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Tag Archives: FPS

What Happened to Halo?

With the release of Halo: Reach last year the series is finally coming to a close. Well, I should say that the series as imagined by Bungie is coming to a close. Microsoft has opened a branch called 343 Industries to oversee the Halo name post-Bungie. But, the future is unclear for the Master Chief, the Arbiter, and the rest of those lovable grunts. It has been rumored that Gearbox is the next in line for a Halo release but as of this writing it is all speculation.

The point…

… I’m getting to it. Halo has changed so much over the past 4 games. From LAN parties to clan matches to forge and then to armor abilities this series has seen it all. The heart of the game is there, somewhere. This newest release, Reach, really marked for me the fall of Halo. Halo 3 was not what I expected it to be by a long shot, especially coming off of Halo 2 which was pretty much spot on in terms of fun and competitiveness.

Every title after Halo 2 has felt more sluggish, with a lesser learning curve, and a larger margin for error. This is a good business strategy, it will allow more new players to instantly pick up a Halo game and generally do well assuming they have thumbs and don’t get motion sick from watching a television. But as a fan of competitive gaming these decisions don’t make sense.

Just not fun.

I had not played Reach since December or so and decided to pop it in yesterday. I dusted off the case and put the disc in… I was actually pretty excited. But that was before the first game. Coming off of Call of Duty this game feels like child’s play.

I know that the game-play is supposed to be more team oriented but having a 1v1 fight is just awful in Reach. The way damage is handled combined with shields, combined with the weaponry available (or lack-thereof) and it takes too damn long to score a kill.

I gave it about an hour or so, just so I could be sure that I wasn’t being too quick to judge. But this game is a far cry from the fast paced shooter that was Halo 2… it isn’t even comparable to Halo 3 which was fun but definitely wasn’t up to par with Halo 2.

I don’t know how they did it but they have killed my favorite game franchise. I am now a COD man, sad to say. Bring on some Battlefield, bring on some Gears, even bring on the next COD because I probably won’t be looking for the next Halo.

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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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Reinventing the Wheel to Run Myself Over (and Other Fall Out Boy Song Title references)

Games go stale, it’s not a new thing or something that will ever stop. There are two directions that a game developer can take their waning franchise, revitalizing it with choice gameplay and setting changes, or completely obliterating it with over-the-top overhauls and unnecessary features.

Good Game Goes In, Bad Sequel Comes Out

There have been countless examples of utter failure on development companies and their publishers part. The lure of a sequel often trumps the bad juju associated with trying to out-do their last blockbuster hit, more or less with the same offering. It has happened to many beloved game franchises.

Take the Burnout series for example. Burnout 1, while not the best looking or even the best control wise, was a great game. The challenge of winning a race coupled with surviving an onslaught from 7+ AI all trying to push you into any obstacle they could find was a rush. There was a great boost mechanic which rewarded the player for doing dangerous maneuvers such as driving in the wrong lane, jumping ramps, and slamming into opponents(bonus points for actually making them wreck into a thousand tiny pieces!). The ‘story’ was progressed by means of a radio DJ calling all ‘burners’ to these races and when the player made their name known in an area they were permitted to enter races in other locales, kind of strange but it worked.

Then of course the developer, Criterion(published by Acclaim), decides to make a sequel… and guess what? It wasn’t that bad! It kept the same core mechanic and gnarly crashes while expanding in just the right areas. Namely the graphics, car selection, track selection, and AI learning is what was tweaked. Burnout 2: Point of Impact played like the original and was better in all the right places. Also, there were nearly double the races and challenges as the original… oh yeah.

After these two successes EA games bought the franchise rights from Acclaim but kept Criterion as the developers. Burnout 3: Takedown was in my opinion the best Burnout release. It bumped up the difficulty of the hard modes by adding more traffic and, coupled with the harder tracks and the way better AI, made beating your personal best that much harder. The car selection was great and varied. Game progression made sense even though they ditched the classic radio DJ theme although there was still some form of interaction with a radio personality.The game was getting kind of old but you could never really get over the bad ass crashes and full on action of the races, the series was far from being dead on arrival, or so one would think.

