We've got some thoughts on Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Extraction, the latest title from Ubisoft Montreal, in our review series Taken For A Quickie.
And what do you have to do?
Not entirely dissimilar from the dark zone in Tom Clancy's The Division 2, you're dispatched either alone or in groups of three to clear the alien infection in various ways.
It might be taking out enemies, or triggering some charges, or stopping seismic activity. If one of the team goes down and is absorbed by the infection they are MIA, and have to be retrieved in a future round, and in the meantime you lose access to that character.
Does going into a heavily dangerous area like that alone sound like a sensible idea?
No, not particularly, and in fact – other than the tutorial mission – generally we found the solo missions particularly lethal, since there are some objectives which require you to do multiple actions simultaneously, or in different places in quick succession.
A string of bad luck can quickly leave you with multiple operators injured or MIA.
How interesting are these operators then? Anyone we know?
Actually yes, since the game has DNA, all the way down to its engine, shared with Siege, the likes of Sledge, Doc and up to 16 others are all here to choose from.
Unfortunately, some of Team Rainbow's powers are a little less useful in this context. Sledge for example, still has his trusty hammer to smash through a wall or two, but because the element of surprise is so much more crucial here, being swing happy could cost you the objective.
Other elements like barricading walls and doorways also make an appearance, but the game doesn't seem to know what to do with them, since there seems to be relatively little cause to defend in the same way as you would in Siege against gun-wielding human opposition.
Not a huge recommendation then?
The concept is certainly interesting, and there's been a fair amount of effort put into the staging of the missions, with full cutscenes and characters debating the approach the team should take, but these moments are few and far between, and aren't enough to sustain a cohesive narrative.
A team of only three leaves you quickly short-handed too, with some objectives having three parts in themselves, without enemies to worry about, and a quick bout of poison gas is enough to quickly take a teammate down to critical health.
There's little chance to revive or save allies either, meaning leaving without a full team is fairly common. At least the titular extraction areas are in each of the three sub-zones per level, so you can bail out with only a third of the stage completed if you need to.
Does it at least feel as good as Siege to play?
Everything behaves in the same way as Siege, and you can steadily unlock new tech items and guns to play with, but really this experience might have gone down better as an add-on to that game rather than trying to be a game in its own right.
If you're a serious fan, and particularly if you've got a good team at your side, then it's worth a try – especially if you have Game Pass – but we wouldn't recommend going in alone.
With some of the most exciting releases of the year just around the corner, including the return of Aloy in Horizon Forbidden West and a new spin on Pokémon with Pokémon Arceus, we decided it was time we picked out our personal most-anticipated titles coming out this year.
Since there’s a little more to get into with some of these games, we’ll be bringing you our personal picks over the next few weeks. First up is BioShock speedrun champion* and Editor James.
While the game is a timed-exclusive for PS5, it will simultaneously come to PC, which feels like a sensible move on developer Luminous Productions and or, more likely, publisher Square Enix’s part, drumming up a little bit of scarcity while also appealing to an audience which will likely by then be aching for another adventure, being done with Horizon Forbidden West.
What stuck out most in the trailer, and is mentioned in the game’s official blurb, is using magic to traverse the world. Insomniac (you’d never guess I spent the break finally finishing up Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart) once described the key word they had in mind while creating cult classic and personal favourite Sunset Overdrive was “momentum”.
From what Luminous have shown off so far, that mentality seems to come into this game as well, as we see Frey sweeping through the beautiful landscape of Athia, guided by a talking cuff. Traversing on magical grapples, platforms and with various slides and flips, she seems to be taking to this fish-out-of-water story pretty well.
Square Enix are certainly known for their handling of fantasy (for some reason there isn’t a specific series that comes to mind…) and from what we’ve seen so far it feels like a natural fit.
If you haven’t heard of developer Luminous Productions, it might not come as a surprise that the studio was formed by former members of the Final Fantasy XV team, so even though it’s their first game, there’s some interesting experience and ideas behind it.
