Doom – Open Beta Impressions

Fast-paced, gory, arcade fun is how I’d describe Doom’s multiplayer.

Holy moly! Who expected this game to be so fun? Simplistic, yet dense enough to entice you into further levelling up your character and customising various weapons. It’s punishing if you’re slow on the draw, but hugely satisfying when you successfully perform a killing streak. This may very well be my next big multiplayer game.

I was already pretty excited to dive into the single player onslaught of Doom, but this open beta has proven to me that the multiplayer is something that I can equally look forward to. E3’s gameplay demo showed a promising revamp into the Doom series, a series I have neglected for far too long. Clearly, I have been missing out on some messy, bloody action. Luckily, this open beta (available for all you fellow gamers until 17th April) gives everyone the opportunity to experience hell like never before.

The gameplay is extremely fluid and encourages players to keep moving. Camping does not bode well for you in this world, and you are sure to be penalised – either by being repeatedly annihilated by players who have acquired power ups, or simply from lacking any reasonable amount of points to progress or flaunt. From my own experience, players are eager to engage with enemy players constantly, yet thinking tactically and dodging attacks with worrying ease. The double-jump feature complements these evasive maneoveurs, opening up new tactics when approaching or escaping threats. Initially the trailers for the multiplayer convinced me that this experience would be very similar to recent Halo games and Titanfall, but it is different. There are similarities of course, but Doom is very much it’s own game and certain gameplay aspects prove this.

For example, the way in which ammo and health is acquired from pickups dotted around the map is a fairly nostalgic jump backwards. But in a good way, it’s fresh and scary in a way. When you’re punishing newbies with your super quick reflexes but find yourself low on health, it’s exhilarating sprinting for the health pack. There’s no actual sprint button, this is a very arcadey experience, fleshed out with very promising additions; such as demonic runes and more traditional power-ups. Power-ups appear at a number of set locations around each map, buffing the players with unique abilities such as increased speed, quad-damage and shields. My favourite is faster movement because this game relies a lot on how quickly you can react to situations. I personally find this very fun – for others this may not appeal so much. But each to their own.

Some low-res Twitch stream captures from my own archive (will edit these on my computer when I get my hands on it):

Lastly we have the demonic runes, which spawn a couple of times each game. These are the pickups people are likely to camp around, and likely to cause arguments among players – very much like the hero pickups of Star Wars Battlefront (see my review if you’d like). On full release I believe there’s meant to be a total of three demons you can play as, but in the beta you can only use the Revenant. The Revenant is the iconic jet-packing, missile-firing, skeleton beast that appears on numerous ads for the game. It’s a scary monster; and even more frightening in the game. The playstyle is pretty simple: one button to jet-pack, and one button to shoot dual-rockets from his mounted rocket launchers. What surprised me was the lack of close combat options, I guess that’ll be the focus of another demon, the Revenant is clearly the run-gun-snipe beast. You’re given one full minute to annihilate other players, and this does happen. The rockets just leave numerous piles of limbs in their wake; which makes it highly entertaining (and tactical) to hide behind the Revenant whilst pursuing capture points in the gamemode ‘Warpath’. It’s not invincible though, players can swarm and over-power the Revenant with some difficulty. When the demon is slain the rune becomes available again for anyone who claims it, however the timer continues from where it stopped. I look forward to trying out the remaining demons in the full release, this feature looks very promising.


With only two games modes: Team deathmatch and Warpath, there’s enough content here to decide if Doom satisfies your crave; be it gore, graphics or a new multiplayer experience. Personally I find both game modes compelling enough to confirm my purchase of Doom next month. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how hooked I actually am by the competitive online segment of the game. Now my expectations for the very interesting looking single player campaign have only stretched higher, and I believe Doom won’t disappoint. It deserves to do well and I hope nothing significant brings it down. Guess I can only wait until May the 13th to find out, but until then, back to slaughtering people with my shotgun!

Alexander Jones

Below: my very own Twitch live-stream capture, enjoy!



What is REAL? – Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and The Real World

I am the real me. Are you sure that you are the REAL you?

