The Difference Between ‘Versus’ & ‘And’ – FPS Games

A few years ago EA/DICE released Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 as their preemptive attack on the hearts and minds of modern combat FPS gamers. This move was largely in response to the Call of Duty Modern Warfare regime breaking all sorts of sales records and taking a huge number of gamers hostage in their fast paced and crispy arcade-style shooter.

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That’s also where the similarities and battle between games stops in its tracks.

Battlefield 4 came out in late 2013 and still has a base of over 60,000 gamers across consoles and PC. Call of Duty releases a new game annually through one of three developers and they are widely considered the preeminent shooter when it comes to gaming these days. Where COD continues to try and freshen up a game with jump boosting and wall running, Battlefield continues to refine gameplay and tighten up on the stability of their online experience.

A lot of gamers jumped into the imaginary mosh pit of COD vs. BF a few years ago when the developers seemed to be at war. It was like they thought they had to choose sides. As time has passed and gamers grew into their habitats for shooter preference it became clear that these games weren’t at war directly from a gaming perspective. While they were certainly at war on the corporate end of EA vs. Activision they were on different planets otherwise.

Call of Duty has a more crisp feeling to its controls and handling. I compare it very much to Halo in this regard. You aren’t going to feel much recoil in the control or screen presentation – ever. It is also much like Halo, focused on maps that are largely centered on infantry based combat. Halo does have its fair share of vehicles, etc… and we will stop the mentions right there.

Battlefield has always felt slower and a bit more difficult to master when it came to aiming and firing weapons because almost every weapon felt different from recoil to carrying speed to aiming in general. Battlefield is closer to a simulation than Call of Duty will ever be. It isn’t a good or bad thing… it is just a fact.

That is why we are looking back to Battlefield 3/4 and now forward to Battlefield 5. It is my hope that Activision will release another crappy iteration of Ghosts and I will be able to save $60 to put towards the premium edition of Battlefield instead. This is because when it comes to
Battlefield and Call of Duty it will occasionally result in Battlefield versus a crappy COD game.

As for Battlefield Hardline, Medal of Honor War Fighter… etc… well, COD had my time and money during that time. Personally, I’m tired of booster jumping and wall running.

Granted… I’m also an OG when it comes to gaming, so maybe I should set aside my bias.

Yeah… nope.

Tapping Out – My Month With Bloodborne

In case you didn’t catch my recent post about the wondrous world of Yarnham and Bloodborne here it is (50 Shades of Pain).

This is Bloodborne's message to gamers like me.
This is Bloodborne’s message to gamers like me.

Now that you know that I quickly fell in love with Bloodborne and all that the wonderful world had to offer in the ways of a beautiful game and challenging experience.  And now, about a month after falling for it – the relationship has ended like a high school romance.  I’m not bitter about the game, or even the initial purchase price (as I am currently looking at getting around $35-45 for it on eBay – the auction ends tomorrow).  I just realized that I couldn’t bring myself to care about the character in a story that doesn’t really exist in a game that punishes me to the point even Christian Grey is saying ‘That’s effed up.’.  In the end, much like high school romances – I knew I was getting sick of this game and didn’t want to pour time into a game that wouldn’t give me as joy as I wanted out of something that I do to enjoy downtime and escape the stress of life.  I am looking forward to playing some new games in the meantime and truly can’t wait until Metal Gear Solid 5 – The Phantom Pain is released in September.

I would say I am sad about the fact that I never beat the game if I didn’t know that it basically ends abruptly and throws you back into the fray in ‘New Game Plus’.  Basically, you are simply being given another chance to go through the world, get brutalized again and deal with all the same anger issues this game brings – as well as the joy in defeating the tremendous bosses.  That is all well and good and I commend those of you that worship this game as a demigod in the current lackluster lineup that is quality PS4 titles.

That said – knowing that the game doesn’t really feel like a rewarding experience when you finish it and you simply repeat it all over again reminds me quite a bit of Super Mario Brothers on NES.  When you defeated King Koopa on world 8-4 and thought you beat the game and celebrated the victory – you then get thrown into a ‘New Game Plus’.  This new game had black beetles instead of the brown mushroom guys and was more difficult in some ways.  I’m sure those of you that love Bloodborne probably played through Mario’s ‘New Game Plus’ as well.