One element which stuck out was the sassiness and attitude of Frey herself, who seems to go from eye-rolling in disbelief to excited as she starts to explore the world and find out more about her quest.
While it will take more than an interesting premise to make the game work, what the game has shown off so far has me eager for more.
Keep an eye out for other picks for most anticipated game of 2022 from the rest of the team over the next few weeks.
*not a true fact
While The Game Awards may have decided the Game of the Year is (the admittedly marvelous) It Takes Two, we all know picking the absolute best experience players have had this year can be a little less clear cut.
How do you judge it? The game you played the most? Enjoyed the most? Was disappointed by the least? We've been doing some soul-searching as a team to find our own answers to these very questions, and we think we've each come up with something we can stand behind.
So, without further ado, presenting Pass the Controller's official Games of the Year. What was your pick? Let us know in the comments.
Halo Infinite | Chris
Although it's markedly different from every Halo to come before it, Infinite is the best the series has been since Reach.
The biggest drawback, as James mentioned in our review, is the omission of co-op in the campaign. Halo is at its peak when you're playing on legendary difficulty with someone by your side, pushing forward inch by inch, scavenging the battlefield for any weapons that still have ammo. Without that, the campaign still provides a good mix of intrigue and action, with Master Chief having a much more prominent role than in Guardians, even though he shares it with that other star of the show; the grappling hook.
Whilst it has the potential to save one's life should you "heroically" drive a Razorback full of Marines off the side of the map because I wasn't paying attention, I tend to employ it more offensively. Unfortunately, the offended party is usually me. There's no feeling quite like pulling an explosive container towards your throwing hand and hurling it, with Spartan strength, at a very close, very indestructible, piece of level geometry. I am a bigger threat to myself, and any of the UNSC who are brave enough to tag along, than the Banished could ever hope to be.
The multiplayer aspect has failed to grab me, the battle pass system pushed me away, and the absence of Firefight leaves me with little desire to explore that side any further. The campaign and grappling hook are solid enough to make Infinite my number one choice, narrowly beating Forza Horizon 5 and my Back to the Future-themed Delorean.
Resident Evil Village | Sam
I’m a fan of the Resident Evil series in all of its guises. Whether it’s an action entry or a traditional survival horror instalment, there’s no doubt that I’m coming along for the ride. Village confidently marries both of these identities and has fun doing so, helping its genuine scares to simultaneously be enjoyable and endearing.
RE Village, the eighth mainline entry in the franchise, features an ensemble cast of antagonists. These disparately kooky characters also operate in their own areas of the remote setting. As a result, the game feels like a Halloween theme park filled with enticing attractions you can’t help but get drawn in by.
Facing fears in a safe environment can be exciting to the point of amusement, which is a giddy feeling that Village often evokes. It helps that Capcom isn’t afraid to drop great gameplay features, locations and characters to move on before they lose lustre. Lady Dimitrescu plays a minor role, for example, though made a big enough impression for Maggie Robertson to win Best Performance at The Game Awards (2021).
While the structure and vibe are what really make Resident Evil Village stand out, of course, it wouldn’t be a GOTY contender without outstanding fundamentals. The gunplay and puzzles are absolutely on point, while the sense of continual character and arsenal progression makes for high replayability. It’s also worth recognising the RE Engine for achieving some near photorealistic visuals.
Liam | Hell Let Loose
I first tried Hell Let Loose last year, back when the game was still in Early Access on PC before refunding it due to technical issues. Fast forward a year, and HLL was rumoured to be heading to XSX and PS5 sometime in the winter. Fortunately, these rumours turned out to be true and, even more fortunately, I was able to secure myself a Series X to play it on.
I’m glad I made the decision to refund on PC, as this is most definitely a game worth enjoying properly. While it’s not breaking any new ground visually, it’s a decent looking game which is better appreciated on a big screen (not to mention a stable framerate, which my poor laptop couldn’t deliver).
I enjoy a good tactical shooter, and HLL is one of the best. The combination of lethal weaponry and fragile players makes for some very intense shootouts. The lack of aim-assist and the high-recoil guns means success feels very much earned.