This writing is taken from an article I wrote for Cardiff’s student magazine Quench. I hope you like this small piece I wrote, I find it incredibly interesting exploring the new possibilities  given to us by new technologies. Written before the release of the Occulus, this article may seem a bit out-dated now, but I thought it was decent enough to share on here. So go on, read my nonsense, you know you want to…


Technology has come a long way over the span of under 50 years, it’s hard to imagine what crazy new perspective on life we will witness next. Virtual reality and augmented reality used to be concepts in sci-fi films and comics, but here we are in 2015 with these amazing pieces of tech just around the corner. People have reacted in some pretty amusing ways, such as waving their arms around aimlessly and sometimes falling over from nausea. I guess it can only be good sign if people are fooled into thinking there are giant dinosaurs roaring in their face, or even an anime-like woman lying in bed next to you, staring into your soul…yeah that’s a thing. Creeps. So yeah, technology continues to be used for the greatest and most bizarre of things, but how does it hold up? Is it any good or is it just another expensive gimmick that we’ll all be fooled into buying?

Unsurprisingly, VR isn’t so new a thing as you’d believe it to be. Attempts at creating a virtual reality to shelter ourselves from the harshness of real life problems began before 1950 in the form of the View-Master. 1950!? Are you mad Alex? People didn’t even have colour back in those days! I know, it’s crazy, but it’s true. Although VR was more of a concept than an actual thing you could use back then. Enough about history though, we live in the now so let’s talk about the now. From a gaming perspective we are lucky enough to witness the development of three major VR and AR headsets. There’s the Oculus Rift, Sony VR (Project Morpheus) and Microsoft’s interesting augmented reality headset HoloLens. The Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus are slated for a 2016 release, however the HoloLens will sadly only be available as a development kit in 2016 and costing $3000, which is almost ten times the price of the other two kits.

Calming or creepy?

It would appear that virtual reality is closer than we think, with both Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus offering the sensation of being shot in the face on Call of Duty in less than a year for approximately $350. These two pieces of tech can be compared with each other quite fairly as they both aim to achieve the same goal, whereas Microsoft’s HoloLens is on a different level all together. So which is better between the Oculus and Morpheus? Firstly it is important to note that these devices are limited (as of this moment) to what platforms they can actually operate on. Sony’s Project Morpheus is obviously targeted towards the PlayStation side of gaming and despite Oculus’ partnership with Microsoft, the Rift is solely made for PC gaming. If you don’t own a PlayStation you can cancel out Project Morpheus pretty much straight away. The fact that the Oculus Rift focuses entirely on PC gaming comes with its advantages and disadvantages. For example, the PC market for indie games is continuously increasing in size and quality. Games that allow for VR headsets to be used are growing and are only going to get better with time. Another upside to Oculus Rift is its compatibility with other motion devices for PC, such as the Virtuix Omni which allows the player to control character movement. It may take some time making sure everything works in sync, but when it does, it looks incredible. The major downside to the PC-only take on things is that if you want to run an Oculus Rift, you’re more than likely going to need a very powerful computer to maximise your experience. VR without 60fps or a high enough resolution will limit your fun levels to average, so you might have to invest even more of your student loan into your PC rig.

Project Morpheus on the other hand will provide less hassle in terms of configuration and setup due to its exclusivity to the PlayStation platform. As mentioned before with the Oculus, the Morpheus cannot be synchronised with as many VR tools as the PC alternative can, but instead will work perfectly with PlayStation’s Move and Dualshock 4. The simplicity of out-of-the-box VR will be a significant factor for many in buying the Morpheus headset, personally this is the ideal option that I would go for. If you’re more into the complex, micro adjustments and configurations then I’d suggest the Oculus Rift. Don’t mistake the Rift as something overly complex however. Apart from the possible need to upgrade some hardware and update certain drivers, the Oculus Rift is just as easy to use as any other VR headset.

So many lights!

Finally we have Microsoft’s HoloLens. I’ve separated the HoloLens on its own because augmented reality is NOT the same as virtual reality. It’s that straight forward. At this current time there hasn’t really been any hands-on experience with the HoloLens just a couple of showcases and demos. The overall impression is hugely positive, watching Minecraft become part of the living room or a video player follow you around your house so you never miss a second is truly incredible. I believe that HoloLens is demonstrating a massive step forward in technology that will eventually be available for gamers and the everyday consumer. Although at the very steep price tag that it currently holds, that scenario may take some time. There can’t be much said in comparison with the other pieces of tech until the developers kit is released some time in 2016.