For those of you that think I am backtracking on my love of the game or that I said it belongs in your library… I’m not.  It is more about me not being ready to put myself through the ringer to deal with it right now – especially when I can get $45 for it on eBay.  In the future, ask yourself a question when you sell or trade your games.  Did you get your money out of them?  Meaning, I payed $65 for Bloodborne and will get $45 once I sell it.  Did I get my $20 of enjoyment?  Did I learn a lesson from this high school romance in gaming and the strange girl that my friends were warning me about?  Yes… and I have no regrets.

I will say this as a final warning and analogy about Bloodborne.

It is what I imagine it would be like to date a high maintenance model/person (yes, I think there is a difference between the two).  He/She/It might be beautiful and amazing to ‘play with’.  You might even get addicted to ‘playing’ with them – for awhile.  Then their true nature and everything else starts to wear you down.  You realize they want you to only play with them and not hang out with other friends like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Injustice, Metal Gear, etc.

Then, you finally work up the nerve to hang out with your other friends and realize that you are being mentally abused by this ‘Medusa Siren’ of gaming in an ocean full of great and fun activites with too many friends to name.  Bloodborne is the brat of a super model that some gamers will put up with – I’m not and never will be that gamer.

XBox One and PS4 – Are Exclusive Titles Still A Selling Point?

On the XBox 360 and PS3 there was the constant bombardment of exclusive titles like Gears of War, Halo and Forza versus Killzone, Resistance, Gran Turismo and for some sports gamers – MLB: The Show.  Now that the next generation of consoles have finally started to become more common in households around the world it is interesting to see that the focus has shifted away from the exclusive titles and more towards the features of the systems themselves.

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Snake isn’t limited to just Sony consoles these days. But some of his missions are exclusively on one console or the other.

Sure, there are games that XBox One and PS4 have exclusive agreements and rights for, but they aren’t exactly the same type of focus that we saw last generation.  While there are some gamers out there that will have certain games that they simply must have like the Halo or Killzone titles for each respective console… that time is changing.

One of the most obvious changes can be seen in the Metal Gear franchise.  Metal Gear has always been a Hideo Kojima/Konami production.  In saying that – it has also almost always been seen as a Sony Playstation title as well.  Now that they have announced Metal Gear Solid 5 is going to be multi-platform it seems that they are starting to realize that more console availability also means more sales overall.  This isn’t always a blessing as other content within the game will be exclusive to each console.  This is more annoying than anything as it drives many gamers to wonder why they bother spending more and more money on microtransactions.

With multi-platform releases like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden NFL and other titles that prefer mass marketing based on volume of sales rather than simply having an agreement with a certain company to release on a specific console.  The one caveat to this is when companies like EA and Activision make agreements (like they did with Microsoft) to release certain downloadable content (DLC) on one console before other another.  This is a practice that is rather insulting to users that buy a game like Battlefield 4 on PS3/4, XBox 360 and especially PC as well as purchasing the $50 ‘Premium’ service.  Primarily because they are being cheated out of content that is obviously available for XBox One users far earlier than anyone else that have purchased the same service for a different platform.

As we enter into a new era of gaming and an eventual move into a focus on digital content, it will be interesting to see how long exclusivity really plays a role in corporate gaming decision making.  As it stands, there are a lot of gamers that are sick of feeling cheated out of their money when it comes to ‘exclusive’ titles and other DLC not being available for whatever reason.

Creativity Isn’t Dead – Most Perceptions of Entertainment are Boring

I have been fortunate to know or be acquainted with artists, writers and even some people that work in video game production.  One thing that has never ceased to amaze me is their creativity.  There is always something new in their head.  Some sort of cool new project that is simply amazing because it is fresh and straight out of their creative mind.  The current mainstream gaming atmosphere doesn’t allow for this sort of creativity anymore.

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With games like Call of Duty and Madden being released every year it doesn’t say much for what corporate monsters think of gaming.  They don’t see it as art – they see a bottom line that must be met in sales or the studio will be closed.  As you start looking at the upcoming consoles do yourself a favor and ask why the games are getting stale.  While Madden can’t exactly change or implement something wild or crazy graphically or otherwise – it is still lacking creativity.

Another example of a great game that became over-produced quickly – Assassin’s Creed.  Really?  Is the character truly a different person?  Sure, the voice is different and the face may be structured with some new scars, etc… but this is the same damn game every time it comes out.  Attack, Counter, Attack, Kill, Run, Repeat.

