Thursday, December 10, 2009

Somewhat Modern Warfare 2

A lot has been said about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I mean a lot. And most of it comes from editors required to spit out an opinion, or from people whose game-playing experiences are (surprise!) pretty much only their experiences and no one else's. This (as is usually the case) means that a large demographic of people are listening to a very small demographic of people in order to formulate an opinion on a playing experience they have yet to...well, experience. Allow me to thus add fuel to the fire in one way or another, and give my sweeping opinion on the MW2 scene.

Is the game good? You bet. There, now that that's out of the way I can move on. Oh, you want me to elaborate? Fine...

If you played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, then you pretty much completely understand everything that there is to understand about MW2. MW2 takes all of the ideas that were initially established in CoD4, expands upon them, elaborates them, makes them prettier, and then gives them back to you for $60 more of your money. Is that worth it to you? I wouldn't say it was worth it to me, but my 48+ hours of playtime so far would beg to differ.

The graphics are better, which is a given. The multiplayer has more game modes and options, which is a given. There are more guns, which is a given. And the single player is way more out there with oodles more "offensive" material, which, again, is a given. This game is the definition of a sequel. It stays within its predefined skeletal structure, but adds a lot more meat to those bones. So, now that we have managed to cover exactly what all other reviews have covered within two paragraphs (ha!), let's move on to where everyone's panties are in bunches. Bunches in people's crotches. Uncomfortable bunches.


Anyways, the multiplayer. If you've played the Xbox 360 version of this game, ignore everything I'm about to type, because your multiplayer experience is the same as Halo 3, CoD4, and probably a zillion other 360 multiplayer shooters out there. You pay your $50/yr for decent multiplayer service, and that's what you get.

But us PC players who like to play their shooters the real way (read: keyboard and mouse) kind of really have the shit end of the stick a little bit. But here's the thing...for about a week before buying this game I read...and read...and read about all the problems this game has with multiplayer. Forum posts, reddit comments, editorials, you name it, all blasting the multiplayer for the PC. Saying that it's ruining PC gaming...that this is just the start. That after Activision sees the revenue from this game on the PC, they'll understand that PC gamers just don't give two shits about their online experiences anymore, and games will now be just as "broken." Yet I bought it anyway like everyone else.

But is it really that broken? In a word: no.

Now, now. Don't get me wrong, I think that the system they have implemented is full of problems, and those problems are fairly consistent. But no where near the nightmare that everyone was lead to believe (or at least the one that I was lead to believe). Here's where the problem started: no dedicated servers. Infinity Ward (the developers) decided that, for some reason, PCs should now become Xbox 360's and no longer give you a list of servers to choose from. Thus they implemented a system that chooses a host at the start of every game, and that host (a player IN that game) then becomes essentially a temporary server for that game (and maybe the next, and the next). That might sound okay in theory, but if for some reason the game chooses that one guy on the planet that still uses fucking dial up, or that other dude playing in the most north eastern tip of the US, or that little kid who's trying to play this game on his mom's 5-year-old Dell Inspiron desktop, everyone is pretty much screwed.

Dedicated servers were/are a benefit because they have excellent internet connections. They are localized, too, to an extent. So if you're on the east coast, there's a good chance you can find a dedicated server that's on the east coast, too, and you've got yourself some smooth sailing ahead. Or, if you're playing with friends across the country, you can all find a server that's in-between everyone, and everyone can have decent connections. It was simple to navigate, and a system that's been around for a very long time. And if you all found a server you liked, you could just add it to a list of favorites, and sleep easy knowing that when you woke up at 2 in the afternoon to start your next 14-hour long gaming session you had a safe, happy place to go.

Also, dedicated servers have admins. Admins can ban people...people who cheat, or, as I like to call them, people who like to fuck cacti for pleasure. These cacti fuckers are always a problem in games...but if you played on a decent dedicated server with a decent community, there was a good chance there'd always be an admin in the server to ban these people.

But alas, all of this is gone in MW2. So, in theory, you would expect games to be slower than the slowest shit on the roughest ground that's as flat a paraplegic's ass. You'd also expect everyone to be fucking cacti because on the internet, everyone is a total, total asshole. But you know what? That isn't true.

The game's hit detection (when the game determines you hit someone with your bullet/knife and where) is local, meaning on your computer. So, unless the game connection is terrible, things are pretty smooth. I've played a good deal of games with easily over 140 ping and been fine. How often are game connections really, really bad? Not often. In those 48+ hours I've spent with the game online, I'd probably say a really shitty connection has happened maybe 20-30 times. That's less than 2% of the time. I can live with that.

If the game's host leaves, the game picks a new one. This means the game pauses for at most 20 seconds (though usually around 10), and then goes right back to where it was. I haven't seen a problem with this yet, though I'm positive that problems can easily come to fruition (someone leaves, the game picks a new host, that person leaves, game picks a new host that has a shitty computer, etc.).

