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Violent Video Games: A Catalyst for Violent Teens?

A friend recently shared a story with me regarding the perceived role of video game violence when it comes to outward acts of aggression by young people.

The author of the story (which you can find here), a high school teacher, recounted his days as a troubled youth and his obsession with weapons and killing – an obsession that found him going so far as to carry loaded guns in his backpack at school or knives in his pocket, and write about killing others.

As the story progresses, it is revealed that after making it through the worst of his youth and experiencing some “maturing moments” in his life, he was able break away from his violent tendencies and recognize the folly of his actions.

I was enjoying the story quite a bit.

That is, until he cited a difference between himself and some of the individuals who have carried out violent acts against peers/innocent victims: He didn’t play violent video games.

This is where he lost me. And here’s why:

While I get what he’s trying to say, and I’m glad that he was able to turn things around, even this is example is difficult to use as validation that violent video games are the catalysts that drive teenage shooters to commit such horrible acts. To be honest, I don’t really think it’s valid in this case.

The reason I say this is because when I was in school, the majority of my time spent between 5th Grade and around my junior year of high school (by my senior year, no one really cared), I dealt with bullying/teasing/prodding/etc as well. I, too, had access to weapons – including shotguns, pistols and a small rifle. And yes, I even played violent video games at this time (I bought my first PS2 using money from a summer job between my freshman and sophomore years). Of course, I never brought any of those weapons with me to school. Nor did I ever fantasize/talk about killing people.

My friends and I would engage in games of Halo on the original Xbox or I would play the likes of Half Life and Resident Evil and Medal of Honor on PS2, which allowed me to basically kill anything that moved. We’d talk about how we were going to headshot the other or kill the other with a sword. But beyond the aggression it created between friends/siblings, I don’t ever recall having the desire to use the sequences in which I was engaging as a means of “practice.”

In my honest and obviously non-professional opinion, the man who wrote this story had some major psychological issues while in school. Like I said, I’m glad he was able to turn things around, but it seems like a cop-out to me for him to suggest that the only reason he didn’t snap was because of not playing violent video games. I don’t believe that for a single moment. “Look, I know I carried guns around in my backpack at school, carried a knife on me a lot of the time, had an obsession with weapons and fantasized about killing people – but at least I didn’t play violent video games!”

No. That feels like a contrived place to direct the blame instead of saying what he should be saying: “I was never pushed to the point of breaking and I’m damn lucky to not have been.”

I would also be interested in knowing what his home life and extra curricular life were like, as I believe that has a great deal to do with how you view what life beyond your own problems (i.e. high school, social circles, etc) is actually like. I had a great group of people around me while I was dealing with the aforementioned rough spots in life. Despite my low self esteem, my family, friends, church family and even co-workers when I started work were positive influences on me. Now, I’m not saying I would have committed some horrible act against my peers, but it’s easy to say that given the direction my life took and the people who helped me see it. Had the people in my life not been there, I shutter to think about the type of person I would have been.

Because he doesn’t really delve into this very much, save for talking about his mother’s disdain for games, it’s hard to say. But, if anything was the difference, I would find it more believable that it was the individuals in his life more than his lack of video game interaction.

For sure, he’s free to justify his lack of action any way he pleases. But as someone who was in a similar position in terms of social acceptance and placement, this strikes me as yet another attempt to place the blame on something else instead of looking in the mirror and seeing where the problem really is: The person.

People aren’t talking about the mental health aspect of these shootings like they should be. And as long as people keep looking to place the blame on violent video games, I fear we never will.

General theswigz 12 Apr 2013 Comments Off

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Far Cry 3 Initial Impressions – A Steaming Pile of “Meh”

Every video/gameplay highlight/developer diary I’d seen of Far Cry 3 before release suggested one thing: This is going to be AWESOME.

The freedom to explore an island reminiscent of the one that captivated my heart back in college with the first game; beautiful graphics in full HD display – even the chance to take on a human foe that has the potential to be one of the craziest villains I’ve ever encountered. The game looked fantastic and I couldn’t wait to play it.

Now? Now that I’ve played it, I don’t know that I would even recommend it to someone I don’t like.

I’m a pretty accepting person when it comes to gameplay. That’s why even I am surprised with the level of inadequacy that I feel I’ve been duped into playing with Far Cry 3.

For whatever it’s worth, here is my list of initial impressions of things that are ruining this game for me, in no particular order:

- The save mechanic is awful. You can’t save during a mission and when you do save, even if you’re on the other side of the island, if you haven’t unlocked a tower or outpost, you restart back where you came from. This means your entire travel experience was pointless if you didn’t finish what you were doing. Oh, and the same goes for when you die, also. The only respite from this is if you happen to be in an active story mission and your game just autosaved at a checkpoint.

- The story is non-existent. I’m not compelled in ANY way to care about this character and it’s still really unclear just exactly what the goal is. “find your friends. No wait, go here. No, you need to go collect leaves for this tutorial. Hey lets go overtake this thing. Go see the doctor.”

- Combat is ok, but not great. You get one weapon, which is fine, but if you shoot someone, 12 of his buddies show up and you’re pretty much guaranteed to die. Even if you try to be stealthy and sneak up behind someone, it ALWAYS alerts others, which defeats the entire purpose of the stealth kill mechanic, so your only real beneficial means of travel is a car in hopes they don’t follow you or sneaking around everything to avoid everyone, which is time consuming and annoying.

- The menus are ridiculous. There are so many menus, I haven’t even begun to try and understand them because it takes away from my gameplay time. The menus have menus, for goodness sake. It feels like Exzibit made the menu system.

- I CAN’T CLIMB THROUGH A F***ING WINDOW!? Seriously. It doesn’t allow you to climb through windows. At least not yet/not that I have experienced. Maybe that’s a skill that has to be earned? Come on, Ubisoft. Even Call of Duty lets you climb through windows, and I barely even like Call of Duty anymore.

- Since when does a tiger require multiple shots to the head with an AK-47 to kill?

- Jumping down 4 feet costs me health. It regenerates, but that’s not the point. The fact that small jumps can cost me health is one of the most foolish things I’ve ever seen. I’ve jumped from tree limbs in real life higher than the points I’ve fallen from in this game and been fine.

Other than the things listed above, the game is great! Unfortunately, the items I’ve mentioned have left such a sour taste in my mouth to this point, I’m not sure I should keep playing it or sell it while it’s still a hot commodity. In the end, part of me things the cash will be worth more than the frustration associated with trying to play a game that has been humped into popularity by gaming media everywhere.

General &Reviews theswigz 18 Dec 2012 Comments Off



Irresponsible Journalism and Gaming

Anders Breivik

Why do we read stories in the news?

For many of us, it’s to gain a better understanding about the world in which we live. For others, it’s to see what’s new with something that might interest us or maybe even learn something new about an intriguing topic.

Whatever the case, the stories we take in have the great potential to influence the way we see many things in life – our hobbies, our environments and even our fellow men and women. That’s a great deal of power at the fingertips of those who write these stories for us to consume. The power of influence.

That is why it bothers me so much to see stories such as this one: A recent article about the Anders Breivik – the Norwegian who murdered 77 people that – with its headline and introductory paragraphs – suggests the video games he played for more than seven hours per day (primarily World of Warcraft) were primary factors in why he murdered 77 people.

Now, for those of you who read further than the first couple of paragraphs (which is very few of most news consumers reading online), you will notice that the story is actually about Breivik’s mental capacity and how it appears that it does not support the ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

But that’s not the problem I have. The problem I have is that an article about one thing would be teased as an article about another – at the detriment of the credibility to the gaming community.

As a journalist myself, it’s insulting that a writer would try to indicate that video games would be a symptom of someone murdering another person. This is likely done for the shock value to get people reading and nothing more.

I play plenty of video games myself. I play most of the war-based shooters, as well as other games that include violent sequences. I can tell you very positively that I don’t get sudden urges to go out and murder people, let alone engage in violence against other people. And I doubt the millions upon millions of WoW subscribers/players do either.

What bothers me the most about this story? The fact that most people who have no idea what the gaming community is like, will read this story (or, more than likely, the first couple of paragraphs and the headline) and believe that video games are the problem with this man. Nevermind his extremist agenda or his likely mental deficiency – it’s the violent video games that are to blame.

Some of you may read that and scoff at the notion, but believe me – people are that blind and impressionable. They will read something and – because they have no real knowledge of it themselves – they will see precisely what the article intends them to see: A controversy that doesn’t exist.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Because without people reading these stories, and not taking the time to educate themselves on the subject and the information as it actually exists, there wouldn’t be the outrage to perpetuate this sensationalist journalism.

Unfortunately, the only thing many of us can do is sit back and defend our interest in the medium that we enjoy so much and hope that eventually, some of us will have the opportunity to spark change within the journalistic ranks. Until then, I suspect this is just the latest of what will be a long history of bad journalism that targets gaming.

General &Opinion theswigz 10 Jun 2012 Comments Off



Game Changer: Modifying Mass Effect 3 Ending

For as long as I can remember when it comes to gaming, it has always been satisfying to get to the end of a series.

Even if I haven’t necessarily enjoyed the ending, the journey is typically worth the price of admission.

Some people will view that as a half-hearted investment in the experience, but I would absolutely disagree. And, I would do so on the following assertion: How we experience games is and SHOULD be different from gamer to gamer. The way I enjoy a game will never be the same way you enjoy a game because our values and how they apply to the gaming experience have been formed differently.

That being said, I find the notion that BioWare needs to change ANYTHING about their recent game, Mass Effect 3, to be insulting not only to game makers everywhere, but also to gamers who have stayed true to games despite their disagreements with the creative directions.

Why should they change the game THEY made? It’s the direction the game was decidedly pushed in and we, as gamers, should accept that. What’s more, we should be thankful to BioWare for such an awe-inspiring series as Mass Effect in the first place.

The moral choices that have been put before us and the way our actions impact not only the course of the current game, but the courses of the games that follow it have been unique and moving experiences for gamers everywhere – myself included. Who are we to say that the end result should be done a certain way?

You don’t go up to a painter and say “I don’t like what you did with that particular portion of the picture,” and ask them to change it. You let them finish it and – good or bad – you take the art for what it is: An expression of the artist completed in a way that the artist wants to public to view it.

By telling BioWare that their ending is inferior to what people THINK it should be is a slap in the face to a company that has been nothing but outstanding when it comes to the Mass Effect series.

What’s more, petitioning BioWare to change their game because people are clamoring about it sets a precedent that I honestly think will threaten artistic freedom when it comes to game production.

And what if it doesn’t stop here?

What if more games are requested to be changed because people don’t like the way it ends? That carries with it the potential to destroy the value that a community presence brings to the table. In order to avoid having people question the creative direction, game makers will avoid community input entirely. Then where will we be? We’ll be here wondering why game makers aren’t listening to the community with no one to blame but ourselves.

If BioWare gives in to the demands to change the ending, I will have lost all respect for them.

Because it shows me that they would rather pander to “fans,” than have pride in their product. A real fan – of the Mass Effect series or gaming in general – may be disappointed in the endings, but they would never ask the company to change it.

And don’t give me that “well, we’ve earned a good ending.” Stow it.

You’ve earned the right to play something that numerous individuals have spent countless hours making. Assuming you have the right to demand a change to the finished product because you – on your own time – decided to play a series of games is a sense of entitlement that I have only seen in the most selfish of people.

For better or worse, the final curtain call is what we play for. If you can’t handle the finality in the end, then maybe you just shouldn’t be a gamer.

Opinion &Playstation3 &Xbox 360 theswigz 21 Mar 2012 1 Comment



Dear Parents – 18+ games are not for your children

lukas

This little guy is my pride and joy and even has his own controller.
Even if it doesn’t actually work.

It’s no secret that parenting as a whole has experienced significant changes to its value system over the last several years.

From parents not wanting to discipline their children for fear of what repercussions it might have on their personalities to parents trying to be “buddies” with their children, it seems – in many cases – that the job of parenting has been reduced to the “option” of parenting.

The disappointing part of this for me is that I not only see this out in general public settings, but also in the gaming community. Usually it comes in the form of a 10-year-old playing an online multiplayer game such as Battlefield or Modern Warfare, but it also extends to children playing M-Rated (Mature) games that contain certain themes that may be considered over their heads or beyond what they should be experiencing for their age range. (questions of morality, violence, sexuality, etc).

Unfortunately, there seems to be a misconception among parents that just because it is a video game, children who are not necessarily the age recommended for playing the game will understand that it is not real, thereby making it acceptable to ignore the suggested age rating entirely.

This, in my humble opinion is a problem. Not only for parents and their children, but for the future of gaming as well.

Children in the Theater of War

Far too often, I have been online enjoying a battle or two on the likes of Modern Warfare or Battlefield when all of a sudden I hear the meek voice of what sounds like a child chiming in about the awesome headshot he just got or how he just ran over someone with his tank. This is usually followed by some kind of expletive that serves no other purpose but to show that he knows how to use a four-letter word.

I will be the first to admit that I’ve used some unnecessary language while playing online. Usually, it’s while bantering back and forth with a teammate about the action or something that just happened to one of our characters. However, there is a huge difference between me and others my age (I’m 26) using coarse language in a game that employs inherently and a 10-year-old doing the same thing.

The difference? I’m an adult playing a game meant for adult players.

Fortunately the solution to this is easy. Parents, you need to stop being your child’s friend and giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are mature enough to play such a game respectfully while understanding what the images they are seeing represent and that what they might hear from other players is not how they themselves should speak.

