Battlefield 4 First Impressions: Deep Impact, Big Crashes

 

 

battlefield 4 beta

The Battlefield series has been my shooter of choice since the original release of Battlefield 1942 in 2002 (Shh, Call of Duty 4; our love affair will remain forever a secret). I remember the thrill of hopping into a plane, strafing real players on the ground, and then parachuting out if need be to return to the battle. There wasn’t anything quite like it at the time, and there are very few games that do it as well as Battlefield to this day.

So the burning question on my mind is how is the Battlefield 4 beta? Is it the next evolution in the series, more of the same, or a step backwards?

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Battlefield 3 Beta Review: Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

There is a flash of flight as fire reflects off a sniper scope. I see it out of the corner of my eye and jump to the ground—but, too late. The bullet zips right through my head and Battlefield 3 cheerily sends me to the all-too-familiar YOU ARE DEAD screen. Fortunately, respawn times are so short that I can hop right back into the foray in the metro, but there’s a second of hesitation before I click that deploy button.

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Crackdown 2 Demo Impressions

Crackdown 2 demo

Even though this is technically a direct sequel to 2007’s original Crackdown, Crackdown 2 was developed by an entirely different company, Ruffian Games. Ruffian Games is made up of several of the people from the original Crackdown’s developer, Realtime Worlds, and some of the staff from Xen Studios. The team’s developers have worked on games like Crackdown, Fable II, and Project Gotham Racing in the past.

In the same mold as its predecessor, Crackdown 2 is a third person shooter based in an open world environment. From the information that I have read about this game, it’s supposed to offer an increased amount of character customization when compared to the original game. Also making a return to the sequel are the skill orbs to be collected in order to help enhance your Agent’s abilities. Another addition in the demo is a small taste of the checkpoint racing that will be scattered throughout the entire city, once the retail version of the game’s released in July. Once again, co-op play will be available in Crackdown 2, but this time around, up to four people will be able to join forces to help take down the undesirables in the city. Last, but certainly not least, another first for the series will be the addition of competitive multiplayer modes – for up to 16 people.

Crackdown 2 multiplayer impressions

I consider myself as being one of those gamers out there who puts great gameplay above how well a game looks, but simply put, Crackdown 2’s environment comes off looking a bit flat. Hopefully for the hardcore fans of this series this is only an issue with the demo, but the more that I played the demo, the more I felt disappointed with the game’s presentation. The buildings throughout the playable section of the city look very nondescript, and have little to no texturing added to them. This, in turn, makes each and every building that you come across feeling about as bland as a bowl of unflavored oatmeal. With high-end, visually remarkable games like God of War 3, Red Dead Redemption, and Uncharted 2 on the market, one would think that Crackdown 2 should offer something along the same lines, but sadly, the demo does not offer such quality.

Along with the environments not offering much detail, the variety of enemies was poor. I noticed maybe four or five different looking mutants, and the same lack of variety can be said for all of the members of “The Cell” that are trying to shoot your Agent dead. It’s also worth mentioning the fact that the sounds of your weaponry firing sound pretty weak, all things considered. If I wanted to hear a pop-cap gun fire, I would walk down to the local toy store and buy one for $2.50, and save myself an additional $57.50. These are but a few problems with the game that I encountered, which I hope for the Crackdown faithful, will be a non-issue once the full version of the game lands in July and the entire landscape of the city is opened up for complete exploration.

Crackdown 2 agility

Released on June 21st to Xbox Live Gold members, the Crackdown 2 demo offers 30 minutes of exploration in the Hope Springs section of the city. Also included with this demo is the ability to unlock more than a handful of the retail game’s achievements, and they’re “officially” unlocked once the full version is played on your Xbox 360 for the first time. Personally speaking, if I didn’t find the overall variety of enemies to be so meager and the backgrounds so bland, I probably would have tried much harder to unlock a few of these pre-release achievements. Simply put, I found this demo to be a hundred times more boring than the Crackdown 1 demo that I played almost three years ago. Again, I hope that these gripes I have with the game aren’t a problem with the full version; otherwise it could very well be one of the fastest Gamefly rental turnarounds I have yet to encounter.

