Saturday, 26 March 2016

Tom Clancy: The Division: PS4 Review

Tom Clancy: The Division: PS4 Review  

Platform: PS4
Released by Ubisoft

Tom Clancy: The Division is an incredible open world environment.

It opens with a series of distorted cut sequences which basically give you an insight into the end of the world and how Black Friday in New York became the Patient X for a pandemic.

Into this world, you are thrust -  you play an agent in a group known as The Division, which is activated once the devastating pandemic sweeps through NYC on Black Friday and the world starts to collapse. Chaos envelops society and without food or water, it's every man or woman for themselves. And that's where you come in - activated from your apparently sleeper cell status, it's up to you to try and restore some calm and investigate the source of the virus.

The first thing about Tom Clancy's The Division is how wonderfully realised the environment is. From a snow covered New York City that glistens with both wonder and menace, the rendering is nothing short of perfection as you hurtle around trying to achieve main game missions or play side quests which pop up without warning.

Missions initially include setting up a base camp to ensure you have somewhere to call your own, but you're faced with looters determined to take you out at any turn and who, in the desperate throes of survival, will do anything to get by.
Combat's a little trickier too, if you're used to simply going hurtling, all guns blazing. The game is predominantly based on cover tactics and requires you to utilise all of this and protect yourself. The problem is that pressing X all the way down will guarantee you go toward a cover-based spot, but removing that halfway through, will see your player stop, stand up and get blasted or beaten. I get that it's a commitment thing, but the lack of being able to commit simply by tapping a button is a frustration, particularly if you're trying to launch directly into an attack after.
Cover shooting is not exactly the easiest either - and a few times, the agent I was in control of got caught off guard by an inability to see around corners and got his head bashed in. 

Loot collection is a little more difficult as well if combat is underway and you have to really clear the enemies away before stopping to snoop, a touch which if you're trying to gear up while in combat is another source of frustration.

Shooting takes some learning too, bizarrely. It's not just point and press - aiming carefully will do more damage than blasting blindly and blazing. That makes sense but when you're overwhelmed with combatants, it makes a showdown a little trickier and needs you to strategise rather than go nuts.

That said, The Division is quite eminently playable.

Wandering around the city proves to be fertile ground with other side missions and jobs needing doing prior to following the main narrative. 

Online the game flourishes too - it's easier to team up with agents and to execute missions within the game - match-making hasn't proved to be too much of a problem for the servers and there's little waiting to get into the action.

Equally, the quarantined Dark Zone which pits players against each other is perhaps the more challenging of the game, given how it relies on other people to play nicely or wreak chaos. It's unexpected and exciting because of it - and it soars when measured up against the rest of the game.

The Division's made great use of the DualShock speaker too, which sounds like an odd thing to say, but given you're doing missions and receiving comms, the almost metallic tones of the messages feel like you have an earpiece in and are in constant contact. It's a nice touch that helps the game reach the immersive level it needs to.

All in all, Tom Clancy: The Division feels like one of the most rounded titles releaseed with the TC moniker; its depth is enjoyable and its scope is impressive. Stay through some of the churn of the story levels at the start and the overwhelming feel of the city, its map and its ideas and you'll find a game that soars the more time you plough into it.

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