Now THIS is cool

The VR and AR scene for gaming and in general is shaping up to being one of the hottest topics of 2016 and it makes me overwhelmingly excited. Clearly both VR sets are shaping up quite nicely and both have good points and bad, but the simple method of deduction is: do you own a PlayStation? Yes? Then get the Morpheus. No? Get the Rift. If you want to hold out a little longer for something a bit different and have the cash to spend then go for the HoloLens. I doubt I’ll be able to afford any of these devices until I win the lottery or starve myself for a year, but at least I know it’ll all be worth it in the end.


Alexander Jones


*Thanks for reading this. If you think that I can make any improvements or you’d like to offer any advice on my writing style feel free to do so! I appreciate it all. 


My Game of the Month – February: Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4 is full of problems. Many, many problems that you, the gamer, have to suffer through in order to call yourself a ‘real’ gamer and sleep peacefully at night. These said problems exist in the game world and in the real world. Far Cry 4 is in no way the perfect game, quite far from it, but it makes my game of the month.

You may wonder why I’d pick a game that isn’t “the best thing ever” – well the truth is, it’s the only thing I’ve been playing alongside Star Wars Battlefront (I’m still hooked. I think I’m addicted, seriously send help). With the recent release of Far Cry Primal, I thought I’d try and blow the dust off my copy of Far Cry 4 and actually complete the darn thing. I’d like to say that I consider myself a completionist, but my backlog of incomplete games would only contradict that statement. Instead it would seem that I only truly complete a game if a) I love the game or b) it’s easy to do so. Call me a dirty casual. Go on I dare ya’.


So why does Far Cry 4 exist? Well that’s a good question. If I was to give a personal answer I’d say Far Cry 4 leap-frogs off the back of Far Cry 3. The third installment was positively received by the masses (especially after 2, which… well nobody liked 2), the story, the gameplay, everything seemed a huge improvement and made for a largely enjoyable game. This amazing package is what makes Far Cry 4 similarly great, but also acts as its major downfall. People who know me in person would understand my issue with the Call of Duty series and its onslaught of repetition. Well now I’m worried for Far Cry. With Primal making its debut this month all I’ve seen so far from trailers and gameplay videos is Far Cry 3 rehashed into 4 rehashed into Primal. If you placed all three games into a blender you’d receive the exact same mush in which you started off with. It’s beginning to become difficult to tell these games apart. Take Assassin’s Creed for example, another series published by Ubisoft. If you haven’t been living under a rock you may have noticed a consensus of disappointment and boredom from the Assassin’s Creed fanbase. This is hugely due to the lack of creativity and simple recycling of money-making formulas. Remember when the devs attempted to change gameplay aspects in order to improve the next game? No? You were born in the naughties? Well I’m glad you’re here, might actually expand your library of games beyond Fifa and COD. But this is my problem. Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed are great games, can’t deny it really, but it’s turning into a case of using the same old phone just changing the case every year and calling it new (bit like the iPhone then really). Far Cry 4 (and Primal) are at the roots the same game as Far Cry 3, they play the same, the animations and missions are the same, however there’s a glossy new skin covering it called Kyrat or stone-age Europe.


Rant over. So what makes Far Cry 4 good? Well most things actually. It’s pretty damn fun for a starter. Although some missions can be overwhelmingly difficult and punishing, the shooting and fire-play (literal fire) is super punchy and feels so good. Bad guys can soak up some bullets but still drop with the well-placed headshot. It’s satisfying and makes even the driest of missions entertaining. Alongside the solid shooting you have the ability to mess around with a decent sandbox environment. The amount of ways that you can tackle a single outpost is impressive. You could sneak in, taking out each guard silently or you could go berserk, riding an elephant firing off your MG and lobbing flaming molotovs into crowds of people shouting “I am the King of the Fire Elephants!” for example. You can’t do that in most games, but most games aren’t Far Cry. It’s a real shame that most things that you experience in 4 are blatantly ripped straight from 3. The Shangri-La segments follow 3’s hallucinations, the brick factory sequence was an attempt to recreate the thrill of 3’s cannabis burning mission (accompanied by Skrillex’s Burn Dem – it was amazing). They’re good but taste the same, I was really hoping 4 would push above and beyond. But hey-ho, it’s all-round good fun if you’re looking for more drug-intoxicated, animal-littered, psycho-maniac mayhem Far Cry 4 is here.

