending on your taste and there is something for everyone.




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