Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Modern Warfare 2: What I lack in skill, I make up for in dying lots

I’m mostly an RPG gamer.  I can’t pretend I’m not.  Kingdom Hearts, Pokemon, Neverwinter Nights – that’s where the fun is at.  I love strategy games as well, like Civilization and Starcraft, but those are really the two main genres I play.  I love Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but that’s an exception to the general rule.  One genre I am definitely not overly skilled with is the First Person Shooter.  I do ok, and I’ve slowly learned to come to grips with the general controls, but it really isn’t my forte.  This is a shame, because Halo, Call of Duty, and others like it are some of the most popular party games out there for those who don’t want to be playing Mario Party or Wii Sports.  Today, I’d like to talk a little bit specifically about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – why I’m not great at it, what I enjoy about it, and what my favourite strategies are.

I’ve played Modern Warfare 2 quite a lot this year, and I’ve definitely improved.  At least now I know the layout of most of the maps, and understand the difference between some of the guns, and what semtex actually is.  My aiming has gotten better, but it remains one of my weakest areas, and a rather important area at that.  I use a lot of grenades to compensate for this, but I still have yet to learn the angles that they travel at, and a lot land far away.  I’ve had some really spectacular hits though, to be fair.  The minimap, when we have it on, is incredibly useful, but sometimes I find myself shooting at someone who is much further away than I thought.

I do enjoy playing though.  Even if everyone else is at least level 50 and I’m a measly level 16, it doesn’t matter.  It just means that the kills I do get are much more satisfying.  As a game it is quite well put together, especially in multiplayer mode.  The graphics are smooth, the maps are well designed, and the controls respond well.  There is a wide variety of customization available, which is cool, and though I never bother with camo paint, I feel that perhaps that would help.  The game is quite well balanced, in that if you have enough skill the worst gun can beat the best, though there is a definite advantage in being a higher level and having more things unlocked.  That is to be expected though, and while the level gap between my friends and I can be frustrating, I think that it just encourages me to use more skill and tactics.  I can’t really fault it as a game, though even with the tense atmosphere of the battlefield I would have appreciated some decent music.

As for how I play, like I said, I need tactics to compensate for low actual ability.  I'm getting quite handy at putting myself in the right position to surprise people, and learning how to use all of my equipment well.  As for my classes, theunder-mounted grenade launcher is, of course, a must.  It’s surprising, not to mention effective, and it can launch a very long way.  Who needs a better sight?  Not me.  So I have a Famas with grenade launcher, secondary rocket launcher, with flashbangs and a tactical insertion as my primary class.  It’s pretty standard, but flashbangs are so close to being a lifesaver for me.  If I could just stop looking at them when they explode I would be much more effective.... yes, again, I’m not that great.  I’m pretty tactical with my tactical insertion, and I’ve gotten a few nice surprise attacks with it, but all in all, it’s a fairly underwhelming class.  My new and most recent favourite is my sniper class.  My philosophy with sniping has always been quantity over quality, so naturally I use the RPD with a grip.  As you do.  Forget one perfect bullet for each kill.  I can use 100!  Its standard iron sight is good enough for most maps, and it’s surprisingly accurate over a long range.  Of course, at short range it’s even deadlier, which helps.  On Highrise I’m pretty vicious.  Throw in a Thumper for the extra power, some flashbangs and semtex and against anything other than an actual sniper rifle I do pretty well.  I’m going to keep playing with that for a while now and see how I do.  My accuracy is improving as a result, but I maintain that volume over precision works 9 times out of 10.

Modern Warfare 2 is a great game to play with your friends if you enjoy FPSs.  Some people don’t.  But while I am not a general fan of the genre, it’s certainly not a game I would turn down playing.  It’s good fun, and well put together.  Black Ops has its charms as well, and tactical insertion in Nuke Town can be deadly, but I like the slightly simpler and more realistic MW2.  I don’t know who I can recommend this to who wouldn’t already own it, but if you’re considering it and are not sure, it is definitely worth the investment. Of course, Modern Warfare 3 is coming soon, but maybe you would just like to get the practice in.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Skyward Sword - Joining Hyrule's Mile High Club

