Review: Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut (PS4)

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Title: Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (4.3 GB)
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Original MSRP: $39.99 (US), €39.99 (EU), £26.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is also available on Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
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When you think of the big names in Hollywood you instantly think of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and many others. When you think of great names in the gaming industry hardly any spring to mind, but one of mine is Brian Fargo.

Fargo is the co-founder of Interplay and genius behind many things with the biggest being the Fallout series which has its roots buried deep in the original Wasteland game.

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Gameplay:
A team of four embark on a mission to find out why one of their own group was murdered, and finish the job that he was on. You and the team venture across the unforgiving wastelands with savage mutated beasts and crazy raiders all standing in your way. With old weaponry and even some bare fists you fight to uncover the truth.

Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is all about choice. You can approach situations in a myriad of ways and even the things you or your team say can change the outcome of a stand-off or casual chat.

… blood soaked bodies lay stinking …
Very early in the game we encountered some raiders near our objective. We could have gone in guns blazing but couldn’t be sure how many there were. A quick talk with the man blocking the entrance to their camp and a clever reply to a question allowed entry.

As we walked through the camp we stumbled across a few innocent people who hadn’t been so clever or couldn’t afford their toll. Their blood soaked bodies lay stinking in the hot desert sun. Knowing we had a mission to finish we pressed onward, those raiders will have to wait. Upon reaching our destination we found some more questions and an excuse to head back the way we came.

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Those evil smug raiders let us stroll right back into the camp, one of my team put his new-found rusty sickle to good use on an unsuspecting raider leaning on a pile of boxes trying to shelter in some shade. A few devastating swipes and the bastard was dead. Annoyingly the head rolled into view of the others which started a fire-fight.

Their guard dog had the common sense to flee but the idiots remained. One charged up and took a swing but missed, the other stood frozen in fear but managed to fire a couple of rounds at the team, a bullet grazed the rifleman who then returned fire with two well-aimed bullets ending another life. The last raider took two brutal sniper hits which ripped apart his frail body. Justice had been served.

… continually assess each scenario …
Repercussions and consequences fill every inch of the wastelands and everything you do sends ripples across the game. Going on a rage-filled killing spree will usually result in anger, fear, and revenge against your team. Anything from breaking into a safe or even killing a goat can sour a long-standing truce or harm your chances of obtaining some precious door unlock codes.

Once people are dead in Wasteland 2 they stay dead. Pills only work to reduce aches and pains. Battlefield surgery and hope are the only things holding death at bay for the injured, but only if there is a team member skilled enough.

You have to continually assess each scenario, knowing when to take cover, reload, heal, or even run away. They’re all options you have to consider. Then you have to watch out for new people joining your team as they have a tendency to leave when they have what they want or even attack if they don’t like you anymore.

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Learning new skills for each of your team members like demolitions, lockpicking, bartering, toaster repair, and even some computer science, helps toward success in the many missions that lay ahead. Not forgetting perks which give you or the entire team extra benefits and weaponsmithing to improve and mod your aging guns.

Once you have a skill you’ll still need to master it. I learned that the hard way as one of my team gained the Brute Force ability and I made him kick down a door. After a few hits the wood shattered into many pieces.

Sometime later we came to another door blocking our path and with no success at picking the lock I decided some brute force was needed, several kicks later and it shattered into a few pieces, not the door mind you, his foot.

… grab a few melee weapons …
There is so much to consider and alter in this deep and involving game it makes my obsessive compulsion to hoard everything I find a bit of a struggle. Thankfully it isn’t as bad as the last Fallout game I played where I became unable to move due to the amount I was hauling around. At least in this game I have four people to carry the loot and junk around.

Now that I mention Fallout I should also let you know that this game has a turn-based battle mechanic with precision aiming. It also has percentages and odds of hitting certain body parts. Elevation and distance has to be taken into account.

It’s all really technical but not off-putting or annoying. Some shots will miss their targets which can be very annoying, especially considering bullets are scarce in this post apocalyptic wasteland. All of this means a perfect hit is even sweeter and satisfying especially if it’s a one hit kill. It also might be a good idea to grab a few melee weapons along the way.