Sugar We’re Going Down

Now, I’ve told you all this because these were examples of how to do it right. It just so happens that the Burnout series had a great run with outstanding titles. That is, until Burnout: Revenge. This game was basically a rehash of Burnout 3, but worse. In the previous 3 titles touching any of the non-racing vehicles resulted in a fiery death, yes just barely grazing them with 1 pixel of your car or pushing the side view mirror of an opponent into traffic was enough to start a crash. On the same hand if you contacted any car after it had been crashed and was not yet despawned off the track it was an instant death as well. Burnout: Takedown changed both of these features. The 4th installment of Burnout allowed the player to ‘Traffic Check’ same-way traffic. Essentially if you were driving in the same direction of a non-racer car you could blast their rear and use them as a weapon against other racers with NO PENALTY WHATSOEVER. There was no slow-down, no damage done to your car, and if you pinballed a wrecked NPC car into an opponent it counted as a special takedown.

This one change in gameplay made almost everything about the game feel cheap. No longer did you have to actually dodge cars, all you had to do was stay in your lane and rear end every mo’ fo’ unlucky enough to be driving through the Autobahn that day. Not only did it not slow you down but Traffic Checking gave you boost! WTF. Of course this made the race mode extremely easy, but it made the crash mode ridiculously easy. In the previous titles one would have to play a level over many times to get the perfect angle and cause the most destruction, often it came down to millisecond timing and amazing reflexes. In Revenge, however, all you had to do was drive around until you were in same-way traffic and start a chain reaction. And the timer just so happened to always give you enough time to get to that same-way traffic lane. If the timer was 90 seconds you better believe it was going to take you 85 seconds to get to your crash zone.

The Burnout series wasn’t just a scene, it was an arms race. An arms race that fell completely short with its 4th title and Burnout Paradise, the open world driver was so far gone from the first game it was unrecognizable. This was one of the few times a demo made me NOT want to buy the full game. In the end things fizzled out, and I predict that the next installment will be crashing, but it certainly won’t be a wave.

Screen of Burnout 1 for Graphics comparison.

Burnout 3: Takedown screen, my favorite of the 5 console games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calm Before the Storm

I really wanted to get into other games and how they have ruined their franchises, or at least sullied their reputations… but I know I can be and already am very long winded here. I just feel pretty strongly about keeping to your guns when you know what works, and also knowing when to quit or just release some DLC instead of a new potentially bad game. Gears did it, Halo did it, Ghost Recon is also a culprit. Street Fighter, Zelda, Mario, Sonic, hell even PONG has run themselves over with their own game before.

We are on the cusp of a new ‘gaming season’ where more and more information will be released about ‘blockbuster’ games conveniently coming out near December. How are companies going to wow us, and ultimately let us down this year? A new Gears and CoD are likely releasing, along with (maybe) Duke Nukem Forever. Lets just hope we get a polished and well thought out product instead of a hastily released amalgam of old boring features and new bullcrap.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Console

 

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New Map for Call of Duty? Leaked poster image seems to confirm.

Below you will find the image that was leaked earlier this week containing the rumored titles of the Map Pack 2 for Call of Duty Black Ops. There is much speculation to be done, and don’t be fooled by the date format… it is day/month/year as most of the world does(not here in the USA though).

The big question is ‘is this real’. I for one believe it to be genuine. In a lot of images there is a small portion on the bottom detailing Xbox live and copyright info (there is a ‘First on Xbox LIVE’ brand just like the first DLC), it is just cut off on this one. The only thing that points it to being shopped is the picture for Hotel is actually already used on another Black Ops poster but this could just be a slip up on the image designers part or intentional.

There is a good bit of info on the map Hotel already. It’s loading screen has been mined out of the data on the disc that was shipped and there is also a top-down map of the gameplay area.

The Load Screen for Hotel

Hotel top down map.

From the pic and the map we can see that the left side of the map is where the stairs in the picture go to. There will likely be a rappel feature somewhere in the map, possible in the lower right hand corner which is probably the lobby area in the picture on the poster.

