Archive for Mercenaries

Ghost Recon: Wildlands or The Perfect Narcos Sandbox – With a Blight

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , on March 18, 2017 by Rabidgames

After two betas, we can now finally roam all of Bolivia in Ghost Recon: Wildlands – and it is a massive country! And the beauty of it is not just the size and diversity of the map or the dozens of weapons and attachments, it’s the fact that Wildlands is a true, proper sandbox, probably one of the best in recent years!

Whether you want to play co-op or solo, whether you want to go in stealthy or very loud, whether you like long fire fights or sync shots, whether you want to even go in along or just rain mortar fire upon your enemies, whether you want a crisp challenge or just drive around to explore, whether you recon with a binocular, your drone or your weapon, all of this and more is entirely up to you.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands comes very, very close to great sandbox legends such as Just Cause 2 or the first Mercenaries, and the more Rabidgames plays, the more it feels like a mix of these two games. Add a pinch of Far Cry fuck-ups when things go wrong (enemy patrols can show up at very inopportune times), and perhaps there are also traces of pinch of Phantom Pain’s DNA in here (gathering resources or tagging enemies as well as how you should approach enemy bases).

A word of warning though – like in Just Cause 2, you pretty much do the same couple of missions over and over again, and approaching an occupied city, base or building changes only depending on the size and weaponry of your enemies. It’s entirely up to you and your creativity how to approach it. Even if you play the game solo, all the scenarios above and more are possible. Most missions allow various approaches. Even stopping an enemy convoy can be tackled in many ways – grab an armoured APC and let your guys fire away, ram the vehicles with a truck, or simply lay mines or C4 on the streets.

In a nutshell, Wildlands is a massive sandbox that gives you plenty of freedom to do things your way. For some, the mission variety might seem lacking – “go there, kill that, abduct him, destroy this” don’t vary too often, sure. But that’s not the point. The point of Wildlands is to write your own stories as you tackle your objectives.

So far, so good. But while Wildlands is great fun, it is blighted by one big issue – motherfucking micro-transaction! True, it might be mostly cosmetics, but what the flying fuck? Why is the only leather jacket hidden behind a fucking pay-wall? Couple that with the 30 quid season pass, and it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Come on Ubisoft, for fuck’s sake! Look at Horizon Zero Dawn, or look at Nier: Automata: There are no fucking piece of shit pay-walls, folks! You buy the game, you get all of it! Please, for the love of gaming, stop this shite already!

Apart from that monetary blight, the single radio channel looping its 5 or so pieces too quickly and a few technical hick-ups, Wildlands is a fucking brilliant sandbox. So brilliant that it has been the biggest launch seller so far this year, beating both Horizon Zero Dawn and Zelda! It seems this is a sandbox for everyone. And while the game might be rough around the edges, it can also look amazing.

wildlands1

Rabidgames recons: If it wasn’t for the disgusting practices of locking away stuff behind a fucking pay-wall, Wildlands would leave only a sweet taste in the mouth of sandbox fans. But the sour taste of mindless monetisation is lingering on despite the many positives. It is a shame, but the shame there is entirely on Ubisoft!

 

The Saboteur or A Nazi Killing Sandbox Gem

Posted in Blast from the past, Revisited with tags , , , on April 14, 2013 by Rabidgames

The Saboteur definitely is an underrated game, probably one of the category “good games you’ve never heard of before”. It’s also Pandemic’s swansong (also responsible for the superb yet flawed Mercenaries games and the insane Destroy all Humans series), just before the real pandemic, EA, killed off this ingenious studio. Beware Bioware, it has happened before, and you might be next in line.

First off all, when you first play The Saboteur, it is not a good game. The control are clumsy, climbing is slow, driving is weird, shooting feels weightlessly, there are some glitches, and the graphics were not exactly well done even for years ago. The German voice acting is sometimes good, but sometimes it is even worse than the awful German in Die Hard (“Schiess das Fenster, Karl” is grammatically wrong on more than just one level). But if you start playing the engaging story, you quickly forget about it.

