Titanfall – Will It Swing The Console Battle?

Now that we are only hours from the release of 360/XB1/PC exclusive Titanfall there are many in the gaming community that may be seeing this as the first launch of a next-Gen console missile strike of sorts.  Titanfall is developed by the former founders of Call of Duty’s Infinity Ward.  While this might already drive many to consider this game as some sort of ‘sci-fi/mech COD’ doesn’t  seem to veer from that as it is only for online multi-player action.

Titanfall is the first major post-launch console exclusive for next-gen systems.
Titanfall is the first major post-launch console exclusive for next-gen systems.

Titanfall is also coming out on XBox 360 as well as the newer XBox One.  This might be one of the more frustrating aspects for gamers that noticed a drastic drop in quality of development of games like Battlefield 4 when comparing console performance.  Titanfall has amazed many eager gamers with videos and other announcements that make this game something new in the shooter market.  It isn’t as if there has been a shortage of shooter games over the last eight years of 360/PS3.  Some have been stellar (COD, Halo, Battlefield and Gears of War).  Others have fallen flat (MAG, Frontlines, Unreal Tournament and the list goes on).

Now, on the eve of the first real battle of the next-gen console war we are getting ready to see if Titanfall will be a dramatic success or a colossal failure.

How Call of Duty and Battlefield Have Turned Off FPS Gamers

Over the last generation of console gaming we have seen a dramatic increase in online gaming.  The primary gain in this user-base has been in first person shooter (FPS) games like Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield.  Call of Duty 4 seemed to fill a void for gamers that weren’t fans of Halo.  They wanted a shooter that was military based with more customization and depth in the online arena.  What COD4 brought to the table was a game that still ranks among my personal favorites in the series, surpassed only by Modern Warfare 2.

The biggest issue that started the downfall of Call of Duty was the annual release to the lemmings that can’t seem to get rid of their money fast enough.  Call of Duty has become the Madden of shooter games.  The one thing you are guaranteed with the annual online experience is the large population of gamers screaming obscenities in your ears.  While that isn’t the primary downside, it is one of the more common complaints when it comes to online gaming.  (This is even with the ability to mute players… it shouldn’t have to be an issue but it is often on the edge of infuriating to have to deal with such nonsense.)

After the relative annoying of gamers you are going to start seeing where Call of Duty is really starting to fall off.  It is actually in the repetitive nature of the game and how predictable every round will unfold.  Team Deathmatch is what it has always been – a hunt for the perfect camping spot or some sort of search for a bottleneck.  Domination is still the wonderful spawn-camping disaster it has always been.  Now there are numerous clans that seem to stalk the public lobbies and destroy players that are trying to enjoy some casual gaming.  It has become a self-destructive game in how it is constantly building itself to be dominated by people that dedicate obscene amounts of time to leveling up and figuring out every nuance to making the casual gamers rage quit and sell their games on eBay or even trade it for pennies at GameStop.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t talented gamers out there in every genre.  However, it seems that FPS games are starting to try and copy many aspects of Call of Duty because of the monetary success the game has seen every year since COD4 was released.  This isn’t a good thing for gamers that would like to have something that feels and plays different from COD titles.  Battlefield was once that bastion of hope that FPS fans could look to when thinking about the shortcomings of Call of Duty.  The problem is that with maps like Operation Metro (BF3) and Operation Locker (BF4) it seems as if EA/DICE is trying to emulate Call of Duty in death-fests that are less tactical and more deathmatch-like.  While these are relatively small segments of the map population it is discouraging to feel like you can’t escape this apparent necessity of slaughterhouse maps in a game that many purchase as an escape from that.

We have been fortunate to see many gains made in graphics and even physics (at times).  However, the common devolution of
almost every game ends up turning the shooter game into some sort of Call of Duty-esque bloodbath of reflex/twitch-based shooting.  It starting to become wash, rinse, repeat with shooter games – especially online shooter games.

Where do you stand?  Are you ready to move on from FPS online gaming… or maybe from FPS gaming altogether?

Battlefield 4 – Choosing Your Class

It is that time of year again; when the first person shooters (FPS) games come out of the woodwork just in time for you to add them to your Christmas list or kill people while eating Halloween candy and drinking energy drinks.  Maybe it is now a Thanksgiving tradition at this point for some people to chase killstreaks over left-over turkey and stuffing when Turkey Day rolls around.

Either way you slice it, it is time to play some Battlefield 4 this weekend before Call of Duty Ghosts tries to take your attention on November 5.  The best part about Battlefield is that you get to assume the role of a class rather than simply choosing weapons in Call of Duty.  Sure, COD has its own twist on this, but right now the focus is on BF4.

classes BF3_Assault_Icon  Assault  – This isn’t just some wimpy ‘Medic Class’.  You have the power to revive teammates if they are downed in the field, sure.  You also start out with the ability to throw first-aid packs to bring up the health of yourself or teammates if they are getting hti by enemy fire.  However, you are also equipped with a slew of weapons that can kick some ass in the process.  Don’t think that the ability to revive teammates is your specialty, you can also have (by default, I might add) a grenade launcher as a secondary weapon instead of a defibrillator. Depending on the map and your play-style – this might be one of the most popular classes early in the BF4 play-cycle.

BF3_Engineer_Icon  Engineer – This class isn’t just some sort of ‘Repair Man’ ability for teams that use vehicles.  You are also in the business of destroying tanks, shooting down helicopters and sure, on occasion – fixing your team’s vehicles.  The nice part about this class is that you get to build up from having a simple rocket launcher to do damage to enemy vehicles to having laser guided rockets and even the often overlooked anti-tank mines.

BF3_Support_Icon  Support – One of the classes that is most useful if you are in a squad that communicates.  The support class is best used with an engineer when trying to deal with enemy vehicles such as helicopters, jets and tanks.  Why?  Simply put, it is easy for an engineer to run out of ammo (rockets, etc) to deal with vehicles.  However, if you are there as a support class you can re-up their arsenal and use any number of weapons to light up the enemies as they run for cover.  You start out with a heavy machine gun but eventually you will have the ability and choice to switch it up to something lighter.  All that said, this is the ultimate ‘team first, victory first’ class.

BF3_Recon_Icon  Recon – The most misunderstood class in Battlefield.  This is NOT a Call of Duty ‘quick scoping’ class.  This is a class designed around providing an eye from a distance and letting your teammates know where there are enemies and other important factors on the battlefield.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t kill enemies, it just means that you shouldn’t expect to end up with 30 kills every match if you are actually being a ‘recon’ class.  The nice change from Battlefield 3 is that this class isn’t without protection from heavy enemy vehicles.  You actually start with C4 as an auxiliary weapon that you can place on or around enemy vehicles to destroy or disable them.  Also, keep in mind that there is ‘bullet-drop’ and ‘gravity’ in Battlefield… this means that you have to aim above the head of an enemy if they are far away and you are trying to snipe them from a distance.

There will be much more to come in NoobTubeTV’s coverage of Battlefield 4.  Stay tuned to our YouTube Channel as well.

Happy Hunting

Call of Duty Ghosts – Coming November 5, 2013

Remember, remember the fifth of November
It’s COD season is it not?
I can think of no reason why COD season should ever be forgot.
You can start pre-ordering Call of Duty: Ghosts soon
You can start pre-ordering Call of Duty: Ghosts soon

Are you excited by the news of a new name for the Call of Duty series or are you convinced that it is merely a first person shooter version of Madden NFL?

Gears of Boredom – Why Gears of War Judgment Isn’t Worth Your Time (or Money)

Once again, we are entering the realm of yet another sequel prequel.  The Gears of War saga has been one of the best selling franchises during this generation of consoles.  If you never played the series it can be best summed up as a cross between the 1980s movie Tremors, Predator and The Descent – with more blood, GOWTREMgore and chainsaw bayonets.

Epic Games and Microsoft did an amazing job of supporting the game with patches and developing it into one of the most compelling storylines in recent shooter-game history.  Much like the original Star Wars Trilogy was enough to keep fans satiated with what many consider to be the best cinematic story/opera of all time, it is being plagued with the corporate desire for profit rather than creativity and finality to a great story in the form of the godforsaken prequel. 

Quite a bit has changed at Epic since the conclusion of the Gears trilogy as well.  Primarily the departure of Cliff Bleszinski and other longtime members of the development team.  While it isn’t surprising that people come and go in the world of gaming and game development it isn’t exactly boding well for a series that has really lost a lot of its luster now that the story is over.  Not to mention the fact that the ‘improvements’ and tweaks being made to GoW Judgment seem to be cosmetic at best.

Looks more like a member of GWAR or the Legion of Doom than a Locust.
Looks more like a member of GWAR or the Legion of Doom than a Locust.

If you are a fanboy/girl of the series none of what has been mentioned will convince you to part with your favorite franchise.  It is one of the things that makes you what you are to corporate gaming studios – the dedicated lemmings that also populate the Call of Duty and Halo sales charts are the same… numbers on a graph.

