Overwatch Review – My Style

Every year, usually in the summer, I get bored with gaming. There are the big releases that I look forward to but they seem so very far away. So there’s always the one time that I just wing it, go to the shop and see whats there that I fancy. In the past this has been a worthwhile tactic, it’s thrown up some real surprises to me such as the action racer of Split/Second, the confusing, puzzled world of Catherine, and just last year it opened me up to the cold, dark feel of the brilliant Until Dawn. Since growing up and having responsibilities I have less time to stick the Playstation on and have a blast at something. So at the ripe age of 26 I don’t game half as much as I did 5 or 6 years ago, so I end up being quite selective with games.

In June I saw a game called Overwatch on sale for £35 second hand. Reviews looked good so I gave it a try. One thing reviews did say that put me off slightly was that the game was completely online. Seeing that as a person who loves to really get his teeth into a good story in a game left me a little deflated. But ratings of 9, 9.5, A, 5 stars, 97% surely couldn’t be wrong? In fact I was strapped to find a really negative review that didn’t already address the faults that Overwatch has. All games have faults, it’s just something we have to accept.

First impressions immediately showed me what the fuss was about and why the ratings were so high. It was an FPS but not like one I’d played before. Shooters in recent times has become very Call of Duty and Battlefield orientated, very realistic to their surroundings, on occasion dark and dirty as you crawl your way through a tunnel to avoid enemy line of fire. Overwatch takes that formula and throws it out of the window. Bright, vibrant colours take up very detailed and well constructed themed maps, ranging from a canyon on Route 66 to a Hollywood film set. My favourite quickly became Lijiang Tower, very small spaces and compact destinations where teams meet, reminded me of Nuketown. The idea of the game I found very easy to understand. Objective based gameplay depending on which map you get placed on. It could be a King of the hill style control point or escorting a payload from one side of the map to the other, and it encourages that sort of play and to make you work as a team to achieve the goal. You level up on how well you did in each game whether it’s just a quick game, a blast against some bots or seasonal competitive play, but you have to reach level 25 for that. It’s visually stunning and incredibly easy to get the hang of. But one of Overwatch’s biggest plus points is the matchmaking. I hate it when servers go down, or lag, or spit you into a game where everyone on your team has had enough and left. The servers on Overwatch are some of the best I’ve come across. They keep working, even giving you an estimated time of how long it will take and if it takes too long, puts you into a free-for-all skirmish mode which is basically a waiting game allowing you to have a quick look at things in maps you might have missed or have a quick go with a new character. That is if you’re there long enough. I’ve found matchmaking pretty speedy and so far have not once been booted from a game due to connection break or experience even a whiff of lag. And I’ve only got basic Sky wifi…


The stunning Hanamura map

So how do you complete the objectives? Grab an AK47 with a silencer and launch your way over to the control point?  Not at all. To achieve what is necessary, at your disposal you have the best part that the game has to offer: The characters themselves. Each placed into 4 groups; Offence (all out damage), Defence (snipers and close combat characters), Tank (highly damaging, maximum health, slow) or Support (healers and helpers). Each one has a different weapon, ability and personality, no two are remotely the same. Abilities include providing shields, the need to fly or even to defend yourself from incoming attacks and using these combined with taking objectives and getting kills charges up a characters ultimate ability which I always find exciting to use, be it a lethal attack, Xray vision or even the power to resurrect an ally. It took me a while to find one or two I feel confident with but experimenting with new characters is all part of the experience. There’s still 5 or 6 I haven’t got round to having a go with yet in a 27 hour play through. And even then I rarely use the same character in consecutive matches. The mix and match ability transcends into matches too. If you’re not happy with the way the match is going with your chosen hero, why not switch to another? In fact you can change character as many times as you want in one game either when respawning or in the team’s safe room at the beginning. This makes for a much more lively shooter experience and can completely change the direction in which the match is going. I was with a team who couldn’t get anywhere near an objective for us being killed every time we went out. 4 or 5 of us changed character and it was made less predictable for the enemy and though we still didn’t win, we put up a much better fight and changed the dynamic and saved ourselves the embarrassment. Each character can be customised to your choosing too through a series of unlocks that can be achieved or bought using in-game coins gained through loot boxes received on every level-up or in the store. Though you can’t change weapons or abilities, the colours and skins can be altered to make them more personal to you, so can tag lines and emotes. Once a few have been unlocked you’ll struggle to find anyone who has the same combination of character add-ons as you do.


