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If the mark of a good game is that it delights both those who have been anticipating it for years and those who have literally just discovered it, The Division is one very good game.
Tom Clancy's The Division
For: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: (R16) ★★★★+
A buddy of mine has been eagerly anticipating the latest Tom Clancy game - the 50th? 100th? - since it was first revealed at E3 in 2013.
Me, on the other hand, well, I have never enjoyed a Tom Clancy game before, had barely taken notice of The Division's looming launch, and had zero expectations of the game.
And it has delighted us both.
The Division is a beefy open-world third-person shooter that almost perfectly blends singleplayer and co-op elements with a remarkably deep role-playing element.
The setting is New York, but not quite as you know it.
A smallpox pandemic has ripped the city to shreds and turned the place into a living hell soaked in crime and contamination.
You are a member of the Strategic Homeland Division, tasked with helping rebuild your organisation, investigate the outbreak and clean the city up.
In simple terms, gameplay is run-and-cover with combat taking the form of a bunch of skirmishes between you (and team-mates, if you are online) and various thugs, some of whom are basically cannon fodder but some of whom are elite bordering on impossibly tough.
There is a large map to be explored - streets to turn down, buildings to climb, shops to ransack, contaminated areas to sort out - and bucketloads of loot to be swiped from the bodies of fallen enemies or boxes/backpacks scattered around the city.
This becomes an immersive part of the game as you unlock better gear and weapons, and tinker with your loadout constantly.
Main missions are accompanied by a swag of side quests and collectables, and whenever you think your attention is waning, you find a sweet new gun or clothing item to make you come alive.
The Division's big appeal, for me, is that it works as a singleplayer, or as a team-based game.
Even if you have mates who level up quicker than you, it is easy to slot back in alongside them, or you can head out into the city on your own and still (a) have fun and (b) survive.
Beyond the core of the game is a PvP area called the Dark Zone, where you can find some brilliant loot and upgrades but are at risk of losing it all just when you thing you are going to escape.
RPG devotees will find plenty to like here too.
The depth of skill trees and the three ‘‘wings'' you can upgrade is extraordinary, and you are regularly asked to make choices that have a meaningful impact on the game experience.
Graphically, the game really sparkles.
It offers a beautiful yet tragic picture of a New York that has seen better days but can still take the breath away.
The Division is just an utter joy to play.