Tom Clancy’s The Division proves, as if we didn’t know already, that Black Friday is a “bad thing”, since this time round, it’s the worst case scenario – not only have consumers gone mental for a £50 TV that used to sell for ten times the price, but a smallpox virus called “Green Poison” has been planted onto banknotes. Not a problem for anyone who uses chip & pin, but there’s always a few out there still counting out their coppers at the bloody till!
Still, the whole of Manhattan has been placed under quarantine and you’ve got to combat the enemy. Well, there’s a co-op gaming aspect with this where you can join a team of up to four like-minded citizens to take them on, but I prefer campaign rather than multiplayer, so there’s nothing for me, right? Wrong.You can choose to play missions on your own or with others online, but then again, even when you’re on your own and a situation requires a team, the game will fill in the rest with AI colleagues who’ll each fire off a few rounds to simulate being in a real team. That said, you’ll still be doing 90% of the legwork yourself, so they’re not exactly the greatest help.
You’re in familiar third-person-shooter fare, here, the way you crouch down behind barriers, trucks and the like, coming out occasionally to take a pot shot at the baddies, and they, initially, have the same never-changing routines, the way they also fire of a few rounds, step back, then go back to where they were to try again, giving you time to position your gun sights for a quick kill. However, there are larger arenas, such as the Hudson Refugee Camp, where you can see they’ve led you into a false sense of security, because the AI is fucking good in that level. If there’s one thing their friends have said about them, it’s that they’re frequent flankers! (or something like that). Yes, you can run around abandoned train carriages and crouch down in places where you think you’re safe, but all too often they’ll find a way to creep up on you!
That said, they can’t be brainy all the time, since they spend a ridiculous amount of time pottering around big, red explosive barrels! (see below)
Graphics-wise, yes, they look superb in 1080p HD on a 50″ TV, but i’ll occasionally stick for a split second, and I’m not sure what that’s about unless it’s just loading the next section in, and it breaks up the flow of the game. That said, the same thing happened with the new Hitman game, also released in the same week. I don’t get this with games which are running at the top of their game on my PC. Oh, and I once came across a particularly bizarre glitch when I fell through a steel fence, somehow.
That said, with the new Snowdrop Engine, it can create some stunning effects whether it’s the weather – including some heavy snowfall on occasion, or baddies using flamethrowers on you. Blimey, that was good!
The sound is perfectly serviceable – gunfire, explosions, people shouting and so on. There’s no issues with it, but nothing out of the ordinary. That said, when you tear into a few of those barrels in succession, there’s kablamo applenty! However, about the shouting, if you’re crouching down, waiting to make a move on some bad guys, if they get wind that you’re there, they’ll keep repeating the same two or three stock phrases over and over, so this aspect could really have used a little variety as it takes you out of the moment. To the game’s credit, though, there’s often a cool ’80s Michael Mann-style soundtrack, a la the James Caan-starrer Thief.
When it comes to the gameplay, again, there are some issues, such as the fact it’s all too easy to vault over a wall when I meant to crouch behind it – even after several hours of gameplay, such is the issue of getting to grips with the controls
The collision detection does leave a fair bit to be desired, however. While enemies bewilderingly spend a lot of time walking in the vicinity of exploding barrels and the like, it took many a shot to make a gas cannister explode, despite aiming right at it! By the time it went off, the baddie had long since escaped! Also, for the baddie who charges at you while screaming, ready to bash your brains in, the best defence against him is the pump-action shotgun, but while he was close up, my bullets may as well have gone straight through him like Pulp Fiction’s divine intervention, and he cleaved my skull quicker than Thorin did to Bilbo in The Hobbit on the ZX Spectrum!
And not to mention, the number of times I’ve fired bullets into the heads of enemies with a semi-automatic rifle. Sure, I can understand them still getting about temporarily after a few shots going into the limbs and, perhaps, chest, but the head?!!! Even back as far as the late ’90s, when playing SiN, it only took one shot to the head to down a baddie! And I’m sure some of this lot are made out of asbestos, since one dropped a grenade on himself, was covered in flames, but was still standing after they’d gone away. I can’t do this!!
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.