In celebration of 25 years of Zelda games, the next instalment in the series is set to be released this year.  With the Wii U coming out soon as well, I expect that this will be similar to the Twilight Princess dilemma: buy it for the console you have now (Game Cube at the time) or wait to buy it until you have the new one?  Hopefully they will make sure that the Wii version comes with the full functionality of the Wii U so that if you do buy the new console you won’t have to get another copy of the game to access all the new ways of doing things.
And I'm free...........  free-falling.....
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword looks very impressive from what I’ve seen so far.  Epona has been replaced by a bird, which is surprising, but Avatar references aside, the story looks very interesting.  It is apparently going to be based around the forging of the Master Sword, making this a prequel to all the other games, and is most directly linked to Ocarina of Time.  Ganondorf won’t be featuring, but I expect there will be plenty of references to the future Hyrule to keep us entertained.

Particularly cool is that Nintendo have been doing a lot of work on the Wii Motion Plus, and all reports so far are saying that the sensitivity has been fine tuned almost perfectly.  Sword fighting, at last, could actually work properly.  Ever since Force Unleashed, we have been looking to see how they could improve upon the quite basic controls implemented there.  Twilight Princess was certainly decent, and the Wii Sports Resort sword fighting game (or whatever it was called, the one with the sticks) got me quite excited to see that it was finally responding fairly accurately.  In Skyward Sword, they’ve kicked it up a few more notches, and hopefully this will mean a really challenging gameplay style, where we will have to keep our sides covered and strike at openings when we see them, rather than just waiting to press Z+A.

I’m wondering what the collectible thing will be.  We’ve had medallions and magical stones, seed and musical instruments; what will be the purpose of the dungeons?  Majora’s Mask was actually fairly simplistic in that respect – it was just the head of the boss.  Gruesome, but they didn’t really go into that much.  If the purpose of the game, in theory, is to create the Master Sword, perhaps it will be things to do with that: the Anvil of Courage, the Iron Ore of Power, and the Hammer and Tongs of Wisdom.  Or something like that.  Right, it’s official, I’m calling it.  Link will be collecting blacksmith tools.  It would be fantastic.  Oh, and the Blacksmith’s Apron of the Triforce.
My how he's grown
The titan that is the Legend of Zelda series now has about 15 games in its wake.  The 16th installation, The Skyward Sword, is looking so far to be a brilliant addition to the collection, and a real celebration of Zelda, as well as pushing the boundaries on what a Zelda game can do.  There have been some images of what the Wii U might do to the format of the game, but hopefully, it will be genuinely useful rather than just tacking on additional things you can do.  The Motion Plus, however, looks like it will finally have its chance to really shine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Videos Because They Are Fun

Hey all, I am away this week, but I have discovered the wonder that is scheduled posting!  So I've put together a few videos for you to watch.  Hopefully, it will provide entertainment to all.

 A series of video game related videos you should watch if you haven't

                                                              Classic comedy, because I can

                                A really really interesting talk on technology and our relationship with it

Have a great week!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Webcomic Triple Feature: Guilded Age, Finders Keepers, and Crimson Dark

A trio of webcomics to foist on you all today, all of which are great ways to spend all that time you spend bored.

Guilded Age – Updates Monday, Wednesday, Friday

This is a comic that mixes fantasy with science fiction, though the sci-fi is not so obvious.  It is the story of a group of adventurers in a world full of political turmoil and war.  At first it may confuse you, but that it part of its interest: the story is not told linearly. Several storylines in different points in the adventurer’s travels together intermingle constantly.  A few pages might be them on a pirate ship, the next they’re in a dungeon.  It gives the tale a constant air of mystery, as you are always trying to catch up with exactly what is going on.  If nothing else, this webcomic keeps you on your toes.  The science fiction in this epic fantasy is on the rise at the moment, and I cannot wait to see where he takes it.  Storytelling is definitely the strength of this comic.  For the Postmodernists out there.

