The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

Reviewed: Modern Warfare 2

Kazakhstan: a hellish frozen tundra that would easily be confused with some other planet rather than a former communist bloc satellite country of the Soviet Union.

But alas, being a member of the super secret and elite Task Force 141, you don’t exactly get to pick and choose which locales “they” send you to.  You might be freezing your ass off in the Permafrost today, sweating it on in the narrow funnels of death that make up the shantytowns of Rio.

Infinity Ward’s beyond-anticipated “Modern Warfare 2” dropped this week, and I finally got my hands on it, though not my own copy.  No, for my own, I’m apparently going to have to wait for Xmas.

“Ang, I need to know, are you going to get me Modern Warfare for Xmas?  Cuz if you’re not, I’m just going to go and buy it – right now” I said with half a foot out the door, pointed in the general direction of the mall.  At 28 years old, I don’t get excited for new games like I used to when I was a seldom-bathing college kid eight years ago, but when a massive game, one you’ve been dying for since this time LAST YEAR finally hits the streets, it’s like a crack fiend finding a lonely rock in the bottom of his pocket after going dry for a few hours.

“Yeah, I am going to get it for you,” my wife says from next to a cutting board where she’s working some cucumbers into the evening’s meal.

“Ok, well, would you be interested in getting it for me NOW… and you know, it can be an early Xmas gift?”

“No,” she chops into the cuke hard with finality.  “I imagine it’s going to be such a pain in the ass to get that game for you around the holidays that I refuse to have you go and get it for yourself, no.”

I frown.

“Or, ok, you can get it, or I can get it right now … but you can’t play it til Xmas.”

Ah, the bitch!

Though, procuring the game will be easier than she knows.  After a month and a half after any major game’s release there’s going to be plenty of used copies in circulation, thanks to the numerous fanboys who consume a hot game like “Modern Warfare 2” in its entirety a few short hours after purchase and move on like a pack of locusts.  Hell, I would imagine now, even after a few short days since its release there’s bound to be a used copy at the local GameStop.

However, I don’t know if I can last that long – “til Xmas”, ugh.

But fortunately for me, a guy I work with has a cooler wife than I, who let him go and get it, and he brought it into work so at lunch we could all crowd around the giant tv in our lounge and watch the Suburbs of Washington DC get pulverized by Russian regular army.

As you can tell, MW2 takes its queues from mostly war fantasy, oppose to the earlier incarnations of the “Call of Duty” franchise which were mostly settled in and around historically-accurate World War 2.  The trend to break away from the oversaturated WW2 shooter market started in 2007 with Infinity Ward’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” where the franchise went for a more current events-type look and feel.  Between the two games, MW and MW2, there was “COD5: World at War” which borrowed heavily from MW’s graphic’s engine to bring players familiar with the franchise back to WW2 with an updated look.

And that brings us to the technical aspects of MW2:  It doesn’t look much different from MW in the aspect that the surroundings and people all share the same rendering.  Sure, character outfits have changed and you’re engaging Brazilians oppose to Arabs in some respects, but the character movements and interactions don’t fall far from the original MW tree.

However, along with the storyline what does get an improvement is the arsenal of weaponry that’s available to the player, along with the ability to double fist small arms (an ability that was grossly missing from the first MW, but can be found in just about every other shooter available).  The old standby’s like the M4 and Kalashnikov are present, but sniper rifles with attached thermal imaging scopes to old clunky side-by-side shotguns are at the player’s disposal as well.

The storyline is a lot darker and slightly more convoluted as well.  Early on, like in all “Call of Duty” games (the Modern Warfare titles still apply, even though the COD has been largely dropped) you’re introduced to your playable character, and brought to a shoot house, or tactical assault mock-up, where pop-up targets present themselves for engagement.  Your sure-footedness in this section will allow the game CPU to suggest a level in which to start the campaign.