But the cactus fuckers are legitimately the most irritating and prevalent annoyance. There are hackers...lots of them. And because of this, everyone showing any amount of skill raises suspicion. You're almost guaranteed to come across either a wall-hacker (someone using a hack to allow them to see through walls, and thus enemy positions) or an aim botter (someone using a hack that automatically aims--and sometimes fires--their gun at enemies' heads) at least once per play session. And because there are no admins, these people often do not get banned. I say "often" because technically the game uses Steam's "VAC" system to weed out hackers...but how reliable VAC is and how soon after a detected hack it bans an account is unknown. I'd say it isn't too great a system.

What does this all boil down to, then? Well, the game is great...the multiplayer is fun to play, but there are problems surrounding that experience. Is the game as broken as everyone has been complaining? No. It just isn't. Infinity Ward's match making system allows for quick-starting games that you can easily set up with friends, assuring full games every time paired with a good variety of gameplay modes (most of which were already there in CoD4, but whatever). That really isn't a bad thing. Want to play Headquarters Pro? You'll be in a game in server hunting required. Not that "server hunting" was any bit of a difficult process to begin with, but...a positive is still a positive.

Besides, if you want to play the new CoD on a PC, you don't have much of a choice, do you? I bought the game because I have friends to play with, and I like to have fun with cool people (you do want to be cool, too, don't you?). If you're all by yourself, then maybe this game isn't for you. Or maybe you should look into fucking a cactus.

I do think that this is ultimately a step in the wrong direction for PC games, though. If I wanted to play a console game, I'd buy a console game. This game feels the same (it even has the same price), but with a different control scheme. Infinity Ward, it seems, was lazy. They could have easily implemented the same server system in CoD4, but also allowed the quickplay party system that's in the game now, if they wanted to. It wouldn't have been difficult, especially considering that it's fairly obvious that they just imported a dumbed-down version of Xbox Live's matchmaking system to the PC. This new system is geared to dickhead hackers and frustrating lag issues that honestly shouldn't be there--whether or not they're really prevalent isn't the issue...they should not be there in the first place.

So, that's what I think. And yeah, it's just another opinion to add to the heaping pile of them that already exists, but I think it's been long enough and I've played the game enough to have formulated what I've written...maybe moreso than some of those day-1 reviews. Oh, and even in games where there are multiple cacti-fuckers, I still usually win. So, either the people using the hacks suck (which is why they are using them), or it doesn't really matter that much. I'm going with both.

Till next time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

BFG is amazing.

Fuck you, I know I haven't posted in a million years. I don't really care.

Erm, I mean. Hey! Long time no see! How's it going? Good? Good! Glad to hear it. Still got that birthday card I sent you? No? Oh that's right, people usually throw those out after a week. No, no, I don't care. I understand. What's that? Oh, her. Yeah she's pretty great. I know, I know, one in a million. Uh huh. Well, look, I have a lot of stuff here, and this basket is getting kinda heavy, so... Oh yeah, yeah, just gimmie a call when you're in the area. We'll totally do something. Alright. Later.

Man, that was awkward.

Anyways, let's get to the point. A year ago from this part March I ordered and received a Nvidia Geforce 9800 GX2 made by BFG Tech. Yeah, it had just come out and man did I shell out some money for it. But I figured it'd last me a good amount of time, so, whatever. It was a pretty good card, but it started to have some pretty lame issues a few months in. Things would stutter in certain games -- usually flame effects. And those are the best kind of effects, amirite?!

Then games would crash. And then my computer in general would crash. Finally, a month ago, the card made Windows cry, and it no longer would boot with it in there.

So, I figured, "Shit." I figured that not just because the card was shot, but because it wasn't under warranty. See, BFG offers a lifetime warranty, but with this card, you had to register within 30 days of purchase to receive this lifelong treatment. I did not do this because I found the piece of paper telling me so about a week after said 30 day period. Me not being one to cause a fuss (and assuming my card would, ya know, work) shrugged it off and that was that.

Well, it died. I replaced the card thinking I was screwed. Man was I wrong.

I contacted BFG via a friend's suggestion just for the hell of it last week. And they didn't ask any questions and instantly gave me an RMA for my card. I was very impressed. But then it got better. Within 24 hours of receiving my card they had a replacement in the mail for me. But replace it they did not simply do. Oh no. I got a Geforce GTX 285 as a replacement. That, ladies and gentlemen, is almost the best card that Nvidia currently makes. And, it's a pretty significant upgrade. All for free. Amazing.

