Flanked by everything from Titanfall through Battlefield and lately Destiny, the appeal of Call of Duty has remained boots on the ground "oorah!" marines. Black Ops 3 successfully incorporates near-future tech into the familiar breathless COD arena.
Though it was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that placed Activision's military shooter series firmly into the spotlight nigh on a decade ago, it was Treyarch's 2010 Black Ops that put the rocket under its multiplayer component. Retaining so much of that moment-to-moment tension which pervaded the likes of Nuketown, Firing Range Summit and Grid is a success in its own right. Doing so while introducing a radical (for COD) class system deserves a medal.
The X-Men/Avengers/Justice League vibe of the Specialist classes in PvP could have blown all the wheels right off the COD Humvee, but they're essentially walking (and indeed talking) Killstreak rewards, bringing a tactical edge that defines your approach to a much deeper level than before. And to that end, dedicated players are compelled to not only master their preferred Specialist, but take a tour as all nine elite soldiers to breathe as they breathe.
You may have reservations about the thruster packs, but rest-assured this is far removed from the free-running showboating of Titanfall, and more refined than the zigzagging of Advanced Warfare's Exo suits. The general feeling is enhanced, and better enabled rather than being lifted entirely out of the realms of reality. In short, Blops 3 is Treyarch on form, and our advice to you is quite literally to run with it.
Rocket League was a wonderful gift for PlayStation 4 players, at least those signed up for PS Plus, the subscription service that every month offers up a selection of free titles. It was a game that we were perhaps too harsh on when we lavished it with praise and gave it 8/10, because in fairness it probably deserved better, and our biggest concern (that it might have a lack of longterm appeal) has been proven a little wide of the mark. For a game that plays out on wheels, it sure has a lot of legs.
The premise is so simple, yet that simplicity feeds into its brilliance. Two teams of remote controlled cars line up against each other, and then proceed to ram a giant ball into one of two giant goals located at either end of a walled arena. It's basically destruction derby meets football, and it's as entertaining as that medley sounds.
It works great in local multiplayer too, but it's better online because you have the full screen to yourself, and dropping in and out of matches is largely effortless. Matches can take the form of intense one on one battles, or chaotic four on four ramming-fests that also happen to include a giant football and the occasional goal.
What makes it such an excellent multiplayer game is, that underneath the easygoing style, the have a laugh attitude, the endless customisation options, and the extensive post-launch support, when all that's peeled away, you're left with a game that's crying out for mastery. The controls are nuanced, there's room for player expression, and a well oiled team will be able to string together passages of elegant play. Don't be fooled by the simplistic exterior; Rocket League is high octane multiplayer fun of the highest calibre.
After the beta for Halo 5: Guardians during last year's holiday period, we were well and truly excited about what might be about to land in the finished product. We were expectant, but given we still had so much left to find out about what 343i were cooking, and following the debacle that was Halo: The Master Chief Collection, we weren't holding our breath for a masterpiece. Happily, a masterpiece is exactly what we got.
Gone were the overly convoluted loadouts that characterised Halo 4's online offering, and in was a newly rebalanced competitive multiplayer that delivered in every key area. Our only criticism; we'd have liked a few more maps, but then given that this content is coming to the game post-launch in the form of free DLC, it'd be miserly to complain too much about this.
The new-found balance felt fresh, but there was an air of familiarity to it too. Not since Halo 3 had the series enjoyed the kind of purity that it boasts now, with every player taking to the arena with an equal footing. Of course, when the action kicks off, not all Spartans are created equal, but any advantage carried into battle comes down to a mix of skill and experience; this is how Halo should be.
There's a decent selection of modes, and the new MOBA-inspired Warzones works particularly well, and even the introduction of microtransactions wasn't enough to derail our fun. Since launch Big Team Battle has returned to the fold, and there's even a Counter-Strike inspired flag capture mode that epitomises the new-look Halo: this is sporty, fun, fair.
Forget the Halo campaign, which we enjoyed, but was short throwaway fun in a way we've never really seen before from the series. Guardians is all about the multiplayer, and 343i has put the series back on the map. The studio has finally delivered a Halo game worthy of the franchise's illustrious history, and for our money it's the best multiplayer experience you'll find this year.