An interesting twist that Infinity Ward brings with the latest chapter of Modern Warfare is the addition of civilians.  In previous shooters the player is encouraged to shoot at just about anything that moves with little in the way of consequence.  Hell, hit one of your own guys and he stumbles, but picks himself up and carries on with the mission.  Maybe says something smart about your aim (or lack there of), or in the very least identifies himself as a friendly.

But no more, as I found out after laying down an entire magazine of digitized 5.56mm from my tricked out M4 in the shoot house; in the earliest of stages of the game you can fail by blasting a steel cut out of a little booger-picker holding an ice cream cone.  This game-play element introduces us more hardened virtual trigger pullers to the real-life aspect of Rules of Engagement.

But in the actual mission game-play of the campaign, whacking a civilian has little to do with you failing.  I mean, don’t go targeting them, but if one or two civvies get in the way, well… didn’t they know there was a gun fight outside?

One of the more disturbing and darkest parts of the game happens earlier on as well.  As a member of Task Force 141, you infiltrate an underground Russian crime ring and stage a massacre at a local Russian airport.  Infinity Ward gives you the option of skipping out of this early mission with a disclaimer that says something to the effect of “hey, this is going to get real nasty” but I wonder who among us is going to skip?  And doesn’t that disclaimer only entice the gamer into seeing what all the fuss is all about anyway?

I consider myself to be an avid gamer where nothing really upsets me as long as it’s pixilated- many  video game hookers from Liberty City  have fallen to my sociopathic tendencies.  However, selecting the “play thru” option and being forced to march ankle deep through politically-inspired civilian carnage blackened my soul.  You have the option of not firing a single round into the crowds of people scurrying for their lives, but just to watch the event unfold made me want to put the controller down and walk away for a bit.

Parents with kids who have, up until this point managed to convince you that Rated ‘M’ games are ok for them to play after school, be cautioned.

The question that seems to get asked more and more frequently regarding violent video games is “how far can they go, and are they willing to go that far?”  I’d hope to think that Infinity Ward has reached the wall.

But it is all just fantasy, as are the missions with the Army Rangers that center on the aforementioned attack on DC.  The intensity of the house-to-house fighting was truly the most thrilling game-play experience I’ve had in a long while.  As implausible as an attack launched by the Federated States of Russia seems, the plot device does ring of certain truisms; stolen technological hardware allows the Russians to jam our NORAD satellites and cloak their advance towards our seaboards.

But then there’s a fair share of military fantasy as well:  Super Secret Special Forces globetrotting in denim jeans and load-bearing vests, shooting their way through civilian-lined neighborhoods.

The game is challenging and goes beyond the mindless trigger pulling.  Whole missions hinge sometimes on just one shot, while others are a frantic and deadly cat-and-mouse chase over shantytown roof tops as a militia of Brazilian Irregulars advance on you – and you’re unarmed.

Unfortunately we don’t have an Xbox Live account here at the office, so I can’t personally comment on the online play.  When I interviewed a few co-workers who have already purchased and played the game online, the general consensus orbited between ‘dope’ and ‘fucking awesome.’

While “Modern Warfare 2” doesn’t break any new grounds visually, it’s an inspired and above average offering for a genre that’s easy to write off as spent.  What MW2 manages to do is up the ante for shooters further, at the same time toeing the line of what is considered acceptable for battle-hardened gamers (and good taste), while featuring content that goes well above and beyond my long awaited expectations.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Blogging Couple, Getting Older, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , | 1 Comment

The Honeymoon

You can see pics from the trip here – ed.
There’s something special about returning to work after taking time off, especially if that time off was regarding your honeymoon.  You feel so blissfully out of touch it’s amazing to find your desk as you left it, belongings mostly intact.  This all seems to soften the blow that your tub of fat-free yogurt has gone missing altogether.

That said, the time spent on your honeymoon is magical; everything seems to go right even when it’s terribly wrong, like getting lost in Upstate NY.

We weren’t really lost; the plan was to drive off the highway for a bit, see some of the “real” countryside of upstate, the side you don’t see on Rt 90 on your way to Buffalo, of all places.

