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Posts Tagged ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’

“Se7en Favorite Games of 2010” or “Sheppard Plants Assassins Northrend Explosions Protoss Bada-Bing-Bada-Boom!”

January 3, 2011 3 comments

Note: Sorry this is a day late, I got caught up in some work stuff / my cat swallowed a hairball / my dog ate my blog post.

2010, much like everything else in life, had it’s ups and downs. The gaming industry continues to grow, and with growth comes more variety and better quality games. On the flip-side terrible games also stick out like sore thumbs when juxtaposed against lauded AAA titles. All in all, I had a blast in 2010 playing video games, and despite some fairly horrid titles, botched reboot attempts, and sub-par production values in some otherwise solid titles, I was quite pleased with what the industry had to offer.

I didn’t play as many MMOs in 2010 as I did in the years prior. I quit Eve Online. I finally said goodbye to World of Warcrft, despite a stellar new expansion (I was in the beta). I started dabbling into LOTRO and realized it was a completionist’s wet-dream, and I have been having a blast on my novice Elf Hunter (yes, I know that race/class combo is real original). I tried out Perpetuum and was turned off by how similar it was to Eve Online in terms of systems, UI and looks, and how much it paled in comparison in actual execution. I also tried my hands at World of Tanks, a game that really took a lot to get used to, and so far it hasn’t been entirely disappointing. SynCaine’s ramblings finally made me cave in to Darkfall and I have been getting my ass kicked ever since. But all things considered, I spent the least amount of time with MMOs in 2010, especially when you contrast that against 2-6 hour daily sessions with World of Warcraft and EvE Online in prior years.

At any rate, the following are my favorite games of 2010, in no particular order:

Mass Effect 2

What a stellar experience this game was. I found myself thinking of the game weeks after I finished it, always intrigued by what could have happened if I had played a particular fight with another set of allies using different tactics. Mass Effect 2, of all the games I have played in 2010, had the most powerful ending I have experienced in a video game, despite a terrible “final boss” fight and holes in the story regarding the final set pieces. Mass Effect 2 gave me goosebumps, and I am ever thankful to BioWare for making such a fantastic title. It speaks volume for a title that has quite a few flaws, but those flaws completely pale in comparison to the rest of the package.

Related posts:

Starcraft II

This game is the primary reason my MMO habits suffered so greatly in 2010. (The other reason being a lack of interesting MMOs to play in 2010 – just my opinion, disagree all you want). Twelve years in the making, this title had the kind of hype that eventually leads to inflated expectations, which, inevitably deflate with rancid disappointment because no title can live up to such high hopes. Starcraft 2, however, shocked fans and critics alike when it launched, not only meeting, but in some cases exceeding expectations. Couple this with the fact that the title shipped with no LAN support despite resounding disagreement from the core fan base, and that this is only a third of a trilogy that will be released over several years, and still the title did so well both commercially and critically. The single player campaign was phenomenal, and there was a hardly a mission where I felt like I was playing an RTS. It was immersive, innovative, the missions were varied and featured a plethora of objectives for you to accomplish and the production values were incredible. It took me nearly 40 hours to get through the single-player portion of the game. But the multiplayer is where I find myself losing hours on a daily basis: 386 hours to be exact (that’s over 16 days in real-time – sheesh!). I love the 1v1 match-ups and a friend and I have been tearing through the 2v2 rankings for several weeks now. This is a game I will be surely playing well into 2010.

Related posts:

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Talking about completionists’ wet-dreams, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood hit the (digital) shelves in November. I have already shared my thoughts on the title, so I will spare you the re-iteration, but suffice it to say AC:B was hours upon hours of fun, featuring huge improvements over the previous titles, and kept me happily occupied for days.