Just because your 10-year-old thinks the new Call of Duty game looks really cool and tells you that some of his friends are getting it does not mean you need to buy it for him. Thinking you know your child well enough to predict how they will act while playing such a game and hearing the language present while playing is you giving your child too much credit and you taking the easy way out of telling them “no” and having them nag you about it why.

The bottom line is this: If they aren’t even relatively close to the age of the game’s suggested rating (at least 16), then they shouldn’t be playing it. And at the ages I’ve experienced children playing these games, the only people allowing/enabling children to play these games are the parents (don’t blame the retailers, parents – the majority of retailers require proof of age to make an M-Rated purchase). You are not your child’s friend – you are his/her parent.

Putting it in Perspective

To give you an idea of why I’m talking about this in the first place, consider the following:

I enjoy gaming quite a bit. Currently, I don’t own a single game that isn’t M-rated (only eight games, but still) and the majority of those games employ a combat system (i.e: Hand-to-hand, gunplay, assault vehicles, etc).

I also have an 11-month-old son, which leaves me in the unique position of being able to practice what I preach (eventually). Fortunately, I have no doubts about my ability to govern the use of my console: No age inappropriate games, no M-rated gaming experience until at least age 16 (online gameplay will require me to play with him) and if he wants a new game, he’s going to do what I did: Ask for a birthday/Christmas gift or buy it himself. Or trade current games towards a new one.

My hope is that this will not only benefit my son and my relationship with him when it comes to gaming, but also his long-term gaming experience by teaching him respectful gaming and understanding age appropriateness.

After all, if you’re trying to choose the areas in which you’re going to be a parent, then you’ve already lost. If there’s anything I’ve learned very early on as a parent, it’s that it’s an all-or-nothing deal.

And if that means I have to regulate things that include one of my own passions, so be it. Because in the end, it’s not about me.

General &Opinion theswigz 20 Mar 2012 Comments Off



BeachHead Studios Caught in Lie about MW3 content drop for PS3 Elite Premium Users?

It seems the release schedule announced for the first all-inclusive DLC pack for MW3 has drawn the ire of more than just a few PlayStation 3 users – and perhaps with good reason.

According to a recent article in GameInformer, the release date for content pack – which will go to Xbox players first – is slated for Xbox Live on March 20.

Where the issue comes in for Elite Premium users on PS3 is the implication that they will be receiving Overwatch on the same day – March 20 – or the next day, March 21. What this means is, PS3 Elite Premium subscribers will either receive their third content drop the day of, or the day after, non-Elite Premium Xbox owners get ALL of the content for the first collection.

This would not be a problem save for the fact that at one point, Beachhead Studios (the makers of Call of Duty ELITE), stated via their Twitter account in response to a question that PS3 Premium members would receive their DLC before Xbox non-premium members. (see photo below).

Original

BUT WAIT! There’s more.

I happened to take a screen capture of the tweet in question and a copy of the URL of the tweet. I then asked via Twitter (not expecting a response), if Beachhead could explain why the information provided in the GameInformer article appeared to contradict the information in the aforementioned tweet (as is evident in this tweet).

A few hours later, the link I sent myself that referenced the tweet was no longer valid, and the tweet itself appeared to have been edited to read as follows:

new post

Fortunately, through confirmation of the player who originally asked the question via twitter, the original tweet was in fact that answer that was provided to begin with (see below) Notice also the difference in time stamp on the original tweet and the newly-found tweet.

verification

So, with all this being said: Did we just happen upon Beachhead trying to cover their tracks by altering information? And if so, what should this suggest to PS3 players – such as myself – who paid for Elite Premium with the assumption that we would have our content before non-premium members?

Personally, I will never purchase Elite again, whether it comes with DLC or not. Additionally, I will make an effort never to support another Beachhead-supported endeavor. Because if you would rather lie to me, your customer, than admit you made a mistake, then I don’t believe you should ever have my business.

I also personally hope others who find this situation insulting will do the same, as I don’t believe a company that engages in such a poor business practice should be allowed to make money on a demographic that it is lying to.

But that’s just me. I suppose I’m just some silly person who happens to like knowing that he is getting what he paid for.

Administrative &General &Playstation3 &Speculation &Xbox 360 theswigz 02 Mar 2012 Comments Off



An Open Letter to Significant Others: Why We Love Gaming


If you’re married to/dating someone who doesn’t like gaming,
you’ve likely been given this look before.

If you were to ask my wife about her involvement in gaming, she would look you off with a roll of her eyes and a very likely “don’t get me started.”
That is to say, she shares very little of my interest in the gaming world.

So little interest, in fact, that she would rather me stay up all night playing and not spend time with her than play them while she is in the room.
I realize not all significant others are like this, but I suspect my wife is not the only one who views gaming with such disdainful fervor.
Fortunately for me (and I hope those of you who share my situation), I am able to accept this.

What I cannot seem to do, however, is understand it. So, I’ve put together a list of things that all non-gaming significant others should know about your counterpart’s interest in gaming (you know, for those times when you say “I just don’t understand the interest.”). So, if you continue reading, I’ll be writing the remainder of this entry as though I’m addressing my wife (or, a group of significant others that don’t get why we love our games).

We love the stories
For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed a well-written story. Whether it came in the form of a picture book from my childhood or a novel as a youth and adult, I always found satisfaction in taking in a thoughtful piece of writing.

That is why, in many (if not most) cases, I love the gaming experience: Because the game has the ability to provide that great storytelling experience with an interactivity that lets you progress the story with your actions.

Games like BioShock, the Mass Effect series, Jak and Daxter, Uncharted, the early Resident Evil games (speed runs on Resident Evil 2, anyone?) just to name a few, are titles that have left me feeling satisfied and thankful for the experience I was able to enjoy. Each of those games are also games I’ve played multiple times because – like any good book – sometimes one reading just isn’t enough, given the contents of the story.

We love a good challenge
As much as I love putting challenging puzzles together, there’s something about a puzzle that just doesn’t hold a candle to the challenge of besting your own best effort in a game.

BioShock, for example, was a great game. It was a game I had beaten more than once on the normal setting – so many times, in fact, that I knew most of the points in the game that were supposed to the main character.

However, there came a point when I decided I wanted more out of the game. So, I played it on Survivor mode, just to see how well I could do and if I had the patience and ability to finish the game.

The interesting thing about this experience is, it took the game to an entirely different level. Not only was it more challenging, but those same points I knew about in the back of my mind had me genuinely scared for my character. Now that’s awesome.

We LOVE competition
There are a lot of us who really enjoy the competitive aspect of games. Whether it’s besting our friends’ times in a particular time-based course/car race/whatever or destroying an enemy team in a Team Deathmatch/Rush match, our need for competition and our desire to be the best is allowed to shine brightly in online multiplayers.

Some people might tell you that they do it just for fun – and that’s fine – because they probably do. But anyone who says they don’t care if they lose the match is being, at the very least, somewhat dishonest. If we didn’t want to win, we wouldn’t play.

Sometimes you just can’t explain how good it feels to be engaged in an incredibly close match and end up winning by a single point at the end. Real life or not, those of us who still want to compete but don’t have the *cough* physical ability *cough* to do so can enjoy some great multiplayer action (and, it turns out may be good for your eye sight!).

Trust me – we may sound angry when we play a first-person shooter, but it’s not anger at anything other than the fact that we’re getting our behinds handed to us, so please – don’t take it personally.

We love to pretend, but we also know what is real
You may scoff at this, but it’s true. Some of us just love to use our imaginations and step out of our own lives and into the world and lives of the games that we’re playing.

And what’s wrong with that? Sometimes the best way to deal with stress in our lives is to take a step back and put our minds somewhere else, even if that is in the form of a video game where we’re playing as a Nord Warrior who is seeking to save the known world from the clutches of an evil, world-eating dragon (I’ve been playing a LOT of Skyrim lately).

Of course I realize that my virtual life should never take precedence over my real life – and it doesn’t. Never would the progress I’ve established in a video game trump the fact that I have a wonderful real life with a beautiful family.

However, the more you harp at me for playing my games, the more it offends me that you think I value my game system more than you. So stop it.

We simply love our video games
That might sound like a “duh,” but truth is, we really enjoy the experience of playing our games. If we didn’t we wouldn’t spend $60 a game to get our hands on the latest and greatest titles.

Similar to my first point, it’s like having an author or genre of books that you really enjoy – when that author comes out with a new book, you want to read it, right? Well, we want to play the next title from our favorite author or play the next entry in a series that we’ve invested so much time in already.

When it comes to entertainment, personal preference is hard to argue against. If everyone liked the same thing, we would all play on the same console/read the same books/drive the same cars – you know the deal; we’d be boring. Fortunately, we all have different ways in which we thoroughly enjoy spending our time. It just so happens mine is video games.

* * *

I don’t know what difference something like what I’ve written here will or would make with my or anyone else’s significant other, but I do wish those of them out there who have such a poor view of gaming would take the time and try to understand their counterpart’s interest.

Who knows, maybe having a little more insight will be all it takes to bring another convert into the gaming family and change some attitudes at home. We can dream, right?

Editor’s Note: I realize this is not an all-encompassing list, so if you have something you think should be on it, by all means let me know and I will add it to the list with your name attached to it!

General &Opinion &Playstation3 theswigz 28 Feb 2012 Comments Off



Battlefield 3 Patch for PS3 Incoming

bf3

For those of you who haven’t yet seen the details of the Battlefield 3 patch for PS3, here are the details.

Personally, I’m excited to see some changes in the spawns (listed below) for Team Deathmatch.

Happy gaming!

——————————————————————————–

BATTLEFIELD 3 PLAYSTATION 3 CLIENT UPDATE NOV 30TH

General fixes

• Significant improvements to the Squad Join interface, full details in this earlier blog post
• Removed FIND ME A SQUAD option
• Allow players to join empty Squads alone, thus having 1/4 Squad members
• Change order of options to LEAVE SQUAD, INV A FRIEND, SWITCH TEAM
• Disable Privacy flag when 1 man Squad
• Reset Privacy flag from Private to Public when Squad drops to 1 player
• All occupied Squads will now show up colored blue on the Squad selection screen
• Players who choose not to join Squads will also show up as Blue in the “Not in a Squad” line
• Squads that are currently empty will display as white — if you wish to join an empty Squad, you can choose the first one marked with white text
• Added round duration and ticket summary at end of round screen
• Fixed sound for when climbing ladders
• Fixed and issue with some weapons’ sounds in first person view
• Fixed a swim sound loop error
• You should no longer be able to damage a friendly vehicle when sitting in an open position
• Grenades now drop to ground if you get killed while attempting to throw it
• Spawn protection now should work in Conquest so you no longer should spawn too close to enemies
• You should no longer spawn too close to enemies in TDM and SQDM
• Fix for missing input restriction during intro movie, causing players to potentially fall and die while watching movie if moving controller (or having a controller with a bad stick zone)
• Combat areas on Kharg Island in Rush mode tweaked in order to disallow defenders to access the carrier ship after first base is taken and being able to enter the AA gun
• Fixed a problem with revived players not being able to get suppressed
• Fixed a problem with the camera when being revived in co-op
• Spotting VO now plays when spotting from MAV/EOD bot
• Fixed several issues regarding the kill card, including showing wrong weapons used for the kill
• Fixed that sometimes you would be stuck on a black screen when kicked from server
• Fixed so when a team captures two flags at the same time, the UI does not show wrong owner of the flag
• Fixed a problem where the capture progress bar was shown as friendly when the enemy was capturing
• Fixed a problem with the bipod deploy sound
• Fixed a problem that you could be spawned in with no weapons after being killed while using the EOD bot
• Fixed problems with health bars not displaying health properly when using EOD bots
• Fixed a problem with flickering name tags
• Fixed a problem where you could damage friendly helicopters
• Fixed a problem where you could get stuck in the co-op menu when attempting to join the session twice
• You should now be able to spot explosives
• You should no longer spawn in home base if your selected spawn point is disabled while waiting to spawn (e.g. if your teammate dies right before you are about to spawn)
• Damage from bullets will now continue to cause damage even after the firing user is dead
• Fixed several client crashes
• Fixed a problem where players could get stuck in the join queue
• Fixed the repair icon on the minimap
• Fixed a problem with changing camera on certain vehicles
• Fixed a problem with the grenade indicator when in guided missile mode
• Fixed a problem where the machine could hard lock when joining a public coop game
• Fixed a problem where the headset attached icon would not show up in the UI
• Fixed a problem with the falling antenna on Caspian Border. It should now more instantly kill anyone in its falling path
• Fixed a problem where tank turrets would turn too slow
• Fixed a bug on co-op mission “Exfiltration” where you could end up outside the vehicle and not being able to enter it again, thus blocking the mission
• Fixed a problem where a user can become invulnerable after being resurrected
• Fixed a problem with the M60 reload sound
• Fixed a hang in terrain streaming, causing the user to get stuck on black screen under special circumstances in single player
• Fixed a problem where the enemy would not be able to get a road kill on a user that was using the SOFLAM
• Fixed soldiers disappearing in the mortar kill cam
• Fix for Type88 and MG36 zoom in animation offset when in supported shooting mode (using bipods)

Balance changes

• Increased the damage of helicopter miniguns, AA guns, and jet cannons against infantry
• Increased the damage of helicopter miniguns against jeeps
• Reduced the physics impact of AA guns and jet cannons so players under attack from these weapons no longer should lose control
• Increased the damage of the 44 Magnum slightly
• Increased the range and minimum damage of the .357 Round from the MP412 Rex
• Increased the range of all .45cal and 9mm weapons
• Slightly increased the range of the P90 and MP7 and PDW-R
• Slightly increased the range of the 5.56mm PDW-R and decreased the minimum damage at long range
• Slightly increased the minimum range of the Mk11, SVD, and M39 EMR 7.62mm rifles
• Decreased the maximum damage and maximum range of the G3 and SCAR-H 7.62mm weapons
• Reduced the damage from FIM-92 and SA-18 IGLA missiles against aircraft
• Increased the damage and range of the 40mm BUCK rounds
• Reduced the damage .50cal weapons do against helicopters
• Updated T90 canister shell tweaks to match Abrams canister shells

Source: Battlefield 3 Forums

General &Industry News &Playstation3 theswigz 29 Nov 2011 Comments Off



Camping in Online Multiplayer: Tactical or Cowardly?

camper

If you’ve ever played a single round of any first-person shooter on the market, you will have no doubt noticed (or been killed by) individuals waiting for other players to cross their paths so they may kill them.

