Spring is officially here! The sun’s shining a little brighter, the air’s a little warmer, and the flowers are in bloom. Conditions are perfect for closing the curtains and staying indoors gaming, and let us assure you, we’ve been doing just that. Here’s what we’ve been playing this week.
Joe – Editor & Lead Writer
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Playing on Xbox Series S via Xbox Cloud Gaming
For someone that’s scared of flying, this might seem like an odd choice, but stick with me.
To be honest, I’ve never really had a desire to play any of the flight simulator games, but I’d heard a lot of people say how great Microsoft’s latest iteration is, so I wanted to see it for myself.
First off, I’m playing via Xbox Cloud Gaming, which is a godsend considering the meagre storage on the Series S. I’ve got to say, it was a pretty smooth experience, so hats off to the technical wizards at Microsoft for that one.
After booting up the game, I expected I’d hop in a couple of planes, maybe a jet, and whizz across the skies for a bit until I got bored. But I’ll let you in on a little secret:
Flying is hard, man.
After causing the most devastating peacetime air crash on my local runway, I decided it was time to enrol in flight school. What’s great about Microsoft Flight Simulator is that it breaks down the tutorial into bitesize modules, each focusing on a different aspect of flying. After covering the basics (sky is good, ground is bad) I tentatively stepped back into the cockpit and set a course to London Gatwick airport. With its high-quality terrain data streaming constantly via internet, taking off, hell, doing anything in this game looks amazing.
As Microsoft Flight Simulator is based on a 1:1 scale of the whole planet (wtf?!), each flight will take you the exact time to complete as it would in the real world. I thought this would be insanely boring, particularly when heading to such a dreary destination as London Gatwick. But up in the clouds, with the sun shining down over this green and pleasant land, it’s a fun, if not sedate experience that I’d highly recommend.
I’m actually getting a short distance flight in just over a week. Normally, I’d be a bit apprehensive, but knowing a little more about how to fly a plane, I’m feeling pretty calm. And even if the pilot suddenly loses consciousness, I’m sure I can bring her down safely…
Tom – Lead Writer
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Playing on Xbox Series S via backwards compatibility
I’m not going to beat around the bush: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is one of the best games I’ve ever played. I’ve been binging the Splinter Cell series, mostly uncharted waters for me, and I enjoyed the first two a lot. Chaos Theory is a huge leap forward, though, and I can’t believe I’ve never played this game before.
It’s not that Chaos Theory is wildly different to Splinter Cell or Pandora Tomorrow. It’s very similar on paper, in fact. But the game takes the framework of its predecessors and refines it to near perfection. Those first two games could feel quite stiff and rigid, but Chaos Theory’s improved physics and animation lend the game a greater sense of fluidity and reality. There’s also more of an emphasis on non-linearity, with levels now sporting multiple routes for you to choose from.
This increased level of choice also extends to the moment-to-moment gameplay. Gone are the alarm limits that used to trigger a Game Over; now, you can blast your way through each mission, assuming you could stay alive. But why would you want to, though, when sneaking through levels feels so satisfying? Be careful, though. Enemies are far more intelligent this time around; shoot out a lamp and soldiers will light flares while they search for the culprit.
It’s easy to see Chaos Theory’s DNA in more recent stealth games like Metal Gear Solid V and the Hitman trilogy. Like in those games, tight controls, context-sensitive menus, and myriad gadgets make you feel completely in control Fisher at all times. And also much like those games, Chaos Theory is a stone cold classic, one that I’m so glad my new Series S has given me the opportunity to play.
Ollie – Social Media
Fortnite Chapter 3, Season 2
Playing on PlayStation 4 Pro
As you may have guessed from my article last week, I do like playing Fortnite. This week saw the passing of the baton from Season 1 to Season 2, and with it came a new theme: and it’s a bit awkward. The Season is called Resistance and it centres around, well, a resistance: the island is being invaded from malevolent forces and the island’s characters need to fight for its survival. Yep. All a bit raw, in the current climate. I can only assume that the thought of cancelling or altering the season entered Epic’s minds, but the logistics and costs of that must’ve been unworkable. However, some good has come from it: all profits from purchases made before the 3rd of April will be donated to humanitarian relief for the people of Ukraine, something I think we can all agree is sorely needed right now.
The game then, and the big news is: building is gone. You read that right. It’s all about combat this time as the ability to build stuff has been removed, and I for one am delighted. Being a man of a certain vintage when compared with the average Fortnite player, I often find that fighting against players who can build a citadel in seconds to be one of the most frustrating aspects of the game. It turns out I’m not alone, many people across social media have expressed their delight at this change, so I guess it just remains to be seen if Epic make a ‘No Build’ mode a permanent feature going forward. For now though, I got some kids to fight.