Related posts:

Split/Second

A racing game? Yes, I was surprised as well. A colleague at work first recommended this title and then demanded that I play it. I have never been a big racing sim fan, so I was a little skeptic. But then I lost a bet the following week to the same colleague and my “punishment” was playing this title. God I wish all punishments could be like this. Expecting a racing sim with questionable production values and a botched, convoluted “career mode”, I was completely blown away (pun-intended) by what I saw. One of the most satisfying games I have ever played, Split/Second is a fictional reality TV show in the ‘near future’, where drivers compete on tracks laden with explosives and traps. These obstacles can be triggered by any of the drivers as long as they have power, which is earned through air time, drafting and drifting. There was no major car customization, no excessively ‘real-time’ mode, just the directional pad, an accelerator, a brake and two buttons for small and large explosions respectively. It is deceptively simple and shockingly involved and deep. You can win/lose in the final few moments, and the music is so well done, it actually gets your adrenaline pumping for those final precious few seconds of a hard-fought race. Check it out if you haven’t yet, and look on YouTube for some of the soundtrack.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

My love-hate relationship with WoW continued to grow/dwindle in 2010, but finally fizzled out towards the end. Despite the fact that I am no longer playing it, I had a lot of fun playing WoW casually in 2010. I learned what it was like not to raid for 4 hours a night, 4-5 days a week. I learned the fun in creating and pursuing your own little goals, such as going after a particularly elusive reputation, or earning the Chef’s Hat. I ran heroics with strangers and 10-mans with old friends and guildies, and I had a blast. I was also in the Cataclysm Beta from quite early on and played it for nearly three months. I experienced most of the new content and enough of the revamped world to know what Cataclysm had to offer. Eventually I realized it wasn’t enough to keep me around, but I had a great time nonetheless. And who knows, maybe I will find a reason to go back at some point in the future.

Related Posts:

Plants vs. Zombies

PopCap hit gold with this title. This game seems so simple on the surface, but as the levels progress and the various types of zombies and plants unlock, it turns into one of the most complex, strategic and exhilirating titles I have had the pleasure of playing in recent memory. I was initially skeptic of the title, Bejeweled and Peggle (the other smash hits from the developer) aren’t exactly what you would call my cup of tea. So imagine my surprise when I played the game and realized what an incredible experience it was. Not that the title needed any additional critical acclaim, but it has now been immortalized in WoW as a series of quests in the Hillsbrad Foothils starting with Brazie the Botanist.

Mafia II

And finally, we have the crime drama. The game didn’t get very high reviews from most gaming authorities, getting an average rating around the mid-70s. I am not disagreeing, I don’t think it was as good as it could have been. But the original Mafia, a game I played start to end three times, holds a special place in my heart. And even though the characters didn’t have much cross-over between the two games, I loved every minute of Mafia II, even the abysmal driving controls and the long rides between mission points. Mafia II didn’t live up to its predecessor, but it was a hell of a ride, and I am glad for it.

Honorable Mentions

  • Metro 2033: Great game, supremely atmospheric. Horrendous AI that breaks the game in my opinion.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops: Excellent single-player campaign, especially when juxtaposed against MoH. Awful PC multiplayer ruined my experience.
  • Borderlands: Released in 2009, I kn0w, played it well into 2010, lots of good DLC content, had a blast.
  • Darkfall: SynCaine was right, it is difficult to go back to WoW after experiencing Darkfall in all it’s brutal, unforgiving glory, still learning, still trying to wrap my head around it.
  • Machinarium: Actually can I have eight favorites of 2010? Yes, it’s that good.
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Review (Single-Player): “Tier 1 vs. Black Ops” or “Shooters and Other Disappointments”

November 15, 2010 2 comments

I finished both Medal of Honor and Call of Duty: Black Ops recently. It didn’t take long for me to accomplish both goals, since each game is only about 5-7 hours. MoH is probably a bit shorter than Call of Duty.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy both games. I did, and they had their own strengths and weaknesses, but throughout Medal of Honor I couldn’t keep this one nagging thought at the back of my mind: “This is a very subtle Modern Warfare ripoff.”

Tier 1

Medal of Honor has some very cool, action-packed moments. I particularly liked the siege when the team is in a house next to a mountain with droves of Taliban pouring in from all sides and no hope for help or rescue. That was an intense setting. I normally play FPS games on the “Nightmare” setting, so that mission turned out to be especially brutal. But what stood out for me was the level of intensity the developers were able to capture and the grit soldiers in the field must exhibit to get through a day.

That being said, the adrenaline that mission brought about was more of an exception than the norm. There were AI pathing issues, and the AI, in some cases, was simply too dumb to spot me walking around their camp in plain sight. The scripted events were structured in a way that hindered the realism when you did anything outside of what you were supposed to do.

For example, in one Taliban camp, I saw an enemy unit with his back to me, naturally I sneaked up and stabbed him in the back. He stood there, unblinking, still oblivious to my presence, still alive. I tried again, once again my knife went into his back, there was a ripping noise, and yet the unit stood there, his back to me, enjoying the scenery. It was then that I realized that my AI partner had been talking to me the whole time about silently taking out the guy himself. He then walked up to the enemy, grabbed him from behind, startling the previously oblivious bastard, and finished him off. That was a huge turn-off. Scripted events are cool, but at no point should they be so unpolished that they break basic game mechanics, such as you stabbing a seemingly invulnerable-and-downright-indifferent-to-your-presence enemy unit.

There were other issues. One of the things I have enjoyed about the Modern Warfare series is the ability to see the battle play out from multiple viewpoints, without getting lost in the narrative. While Medal of Honor also tries the same novel idea (I wonder where they got it from!), very often I was a little confused as to which character in the story am I controlling now. Rabbit, Hawk, Deuce, Dante, or someone altogether new, mostly I just fired my gun and moved on.

Between the rescues, the rescuing of the rescuers, and the survival missions, I often found myself a little lost with the narrative (not in the narrative, but with the narrative). I wasn’t sure what the story was, except one long series of disjointed missions to destroy the Taliban, and by the end of it, we didn’t really get anywhere at all. Perhaps that was because much like the war, no mission in the campaign clearly identified the goal of the whole affair.

I’d give it a 6 out of 10, mostly because the concept was cool, and the idea was somewhat innovative, but in the execution they xeroxed too many pages from the Modern Warfare doctrine, and ended up with a half-baked game filled with glitches and other disappointments.

Black Ops

The Call of Duty franchise released its seventh game shortly after Medal of Honor and to resounding success. Let us briefly compare the two in terms of chronological releases:

Call of Duty

  • Call of Duty
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Call of Duty 3
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Call of Duty: World at War
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops

Medal of Honor

  • PC releases
    Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
    Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Spearhead
    Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – Breakthrough
    Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault)
    Medal of Honor: Airborne
    Medal of Honor
  • Console releases
    Medal of Honor
    Medal of Honor: Underground
    Medal of Honor: Frontline
    Medal of Honor: Rising Sun
    Medal of Honor: European Assault
    Medal of Honor: Vanguard
    Medal of Honor: Airborne
    Medal of Honor: Heroes 2
    Medal of Honor
  • Portable releases
    Medal of Honor: Underground
    Medal of Honor: Infiltrator
    Medal of Honor: Heroes
    Medal of Honor: Heroes 2

Notice anything? Call of Duty took three games for the developers to realize that they needed to breathe some fresh air into the franchise, and thus came about Modern Warfare, one of the most innovative and novel tactical shooters in recent memory.

Look at how many games it took for Medal of Honor.

Beyond that, the latest installment of the Call of Duty franchise reinvents itself yet again, dumping you smack-dab in the middle of the cold war, the Vietnam crisis and an international conspiracy spanning multiple continents. The story was shockingly solid, with a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, and I am normally very good about that sort of thing.

On top of all that, it is a solid shooter, one that doesn’t just focus on what might be cool to play or see in the game, but genuinely focuses on what will be fun. From an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro to surviving a brutal gulag, from blowing up a soviet rocket to fighting in the trenches of Vietnam, and from flying a B2-Bomber to hunting down psychos in secret hideouts, this game had it all, and it brought it all together in style.

