We find out if  Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is a shot in the right direction, then go hands on with the SteelSeries Alias Microphone, review Persona 5 Tactica and more.

After dominating the headlines for much of the year as Sony and Microsoft fought for ultimate control, the Call of Duty mega-franchise is back at it for another year with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III. But while this latest entry will surely continue to rake in oodles of cash, it has to be said it doesn’t quite hit as hard as it should.

Much of this can be seen in the campaign Modern Warfare III offers, which just lacks much of the spectacle fans have come to expect. Scuttlebutt suggests that this entry was initially destined to serve life as DLC for last year’s offering, which may go some way to explain why things just feel a tad flat, becoming one of the weaker tales since 2013’s Call of Duty Ghosts as a result.

That said, the attempt to switch things up with the new Open Combat Missions is something I’d be keen to see more of in the future. Allowing players to choose their approach is a welcome change of pace, but the concept could do with a bit more time in the oven to be a sure-fire hit if it returns.

Meanwhile multiplayer is a hoot as always, but when the star of the show are 16 launch maps from the original Modern Warfare 2, the offering is sadly not as exciting as it could have been with a whole new suite to fire up. That’s not to say the gunplay isn’t rock solid, because it absolutely is, and the game’s audio design continues to be some of the best in class. Both elements should help fans of the original trilogy adore jumping back into some of the classics (or introduce newcomers to the fray) and the team has done well to give everything a brand new shine.

Throw in a new extraction shooter-inspired Zombies mode and there’s plenty Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III allows you to sink your teeth into. How long that appeal will last, on the other hand, is more of a question than ever before, so here’s hoping next year’s entry is able to steer the ship back on course.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is out now on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XBO and PC.

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Persona 5 Tactica

Despite scoring multiple Persona 5 spin-offs already, it seems we’re not ready to bid farewell to the Phantom Thieves just yet. But if Persona 5 Tactica is anything to go by, that’s not entirely a terrible thing.

Taking place between the second and third semesters of Persona 5 Royal, although this tactical title isn’t as complex or challenging as its inspiration (think along the lines of XCOM), it allows for a slightly more casual, yet less stressful, affair. The combat is also pretty darn enjoyable, taking mechanics from the core game and twisting them to fit this new format.

The inclusion of One More for example, will grant you the opportunity to potentially stack multiple turns for some of your units by downing foes. It allows for a hell of a lot of creative thinking and is incredibly satisfying to see yourself wipe out a battlefield before your enemy even has a chance to breathe.

If you’re not well-versed in the Persona 5 lore you’ll almost certainly be lost, and some might find the return to this world yet again to be a little tiring, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had if you’re starving for strategy.

The Talos Principle II

Perhaps you’re looking for a premium philosophical puzzler instead? Then allow us to bring your attention to The Talos Principle II, which might just be one of the genre’s finest in 2023. Set after the events of the first game (although the intro does well enough to catch you up even if you have yet to dabble) you fill the robotic shoes of the last sentient robot born into a utopian civilization. Without spoiling all the details though, it’s not long before you’re drawn to a mysterious island and forced to partake in a large number of challenging brain teasers.

Much like its predecessor, the Talos Principle II doesn’t muck around with its puzzle designs. From light beams to fans, blocks and even new tools that allow you to mess around with gravity, there’s no shortage of creativity at play here. It allows for some truly mind-bending solutions that will have you feeling dejected one minute, only to fist pump in celebration the next.

In case you truly do get stuck, the game’s smartest saving grace is the inclusion of Sparks – a truly valuable item you can find throughout your travels and use to instantly bypass a particularly troublesome puzzle. The catch is that finding these Sparks is incredibly rare, and in order to retrieve them you must solve the puzzle you used it on, which is downright devilish.

All in all The Talos Principle II is another stellar puzzle game that’ll certainly get the brain buzzing.

Hellboy Web of Wyrd

It really seems as though poor Hellboy can’t catch a break these days, and Web of Wyrd is unfortunately no exception. Despite an incredibly appealing visual aesthetic, this brawler isn’t able to break away from the underlying repetition that undermines the whole experience. Combat, for example, starts off relatively well but is simple to a fault, meaning after just a handful of hours things start to feel relatively slow and devoid of a serious challenge.

That’s not entirely helped along by the game’s structure either – a rougelike approach that sees you backtracking through various locations tied to the mysterious ‘Butterfly House’. But absolutely stunning Web of Wyrd is. The whole aesthetic feels incredibly comic-accurate and the little flourishes that appear throughout combat encounters is extra special especially if you’re able to play on an OLED display.

It’s worth emphasising that Hellboy Web of Wyrd is by no means a bad game, but it’s perhaps best enjoyed for long-time fans of the series.

Hands on with the SteelSeries Alias Microphone

SteelSeries has been a player in the gaming space for some time now, crafting a range of quality gaming accessories like headsets, keyboards and everything in between. But now, as Twitch streaming and home-grown podcasting continues to increase in popularity, the company has entered the microphone market with the Alias and Alias Pro. I’ve been testing out the base Alias offering and if my time it’s certainly made a hell of an impression.

Straight out of the box, SteelSeries sets you up with everything you need for the Alias, including a boom arm adapter, a desktop stand and USB-C to USB-A cable to get up and running. That’s because the core Alias microphone is a simple plug-and-play device (unlike the slightly pricier Pro model which uses an XLR connection and comes with a Stream Mixer), so getting things up and running is an incredibly quick and painless affair.

The microphone itself embraces a pill-shaped design, complete with a charcoal-ish fabric that covers the front. It’s a design choice that sets itself apart from the competition and will do well to fit in most gaming spaces without being overly flashy. But just in case you do enjoy yourself a bit of RGB lighting, the Alias does have an RGB light at the base of the unit, although it’s pretty subtle and mostly noticeable when it’s attached to the included base.

As you would certainly hope and expect, the Alias delivers in audio performance and then some. I found it to pick up my voice exceptionally well for some well-rounded output that was clear and not at all tinny. This is a condenser microphone, meaning proper positioning will be key, but even still I found there to be a bit of flexibility in where that position was without dramatically altering the output. Plus the shock-mount built into the stand helps keep any annoying unintentional noises.

I also appreciated the inclusion of LED indicators on the front of the Alias unit (a feature only present in this model and not the Pro model). Audio levels, for example, are displayed via various coloured dots that do you well to keep your mouth placement in check, while a big red X will appear whenever you touch the mute button to avoid any accidents. Both are great visual indicators that will likely be a big help for first-time streamers or content creators.

SteelSeries’ Sonar software helps round the package out if you do need to tinker with your audio a little more finely, but as a wider package, it’s the small, considered touches that make the Alias microphone such an appealing option. Available for $399 it’s certainly not cheap, but is a strong investment that will surely serve you well in the long run.

The SteelSeries Alias Microphone is available at JB-Hi-Fi now.

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