Zoo should be an interesting addition to the multiplayer. One can assume that there will be some sort of animal based obstacle or interaction if they continue with the trend from the last DLC of putting in ways to interact with the map such as ziplines.

Convoy is the one I am most excited for. From the teaser picture we can assume that it is set near Crystal City, Texas… a great deal closer to home than most Call of Duty arenas. I am guessing this will be a smaller map set around an underpass on a large highway. Hopefully there will be overturned cars and tanker trucks and the like for cover.

Stockpile is the only one in a snow type environment this go around. It is likely it is the map that people thought was Discovery from Map Pack 1. I have done an article that featured this screen before but it was in speculation of it being Discovery or not, now I am leaning more towards the not side.

I have no idea how the new zombie map ‘Survival’ is going to pan out. It will probably have some sort of crazy easter egg just like the 90 second death machine from Ascension. Here’s hoping!

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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Brink. Bringing the FPS genre to change, kicking and screaming.

Bethesda, the RPG giant who brings us Fallout, The Elder Scrlls, among other great titles, is breaking new ground with a multiplayer based FPS. Brink is their new high polish, action packed, blend of story driven narrative and multiplayer fragfest. Set to launch May 17th, it is gaining some headway on the more traditional FPS we have come to know and love(or loathe depending on your point of view).

In the world of Brink mankind has come to an impass. The future has lead us down a long and narrow path of excess and oneupmanship that cannot be sustained. In comes ‘The Ark’; thought to be the saviour of the human race, this man-made floating city was to be a hive of scientists and activists who together would solve the world’s eco-crisis.

The Ark, the highlighted areas are what have been revealed by Bethesda. (link)

Now, after the polar ice caps have melted and drowned most of the world The Ark is isolated, floating alone away from what little mainland remains. It has degraded into a fair bit of chaos and thugs abound to use what little resources it has left for their own selfish needs. Another group seeks to lock down The Ark and try to salvage what they can for the sake of humanity.

Features, as far as the eye can see, or the draw distance allows!

There are a host of innovations and tweaks to the FPS formula that Bethesda/Splash Damage know all too well. There will be huge amounts of player and weapon customization, the ability to seamlessly move about the environment, a complete mesh of single player and multiplayer components, as well many unlocks for the four classes.

As far as classes go the four available to players are Soldier, Operative, Medic, and Engineer. How these core models differ is largely a mystery as of now but we can make some assumptions based off of this video.

The Soldier will be the beefier of the characters. Allowing for more damage output and intake. It will probably be largely solo play based with most of its abilities catered to killing and movement rather than team support.They are able to be equipped with charges and other explosives that are used for destroying objectives and/or clearing the way for others on the battlefield. He also is able to drop ammo packs for himself or allies.

Soldier equipment, a HE charge, ammo pack, and specialized grenade(flash)

The Operative is most likely a stealth class, able to disguise himself as an enemy and hack computers. The hacking is used for slowing demo charges planted by enemies, opening new areas of the battlefield, using hazards against the other team, and a whole lot more undoubtedly. It works at range or up close, the only difference is the time it takes to hack… the closer you are the faster it goes. Other abilities available are placing a beacon on an enemy player while disguised that shows his movement, placing a timed explosive on an enemy that only another operative can diffuse, and ‘interrogation’ of downed enemies… which gives the team a radar for a short period.

An example of what an Operative might look like

Engineers are a support class capable of building and trapping the game world. They can build or repair an objective as well as diffuse soldiers high explosive charges. Some other objects they are able to construct are stairs at certain points in the map, and turrets that will automatically fire on enemies within range. They also can throw out weapon buffs for allies which will increase damage done. Laying mines also is an Engineer only ability, which is able to be upgraded and the Engineer can choose from different types of mines for different needs.

Engineer repairing a crane(right)

Lastly the Medic is another support class. They deal in healing allies and buffing their health. On top of this they are able to revive downed enemies and buff other aspects of characters such as speed or accuracy. Healing yields a much higher XP gain than killing for the medic so this will be a class chiefly for those interested in keeping teammates up rather than dropping enemies. One unique equipment of the Medic is the Lazarus grenade, capable of reviving multiple downed allies within its blast radius.