For those unfamiliar with the term, this is known simply as “camping.” You know, “he’s holding so close to that spot, he might as well set up camp”? It’s meant as a derogatory term for players who stay in the same spot on a map for extended periods of time, hoping to increase their kill count without having to put themselves in danger.

For the hardcore players out there, camping is an offensive act. It’s done by players who are otherwise incapable of maneuvering around the maps and who couldn’t get a kill if the player they were trying to shoot was standing still.

For the casual players, however, they are merely a minor nuisance, serving as that little speed bump in the road to the occasional MVP match.

Campers are usually an easy kill once you know where they will be. If it is a confined area, it’s usually easiest to flush them out with an explosive of some kind.

But it’s never really been about how easy it is to kill them or who has how much anger towards them. The question that I have always encountered is to whether or not this is an acceptable tactic.

On the one hand, it’s hard to say what play style that happens to suit someone is “incorrect,” as play styles are largely subjective (what’s good for one is not necessarily good for another). So to that end, camping is technically as valid as you want it to be, if it is indeed allowable to call it a play style. After all, much what it employs is using the particular map you are playing on to your advantage by way of hiding in concealing areas near or in high-traffic choke points.

However, on the other hand, some might argue that camping is a cowardly response to one’s own lack of understanding when it comes to the maps and – very likely – the weaponry being used in the multiplayer matches. If you know how to use your weapon and do it well, and you know the map like the back of your hand, there is no reason why you should be backed into a corner, waiting for someone to walk buy so you don’t have to put effort into aiming, right?

Personally, I think it can be considered both.

Tactically speaking, there are some times when holing-up for a couple of minutes will allow you to collect your thoughts and maybe even a kill or two, allowing you to get back into the game – both mentally and mathematically. Alternately, if you’re playing a game mode where defensive positions will benefit the team, staying in the same area might not only be a good idea, but also encouraged by teammates to ensure a decisive victory.

People may be upset with you for these reasons, but at least they are serving a purpose. The best examples are Domination mode Call of Duty or Conquest mode in Battlefield. If you have an objective that requires capture and containment, then once you capture said objective, setting a “perimeter” around it and staying within that perimeter might be considered camping, but it is also a tactical approach to keeping the game in your favor.

Conversely, I think if you’re outside of those situations (or outside of sniping, which isn’t camping if you’re in a hide trying to take out enemies around the the map), you’re a coward. I mean come on, with how the maps in Call of Duty are made, it’s difficult to be terrible at this game and NOT get at least five to 10 kills in a match. On top of that, camping immediately implies that you don’t know the map (at least to me) well enough to be dangerous – which is exactly why you should be moving around it; you need to learn the different paths to be a more effective player.

And, worse than hindering your own ability to benefit your team, you’re hindering the other players’ chances of enjoying the game by employing a cheap (and have I mentioned cowardly?) method of getting kills, usually against people who are better than you and are expecting you to face them head-on.

So what is there to be done about this? Simple: If you’re the camper and you’re not playing a defensive position on an objective, try growing a pair and moving around the map. You’ll die quite a bit, but that comes with the territory of learning the layout so you can *gasp* GET BETTER. You’re not only hindering yourself by sitting in a corner, you’re ruining the game for other people.

If you’re one of those players who plays the objective and goes for defensive points or likes to snipe: Mute everyone on the opposing team. Because if you end up destroying them, you’re going to hear about how much of a camper you are, even if what you’re doing isn’t really the camping that they think it is.

Lastly, if you’re in a game and you come across a camper, make it a point to target that one individual the rest of the game – preferably with explosives. Trust me.

General &Opinion &Playstation3 &Xbox 360 theswigz 23 Nov 2011 1 Comment



First Impressions: Modern Warfare 3

Similar to what I did with Battlefield 3, I’m going to save most of my comments for the full review, which should be complete by Monday. That said, here are three lists of five – What I love, what I hate and what the jury is still out on:

Five Things I Love

– The reward system is great. It plays to the strength of the player and makes itself flexible for people who enjoy a variety of game modes.
– The maps are a lot of fun. The Call of Duty series is about being fast-paced and these maps encourage that type of gameplay very well.
– The campaign. It has a lot of excitement, you’ve been invested in the characters since the first Modern Warfare, and keeps the action moving very well.
– The perks. These are actually useful (which hasn’t been the case in past games, if you ask me) and leave me torn on which ones I want to use more.
– Spec Ops. If you thought you were going to miss having a new Zombies mode, you’ll quickly change your tune.

Five Things I Hate

– Connection problems. I hate being dropped from games that are in the middle or near completion.
– Spawn points. This is always a problem with FPS games, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying to be spawned right in front of an enemy player or have one spawn right behind you.
– Hit detection. It still lacks consistency. On more than one occasion, I point-blank shot someone in the head with a shotgun and they lived and killed me.
– Quickscoping. It’s stupid and should have been left out of the game. It’s a distraction for players who are trying to win against people who know how to use their weapons. A glitch in the system should not be a style of gameplay. It should be fixed.
– Lack of sniping maps. You can make a map a sniping map by using a sniper rifle and getting creative, but none of the maps feel conducive to sniping, which is really disappointing.

Five Things the Jury is Out On

– ELITE Service. Since this has been suffering from overload for the first week, it’s hard to say whether or not it’s a good service. Part of me thinks it will be, but it’s just too early to tell.
– Weapon advancement system. It’s an interesting idea to advance weapons based on your performance with them and having specialized perks for each one. I’ve only been able to advance through one weapon so far, so I don’t have a solid opinion yet.
– Strike Packages. These are a good idea, though I’ve only had the pleasure of playing one so far. It should be interesting trying the other two.
– Split-screen multiplayer. This was very laggy when I played it on MW2, so hopefully it has been tweaked a little bit to make it more fun in MW3.
– Weapon balance. I haven’t ventured into very many weapon combinations yet (trying to get used to the maps with a single weapon first), so I haven’t had a chance to see whether there is a lack of balance or not. Hopefully this will be a non-issue, but I fear that is wishful thinking.

I haven’t quite finished the campaign yet, so once I do, I will begin my final review. If there is anything you have a question about, feel free to ask!

As always, happy gaming!

General theswigz 11 Nov 2011 Comments Off



Gaming as an Adult: Setting and Testing the Limits (Part II)

adult

Editor’s Note: This is part two of my look at enjoying gaming as an adult. Click here for Part I.

If you were able to read the first part of my look into gaming as an adult, hopefully you were able to see where I was coming from when it comes to working with your priorities when trying to enjoy your gaming hobby.

However, there is more to enjoying the gaming culture than simply playing the newest games. Along with prioritizing your adult-life duties so they can be completed as necessary, it is some times beneficial for adults to partake in events and share their gaming experience with other adults as well.

Doing so allows you to engage with individuals like yourself who may share some of the same interests in gaming and some of the same characteristics as people.

Additionally, taking time to engage in this kind of behavior helps keep you interested in the latest games and even experience genres and titles you would have otherwise left unplayed.

Here are a few ways you can get out and about and experience gaming culture as an adult:

– Enjoy gaming with your adult friends –
This isn’t your typical gaming session at a friend’s house where you go over for an hour, play a couple of rounds and head home. What I mean by this is to get some of your friends together who enjoy gaming and make a night of it. This might include a Call of Duty or Battlefield tournament in your home with a prize of some kind between you and your friends. It might also mean getting together a couple of TVs and trying to complete speed runs of your favorite games (such as how fast can you beat Bioshock on easy mode). Or, if you’re looking for something a little more ambitious and you live somewhere with a rentable rec room, there is always the possibility of a multi-team deathmatch tournament in Halo or – as I mentioned earlier, CoD and Battlefield. These are all things that are easy to put together if you take the time and make the effort. Even if you’re not interested in playing, but just want to talk games, sometimes all you need is a trip to a local pub and some good company.

– Attend the occasional midnight release party –
While I’m not as young as I used to be and my all-nighter days are behind me (until the next baby, anyway), I still make time to get out to a midnight release. My most recent release was Battlefield 3 and the next release will actually be Monday night, where I will be playing in a Best Buy-sponsored Modern Warfare tournament (just for that store) prior to the release of Modern Warfare 3. Do I have to do this to enjoy the game? Not necessarily. But, I would make the argument that engaging in gaming culture and playing with others who enjoy gaming as much as you do is a good way to stay and feel connected to the community, similar to why you may be reading this in the first place. There’s just something about getting home with a just-out game at 2 a.m., still pumped up on adrenaline, and breaking into the first part of a newly-released story. Much like a good book, if you’re a fan of the author or the series, there’s no shame in going out of your way to be one of the first people to experience what the story has to offer. Besides, we’re adults and one of the perks of that is being able to stay up late if we want (just make sure you have some time off available at work, just in case).

– Engage in gaming discussions –
This is one of the easier things to get involved with. All it really takes is getting online and joining one (or several) of the hundreds of gaming sites on the Internet where discussions live. Even if you’re not planning on being a regular member, having the opportunity to read the opinions in (mostly) real-time about the latest games and gaming news may be something helps you enjoy the experience of video games as a whole. I really like knowing what’s on the horizon in gaming and being able to form an opinion on those things, as well as engage in discussions about them (if you couldn’t already tell). What I find more interesting, however, is having discussions in which I have to defend my own opinions on topics about games. One of the things that people misunderstand about gaming is that it’s not just a form of entertainment, it’s also a cultural entity, existing as unique memes for us to share and experience. Often times, the stories games tell draw from larger ideas or historical moments that have shaped our world as we know it. Being able to talk about those things (and the less dramatic, fun elements) can be a lot of fun.

– Attend a gaming event –
Over the last several years, events in the gaming world have become more known to people outside of the gaming world, growing with popularity of games themselves and the proliferation of console ownership. Because of this, opportunities – literally around the world – exist for gamers to get out and go hands-on with the latest games and games of the future. Some of these, such as E3, are closed to the public. However, others – such as Pax East – are not and should be visited if you have the time and the resources. Not sure which events are open or closed to the public? Here’s some info that might help you out with that (Ignore the dates – it’s mainly for the base info).

As I mentioned before, it’s one thing to prioritize, which is important to do if you want to maintain a gaming life along with your other responsibilities. It’s another thing entirely to take advantage of the things that can really help you get the most out of being an adult gamer.

If you’ve got something think should be added to the list, let me know!

As always, happy gaming!

General theswigz 04 Nov 2011 Comments Off



Gaming as an Adult: Setting and Testing the Limits (Part I)

adult

When I was younger, gaming was something that was always present in my life.

From the days of the first Nintendo system to the day I bought my first console with my own money – a PlayStation 2 – I had always held a special place in my heart for the way turning on a new game made me feel.

Even now, there’s nothing quite like putting that new game into my PS3 and embarking on a journey all my own, complete with the feelings of the unknown and the excitement associated with the twists and turns of the storyline.

However, in between those stages in my life, there was a change. Not necessarily in how I feel about gaming, but in how I needed to approach it – for the benefit of myself as well as my family.

After all, it’s easy to play video games all night when you’re single and have very few responsibilities aside from a part-time job and some high school classes. But when you get to the point where I am – married, employed full-time, the father of a six-month old and busy most weekends – it’s easier to see the need for prioritization (but not necessarily easier to accept it).

That said, I’d like to share a few things that I have been trying to do to ensure that my gaming hobby doesn’t create problems with my real life (which can be tricky to do when your wife is not at all interested in gaming):

– Have a set gaming time —

This is something that I’ve only recently been doing more of. It’s setting aside a time in the day (or in my case, the evening) that you can enjoy your games. For me, it’s after my wife and son are in bed and after my responsibilities for the day and the evening are taken care of. After all is said and done at home, I can turn on my console and play until I’m tired, which requires me to include my own “STOP” button to ensure I don’t fall asleep at work. It has been an adjustment for my wife and I so far, but I believe in the long-run, it will be more beneficial than hurtful, allowing me to spend time with my family and take care of our home without trying to squeeze in some time on the games I’ve worked hard to pay for.

– Plan out your game purchases —

I knew very early in the year that this fall was going to be very difficult to obtain the games I wanted to play unless I took the time to determine which games I wanted the most. So, that’s what i did – I narrowed down my list to the top three of the many titles coming out (all within the same month, for some reason – come on game makers, what’s up with that?), determined how much I would need in total and went from there. Because the goal of this exercise is to spend as little out-of-pocket money as possible as a means of providing necessities for my family, I sold some of my own things to ensure I could afford the games I wanted. Besides, it’s not like I’m always wearing some of the authentic football jerseys I parted with, and my family comes first.

– Try before you buy —

This is sort of an extension of the previous thought, but one that I believe many people tend to overlook. With the economy the way it is and with the price of games sitting at around $30 for a decent, used title, it may suit you better to try out the games you want first. It used to be, console demos were reserved for discs with short, playable portions of games that were either coming out very soon or were already out. However, with the evolution of consoles to include downloadable demos of considerable quality, there’s no reason for people to buy games only to realize they hate them. Want an extended trial? Rent it from the local video store or get a one-day rental from your local Redbox (though I don’t recommend keeping for more than one day). This may seem like common sense to some, but for many, it’s an afterthought – especially (and surprisingly) now that money is usually best spent on other things.

– Don’t fight about it —

As I eluded to earlier, my wife is not a fan of my gaming hobby. Part of this is my fault, as I tend to be a vocal player when engaged in multiplayer contests and can get caught up in the moment when going through difficult moments in the game I’m playing. I honestly can’t blame her for being hesitant about me playing because of this, but fortunately for me, this does not define my typical playing experience. Still, that doesn’t mean my wife and I haven’t had our scrums about it in the past. Because of those instances, I have worked to minimize the instances that might lead to a disgruntled spouse. Part of this process has been cooling down my competitive nature – games are just games, after all – and focusing on why I enjoy the games, not why they sometimes get me frustrated. There is no reason for a game of any kind to come between spouses, so if it is, you need to consider taking steps to eliminate the problem.

– Don’t have time? Don’t play —

Finally, like all hobbies, sometimes time is just not on your side. There will be days (even weeks/months) when you won’t have time to enjoy a multiplayer session or beat a mission (or even goof off in a dungeon or two if you’re an RPG player like myself) – and that will have to be okay. While I experienced this a little bit after getting married, it was the birth of my son that made this regular occurrence. Instead of those before-work gaming sessions, I have to make sure that I am ready to go and that he is ready to go to the babysitter. When I get home? I have to make sure he is either taken care of or take care of housework that needs to be done. But you know what? That’s ok. Because by putting him and my wife first, I will be showing him what it means to prioritize with my actions – even if he doesn’t understand it until he’s older.

Some people may read this and laugh at the notion that gaming would require prioritization at all. But those of us who are adults and who have lives know better. And for those of you who have had trouble with it in the past? Maybe some of the things I’ve said will help.

Since this topic has more to it, I’m splitting it into two separate discussions, the next of which will discuss ways to keep things fun for you despite growing up (or at least attempting to).

As always, happy gaming!

General &Nintendo Wii &Opinion &Playstation3 &Xbox 360 theswigz 03 Nov 2011 Comments Off



Battlefield 3 patch coming in a few hours

Just in case you haven’t heard and have been clamoring via your mic for some fixes to the Battlefield 3 multiplayer, you’re in luck! There is a patch that is mere hours away.

The details (via gamepur.com):

The developer has confirmed that this new patch fix a number of issues gamers are facing in Battlefield 3 multiplayer.

DICE also confirmed that this patch is server side so there is no need at all for a client update. The patch will fix following issues:

- Fix for rubber banding
- TDM/SQDM spawn point fix
- crash fixes in end of round-
- Fix for connection problem when joining password protected servers

This patch will go live at approximately 12 a.m. on the West Coast/2 a.m. Central time/3 a.m. East Coast time.

So, if you’ve been having issues (like I have with the spawn points), just hang in for a little longer and all will (hopefully) be much better.

Happy gaming!

General &Industry News theswigz 02 Nov 2011 Comments Off



Official Grand Theft Auto V Trailer Debut

If you’re like the rest of us in the gaming world who saw that Rockstar was teasing a new Grand Theft Auto reveal, then you’ve been waiting with anticipation of where it will be located.

Well, the secret is now out that Grand Theft Auto V will be making a return to the city of San Andreas – the Rockstar version of Los Angeles (and hopefully some Las Vegas in there).

While I’m not opposed to them reusing previous locations, I feel like it would have been a lot more fun to revisit somewhere like Vice City, which I still believe is the best game in the series (graphics be damned!).

The trailer looks great, though. I’ve always enjoyed the way Rockstar draws you in with their trailers and then makes you wait with anticipation for their game, and I expect this will be no different.

The characters look clean, the animations look (mostly) fluid and I anticipate the missions will be just as awesome as past games.

Either way, I’m really excited to learn more about this game and the characters that will inhabit its world.

Here is the official trailer for your enjoyment. Let us know what YOU think:

General &Playstation3 &Previews &Xbox 360 theswigz 02 Nov 2011 Comments Off



Battlefield 3 v. Modern Warfare 3: An Unnecessary FPS War

bf3vmw3

With the release of Modern Warfare 3 just days away, I wanted to engage in a topic that has been bothering me about the current state of FPS games – specifically the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises.
For some reason, there seems to be a need to “draw a line in the sand,” in terms of which faction you support and why. There is this conjured necessity to pledge and allegiance to one side while condemning the other as being an inferior product.

However, I don’t see this as something that should be happening, especially with two of the most prominent – and fun – games available on the market. After all, we’re supposed to be gamers! We bow to no specific series or game – we enjoy them as they are meant to be or we don’t enjoy them because of their shortcomings, not because it is the “enemy.”

I mean really, how stupid is the notion that Call of Duty is better than Battlefield and vice versa? The truth of the matter is they are such entirely different games that comparing them side by side is pointless. You know what you get by doing that? You see that they are both FPS games, both have campaigns, both have multiplayer and both feature a military-based premise. That’s it.
After that, you have to very different experiences – both graphically and in terms of gameplay – that set them definitively apart.

To be clear, when talking about these two games, the majority of comparison and basis for loyalty comes on the merits of each game’s multiplayer component, which garners most (if not all) of the attention gamers give each title.

That said, on the one hand, you have the recently-released Battlefield 3, which is the direct sequel to the PC-exclusive Battlefield 2 that so many have been clamoring for over the past several years. While it is a military shooter like Call of Duty, the feel is much more gritty and real – a success by EA and Dice to make it feel like a tactical experience infused with squad-based play and specific roles that you might find on the actual battlefield (medic, engineer, support, recon).

The game modes lend themselves to the idea of tactical gameplay, with the favorite modes being Conquest and Rush – objective modes focused on specific objectives that need to be captured and held to obtain victory. Even in this instance, the realism comes into play as such game modes could correlate to real life as war games played by troops as a means of training. There is the traditional team deathmatch, but that isn’t where Battlefield made its name. If you partake in the Conquest or Rush modes, you’ll be forced to work as a team to achieve the goal, which is what the entire Battlefield experience is about: Putting the team before yourself and obtaining the kill as a means of achieving the objective.

Conversely and on the other hand, you have the upcoming Modern Warfare 3, which is the latest (and final?) installment of the popular series that began with the genre-defining Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Unlike its counterpart, Modern Warfare 3 is a largely exaggerated military shooter, utilizing the storytelling the series has thrived on to set the stage for battles that literally span the globe. In Modern Warfare, the lone wolf is the king – even in objective modes such as Domination or Search and Destroy. While team cohesion is encouraged, it is not required to win, which many players really enjoy. After all, there’s nothing quite like being the rouge sniper who makes his way around the map destroying the dreams of the enemy team.

More traditionally, Call of Duty is a predominately “run and gun”-style shooter that provides maps that encourage a fast-paced approach of moving between buildings and through enemy territory as fast as you can, all the while taking out enemy players by any means necessary (riot shield, anyone?). The maps themselves are a lot more closed than those in Battlefield and offer less detail as well, but that is because they are meant to be more arena-like than simulations of a real-world location.

One thing that may set the games apart this release cycle is the Spec. Ops (Special Operations) mode in Modern Warfare 3, which is a wave-based co-op experience with its own rewards and leveling system. While Battlefield 3 has its own co-op mode, this is more an extension of the campaign, offering missions to complete instead of enduring wave after wave of enemies (again, lending itself to the idea that Battlefield is tactical to Call of Duty’s run and gun).

Now, with all the aforementioned ideas understood, I have a hard time seeing how just one of these games should be considered over the other. Sure, you could make a case for such a thing if you’re a strictly tactical player or a strictly run and gun player, but to confine ourselves to one experience is to cheat ourselves out of the fun found in being a gamer in the first place.

The truth of the matter is, there should be no allegiance. Instead, there should be gamers enjoying the different aspects of both games and joining together while doing so. This whole idea that one game is superior (whether it is done via marketing tactics or stated plainly in an interview) shows me one thing: Desperation. But needless desperation.

Unfortunately, that desperation reaches players in a way that creates a rift within the gaming community and suggests they should or should not buy a specific title, which only hurts us – the gamers – in the end.

I’m not trying to stump for one game or the other (in fact, I’ve already preordered and paid for both); I’m simply encouraging those of you who feel like you’re on the fence about this issue to get off and be your own person. Buy the game you want to play, not the game you’re being led to believe is superior. After all, if you enjoy playing both – for whatever reason – then they are both superior games for their own unique reasons.

General &Opinion &Playstation3 &Xbox 360 theswigz 01 Nov 2011 Comments Off



Battlefield 3: Beautifully Crafted and Painfully Broken

bf3

Seldom do I encounter games that boast a great deal of potential for success and timing that might allow them to overtake a genre.

Usually, the games I buy are either leaders of the genre – already established through previous and successful entries – or good examples of them, utilizing features that players enjoy, but not necessarily possessing the ability to overtake the top dog.

In the case of Battlefield 3 (BF3), the potential existed for the latter of the aforementioned two to become the former. Unfortunately, I say “existed,” just as it suggests – in the past tense of the discussion.

Leading the charge of features that put BF3 in position to take the First-Person Shooter crown is the new Frostbite 2 engine, which right away shows how capable it is of delivering top-tier graphics and impressive realism. If you’re like me and my friends, you get a great look at this by entering the multiplayer first.

The best maps to judge the graphic capabilities are the outdoor maps in modes such as Conquest or Rush, with my personal favorites being the maps set in urban environments (Seine Crossing, Operation Metro, etc). The detail and clarity of the architecture in conjunction with the way things like smoke, sunlight and even wind affect the overall environment is nothing short of exquisite, and despite the decreased frame rate of 30 frames per second (FPS) (by comparison, Modern Warfare 3 will be 60 FPS). Add to that the destructive environments and Battlefield 3 boasts one of the most authentic looking experiences of any multiplayer I have ever played.

The campaign sees no drop-off in ability from the Frostbite 2 engine and shows little-to-no screen tearing. The animations throughout the missions have a great look to them as you’re making your way across the different terrains – all of which are visually stunning. The one thing people are commenting on regarding the graphics is that the console versions (I played this on PS3) don’t look as good as the PC iteration. To be completely honest, I don’t think this is something that should take away from the game at all. Given the other game options out there and the way they look, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something much better.

Despite the focus of most modern FPS games being on multiplayer, I’ve always been a fan of a decent (even if it’s short) campaign. Right away you can tell the Battlefield 3 tries to offer what many other FPS campaigns before it – specifically Call of Duty (surprise, surprise) – have done and offered a “playable movie” in the campaign. Unfortunately, unlike those preceding it, Battlefield 3 carries forth a very forgettable story. The plotline – which I won’t divulge for those of you who still haven’t played it – struck me as typical and unsurprising. It had the basic missions (Tank/Sniper/Capture/etc), a couple of somewhat shocking, but not unsurprising twists and an ending that… well… left me asking “that’s it?” Don’t get me wrong – by the end of the campaign, I had enjoyed it enough, but it wasn’t quite the breathtaking experience that I (and I think many) players anticipated it would be.

My biggest gripe about the campaign isn’t in the difficulty – which is easily above Call of Duty on the normal setting – but the way my character is directed to perform tasks and is usually killed while performing them as directed. For example, early in the game, you’re tasked to an overpass where you’re supposed to man a light machine gun (LMG). However, upon obtaining the LMG and laying down suppressive fire, your elevated location combined with the lack of cover usually results in your death. I did this three times before finally moving away from the designated area and completing the task from another location. This one instance of annoyance would have been tolerable, but there are many more like it throughout the game.

When you look past the lack of innovation in the story and the annoyingly poor AI direction, the campaign gets the job done with a story that will at least keep your interest, but won’t likely have you raving about how great it was. The one thing I appreciated the most about this game (at least through most of it), is the realism portrayed in verbal commands and communication, weaponry and scenarios. Outlandishness takes a backseat to the sobering, true nature of warfare.

Of course, it’s not truly about the single-player campaign with Battlefield 3, is it? Of course not. And fortunately for those of us who understand this, the multiplayer doesn’t disappoint. For the most part, anyway – but I’ll talk about the shortcomings in a minute.

To put it as best as I can, the multiplayer experience and gameplay of Battlefield 3 is something I haven’t experienced for a long time. With Call of Duty, it’s less tactical maneuvering and more run n’ gun intensity. With Socom, it’s less intensity and more luck of the draw (provided you can move past the fact that there hasn’t been a good Socom since Socom 2). Battlefield 3 gives you a well-rounded experience that offers something for everyone and doesn’t confine itself to a specific designation.

One moment, I’m lone-wolfing it through Tehran Highway with my sniper rifle in hand, moving around the map as cleanly as possible during a Team Deathmatch, the next minute, I’m in between the shipping containers of Operation Firestorm with my shotgun or LMG, moving with my squadmates to secure an area in Rush. Or, if I’m looking for something that is literally bigger than just my squadmates and I, I’ll head to Conquest mode for a trip through the Grand Bazaar and an epic battle involving ground forces, tank and jeep supports and airstrikes moving overhead.

In addition to the stellar gameplay, the environments are, as I mentioned earlier, the best I’ve seen. The maps themselves seem particularly well put together, allowing for a great deal of freedom when approaching an objective or attempting to flank/sneak up on an enemy. I appreciate this in particular due to the usually-confining locations in most multiplayer games. While there are areas you cannot venture past in Team Deathmatch, the freedom you are allowed still far exceeds anything currently offered in a multiplayer experience.

Unfortunately, there are a few problematic items that have persisted since the launch of Battlefield 3 that may keep it from reaching above and beyond the “Call of Duty Crown,” which is honestly disappointing for me to write. The biggest issues:

— The party system: While it is understood that Battlefield employs squads, which allow for only four people at a time, there seems to be a big problem with joining a match and keeping your squad intact at the same time. In the multiple instances (at least 10) that I have tried to do this with various friends, not once have I ended up on the same team. Now, when I get a game invite, I usually decline it because it’s very unlikely that I will end up in the same squad or even on the same team.

— Hit Detection: I talked about this in the Things I love/Things I hate piece I wrote not long ago, but hit detection in this game is something to be desired. The biggest sign of this for me is when using a sniper rifle. More often than not in games that utilize sniping, a headshot – if well placed – will give you a one-hit kill. That is only the case some of the time in Battlefield 3. I can honestly say, I have fired upon multiple enemies several times with my SVD or MK11 and hit what appeared to be their heads, only to receive hitmarkers that gave away my intentions and usually cost me the kill. This problem also persists with shotguns at close range (but less often than the sniper rifles).

— Spawn locations: This is a big one for me, as I HATE when I don’t have the opportunity to move before dying. However, that is precisely the problem I am facing in nearly all of my matches in Battlefield 3. Just last night I spawned in front of the enemy time three times in a row and had them spawn behind me another four, resulting in seven VERY frustrating deaths. I understand determining a way to work out random spawns for players is difficult, but this is something that should have been a priority from the beginning instead of a problem now.

— Weapon Progression: There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you’re within reach of that next weapon unlock and getting into a match you are confident will yield the fruits of your labor. The thing is, that labor seems to take a REALLY long time, especially with the escalation in point requirements with each unlock. I know this lends itself to the player ranking system, but come on – it shouldn’t take three days of playing eight to 10 matches per night to get an unlock of a weapon or for a weapon.

— Servers: I was so giddy about having dedicated servers for games I almost wet myself. And then I got online to find the majority of the servers empty, with just a select few having actual gameplay on them. Then I discovered that these functioning servers usually had a wait list attached to them because they were the only ones available in the region. Yikes.

Scarily, these are just a few of the issues that persist in the multiplayer. While these things may not seem terribly game-breaking to many players, they might be deterrents to players who are unfamiliar with Battlefield and are used to the “plug and play” features of other multiplayer experiences. Hopefully EA can get things under control and fixed before there is a mass exodus due to the MW3 release next week (which you will be able to find a review of right here).

Still, I don’t think there should be a large decline in interest, given the functioning aspects of the game. Battlefield 3 offers a great multiplayer experience complemented with an intuitive menu system, which allows you to filter the games you want based on their server, core/hardcore nature, region and game mode. It gives you a nice level of customization that you can even track online thanks to Origin and the Battlelog.

But most of all, it gives you a multiplayer that currently (and for the foreseeable future) has no rival. Though the problems are a nuisance and should have been dealt with before launch, this may be the quintessential FPS multiplayer of the year – especially if it receives the patches it so desperately needs. So if you have any kind of interest in online multiplayer, I definitely recommend picking this up (just make sure you buy it new as it requires an online pass).

General &Opinion &Playstation3 &Reviews &Xbox 360 theswigz 01 Nov 2011 Comments Off



Battlefield 3 First Impressions: Loves and Hates

bf3

In an effort to save most of my comments for the full review I plan on writing, I’m going going to do a bullet-point list of the loves and hates that I have of the game so far.

As always, I encourage different points of view, so if you agree or disagree or want to add something to the discussion, jump right in.

Five Things I Love

- First and foremost, I love the graphics – they are unlike anything I’ve seen in any game I have ever played. The Frostbite 2 engine definitely shines in this game.
- The movement of the character in multiplayer and single-player. The realism in the graphics is accompanied well by the fluid movements of the character.
- I think the damage is right where it needs to be, which always seems to be a problem with online multiplayer.
- I like that the maps which incorporate vehicles aren’t overrun by them (yet) and that they are secondary/support methods instead of a crutch for the other team.
- The role abilities (support, medic/assault, etc) are great, but only when people actually use them. I try to use my defibrelator as often as possible and hope everyone else does as well.

Five Things I Hate

- I hate using the knife or trying to use the knife. It really only serves the purpose of stalking up on your enemy and getting the fun animation where you kill him and take his dog tags, which requires you to hold the knife button down. Actually knifing is worthless and is more likely to get you killed than get you a kill.
- The campaign is – so far (four or five missions in) – forgettable at best. I find it to be uninspiring and full of mediocrity. Don’t get me wrong – it looks AMAZING – but I have no attachment to my character, and that’s disappointing.
- Gun hop while using a scoped weapon (mostly on assault rifles) renders the scope damn near useless.
- I hate that there is no option to back out of a match before the next round (at least I haven’t found the option yet – and I’ve hit every single button on my controller in an effort to back out).
- I hate that I have tried to get into team deathmatch multiple times – by myself, even – and have had success with this just once. Yup. Once.

Five Things The Jury’s Still Out On

- The controls are somewhat suspect and leave me wishing the knife action (that I wish worked) was elsewhere on the control, as well as the crouch option.
- The party system is still something to be desired. I’ve been in a squad with friends, only to be moved to the other team.
- The random spawn points might need some tweaking. I’ve been killed multiple times already from spawning right in front of an enemy.
- Progress seems slow though that may be due to getting used to the maps.
- I’m always picky about hit detection and I’m still trying to get a good feel for it in BF3.

Anyway, if you’ve got something to add, let us know!

General theswigz 25 Oct 2011 Comments Off



Redbox Gaming: Underrated and Overpriced

redbox

It used to be, when I wanted to play the latest game, I would go to the video store or to my local electronics outlet and pick up a copy for what used to be a steep price (approx. $3 to rent for a few days or $40 to buy).

However, as time has passed, so has the need for store-front video game rentals. In their place we have the likes of digital downloads, pre-orders, GameFly (a Netflix-like subscription service) and now – Redbox game rentals. Redbox in particular, I am sad to say, has left a sour taste in my mouth.

Don’t get me wrong – the premise of Redbox game rentals is an underrated idea: Instead of requiring a subscription to something like GameFly or having a membership of a local video store, all you need for a Redbox game is your cash card and an idea of what game you want. Easy, right? Exactly.

With most locations opting to carry a Redbox dispensary either out front or inside their store, finding one with the game you want is as easy as visiting the store for some groceries and picking up a game while you’re there.

The problem, however, comes in with the price per rental. Ten years ago, I was able to rent the latest games from my local video store for $3 and get it for approximately three days. The cost of a one (1) day rental from Redbox? $2.

Now, to the very casual gamer, this is no problem. Two dollars gets you time to play the game and see if you like it, get a few achievement points/trophies and then take it back. But for someone such as myself who is interested in playing the game for longer than a couple of hours (some of us have responsibilities), it’s a ridiculous price at best.

Consider, for a moment, that with movies rented from Redbox, you’re likely to watch it in a span of one and a half to three hours, completing it in one fell swoop. This is why the cost of $1 (or $1.50 for a Blu-ray) is more than appealing and – frankly – why my family has opted to use Redbox for movies over Netflix.

In the same amount of time that it takes you to watch that movie, you might experience only a small portion of a video game that you’ve rented for twice the price of a typical movie rental.

While I’m sure the price increase is tied to the kind of media being rented, conventional wisdom suggests that something requiring additional time to complete would run at a lower cost, which would make your service that much more popular and drive the demand for more games. This would also suggest a probably increase in revenue due to multiple rentals. But hey, that’s just me thinking crazy, right?

I honestly like the idea of being able to “one-stop-shop,” so to speak – getting my groceries and a video game for an after-dinner romp through whatever world seems to be the most appealing at the time. However, if the cost of a single game is going to run me upwards of $20 by the time I’ve completed it (that’s 10 days of playing time at around two to four hours of play time per day, give or take)? No thank you. At that price, I’d just assume buy the game and play it whenever I want, which defeats the whole point of renting it in the first place.

Redbox has a good thing on their hands with the game rentals, but they need to figure out how to price it correctly so it can make a lasting impression – not a fleeting one that leaves a sour taste in our mouths.

General &Nintendo Wii &Opinion &Playstation3 &Xbox 360 theswigz 22 Sep 2011 Comments Off



Console Wars: Is DLC Exclusivity Hurtful to Gaming?

BlackOps

The latest Call of Duty: Black Ops DLC – “Rezurrection” – was exclusive to the Xbox 360, just like
previous Call of Duty DLC packs – dating back to Modern Warfare 2.

Over the past several years of my gaming life, I’ve been noticing a trend in the Downloadable Content (DLC) marketplace that has created a burning question in me: “Exclusive” rights to new DLC.

Much of this has shown its face in the form of map packs for Call of Duty games or DLC for games like Fallout: New Vegas. What’s more, when it comes to who gets the DLC first, it is ALWAYS (unless the game is exclusive to a console), The Xbox 360 that gets it first.

Now, understand first that I have nothing against the Xbox 360. The only reason I sold my 360 in favor of PS3 was for the free online gameplay, which the 360 did (and still doesn’t) have – a fact that my wife reminded me of each time I spent money on my LIVE gold membership. I enjoyed my time on my 360, just as I’ve enjoyed my time on my PS3 – with the exception of DLC.

My curiosity lies within the the message that is sent when Microsoft pays however much it is they pay to have DLC for games come out a month early on their console. For many 360 faithful, there is no problem. For many PS3 faithful, it’s a vicious injustice. For me, as a gaming fan in general, it’s a divisive tool that suggests there is inequality between the consoles and suggests that there is a “better” console to own.

I’m sure some of you just read that and are now thinking “of course there’s a better console! It’s [insert console of choice]!” But hold on a second and let me continue before you click away.

What I mean is, I’m tired of the incredibly pointless arguments that surround which console is better and I’m especially tired of how DLC exclusivity perpetuates that idea that there IS a better console.

In its current state, the 360 v. PS3 debate is incredibly stupid when you consider that each console have their own share of great exclusives and share most of the big-name titles that have come/are coming out. Both consoles have great graphics (depending on the game you’re playing; lets face it – some of the games that are billed as high profile before they release can end up laying an egg with the bulk of gamers. See: Homefront). That’s not to say the games themselves are terrible, but unfortunately, some people put graphics further ahead of story than they should. Another area that people might argue is price. With the base-model 360 costing roughly $50 less than base-model PS3, people forget that the PS3 has a Blu-ray player which provides incentive to raise the price by at LEAST $50. Take away the Blu-ray and it’s very likely the price points are the same.

My point is, the best console on the market is the console that allows you to enjoy the games you want to buy. Unfortunately, exclusive DLC releases for games on both consoles suggest otherwise (at least in my view). Microsoft seems to feel the need to buy the loyalty of their console owners by puffing their chest with exclusive DLC when – in all likelihood – if they released DLC at the same time as the PS3, it probably wouldn’t do ANY worse.

Now, if you’re thinking at this very moment that I’m simply an envious PS3 owner, please save your breathe – this is not the case. It doesn’t hurt me personally that I have to wait an extra 30 days for DLC – I certainly don’t hate waiting to spend my money these days (my wife doesn’t either). What I think what it DOES hurt is the camaraderie that there should be within the gaming world across all platforms. Instead, we have owners of one console or the other trying to argue that their choice is better and we have exclusive DLC adding more ammunition to a pointless argument.

Do I think the DLC-exclusivity is subject to change anytime soon? No. Do I hope it does? Absolutely. I think the less contrived reasons for us to argue over which console is better we have, the better. And, in the same regard, I think the more positive dialogue we have between the owners of different consoles, the better.

We’re gamers because we enjoy the experience. How we enjoy that experience should be secondary to the experience itself (unless it is a console-exclusive title, which creates another opportunity for positive dialogue). If we’re too busy arguing over who has the better console (and why DLC is a reason for that), we’re missing an incredibly important aspect of the gaming experience and hurting the upward momentum of a unified gaming community.

Now, let me know what YOU think. Get at me.

General &Opinion &Playstation3 &Xbox 360 theswigz 04 Sep 2011 Comments Off



Watch Call of Duty XP2011 LIVE!

Couldn’t shell out the $150 for a ticket (and whatever airfare might have cost) to Los Angeles for the inaugural Call of Duty XP event? Worry not – we have the live stream for you to watch right here!

We’ll have our thoughts on the event following its conclusion, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled. In the mean time, let us know what YOU think about what you’re seeing!

Watch live streaming video from callofdutyxp at livestream.com

General theswigz 02 Sep 2011 Comments Off



Gaming Gray Area: Requiring Peripherals for Game Completion?

forza4

For many people, finishing a game to 100 percent completion is the entire point of buying a video game. For others, it’s a way to challenge themselves based on the particular title they’re playing. Whatever the case may be, it’s always a satisfying feeling to know that you’ve not only completed a game, but that you’ve finished all the tasks available in it.

However, with the advent of motion gaming (Playstation Move, Microsoft Kinect), and the goal for game makers to integrate motion gaming technology into the latest games, we may be moving to a new era in gaming that requires players to utilize said peripherals to complete a game to that 100 percent mark.

According to a recent article from Game Informer, one game – Forza 4 – is already stepping into that arena, requiring Kinect to complete the game in full.

However, what kind of precedent does this set for the gaming marketplace? On one hand, you have a new way to enjoy the games that are coming out for the system(s) you own. You have a new way to get involved – a way to “broaden your gaming horizon.” This might prove to be especially fun for you if, until now, you’ve only been using the motion gaming items as way to enjoy games that involve dancing or children’s games.

If anything, this strengthens the desire for people who were on the fence about getting motion peripherals to actually go out and pull the trigger on a Kinect or Move, which is great for sales on something that I – to be completely honest – expected to be more integrated than this in gaming by now.

Another benefit to this is the possibility of greater challenges extended to gamers. As if many of the current challenges weren’t tough enough, integrating the need for motion controls to complete the necessary actions is another notch on that proverbial belt when you finally do complete the challenge.

But what about the possible drawbacks? Is requiring gamers to have a motion gaming controller really the way we want things to progress or was it inevitable from the beginning?

Unfortunately, my fear is that this is just the tip of the iceberg for gaming requirements. In the case of Forza 4, the achievement is not overly significant as it only nets the player five (5) gamer points or the equivalent of a bronze trophy on the PlayStation 3. But that’s not the point. The point is, once it is determined how effective – if at all – this attempt to increase motion gaming use is, more manufacturers are likely to follow suit in including it in their games.

What does that mean? It means that you, the gamer that is interested in reaching that triumphant 100 percent mark, will be all but required to purchase a motion gaming setup in order to attain your prize. It also means those of us who aren’t interested in the 100 mark, but at the very least attaining some trophies/achievements, will have less of them to work with if we don’t want to shell out the coin for a motion gaming system. Basically, it limits our options and puts us in a position of “if you don’t like it, don’t play it,” even with games that we may have otherwise been looking forward to – all because of motion gaming.

Now, that last bit may sound like an extreme, but realistically, how extreme is it to suggest that progress won’t take the motion gaming movement that far?

If either of the points I’ve discussed above happen, I can’t say I would be surprised. But if it comes down to me having to choose between buying a motion gaming system to enjoy a game that I would have otherwise been able to enjoy with just my controller? I don’t know that I will be able to hold a continued interest in gaming.

We should allow gamers the opportunity to choose their level of involvement. A little integration isn’t necessarily bad. I simply hope manufacturers recognize a limit and try not to push it too far.

General &Industry News &Opinion &Playstation3 &Xbox 360 theswigz 02 Sep 2011 2 Comments



Homefront… Yes Sir, I Liked it.


So, you might have heard that Homefront sucked. You might have heard that from very reputable sources with lots of fancy advertising or even from the CEO of THQ himself. You may have been told that sales of the game sucked so bad, they shut down the development studio. While the last one may be true – I don’t know, I don’t know the math – I would strongly caution you against believing everything you hear about this game.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So, I rented this game with an open mind, and boy am I glad I gave it a chance. While this game is every bit a linear shooter, it puts together two of my favorite game themes: apocalyptic stories and revolutionary tactics. The intro to the story is in the form of a lead-in cutscene. It starts with a press release with Hillary Clinton from May of 2010, and then progresses through a fictional but somewhat believable account of how Kim Jong-un re-unified Korea under a single banner. Then Kim Jong-un goes on to launch an ostensibly benign communications satellite which turns out to be a weaponized satellite which emits an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) and destroys all electronics in the United States. Following the EMP, Kim Jong-un’s forces invade Hawaii, then California, then the midwest. Somehow the midwest – including the home of yours truly – becomes a nuclear wasteland from the Mississippi all the way through the western-most third of Indiana, from the top to the bottom of the country. Freaky, no?

So, as the cutscene fades, you wake up in a small room with not much around you. As you’re kind of getting the hang of the controls, you hear a knock on the door, and your objectives tell you that you need to open the door. as you’re trying to open the door, you discover how much it sucks to be you: the KPA (Korean Peoples’ Army) busts through the door and arrests you. They stick you on a bus and you drive through town. You’re riding, chained up on a bus, down the streets of Montrose, Colorado and you bear witness to some pretty horrifying scenes – even for a video game. There was one scene which particularly weighed on me, a couple with a small child is pleading with their young child to look away, not to think about it, and right as you’re wondering what will happen….

This is where I’ll stop on the walk-through as I think you should see it for yourself.

There is something else that I found interesting in this game: product placement. In just the first 15 minutes of the game I have seen a lot of ads. First, there’s one for TigerDirect on the menu screen, it’s a sign on a store (I don’t think TigerDirect actually has a physical storefront). The second product placement I noticed was White Castle, which was shortly followed by an awful lot of FullThrottle energy drink ads on two vending machines and a park bench. It seems that THQ decided to make some extra coin here by sticking products into the game, but they did it WELL. These ads fit right in, and while I think most folks will notice that these are real-world brands, they make sense in the place and time where they live. Now only if folks like THQ were willing to drop the price on games they load with ads!

I strongly recommend that you check this game out, I think that if you like linear shooters that you will like this game as well.

General &Opinion &Playstation3 &Reviews &Xbox 360 manchicken 29 Aug 2011 Comments Off



Gaming, Addiction and What You Can Do

Chris Staniforth

Chris Staniforth, 20, died from a blood clot from deep vein thrombosis. He reportedly
played his xbox for nearly 12 hours at a time. Photo Courtesy NY Daily News.

If you’ve been following the news in the last couple of weeks, you’ll have heard about the young man from Great Britain – Chris Staniforth - who died after experiencing a blood clot following a gaming session that last several hours.

According to a coroner, it is likely the clot formed in his calf muscle before moving to his lungs, where it then caused the blockage that would kill him.

It used to be that deep vein thrombosis – typically caused by sitting in the same position for long periods of time – was a concern for people who were travelling on long flights. However, according to the article, it’s becoming more of a concern that gamers could be affected by the condition.

As someone who enjoys gaming quite a bit, I can tell you that I have definitely had my fair share of long gaming sessions. I’ve had those days where I’ve had nothing to do, so I set myself up on the couch and played until I couldn’t play anymore.

But that’s not something I’ve done on a regular basis. I don’t feel compelled to play my games for hours on end and I realize that doing so would not be good for my health.

However, there are individuals who are not so fortunate to understand this. They feel a distinct need to play and to do so for hours upon hours. They are addicts.

“As with any addiction, video game or “gaming” addiction is usually a multi-faceted issue. For starters, video games are designed to be addictive. Not “addictive” in the clinical sense of the word, but game designers are always looking for ways to make their games more interesting and increase the amount of time people will spend playing them,” said gaming help site Video-Game-Addiction.org.

It is thought that video game addiction often provides gamers similar highs – often via endorphin rushes – associated with some drugs. Whether it’s from playing against yourself or other players for that high score for hours or playing online games that allow you to feel the power of being someone or something else via role-playing, players are given a feeling that, many times, they can’t or aren’t finding from their every-day lives.

If anything, Mr. Staniforth stands as an unfortunate example of what can happen when an addiction to gaming gets out of control. However, he can also stand as way to shed light on the fact that sometimes, people need help and that someone with a gaming hobby might be more than just interested in games, but addicted instead.

Some of the signs of gaming addiction in adults? Losing interest in friends and family or functions because you’d rather be gaming; feeling pressure from the slightest of things related to video games and guilt/grief when you don’t achieve them, even if they aren’t real; putting off or blocking out real responsibilities for the sake of completing levels in a game; finally, playing for more than four or five hours at a time when one or two is more than enough.

If you know someone who might be addicted to gaming, take a moment to talk to them about it. They may be resistant, but making them aware that you are concerned is at least a step in the right direction.

As for yourself, if you feel like you’re walking a fine line, take some steps to back off a bit. If you’ve been playing for a while, save your game and do something else for an hour or two. Stand up and stretch/walk around if you’ve been sitting too long.

Are your friends bugging you to hang out? Turn of the console and indulge them – have fun with REAL people.

Remember, gaming is meant to be fun – not dangerous and invasive. As much as I love gaming, I love my life and the people in it more. There will always be time for gaming. Friends and family? Not always.

General theswigz 02 Aug 2011 Comments Off



BioShock Infinite: Exclusive Game Demo

For those of you who didn’t follow the E3 Convention very closely, we have a special treat for you thanks to the folks at Irrational Games and SpikeTV.

The hotly anticipated BioShock Inifinite, which garnered a great deal of accolades at and after E3, has only been seen in a few carefully released gameplay videos. However, last night Ken Levine shared a 14-minute demo that had only been seen by a few select media members at E3 before now.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to be able to share this with you.

BioShock Infinite
Get More: BioShock Infinite

Video Courtesy Spike TV’s GTTV

My initial thoughts are that this game looks fantastic. And why wouldn’t it? After playing through the majestic and sinister city of Rapture in the first to BioShock games, expecting anything less would be incredibly disappointing.

However, Levine and Irrational do not disappoint in any way. The dialogue between the characters in the demo above is one of the first things I noticed, simply because the storyline of the last BioShocks was relayed through audio recordings and radio contact. Now that we have person-to-person interaction, I am excited to see where things go. It certainly keeps me excited knowing that the interaction thus far seems natural.

The visuals themselves are stunning, just as I’m sure we all hoped they would be. A city in the sky could have been done very poorly and with a great deal of cliche, but I believe Irrational met that challenge very well. What’s more is the skylines are a very cool dynamic mixed in with the rest of the gameplay that open the world of Columbia up to more than just walking from place to place. After seeing some of the ability to use them (and what looks like a clean guidance method for mounting/dismounting), I am eager to try it myself and really explore Columbia.

Another aspect that hasn’t been very largely touched on until in this demo is how the tears that can be manipulated by Elizabeth will affect the gameplay. Judging by the scene with the horse, I’d say it will likely lead to some fantastic scenes in the game and some interesting combat situations (since,you know, she could have made a barrel of guns or areas of cover appear).

It was really good to see more of one of the warring factions – the Vox Populi – than had been seen in previous demos. I felt that it gave them a true hardness that they didn’t quite have until now in my mind. With the first game demo released, it seemed that they weren’t quite the “good guys,” but perhaps the more rational of the factions. This is no longer my opinion of them as they show themselves as a ruthless group teetering on the edge of sanity and rationality.

As with the last BioShock installments, it will be interesting to see the historic and social undertones carried throughout the story. With the first game having a very “Ayn Rand-centric” vibe, I really can’t wait to see the full scope of this game.

The gunplay looks very clean and reminds me of the previous games as well. The heads-up displays are also themed well to the era of the game, which makes me smile with glee with how awesome it all looked together.

That said, if you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty excited to see this come out. Here’s to hoping it’s in the early part of 2012.

As always, let us know what you think!

General &Industry News &Opinion &Playstation3 &Previews &Xbox 360 theswigz 08 Jul 2011 Comments Off



Gaming Satisfaction: The Hardest Difficulties

angry gamer

We’ve all been here before. You’ve just spent 10 minutes battling a boss on “crazy” mode, only to have an
underling character sneak up behind you and kill you, rendering your efforts useless.

It used to be, hard games or game modes were viewed as the “black sheep” of the gaming experience (at least for me). It seemed almost masochistic to submit oneself to such difficult gameplay for the simple fact of doing so, knowing full well that frustration and anger may result. Sure, some people used this as a way to see just how good they were, but others saw the hardest difficulties as having no real value when they could just as easily play the easy/normal settings and have more fun.

However, as gaming has evolved over the years and achievements/trophies were introduced, there was a new draw to completing a game on the toughest difficulty it had to offer. It meant not only did you best the biggest challenge a game maker had to offer, but you earned the trophy to prove it.

Recently, I took it upon myself to engage in my first effort of playing the hardest difficulty a game had to offer: The “Survivor” Difficulty in BioShock. The first thing that compelled me to try this is the fact that I consider BioShock to be one of the best games available. The story is great, the vibe and visual spectacle of Rapture is incredibly well done and the overall narrative is unlike many other games I have played. Until taking on Survivor Mode, I had only ever played BioShock on the normal difficulty setting, which was challenging, but not overly-so.

Now, I found myself in the odd position of re-discovering a game I had already played twice before. Only this time, it was less about charging in with a full head of steam and more about rounding each corner with a watchful eye. The most fascinating part of the experience for me was how much more cautious I became knowing that my character could die with the greatest of ease from just a few hits from what were simple enemies before. I genuinely feared for my character each time I came upon an enemy, not knowing if my shotgun or machine gun would do the trick before I ran out of health.

But that’s where the beauty of Survivor Mode comes into play. If you’re playing the game on easy, you’re breezing through the hallways of Rapture, killing everything in sight like they weren’t even there. It’s less about the surroundings and more about getting to your goal with ease while dealing with some minor headaches along the way. However, as soon as you start Survivor Mode and your only weapon for a good while is a wrench that takes 10 whacks to kill an enemy that can kill you in four? You start to slow down a little. And when you start to slow down, the atmosphere starts to creep in and you start to notice where you are. You start to notice the sinister vibes and the lingering chaos of a Utopian city gone mad. Additionally – in my case anyway – you begin to yearn for more about what could cause such a terrible descent into darkness.

As I progressed through the levels, the way I approached every enemy changed drastically. Thug splicers, which were the easiest of the enemies to kill, now took strategy to bring down. Determining how I could get a few hits in before they hit me back was normal and unnerving if I’m trying to complete the game without any Vita-Chambers (respawn points). The difficulty escalated from there, leaving me hesitant to engage enemies until I knew how I could leave the victor. The harder the enemies became, the more sure I had to be before engaging them. The tonics I collected became vital to my survival throughout the game, which meant some of them were never replaced (natural camouflage, anyone?).

Plasmids also became more important. While the easier modes left plasmids as situation-specific tools (melting ice, zapping faulty doors, etc.), Survivor Mode made me wish I had more plasmids at my disposal and more Eve (the catalyst for using plasmids, for those of you who have never played BioShock) on top of that (because Eve is a scarce commodity in Rapture when battling through the highest difficulty). The fire plasmid I once used only to light things that needed to be melted now helped save my ammunition against lesser enemies. The electricity plasmid I once used only to open shorted-out doors or stall turrets now served as a way to shock enemies so I could get a couple of quick swings of the wrench in before they came after me. Even the telekinesis plasmid, which I used for grabbing out of reach items was used to hurl everything from barrels to bodies at pursuing enemies. And it wasn’t because I had to – it was because I NEEDED to.

Even the most difficult enemies of them all – the Big Daddies – required a specific finesse that was hard to perfect. Before, I simply unloaded round after round of machine gun bullets into the Big Daddies. Now, I had to find a room that put a safe distance between him and myself before engaging him – or I would simply bypass him altogether. Two-minute battles now became 10-minute battles that I wasn’t sure I would win in the end. THAT was an experience. It took the Big Daddy – which is a menacing character to begin with – and made him the most feared character in the game, short of the final boss himself.

Were there times when I wanted to throw my controller through my TV screen? Absolutely. Were there times when I had to turn the game off entirely? More than a few. But was stress associated with Survivor Mode worth it in the end? Without a doubt. The hardest difficulty BioShock had to offer gave me an entirely different gameplay experience than I had encountered with the normal game mode. It took me into Rapture and made me feel like I WAS fighting for my life. If that in itself isn’t worth the hardships of a higher difficulty, then I’m not sure what is in video gaming.

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What games have you played – and completed – on the hardest difficulties? Was it worth it for you?

General &Opinion &Playstation3 &Xbox 360 theswigz 07 Jul 2011 Comments Off



First Impressions: Uncharted 3:Drake’s Deception Multiplayer

uncharted 3

Like many of you who have played the Uncharted series, I suspect word of a third entry (which was officially debuted at E3 this year) made you just as excited as it did me. Despite my own issues with some of the mechanics of the game, the story and characters within it are some of the best you’ll find in any game.

Also announced at E3 this year was some interesting information about the multiplayer aspect. First, they announced a beta testing period (which began yesterday) and they also announced that the completed multiplayer will be available an entire month before the release of the actual game. We’re here to discuss the former.

Upon first opening the beta, you’re greeted with a very colorful and active menu. On the left you’ve got your customization and matchmaking options, in the center, your character and the visual cues he/she might take based on your changes (he runs off the screen to get a new weapon whenever you change your loadout) and on the right is a nifty little video screen, depicting scenes from the single-player campaign and the multiplayer maps, as well as any news tidbits that may be coming from NaughtyDog. Though some might think this to be crowded, it actually vibes well. No one feature overpowers the next and the interactivity showed nary a hiccup.

Matchmaking itself seemed a bit slow at first, but I suspect this was due to the limited number of people who were online at the time. Regardless of that fact, once the lobby was full and the voting commenced on the maps (a little wonky, but likely to get better), the match began without delay.

Gameplay

Initial gameplay was hindered by massive amounts of lag and two freezes of my system, so I had to wait a day until NaughtyDog released a patch, but once that was downloaded, everything played like a dream. The character movement flowed very nicely compared to some shooters I have played and had a bit of a Socom feel to it. Controlling the character in the multiplayer is just like controlling it in the single-player campaign, which is great. The platforming aspects of the multiplayer definitely make it a diverse experience compared to games that require you to ascend/descend to different levels of the map by using stairs/inclines.

The two modes I played – Team Deathmatch (TDM) and Free For All (FFA) – both had a nice feel to them as well. The only thing that was a little odd were the changing components of the TDM such as the periods of 60 seconds during which the enemy could see your location on the map at all times. This changes periodically through the match and – while a cool feature – leaves me wanting a mode of just TDM with no gimmicks (which I’m sure will be in the final release).

Maps

If you’re not impressed by this aspect of the Uncharted 3 (UC3) multiplayer, you won’t be impressed by anything. Aesthetically, the maps are very well made and feature vibrant colors that leave you wanting to explore them. The way they are set up leave something to be desired, such as buildings that you would suspect to have more than one passage to the other side leaving you searching before realizing such a passage does not exist. This is a very minor nit-pick, however.

Interactivity of the maps is best exemplified in the Air Strip map (my personal favorite), which begins with a moving cargo plane being tailed by a revolving group of flat-bed trucks that you can jump between and use to get onto the plane. You can either use the trucks to your advantage by using them to flank the enemies who are using the open doors on the side of the plane or you can use the cargo in the back of the plane to keep the people in the the trucks at bay. Eventually, this scene transitions to the plane taking off and landing at a nearby air strip (hence the title) where there are multiple vantage points and cover areas for the teams (heroes or villains) to fight it out.

I’m looking forward to seeing what else the maps have to offer when the full multiplayer comes out in October.

Gunplay

This is an area I feel to be lacking when compared to the rest of the multiplayer experience so far. While reloading is just as efficient as it is in the single-player mode (at least based on my experience with Uncharted 2), the weapons seem to be incredibly underpowered (unless you’re one of those people running around with an RPG). Using the G-Mal assault rifle, it takes an average of about 4 pulls of the trigger to get a kill and that’s if you’re at close to medium range with minimal movement. If you break that down into the 3-round bursts coming from the gun, that’s 12 bullets to kill someone! I’m not saying everyone should die within three shots, but come on – 12 rounds? Really?

The aiming reticle when zooming in works pretty well, but could use a little more tweeking (as I’m sure it will get) for hit detection, which is something that most multiplayer games haven’t gotten right yet. Hipfire isn’t terrible, and you should use it if you’re at close range without time to aim, but I wouldn’t depend on it for the entire match unless you’re trying to get better at it.

Verdict

Overall, for being a beta, the UC3 multiplayer is shaping up to be very impressive. Its mechanics work well, the maps look great and the menus are user-friendly. Though the weapons need a bit of tweaking and the maps could use a good once-over, I see no reason why UC3′s multiplayer will be unsuccessful in its own right. It’s not Call of Duty or Socom or Battlefield. And I think that’s something working in its favor.

Played the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta? Let us know what you think!

General theswigz 30 Jun 2011 Comments Off



Gaming Culture: Can We Resuscitate It?


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but gaming today isn’t the same as gaming 10 (or even five) years ago. Prior to the adoption of downloadable games and the wholesale attack on the part of the game publishers against the second-hand market, gaming was something we did together as a community. Now, however, the gaming community faces some major challenges in the form of Digital Rights Management (DRM), violations of the right of first sale, the over-commercialization of console gaming, the assumption that graphics and guns make the game, and censorship from “moral crusaders” against video games which offend them (despite the fact that they themselves have never played those games). In a vain attempt not to be a downer, I will share some ideas on how I think we can improve our situation.

Problems

If you go to Sam’s Club or Costco, they have a guy standing at the door who checks your membership card when you enter the door and then checks your receipt as you leave. This is their form of loss prevention: everybody is a thief until proven not to be a thief. The same is true of DRM, too, as DRM is the loss prevention of digital media. The difference is that DRM results in an intentional lack of sharing of media between friends, thus rendering media which should be culturally beneficial much less so. Additionally, DRM also has the fun side-effect of bricking (rendering useless) consoles which are modified to play home-brew games, iPhones which have been jail-broken, or making scratches on video game discs much more detrimental than they normally would. Since everything on the disc is involved in copy-protection, any small amount of data which cannot be read can cause the game not to load rather than just causing the game to skip on the sound-track or video.

The right of first sale, specifically, refers to the constitutional and statutory right (held up by the Supreme Court and is codified within U.S. law) within the United States of America to sell an item which you have purchased, but not a copy of it. This is the right that makes the second hand game market in the United States legal. Game publishers do not care much for the used game market. If you sell a used game, the publisher doesn’t make any more money, and they see that as a lost sale of a new game. They erroneously assume that someone would have purchased a new copy of a game at $59 rather than purchasing a used copy around $30. For these reasons, some publishers have implemented their own “loss prevention” in the form of consumable key-codes (such as Red Faction: Armageddon).

Gaming – like many things in the United States these days – is becoming over-commercialized. It’s tough, but not impossible, for an indie game shop to come out with a hot new game. Sure, there are exceptions such as Minecraft, but most of the games that folks are excited about are only coming from big shops. Additionally, the big publishers keep buying the small shops once they have a successful title, and then they close it down to reduce costs, moving the game to another development shop which is usually overseas or in an area where developers are paid less. This means that we end up with fewer people making games, fewer developer shops making games, and more control in the hands of large corporations.

Gamers, to an extent, have also participated in the self-mutilation of their own gaming culture. It used to be that video games were about having fun, about the thrill of solving the puzzle, beating the game, improving one’s gaming abilities and engaging in friendly competition. Now, video games have become about competing in large numbers and in a very aggressive manner. We demand better graphics, even if they don’t add to the story or the gameplay. The gaming community wants production quality at a level that only major corporations can sustain, so only major corporations get to play.

Finally we come to censorship. Hillary Clinton is likely one of the more recent politicians to demagogue video games and blame them for violence. Study after study shows that video game violence does not cause violent behavior, and politician after politician exploits video games as a cause of violence in the course of some emotional argument of their campaign to get stupid people who believe that stuff to vote for them. We even see folks lifting up the Entertainment Softeware Rating Board (ESRB) as some infallible ratings board, and wanting to legislate them into a place of prominence as many states have with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings. This, of course, is a crock of lies. Objectivity in the ESRB is about as easy to find as a unicorn with rainbow lasers coming out of his ass. There is no objective measure for games because video games are an art form, and are therefore entirely subjective in content. Sure, there are some points that can seem objective, but in context they simply are not.

Take the History Channel’s Civil War game for instance. Compare it to, say, Call of Juarez. The History Channel’s game was rated “Teen” while Call of Juarez was rated “Mature.” Why? The ESRB would say that due to the educational nature of the History Channel’s game, it is less objectionable. They’d also say that the violence is toned down. This begs the question of how does one determines the scale of violence in a game? I guarantee that I kill fewer (FICTIONAL) people in the course of playing Call of Juarez than in the Civil War game.

Solutions

With all of that said, I have some ideas on solutions, too. As far as censorship goes, the solution there is simple. If you have a young (14 or under, for those of you who want me to define “young”) child who wants to play video games, don’t let them have a computer or a console in their room. In addition to preventing them from engaging in some atrocious behavior, it gives you an opportunity to supervise your child’s gaming, maybe even participate in gaming with your child. Even if your kid is playing Super Mario Brothers it is possible that they are somehow engaging in behavior or picking up lessons which you don’t want them picking up (poor sportsmanship, cursing in frustration, etc).

For DRM and violations of the right of first sale, reject download-only titles. Complain to the publisher about consumable key-codes. Trade in games at community shops first, and share games with your friends. Game publishers have no business trying to teach us and our children not to share.

Accept lesser graphics in exchange for better gameplay! Minecraft is a perfect example of a game which can be more fun than you’ve had in a while, where the graphics aren’t all that super. PC Gamers have learned over time that games with higher-end graphics cost more money in hardware and performance, and they’re not always worth it. Console gamers could do well to pick up this lesson.

My final though on this matter: participate in gaming culture! You – yes you – are the perfect catalyst to right what could be considered a sinking ship. You live in a community, right? You have neighbors? Friends? Community centers? Rent out your community center, or a room in your local library. Tell people to bring their consoles and TVs, and their games. Get together and play video games with one another. Video games are an art form, and they are consumed by an appreciative art community – the gamers. We need to think of ourselves first as game culture participants, and not as video game media consumers.

You are not a media consumer, you are a gamer. And for that we thank you.

Blog News &General manchicken 27 Jun 2011 Comments Off



There’s no Crying in Console Gaming!

 


Don’t be like this kid while playing video games

Let’s just start by saying that conflict does happen online. We here at anyConsole.com do hereby validate that feelings get hurt, and that real conflict does happen while gaming and online. Those hurt feelings take shape in many different forms and for many different causes. Here is my take on the major “hurt-feelings” situations:

  • You’re playing a multiplayer game, and you get repeatedly killed. You’re not having much fun in the game – though others may be – and you’re frustrated.
  • You’re playing online and someone engages in some unfair name-calling. You’re naturally offended, it takes away from the fun of the game.
  • You’re reading someone’s opinion online, and you disagree with it. You may even strongly disagree with it, it takes away from the fun of reading about video games on a website.

There are many different ways that conflict starts online and in console gaming. At the point of offense though – the very moment you find yourself upset, frustrated, or offended – you choose how to respond. I think most ways of response could be boiled down to four categories:

  1. Assertive - disagreeing calmly using logic and reason
  2. Passive - walk away, ignore
  3. Passive/Aggressive - talk smack about someone when they’re not around, anonymously attack them, submit a player complaint, call for a kick vote
  4. Aggressive - name-calling, use of racial, sexist, or homophobic slurs, threats

Recently in my online gaming, and even in activities here on this blog, item #4 really seems to be the dominant force among young people (guessing under 17). More mature gamers tend to choose the first two, maybe the third.

Why is this important? Because conflict resolution matters in gaming. If we can’t all “play nice,” (as all of our mothers taught us to do) then nobody gets to have any fun. It’s no fun to listen to some jerk call someone the “N” word on Xbox Live, though that is routine. It is all too common to be in the middle of Modern Warfare (or any version of Call of Duty, really) and hear some young child hurling some of the most vile and repugnant slurs at his fellow gamers. I don’t know how parents can allow this to go on, but it does.