HLL has a big focus on co-op play and communication, and I’ve been surprised to find most players are happy to talk tactics during matches. It’s an even better experience with a few friends in tow and has firmly established itself as my go-to title for the weekly multiplayer get together.
What's your 2021 Game of the Year? Let us know below.
It’s awards season, and while every game released in these unusual times deserves extra praise, there’s still an opportunity for a chosen few to rise above the rest at The Game Awards 2021.
The actual ceremony takes place on 9 December, though we already know the nominees. We’ve each picked a couple of categories in order to predict their winners. What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments.
Move over Epona, there's a new favourite mount in town.
Skipping over the fact that Deathloop seems to be up for almost every award going (I was half expecting to see it crop up in “Best Family Game”), I think there’s a decent variety of titles vying for the top prizes this year.
For the Best Sim/Strategy title, I have to go for Microsoft Flight Simulator. I’d already played around with the game on PC but having it available on Xbox has been an even better experience. What I like best about it is it can be as challenging or as welcoming as you want it to be.
Personally, I enjoy the latter option. Picking up a pad and just cruising around distant (or even local) locations for 30 minutes or so has been a great way to unwind. Flying, it turns out, is surprisingly peaceful when it’s not sandwiched between hours of airport tedium.
As for Best Multiplayer, I would have liked to have seen Hell Let Loose get nominated. Yes, I know it’s been out since last year on PC but, like MS Flight Sim, technically it did come out this year for consoles. From the options available, however, I have to go with Back 4 Blood because it was pretty good with friends and had a surprisingly fun PvP mode.
Tranquillity. In plane form.
Game of the Year
Best Game Direction
As a big fan of the Resident Evil franchise in all its guises, RE Village struck an excellent balance between old and new. It’s a unique blend of classic survival horror and modern action/adventure - each of its acts almost feel like separate games, though they also coexist and complement one another.
Arkane Studios’ titles are typically some of my favourites, including the divisive Prey. It came as a nasty surprise to learn that Deathloop isn’t for me, then; I kept playing in the hopes that it’d finally click, but then the credits rolled... Considering its level of recognition, however, I half expect it to clean up at The Game Awards.
In terms of Best Game Direction, Josef Fares and Hazelight Studios’ It Takes Two would be a worthy winner. Fares’ games so far all share a common thread - that innovation and cooperation are central to the experience. It Takes Two once again achieves that objective, building upon the foundations set by Brothers and A Way Out.
Elsewhere on the list, Deathloop and Returnal already feel like outdated roguelikes by comparison to the superior design of Supermassive Games’ Hades. Psychonauts 2 and Ratchet & Clank are both excellent, though just fall short of matching the directorial prowess displayed by Hazelight.
Forget the lovely art style, it has split-screen multiplayer! That's worth an award all on its own.
What nominations would you like to see win? Let us know below or in the forums.
We were lucky enough to have a quick look at Elden Ring (thanks Bandai Namco) during its Closed Network Test.
These games make a point of being quite tough to play, how was it?
We only had a few hours to explore, but the game certainly throws a lot at you. Lore is, unsurprisingly, abundant, as are a lot of pop-up menus explaining all sorts of screens and player actions.
In combat, standard enemies can easily take you down with a couple of hits and usually attack in groups. You should fully expect to die a lot – just just like in previous titles. If you’re careful, however, you can avoid or get the jump on enemies by utilising the new stealth system.
The game’s massive bosses might be too much to take on straight away for most players, though, fortunately, you don’t need to fight alone.
There’s multiplayer then?
Perhaps more overtly than in any of From’s past games. While having players invade your game, or summoning someone to help you, has been a feature of past titles, here there’s a bit more of an emphasis - perhaps because a more open setting lends itself to teaming up.
Messages scrawled throughout the world are here too, plus you’ll see the outlines of others exploring in the immediate area and bloodstains that show how other adventurers met their end.