Once I finish 4 I will invest in Primal and see where that takes me (probably on the same journey just with less soap and edible food)

Alexander Jones

My Game of the Month – January: Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death

This is a funny one. So you know those Steam sales that come about occasionally? Well yeah, I saw this little gem in one of those glistening tiles of discount and I just had to pick it up. I checked the reviews and such before committing to the purchase, although for less than £2 I couldn’t really complain no matter how potentially awful it could be.

I’m not very knowledgeable about the world of Judge Dredd, I have only watched the 2012 film adaptation of the comics and thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven’t explored the world of Judge Dredd comics so I wasn’t prepared to see the weird and strange entities that are portrayed within the game. Bizarre things such as huge, blob-like people who very closely resemble the unhealthy inhabitants in Wall-E, vampires, zombies, ghosts and so much more. I didn’t realise there were so many fantasy elements to the Dredd’s world. This never comes across in the 2012 film – which focuses on the massive-scaled apartment blocks and the harshness of the living in the proposed gritty world. I assume that these unexpected events derive from its comic book roots instead. I must say, it does spark an interest in maybe reading some of these comics, after the film I wanted to explore more of the same world, especially outside of the very same 200 storey apartment block. The game opens up another opportunity to follow Dredd’s adventures in Mega City One, and it’s dark, gritty, bloody and most importantly full of justice ready to be served.


The several missions I carried out saw me dispatching naked vampires in the futuristic street, fighting and arresting gangs of punks in rainy dockyards, clearing a super-market mall of zombies and finally frantically running through some crazy laboratory. It’s pretty diverse in terms of what happens, gameplay-wise it’s pretty samey. There’s a few different guns but you only really need to use the pistol – which offers different firing types. The enemies provide a change of pace, some shoot you, some slash you and others walk slowly towards with utmost determination for your brains. It’s a fun arcade experience.


I haven’t had the chance to complete this game but I’ve had enough hands-on gameplay to experience the fun and dark world that the almost celebrity Judge Dredd lives in. I say that he’s like a celebrity, because everyone seems to know who you are. I assume that Judge Dredd is similar to how Duke Nukem is celebrated in his world – except this only applies from other Judges, because everyone else seems to be a criminal. Many admire you and even more despise you. To my amusement you can arrest every single NPC (except Judges, vampires and zombies obviously). This is fairly hilarious and makes you feel unbelievably omnipotent, comically so.  I couldn’t help myself wrapping handcuffs on every silly looking person I could find, it was just too funny. Just taking a stroll on the street? 5 years imprisonment! Talking to your friends? More like conspiring against the Judges! 15 years!

Sometimes being the coolest Judge in Mega City One gets to you…

Alexander Jones

My Game of the Month – December: Star Wars: Battlefront (EA)


I’m a bit late writing this post due to pesty essays and dissertation stress (not actual writing). Again this game wasn’t released in December, but I played a crazy amount of it and therefore that’s why Battlefront makes my Game of The Month!

As a pretty dedicated Star Wars fan the announcement that Star Wars Battlefront was making a return via ‘next-gen’ consoles made me pretty damn ecstatic. The original Star Wars Battlefront games were basically my gaming childhood (as well the occasional Pokemon game). Yeah being a Jedi or Sith is cool, but don’t lie, the ability to play as a ground soldier in this massive universe was so much cooler. Luke who? More like Gary the stormtrooper or Simon the legendary sniper battle droid. Didn’t hear about those characters in the films now did you? Exactly. Not only was one of my favourite game franchises coming back but it was also being developed by the perfect team that is Dice. Dice!? The same guys that make those awesome Battlefield games that I love? I couldn’t ask for a better scenario. Well things began to get pretty bumpy down the road with news that the game would lack a tonne of content, but in truth, it didn’t hinder my experience all that much. The complaints rooted from announcements that the game wouldn’t feature elements of gameplay from the originals such as space battles, galactic conquest, campaign of any kind, the clone wars, vehicle spawns and numerous planets. Not much then. I sympathise with these complaints, I too loved these aspects of the originals. However, I understand that this is Battlefront EA. Not Pandemic. I knew from the beginning that this game was likely to be quite different from the first ones, but maybe not to the same extent that it was. I was a little disappointed that the clone wars wasn’t included, but amongst my overwhelming joy that Battlefront was returning at all felt like a Jedi mind-trick convincing me that this was the best thing ever. 2015 couldn’t have been any greater, Fallout and Star Wars were back and that’s pretty outstanding.