This isn’t to say the game didn’t have any issues. There were a few graphical glitches, and the game wasn’t balanced in terms of difficulty. You either blew through anything in your path, or you got your ass handed to you, forcing you to reload and play that sequence again and again. (Yes, I played on the toughest difficulty setting again). There was simply no middle ground.

The voice acting, while otherwise top-notch, sucked because of goddamn Sam Worthington. You may have seen him as the titular hero in Avatar and the first humanoid machine in Terminator 4: Rise of the Machines. He’s Australian you see. And regardless of which role he undertakes, he cannot, for the life of him, mask his Australian undertone. That kind of ruined it for me, but I suppose you can’t have it all.

I’d give Black Ops a resounding 9 out of 10. It is a brilliant game, with an original story, and intense action. Well worth your money if you are a shooter fan.

“Honesty is the Best Review Policy” or “Too Many Games on my Plate”

November 2, 2010 6 comments

I have a metric ton of video games to play through right now. I just finished Medal of Honor, but that doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment, since the single player portion lasted all of five hours and some change. That and it wasn’t as epic, except for select, spectacularly scripted events, as that certain other video game the name of which I quite forget right now.

Then there is Red Dead Redemption, of which I have played the beginning 7-8 hours twice now, and the only way to continue playing is to do it again. The first time my ROM was corrupted. When that got fixed, my hard drive crashed, killing all save data. So now I can either forget Red Dead Redemption, and just enjoy the Zombie goodness in Undead Nightmare DLC, or start over. Again. I haven’t made up my mind about that yet.

Then there is Enslaved, Halo: Reach (not particularity impressed so far honestly), Plants vs. Zombies (sheer brilliance), Mafia II, Vanquish and Fallout: New Vegas.

And before I can even think of finishing any of these, we already have Fable III, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II and Call of Duty: Black Ops out. *sigh*

Muhahahaha indeed!

Being an addict though, despite my massive backlog of titles, I couldn’t help but indulge myself in some reviews to see which of the three new releases mentioned above were worth investing in. The one that intrigued me most was Fable III, partly because the title has managed to generate a lot of hype around it, partly because it features some of the greatest voice talent cast, and partly because a diseased part of me hopes and begs and prays each day that Peter Molyneux would release something that actually lives up to the incredible amount of hype he manages to generate around his games. The reviews I came across ranged from “mildly mediocre” to “stupendously superb”, and the range of opinions was so wide and disparate, that I couldn’t make up my mind about buying the title.

That is till I came across Michael Abbott’s review of the game over at The Brainy Gamer. In recent memory, that is probably the most comprehensive, honest and unbiased review I have read about a video game. Granted it is only for the first few hours, but I for one will be monitoring Abbot’s progress and feedback on the game to see if it improves or degenerates. Abbott, if you’re reading this, you alone have the power now to make Mr. Molyneux another $59.99. Rock on!

Keen on the other end, is quite happy with his first ten minutes in the game.

“Games Radar” or “Too Many Tracked Titles”

June 27, 2010 2 comments

I updated my Games Radar to the left today. The following is a list of games I am looking forward to in a few months. I will talk about them individually over the course of time as well.

One thing that stands out to me is that my interests have diversified considerably over the course of time. Which is a good thing because diversity is the spice of life, and bad because, well, I have such limited time between family, work and social as it is.

I guess I better figure out how to operate on an hour of sleep a day!