I had been scanning the New York Times’ Real Estate section and observed that homes in the Saratoga Springs area were going for between 175-200K.  Good homes with two stories, a yard, maybe even a pool.  Perfect, I thought, just what we were looking for.

But Corinth, the small hamlet where we ended up, is New York State’s scraped elbow.  There’s nothing but mountains, trees, dirty depressing dilapidated store fronts, a gas station every ten feet, kitty-cornered from one another, each seemed to be manned by the same grimy-faced local who knew, instantly, that you were from out of town.

Such a local, a waitress in some sort of strange service station/diner, a face that looked beaten with a sun-heated shovel pointed her gnarled nicotine stained finger nail at the ATM in the far corner of the establishment when I asked as to where one could be found.

“You always miss it,” she hissed, as if to indicate that she knew I was from out of town, and I represented every wayward traveler to ever cross the town line.

And of course, it was easy enough to tell we, my wife and I, hadn’t graduated from the Corinth Regional High School.  Although dressed like slobs, our clothes didn’t reek of diesel fuel.  We were driving around in a whisper quiet Toyota Prius, paying more attention to our iPhones than the surroundings of the small dent in the Earth that was Corinth.

Remember in “Back to the Future” when Marty first arrives in the 50s and the locals think he’s an alien?  He has this crazy looking car with gull wings for doors, in a biohazard suit, etc.  The local hick farmer nearly cut him in two with a shotgun blast for crashing into his barn, but was too petrified to pull the triggers.

That’s what it was like for us, driving around Corinth with out of state plates in a car that made no noise.

We had enough “small town charm”, not bothering to stop at the Dollar General (we did eat in the one restaurant in town that didn’t look like someone’s wind-smashed porch.  A Chinese food place called Golden Dragon, or Double Gold, or Lucky Dragon… I think it’s a rule that Chinese restaurants have to have either “dragon” “gold” or “lucky” in their names in our order get a business license.) before high tailing it the hell out of Dodge.

***

Niagara was beautiful however, a trip that I will never forget, thanks to technology.  We arrived late, after putting in 12 hours on the road between Portland, ME and Niagara Falls.

We left later than what I wanted to, due to a slower start, but at the time it seemed the all engines were firing just fine.  But with a stop at the Tim Hortons before even leaving my mom’s home town – which sucked up about half an hour – we were in rough shape.

We pulled into the tiny B&B around 1930 and were greeted at the door by a charmingly cheerful owner, a young woman whom I had no idea would be old enough to have mothered a kindergartener.  She had our room squared away, a tiny “French Room” at the top of a set of grand stairs, with a private bath and tiny television.

Ang instantly took to the shower, as 12 hours on the road will make you believe that God himself demands you bathe.  As for me, I asked to be pointed towards the nearest liquor store.
Cassidy, the matron, busted out a touristy map and with a black pen started to scribble out a route by foot towards the nearest liquor store.

“You want to avoid this area, entirely,” she squared off a section of about twelve blocks due north of where we were.  “It’s a HUGE ghetto.”

But that’s who I am, a shit magnet, that despite my best efforts, would haphazardly wind up waist deep in … dark… waters.

I followed the instructions to what I thought was a “T”.  Taking a left where I was supposed to, staying on a street, etc.  I found myself looking at a dimly lit convenience store, a ratty Caddy idling with a rhythmic clank and rattle.

I rubbed my stubble and wandered in.  Inside I found what you’d find in any inner city general store:  non-descript bags of neon-colored popcorn, 24-count cases of Natural Ice, on sale.  Nylon doo-rags in cellophane packets dangling from a spinning wire rack , non-NFL sanctioned Buffalo Bills memorabilia, 40 oz bottles of some brackish-colored alcohol stacked at the end of one of the aisles (the brand escapes me, but it wasn’t one of the ‘hood classics’ like Cobra, Colt .45, or Steel Reserve), scratch tickets, festering hotdogs on rollers, and black people shouting at each other.