Medic throwing med kit(left)

 

On top of all this goodness is character and weapon customization. Brink offers unfettered access to clothing and accessory options for players. There are so many options available, even the face has up to 5 ‘slots’ for sunglasses, earrings, and face masks. And the best thing of all is your character is persistent. The same guy you play in offline campaign is used for your multiplayer experience. This will allow you to grow attached to your avatar and feel more emotion when you do something really badass, or get a bullet in the throat.

The amount of customization doesn’t falter with the weapons. Each gun has many options for many attachments. There are opticals such as scopes and sights, underbarrel attachments like grips and lasers, as well as clip/mag extensions and silencers/muzzle breaks. The level of detail with the weapons is surreal, often times players will feel as if their gun is their own and not just an ‘Ump 45 with a Holographic sight’.

Compare this...

... to this.

Still with me? Good… this isn’t even as long as my last post >.>

One of the big things about Brink is the addition of S.M.A.R.T. movement. This stands for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain and it looks pretty beastly. Gone are the days of ‘bumping’ when you try to go  up a tiny height change and your characters foot doesn’t want to go 1/2″ off the ground. Gone are the days of not being able to leap up onto a wall and vault across a gap. GONE are the days of having railings and tables get in your way as you traverse a map. S.M.A.R.T seamlessly moves your character over obstacles, onto obstacles, and through obstacles.

The player is able to use parkour style moves to get up on the sides of walls and run short distances and other sort of maneuvers. Sliding is possible, and you can shoot while doing it too! Freedom of movement is a big thing with Brink and the developers have made it known in a big way.

Mark the date on your calendar North Americans (May 17th)! Brink will redefine the FPS genre, whether Activision and Bungie want it to or not!

 

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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Crysis 2 preview

Here's a quick look at the features of Crysis 2, clicky for link.

Crysis 2 is the long awaited sequel to the PC Sci-Fi shooter Crysis. Crysis was a beautifully engineered piece of work that essentially bridged the gap between Halo and Call of Duty. Here’s the kicker though, Crysis 2 will be available for PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles. This is very good news indeed as I didn’t want to rebuild my machine just yet.

Guns for funds

The guns in this game skirt the boundary between realism and futurism. There are some which are based off of IRL firearms, such as the SCAR and the K-Volt(based off the Vector, or Super-V SMG). However most are completely fictional, with names such as ‘Feline’ and ‘Grendel’.

The SCAR is the assault for the demo. It performed well, with 40 round mag and decent fire rate. The iron sights are not bad at all and can be upgraded to a ‘reflex’ sight. It had some recoil but really no trouble single shotting enemies across the map. Definitely the most versatile of the demo guns.

The M60 showed up as the LMG for the demo. This version of the M60 was … how can I put this lightly… BAD. Really terrible recoil and not so great damage made this gun pale in comparison to any of the other guns at any range. I hope they retune this gun for release.

The DSG-1… do you think they meant PSG-1?.. is Crysis 2 first sniper rifle. 8 round clip, semi auto, and comes standard with a variable zoom scope. It took 2 shots anywhere but the upper chest/neck/head which is good. The zoom took a brief moment to steady then it was rock solid. I enjoyed sniping as it allowed for good skill shots and close quickscopes.

The Jackal is the resident shotgun, with 7 shots in the clip, 1 shot kill if the enemy wasn’t locked in armor and then only 2 this gun is amazing. If you want to get high kills and low deaths just be smart with your movement and attack when the time is right. Compound movement with stealth and you really have a killing machine on your hands.

There were NO SMGs available in the demo, something I took offense to because it meant that the 1 shotgun dominated CQC. Also I happen to be an SMG kind of guy. Give me a MP5 over a G36C any day.

The Nano Suit

This is where things start to heat up. The nano suit is your armor in Crysis 2, and it is quite the departure from your typical battle armor. It allows a multitude of abilities standard such as Cloaking, Sprinting, Armor Enhance, ‘Nano-vision’, melee and enhanced zoom.