How was it on the whole?
There’s a lot to take in for newcomers, but the swelling soundtrack and beautiful world of Limgrave set the stage for an epic adventure and push you on.
Elden Ring offers flexibility in play style right off the bat, even allowing players to bring some friends along to help out. It’s possibly the most approachable FromSoftware title to date, though we’ll find out for sure when the full game releases on February 25, 2022.
Forza Horizon 5 puts gamers behind the virtual wheel and transports them to Mexico. That got us thinking about some other memorable driving adventures; whether it’s on the track or out in the wilderness, racing games give players an opportunity to visit familiar and exotic locations.
Where have you been? Where would you like to see the Horizon series go next? Let us know in the comments.
Architecture such as this can only really be appreciated at 150 mph.
Liam | Britain, Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 came along at a time when I was living in Amsterdam, and though I considered that city home, it was nice to be able to revisit Britain in video game form.
While the Lake District inspired vistas and streets of Edinburgh were well realised, I didn’t feel any emotional connection to them. However, much of the regular countryside you drive through in FH4, particularly in the southern areas of the map, looks remarkably like where I grew up in the south of England.
It was a joy to suddenly be able to tear around a landscape so reminiscent of my home. Basic items that I’d encountered many times over the years, such as barriers, road markings and signposts, were suddenly loaded with nostalgia. I even picked some of the more bog-standard vehicles to fully replicate my youth (my household was (and still is) sadly lacking in the supercar department).
I’ve since moved back to England, so all those everyday road items once again seem just that, but it was nice to be able to view them through the lens of nostalgia, if only for a little while. Now, if Playground Games could set the next Horizon game in the Netherlands, that’d be great.
Yep, just like home.
Sam | Paradise City, Burnout Paradise
I’ve never really been into racing games. It’s one of those genres where I’m happy to let entries pass me by, even as they get rave reviews; driving is almost never a central hook, but rather a small component that can complement larger scale projects. One notable exception, however, is Criterion Games’ Burnout Paradise.
In discovering Paradise City I found a playground that was actually fun for my tastes. Speeding down busy roads at breakneck pace, jumping and smashing through billboards, wrecking competitors by ramming them into obstacles - all set to a classic rock soundtrack.
While Paradise City isn’t a real location, like London or Prague, it’s basically an amalgamation of iconic places in the United States. As a result, the game feels like a quintessential North American road trip and is a treat for fans of all things Americana.
Burnout Paradise Remastered makes the modern classic easily accessible, while also presenting the best rendition of Paradise City yet - it’s a win-win situation. Now, if only EA would greenlight a sequel instead of having Criterion helm the middling Need for Speed franchise.
It must be difficult building brand awareness in Paradise City with all the billboard destroying going on.
What's your favourite driving adventure?
Rockstar recently silenced all the Grand Theft Auto remaster rumours in the only way they know how – by announcing GTA: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition. This collection of GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas modernises their gameplay and visuals for a new generation.
For some this will be a trip down memory lane, but for others, it’ll be their first foray into these three iconic cities. Either way, we’ve got a few ideas of what to do first in the upcoming GTA bundle.
What’s your pick? Let us know in the comments.
Level up with an ambulance | Sam
The best way to start any game in the GTA Trilogy remaster collection is to make yourself overpowered. It’s easy to forget that this trio of titles can be pretty challenging, what with everybody cheating back in the day. Who knows if the same cheats will work this time, but, even if they do, it’ll probably void earning achievements and trophies.
Hijack yourself an ambulance and activate the Paramedic mini-game to earn some quick cash and, more importantly, permanent boosts. Finishing all 12 levels in Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City nets players unlimited sprint stamina, while doing so in San Andreas grants a maximum health bonus.
With some money and a nice character upgrade in the bag, start exploring remote corners of the rich settings in search of Hidden Packages. For every 10 of these collectibles that players find, the game grants a respawning weapon or resource pick-up at manual save points. Being able to claim an unlimited number of health, armour and ammo pick-ups is easily worth the effort.