There are many artists and developers out there that want to be creative in gaming and they are being held back because gamers don’t want new games or concepts.  They want a fresh veneer painted on the same crap they have been playing for 10 years.  People generally fear change and it is up to artists, musicians and writers to flip their world upside down.

I look forward to the day when I can look at video games and see them as new, fresh and risky art… right now all I see is what most people seem to want:

2/3 of a gun
Crosshairs
Poorly animated blood

The list could go on, but really if it needs to you are missing the point.

Are Shooter Games Dead?

Now that the autumn rush for shooter games has come to a close and we are firmly in the doldrums of the gaming year there is a serious question that must be asked as we get closer to not only new consoles… but closer to the limit many gamers have for lacking creativity.

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Whether you are playing Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield or even Gears of War.  You are most likely playing a game with a 2, 3 or 4 after the primary namesake.  This is a problem on many levels and the obvious issue stems from the idea of pumping out sequels more regularly than Hollywood can push out another Saw movie.  As for the other issues signifying the agonizingly slow death of shooter games – here are a few:

  1. Fans Are Getting Bored – The entertainment industry has one primary component to making money and that is paying customers who are actually interested in what is being offered.  Call of Duty was able to grab an entire generation of gamers with new styles of playing a shooter – primarily the online component.  Halo snagged the XBox crowd with a great story and then some of the most successful multiplayer experiences ever put on a console.  They still sell in the millions when release day comes, but gamers are slowly finding their way to other titles than the popular COD series especially.  This isn’t to say that the sales are bad for COD or Halo, but the idea that a cash cow will last forever does not make a lot of business sense.
  2. Desensitized – Killing people isn’t as fun or novel as it used to be.  We have witnessed so many tragedies on TV it is becoming rather difficult to surprise anyone.  Some thought that blood in Mortal Kombat was too much ‘violence’ but now, years later – MMA is being pumped up like the Roman gladiator battles.  We have had shootings at numerous schools over the last 14 years.  Why is it that within a few weeks… and sometimes days – we are already moving on to something else?  The answer is simple – we just aren’t shocked anymore. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had a section where you shot up an airport full of civilians.  Black Ops 2 lets you butcher enemies with a machete.  We have fatalities in Mortal Kombat and execution moves in Gears of War.  Violence is old hat… it is expected and desired like someone’s morning coffee fix.
  3. Poor Parenting and Little Kids – When I reached adulthood and started paying bills I started to notice a few things had changed in terms of my view of the world.  The first was that I had become crotchety and easily annoyed by nonsense (which I think had been in my persona long before adulthood, FYI).  The second was that I couldn’t stand what I viewed to be a sudden change in parenting and discipline of children.  I will save you the ‘back in my day’ comments and leave it at this – if a game is for ages 17 and up, otherwise known as being rated M for ‘Mature’… your CHILD should not be playing it.  Not to mention, if they are on a microphone talking to other gamers around the world – you might want to listen to the language they are hearing and using outside of the game sounds and in their headset.

Will Games Change Their Digital Approach Next Generation?

Now that we are firmly into the high speed internet age and online functionality has become almost synonymous with every game on the market (including the ubiquitous ‘patching’ of games).  The issue many sports gamers are running into is that they are pouring $60+ into games that come out every year with minor improvements/changes and roster updates.  This has caused sports gamers to generally ask on occasion why developers like EA and 2K won’t simply release a cheaper update to the game every other year BLOPS2or so instead of requiring the purchase of new software every single year.

The most obvious responses are ‘…because people are buying the games in droves” and “Why would you stop milking your cash cow when it is obviously still producing results?”

The issue at hand in the coming generation of consoles is that they will be largely focused on digital content more-so than even these current consoles seem to be.  While the PlayStation Store and XBox Marketplace are doing well and provide services to subscribers/gamers it seems like only a matter of time before you will have to start buying certain content by sections rather than a full-fledged title.

Some games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo could potentially be sold in three different ways.