All of your abilities except for the zoom function run off of energy. So you can’t just sprint around all day then hope to have any juice left to melee. This is a great way to balance melee especially

Stats stats stats stats stats stats stats

Crysis 2 unloads so many stats onto your screen in the menu item ‘Operative Status’ that it boggles the mind. There are graphs and charts, percentages, numbers, and graphics galore. It is almost overwhelming.

There is a pane for challenges such as weapon progress and module progress. These can help you on your quest to upgrading your equipment by showing you precisely how many peoples heads you need to impact into their spine with a drop-kick.

Counting everything there are 126 unlocks (weapons/modules/classes/attachments/gametypes), 520 challenges, and 256 ‘dog tags’ (think Titles/Emblem in CoD). Thats a lot of stuff! The demo maxed out at level 10 of the 50 in retail so who knows when you unlock any of the later guns.

Perks, oh yes another game with Perks

I’m not sure what game started this system but it is sure taking off nowadays. Nearly every game that comes out has some sort of perk system, Battlefield, CoD, even Halo with it’s 1 dimensional armor abilities. In my opinion they are a great way to define play and restrict power. There is no easier way to balance something than to dictate when it can be used and how it is used, and perks essentially do this.

Crysis approaches this system with ‘modules’ for Armor, Stealth, and Power. There are 3 available in the demo for each catagory, and they are unlocked based on use. So if you want to unlock a stealth module you need to do stealthy actions like assassinations or kills shortly after cloaking.

The Armor modules available are:

Air Stomp: “Perform a powerful downwards attack when in the air.”                                                             You activate this by holding B in the air, crashing down with your fist and boot on any unsuspecting enemy below you. I was not afforded very many opportunities to use this ability so I largely ignored it. That and the long recovery turned me off, but when you upgrade it(each module has 2 upgrades gained by actions done while the module is equipped) the recovery is lowered.

Proximity Alarm: “Automatic warning when an enemy is nearby.”                                                              This warning is in the form of a beep. The beep changes tone depending on the distance the enemy is from you. This is quite useful for people who are unobservant, unlucky, or who just want a little extra notification. It can get quite hectic when multiple enemies are around so be wary of that.

Armor Enhance: “Reduces drain speed of energy in Armor mode.”                                                            This is the one I chose, as the Armor mode of your nano suit was super-effective. It allows you to absorb  more damage and live longer while activating Armor. This is helpful in firefights and also if someone catches you with your back turned the lowered drain of Armor mode will give you that extra energy to sprint away.

Stealth Modules make up the 2nd tier of perks:

Stealth Enhance: “Faster transition in and out of Stealth.”                                                                         The Stealth mode on your nano suit is very useful, most players will use it the most of their nano suit powers. Anything that gives a boost to this ability is welcomed with open arms. Sometimes it is just that 1/2 second while cloaking that gets you killed, and if you can shorten that window of opportunity for the enemy you will gain the upper hand. A very useful perk.

Covert Ops: “Suppresses the sound of footsteps.” I found this perk extremely useful. Footsteps are l-o-u-d  in this game. Anything to stop the enemy from turning around while I sneak up on them is better. As an added bonus the upgrades are “Invisible to enemy killstreaks” and “Louder enemy footsteps”

Cloak Tracker: “Identifies when enemies enter Stealth mode nearby.”                                                            A vague description huh? It actually gives Stealthed enemies nearby a shimmer so you can see them. It is not only effective right after they enter cloak as the description leads you to believe. This is a must have for some teams, as there will be tons of stealthers because literally everyone can use stealth at any time.

The last tier is rounded out by the Power Modules:

Side Pack: “Allows an additional magazine of primary ammunition to be carried.” This is a great perk if you tend to live long and don’t really care to pick up enemy weapons. That said, with the amount of enemy weapons laying around you can’t really be without a gun. The upgrades probably make it useful but as I see it vanilla is just not worth it.

Weapon Pro: “Faster weapon reloading.” Short and sweet, I like it. This is a great perk if you are using a fast firing weapon such as an assault rifle, or SMG(even though no SMGs were in the Demo). This perk will give you an advantage in so many situations including 1 on 1s and quick fights with multiple enemies. On top of being awesome the upgrades are “Faster Aim down sight” and “Faster weapon switch” so it pretty much just gets godly the more you use it.

Aim Enhance: “Decreases weapon recoil when aiming down sights.” This perk reduces the recoil so much it isn’t even fair. The only gun that still has recoil on it is the M60, and even then just barely. This turns the ARs into laser guns and pistols into face-dominating auto wins. Upgraded it is even better, allowing you to take less flinch for the first upgrade, I sadly don’t know the second upgrade.

Streaks in your kills?

Adding another ‘system-from-a-game-we-all-know-and-love’ Crytek went ahead and lopped in Killstreaks for Crysis 2. They did address an issue that some gamers have brought up before, camping for streaks. The system Crysis 2 uses is dogtags instead of outright kills. Whenever you kill an enemy they drop an item that must be retrieved to actually unlock your streak.This seems to balance camping and sniping as these two actions generally won’t net you a large number of dog tags.

I am not sure if there are customizable streaks as the only ones I could see in the demo were 3) Radar 5)Orbital Strike 7) Alien gunship. Those look familiar though don’t they? 3)UAV 5) Airstrike 7)Helicopter… anyone? Anyway, at a couple points in the demo I had my radar ‘jammed’, guessing that is another streak but I can’t for the life of me find out how to change.

 

Level Design

With the ability to leap high distances as well as sprint for an extended duration Crysis 2 will have fairly mobility heavy maps. This will play to the strengths of people who prefer to run n’ gun, but don’t count the slow methodical players out yet. There are secret routes galore so even if you are not running around like an alien with it’s head shot off you can traverse the terrain fairly quickly.

There were two maps available in this demo. The first was Skyline, a small map on the roof and top floors or a NYC high rise. The verticality of this level really shines with jumps galore. The middle of the map is characterized with a large glass enclosure.There are multiple ways up to the top, a couple of the walls are broken out which allow for one to jump and climb up.

There are 2 ‘sides’, one with an outside staircase and a helipad and the other with a set of green houses to hop on top of. The underneath is a series of offices, corridors, and gym areas where quarters are tight and shotguns prevail. Several risky maneuvers can be found in the low parts of the map to ease travel. One such stunt involves shooting out 2 windows and jumping the middle death pit. The result is a scene fit for The Matrix as you fly through shards of glass to grasp the opposite edge and pull yourself up.

 

Pier 17 is a starkly different kind of map. When you first set foot on it you will see what I mean. The skirmish takes place at a dock for yachts after the alien menace has annihilated most of the ships and buildings. The sideways boats are quite trippy to walk on, making you feel off balance and disoriented. It is akin to those 45 degree angle maps people have made in Halo 3 and Halo Reach forge mode, but less gimicky.

The inner portion of the map is flat and open except for the sinking ships, most of which you can go inside. There is a good deal of water but get this, you can SWIM. This is a great way to get that sniper off your back, simply dive underwater. Many a game people would pitch an underwater tent and camp with the fishes.

The outer portion of the map is a mall/coffee house that is two to three stories. This affords some nice sniper perches and vantage points across the desolate middle. Cloaking helps with movement on this map and a savvy player will always use the Detect Cloak perk just for this reason.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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PS3 gets Call of Duty Black Ops DLC this weekend.

The PS3 finally gets the First Strike Map Pack DLC this weekend and I couldn’t be happier for them. Yes I own a 360 but what? I can’t share some enthusiasm for my friends across the console pond? I mean, I am not excited that Microsoft paid Activision a (probably large) sum of money to get early rights to CoD DLC. I feel like I can speak on the maps however, having played them for a month or so.

So come, PS3 users, join me on an exploration of the new maps you’ll be downloading and learning this weekend. Let me drop some knowledge on you, with some overhead maps.

Kowloon

This is a map inspired by the single player, I think … I didn’t actually delve into the campaign. It is set on a very rainy day in a high rise slum area. There are 2 zip lines that the devs tauted as AMAZING and GAME CHANGING, but you can pretty much ignore them because they are lamely in the middle of the map going outwards to either base. The map is pretty much a square framed around the middle building that houses some monkeys for some reason. There is also a secret tunnel under the map that is perpendicular to the zip lines which is very useful.