This is why it isn’t surprising at all to see Epic pushing out one final (or first?) chapter of a game that has had a conclusion for awhile now.  They are coming up on the end of an entire generation of consoles; and there isn’t much time left before they start pursuing some sort of new blood-soaked trilogy that will impress us graphically, theatrically and monetarily.  It is almost a certainty that Epic will design some sort of new GoW-esque title for the next generation but that isn’t going to stop them from milking their cash cow one more time before laughing their way to the bank with the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

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.

blops2

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.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 – Multiplayer Impressions

If you weren’t among the millions of people that were waiting outside of your local gaming store last night at midnight – do not fret.  The Black Ops 2 multiplayer is something that isn’t going to surprise anyone that has played Call of Duty before.  The game handles just like the games of the past.  However, there are a few things outside of the ‘new’ score-streaks that make Black Ops 2 a bit different from other COD games.

The first Black Ops game suffered from major problems with lag and hit detection.  Black Ops 2 is noticeably better in this aspect because it seems to handle a bit smoother and simply feels more fluid when either aiming or simply moving around the map.  This doesn’t mean that everything is great and wonderful in the COD universe though.  Many things seem like they will never change and that is almost always the case with Call of Duty games.

Quick-Scoping Is Still There

Perhaps one of the most annoying aspects of Call of Duty games is the persistent presence of quick-scoping in the game that takes advantage of what feels like a more and more simplified shooter game.  Another issue that follows this is aim-assist, if a player walks past or near your cross hairs you can expect to see your weapon movie with them slightly.  This, once again is another reason for people that hate Call of Duty to stay away from it and play Battlefield 3 or Halo 4 (a fantastic accomplishment for 343 Industries).

Recoil Is Still Minimal

When aiming down sight you will notice that firing your weapon is still relatively simple to do without a lot of movement from the firing (recoil).  Some of the weapons (especially the MP7) are slightly more unstable than their Modern Warfare counter-parts, but that doesn’t mean they have a lot of recoil issues.  This is yet again another factor that many people simply don’t need to ask about.  Call of Duty has never had any issues or dedication to being a simulation experience.  This game is about jumping in and shooting up your enemies – everything else is out the window… including recoil.

Class Customization

This can either be the great equalizer or the worst part of a COD game.  If you look at the problems that were in MW2 (Danger Close with Scavenger coupled with RPGs and NoobTubes (grenade launchers)) you will see that the new approach to perks and class customization are going to be key in making your experience something that is not only all your own, but also something that is practical, tactical and effective.

We will be devoting the coming months to some of the newest games.  Christmas lists are starting to fill up with dreams of putting digital bullets through digital skulls in our favorite shooter games.  NoobTubeTV will be there all the way through to help you become a better and more informed gamer.
Happy Hunting

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’.

Spawn Camping, Connectivity and the Potential Pitfalls of Black Ops 2

Call of Duty:  Black Ops suffers from tremendous issues that should cause many gamers to wonder if they should expect the same problems that plague the predecessor of Black Ops 2.

After recently popping-in  the original Black Ops for a refresher on Treyarch’s digital cash-cow I was greeted quickly with the reasons I sold this game after owning it for only five-months.

Connectivity

Black Ops seems more like a low-budget, poorly supported online title that could be easily discarded and replaced by any other online title.  Firing automatic weapons like the Galil seems to result in a largely disappointing task of dealing with poor frame-rates.  Is it really so hard to give such a widely purchased game a decent server system?

It seems almost laughable when playing Black Ops that it has the hit-detection problems that I remembered from ‘so long ago’.  I was under some sort of delusion that it would have been patched, but apparently this is something either created ‘by-design’ or strictly overlooked as they moved on with their Call of Duty rehashing development cycle.

Spawn Camping

Another issue that plagues the Domination game mode is spawn camping.  If this is an issue in any game they should be firing game-testers.  Some of the biggest problems in multi-player gaming is when the logic of spawning is broken.  In Black Ops you are almost guaranteed to experience a mind-numbing round of spawn camping by some group of ‘try-hard’ clan kids.

While being the victim of such a childish tactic is annoying, it is more annoying to be a paying consumer of a product that isn’t designed well.  You can always quit out of a match that is populated by these internet tough guys, but it is a bit more difficult to quit out of a product you have already spent $60+ on.
Hopefully Black Ops 2 will fix these issues.  If not, it could be a long year in the Call of Duty kingdom.