Australian rules football is a hard sport to recreate in a video game because of its complexities and to this day it has not been done very well. This was a fun game to play (and still is) and given the lack of AFL video games meant that I played it, but it has a lot of flaws, including being far too easy.
With all of the hype about this, the gameplay isn't as unique as I thought it would be. There are many similarities to the FarCry and the rebooted Tomb Raider series. There are bandit camps like the outposts in FarCry, lots of hidden items to find, similar stealth mechanics, crafting, campfires to save games, and many other similar gameplay features. In saying that, it is different enough and you don't feel like you've played it before as the story, enemies, environment/time period are the main differences and its strength. While the graphics are nice, as much of the environment is fairly barren land that you'll be traversing through, at times the world isn't very picturesque to wander through. I finished this and enjoyed the adventure and completing it was rewarding as I found it to be a challenging romp.
In terms of AFL games, apart from old games in the series, there are no other options and there is no competition. So, if a fan of the sport wants it in video game form, this is it. I said it twenty-years ago about AFL 99, and nothing has changed. It's a difficult sport to recreate as a video game and still, to this day, it hasn't been done well. In some areas the developers have made progress from previous AFL games, but all in all, there isn't a lot.
There are three big issues. The main problem with this is the marking contests. At times I time the pressing of the button correctly, and seem to be in the correct position but do not spoil or mark the ball. Sometimes as a quick kick from the AI can go off screen, there isn't enough time to see the circles required to be involved in the contest.
Connected to the previous issue is the camera. When you mark the ball, to be able to properly see downfield and aim for a teammate, the camera needs to be from behind the player, not the side. It ends up just being a long kick game which isn't truthful to how the sport is played. The sport has become more of a tightly congested, running game and in many ways that isn't reflected here.
The third is the problem with knowing if you have the ball in congested situations. When there are many players around the ball it's difficult to know if you or the opposition have the ball so I end up just tapping the tackle/tap button because on the harder difficulties the game is punishing if they break away from a stoppage.
Other minor problems include the wind and controls. It seems like every few games you have a tornado hurling around the stadium. I could accept it if you played your home games in Tasmania, but not when you're playing in Perth and at the MCG. The wind has way too much impact on the ball when shooting for goal. The controls are also more complicated than they need to be. To spoil the ball you need to hold L2, hit triangle and because you need to be a near perfect position, often hold R1 to sprint, plus the direction buttons. There is no reason why spoil couldn't just be one button. The other major control issue is that square is handball along with tap the ball along the ground. These need to be separate because often you think you have the ball only for it to tap.
77/100 on Metacritic
This hyped game going back to 2009 looks to offer something different in the open world genre and does so with its futuristic feel with the protagonist being able to hack into the city's (Chicago) central operating system (ctOS), thus enabling traffic lights, steam pipes, bridges and cameras (to name a few) to be hacked into. A trait of every single citizen also pops up when they're close by, whose phone calls can also be listened to and ATM details hacked for money to be withdrawn later. These additions do provide a fresh feel to the genre. I found the plot to do that as well partly due to being more emotive than the GTAs and Saints Rows of the world.
Most of the missions in the campaign involve driving to a location, then stealthing/shooting (generally a choice the player can make)/hacking your way through the level to reach an objective, then escaping the area which often involves a car chase against the enemy and/or the police. The AI are fairly clever, particularly when driving and this is when the hacking comes into play the most that helps you end the chase by obstructing the pursuer. What doesn't work here is that there is a flaw in the game/easy way to lose the target. Jump in one of the nearest waterways, and swim or drive away via boat. There aren't any water police or enemies that want to get their feet wet in this game. It becomes a slightly harder task when a chopper is in pursuit, but even then, once you are traveling by boat the helicopter doesn't keep up. Maybe I was crossing international waters...
Along with the campaign there are many side missions, however there isn't a lot of incentive to do these as the upgrades, money and weapons garnered from the campaign is plenty to get you by.
Playing on PC, I had to make a minor variation to a file to help fix the aiming, the handling is inconsistent while driving as well, but this could be partly due to my ageing graphics card. (Edit- Having played this on a more powerful rig and on PS4, the handling is fine and the aiming noticeably improves too). I didn't get to enjoy this game in all of its beauty either as my card is getting old as mentioned. The load times are fine. but the game could do with a small patch nonetheless. There is also a drinking game as part of the campaign where as the character is drunk, the movement is inconsistent and buttons need to be pressed when the mouse is on those buttons. If the developer's aim was to pi55 me off they succeeded. This mini-game/level seemed unnecessarily frustrating. This comes down to musical taste, but another bugbear is the soundtrack. The collection of songs on the radio are very poor. There are maybe three I liked, and that's why I normally turned the radio off when driving. The original music by Brian Reitzell is great at times, as is the voice acting and overall sound design.
As good as hoped? Maybe not. The missions are too same-same at times and there is too much A-B driving (the fast travel via train is a very useful feature) but from someone unmoved from the GTA series these days this does offer something slightly new. I know people were pi55ed and felt lied to given the very early teaser of this sounded so good, but It's definitely not the unplayable mess and deserving of its negative reputation some like to give it.
The Trackmania series has provided me with hours and hours of entertainment (and frustration), since the original dropped in '03. The old games gave you multiple environments, a variety of solo modes, and fewer bugs, to name a few features. These days, the series is a far cry from what it used to be.
At launch, I couldn't complete an online race because the game wouldn't register my car crossing the finish line and that still occurs with regularity. There are still, almost three weeks into launch, server issues, and it's just not the game it should be. One of the series' strengths has been its track editor, allowing users to create an infinite amount of tracks. All of the tracks users create should be easily accessible through the game's menus. They're not. On the track exchange site, https://trackmania.exchange, you can't upload replays because the site is waiting on Nadeo. There are some features such as water that was in the series previously that isn't at the moment. Apparently that will be added at some point.
It's still addictive trying to find that perfect line to shave milliseconds off the clock but the game isn't what it should be or what its predecessors deserve. People who buy games these days on release should receive a wage, as we seem to be the ones who actually test them.