I went in looking for, of all things, wine, a loofah, and tampons.  Maybe a snack for myself, since it was likely we weren’t going to be having dinner.  I left with nothing but fear that at any moment I was going to become a tragic victim of urban violence.  A sad state of affairs, when a young promising male, successful in his own right, was gunned down at a convenience store  outside of Buffalo, NY.  Another tale of “wrong place, wrong time.”

I can see the befuddled detectives standing over my splayed out corpse, bullet wounds in my back leading towards a growing puddle of blood:

“What the hell was this guy doing here, anyway?”  One says to the other, as he flick’s my out-of-state driver’s license.

“Fuck if I know, probably trying to score drugs,”

***

We did the whole sight-seeing bit, which given the time of year, wasn’t a whole lot.  We were only really up there for one full day sandwiched by two days of traveling.

The weather was some-what cooperative; to ask for warmth so late through October would’ve been asking for too much.  But at least it didn’t rain, which would’ve been too much for either of us to stand.

We did the falls, got wet, then went shopping at the outlets, which seemed to be the best option going, as the mall was crowded.

That night, we went to the Casino.

Admittedly, the last time I was in a casino I was 21 or 22, a raging alcoholic who often surrounded himself with hooligans equally intoxicated.  The last time I was in a casino, we were asked to leave by security.

What had happened was innocent enough:  We had been gambling, I think, and decided we wanted to go to the fancy buffet on whatever floor above the betting floor.  We, the three or four of us, clambered into a glass elevator and rode upwards.

At some point, this kid named Anthony, or Michael, or Patrick, … some Irish fuckhead, decided to pull down his cargo shorts and press his ass cheeks against the glass.

Security met us at the elevator just as the doors opened to let us out.

Now, some five or six years later, I was going into a casino with my wife on my arm, wearing half a suit I bought off the rack at H&M before we left for the vacation.

The suit was all black, complete with vest.  I wanted to wear the whole thing, but Ang protested, saying I’d be way over dressed.  I relented and opted to wear designer blue jeans with the jacket and vest.

Walking on to the betting floor was a lot like what I imagine walking on to a kill floor of a slaughter house circa 1890.  It’s disgusting; cigarette smoke hangs in the air just above the dizzying lights and sounds of all the machines.  Mummified remains of happy grandparents sit in front of computerized screens, punching buttons in some sort of twisted scientific experiment.

“How long can we keep these withered bodies here, pressing the same button over and over again, using the Reward System?”

Some were so addicted that they had some sort of punch card attached to a lanyard plugged into the machine.  If we could somehow harness the power from five hundred elderly people mashing buttons for 12 hours at a whack, we’d have solved the energy crisis.

I’m not a gambler, I make terrible bets and even worse decisions when I’m faced with a choice in my betting.  All one has to do is watch me agonize over my fantasy football picks every week to get a clear idea on how I’d make a terrible gambler.

We made a round of the floor, went to the bar, and each got a beer.  I sipped my beer and decided that I was going to play blackjack.  I had 50 dollars in my pocket to use towards that end, and I made up my mind that I would not walk out with less than that amount, so help me god.  I found a lonely dealer at a blackjack table and sat down.

The dealer and I chatted for a bit as I played, and before I knew it, I was up by about 100 dollars from my initial 20 dollar investment.  The pressure suddenly got too high, or maybe it was boredom at how easily I was making money.  I even hit on 16 and drew a five, much to the dealer’s amazement.  I knew nothing of player/dealer etiquette, and failed to tip as I got up from the table.  He changed my chips from stacks of fives to a few stacks of tens.

It was then, holding the tens in my hands, I could see the addiction welling up.  If I bet just one of these chips, worth 10 dollars, I could potentially double it, and then double that amount, and so on.  I could FEEL the gravity of the table; a pull on my spine no short of someone actually reaching in and tugging on my bones.

I finished my beer and found Ang back at the bar, checking her phone.

“How’d you do?”  She asked.  I shrug.

