Gaming in 2010

This year sucked for me, since I’m a PC gamer. There weren’t many games that came out that I really liked and very few will stick around for next year. I thought I’d mention some games (good and bad) and what I think of them. I was also going to write what I’d like to see to improve PC gaming, but I’ll put that in another post later as it would make this one too long. So, the games:

Bad Company 2

This game wasn’t so bad when it came out, I’ve forgotten it’s technical issues because they have mostly been fixed. It feels like this game has been around for a while but believe it or not, it came out early this year. For an FPS it lacks the smooth movement and controls that I’d like for a foot soldier,Β  but vehicle combat is great. The DLC’s for this game were awful except for Vietnam which was worth the $15. The guns sound and feel better to use and the levels are well designed. The one thing that would sway me towards a more favourable opinion of this game would be if it had MOD support. It’s sad to see a Battlefield game without community content.

Civilization 5

I’d never played a Civ game before but my God I regret it. Civ 5 is very addictive and I found it surprisingly fun! It’s a complicated game but well worth putting in the effort to learn it.

Medal of Honor

This game will never be remembered for anything. It will be in the bargain bin at Gamestop one day and some kid will be say “they made a modern themed Medal of Honor?” This is an awful end to a great franchise, the game itself was pathetic. But at least we won’t remember it, since this game added nothing new to the genre,Β  gaming or the series.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

This was another awful release this year. The stuttering issues that plagued it upon release was pathetic. It just goes to show how important testing really is. All of this could have been avoided if they had bothered to make a quality product that actually worked. Not only that, but it seemed only the PC version had issues which just proves that more developers are shunning the PC gaming community. Though I haven’t done my review of this game yet, here is a preview of what I’m going to say:

“Somehow managed to beat Medal of Honor as the worst game release for 2010. Another CoD console game clone for pubeless kids. I regret this purchase.”

This is yet another decent franchise Activision has managed to ruin and unless the next CoD game has a demo they won’t get a chance to get my money.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

For me, this is the biggest pleasant surprise of the year. I was expecting another lame console game added to the series. Instead I got a fun arcade racer that goes back to the roots of the franchise. Social elements in games are quickly becoming a fad but it’s done so well in this game to breed competition and fun at the same time. If GT5 was delayed again, I would not have cared if I had this game.

Gran Turismo 5

Oh boy. The big question has been answered: was it worth it? Well, yes and no…

If you had something to feed your racing game addiction, especially if it was Forza 3 or Shift, you may find GT5 not as amazing as the development time would suggest. On the other hand, if this is all you’ve been waiting for and don’t know of anything else, the game is really good.

Don’t get me wrong, let me say to you, ditch the gamepad and get a wheel. The driving model is fantastic and definitely the best racing sim on any console. Because 90% of a racing game is the driving experience (in most cases, Forza 3 I would say 80ish) this game is still worth buying. Unfortunately the game doesn’t feel as polished as it ought to be.

What’s wrong with it? The AI sucks. There isn’t any. They are glued to a rail track. Your car is made of rubber and theirs is made of rock so if you hit them or vice versa, you bounce off them and maybe spin out. They don’t even notice you’re there.

The car list isn’t that great. Forza 3 and Shift have much more variety. GT5 is padded with Skylines and Vettes. Oh and no Porsche.

Whilst we’re on the subject of the cars, they only bothered to model about 20% of them as “premium” cars. That equates to about 200 out of the 1000+ in the game, which in my honest opinion is quite pathetic. The premium models look amazing, the standard models look okay, but when you pay close attention to detail you’ll notice they aren’t as of high quality. For a game where you’d be moving faster than running pace, you probably won’t notice it and it won’t bother you as much. The same applies to the track environments, but this is less important. Overall it won’t detract from the game experience, but considering the development time I’d ask for a higher standard. Graphics play quite a large role in realistic games as they help to make the experience more believable. I wish Polyphony Digital realised this.

Fallout New Vegas

This was basically Fallout 3 but with a different story, characters weapons and location… And it was brilliant! Fallout 3 was good and New Vegas was just as good, if not better. This was one of my favourite games this year.