Let’s dive right into this thing then. Already playing the open beta before the release I had a fair idea of what to expect from the new game. It didn’t disappoint. This game looks gorgeous, it has to be my best looking game on the Xbox One, Metal Gear probably gets a close second on this. I read the promotional material about the design teams going to the same locations that the films were based on and this definitely reflected into the final product. Hoth LOOKS like Hoth. Tatooine LOOKS like Tatooine. These planets feel real, Hoth makes you cold, Tatooine feels baren yet inhabited with life and Endor, well Endor is the best. Literally, Endor is the most impressive world to be in, it’s lush and alive and most of all, feels pretty damn believable. Ewoks run around their silly wooden platforms (which make for amazing multi-leveled combat), Lizards crawl up trees, and weird space snakes slither in and out of burrows. The attention to detail is impressive, most impressive. Seeing as most first-person competitive shooters offer pretty dull and static maps, Battlefront is fresh. The only problem I have with the immersion is with the sometimes wonky voice acting of the heroes and villains. This has been brought up several times by other reviewers, I have less of a problem with it than most, but it can break the immersion somewhat. Luckily Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett and Boba Fett) continues to be awesome and voices Boba Fett in the game, so that’s one original voice. The worst is probably Vader and Han’s voices. Besides that, the aesthetics of this game are pretty breathtaking.


Next we have gameplay. Put simply it’s a ‘dumbed’ down version of Battlefield, or so you’ll be told by the internet. I’d partly agree. The gameplay has definitely had a more arcade-like overhaul and I think this may be a move towards a more casual gamer. This is Star Wars (now owned by Disney) and I think that with the anticipation of Episode 7 EA decided to target this game at everybody. It’s a game that is easily accessible, just pick up a controller and join in so to speak (if only there was a split-screen online experience. Shame). The guns arguably feel pretty samey, they are after all all laser guns that go pew pew. There’s only so many ways a blaster can shoot, and I feel that these guns are closely representative of those from the films which is great aesthetically. It just doesn’t translate that well from a gameplay perspective. That said, these guns thankfully all feel punchy, especially the targeting rifles, they provide some powerful firepower. The standard blasters you receive from the get-go (the E11 and A280) are pretty well rounded on their own however, which creates this feeling that there’s no real need to purchase any of the other blasters on offer. That said, it’s nice to change the fire-rate every now and again. As well as your primary blaster you have access to ‘star cards’, which are equivalent to Battlefield tools with usage limited to a cooling down system. I like this form of playing, it is inevitably arcade-like but it’s different enough from the average shooter that I’m ok with it. These ‘star cards’ offer you abilities such as the Jetpack, thermal detonator and other helpful tools like the ion torpedo. As well as these ‘star cards’ you have traits which reward you with special abilities from kill-streaks, and power-ups found on the battlefield which provide more effective abilities, such as the smart-rocket launcher (great against AT-STs) and bubble-shield to protect yourself and teammates from oncoming blaster fire. Among these power-ups you will also find the occasional vehicle pick-up or hero pick-up. These pick-ups will place you in varying vehicles (including the AT-ATs but with a limited timer) and the hero pick-ups let you pick from three heroes or villains depending on which side you are on. Of course the hero pick-up is the most thrilling of the lot and you will almost definitely see several teammates racing towards the pick-up to play as their favourite character. It’s undeniably fun playing as one of these comically over-powered figures on the battlefield wiping out as many enemies as you can before finally being overwhelmed by the entire team. And you will become a high-priority target pretty quickly. It’s unique and a great aspect of the game, if you’re able to reach the pick-ups before some Jetpack idiot snatches it right before your eyes (TIP: always be that Jetpack idiot).


Yes this game is definitely an online-orientated game. The single-player and co-operative aspects are dismal. If you’re looking at this game without an online subscription don’t even bother, there is literally 3 hours of gameplay there if you push the boundaries. I myself have played these sections repeatedly to obtain 100% completion but once I’ve completed master difficulty I’m out of there. Chewie hit it! But seriously, don’t buy this game if you don’t plan on playing online.

Sure, there are loads of things missing from this game that were present in the Pandemic games of the same title, but this is a new generation of Star Wars. This is EA Star Wars. With all the advantages and disadvantages that come with it. I will happily accept the fact that this game may be a little over-priced for the content that is available, but without this, there’d be nothing. And I know which situation I’d rather be in. Give me a beautiful looking, over-priced but fun Star Wars game over nothing at all.

Alexander Jones

Bonus video I uploaded to Youtube: