Robot Wars Series 9 – Heat 1 Preview

Here we go again! Admittedly Im writing these a lot sooner than I thought it would be (good job BBC ūüôā ) but that’s fine with me. I enjoy doing these. Building anticipation before Series 9 of Robot Wars begins within the next week.

Nearly all of the machines for this series have been revealed and from what I can see, they’re mean. Like seriously mean. The potential for nearly all of the 40 competitors is high and if¬†they all perform¬†this could be one of the most destructive and epic series yet. Like the last wars, I’m going to preview each machine week by week, and very badly predict who has the best chance of going though and who has the best chance of going home. As ever I welcome other people comments and predictions, lets see if you’re as wrong as I will be. Lets get into it…..

 

Aftershock

aftershock

Most Recent War – Series 8 (Grand Final)

We start with this mean looking machine. Coming from one of many bots from Team Shock, Aftershock is the follow up to last years finalist Shockwave. Now I don’t now what I was expecting when Aftershock was announced, but it was nothing like this. A single toothed 259-style disc interchangeable with a 14 kg vertical bar going at around 2400 rpm. That’s about the same speed as Carbide last year. Painful. It’s nothing like Shockwave, completely new and very scary. When the heat list was announced, Terrorhurtz was the name that stood out to me as the potential winner. But this is something new. Not sure about how it will fair as it cant really self right but it’s definatley a contender. If you know Team Shock from live events you may know that Aftershock is very similar to some of the teams featherweights, perhaps providing a bit of inspiration. Could go far.

Prediction –¬†Honestly I think this heat will come down to Aftershock and Terrorhurtz. Spinner vs Axe. Terrorhurtz has massive armour though and is probably the one machine that Aftershock may struggle against in whole series. A heat final for Aftershock for me, but it will be very impressive.

 

Nuts 2

nuts-2

Most Recent War – Series 8 (Heat, Round 2)

The Nutty boys are back! Excellent, was chuffed when I saw them on the list. Gave great entertainment in the last war after surviving through a battle that involved Razer. Didn’t win any fights after that and got brutally taken apart by Carbide in the process but they were worth their place 100%. They come back with Nuts 2. Looks a wee but smaller but more robust than it’s predecessor but it’s still the same concept. Spin around and smash everything in sight, confusing both the enemy and themselves. Brilliant. On a bigger note the top hats seem to have been replaced by woolly ones. The series was filmed in Scotland in the middle of December after all.

Prediction – As much as I’m happy to see Nuts back and I know they’ll be entertaining again, I’m not sure they can get through the group stages again. Of course we don’t know the draw yet (not at the time of writing) but I fear they maybe outclassed. That said who thought they’d get out of the first melee last time? Neither¬†Behemoth or Terrorhurtz could beat them outright either. Could still surprise. Secretly, I hope they do.

 

Crank E

crank-e

Most Recent War РSeries 8 (Heat, Round 1)

Entering the warzone is the other machine that (rather skillfully) went out of that group battle with Razer, allowing Nuts to proceed. Thankfully trimming the name to a much easier to type Crank E, this chunky looking bulldozer looks like it means business. Taking a leaf from the Nuts robot building rule book about mandatory googly eyes, its looks a little like last years model. Same long shape with a nasty spinning blade in the middle. A spinning blade that allegedly goes at 6000 rpm. The speeds of discs and blades these days are crazy, but some machines in the last wars proved that its not always about how fast it goes. So again the potential is high. Looks a little like a riot shield actually, I quite like it. And once again Crank E comes from the same brilliant mind that created Pussycat, they know what they’re doing.

Prediction –¬†I love a machine that looks rough and rugged and Crank E fits that bill. I think this version will put up a better challenge than the last war where they seemed to be specifically targeted by Razer. But again will it be enough? I’m not so sure, I’m reckoning theres better machines in this heat.

 

Sabretooth

sabretooth-s9

Most Recent War – Series 8 (Heat, Round 1)

Ah Sabretooth. A veteran of 3 previous UK championships, this being their 4th. Always had some fantastic looking machines down the years and this one, to me, is no exception. It also looks like the most simple looking Sabretooth machine too. Nice and low, good weapon and yellow. Looks a bit like Black & Blue from the 7th wars for those who remember, but most importantly its invertable, so this means a srimech is not needed. However, Sabretooth has famously never won a Robot Wars battle. It’s not all about bad performance and design; Sabretooth has had huge misfortune before. In the 5th war they lost a controversial judges call, in the 6th the weapon broke after the qualifiers, in the 7th they couldn’t tone down the power of the disc when asked so couldn’t fight. Last year the self righter broke before the first fight. So maybe a change in luck is what the future holds. Surely?

Prediction –¬†¬†Its great to see a team and machine come back time and time again even with little success. And its even more admirable when its effectively a new machine everytime. I think its great, and honestly I think Sabretooth can get that win now. Genuinely. Looks powerful, sleek and strong and although they could come a cropper against other machines I think this is the best chance for Sabretooth. Don’t anybody forget to #prayforgabe , this could be the time.

 

Jellyfish

jellyfish

Most Recent War – N/A, Newcomer

Look at whats crawled out of the sea! What a beast, all welcome Jellyfish to the warzone this year. A very colourful, very charismatic creature that operates as an (what looks like) invertable clamping robot. Very large as well, made out of the same material that Gabriel used in the last war and of course, mandatory googly eyes. It looks great, one of the best in the series for me. And what makes things add up is that it was created by one of the ‘brains’ behind Nuts last year, so who knows what to expect with this one. How powerful can the clamp be? I suppose it has to be a large enough¬†to get hold of the others, but does it works as a Tough As Nails kind of grabber or a Kan Opener type crusher? Time shall indeed tell. Looks like a fun robot either way.

Prediction –¬†For all the pleasing aesthetics on Jellyfish Im unsure on how it will perform. Quite flat so easily axed, quite large so easily hit, relatively high ground clearance. I can’t see them progressing but I hope they put up a good fight. 10/10 for effort though.

 

TMHWK

tmhwk

Most Recent War – Series 7 (Heat, Round 1)

I’ve put TMHWK in as a veteran because of the entry in UK 7. A bit like Dantomkia last time out; Tomahawk was entered but then lost in round 1 of said war. It was then sold on and ended up with this current team; an all female group from Holland. Good to see. Differences from the 7th wars are quite high. It retains the axe from before but it now has the standard wheel setup instead of tracks and lovely purple paint job. Looks quite mean actually, a little bit like a more slender Kat 3. Has experience from the live stage too so the tea have seasoned their skills beforehand. The reason theres no vowels in the title still eludes me though.

Prediction –¬†Another stunning looking machine. The effort gone into the machines this series, never mind this heat, is phenomenal. But again how will it perform? For me, Im not so sure again. There’s better robots in this heat and TMHWK could be sent for the earliest of baths.

 

Rapid

rapid

Most Recent War – N/A, Newcomer

This looks a tidy machine. Meet Rapid. Nice, simple, low wedge shape design with a flipper. I mentioned that rugged look earlier so I like the way this one looks too. Very original, quick and potentially dangerous. Mini Turbulence Im calling it. There’s nothing mini about the cost to build though. Reportedly, Rapid cost around ¬£25,000 to build! That’s huge! We (and the team) best hope it’s worth it; that’s a serious chunk of dough. It’s that sort of thing that would put me off building my own machine. I’ve wanted to since I was about 9, and 17 years later I probably still couldn’t afford to. But if you’ve got the budget I suppose you’d go for it. Lets just hope it was money well spent.

Prediction –¬†For all my poverty ranting though, Rapid gets my special underdog of the week star. I like the design, I like what I see in the stats; I think this machine will perform. This could be the surprise of the heat, thought Id still have a couple of machines above them.

 

Terrorhurtz

terrorhutz-s9

Most Recent War – Series 8 (Heat, Round 2)

The axe men cometh. For anybody who knows anything about robot combat in the last 10 years, you should know all about Terrorhurtz. For those who think robotic combat only started last July, get yourself on YouTube; you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Terrorhurtz is a former UK grand finalist and one of the most powerful and best engineered robots around. Huge hitting axe, low ground clearance and very quick to self right, not much can stand up to this power. Im really pleased they came back, and though not much looks like it’s changed, maybe it didn’t have too. They went out last war, effectively because the axe failed to fire and turn it back over. Without that axe it stood up to and beat Carbide in the heat. Just couldn’t beat Nuts outright when it was working….

Prediction –¬†Because of the experience and because they stood up so well to the likes of Carbide, I don’t know if they’res much that can match Terrorhurtz in this heat. Even a ridiculously powerful Aftershock. As good as the robots are in this heat, I see those 2 as head and shoulders above everyone else. But that’s just me. And like I mentioned earlier, Terrorhurtz is probably the one machine that Aftershock wouldn’t want to fight. The heat winner and Grand Finalists are here in my opinion.

 

There we have it, we’ve reached the end of this heats preview. As ever thank you for sticking with me and I welcome feedback and predictions. Who do you think will stand out? Leave me a comment and let me know. All these thoughts are my opinion. If you were with me last war, you’ll know that my opinions and thoughts are usually, quite very wrong. But that’s the fun of it! I hope I’ve got you all ready for what looks set to be an amazing series. The robots activate this Sunday the 5th at 7pm on Beeb 2. As ever, Let the wars begin….

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Robots Reactivate ‚Äď The War Is Coming‚Ķ

 

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Robots Reactivate – The War Is Coming…

Oh Yes, we are back!  After whats felt like years, the announcement went out yesterday that Robot Wars 2017 will be go on the first Sunday in March; just over 2 weeks away. Excited much?

Yep it seems all those frantic hours on Twitter since Battle of the Stars went out have paid off and it seems to have taken just 3 months from filming to broadcast, about half what it did last year. We’re going in the right direction. So what do we know? Well theres 40 competitors once again, spread over 5 heats. The winners go into the Grand Final with a sixth robot chosen as a wildcard by the judges. Sound familiar? If it is the same format as last year then it will be the first time that consecutive series have been the same. Its not a bad thing at all, maybe I was just being greedy and hoping for more.

One of the biggest changes that stand out to me is the pit release tyre. The difference for this war is that it might not activate the pit when pressed…. It might, but theres the chance it could cause a house robot to come and attack for a few seconds. Dodgy rule or stroke of genius? Im undecided about this. I wouldn’t want the house robots interfering on a battle result as the conclusion of an unlucky break. Might work, what do I know? Might make things more exciting, making teams a little more weary of going for that pit knockout. We’ll just have to see, I wont rule anything out until I’ve seen it.

So with the announcement, the first 8 teams were released. Some old Robot Wars favourite such as Terrorhurtz, Nuts, Sabretooth & Crank-E, a few from the live stage such as TMHWK, some a little new in terms of Rapid & Aftershock (which Im guessing is the new Shockwave), and one named after a sea creature in Jellyfish. It sounds like an interesting line up. Im chuffed Terrorhurtz and Nuts are back, but until we can see some pictures or some stats its hard to call. As of writing this post there is no information that I can find available about these machines. Im hoping they appear in due course.

So I suppose this post is just for me to show a bit of excitement and anticipation for the nest series and I cant wait to get started. Apologies for it being so short… Im also pleased that its March 5th start. The rumours that the series would begin Feb 26th didn’t sit too well; Im away that weekend. Lucky me! For those who followed me last time, I very much thank you for your likes and comments and what nots. Im hoping to do heat previews a few days before once again so keep your eyes peeled for those. And tell all your mates!

Let the 9th wars begin……

 

Twitter @jaymess24

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Overwatch Year of the Rooster – Another FREE Update

So they’ve only gone and done it again. Blizzard with all their might and power have given us a new special event to lose ourselves for the next 3 weeks. I must say, The year of the Rooster event caught me completely off guard, which is surprising given how I’ve practically lived, breathed and prayed to Overwatch since I bought it in August last year. I only first saw it on Twitter Tuesday morning. How bad of a fan am I?

Now as much as I’ve liked everything Blizzard has given to us since the release of Overwatch, my first thought was that this event has come too soon in the wake of the Winter Wonderland., although this is still very welcome. Like its predecessors, the year of the Rooster event has many skins, voice lines, emotes and sprays for us to spend many hours attempting to collect. And there’s some nice ones too. Mei & Tracer are personal favourites of mine.

overwatch-yotr-skins

A few of the skins on offer. Roadhog just looks freaky…

Traditionally each event has given us a new game mode to attempt. This time is no exception and its essentially that old favourite Capture the Flag. And its very good fun. Taking place in Lijiang Tower, the usual 2 teams of 6 attempt to retrieve the enemies flag and return it to their base. First to 3, or the team with the highest score wins. Simple. However there are a few very minor details to this game mode that separate it from other capture the flag modes I’ve played recently. You cant pick up the flag if you take damage for example and its treated in the same way as an objective, as in there’s a little delay as you pick up this most treasured item. Of course this gives every Bastion on the planet a chance to fill you with holes but for me it works really well, once again encouraging that all important team play. The games are a nice length as well. As we know some competitive games can go on for a long time, even some quick play matches go the full distance. But by having Capture the Rooster at a nice 7 minutes a match, its great for a quick blast of Overwatch carnage and good fun too. The way it looks is amazing, fitting in withe usual vibrant colour scheme of Overwatch, yet recreating that feel of Chinese new year. There’s even fireworks to set off, yep no expense has been spared on this update. I really hope this game mode sticks around, its one of my favourites so far.

overwatch-capture-rooster

Why so serious? The flags behind you!

Other points of note with this update involve the killfeed. I know, hardly the most interesting of subjects in an online FPS, but it is a nice difference. The colours are bolder, easier to see and have enhanced detail. This makes it easier to see whats happening; a quick glance will tell you that Torbjorn turret is destroyed rather than studying the feed to check. The extra detail comes in the form of how enemies were eliminated. New icons show if it was a headshot or even if someone used their ultimate ability to clear the way. A nice touch. As is the ability to assign 4 voice lines, emotes and/or sprays to each of your characters, meaning Sombra can now mix and match her ‘Boop’ with something a little less irritating on loop. I haven’t tried this extensively but when I had a go assigning more voice lines to Roadhog (not specific, just who I was playing as), I found it more difficult to select. Sure you’ve got your default one that you can use anytime through the menu, but to access more you have to hold down the menu, hold L1 or R1 (if like me you’re on Playstation) for the selection wheel then use the right stick to make your¬†choice. A bit fiddly but again, a nice choice to have.

But surely Im nitpicking. On the whole this is yet another great update. Add this to Oasis being added earlier on in the month and the future is bright for this great title. And as Blizzard carry on keeping this game fresh, theres always one thing that plays on my mind; Why would you spend money on any other title, then pay another 15 or 20 quid for 4 or 5 maps that also mean you cant play others who haven’t bought them? Yes I know that question seems very directed at Call Of Duty but I mean on the whole. I’ve not paid a single penny for any extra maps, game modes or even characters since I got Overwatch and I genuinely think that is part of the reason the game has done so well; the updates come for free. Blizzard have done a great job with this and of course, if a sequel to a game I really liked came out Id jump on it. Me personally Id just be tempted to try something else that has done as well as Overwatch. And after my experiences with this game, I wouldn’t want to pay for extra gear anywhere else., I might not even want to go back. And this is¬†because of what Blizzard have achieved. They’ve reeled us in and they intend to keep us there, but making sure we’re¬†happy in the process. I hope that makes sense….

Im chuffed I stumbled on Overwatch. I wanted a new game and it was between this or No Man’s Sky… I think I made the right choice. I recently made it past level 100 and I don’t want to slow down. Keep going Blizzard. You’ve already got a winner; its keeping it there that’s the difficult part.

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Overwatch Review ‚Äď My Style

Pokemon Sun & Moon – Completely different, but exactly the same

I love Pokemon. Always have. I remember as a kid relentlessly pestering the parents for a Gameboy with Pokemon Red. It eventually worked and since then I’ve been hooked. Since then I’ve awaited each new adventure eagerly and playing them through until there is nothing left to do. Now at the age of 26, nothing has changed. So when Sun & Moon was announced earlier this year I still had the same feeling of excitement and many questions to ask. Where will the game take place? What will the new little monsters be like? What will the story entail? Having just finished the game, these are my thoughts:

Pokemon Sun & Moon takes place in the region of Alola. Straight away you can spot that this is¬†a different format. Instead of having to move from one town to another, this map is made up of 4 islands which have, at first, very little details to go on. The game starts in the usual way. Are you a boy or girl? Which one of these 3 Pokemon do you want to start with, Littlen, Rowlett or Popplio? Right, off you go on your adventure. Straight away the Hawaiian theme hits you. The trees, the shirts, even the music has that kind of Hula feel to it. The colours are vibrant, as are the sounds and sooner than you realise your into your first battle. The mechanics are the same, turn based combat until you or your opponent runs out of health, no changes there. But its an aspect that doesn’t need changing, its a winning formula that’s been in place for 20 years and its effective. The human/Pokemon interaction is at large too. There’s Pokemon everywhere as part of the world and they link together well. The potential for the game is growing.

psm2

The three starters. They actually impressed me

The characters are the usual kind of crew too. Yourself, a Professor named after a tree and some mates who are on the adventure with you. These guys are one of the biggest plus points in the game for me, not so much about their personalities but character growth. Never in a Pokemon game have certain characters had such depth in their stories including their past lives. To start with it all seems very normal, but as the game goes on we learn so much more about these people, where they have come from and how they got into the position they are in now. By the end of the game you wouldn’t recognise at least 3 of them for such a development in their character. I like that in games and it gets a massive green tick for me as part of this game. Another plus is Gen 1 Pokemon in this world. Yep that’s not a typo. For all the excitement a fresh line up of Pokemon can give, I really like what Nintendo did with the old favourites (even including Rattata). Most of these guys are back but they have an Alola form. This is because they have come over to the different climate and conditions of the Alola region so therefore change appearance (apparently). Oh and most of them also change type too. That Normal type Rattata of yours? Nope that’s a Dark type now. Want a fire breathing Vulpix? Well you cant, it now fires Ice beams. That said, some Gen 1 Pokemon are their original selves but seeing the classics in a different form is interesting and more challenging. Whereas you’d know what type one was and how to defeat it, now you have to change your thinking in order to master these effects. Just think about that Vulpix I mentioned. Already this version of Pokemon is turning into a corker.

psm3

These guys look familiar?

The feel of the game is fantastic, you really do get drawn into the Alola vibe. The beaches, the sea, the cries of nearby Pokemon as you trundle through a route to the next town. But even then it doesn’t seen out of place to come across a town who thinks they’re in Westworld with its saloons and cowboy boots (apologies if you’ve never seen Westworld before). There’s forests, and mountains, and volcanoes which again adds to the expansive nature of this new world. There’s a bit of something for everybody. And barring the odd bit of questionable dialogue from the townsfolk, it feels like a nice place to be in. Different themed towns and routes surrounded by huge buildings, even more Hawaiian trees or cliff faces and waterfalls makes this, probably, the best looking Pokemon game yet. And whilst I’m on the positives, wait until you see the Ride Pager. This is effectively your HM list with all the trimmings. Gone are those Hidden Machines; now you call in a Pokemon to do the job for you. For example, Rock Smash is now done by a Tauros that comes and goes whenever you please. Very handy not to have moves taken up by Fly or Strength. This game cant do wrong can it?

psm4

Alola’s ¬†4 islands

When you eventually get released from all the talking, learning how to catch Pokemon for the 900th time and the wondering what your Dads excuse was this time, you can get going. First things first, wheres the nearest gym? I’m scouting the map which is rather conveniently placed on my bottom screen, but inconveniently keeps talking to me (more on that in a sec) and I cant find one. Wheres the gym? Then you get told that there isn’t any. Not a single one. Instead in Alola you complete trials to earn Z crystals, which are basically this games version of mega evolution. One super powerful move to be used when you get into trouble. The trials themselves are all different. They can be battling or finding items or other weird and wonderful ideas and eventually you fight a totem Pokemon; effectively a gym leader with one pocket monster. Its a nice idea but to me they seemed too short and simple and I was constantly comparing each crystal to a gym badge and the achievement I feel when I win one. The crystals just seemed like they were being handed out like sweets.

Then there’s your Pokedex. Your stupid, annoying Pokedex. Someone, namely the Professor, had this amazing idea that a Rotom should live inside it. Now I’m open to new ideas, but I don’t think I’m a fan of this one. He was always piping up and telling me where to go and taking what felt like 3 days to register a new Pokemon. Of course I had to go where he said because I couldn’t explore these new islands. There’s always conveniently a Pokemon in the way or construction works blocking the route, and yes I know this happens in every Pokemon game ever but in a game that’s so much bigger and basically all in one area like on an island, I might want to wander off a bit. Going from town to town is also linear but there’s so much more to explore here that you could miss something first time around. It just seemed to bother me more in this game than any other. At first I thought it was because I am older, but I happily went through a game of Pokemon X a few months back and it was still a thrill.

psm5

This Guy…

Then there’s the story itself. Again like the characters, it does develop¬†strongly and as far as story telling in Pokemon goes, it does very well. But towards the end it didn’t seem to have the explosiveness of what we’re used to. To me it seemed a bit daft (like most Pokemon games to be fair) and Id sort of lost interest by that point, so I didn’t really care what happened. There are a few bombshells dropped as you go on but I didn’t feel like the full potential had been explored. Maybe one of those reasons was the difficulty. I found this game a bit too simple and again whilst wanting just to get on with it I found myself constantly trying to shake off the game’s hand that had been holding onto mine since I chose my preferred language. Again maybe its just me, and whilst I can see the usefulness in being told what moves are super effective against a particular opponent for a newer player, for the hardened Pokemon trainer¬†it might seem like some of the challenge has been lost, especially when there’s so many new monsters to catch and different type combinations to learn.

Like I said, I love Pokemon. A franchise that grips you for nearly 20 years of your life is a big part of it and it does keep delivering. Pokemon Sun & Moon definitely has delivered and is a worthy addition to the series we adore. But for me it isn’t the strongest. After about 10 hours I was starting to feel like something is missing. I didn’t explore towns for too long because, well there isn’t a lot to explore. And again whilst the story was good, it didn’t draw me in that much. It seemed it was too slow to start and them wham, you’re hit with everything. Of course, I wanted to know how things would pan out but by the time it had got to that point, I didn’t feel satisfied with my experience of Alola. Z crystals didn’t seen a great addition either. I wish they’d expanded on mega evolution rather than introduce something new. As satisfying as it is using a Z move they just seem a bit pointless; useful if you’re in a spot of bother but otherwise you probably wouldn’t use them. Simple things to the regular player such as exploring large cities or the simple thrill of a gym challenge are missed. That achievement of getting through several trainers and a challenge or two then coming out of it with a badge to show for it is a core Pokemon element. That poor bloke who stands in gyms believing you’re the best thing since sliced bread has been missed. I wonder what his Alola form would be? Maybe he’s stick thin.

psm6

I miss this guy…

I spend 31 of my pounds on Pokemon Moon and I don’t regret it. I just wish I felt more fulfilled with the game. To me it just seems like something is missing and that’s disappointing for a series of games that I always have such high hopes for. I will continue to get Pokemon games and boy do I want a Diamond/Pearl remake, but this one fells like its missed the mark a bit. That said I would still give Pokemon Sun & Moon a solid 8/10 and recommend it to any DS gamer, new to Pokemon or not.

 

I thank you for sticking with me and for reading my review. Please respect my opinions; they are exactly that, my opinions. I am interested to hear other peoples on these games too, so please leave a comment or 3. I’m also on Twitter @jaymess24 so follow me if you wish. Thank you and good night.

Overwatch Review ‚Äď My Style

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Р2004 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)

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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.

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Smashing

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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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 ‚ėļ) @jaymess24. In the mean time take care and I’ll see you all again soon.