Final Fantasy XIII

This was another surprise. I’ve never really played a Final Fantasy game properly before so this is kinda my first one. I actually liked it, it has a complex story and gameplay has a bit of a learning curve, but it teaches you in easy to digest stages. I’ve had a lot of fun with this game but I still haven’t finished it. I think it’s going to be a long game and right now I am playing GT5, but I can’t wait to get back into this game again and will definitely play through all of it.

Despite a few good games released, as a PC gamer and an FPS fan, I felt disappointed this year. Times are really tough when developers forget about PC gamers. There are a few games I am looking forward to next year but I’m still very skeptical, but here’s hoping that 2011 will spawn some games that I’d like.

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Going To Review Black Ops Soon

I’ve been told to wait until they fix the technical issues that have plagued the game, but I think it’s been long enough and I feel like I should write a review. However, with GT5 arriving soon, I might get distracted, long enough to put off writing the review. I’m still affected by Black Ops “stuttering” problem.

Now, I don’t know if I should mention this in my review or not, it certainly has affected my enjoyment of the game so far, but I’m sure it will be fixed in the future. It’s so sad that games are released unfinished and untested these days. But I don’t think it’s fair, especially with the state of the economy right now that developers and publishers are almost stealing money from us! I’m amazed at how gaming websites like IGN and Gamespot can rate some of these awful games so high. Gametrailers.com, a site I usually trust gave Black Ops 9.3! It’s nowhere near worth a 9! Black Ops was truly the Windows Vista [Me/95/insert buggy Windows release here] of game releases.

With that said, my collectors edition GT5 has been shipped. I hope this game is more enjoyable than the other crap games that were released with year. Though looking at EA and Activision’s catalog, that won’t be hard to achieve.

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Don’t Use Amazon’s Release Date Delivery If You Want Your Game Now!

As an Amazon Prime customer I get free release date delivery for preorders, I think it’s a perk for Prime customers. Anyway, don’t use it. It’s almost 4PM right now and I still haven’t got my copy of Black Ops. If I had bought it through Steam or Direct2Drive, or even walked into a Gamestop I could be playing right now. What a fail.

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I Can Wait For GT5

If you don’t know already, Gran Turismo 5 (GT5) has been delayed once again. To fans and those looking forward to the game, this is old news. In fact, Polyphony Digital has delayed the release many times, reason being, they want to create the best possible experience. I can understand this, and quite frankly it’s a welcome approach, considering certain games that have been released recently.

Bad Company 2, Modern Warfare 2, Medal of Honor… All these games have one thing in common – they were released too early and they’re cookie cutter games. Generics. All of them have, when they were first released, had bugs that should have been fixed before release. Another thing they have in common – they made their projected release date. It seems that with any game being published by a large corporation such as EA or Activision, the developers are just trying to make the release date, instead of delivering a quality product.

Of course, I’m not asking for another Duke Nukem, though it’s unfair to say that, since the game isn’t even released yet. But I would rather wait for a quality release than something that’s released on time. So to Polyphony Digital, please try to ignore the upset fans, they’ll buy your game anyway, just make sure you deliver an excellent product.

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Modern Warfare 2 Review

I know it’s been a year since this game came out, I’m only posting this because I also wrote this as a product review on Amazon. I also know that I’ve written a few things about it when it first came out, but now that I’ve put in over 700+ hours into the multiplayer alone, I think it’s fair to say I’m familiar with the game now. So here’s the review:

FPS games were made for the PC. If you go on any reputable gaming site and find a top 10 list of FPS games of all time, I guarantee the majority of the games will be made for PC. There is a reason for this – they have features in them that have been perfected over the years since the original Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. Over these years the FPS genre has evolved and standards have been set. These are like “unwritten rules” for FPS development. I can understand wanting change, after all, change can be good. For this reason, I must give IW (Infinity Ward, the developers of this game) some credit.