MMOs on my radar:

  • Black Prophecy
  • Jumpgate Evolution
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • The Secret World

Non-MMOs on my radar:

  • Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood
  • Brink
  • Bulletstorm
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Crackdown 2
  • Crysis 2
  • Deathspank
  • Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution
  • Dragon Age II
  • Fable III
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Gears of War 3
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
  • Halo: Reach
  • Homefront
  • Hydrophobia
  • I Am Alive
  • Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
  • L.A. Noire
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Mafia II
  • Max Payne 3
  • Medal of Honor
  • Portal 2
  • Privates
  • Red faction: Armageddon
  • R.U.S.E.
  • Singularity
  • Spare Parts
  • Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • The Witcher II
  • Two Worlds II
Categories: Bronte

BOOM! Headshot: “Trailer Mania” or “No Red Dead Redemption for the PC”

June 11, 2010 1 comment

Here is a hodgepodge of information I came across this week regarding some of the shooters I am most interested in.

All that is cover is as follows; you can find additional details on each bullet point below:

  • Vanquish Trailer
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Screenshots and Preview
  • Deus Ex 3 Concept Art Wants George Bush
  • No PC Port for Red Dead Redemption?
  • Crysis 2 Release Date and Trailer

Vanquish Trailer

When I first heard of this game, and watched the inaugural trailer’s armored marine, I almost immediately groaned in dismay. Haven’t we done this to death? Aren’t we all tired of Mars facilities being overrun by forces of hell and off-world planets being attacked by inexplicably hostile alien forces bent upon the total annihilation of, specifically, the human race? Oh this is on earth? Well alright then.

In the new trailer, unlike the three primary colors of Gears of War (brown, grey and muzzle-flash), Vanquish looked a lot more vibrant. The world seems alarmingly full of color and life, and the action, while over-the-top in some cases, was somewhat reminiscent of Halo.

I am not convinced just yet, but it does have my attention now.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Screenshots and Preview

Den of Geek had a chat with Treyarch’s Mark Lamia and Josh Olin, and posted a detailed preview of the upcoming shooter. You can find this preview here. Their synopsis stated that Black Ops will “feature explosions, shooty-bangs and gruff males shouting codewords and epithets while saving the world.” Sherlock Holmes would be impressed!

The Treyarch-fueled next chapter in the CoD franchise also released 10 new screenshots as bait to generate some pre-E3 hype. I’ll bite!

Homefront Preview and Trailer

This is another recent shooter which managed to grab my attention in the recent weeks. The concept of Homefront not novel, it’s enemy is not a particularly surprising choice, and it follows a cookie-cutter backdrop for the “world in conflict, war comes home” scenario. Where Homefront shines is its alleged ability to give the player glimpses of the vestiges of a once preperous era, refugees huddled around small camouflaged communities, resisting, running surviving.

Both Kotaku and Joystiq have in-depth previews up today, just ahead of E3, and although a lot of the information is the same, they are both worth the read.

Deus Ex 3 Concept Art Wants George Bush

Yes I know DE3 is more of an RPG than an action game, but my list of stories for tomorrow Weekly MMO/RPG Crockpot is about to burst at the seams, so this is going in here. I am sure in time and with proper therapy, you will get over it.

No PC Port for Red Dead Redemption?

A Rockstar admin wrote on the company’s news site “As of now, there are no current plans to bring Red Dead Redemption to the PC platform. If that should change, we will let you know”. In the past, we have seen (enhanced and botched) ports of the GTA titles to the PC, so there is always hope. That being said, this ominous-sounding statement from Rockstar may imply a change in the pattern.

Crysis 2 Release Date and Trailer

MCV has a trade ad suggesting that Crysis 2 will be released this autumn. It has been said earlier that we should expect the sequel to land Q3, 2010. In other words, it seems Crytek will stick to its original plan of releasing the game before Christmas season 2010.

I am partial on this one. My entire Crysis experience can be defined as follows: “Ooooooh pretty… wait, not this shit again!”. I am hoping Crysis 2 will go beyond jaw-dropping visuals and technology and have some actual meat in mission variety and gunplay. The trailer is below:

  • Vanquish Trailer
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Screenshots and Preview
  • Deus Ex 3 Concept Art Wants George Bush
  • No PC Port for Red Dead Redemption?
  • Crysis 2 Release Date and Trailer