The game mechanics in Tom Clancy's The Division - the much-anticipated third-person shooter by Ubisoft that was first announced in 2013 - are not new. Set in a vast open world, the game allows players to explore solo or team up with others online for various missions and objectives.
The attraction lies in uncovering new and precious loot in the form of weapons, gadgets and gear. These items are classified into four levels of rarity, and may come imbued with booster statistics. This formula has been used in other games, and The Division's version is just as interesting.
In creating your game character, there are limited options to customise the face, apart from choosing to be male or female. Unfortunately, there is no way to change your body mass to make your avatar stand out and be more personal. I feel this is a missed opportunity by Ubisoft. So to look different, I had to mix and match apparel along the way. There are themed outfits from Ubisoft's other titles such as Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell.
This cross-content move is commendable, although the novelty tends to wear off over time.
The game requires players to go online in order to play in solo or cooperative modes. The fun part is that you are able to contribute your firepower to an ally, and help each other level up.
PRICE: From $74.90 (PS4, Digital version tested), (Xbox One), $59.90 (PC)
GENRE: Third-person shooter
However, my experience with the game's online servers did not get off to a good start. First, there was a glitch during the initial enlistment phase, which caused me to lose many hours before the game update file was reinstalled. But the most frustrating part was the multiple disconnections during gameplay. Hopefully, these issues will dissipate once the servers stabilise.
The tight controls contribute to an enjoyable gameplay experience. Manoeuvring from cover to cover is simple and fluid, as is dispatching arsenal such as grenades, turrets and abilities from a safe spot. Shooting is the core activity, and it works well with the game's generous third-person camera angle.
Nevertheless some design elements are baffling. Going through the collectibles checklist is time- consuming. Also, while you are issued with advanced weaponry, you are required to return to the operation base in order to activate upgrades. Even with fast travel, this backtracking consumes precious gaming time.
While the map is laden with various situational objectives, all of them involve gunfire, explosions and death. The option to subdue enemies without bloodshed is missing. For a game that boasts the fusion of medical, firefighting and police personnel, it seems odd that players end up clocking more kill counts than touching lives or rebuilding the city. I cannot even pat the stray dogs during my walkabout.
One highlight is the Dark Zone, essentially a player-versus-player arena in which alliances are forged and broken for high-rarity loot. Agents who turn against their peers will be marked as bounty, and such acts will trigger more to join the hunt. If you're not playing with friends or detest such double- crossing episodes, you can choose to stay away.
Another highlight is the depiction of post-crisis Manhattan. The abandoned streets, sewers, subways and interior close quarters are all cleverly designed. I also like searching for collectibles in the form of phone recordings, filed data and virtual holographic overlays. It can be tedious, but these provide a deep insight into the backstory and emotions of the dwellers.
• Verdict: Having subscribed to the season pass for the game, I see myself spending many more hours in The Division. Despite its small weaknesses, I will still be patrolling the streets to assist those in need.
• Nizam Mohd is a freelance writer.