You see, they decided to experiment with Modern Warfare 2 and try to make it more like a console game. Before the game was released, many PC gamers rejected it because of lack of dedicated servers. Dedicated servers have been in FPS games forever and until home users can buy epically fast Internet connections there’s no reason to have games hosted on individual player’s computers/systems. This is why every FPS game has dedicated servers. Many PC gamers, via Twitter, forums etc tried to tell Infinity Ward this, but unfortunately they didn’t listen. As a result, 4 out of 5 games you get into whilst playing the multiplayer for this game, you will either experience lag or hackers or even both. If this game had dedicated servers, lag would significantly be reduced, servers admins would be able to ban cheaters. It’s also worth noting that this game uses VAC instead of PunkBuster. PunkBuster is a much better anti-cheat system when implemented properly. So thank you to Infinity Ward for reminding us that dedicated servers are better than peer to peer hosting. I hope other game developers learn from this.

If you do end up playing the multiplayer, the best way to get kills is to be as lame as possible. For example, the tubes. I wouldn’t mind tubes if the damage they did was reduced. It’s too easy too use them, hence why they are nicknamed “n00b tubes”. All you do is simply point in the direction of your enemy and click. You don’t need skill to use them. You don’t need skill to knife either. In many FPS games, the knife or similar melee attack is a backup weapon, for when you are in a pinch, can’t reload or have no ammo left. In Modern Warfare 2, it’s role is a primary weapon, which isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Why spend time aiming for someone’s head, when you can just press one button and get an instant kill? This game does NOT reward skill at all!

The game is also somewhat schizophrenic in that it can’t decided if it wants to be a realistic military shooter or an arcade game. I realize it can be hard to strike a balance between realism and fun, but MW2 tries to mix two extremes together and fails. For example, for realism you’d hold your breath to steady your scope. This is fine, especially if the game was slower paced, but then it turns around and includes things like “perks”. Perks are similar to power ups, some enhance your weapons and others make you sprint for longer etc. Power ups belong in games like Quake 3, Unreal Tournament etc, not a realistic shooter.

Movement is also an essential part of the game. The movement feels clunky and it takes too long to do things. For example, if you swing your knife and then try to shoot, it takes forever to finally pull your gun back out and shoot. If you are new to FPS games, you probably won’t notice the delay, but it’s incredibly frustrating and pointless. It’s not real, it’s a game and it should feel like one. Another reason to believe this was made for console/casual gamers is that you have to climb over a wall. 99% of FPS gamers, unless they are severely disabled or are using a gamepad know how to crouch jump. I don’t need the game to tell me to press space, then put my gun away for two seconds whilst I have no control over my character as he climbs over a wall. I can jump myself!

There are so many things wrong with the multiplayer it would be too long to list them all here. There are (if only a few) good things about this game. The XP and leveling system is great. It rewards you trying out different weapons and items and this makes for a great way to learn your favorites. The weapons are also good too, each one has a different feel to them and they all have their own characteristics that make them unique. They also have many attachments which guarantee that you’ll find some combination’s you’ll like.

The singleplayer isn’t that great either. The singleplayer involves you getting from point A to B whilst the game spawns waves and waves and waves of enemies at you. The only way to stop this, is to find a break in the action, move up to the next point where, once again, the game will spawn more waves and waves and waves of enemies. This is mind numbingly repetitive and designed to impress little console kiddies with too much Kool-Aid in their system.

The Co-Op however is a slightly different story. It’s actually a lot of fun to go through it with a friend and is probably the better part of the game. It’s a shame there aren’t many more levels for this. Speaking of which, the add-on content isn’t great either. I don’t just mean the DLC (which you have to pay for, not worth it). I’m also referring to the lack of MOD support. It’s been almost a year since MW2 came out and already it’s going to be replaced by many (that can afford to, of course) by the next game in the series, Black Ops. Why will MW2 be boring and outdated in about a month’s time? Black Ops? New Medal of Honor? No. The reason is lack of MOD support or map making tools. This is one of the reasons games like Half Life, Counter Strike, Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament last longer than a year. These games are platforms for bedroom nerds and small game studios to experiment and bring something meaningful to the community. Instead, IW and Activision opted for a cash cow.