So, if you want to buy a graphics card, buy from BFG. Cause if it breaks, they'll give you a better card. And if it's out of warranty, they'll help you anyway. They're fast. They're just...just wonderful. I was floored. I only wish I were getting paid to type what I am right now. But whatever.

At any rate, maybe I'll post here again, but I don't know. I don't think anyone reads this anymore. If you do, speak up! I'll give you hugs via words. Or something.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

So, let's talk about L4D2.

E3 has come and gone. Last year, I talked about how such a venue seemed mostly useless, especially because of the downfall of it's presentation. But alas, just when everyone thought it was over, the old skool E3 of yesteryear stormed back on the scene with its booth babes and "huge" announcements and expensive party atmosphere. Did it work? Well, in a word, yeah.

The coverage of E3 has been enormous, and with good reason. Hell, Nintendo actually managed to announce things people care about! But I digress from this post's title.

Valve, arguably one of the best developers in video games (up there with Blizzard, I'd say), announced Left 4 Dead 2 at this year's E3, and it pissed some people off. Did it piss me off? No, not really. I was surprised, though. Valve, like Blizzard, doesn't do fast sequels. Even the Half Life 2 episodes took longer than a year between each release, and those certainly aren't to be considered "sequels". At least not in a full-form, anyway.

Valve's forums erupted with anger from gamers claiming that Valve has betrayed them, with players accusing Valve of undercutting them by undercutting the original L4D. Valve told the gaming community that they would be supporting and updating L4D for a long, long time, much like Team Fortress 2, which, through constant free content-adding updates, has proven that such a strategy would pay off quite nicely. So, why change it? The answer is probably something like "because they can." L4D generated a good deal of money for Valve, so why wouldn't they want to produce a sequel, which in turn would generate more money?

Oh, right, that whole "promise" thing.

Let's look at how L4D has done with it's content-adding-ness:

1 Major update.

...And that's it. Hrm. Well, surely that update contained a variable shitload of content, yes?

Added 2 Versus maps and Survival Mode.

..oh. Well, gosh, that kind of does suck, doesn't it? Unless those Versus maps were new experiences...

The Versus Maps are "Dead Air" and "Death Toll".

...Wait, the maps that should have been in Versus when the game was released? God damnit! Survival Mode better be awesome..

Survival Mode puts players in the various "crescendo" moments that the normal maps contain, only the zombies do not stop coming until everyone dies. Difficulty increases the longer you are able to stay alive, with games rarely lasting longer than 10 minutes. Also, there is a new map for this mode, the "Lighthouse."

...But the Lighthouse map isn't a full, new map?


And isn't that kind of gameplay already in Gears of War 2 and Call of Duty: World at War (with Nazi zombies for some reason)?


So, let me get this straight...we got two maps we technically already had (and arguably should have had from the start), and then a new mode that's technically in other games and is just an extension of moments in the game already. That, and there's the fact that the new mode will always end in failure, no matter how great a team of players you have with you. So, if one were to be an over-the-top critic/douchebag, one could say that the only "new" content that was given is everlasting failure, and Valve calls this an update?


Cool, I'm going to stop conversing with myself now.

Granted, I don't completely stand behind everything I just wrote there, but I can (obviously) see where people would get upset. Valve has always been considered a beacon of hope when it comes to post-release DLC, showing that if you do something well and make it free, people will continue to buy your game well after it's release because of the free goodies. And so we come back to the question "why are they changing this?"

I think that L4D might have been a sort of experiment. Valve had this great idea for a game, but it had never been done before. And though they could bank on selling the game based sheerly on the Valve brand, I don't think they wanted to (and it probably would have been stupid to do so). So, they made this game, and put pretty much what they wanted to put into it, and what they did release was an extremely polished starter for what they ultimately would have liked to do in the first place, which is L4D2. Would people be able to deal with a purely co-op experience on the internet, land of overwhelming asshats? Would players enjoy doing essentially the same things over and over again, only with a few minor differences in enemy and item placement? Would the AI Director actually be decent, or a pile of crap? Well, they now have their answers.

But does this mean that they couldn't simply update L4D with improvements that would reflect their newly acquired knowledge? Surely they could add new maps, characters, content, etc. without a full-on sequel. After all, they did say that's pretty much what they'd be doing.

Honestly, I don't know, because I'm not Valve. But they're walking on thin ice. They have, however, asked us to trust them, and I think they might have earned a little trust from us. They have from me, anyway. Besides, there are many ways that they can approach this whole sudo-fiasco with intelligence. There's no reason why they couldn't combine the games a-la-Rock Band 2, yes? Why not allow all L4D content to be accessible from within L4D2? That way, if they still are going to be releasing additional content for L4D, those who have the sequel can enjoy everything at the same time, seamlessly. Just something to think about.

