BREAKING NEWS: Battlefield 3 Caspian Border Map Returns, High-Res Texture on Xbox 360

So the title pretty much says it all, but to clarify: for PC gamers, you have one more chance to play Caspian Border on Battlefield 3 before the beta ends. In this final weekend, Caspian Border will be available to play, no password-hunting required. The servers are up now (I’ve checked) so get on it!

 

More info after the bump!

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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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Battlefield Bad Company 2: If Playing this is Bad, I don’t Wanna Be Good

I want you to forget right now about thinking of Bad Company 2 as “the other shooter.” It is not the “alternative” or the “black sheep” or “the competition.” Bad Company 2 is the game by which all other online shooters should base themselves off of.

Wow, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Those are tall words, but it is my job as a reviewer and not some fanboy to explain why. Because when I say this is the most fun I’ve had online since I found out about pornography, I’m not exaggerating.

The box for Bad Company 2 says it all: “Defining Online Warfare.” Any good online shooter boils down to two things: the maps and the weaponry, and thankfully, Bad Company 2 delivers on both.  Each gun has its own place in the game, thanks in large part to the game’s smart class system. For every class, there is a certain gun selection. On top of that, the class also has attached to it an item that caters to that play style. For example, if you like assault rifles, you should select the Assault class, which focuses on shooting and leading the charge, but also comes with a portable ammo crate that resupplies not only you but your friends.

"A little C4, nothing to it"

These tactical items, as I like to call them, cleverly trick players into working as a team even when they don’t mean to. For example, if a medic drops a health pack down on the ground, it remains there long enough to heal him and anyone else on the team that happens to walk by. More importantly—and thankfully—the game provides incentives to players to work as a team: I’ve actually earned more experience points from healing my friend’s tank than from trying to kill enemies. The ability to spawn on squad mates solidifies the necessity for teamwork. Why spawn at a base when you can spawn on your friend right outside the enemy’s?

Compared to any other shooter, Bad Company 2 has the best leveling up system. It is more akin to the Elder Scrolls series than to other games in the genre. Every time you perform an action, you gain experience points, but those points only go towards the class. This way the game does not have some arbitrary progression but a more logical one: want to be a better sniper? You don’t have to work to level 52 to unlock a new gun. Just keep playing as a sniper and you’ll get one.

The maps are like a work of art. To be more precise, they are Jackson Pollock paintings, with the perfect amount of order and chaos. Particularly in the fantastic Rush mode, the action is constant and well-paced. The fighting gets more frantic the closer one side gets to victory, and the tension is palpable. In Rush mode, one team defends two points at a time while another side attacks. The attackers have a limited number of lives, and if the defenders fail to defend the first pair of bases, the map expands, presenting the attackers with two more, until they have reached the defenders’ final bases. These Rush maps are big enough to provide the attackers and defenders with breathing room while still keeping the action focused on one area. The other mode, Conquest, should be familiar to veterans of the Battlefield series, and the action is pretty much like you remembered it.

Pollock painting? Or Alpha-Stage map concept art?

One of my favorite parts about multiplayer was how it walked the fine line between absurdity and realism. Does it make sense to load up an ATV with explosives and detonate it in a crowd of people? No. Does it make sense that you can spawn magically on anyone in your squad? No. Does it make sense to wait for a tank to run over a line of C4 you have hidden on the road? No. But it’s awesome, and in the world of Bad Company 2, it makes perfect sense.

Simply put, after playing this game, I have found my online shooter. If this is bad company, I don’t know what’s good anymore.

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Chaotic Thoughts: The FUNdamentals of Video Games

Pretend someone started a new sport. To score points you have to bang your head against a wall. Sure, they may give you a helmet to dull the pain, but at the end of the day you are still beating your head against a wall. It’s not fun, but all your friends have jumped on board, so you’re game, but you can’t figure it out, and at the end you’re the idiot with a throbbing head.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is an allegory for playing video games that take themselves too seriously.

When was the last time you had fun in a video game? Chances are it wasn’t when you were playing Halo 3 or Modern Warfare 2. If it is, think really hard—how many times did you yell at the TV? Rage quit? Swore at someone? If your answer is more than once to any of these questions, why did you just lie to me? You clearly didn’t have fun; you had almost-fun.

Competitive video gaming has gotten way out of hand. Sign into a game of Modern Warfare 2, and you’re going to die from a grenade launcher or stabbed in the back by a lightweight knifer. You might not get mad the first time, but you’re going be frustrated by the third or fourth time. If this happens to you, stop and quit as soon as you can. You’re not having fun. You’ve been conditioned to think this is fun.

Some people have a naturally higher competitive edge than others. This article isn’t for you, then. Ignore this and go back to your almost-fun video games. But it’s important to note that I love competing against my friends, but I don’t like being frustrated. If I lose, I want it to be because I did something stupid, not because the game is stupid.

That might be a little harsh. But let’s face facts, folks. Getting your ear drums broken from the screams of a ten year old is not fun. Getting stabbed in the back or being shot by someone who knows how to exploit a map glitch also isn’t fun. Getting called a “bitch” because you had a bad game isn’t fun.

Read on after the break.

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