Crackdown 2 multiplayer

The Good: Thirty minutes of exploration is available, and running people over with vehicles is still loads of fun.

The Bad: A weak variety of on-screen enemies, an overly bland environment, and lame sounding weaponry.

The Verdict: Worth a download if you’re into unlocking achievements before the full version releases in a few weeks.

Written by N3GAT1VE_CR33P

Medal of Honor (2010) Beta Impressions

Medal of Honor 2010 beta

Medal of Honor is a well-known first person shooter series that dates back to November 11, 1999; released on the PlayStation 1 console. Created by Steven Spielberg, the series created various spin-offs and expansions over several different home gaming consoles, PCs, and Macs. This most recent Medal of Honor title is scheduled to release on October 12, 2010 across various platforms (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC). Developers have decided to ditch the setting of WWII in favor of a more recent setting; this time around it is set in Afghanistan–complete with modern day technology, modern day weapons, and modern day vehicles.

For this closed beta, there are only two available game modes that can be played, as well as two different playable maps. First, there is mission mode, which is akin to Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s “rush” mode where certain objectives must be accomplished before the attackers can advance further into the map. Then there is team assault… which is, well, exactly like team deathmatch. Available maps on the closed beta include Helmand Valley (mission), and Kabul City Ruins (team assault).

Aside from a slightly different controller button layout, this game basically feels and controls much like Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but that’s really where their similarities end. Most importantly, the hit detection in the MOH closed beta could definitely use some fine tuning, as well as the minimal amount of recoil that each available weapon has. The weapons just don’t have a “lifelike” feel to them in this early version of the game. Luckily for those interested in the upcoming MOH, the game won’t be released until the middle of October – so there’s a lot of time for the developers to tighten this up.

Having been mentioned several different times on the EA forums, the MOH closed beta is prone to having game crashing freezing issues. More times than not, and for some strange reason, this issue of freezing almost always happens to those people playing on the Taliban’s side once they get a multi-kill streak, mostly after three consecutive kills. Although while I was playing the beta for several hours yesterday afternoon, I started to notice the same kind of freezing would happen while playing on the U.S. team. Yet another glaring weakness of this closed beta would have to be the underpowered explosives. If you hit a tank from behind with two RPG rounds in BFBC2, the tank’s destroyed. If you hit a tank from behind with two RPG rounds in MOH, the tank’s still functional. If EA plans on selling more than four copies of their newest first person shooter game, I really think they had better straighten out these game breaking issues before its scheduled release in October.

Medal of Honor beta 2010

Another issue that I noticed while playing the MOH beta is the fact that you are unable to have settings saved in the options menu of the game. Undoubtedly this major issue will be fixed before its October 12th release, but I think it’s worth mentioning now for those people who want to play this once it becomes an open beta. It should also be noted that you’re unable to pickup other people’s weapons when you run low on your own ammunition. Here’s a warning for all the MOH snipers out there… your rifles will feel very, very underpowered. Upon first use, they could very well make the sniper rifles in Socom: Confrontation seem beastly than they actually were when that game first launched, almost two years ago.

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Halo Reach for the Stars

Halo is what made me buy an Xbox. I had no interest in the original Xbox until my uncle bought one and told me to play it. I spent days over at his house, fighting the Covenant and later the Flood, until I had blown up that giant ring. I was sold. I had already beaten the game, but I wanted to play it again. I essentially bought a console to play one game. Say what you will about the Halo franchise, but the series is the definition of console seller.

When Bungie announced that the Halo Reach Beta would be open to the public, I was pumped. It was the giddiness of being a kid again, and there was a part of me that was hoping Halo Reach would wash out the bad taste left in my mouth from the disappointing conclusion to the original Halo trilogy (and yes, I believe Halo ODST was better than Halo 3, which smelled like and resembled a big steaming pile of Flood excrement). I wanted the series to be great again, and I kept hearing that Halo Reach would be exactly like Halo of old, and let me tell you something: it certainly is.

It’s too bad that the gaming community has devolved.

When Halo 2 came out, it was awesome for a number of reasons, but the most significant was that Halo 2 created Xbox Live essentially. Console online gaming became a reality. It was a magnificent time to be a gamer, and I actually met people on Xbox Live that were decent human beings, people I added to my friends list and still game with every now and then. Gaming was still fun; even first person shooters were still entertainment rather than a bigot-fest and teabagathalon.

Fast forward to the present, and everything about the Halo community feels douchey and smelly, kind of like the inside of a frat house. You don’t want to touch anything; you have a sneaking suspicion that your “brothers” want to bum rape you. They have this odd fascination with dipping their balls into your mouth. You hear the word “bro” and “dude” more often than your own name. These are your faux-friends, the people that want to “network” with you more so than actually hang out. This is the Halo community today in a nut shell.

Bro.

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Halo Master Beta

I love betas. “Why,” you ask? Because they give you the opportunity for direct feedback to the developers. In your hands is the power to shape the final touches and help the creators decide what needs to be tweaked, added or eliminated. Keep in mind though; this is a rough draft of the game and not a final release.

I have my issues with Halo 3. These issues prevent me from having fun if I am playing for more than an hour or so. I figured I would be a total idiot if I didn’t give the beta a chance and so I anxiously awaited to see what kind of issues I was going to have with Reach so I could complain to you guys about them. I foolishly decided to go to class without setting up the download, not realizing it would take like an hour just to get the thing up and running. Once the time came to hop on and start playing, I found the new menu screen to be smooth and more efficient. Your friends list is now displayed on the screen and even shows you who is in-game and who is sitting in a lobby.

I see that my friend, Justin, is online and so I join him without having to bring up the Live interface. Such a small thing gave me immense amounts of joy. I was like a pedophile in a schoolyard. We start to talk and immediately there is a problem. The game refused to let us start matchmaking, We spent a half hour in the menu screen before it let us join a game. Two matches later, we were kicked back the lobby and unable to connect once more. Forty-five minutes passed before we give up and do other things.

It would seem Bungie underestimated the traffic they would receive on there OPEN beta for a game in one of the BEST SELLING series of all time. Tisk Tisk. Luckily, the problem did slowly seem to phase out and my friends and I were able to successfully play many games throughout the evening.

This Halo is surprisingly much different from its predecessors. The engine gets an overhaul and you will find yourself trying to adjust at first. The first thing you might notice is the controls have been revamped. The basics are the same, but some important buttons have been switched around, such as the melee button, which is now the right bumper. Another thing you might notice early on is the class system. This time around, you can select one of four classes, all with different equipment. In a couple of modes, the weapons load-out varies and I assume this will be customizable in the final game. Of course, you know what happens when you assume…you could be wrong.

The equipment in the classes includes a jetpack, a stealth generator, an EMP/invulnerability, and the ability to sprint. These all change the methods of gameplay you will prefer to use and add an interesting dynamic.

One problem I hate from Halo 3 is the double beat down. In Reach, they have added a way of preventing this horrible phenomenon. In theory, if you both melee at the same time, you will just repel each other and not kill each other. Sadly though, the inaccuracies in timing on the melee attacks still allow for double beat downs to occur. Hopefully, this will be fixed in the final version because the whole repelling each other thing is totally cool and makes me happy. Bee Tee Dubs (by the way), beat downs are now called, “pummels”. Stew-pid (stupid).

There are several new weapons in Reach. The worst is the Focus Rifle, which is ridiculously overpowered. It has a zoom and sprays a really powerful beam of death at people. There is also a new plasma grenade launcher and a new human grenade launcher, both of which are overpowered. The Assault rifle returns a little more accurate and a little less powerful. The Battle riffle seems to have been replaced with the Designated Marksman Rifle. The DMR is more powerful, but requires more accuracy and is only single shot. One addition I like a lot is the Needle Rifle, which fire needles at midrange, but they don’t explode like the Needler unless you hit them enough times.

The DMR

The two maps I have played in the beta aren’t bad. Swordbase is a little complex for me and depending on the playlist can either be a lot of fun or none at all. Powerhouse, on the other, is a great map. It has a lot of cover and just enough paths to travel. I enjoy it on every playlist, especially stockpile.

Stockpile is a fun take on Capture the Flag. Neutral flags are scattered across the map and you have to take them to your capture area. However, they are only scored if they are in your area when the time runs out, which means you can steal enemy flags or just screw them over by grabbing a flag and running it out of their capture area at the last second. I haven’t played all the playlists yet, but stockpile is my favorite so far.

Instead of earning XP, you earn cR (cuddly Rednecks?), which can be used to purchase armor and possibly upgrades in the final release. That is just speculation though. I hate the armor though. Spartan armor now looks exactly like ODST armor. Maybe that is just for the beta, but no one looks anything even remotely like a Spartan anymore.

Reach is gearing up to be a pretty good game. It moves a little faster than Halo 3 and sports a new engine. I won’t get too harsh on the glitches and problems because it is obviously still in development, but I will say I like the direction it is headed and I look forward to the release.

Written by Not Judas

Fantasy of a Final Final Fantasy

Right out of the gate, I would like to inform the universe that Microsoft finally sent me a new Xbox and that empty spot in my entertainment unit no longer plagues me day in and day out.

Time for business. I bought Final Fantasy XIII and popped it in immediately. I always look forward to playing the next installment of the game that shuts down the entire country of Japan for a day. As you may remember, I recently said I think the Final Fantasy franchise should be killed. They have been getting progressively worse ever since the tenth allegedly final fantasy shouted at us through non-text voices and taught us how to overcomplicate leveling systems. The series had a great 2D life and only got better on the PlayStation, but this decade has seen both a MMO that nobody plays and a spin-off game with a combat system that literally involves accessorizing. So I was really curious to see how FFXIII played and wondered if it would bring the series out of its slump. So did it? Spoiler Alert: no.

This isn’t a review so I’m not going to get technical, but I have to point some things out. If Square Enix’s goal was to make you care as little as possible for the main characters, they definitely succeeded. I haven’t finished the game yet, but they are not interesting at all to me. I barely even care what happens to them. The game also jumps around from character to character, forcing you to play as such awesome characters as a black stereotype with an afro or a couple of kids.

One thing I really liked was the Paradigm system, in which you can change each party member’s role in combat. It loses points though for calling it a “Paradigm Shift.” That is just lame.

So far, I haven’t liked the story. I think I disliked FFXII’s more because it was just so political, but this one is still pretty boring. The worst part is they don’t transition you into the world nearly as well as they have in previous games. You are just dropped in like Joe Jonas’ Mickey Mouse into Miley Cyrus’ Little Mermaid. The game expects you to read the background in the main menu, but I ridiculously expect for the game to tell you the story through relevant conversation.

I am especially unhappy with FFXIII’s being a cattle chute. Maybe I am just not far enough in to don my handy dandy explorer’s cap, but I’m a few hours in and all I’ve seen is an utter lack of ability to do anything other than what the game wants me to do.

A Cattle Chute.

Now that the peanut throwing is out of the way, I should say that Final Fantasy XIII is not a bad game. It is still a lot of fun, but it just doesn’t compare to its predecessors. Think of it more like the third Die Hard movie, rather than the fourth one. It lacks luster, but is still entertaining.

I hear that the next game is another online one. FFXI was really fun, in my opinion, but not nearly enough people played it. Unless Square Enix thinks they can change that this time around, I don’t know why they want to make another. Like I said, I think the series should die in order to preserve the greatness of the legacy. At the rate these “sequels” are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if it has the same fate as the Medal of Honor series.

Written by Not Judas

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