Considering everything I just said, if you are considering buying this game, my advice to you is don’t. There are much better games coming out soon and this game will soon be forgotten or regarded as “just another FPS”. You will NEVER see this game in a top 10 FPS games of all time list on ANY gaming site. Even as a fan of this genre, I’d have to give this game a 6.5/10.

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Updated My Blog!

I’ve made some changes to my blog, some of which you will have noticed already! In the typical nerdy fashion I will list all the changes, so you don’t have to hunt πŸ˜›

Portfolio page added!

FINALLY I have added my portfolio page! It only has two sites, including this blog, but at least it’s a start! This is probably the biggest change/update for me. As a side note and something I want to mention, that image gallery is made with something called “jQuery”. It’s a JavaScript library and the reason I’m mentioning it is because I wish I knew it. I wish I knew it because my teacher for class had a job opportunity that seemed interesting – a WordPress developer, but it required jQuery knowledge. So I looked it up and have found it’s quite simple to use! I’m hoping I don’t get distracted by anything so I can learn it.

Header/Logo changed

It’s not exactly flashy, but it’s better than just plain text! I’m not that great with Photoshop and I never think of any creative ideas πŸ™ This will have to do for now, but that’s not to say it looks really bad.

Twitter Feed in the sidebar

I’ve updated the Twitter feed in the sidebar to something that looks a little nicer. Again, this is made using jQuery! I’m really liking this language/library πŸ™‚

I also intend to add a contact page and update the “About” page too, otherwise, that’s all for now.

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Edumacation, Work and Play (Life Update)

Hello. Haven’t updated for a while but it’s not like I have an exciting life.Β  Actually it’s because I have an idea about something I want to write and never end up doing it. I may have ADD and procrastination is definitely part of my personality. Actually there are quite a few programming/web site related projects I’ve wanted to complete and have barely made a start on them.

I had my first class at college, American Government. It was a summer class so it was short and compact, kinda like your… Ahahaha good one dude! I’m not sure I want to take such a short class again, despite the fact that I got it over pretty quick and still managed an A. It was way too much information to learn in such a short period of time and quite frankly I’m not sure how much of it I’ve really learned. The teacher didn’t give us any quizzes or tests, instead all we had to do was pick a topic and do a presentation on it. I think one of the reasons I liked it, was because the teacher was incredibly easy going and I was told by the girl I was working with not to expect other teachers to be that lenient. I’m both relieved and disappointed!

Last week I had car trouble, perfect timing since I’m also about to lose my job. It’s fixed now though, so I’m back to going from 0 – 60 in the time it takes BP to figure out how to fix a leak. I did have to rent a car though, a Mazda6, which is a really nice car! Doesn’t seem like it would be great on fuel, but certainly fun to drive (wink wink, there was definitely some zoom zoom going on here) whilst still being a nice everyday comfortable cruiser. I wish my dad considered this car before parting his money for a 2010 Chevy Malibu. Whilst both are competent daily drivers, I felt that the Mazda beckoned me to use that pedal on the right as much as I could.

Back to employment… Or rather unemployment, my assignment ends on August 11th. Then in a month there is the possibility of being called back, again. This may or may not happen, it’s never guaranteed, I really hope I don’t have to go back to the same department. It’s nothing to do with the actual department itself, but rather what the managers and director require of that unit. Honestly, I don’t care too much about pay but I don’t feel I am getting paid enough to really care about the requirements they place on us. Long story short, my job involves scheduling medical exams for Social Security claimants. We have to schedule a certain number a day (75) and we have deadlines to complete our lists. This I don’t mind, but we don’t exactly have much to work with. We basically have too many exam requests and not enough doctor’s to schedule with. On top of that, state government doesn’t pay nearly as much as federal government does, so it’s not like the doctor’s have any incentive to make sacrifices for us. On top of that, I have to manage the schedule for about 15 doctor’s and deal with any scheduling issues anyone might have. I get paid $9.50/hour to do this, compared to what my mum does – data entry; entering police report data into a database, which is basically typing stuff out, not having to deal with people for $11/hour. I know which one I’d rather have!