The wide range of characters, all shapes and sizes

I missed out on all of the hype pre release of Overwatch. Mainly because I wasn’t paying attention and partly because, as I said earlier, I’m quite selective these days. Believe me, I wish I could just got to the shop and grab whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted regardless of time, price or revolving around others like the 15 year old me could. As the game was a quick pickup I missed the knowledge that each character has a background storyline. Though not actually discussed in the game, they can be found easily enough online and there is a whole Fallout-style timeline story on how Overwatch was formed, why, and how the characters became what they are. If you’re like me and really get into something you find this interesting then it’s well worth the read and adds a little more depth to who you’re playing as, why they are in this situation and even the background on the maps where you are playing.

Of course it means little if you just want to online and smash another characters head in with ruddy great mallet, but that’s the beauty of it. You can jump online for a quick couple of games after work and be satisfied, or likewise you can just as easily get carried away and play 20 games after work and be extremely satisfied. I tend to chose the latter when I can. Either way it’s a great experience and one I don’t regret at all. Trophies are difficult to come by in this game too (I’m on PS4). It’s not just your usual ‘Kill 100 enemies’. 90% of them are character orientated and require a fair bit of skill, and an incredible amount of luck to achieve. Nearly all of mine have come by accident, by blocking a certain amount of damage in one life or self healing by a certain amount in one game, but still after 27 hours of play, I get that sense of excitement when that little icon pings up at the top of my screen. And I like collecting a trophy or 2.


A screenshot from my trophy list. Satisfaction.

The thing that really got me about Overwatch is how incredibly simple it is. ‘Here’s a map, choose a character, go capture that point’. That really is it, and that has made it even more difficult to explain to my mates how good it is. It’s not a lot of info to go on without boring them with the depth and details like I have just done to you guys, but it’s such a simple concept that works so well it doesn’t need explaining. One of my favourite games when I was a kid was Timesplitters; loads of fun, didn’t take itself too seriously. Overwatch reminds me a little of it. Whilst that background is there should you wish to explore it, the game is just as fun for a little 6 vs 6 combat and highly addictive to boot, as all good games are.


It can get a bit hectic in there

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing Overwatch, especially considering I didn’t even intend to buy it. Colourful, charismatic and a hell of a lot of fun, I’d recommend it not just to FPS fans, but fans of gaming everywhere. Creators Blizzard have done a great job and it really does go up there with another one of my spontaneous gaming surprises that fits nicely in with the games I mentioned at the start. It’s probably even the best one, which makes the find even more sweeter. From me, Overwatch gets a 9/10 and is well worth a buy, even at full price.


So that’s my take on Overwatch. I very much hope you enjoyed reading and any feedback is welcome, I really appreciate it.  If anyone fancies a game or 2 I’m welcome to adds on PSN: Jaymess24 and I am too on Twitter @jaymess24. This is my first game review but I hope to do more in the future and attempt to keep everyone entertained. In the meantime for those who have been playing, I leave you with my overview page with a few of my stats. Take care and I hope to see you all soon.


Robot Wars – The Best Performing Machines

If you were to ask me (and nobody ever, ever has) who was the best robot in any given series of Robot Wars, most of the the time my answer would not actually be the machine that won that series. Why? Several reasons. We might not have expected them to get that far, they might have taken out a favourite or some of the performances in battles were just so good. Oh and this includes every series from 1998 – 2004 that no one but hardcore fans and competitors ever seem to mention these days. So as its been over one whole month since the 2016 series finished and holidays are out of the way, I thought Id try and keep you all interested with a blogging special. This is my countdown, and therefore my opinion, of 10 of the best performing machines over every series of Robot Wars, a tribute to those who deserve recognition. Enjoy!