“Well, I have fewer chips,” and I opened up my hand to show that I indeed had fewer chips, but they were worth a lot more than what I started.  She was pleased, especially when I said I was going to cash out and we were getting the hell out of there.

The entire time, walking across the floor to the cashier, I felt eyes on me.  Maybe it was how I was dressed (“what’re you so dressed up for?” the dealer would ask.  “I’m on my honeymoon,” I told him.  “Huh, where are you from?”  “Cape Cod.”  “…You came out to Niagara Falls and you’re from Cape Cod… on your honeymoon?  What, you don’t like palm trees?”) or maybe it was that I was walking out with the casino’s money.

I was for certain that in order to cash out I’d be required to fill out a mailing slip so they could send me promotions, or invite me back, etc.  But no, they simply took my chips, counted them out, and handed me back the appropriate amount of money back, hassle free.

We left, the feeling of a thousand eyes on my neck following me out of the casino.
***

We were on the road early the next morning to get back to reality.  The sky was gray, the air cold and uninviting, almost telling us that we were doomed.  Fourteen hours we arrived at our apartment with two ferrets and a load of bags that needed to be hauled up a flight of rickety stairs.  The dog was picked up shortly after from a friend on a rain soaked night that welcomed us home like the chilling embrace of a bear trap.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gamer Wife

“Gamer Girls” don’t really exist.  That is, they exist the same way hot lesbians exist; in some sort of false reality brought to us by television, the internet or just in the male fantasy psyche.  Girls and video games go together like sharks and kittens:  two things that naturally don’t go together, but when brought together are adversarial to their very cores.

That’s not to say girls don’t play video games, they do, but the gaming industry doesn’t exactly cater to them the same way they cater to the other gender, because the industry isn’t seeing the same amount of dollars spent.  True, when all a game publisher puts out is military-style shooters and games gratifyingly glorifying high crimes, you’re not going to see the female demographic bother to waste their money, at least, the majority.

But publisher and the industry make half-assed at best attempts to reach the female market at an earlier stage, with titles like “Barbie’s Day Out at The Mall” and other such suckage.  Ok, let’s say that a young girl is remotely interested in the above shallow attempt to get them involved in gaming.  So what happenens when she matures and is looking for another game to break into?  No self respecting 16 year old is going to drive Barbie around in her pink convertable without giving serious consideration to driving that bitch off an overpass.

This is the state of gaming for young women.

***

I don’t remember how it happened exactly, but lately my wife uses my Xbox 360 more than I do.

Actually, I do remember what happened and how it happened:  About two months ago, on a whim I bought “Fable 2” because I was bored and had a bunch of games I didn’t play anymore, and wanted new games.  So I went down to the local GameStop with this handful of lime green cases and handed them over, and with the resulting store credit bought “Far Cry 2” and “Fable 2.”

Sequels starting with the letter F aside, one night while button mashing in Fable, my wife Ang, who typically looked at me playing video games in the least as a huge waste of time and at the most out right ignoring her, spoke softly from over my shoulder:

“Do you think you could show me how to play that?”

I don’t know what hooked her, whether it was the bright game animation, the colorful magic, the story itself or the fact that you had a loyal puppy following you around throughout the game, but within 15 minutes of showing her what to do, and another hour or so of Co-Op play, she pretty much had the game down cold.

She was hooked, like many of us gamers tend to get when we come across a really good game we can fall in love with.  I’d come home from being away at work and she’d still be plugging away in Albion from her spot on her upholstered chair, the ferret gnawing on a piece of velcro at her feet, her eyes glazed over reflecting the flickers of light from the screen as she sent fireball after fireball after trolls, banshees and balverines.  When she wasn’t glued to the game play she was researching tips, cheats and walkthrus on Fable-Wiki and other sites she discovered.

What happened to my wife?  How did she become a gamer?

I thought she was fully engulfed, but it was becoming apparent that Fable was getting stale, even as she diddled with the downloadble content.  She tried halfheartedly to go into other games, but nothing held her interest.  This is where I step in.