With the way the economy is, I don’t know how optimistic I can be about finding something else. I really should put my Associates degree to use and I intend to pay a visit to my college’s career services center. At the same time I have asked my temp. agency to try and find something for me. One of the reasons I took the job at the Department of Labor is because of the flexible schedule and that’s really the only reason I like it. At this point in time,I will probably accept again unless I can find something better before then. I really hope I do.

If I don’t, I should be okay, I have enough to finish college as long as I don’t spend too much on things I don’t need. Although I don’t have many hobbies, gaming being one of them is quite expensive. I just bought a PS3 in anticipation of Gran Turismo 5 (GT5). I also plan on buying the wheel too and I’ve already preordered the limited collectors edition ($100). Obviously this is a lot to spend on one game and I’m really banking on this game being good. If it isn’t, I will be sorely disappointed! Given the track record (no pun intended?) of the series, it should be pretty good. But given the recent track record of game developers and games these days, there is a huge potential for this to be quite a disappointment. Honestly, if GameTrailers (the only place I trust for reviews now) gives the game the same score (+/- 1%) or better than Forza Motorsport 3 then I’ll be fine. I’m finding it hard to justify any game purchase these days.

Speaking of which, it hasn’t even been a year yet and I haven’t completed Forza 3. I’m going to get on that right now, so, as Clarkson said to Hammond as he drove off in the Maserati (S15, E3) “TOOOOODLOOOOOO!”

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Splinter Cell: Conviction – There’s Only One Problem…

… It’s too short! That’s all! This is one of the better games I have played this year! Better than Mass Effect 2 and better than Bad Company’s single payer. I haven’t played the co-op yet, but that’s because I have no friends πŸ™ The co-op is a separate storyline, a prologue actually leading up to the events in the main story. I’ve heard from reviews that it’s good but a little buggy.

I like the Splinter Cell series but I wouldnt really call myself a fan. I finished the first game and played the others but regrettably never finished them. I don’t think there is any other game series that compares and don’t even think about mentioning Metal Gear Solid! It’s nowhere near as good as the Splinter Cell series. The latest installment doesn’t really take the genre anywhere new, but it manages to appeal to both fans and newcomers to both the series and the genre. Very few games can claim that.

If you are new to the series and this is your first time then the storyline won’t make any sense at first, however the game makes good use of cutscenes, great voice acting and scripted scenes to unravel the story. Those familiar with the story will have some questions answered.

The gameplay is a little different from the previous games as it seems more streamlined than before. You don’t get as many fancy gadgets but you do get some pretty cool ones, like the sonar goggles which really help. What hasn’t changed from the previous games is that careful planning and patience are always rewarded.

One of the new features is the “execute” feature. After performing a special move like a melee attack, you get to “mark” targets or enemies. Each weapon has a different number of targets you can mark and some are upgradable to add more. Once you have targets marked, you can perform the execute move at any time. Sam (the character you play as) will then take down all the targets in range in a really cool slow motion way. At first I thought this was gimmicky as it seems unrealistic, but the more you use it, the more you feel like a badass. After all, you canΒ  clear an entire room full of enemies in one move. Which its quite an achievement for our main character, since he’s just an old man with no body armor and nothing but a silenced pistol! Targets aren’t limited to just enemies either, objects like explosive barrels can also be used to cause death and destruction.

The cover system is also pretty well done too. Just look at a wall or sandbag or whatever and hold the cover button. You can also move from cover to cover and peek out to take a shot at enemies. The control system is really intuitive too. When hiding behind cover you can wait for an enemy to walk by and them press a button to silently take him out. You can also use the same button to say, pull an enemy out a window when hanging from a ledge.

Hiding behind objects aren’t the only way to be sneaky. Like in the previous games the darkness and shadows are your friends. When you are in the cover of darkness the screen turns black and white. It returns to full color when you get back in the light. This ends up bring incredibly intuitive yet a very simple way of making the player aware of their surroundings.