Team 1 spawns up top in between A2 and B2, while Team 2 spawns down where E4 is. The middle area just left of the napalm marker is the top room, where the two yellow dotted zip lines originate. C3, the monkey room, has a great view of both spawns and pretty much 40% of the map.

There are many crevices and ‘secret’ areas which campers love to hang out in but being aware should keep you alive. This is a fun objective map as you can get pretty much anywhere on it in 25 seconds, great for clutch Search plants.

You should always take the scenic route on this map because there will ALWAYS…. ALLLLLWAYS be many enemies watching the obvious routes. Also there are about 3 or 4 ways up to each vantage point so if an entire team is not there you have a good chance of catching whoever is off guard.

Stadium

Stadium is the kind of map where you see it and say ‘Why the hell did they name it this?’ There is barely any of the inside of the ice hockey rink to go into, which is very disappointing. They could have set it in a mall, or a parking deck or anywhere really and gotten the exact same map. Oh well it is fun to play on at least.

This above map is pieced together from some of the mini maps in game, sorry it is the only pic I could find. the center area with the circle is a large fountain, it is the lowest spot in the map and a real cluster f*** in objective games. As you can see by the player position marker this is a very small map, 15 seconds and your across the whole thing.

If you can read it, the area that says C3 is a large plywood scaffolding that comes out of the stadium, there will be tons of people sitting on that. The same can be said for the lower yellow marker, that and the B3 mark 2 very camped spots as they have an immense view of the middle and about 1/3 of the map from each spot.

The view from the scaffolding.

There is a bit cut off from the bottom left, but it is a gym type building that you can get on the roof, it isn’t very useful but you will spawn there a good deal. Again, take the long route to get around pesky snipers or areas where you think someone is holed up in a corner.

Berlin Wall

Ahh Berlin Wall. This map is cut in twain by a large ‘no man zone’ with only 3 routes from side to side. This isn’t so bad though as a lot of the time you spawn on the same side as the enemy. So you don’t always think of this map horizontally, sometimes it is vertical. And it is vertical in more ways than one. Each side has multiple buildings with windows just waiting to be camped in. The record store to the top right of D3 and the building where the yellow marker are in are polar opposites. Each has a great view of the middle and one other route across the no man zone.

B Flag

Always be wary of the windows, one or 2 plays on it will give you an idea of which ones to check before rushing out. There are also several fire escapes which make for good places to catch players unawares. Domination on this map is a bitch sometimes because B flag is right in the center. There is 1 thing about the no mans land though, if you throw a smoke in the right place you can run through the middle unscathed. Also, the turrets make an alarm sound when you enter the red zone, so you can fool enemies into looking that way by quickly running into it and out. Just be careful, and don’t blame your swiss cheesed death on me!

Discovery

This is the largest DLC map, so ironically it must have the smallest image. There are 3 destrucable bridges in this map, but they can be jumped over after destruction so it isn’t an issue. Again there are really only 3 ways from side to side but instead of auto turrets to kill you there is a big death pit. There are a myriad of buildings to hide in and shoot out of so watch yourself if you are on the ground because there is probably a Wa2000 aimed right at you!

The top has a long… looooooooong catwalk from side to side. This is oddly enough one of the most used ways to traverse the map, seeing as how it is 1)elevated and 2) has NO cover on it. Keep an eye out every once in a while for people running their mouth and trying to get to your base. There is not a set way to really prosper on this map, just have a gun with some range and a steady aim and you will be ok. It may take a day or so to get used to the giant aurora going on in the background, or to wrap your head around just WHY is there so much military hardware at the south pole… but just try not to think about that.