Finders Keepers – Updates every once in a while

A project stemming from Comedity, another comic, this is the tale of Cardinal and Cailyn, a demi-god and a human bound together by an ill-worded promise and on the run from a mysterious organization of shadows.  Excellently drawn and with strong wit throughout, this is a tale for the mythology fans on the internet.  Mythological creatures exist just beyond our sight (yes, we’ve heard that much many times before), and Cailyn has just been exposed to this world.  More interesting is that concepts also exist.  Cardinal is an aspect of finding, and has the ability to find anything, anywhere.  Cailyn is a fantastic character, as she actually adapts well to this new world full of werewolves and fey, unlike so many other characters in this situation.  Her interactions with these creatures are some of the highlights of the comic.  If you’re into mythology at all, then this is the adventure you have been dying to read.  (Also, check out Happle Tea while you’re at it!)

Crimson Dark – Updates once every week or two
A little different, wouldn't you say?

This comic is produced in computer graphics instead of drawn, so it takes quite a while to produce.  However, it gives it a unique style that looks very impressive.  Crimson Dark is unmistakeably a comic for Firefly fans, as it is quite openly imitating the premise and elements of the show.  Begun as a college project, it is the tale of a crew on a small spaceship trying to make ends meet.  The crew are strangely reminiscent of the Firefly crew in different ways, including Whisper, the incredibly talented young girl with many problems.  While you may be put off by something which is just ‘like Firefly,’ don’t be.  This is a brilliant story with well thought out characters.  The plot is clever and the dialogue equally so.  Graphically, it is nice to see 3D environments rendered so well.  This is not just a Firefly-inspired comic; this is a brilliant tribute to it which can stand firmly on its own.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Wii U: Another Revolution that Will Force Everyone Else to do it Better

Behold the Future!
So, wow.  The Nintendo Wii U, the console which is due to launch in 2012, looks phenomenal.  There are so many cool things about this new console, I don’t really know where to start.  That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and that doesn’t mean I will rush to buy it, but it does mean that we are about to see some incredible gaming experiences being produced and I cannot wait to see where the revolution takes us.  Yes, this does mean that I will be talking about something current in the world of gaming news!  A revolution all of it's own...
Words cannot describe how much I want to play this game

Let’s start with the main selling point: the new controller.  The Executive Vice-President of THQ, Danny Bilson calls it, “the Swiss army knife of controllers,” and it’s hard to disagree.  While the Wii U will still use traditional Wii remotes, there is a new special controller which has latched on to the tablet craze.  It has a hi-def (I believe) screen in the middle, and controls along the side.  It also has a stylus, essentially making it a bigger, better DS hooked directly into your console.  On top of that it is motion sensitive as you’d expect.  The screen serves as a second window into the game, and if you move it to the left, you can see things to your left without making the central TV screen have to shift.  This looks to be especially useful if you are in a group game and you each want to look in different directions.  It also means that a player with the tablet can have private information from the rest of the players, making “asymmetrical gameplay” a massively interesting new feature of the Wii U.  Screen watching will no longer be a problem.  Basically, there is very little that this controller does not do.  The number of potential gameplay uses are staggering.

In addition to the fancy tablet controller, Nintendo has finally brought its graphics up to the modern age, hence titles like Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed, etc. will be released on this console once it comes out.  It will also have internet and streaming capabilities, which is what we expect by now.
These graphics on a Nintendo console?  You must be mad, sir!

I think that this entire system looks amazing.  There are definitely some drawbacks though.  The tablet looks a little bit too easy to throw across the room.  There’s a reason they put the strap on the Wii controllers before, so perhaps the same thing can be done here.  I can see that the set up is quite complicated now, with different people using different controllers, but I don’t think that’s a particular issue.  The one problem I do see coming is a repeat of the tragedy of the original Wii.  The Wii U is going to revolutionize everything.  Like before when they were the first to add motion sensitivity, Nintendo are the first to jump on board using the tablet in gaming.  However, what happened before was that the other consoles simply waited a year or two and then brought out the same additions, only better implemented, stealing away crowds of gamers from Nintendo.  I really hope that this system’s features will be enough to bring gamers of all kinds streaming back to Nintendo, as they have always had a warm place in my heart.  I also hope that the next systems of Sony and Microsoft don’t make the entire console immediately obsolete though.  I think the increase in graphics will be a major contributor to keeping Nintendo competitive in areas other than party games.

We shall have to wait and see.