10. Hypnodisc (Series 3)


Now I was originally going to keep this countdown to 5. But then I went a bit crazy and wrote down a lot more than 5 that came to mind. So this is why Hypnodisc makes this list. Some of you may remember Hypnodisc. If you don’t and you like what you saw of the latest series, get on YouTube now. In the days gone by Hypnodisc was just awesome, bursting onto the scene in Series 3 and causing destruction like nothing else before. This was the first real go at a flywheel weapon, up until this point damage had mainly been caused by saws. As good as Chaos 2 was with its flipper, Hypnodisc caused more of a stir. It’s first fight with Robogeddon would get into my top 10 fights, it was incredible what was happening at the time.



Moving through Stealth, Berserk 2, Evil Weevil, 101 & Steg, they brilliantly made the Grand Final battle against Chaos causing damage that was unrivalled along the way. Unfortunately Hypnodisc lost the last fight and this ended up being their best wars yet despite this, they were the big hit of the third wars.


9. Firestorm III (Series 5)


A couple of reasons I put Firestorm’s Series 5 performance in here. Firstly because they were my favourite and I’m incredibly biased. Secondly is that it was a massive achievement. Up until the 2016 series, Firestorm had more fights in one championship than any other machine. This is because they originally lost to Hypnodisc in the Semi Finals and had to come through the Losers Melee to qualify.


Putting The Squeeze On

Now I know Firestorm were a grand finalist in series 3 but the close call with Dominator in the fourth wars semi and a slip down the rankings meant they were in danger of not making those heights again. Of course they would go on to have more success but at the time, making the final in this series was a major move for Firestorm. Robots who came through the melee in the semis were considered underdogs in the next round, so for them to come through and beat 2nd seeds Pussycat was phenomenal. They pushed Razer very hard before having to settle for 3rd for the second time. A fine performance.


8. TR2 (2016 Series)


The first of 2 2016 competitors in this list and I had to give TR2 credit. This is mainly due to the fact in this new format, TR2 only lost the one fight, the least of any finalist. Apollo lost 2 and Carbide lost 3, so that puts a bit of perspective on it. You could argue that with that record they could have done better, but maybe that’s a bit harsh. And for a new machine to Robot Wars to come in and beat veterans like Supernova, Big Nipper, King B, Dantomkia and Thor takes some doing.


Ha, Flipping Heck

TR2 was brilliantly controlled and had a very effective weapon. The flipper I mean, not the bum axe. A nice touch but its all about the flip here. I know they competed many times on the live stage but this was their first go at Robot Wars so they deserve credit. TR2 was definitely one of my robots of the series.


7. Terrorhurtz (Series 6)


Team Hurtz fought in 4 wars previous to series 6 and won a grand total of 2 fights in UK championships. So when this most recent edition of Terrorhurtz appeared in the 6th wars, personally I didn’t think anymore than before. While they’re all around now, bladed axes weren’t a big thing back then. They didn’t make the visible damage a spiked axe would so in a way, this performance was revolutionary. So Terrorhurtz started their campaign against A-Kill, Reptirron & Sabretooth. Not much pedigree there, but it was a good performance. Next up was Kronic, OK again not a massive deal. But the win did put Terrorhurtz into their first heat final against Panic Attack. At this time Panic Attack had never failed to reach a Semi Final. And Terrorhurtz made light work. Into the Semis for the first time and there as the only unseeded machine, they splattered a limping Spawn Again.


Yes, I Just Said Splattered

So that was an ex UK champ and the tenth seed beaten, surely the second seeds would be too much for unseeded Terrorhurtz. Nope. Repeated axe blows completely disabled Bigger Brother and miraculously Terrorhurtz was into the final purely on merit. It ended there when beaten by Razer and Firestorm but what a run they had. The axe worked, it made sense and has since brought more success and spawned many more axes like it. Truly one of the greatest performances in the wars.


6. Steg-O-Saw-Us (Series 3)


Many probably cant remember or even have any knowledge of Steg in Series 3. They only did another 2 wars after but it was a heroic run from the original Steg. The most impressive part of their story is that weren’t in the original wars line up. Steg were drafted in at the last minute to compete and it was so last minute that they didn’t even get their own introduction at the start of the show. They beat Orac’s Revenge, Henry and Napalm in the heat to progress. Then they got past a fancied Gravedigger and hit the biggest surprise of their championship by beating former UK champs Beast Of Bodmin.


Eye Eye, How Did That Happen?

They would eventually lose to Hypnodisc but they gave it a good go. The most impressive thing about Steg’s run was that they had flipper tail. That they didn’t even use. Strange I know, but Steg was able to use phenomenal pushing power to defeat opponents, and in those days not many machines could stand up to such a beating. I see them as the original ram bot and it took them on a very impressive winning streak.


5. Apollo (2016 Series)


I had to put Apollo in this list. They weren’t the favourite for the series, but who were? With such a reset on the playing field anyone could have won. Carbide emerged early on and it looked like not much else had the power to match. Apollo did well to make the final, coming through a heat with Eruption, PP3D, Kan Opener & Storm 2 in. I thought anything else would be a bonus for them. But very measured performances against Shockwave, TR2, Thor and Carbide put them into the final battle and whilst entertaining at the same time. Anything could have happened against Carbide in that final.


Entertainment Until The End

Even though Carbide’s weapon failed, Apollo kept up the attacks and secured their place in Robot Wars history. I just though it was a great performance all the way through. Strong and powerful but never really fancied for the title and against the odds they pulled it off. And they had to compete in more fights than any other champion. Quality show.


4. Pussycat (Series 4)


When Pussycat returned in Series 4 they only had 3 fights to their name. Effectively it was 3 wins too but it’s heat final turned into a disqualification for using a blade that shattered. So really not much was expected from this new version especially being placed in a heat with Razer. They had another march to the heat final but doing more damage than previously along the way, showing that Pussycat was improved and ready to go further. Cue fight against Razer; old school unreliable Razer, who broke down early on and handed Pussycat the win but not before the cat did major damage showing what it could do.


The E-Razer

Semi Final wins against unseeded Thermidor and Dominator 2 were impressive, especially the latter and started to show Pussycat as a contender but maybe lacking in power compared to some other finalists. When we see that the cat was drawn against Hypnodisc, well the worse was feared. But straight from the start the moggy charged at the second seeds, cutting into the wheel hub and immobilising Hypnodisc on one side. I saw Hypnodisc in Sheffield after war 4 and it was a straight slice in the armour and it jammed the wheel. At the time it was Pussycat’s best victory and remarkably put them into the final fight against Chaos 2. And maybe apart from Razer, there was no luck involved in their run, Pussycat had genuinely done all of the damage to competitors to win through and the 11 or so year old me thought it was damage at the same sort of power to what Hypnodisc could do at the time. Unfortunately the cat lost to Chaos in the final but their place in wars history had rightfully been written.


3. Storm II (Series 7)


Entering Series 7 was a machine that was seeded even though they’d never competed in any previous war. Storm 2 won the New Blood championship in Extreme 2 though and won automatic entry to the war. So entering as the 16th seed, they were expected to give it a good go, no real expectation. Now for those who don’t know there was a heck of a lot of controversy surround Storm 2 in war 7 and none of it their fault. I could write about it but it would have to be in a separate article involving what happened, my views, the reactions and so on. So instead I’ll link the Robot Wars Wiki Storm 2 controversy page here if you wish to have a goosey gander. Moving on…

As not much was expected from Storm 2 nobody knew what to expect. The results were explosive, picking up from where they left off in the New Blood throwing Supernova, Mayhem, Rhino, and Trax around the arena with ease. The spectacular came in the heat final where they rammed Steel Avenger so hard, they flew out of the arena. Amazing power. So the new boys were in the Semis, anything could happen from here. They were hardly tested against The Grimreaper but the win over Firestorm deserves credit. Firestorm was on top but took damage to the front, and Storm 2 came back into to pit the second seeds. The New Blood champs were now into the final four, showing a new breed of power and setting the bar higher than ever before. The real test was the next fight against their predecessor Tornado. And Storm pretty much dominated the UK champs and were looking very good for the series.


The Student Teaches The Master

In reality and if a certain production company hadn’t been around, they should have taken the series (again, see the link above). As it were, history states that Typhoon 2 won and no disrespect to Typhoon 2 but I thought Storm 2 were the better robot, not just in that fight but in the series. For a relatively new robot to come through and cause such a stir (as Typhoon did too but I thought Storm were more impressive) is a massive achievement, regardless of the result.


2. Panic Attack (Series 2)


Back in 1998 there wasn’t really any famous names in roboteering. It was all relatively new to us so trying to find a winner was a bit of an unknown. Of course there was always a machine or 2 that stood out, in the early days it was someone like Roadblock or Mortis. The revolutionary machine at the time of Series 2 was Cassius. Rex Garrod was a famous name and his machine was the early favourite in this war. In heat 6 a yellow machine called Panic Attack came along and they said they were competing for charity; the further they went, the more money went to their chosen charity. It was a standard box with lifting forks and good pushing power, a bit like most creations from war 2. What caused a stir around Panic Attack is they always seemed to be over achieving and us being true brits, we always like to cheer for an underdog. Panic Attack was just that, making their way through the Gauntlet and Sumo trial to beat Whirling Dervish and Disruptor to book a place in the Semis. They nearly went out there in the Gauntlet after achieving the same distance as Mace and after a race-off successfully beat the fancied Mortis for their place in the final. The rest as they say is history. Killertron beaten and the pitting of favourites Cassius in the final gave Panic Attack the UK championship.


History Made

From then on Panic Attack’s name has been met with great respect in the community. They would go on to another 3 Semi Finals in the next few wars and despite faltering in later championships, the name still had meaning. A machine that had come from nowhere and given little chance had surprised us all and gained huge prowess in Robot Wars. Panic Attack was and still is a legend. And they made the name for themselves to stand out in future times. What a performance it was.


1. Bigger Brother (Series 5)


The number one spot in my list goes to this machine for giving the best performance in a UK championship in one of the greatest robotic runs ever. Bigger Brother is known as an all-star these days but it was Series 5 where it made its name. They were Semi Finalists in Series 3 with Big Brother, but the next wars didn’t go well as they were out in round 2. So here comes and unseeded Bigger Brother into heat 9 of UK 5. Their first fight against Tip-Top was a pretty standard victory, out of the arena in under 30 seconds. Nice. But that still was a huge thing for Bigger Brother, they’d never managed it before and had never won as convincingly as that. It continued, Splinter went the same way in an even quicker time and 3 Stegs To Heaven almost followed in the heat final. Though they stayed in the arena, the Brother dominated to march into it’s second Semi Final. To me they were one of the most impressive there so far and another blindingly quick fight against S3 put them through to round 2. There the run was surely to end against a machine unbeaten in 18 UK championship battles; the mighty Chaos 2. Wrong. Very, very wrong. Bigger Brother paced themselves beautifully and held on to beat the twice UK champs when they ran out of gas.


The King Is Dead

You’d have to go back and watch the previous 2 wars to put into context what the Brother has achieved by this point. Unseeded and through to the Grand Final, already it is one of the most improved robots to ever compete. To go away and change so much and to increase in power and durability that much is amazing. What followed next was one of the greatest battles ever. It was going to be a tough draw either way; it was Razer, Hypnodisc or Firestorm. It was Hypnodisc, who were once again very fancied for the title at this stage. For the first 98% of the bout, that statement was justified. Bigger Brother was smashed, the armour gone, the flipper ripped off and yet, managed to keep going. All the internals were fine and even had the guts to go for the pit release, Hypnodisc couldn’t finish them off. How costly that proved as miraculously Battered Brother put the disc into the pit.


The Greatest Ever Comeback

Though they denied us all a Razer/Hypnodisc grand final, it’s hard to not stand back and appreciate what Bigger Brother did. The final battle was ultimately not a great one that they lost to Razer after a huge rebuild which involved most of the teams, including Hypnodisc. Unseeded and improved and they had come through and beaten 3 former grand finalists including the most successful champion and the most destructive robot ever. It was a staggering run and secured Bigger Brothers place in history. Though they would never had this much success in a UK championship again, it’s always hard to overlook this run as one of the greatest.


So that’s it! Thank you for sticking with me on this one, I hope it was enjoyed. I enjoyed writing it anyway even if it has no meaning to anything anywhere. As always I’d like to hear comments and feedback, is there one I’ve missed out that you thought should be here? There were a few like Dantomkia in Series 6 or S3 in 5 but obviously I didn’t do those, I’d like to hear of more. I’m also on Twitter if you’d like to have a chat about anything robotic (or just want a new friend ☺) @jaymess24. In the mean time take care and I’ll see you all again soon.