Overview

Overall these 4 maps are a great addition to Call of Duty Black Ops. Ya’ll PS3ers, or Xbox users who are just buying the maps are in for a treat. You may be frustrated at first because I am sure there are SOME dual owners who will take advantage on the double xp weekend, but don’t get discouraged, you will learn the maps soon enough. One great thing about them is most of them have *extremely* easy to see Spy Planes… no more Hanoi or Summit where you only have 10% visibility. I am excited to hear some feedback from you guys on if I helped any or not so please drop me a line here or at BlackOpsForum.com where my name is “ALungsackFish”

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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Upcoming Shooters

I am an avid FPS and TPS player. These games are my bread and butter. There is nothing better than laying down a hail of bullets on some unsuspecting player via XBOX live. Though there is nothing worse than having the same dealt back to you. 2011 promises to be a year ripe with great games, including a few standouts from the shooter genre.

Battlefield 3

Persistent damage = Persistent fun!

This game is the true sequel to Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. It is one a lot of people, including myself, have been waiting for. Bad Company and BC2 were nice and all but I just couldn’t get into them. Battlefield 3 has so much support behind it at EA that it seemingly can’t fail. They even pulled their PC title Battlefield 1943 and some of the resources from their Free-to-Play Battlefield Heroes, not to mention putting the brakes on some BF:BC2 PC updates.

DICE boasts their new engine, Frostbite 2. Patrick Bach, the executive producer, has been quotes as saying, “Frostbite 2 is, I would argue, the best piece of technology on the market when it comes to building games.” The studio has been working on the engine for at least 5 years, possibly even during the development of Battlefield 2. The main focus on the engine is to fully utilize current-gen systems for their upcoming releases. This means that the PS3 or Xbox360 will be chugging away hastily rendering all of the lighting effects and errant debris each and every RPG blasts from a building wall. And yes, the environments will be nearly fully destructible! Color me giddy! The release is not yet confirmed but is suspected to be Oct 2011.

Gears of War 3

The Coletrain is getting nostalgic for his old Thrashball competitors.

While Gears 2 left a bad taste in peoples mouth Epic Games has stated that it has learned from its mistakes. Slated for release Sept 20, 2011 Gears of War 3 will hopefully be the standard bearer for 3rd person FPS. The original Gears pitted 2 teams of 4 in 3 round based gametypes spanning human environments turned hellish by underground dwelling Locust Hordes. The fast paced action and twitch aiming brought in many fans. Lo and behold the sequel Gears of War 2 tuned back the twitch and reflexes and bolstered new ways for carnage, but just didn’t feel ‘Gearsy’.

Gears 3 has a beta releasing soon which can be accessed through your copy of Bullet Storm. You did buy Bullet Storm right? Me either, hah, don’t worry though those BS buyers just get it early. In the beta players are going to be able to test out many new(and improved) features such as executions, ranking system, game modes. Also there are unlockables for the full game given out in the beta: A gold retro-lancer and Cole’s Thrashball costume are confirmed. This is a great feature to get people to play the beta because you actually get to keep some of the content you earn.

Modern Warfare 3

Not much is known about this game, but it matters not. The last two Call of Duty games broke record sales all time and in their first week. Some may say it is time to move on from this franchise but the market doesn’t lie. The release is speculated for November 2011, which makes sense as a CoD game has release in that month the past 2 or so years.

Will there be hackers? Will Infinity Ward do a good job with hit detection? Will you find Makarov? All of these questions have yet to be answered. And sadly I can’t point you in the direction of people who can. All I know is I will probably buy the game, and play it… way too much. But to be honest there are other games I am more excited about. Liiiiike…

Homefront

Another screen with a huge explosion!

Dropping March 15 Homefront is a large scale FPS set on American soil after North Korea invaded a crippled US. The premise alone has been enough to keep me salivating for more details. And everything that is revealed delivers. There will be a slew of drivable vehicles and user controlled war machines ranging from artillery to helicopters to armored troop transports. Drones will play a part as there will be UAVs and land-bound robots.

The game system works on BP, or Battle Points. Every action you take will net you BP which can then be used to purchase items in game, such as an Apache. The BP do not carry over from game to game, so it is sort of like a killstreak reward system that works for things other than kills too. Homefront is an ambitions project but one that I hope will turn out amazing. It’s dedicated servers can’t hurt either!

There are others, such as Ghost Recon Future Soldier and Brink, but I am in the dark on these titles. If you have any info or want some please post a comment or send me a message and I will do some research and post up a preview of any game I missed.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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