I don’t want to use this article to toot my own horn or anything, but Ang isn’t a pro-level gamer – yet.  She still asks me for help with difficult finger-gymnastic-like movements or platformer puzzles.  Often as she’s playing I’m sitting at my desk in front of my computer, half contemptuous/half envious that she’s hogging the damn Xbox, but I let it slide, giving her advice and pointing out things she might’ve missed, whether they’re doors or treasure, etc.

I went back to GameStop the other day with the idea I wanted a new shooter and to get Ang a new button masher (this genre seems to be her favorite, as she has shown very little interest in FSPs, Sandboxes, or any other style of games.).  For myself I got Battlefield: Bad Company because I hear there’s going to be a sequel soon and after doing some research I found that the first Bad Company got decent reviews, and for Ang I got her Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy.

LSW2TOT is a combination of things my wife loves: button mashing action, immense replay value, cutesy characters and the first three Star Wars.  I’m surprised it took my this long to turn her on to the game series.

The game has just about everything she likes and from my standpoint, it’s a fun easy going game with clever cut scenes that stay true to the films but ad lib their own little touches which makes it just different enough for a veteran Star Wars geek to get something new out of the game.

So as we speak, my wife right now is probably planted in front of the television, clutching her white controller, using a cartoonish Lego Wookie to rip the arms off of an equally silly looking Stormtrooper.  How long will it be before she has her own gamertag and we have to get another 360 and systemlink them?

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , | 1 Comment

So “Far” From Good It Makes Me “Cry” Too (“2”)

Originally I had this like, 1200 word post about the game “Far Cry 2”, a first person shooter that’s so frustratingly bad that it’s not even campy-good.  But after some careful consideration, a meeting with my editorial staff and a nice memo from Legal, I’ve since reduced the original post into these convenient bullet points.

“Bullet points” get it?!  Enjoy the suck.

Point 1:  The story sucks, and can be completely disregarded as a jumble of unmemorable horseshit:

  • In “FC2” you play as a generic mercenary sent to Africa to track down “The Jackal” a notorious arms smuggler fueling both sides of some sort of political conflict in a modern day fictional country in the darkest parts of the Continent.  The story, though simple enough, is somehow mired by the fact that while playing the game, you as the player have no idea who or what side you’re working for at any given time, because the AI-seeded NPCs (non-playable characters, in essence walking targets) have no distinction between factions.  Many missions I’ve rolled up on scene assuming that the “people” walking around were allies, when in reality, I’m just shot at by anyone holding a gun.  This in turn makes me shoot at anyone holding a gun, which makes for very long (see also: tedious) game play.  Apparently, as the story goes on, this “Jackal” character has more than enough opportunities to kill you, as you’ve become stricken with malaria (the game designers actually make this a “strategic” aspect of the game, making you have to track down anti-malaria meds.  Don’t worry though, you can still play through the game without taking the meds, which makes the whole damn thing about finding the meds a big fucking waste of time) and are bed ridden early in the game.  But he doesn’t.  He knows you’ve been sent to take him out, but this apparent “bad ass” arms dealer doesn’t have the heart to kill a man in a hospital bed.  Scary guy.

Point 2:  They spent too much time on little insignificant shit, like open-door animation, instead of what counts, which is game play:

  • The game strives to fully immerse the player into the world by having everything come into the view of the character on screen.  When you open a door for instance, the animation is slick as you see your own hand reach for the door knob and push open the door.  Or when you climb into a car, you slide across the seats.  It’s a great idea, but it needs to be taken back a little, especially with the driving.  As you drive a vehicle in first person, you get a nauseous tunnel-vision-feel because you can’t see anything else around you, especially as the car bounces and jumps on the too-narrow roads.  The roads are also winding and sloped, so as you speed along, suddenly there’s a drop off from a hairpin turn, causing you to go careening off the side of a cliff, unbeknownst to you.