At anyConsole.com, we want to promote a healthy game culture, one in which everybody is welcome and everybody is having fun. The “N” word has no place in a healthy gaming culture, nor does the “R” word. We hope the community will stand up for less hostile gaming. It’s time to make games about fun and culture, not anger, bigotry and slurs.

As a side-note, we block those who post such nonsense on this blog. Thanks.

Blog News &General &Opinion manchicken 23 Jun 2011 Comments Off



Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer Wishlist

MW3 Screenshot

At this very moment, somewhere on the Internet, a Call of Duty fan is speculating about what will/won’t be available in the upcoming Modern Warfare 3 (MW3) multiplayer.

And why shouldn’t they? Between Modern Warfare 1 and 2 and now Black Ops, fans of the game have come to love – and loathe – a great deal of aspects about the Call of Duty (CoD) online experience. All of these professed pros and cons come out in the hope that one day, there will be a perfectly-created CoD online universe where the word “overpowered” does not exist.

However, until that magical day appears, here is a list of what we think should (and shouldn’t) be in the MW3 Multiplayer, many of them based on past CoD installments:

Bring It On (online necessities)

  • A BETA Test – I’m sure many of you will agree that this would eliminate several complaints right off the bat for things like balance issues. Opening a BETA to the public would be a huge step for the CoD franchise and stand as almost an act of goodwill by Infinity Ward after the countless hacks and exploits players faced in Modern Warfare 2 (MW2). It would also give players incentive to purchase the full game, knowing that they were able to participate in a way that hopefully bettered the final version of the multiplayer.
  • Less Killstreak Rewards - Some people may disagree with this, but I am a firm believer in the “less is more” approach to things like online multiplayers. One of the things that eventually turned me (and others) off of MW2 was how many killstreak rewards there were and how a great deal of the gameplay was dominated by them. I yearn for a return to the days of the first Modern Warfare, where you achieve only specific killstreaks instead of choosing them. It made the gameplay so much more fun and didn’t require people to camp or use cheap playing tactics so they could get to that bigger, better killstreak.
  • Practical perks – This is another one of those that draws its desire from the first Modern Warfare. The practicality of the perks in the first game meant you had to weigh which one was more beneficial. These perks didn’t hold your hand – they aided your game by giving you just a little bit extra: An extra frag grenade here, an extra C4 block there. There was no infinite sprint – only an extended period of sprint time that you had to choose over the likes of things like an increased rate of fire (which has since become an attachment instead of a perk). There was no cold-blooded/cold-blooded pro which shielded you from killstreaks – there was only the UAV Jammer, which protected you from UAVs and that was it. Now there are perks that basically give you unlimited ammunition (One-Man Army, anyone?), give you no falling damage and – everyone’s personal favorite – allow you to kill someone with your knife who is 10 feet away from you by allowing you to go through their gunfire. We don’t need perks that walk us through the gameplay, we need perks that make it a fun challenge and at least offer some semblance of realism.
  • A Viable Player-Reporting System -This one is particularly close to my heart. Nothing irritates me more than to get into a room with a bunch of mouthy, Internet tough-guys who insists on swearing at everyone else who tries to talk and puts down players who are trying to have a good time. Similarly, I HATE it when I come across a 10-year-old playing this game. Period. These games are made for mature individuals which means (to me, anyway) 1. If you can’t act like a mature individual online, there should be a viable option for players to report your behavior and a handing down of consequences for being a tool, and 2. if you’re a little kid, there should be an option for reporting your information so your handle is banned. Permanently. If you’re not at least 17, you’ve got no business playing this game. I’m confident that if player age limits were enforced and behavior was considered, online gaming would be a lot more fun for people who can’t always play in groups with their friends. Let us also not forget a function for reporting cheaters. In Modern Warfare 2, an in-game voting system to boot someone suspected of cheating would have gone a long way. Instead of having to deal with boosters ruining a match, players could vote to kick those players from the room (akin to what the Socom series does for voting). I’m willing to be the only reason many people don’t use the current systems is because they simply don’t work. And that is very disappointing.
  • The Riot Shield - This is one of the most polarizing – but incredibly fun – “weapons” in the Call of Duty online universe (at least in my mind). No bullets. No hiding. Only bashing. With this weapon, you’re either good with it and can destroy the competition or you’re terrible with it and wish you were better because you keep getting destroyed by people who are good with it. I spent an entire prestige using only the riot shield and it was quite possibly the most fun I EVER had playing MW2. It takes skill to use it well and strategy to maneuver throughout the maps. If this doesn’t make a return in MW3, Infinity Ward is missing a golden opportunity to do something right.
  • Wager Matches – The most recent installment of CoD – Black Ops – gave users the ability to finally – and literally – put their money where their mouths are. And I am so glad they did. I spent countless hours going into wager matches (primarily Gun Game and Sticks & Stones) and having a blast in hopes of taking the pot. Other times, I would go into the matches just to screw around (you can have a loooooot of fun messing with people in Gun Game). Whatever the case, it was always a good time and served as a great break from the traditional multiplayer matches if you were looking for something different.
  • Sniper-friendly Maps - If there is anything we have learned from Black Ops, it is that sniping maps are a necessity and offering one or two out of however many maps you have on release just isn’t going to cut it. Shortly after the release of Black Ops, the PlayStation forums were clamoring with players upset with the lack of sniping options (and the lack of a good sniper rifle) within the game. While I was able to do what I could with what I had, the maps in Black Ops were a far cry from the sniper-friendly maps of MW1 and 2. Now, I don’t mean to give them impression that every map must have some sniping spots, but considering how everyone who plays wants to be a sniper (they might deny it, but everyone wants to be the guy that no one can seem to find), it doesn’t hurt to at least indulge us a bit more. I certainly wouldn’t upset with another map like Wasteland.
  • Earnable Titles/Emblems - If you played MW2, you know how proud you were of that 8-bit Captain Price emblem (looked like Mario) you earned for getting 10 kills in a row with no killstreaks equipped. Or when you unlocked the gold weapon emblem and title for the headshot and kill count marks (respectively). It enhances the gameplay when you have something like that to work for and challenge yourself with. Maybe it’s earning a specific title/emblem within a set frame. I, for example, earned all of the Assault Rifle mastery titles in one prestige. It was hard to do, but it was fun, because it allowed me to challenge myself with the different ARs, including ones I didn’t typically – if ever – use.
  • screenshot

    Get Rid of It (game-killer)

  • Quickscoping - Quite possibly one of the stupidest things I’ve ever experienced while playing a video game. Ever. And maybe I just don’t “get it.” Maybe I’m not cool enough to understand how using a sniper rifle as a run-and-gun weapon is fun – that is very possible. However, I like to think it’s the fact that running around with a sniper rifle trying to be “1337″ is done because you have no actual ability when it comes to using the sniper rifle. The moment you start to quickscope is the moment that gun stops being a sniper rifle and becomes a semi-automatic, short/medium range rifle. The addition of quickscoping to the next MW means those of us who actually know how to snipe (you know, lead/anticipate the target and use our surroundings to be heard and not seen?) are going to have to with more idiots than usual.
  • The Killcam - One of the reasons I tend to stick to the hardcore gamemodes is because of the killcam. While I understand some people (ok, a lot of people) really enjoy recording and posting videos of gnarly kills or funny kills where you sneak up behind someone and send them a message to turn around so you can shoot them, I think it ruins the gameplay for many people. Sniping, for example, is a lot harder to do in the core gamemodes for the simple fact that once you shoot someone, they know exactly where you shot them from and if you don’t move within 30 seconds of having killed them, it’s not out of the question for them to come back and get you. There are ways to circumvent this by having your scope up for an extended period before and after you shoot them, but that’s a bit much, don’t you think? At the very least, there should be a perk that allows you to block the other player from viewing your killcam. Something called “see no evil,” would be perfect (I hope you read this, Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer).
  • Stacking Killstreak Rewards - This is an area I believe Black Ops did very well: Removing the ability to use killstreaks to earn your next killstreak reward. While the details have yet to be revealed, my fear is that Infinity Ward (IW) will employ some of the same characteristics they did from MW2 in the MW3 multiplayer and that one of them will be stacking killstreak rewards. I really, REALLY hope they don’t. I enjoyed not having to worry about cowardly players who would camp for seven kills and let their harrier/chopper gunner do the rest of the work for them. Instead, Black Ops made you earn it yourself, making it much harder to get to the higher-level killstreak rewards – just the way it should be.
  • Unlocking with CoD Points - I was a little bit excited about this idea when I first started Black Ops. It meant I was in control of my own upgrades and when (or at least when I reached the level they became available). But after a while, it got tiresome and I found myself sitting in the same routine of “use this weapon until this point with these attachments.” It sounds strange, but I really prefer knowing that I might only have the ability to use this or that weapon until a certain point, so I have to get good with it.
  • Poor Hit Detection – This one drove me crazy to no end with Modern Warfare 2. Time after time, match after match, I would pump rounds into an enemy and (and see the hitmarkers to acknowledge this) only to have that same enemy kill me in fewer shots. Those of you who have never experienced this (which I wager are very few), I’m sure what I’ve just said makes no sense. However, those of us who HAVE had this lovely experience can assure you how incredibly frustrating it is. Now granted, I’m not game maker. I don’t know all of what goes into creating a good detection system. But you would think it would be high on the list of priorities for a game that relies upon hit detection to award points. But that’s just me. And after all, what would I know? I’m just the guy shelling out $60 (not including DLC) to buy the game and spend time playing it (see: Public Beta above)
  • For as long as this entry has become, there are (I’m confident) many more things that could be added to this list. In my personal opinion, MW2 had so many glaring flaws, the fact that it was considered a full game is insulting to people who play video games.

    I can only hope Infinity Ward has learned from their mistakes and can put forth an effort that at least embraces what the hardcore and casual gamers alike are looking for in a multiplayer experience.

    If you have something you believe should be added to the list LET US KNOW! We’ll add the best ones to the list as we hope this will be an ongoing discussion until the multiplayer details of MW3 are released.

    General &Playstation3 &Speculation &Xbox 360 theswigz 22 Jun 2011 1 Comment



    Brink: A $2 Rental Not Worth the Price


    When I read reviews, I am often skeptical. There have been some games that I have loved, but received terrible reviews (Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, ’nuff said). Unfortunately, however, the critics are spot-on with Bethesda and Splash Damage’s latest game, Brink.

    Set on a floating mega-city called The Ark – a place of refuge following the flooding of the Earth – Brink is a game where you can play as either a member of the Ark Security Forces, or the Resistance forces as your side (you have to pick one or the other) works to swing the arm of control within The Ark. Though suggestive of having a great deal of depth, the rigid story line seems to only vary depending on which side you pick. None of your battles affect the story, other than ending it and forcing you to repeat the level.

    As you go through the story, there are a series of missions for you to undertake where you’re either defending something for a period of time or trying to overwhelm a defender (you know, the standard set of objectives for missions). However, I found it remarkably difficult to keep up with everything that was going on in the game as far as the story went. At first I thought that it was a lack of clarity in the game telling me what was going on – and there is plenty of that – but I’ve come to the conclusion that the bigger problem is, there’s too much going on simultaneously; it’s cluttered. You’re trying to find your way through the map and you find yourself with enemies on two sides, then your commanding officer tells you that you need to get back and defend the objective, and then someone tells you they need you to use your class power, then your commanding officer tells you the objective has been lost and to reclaim it. It’s an overwhelming amount of stuff going on all at once.

    Adding insult to injury, the missions themselves often had a very nonsensical feel to them, leaving you wishing clarity or at least the ability to understand why things were the way they were. In the first mission as a Revolutionary, for example, you are tasked with defending a door. This door appears to block absolutely nothing. You can actually stand on one side of the door, then duck under some ducting and find yourself on the other side of the door, and the door is still intact and you did not open it. Then, if you fail in that – which I always seem to – you are tasked with preventing an informant from being kidnapped by the enemy, but you can’t kill him. When I say “you can’t kill him,” I don’t mean the mission ends if you kill him… I mean that it is actually not possible to kill him. What’s particularly frustrating about this is that the audio from your commander says that you’d be doing the guy a favor by killing him and preventing him from being tortured. So, just to make sure you’re following me, your commanding officer says to kill the guy, but the game won’t let you kill the guy. Don’t think I didn’t try. At one point I had all enemies cleared, and I stood over the guy shooting into his head for like 30 seconds, and even when his health bar hit zero, the guy still didn’t die. It felt like I was dividing by zero.

    The length of some of these missions is arbitrarily set, and is far too long in my opinion. 10 minutes to defend a door, or to prevent a guy from escaping, all the while nothing new is happening. An enemy pops up, you shoot the enemy, then you wait some more, you get the picture.

    One of the bright spots of this game was the character customization. Being as Brink is shooter with classes, there are four areas to choose from: operative, soldier, medic, engineer. If you’ve played any games with character customization or shooters (Killzone, for example) then you’re pretty familiar with these classes by now (very TFC-ish). This does add to the gameplay a bit since you can use your class to gain experience and really make a difference in how well your team performs. It was definitely one of the more enjoyable portions of the game (of which there were not many).

    I really wanted to have fun with this game as I really do like wasteland scenario games. I was excited to see Bethesda doing another wasteland/free-roam scenario game, as they’ve done a great job with the Fallout series as well as the Elder Scrolls Series. The concept for this game would have been aided much more had it been done similarly to Red Faction: Guerrilla. While I personally believe an open-world lends itself to revolutionary games, I didn’t have much fun with Brink and it will likely be returned tomorrow.

    General &Playstation3 &Reviews &Xbox 360 manchicken 18 Jun 2011 Comments Off



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