The Saboteur takes place during World War II in occupied Paris (actually, there’s some geographically twisted surrounding areas of France and then, there’s also Saarbruecken which looks nothing like the real city). Paris looks pretty similar to the real town; there are the typical houses and the contorted roof tops, and there are many of Paris’ attractions to find in the open world.

But that’s not the real charm of The Saboteur. This game has two charms to captivate you: The first one is the black and white (sprinkled with yellow lights and red blood and red nazi flags) setting in occupied areas. This innovative art choice adds immensely to the atmosphere; walk through a dark and rainy grey world and you feel the oppression of body and mind, emphasised by loudspeakers blaring propaganda and fortified checkpoints where nazis just wait to tear you to pieces. It feels good to bring colour back to those areas.

Charm number two is the sandbox aspect: In The Saboteur, you earn contraband (the in-game currency) by destroying thousands of nazi targets, basically like in Just Cause 2. There are also car jump ramps, postcards near monuments and of course, you can also climb the tallest buildings of Paris. Climbing is actually one nice challenge in The Saboteur; if you want to reach the top of, let’s say Notre-Dame, you first have to find the correct spot to climb the first part, then follow to the second one and so on. Thanks to some lights showing you the way, it’s not that hard to find, but sometimes it still involves some turning around and risky jumps. There are also useful perks you unlock during your stay in Paris; from an inconspicuous melee stab to powerful weapons, it’s all there.

But there’s more to the gameplay than just destruction and climbing. If you want to walk around unharmed in restricted areas, it pays off to wear a disguise (yes, this handy element has been imported yet tweaked form the Mercenaries series). Just melee kill one of the bastards and take his clothes. Provided you walk slowly and keep your distance from the real nazis, you can wander around and play the silent killer/place bombs without catching attention – if you play it right.

So the gameplay is fine, what about the story? It’s alright. The Saboteur features a classic B movie narrative; you’re an Irish outcast named Sean Devlin somehow entangled in a love triangle between a grieving French girl and a British spy. Your best friend gets killed by the evil nazi bastard you swear to kill, and on your way there you board huge zeppelins, infiltrate castles and cemeteries or defend your HQ. Side missions are usually on a smaller scale and they are often a bit quirkier. Most missions can actually be played any way YOU like – stealth and cunning or all guns blazing through the front door, the choice is yours most of the time. Oh, and one mission even has a pretty cool Indiana Jones easter egg (just watch the last minutes. By the way, some guards in this mission also talk about one of their aryan pals who’s currently in Nepal …):

From time to time, The Saboteur reminds you of its guerilla theme: Kill too many nazis, and you’ll be relentlessly hunted down by heavily armored squads wielding heavy MGs and flamethrowers, tanks, fighter planes and zeppelins … usually, poor Sean dies pretty fast in open combat. But don’t fret, there are several ways to escape the nazis. Run out of the red circle à la every other game, hide in special spots, fend off a nazi onslaught together with the resistance … or go to a brothel or do this:

As said before, it’s the various technical weaknesses that are holding The Saboteur back. Yes, they shouldn’t have been in there from the start, true, and they are the reason why the game has disappeared in metacritic mediocrity hell.Who knows, maybe they primarily are the results of Pandemic’s demise …

But you learn to work around the issues quickly. The reward is an immersive sandbox adventure where you can take your time watching the attractions of Paris, relaxing in your strip club safe house (moody jazz and half-naked women included) or driving through the countryside inbetween the occasional mission and plenty of blowing up nazi equipment left and right and above.

Rabidgames diligently sabotages: If you liked Just Cause 2 chances are you’ll love The Saboteur. It’s a big playground, there are many toys at your disposal, just go out and have fun. We need more games like these! But The Saboteur is also the Obituary to Pandemic. Way to go, lads.