Point 3:  Big “sandbox” to play in, with no real means to navigate it:

  • Also, there’s no “map” or “path” to follow from mission to mission, except an actual “map” that you pick out of your pocket and hold in your hands as you drive, being forced to actually glance down at it in your lap as you attempt to steer around giant boulders, on coming traffic (which is 99% of the time random pissed off gunmen trying to run you off the road), and other debris.  It’s like playing as a confused motorist from Massachusetts on vacation in Maine. Mission areas were marked with a microscopic orange triangle, but there’s no distinction between story-related missions and side missions.  You will randomly drive yourself to a mission start area and then find out if it’s related to progressing the story line or if it’s just a random side mission, which once accepted, you will then have to drive all the way back across the map to find your objective, which is typically related to simply killing someone.

Point 4:  It’s a little “too real”:

  • Weapons degrade almost instantly.  You can combat this by doing side missions for a local gun smuggler (these “missions” are simply finding and blowing up a truck on a road someplace) which will then unlock new weapons to purchase, however most times they’re far too expensive (completed missions are paid in far too few Blood Diamonds) to be picked up right away.  Instead you’re mostly forced to pick up the guns dropped by enemy NPCs, which are 9/10s junk and will foul or miss feed at crucial times, unless these weapons are being used against you, which will mean that they work awesome, all the time, every time.  Proof:  I picked up a dropped AK47 and fired three magazines into a bush without the weapon jamming.  As soon as I put a bead to an enemy, the gun fired once, and then stovepiped in my hands.  Nice.

Point 5:  No auto-aim?!  What is this, Castle Wolfenstein?!:

  • Aiming is extremely difficult as well, as there’s no “auto aim” featured in this game, which when playing a First Person Shooter is like not having an oxygen tank on your back when you go SCUBA diving.  Trying to bead up on an enemy, while under fire from multiple angles in this game is similar to trying to tie your shoes with metal hooks for hands; it takes untold hours of practice.

Point 6:  Way too much time spent driving from Point A to Point B, which is littered with aggro NPC zombies:

  • As you drive for what seems to be the bulk of this game, you will probably encounter enemy NPCs roughly every twenty seconds, and the game engine will not stop spawning them.  After roughly an hour of trying to get to my mission objective by both car and boat, I just gave up, sat at an intersection and engaged an endless waves of enemies that the computer sent after me.

Point 7:  Too much time was spent on little idiosyncrasies and nuances (think “Seinfeld”‘s “Why is it always…”) than on good game play:

  • What FC2 tries to do with immersing the player in a “realistic world” is basically presenting the player with a caricature of the real world.  A caricature artist takes the most awkward and unappealing aspects of his subject and magnifies them for a profit.  See where I’m going with this?  I can almost imagine what the brain storming session at Ubisoft Montreal (the game’s developer) was like; they sat around and picked what were likely the most frustrating aspects of real life combat, and then decided to put them all into one game, amplifying them in the process.  Literally, at one point, I took aim with an RPG at a guard post, lined up my shot to fire the rocket into a stack of red exploding barrels, pulled the trigger and watched as my rocket fell limp from the firing tube to my feet.  Then I was riddled with bullets.

Conclusion:

Ubisoft Montreal has to realize that a good game is a balanced game.  It’s cool to have a giant map to play across, but you can’t expect players to want to spend 3/4s of the game driving back and forth across it, especially when you’re engaged by enemies every fifteen feet, and can’t see shit while behind the wheel.  You can’t make a “thinking man’s shooter” if you have degradable weapons and infinite enemies that seem to endlessly charge at you from out of no where.  There has to be balance.  I love shooters, but I like a shooter that makes you think (see Eidos Interactive’s “Hitman” series).  Even though I was frustrated with Fallout 3, that game was at least developed in a way that made sense, that wasn’t a bunch of “realistic ideas” that were jammed into one package and left for gamers to figure out on their own.  No, “Far Cry 2” which on paper would’ve been a great game, fails miserably at being anything close to entertaining, and wins at being another title that will be turned in for a trade towards something else

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, The Great Indoors, Too Much Time, Why Am I Watching This? | , | 3 Comments