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As with many of my other PS4 reviews, I like to mention remote play on the PS Vita. With the turn based encounters and generally unperturbed exploration I found Wasteland 2 suits the little handheld perfectly, that is with one tiny flaw – the text is nigh on impossible to read. You can increase the text size to very large but that only makes it barely legible.

There are many jokes throughout the game that poke fun at things in the real world and the game itself. Some of these you might miss as you followed a different branch in the dialog tree or neglected to examine every one of the almost countless objects littered throughout. A dark humor weaves its way through the brilliant writing that some may be tempted to skip but saying the wrong thing can get you into some sticky situations.

… a joy to play on the PS4 …
I began my first game on the normal difficulty and quickly made use of being able to switch whenever you want. The easy mode proved to be more forgiving and allowed a newbie like me to get to grips with the gameplay much quicker and with less stress.

You’ll need to master every nuance and facet of this game and probably play through it several times if you ever want to see the Platinum Trophy. I have one warning and that is to avoid looking at the trophy list, it will spoil a few parts of the game and I suggest waiting until you complete it at least once.

My one tiny complaint is being unable to hack down some vines blocking a few doors until switching from targeting the vines to my friends and then back again. For some reason it doesn’t register until I do that. Everything else is great and works brilliantly, the dual radial controls and clever button layout makes this PC port a joy to play on the PS4.

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Visuals:
In some respects you can see a slightly aging PC game lurking in the menus and the absurd amount of text. It in no way looks bad, just a little dated in parts.

The move to consoles meant an upgrade to the Unity 5 engine and a visual bump to the characters, lighting, and loads more. There are plenty of cool effects and a buttery smooth semi-overhead camera and zoom.

You can kill people in gruesome scenes of dismemberment with fountains of blood gushing out of torsos and limbs. Some enemies even explode in a disgusting mess. It never becomes too unsettling as the graphics tend to make it almost morbidly comical.

… I explored every crack and crevice …
There is a nice little character creation system that allows for some varied looking team members. For some unknown reason you can’t take a snapshot of them to use as their in-game avatar and instead you have to pick from a small selection of images that rarely look like the individuals you made.

The camera moves freely through the environment and by that I mean literally through the mountains, buildings, and everything else. You don’t get lost as you see a white outline around any obscured people. I haven’t run into any collision or snagging issues whilst I explored every crack and crevice in the large 3D environments.

It’s the incidental little animations and details that impress me. This includes everything from a light swaying on the ceiling making the shadows dance on the floor, to energy weapons emitting a warm blue flickering glow, to characters coughing-up blood when they’re poisoned, or even the dirty tiled flooring that’s so scuffed and scratched from years of neglect.

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Audio:
The Director’s Cut features over 8,000 lines of new voiced dialog that adds so much to the experience and atmosphere. Even now there are still some lines without voices accompanying them but they are few and far between. All of the voice acting that I’ve heard so far is excellent.

Sound effects are great too, with weapons sounding loud and distinct, and exploding bodies sound painfully wet as they splatter on the ground. Another great treat for the audiophiles is the subtle music that haunts you as you play, ominously lingering in the background until an ambush or attack and then it kicks into gear and gets the sense of urgency up.

Since GTA V and a few other games used the DualShock 4’s speaker whenever there was a phone call or radio transmission I want to hear it in others too, or at least have the option, but alas no such luck with regard to this title.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only and features no online component.

… Brilliant writing and difficult decisions …
Conclusion:
The wait between Wasteland and its official sequel was over 25 years, then we had to wait a little longer until Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut made its way onto the PS4. Has it been worth it? Undoubtedly so. Brilliant writing and difficult decisions make your experiences and journey feel unique and personal.

You end up caring for your flawed group of Rangers and it can be emotional when one of them doesn’t make it. The graphics may feel a little dated but the overall quality and attention to detail more than makes up for it.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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