Doing this makes a big difference in itself, though a welcome side effect is learning the level layouts. No shortcuts or hidden Police Bribes will go unused during missions, making the game a magnitude more manageable.
A tour of the local area | Liam
While James and Sam are right to champion some of the most appealing aspects of any GTA game – wreaking havoc, becoming a walking demigod, etc. – I’m putting forward a more peaceful suggestion.
I personally enjoy a good drive around in a new GTA game. Not the pavement mounting, pedestrian endangering rampages so closely associated with the series, but a more leisurely type of drive, one that takes in all the sights and sounds of a new landscape.
The best for this was San Andreas. I remember getting home from school, firing up the PS2 and just cruising around the edge of the map as I slowly took in the sights and different biomes, all while listening to some sweet tunes.
If I remember rightly, it took around 45 minutes to complete a single lap, and while it isn’t exactly the most thrilling way to play the game, it was an oddly enjoyable way to unwind at the end of the day.
Of course, it wasn’t entirely without danger – sometimes you’d take a wrong turn and need to double back along the motorway (into oncoming traffic, naturally) and you’d also need to ‘locate’ your vehicle of choice (preferably a Sanchez dirt bike) without alerting the local constabulary.
What do you always do first in GTA? Let us know.
In the return of our conversational quick look series, we check out Team 17’s Hell Let Loose.
What are the basics?
There’s a long list of classes, though it’s best to keep things simple at first by picking a Rifleman. Clutching an M1 Garand, you might be charged with storming the beach at Normandy, or defending it, then the game plays out a lot like Battlefield’s Rush mode. It’s on a much larger scale, however, so enemy encounters can be few and far between.
What happens when you get into a fight?
There’s a realistic slant on gunplay in that you won’t take more than a hit or two before going down. You can bandage yourself up to avoid bleeding out, or a Medic can do the job for you, but supplies are very limited.
Working as a squad helps, since the Officer can put spawn points down in an attempt to keep everyone together. There’s also an element of wider team coordination here; Officers have access to a special command comms channel, enabling them to coordinate with other squads and even tanks.
Ooo I like tanks, can I drive one?
Vehicles are fairly hard to come by, but yes. Those different roles include a Tank Commander and Crewman, both of which must work closely together.
In even rarer air, there’s a spot on each team for one Commander. This role directs friendly forces in a kind of a real-time strategy meta game, without ever getting stuck in on the frontline alongside everyone else.
Sounds interesting. Is it worth sinking some time into?
Because of how matches are structured, each leg of an attack has a fairly significant time limit - if the defenders almost hold out at each stage, an individual match can last well over an hour.
Hell Let Loose is a faithful and unforgiving take on World War 2, but some players will miss the creature comforts offered by almost every other modern shooter. It definitely throws back to the heyday of the Medal of Honor series, both in the way it plays and the inevitable similarities in weapons and themes. Overall, it’s definitely worth a go – especially for PS5 owners as it’s an October 2021 PlayStation Plus title.
At last, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is as ultimate as it can be, with the final new character having been announced.
It turns out Kingdom Hearts' Sora, the keyblade-wielding hero, was the missing ingredient, but is there a character who would have been even more fun?
We decided to come up with our own suggestions. Leave yours in the comments below.
Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark) | Liam Andrews
Joanna Dark might be an Xbox associate these days, but she started out life on the N64, so I think it would have been only fitting to see her return to a Nintendo platform via Smash Bros. Ultimate.
As a secret agent, she’s (presumably) well trained in hand-to-hand combat, so she wouldn’t look out of place battling against the game’s vast roster of rival characters. She’s also very proficient with weapons (that, we do know) and could have utilised a pair of Falcon 2 pistols for her ranged attack, or maybe even a SuperDragon assault rifle.
She would have a range of character skins to choose from as well, as there’s plenty of customisation options available. There’s the classic blue/grey Carrington Institute agent uniform, the Area 51 lab tech outfit, and you could even throw in the Perfect Dark Zero look for an alternative option.