But, taking a look at what's promised within L4D2 (entirely new location, new survivors, new weapons, new zombies, new special zombies, new crescendo moments...) I'd say yeah, there's enough there for a sequel. Maybe not a $50 sequel, but at least a $30 kind of thing that merges with the original content. But hey, you know people will buy it anyway, regardless of what it really is or how it's really done. So maybe all this hub-bub is pointless.

But maybe it isn't.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Many things coming soon.

I have entered the realm of motivation via a bet yet again, and thus must complete 4 games by July 11th, 2009. Therefore, I will actually be writing things here again! Horray!

Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Okay, I need some motivation.

Games I have started, but not finished:

Killzone 2
Resistance 2
Valkyria Chronicles
Final Fantasy X
Call of Duty: World at War
Ratchet and Clank Future: The Quest for Booty
Bionic Commando: Rearmed
(stuck on the last level)
Megaman 9 (stuck on the last boss)
Dead Space

So, anyone have any ideas on how to tackle this problem?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oh, hi there.

Yesterday I finished up Red Alert 3. Oh, what's that? I haven't posted in a while and how could I just start right back up as if nothing had happened? Well, nothing had happened. Actually, I got a bunch of games for Xmas, and simply have been playing those. One of which was RA3.

So, how does it stack up to other RTS games out there? It's fun as hell, that's for damn sure. But in its over-the-top zaniness comes the price of gaming longevity. The game is very fast paced, and, much like C&C3, online matches are more than capable of ending in under 5 minutes. For some people, that might be just fine. But I like to think about my RTS games a little bit more. And for me, RTS games are really all about the multiplayer. That's where they shine; seeing people utilize the game in newer and more interesting ways, implementing strategies you would never see outside of such an environment.

And it's a shame, too, because a lot of good thought was placed in this game. Pretty much every unit has a useful secondary attack function, for example. Take the Devastator Tank that the Soviets have: it can either fire its double barrels (ho-hum), or engage a tractor beam that pulls enemy tanks into giant metal-shredding gears, destroying them shortly thereafter (!). Each of the three factions has its own unique building process, too--though not as diverse as, say, Starcraft or Warcraft 3. The Allies have to wait until their structure is fully built before placing it, the Russians can start building on the ground immediately, but their building is vulnerable until completed, and the Japanese can build anywhere, but must unpack their building via mini-MCV-like things.

Like I said before, things happen very quickly, though. And like most things in life, when stuff happens too fast, it leaves those involved disappointed. Many times during the single-player campaign I would attempt to strategically construct an army, only to have it wiped out by sheer brute force not more than 10 seconds into my invasion. This meant that several times during play I was forced to simply build a massive unstoppable force of quantity, rather than quality. That kind of crap, to me, is an RTS no-no. There are the basic unit counters, though--artillery is powerful but vulnerable, tanks have no anti-air, blah, blah. Outside of that, though, the unit countering isn't anything compared to the intensity of Warcraft 3. Units have a minimal Bar O' Health above them, but no hit points by which to compare to other units. Damage functions the same way, where you just have to figure "big laser beam must make stuff go boom better than missile."

All of this is geared for the game to be, essentially, a run-and-gun RTS, if such a thing can exist. C&C3 did this, too, and I hated it for it. It was a great game, but I can't remember the last time I played it. When you're forcing players to race to end-game units because that's where the key to victory is...I don't know. It seems kind of easy. But it's weird, because the thought and unit variety put into this game begs the player not to do such a baseless strategy. I'll just have to play a few more games online and see what happens, I guess.

Oh, and let me just say that graphically, it's beautiful. Everything in the game is very pretty, especially the water effects--not only are the physics nifty as hell, but the water reflects everything in a spectacular fashion that, during a heated sea battle, lights up the whole experience. Even ships, when they kick the bucket, sink beneath the surface and stay there for the rest of the battle (and of course they are distorted accordingly depending on the waves, etc.).

Simply put: RA3 is a good RTS. It isn't great, but it's fun enough to be more than worth the purchase. I sunk well over 20 hours into the single player campaign on the Hard difficulty. The missions are varied nicely, and really make the game shine strategically. If multiplayer could only be like the campaigns, it'd probably launch the game into greatness. But no one wants that kind of constraint in multiplayer. So, whatever. Also, there are plenty of boobs in this game. Plenty (see above picture).

Moving on, I also finished up Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction for the PS3. Wonderfully fun game. It played just like the R&C games on the PS2, but with much prettier graphics. The game is pretty easy, but it's supposed to just be stupid fun, with lots of shooting crap with wacky guns. It is this to a T. Also: you can throw disco balls at enemies which force them to dance like John Travolta before you annihilate them. Pure genius.

I'm working on Valkyria Chronicles and Resistance: Fall of Man, too. I have a lot more to play through beyond those, too. I love videogames. Till next time!