  1. Online Multiplayer
  2. Offline Story Mode/Campaign
  3. Full Game (Online and Offline Content)

This isn’t the first time that something like this has been suggested.  You can go to virtually any rumor mill site for gaming and read about an industry analyst talking about the likelihood of a game like Call of Duty charging people to play online.   The issue that gamers should be considering is whether or not they are happy with the current state of games.  Whether or not you are paying extra for maps, add-ons or even avatar clothing you have to appreciate how smooth the transition has been between the PS2/XBox to the PS3 and 360 in terms of online interactivity and microtransactions like coins for Madden Ultimate Team.

We will soon be entering a new realm of digital content distribution.  Considering the actions of developers in the last 18 months, you shouldn’t be surprised if you will have options to buy games by piecemeal or some sort of full-game combo.

If you disagree about the outlook or attitude towards some aspects of games (such as story mode/campaign) you should ask Battlefield or Call of Duty gamers if they have played more than 45 minutes of the campaign mode.

The fact that Battlefield has a disc for campaign mode on 360 says a lot (even if it is simply due to space)… my campaign disc has been in the system for less than two hours – total.

Get ready for some big changes next gen.

Medal of Honor Warfighter – Review and Impressions

At first glance you might look at Medal of Honor: Warfighter with a cynical mindset.  Afterall, the original ‘rehash’ of the series was lacking to say the least.  What you will notice right off the bat is recoil in your weapons from the gameplay perspective.  This game is a more arcade-like game from the run and gun perspective on multiplayer rather than the Battlefield 3 perspective of objective based gameplay and XP development.

Warfighter’s maps seem forced and cluttered for the most part.  While the Frostbite 2 engine is a nice addition and it gives the ability to destroy cover, etc. there doesn’t seem to be a lot of longevity to a game that isn’t based on larger maps with a lot of cover to destroy.  Once again, EA is finding a way to put out a game as a stop-gap measure rather than trying to really overtake Call of Duty.

Here is a quick run-down of what you should expect if you are on the fence about buying Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

Pros –

Fast Gameplay – This game plays more like Call of Duty or even the 2010 iteration of MOH, but it is a welcome direction for people that prefer EA shooters over Call of Duty but still want faster gameplay and an overall more ‘reflex driven’ game.  The recoil of the weapons makes for a less point and shoot feel, but the small maps and close quarters along with a more assault driven attitude of game-modes makes Warfighter a faster experience overall.

Full Weapon Customization – You can pretty much build up any of your weapons to your own specifications.  New barrels, new sights, optics, etc.  The best part of being able to do these things is that they give you a feeling of ownership and creativity that actually matters.  Call of Duty has accessories for guns, sure… but for the most part they are unnecessary ‘bling’.  The only thing is that with the maps and game-types in Warfighter, is it really that vital to have all these options?  Only time will tell.

A Somewhat Intriguing Story – It isn’t often that we can say a FPS title has a story worth paying attention to.  Medal of Honor feels more like the movie ‘Act of Valor’ than some sort of half-cocked terrorist fiction.  On the other hand, maybe that is exactly what it is… *shrug*.  Warfighter grabs the gamer by the heartstrings with a story that feels very real in today’s modern terrorist obsessed culture.  However, it is also a game about terrorists being chased around the world.

I think I have played this game before.

Cons –

Feels Like A Stop-Gap COD Wanna-be – The bad part of MOH: WF is that it feels like Call of Duty without the urgency.  Call of Duty is fast paced, run and gun, twitchy and an overall ADHD experience.  Warfighter is all of those things without the twitchy control feel.  This makes for a fast paced game with sluggish handling.  I appreciate the effort to speed up the feel but this game needs to make up its mind.

Too Little, Too Late – With the likes of Halo and Call of Duty coming out in the next three weeks MOH is looking like something to buy if you have $60 to throw away.  This feels a lot like the 2010 release of Medal of Honor where it had a toe-hold for a couple weeks before Call of Duty came out and made people forget about playing a game with a lumberjack on the cover.

A Possible DLC Money Pit – One of the most annoying aspects of this current generation (and future generations) of online console gaming is downloadable content.  Sure, DLC is something that is a must for games like Medal of Honor, but in reality you are starting to see a trend of games that come out with DLC already planned to take money out of your wallet. Purchasing Warfighter brand new comes with access to a couple new maps but in reality it isn’t much of a perk if you don’t plan on being completely devoted to this game for the next year.  I don’t foresee Medal of Honor being played by many people when Battlefield 3 is already successful enough with its community and Call of Duty gamers will get their annual re-hash and pour money into DLC and ‘Elite’.