Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Division - Be Afraid Bungie, Be Very Afraid
Rating : 9/10

I admit it, I play a lot of Destiny.  I have 618 hours invested into the game.  Thats a lot of time considering I have 2 jobs working 60-70 hours a week, a future wife, and sometimes school!  And... I play a lot of other games.  But like all addicts, I keep coming back.  But i might have found a new drug and its called The Division.  The year is the near future.  The headlines read like a horror story.  The greed of Americans has brought this on itself.  Now, you as an activated agent, must help to reclaim the city of Manhattan from the grips of vandals, hoodlums and psychopaths.  

And here is the main difference between the Division and Destiny.  Bungie set out to build a MMO RPG that has not been seen before.  With vast colorful environments, unique weapons to choose from, methods of making your character unique and different ways to connect you and your friends with playing games, Destiny set about the impossible.  Have a game that has playability can last far longer than two, 3, even four years.  And it looks like they might succeed.  the only thing it really lacked was a coherent story.  As much as I have played Destiny, I still wonder about it and what that story really is.

The Division begins with the smallpox virus infecting money is the US on Black Friday.  The greed of America comes full circle as the currency circulates and infects more an more people.  The city of New York is quarantined and the First Wave of the Division is called in to keep order.  Soon, this delicate infrastructure deteriorates and the citizens take it upon themselves to keep order.  Some people are just Rioters and are unhappy with the state the government has left them in.  Some of the crazies, known as Rikers, are prisoners and unorganized armed people that are just hoodlums.  Then there are the Cleaners who are trying to rid the streets of the virus by burning anything and everything.  They are out to clean up the streets and take what they want, when they want.  Live like Kings today because tomorrow might not come.  The Last Man Battalion was a group of mercenaries hired to protect the assets of Wall Street and were abandoned, has become your final group of misguided enemies.  They are much more organized, better equipped and far stronger.  Sickened by what the government has done to New York and touched by the greed of unbridled freedom, the LMB is your toughest adversaries due to their advanced technology left behind.  

The boroughs of Manhattan grow progressively harder from where you first land. You are here to help the JTF, the Joint Task Force, with reclaiming the city and bringing order and peace.  The levels are mostly grey and drab to reflect the despair.  The only color is the smattering of lights from the Christmas season.  The missions and rest of the city only have color when you blow something up.  And that is very satisfying.  The weapons become more and more powerful and more and more specialized.  Most of the weapons are seen on the front lines of our Army.  Nothing too surprising here.  The weapons do not meet the uniqueness of the weapons in Destiny, but that is where this game loses to Destiny, and only very slightly.  But the weapons and gear follow the same sort of ranking.  Grey are common, Green are uncommon, Blue, rare, purple are legendary and Yellow are exotic.  They have different names, but the leveling is the same.   the only issue I would have over this is that sometimes the higher the color level does not always translate to your best weapon.  i have had blue weapons with better DPS than some purple in higher levels.  You can get some blue piece of gear at level 15 and a green piece at level 18 and the green is better.  That's one place Bungie got the leveling right.  But Bungie uses percentages to do damage to enemies.  If you are a level 40 and light 315 walking around the Cosmodrone with level 4 enemies, you might do 680 on a critical snipe.  BUt you can be that same level 40 and 315 light walking around the Dreadnaught with a level 40 enemy and do 7800 damage on a Crit.  The division makes more sense.  If you are level 12 and do 600 damage on a body shot on a level 3 you're going to do 600 damage on a body shot on a level 28.  Atleast that makes sense right?  How can you be 30 levels higher than an enemy and not be over powering to that enemy?  That has always bothered me about Destiny.  

The replay value of Destiny is there.  As I've said I have over 600 hours playing it.  Maybe because there were no real alternatives in this genre.  The daily missions, nightfalls, need for all the loot, god rolls on weapons, calcified fragments and ghosts and raids always had me coming back.  It took me about 25 hours to max level my Agent.  And I'm only at about level 12 on my agent in the Dead Zone.  But the replayability is there.  If I just want to explore by myself in peoples apartments for hats or pants I can have that option.  The side quests and challenge mode are more than enough to keep me busy for a long time.  And if Ubisoft can deliver on their monthly updates and the DLCs available for Year One then I think there will be lots to enjoy and maybe I will be logging in 600+ hours here as well.

With Tom Clancy's "pulled from the headlines" type story telling and Ubisofts vision for realism, the Division delivers on all accounts.  It is a great game to play alone.  Its more fun with friends and helps with better loot.  The story is gripping and intense.  The game play is fun and satisfying.  Just walking around the ruins and helping citizens in need is rewarding.  Headshots have a satisfying sound, the types of weapons allow for your type of gameplay along with your skills and talents.  Rebuilding your Base of Operations keeps you grinding and that need for better and better gear keeps me farming.  This game gets 9 out of 10 from me and is a definite buy.  If you are one of the few who haven't bought this game, get out and do it now and bring the good fight to Manhattan.