If you are about to be seen by an enemy an indicator on screen points to the enemy that spotted you. If you are actually discovered the indicator turns from white to red and all of a sudden everyone knows where you are. Most of the time this isn’t preferable but sometimes you can use it to your advantage. For example, if you manage to get away after being spotted a silhouette of your last known position appears and enemies will close in on this position. You could then use it as bait to take them all out. How you do this is up to you.

Sometimes the AI can be a little stupid, walking right by you when they should have seen you, but they are still smart enough to keep you on your toes. In the end it’s all about the experience, if you’re looking for a straight up action game, despite the epic gunfights you might be disappointed. Like I said earlier, the game rewards patience and planning. Even though the game is short, you’ll want to replay it just so you can try the different guns and gadgets or find other ways to get through a level.

This game is definetly worth the money, I’d score it a 9/10.

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Why I’ve Given up on Gaming

I am selling my 360 and PC and as many games as I can. I will keep my laptop though. I’m sick of the gaming industry releasing the same mediocre shit, us loyal gamers giving them our money only so they can make the same shit again and we’ll buy it. And so the cycle continues. I’ve decided I don’t want to be a part of this any more.

There hasn’t been a game that has impressed me since Half Life 2. Since then the gaming industry has been spewing out the same shit over and over again. Sure there are some good titles like Mass Effect 2 and Bad Company 2, but they will never be an epic release like Half Life 2 was.Β  Mass Effect 2 was way too short and Bad Company 2 epically fails at originality.

I’m selling the 360 as well because Forza 3 also fails. It’s just Forza 2 wrapped up in shinier graphics. Like I said, the same mediocre shit. In fact, Turn 10 could actually be the gaming equivalent of Apple – all they did was wrap up an old product in something shinier and called it “new”.

Maybe in a years time or when the next generation of consoles are released I will return to gaming, but for now, I will have to find something else to pass the time.

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St. Lucia

So I went to St. Lucia for the Christmas holidays and it sucks now that I’m back in Georgia. It was amazing! I really wanted to stay. I am currently uploading my camera pics to Facebook (eugh!) and I am gonna ask my uncle for their camera pics as well.

I did a lot of things whilst I was there. Of course I went to the beach, three times. The first time we went, we climbed a mountain first, then came down for a swim in the ocean, drank and watched the sun set before driving home. The sunset was gorgeous! Another time we had a BBQ/beach party type thing lol. That was fun, I ate a lot and took a swim in the ocean. But the ocean decided when it was time to get out, as the waves got really strong. Again, another beautiful sunset.

We also drove through an active volcano. Well, it was a smelly sulfuric volcano! That was kinda cool. That was the same day we drove around the whole island. Got a tour of the whole place and stopped at different viewing points. Tried the local beer as well. It tasted like… Beer. I have never noticed the difference between different beers.

Christmas day was great! We had a party at our house. My uncle was intent on getting me drunk! Worked though haha. We opened presents in the morning and then prepared the food. Then in the evening it’s a huge party lol. It was fun, I ate and drank a lot lol πŸ˜€

We also went to Coconut Bay. It’s a hotel resort type place with swimming pools, a jacuzzi and water slides. That was lots of fun. The water slide scared the shit out of me, since I can’t swim and I’ve never been on one before. Needless to say I enjoyed the adrenaline rush and screamed like a girl on the way down lmao! That was also the first time my family saw me get drunk. The thing is, we had a day pass, which was all inclusive – all the food and drink was free. Yes FREE! So I thought “why the hell not?” and got drunk on like vodka and rum lol. Lunch was free too, they had a restaurant with a buffet and yup, that was all free and eat as much as you like!

I wish I had stayed over into the new year. I had to leave on the 31st :(. They usually have a beach party and they had a blue moon this year! Didn’t want to take any more days off work which is why I had to come back. Next time I go I’ll book way more time!

I enjoyed myself a lot and really want to go back again some time. Now I just need some money, damnit!

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