As for a final smash, it would have to have featured Elvis, Joanna’s alien sidekick from the original game, perhaps abducting enemy players in a ship then launching them off the screen.
With a new Perfect Dark game currently in development for Xbox, Joanna Dark’s inclusion in Smash would have been a nice way to mark the series’ return to the fore.
Leon Scott Kennedy (Resident Evil) | SaM Sant
Part of deciding who makes the Super Smash Bros. roster no doubt revolves around which characters have the biggest icon status within gaming. With that in mind, it’s a travesty that the Resident Evil franchise isn’t getting any proper representation. Specifically, everybody’s favourite floppy-haired cop: Leon S. Kennedy.
Leon is the star of several Resident Evil stories, both in and outside of games, but is most notably the playable protagonist of both RE2 and RE4. Most will agree that these are two all-time classics, more than punching his ticket to the Smash Bros. invitational.
In an even bigger injustice than Dante appearing as a Mii skin, Nintendo actually put Mr. Kennedy in Smash as part of a limited-time Resident Evil spirit event. Basically, it’s a throwaway inclusion - Leon isn’t actually playable or even available to battle against.
While Chris Redfield appears in Marvel vs. Capcom, Leon could make a more impactful fighting game debut. He’d sport his signature roundhouse kick and a variety of suplexes up close, then, in keeping with his survival horror roots, draw from a limited ammo pool to shoot opponents at range. By summoning The Merchant, Leon could replenish his ammunition and either switch out or upgrade his current weapon.
With the recent release of Kena: Bridge of Spirits marking the gaming debut for animation studio Ember Lab, we started to think about other crossovers from the world of animation we'd like to see.
There are plenty of transferable skills, in terms of both designing and creating the cinematics, but also the movement and emotion which bring characters to life in-game. There are plenty of game developers who already do a great job of this in their own right – Insomniac in particular spring to mind – but which film and TV animation studios might have something to offer?
Rough Draft | Liam
Like James, one of the studios I’d be tempted to pick, Studio Ghibli, have already dabbled in the world of video games with the excellent Ni No Kuni, so I’ve instead opted for Rough Draft Studios, best known for The Simpsons and Futurama.
It’s the latter I’m interested in today, however, as I think a game set within New New York and beyond would be an absolute blast. Yes, I’m aware a Futurama game already came out in 2003, but the 3D shooter/platformer wasn’t anything to do with Rough Draft, as far as I know.
What I’d like to see is something like the two most recent South Park titles, The Stick of Truth and The Fractured but Whole, which leant into the style of the original material instead of pairing them with an ill-fitting game genre.
A Rough Draft Futurama game would also stay true to the source material, that is to say it’d be a 2D affair very much in keeping with the established cartoon style, with perhaps the odd 3D ship battle thrown in. While this would limit gameplay mechanics (I think a point and click title would work best) it would basically be a playable episode of Futurama, which sounds great to me.
Sony Pictures Imageworks | Sam
Having literally just beaten Kena: Bridge of Spirits before writing this, it’s safe to say that more animation studios should try their hands at game development; if Kena sets any kind of precedent, everyone could be in for a treat.
Sony Pictures Imageworks has a long filmography, the highlight of which is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That film’s visual style is second to none, oozing style (though not without substance) from every single frame. Into the Spider-Verse is the top animated feature on Rotten Tomatoes, but could the studio produce a classic game too?
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales features a skin that mimics the art and animations of the film. Equipping it makes for a unique and somewhat hypnotic gameplay experience - unfortunately, however, it only affects the title character. Seeing these rules applied across an entire game would no doubt make for something special.
It wouldn’t necessarily need to be a Spider-Man game, either. As part of PlayStation manufacturer Sony, Sony Pictures Imageworks could receive access to a variety of recognisable brands. While the art style might not suit the likes of The Last of Us, it could vibe with numerous other projects. Anyone for a Jak and Daxter or Sly Cooper revival on PS5?
Which animation studio would you like to see make a game? Let us know below.