Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Game Review (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Content Drop #1 and 2)

The first content drop of many has come to Xbox LIVE for Call of Duty ELITE Premium Members. Infinity Ward has advertised it quite a bit (I saw advertisements all over YouTube for instance), and it got me pretty excited. This first content drop, as I'm sure you all know by now, contains just two maps: "Liberation" and "Piazza". There are no Spec Ops missions, guns, camos, or any other goodies in this content drop, just in case you're wondering.


Liberation: Upon first screenshot, I immediately thought of Stadium from Black Ops, just because it looked similar. When actually playing the map though, it's completely unlike Stadium. Liberation takes place in what I suppose is supposed to be Central Park in New York... you can even see the Empire Stat Building in the background, for example. After seeing some early footage of this map, I was very impressed with how the map looked, but not exceptionally excited with how I was expecting the map to play out. And now, I know why, unfortunately. Liberation is pretty much a map for snipers only. Sure, there are a select few areas where assault rifles would beat a sniper rifle, but let's not kid anybody - this is a map for snipers, and if you play Team Deathmatch, you can expect nothing but a campfest.

After playing about four games of TDM on this map, that's all it was each and every time. Hell, I've hardly even gotten a chance to see the middle of this map just because it's about impossible to get through there without getting your head blown off. Other objective modes for Liberation are also rather disappointing. In a game mode like Capture the Flag, if your flag carrier dies, it's super simple for an enemy sniper to camp back and shoot anybody that's about to pick up the flag on your team. I really can't think of any one objective game mode that could be fun on this map... and if you wanted to get any enjoyment out of ANY objective mode, you'd sure as hell better have a tactical insertion in your class, because otherwise you'll be running a half mile to get to the enemy flag. Almost entirely just because of how the map looks, and not how it's played, I give Liberation a ... 3/5

Piazza: When I saw the previews for these maps before release, I was actually more excited for Liberation than Piazza. After playing Liberation, I was dissatisfied to say the least. In the initial video I saw for Piazza, I felt that from a distance it looked way too much like Favela. Fortunately for me, - Favela was one of my least favorite maps in MW3 - Piazza is nothing like Favela, and is also the exact polar opposite of what Liberation is as far as map design. While Liberation is quite possibly the largest map in Modern Warfare 3, Piazza is one of the smallest - not much longer than Dome, I don't think. If you didn't already know, it takes place at some town in Italy, right near the water. The landscape looks incredibly nice, and I really love the design of the map. But as you can see from my Liberation score, that's not what makes a good map.

Fortunately, Piazza looks great, and plays pretty decently too. While Liberation is a map that I feel is almost good for nothing, Piazza plays well in TDM, S&D, and CTF to name a few. Its small size make a shotgun (A.K.A. Striker) or SMG a necessity, while there are virtually no areas where a sniper or even assault rifle could win. Piazza is a very small map with several buildings, sets of stairs, and corners. The main problem I have with Piazza is the same that I tend to have with Dome - it can get very clusterfuck-ish, and you WILL be shot in the back/spawnkilled repeatedly if you're unlucky enough to have that happen (I didn't mention it in my review of Liberation, but the spawning in that map - even with it's gigantic size - is pretty poor as well from my early on experiences.). It's not a fantastic map by any means, but it is most certainly a better map all around than Liberation is. 3.75/5


And that's that - the first Content Drop for MW3 reviewed. Disappointed by the scores? Did you play the maps yourself and not care for them much either? Yeah. I was extremely unhappy with these two maps. To be honest, I'd go as far as saying that this is the most disappointing content I've ever gotten from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. I sure hope Infinity Ward can 'wow' me next time, because if this Content Drop is a sign of things to come, I surely won't be happy.


Friday, January 06, 2012

How to Get Better at Modern Warfare 3

If you're frustrated of getting your ass handed to you in Modern Warfare 3, you've hopefully come to the right place to get that turned around.

1.) Learn the Maps: This shouldn't come as a surprise, because it's really important in any game you play to be familiar with it. When I say learn the maps, I don't mean just play them a million times over going to the same area of every map (Which is why camping will not help you.), but explore. I have over 3 days played now, and I STILL see some people hopping up in areas of maps I didn't know existed.

2.) Beat the Campaign/Spec Ops Missions on Veteran: While the Call of Duties have gotten considerably easier with each coming release, if you can beat the game on veteran, then you should be in decent shape online.

3.) Do Spec Ops Survival: Sort of similar to number two, but even more helpful, as the maps you play on are the same ones that are online. When doing Survival Mode, you're both learning the maps, and getting a fair amount of experience with different guns and perks in the game. Not to mention it's actually pretty fun and challenging, too.

4.) Choose Perks Wisely: If you're playing a game mode like S&D, I strongly recommend you use a perk like Dead Silence, as it's the most useful for the game type (Although Sit Rep is also useful in S&D), and to not use something like Scavenger, as it's completely worthless in that mode. I highly recommend you make game-mode specific classes if you play more than one.

5.) Change it Up: If you find yourself playing one game type, such as Team Deathmatch, stop. Playing other modes encourages you to explore different areas of maps, learn choke points, and if you have a headset or are playing with friends, it encourages team work. That is, if you care about winning. But I'd assume you do, which is why you're reading this in the first place.

6.) QUIT CAMPING/Go for the Objective: If you happen to be one of many players in the Modern Warfare 3 community that likes to sit in corners during the length of game play, you really need to stop. What this does is two things: First of all, you only become familiar with one or a couple spots of any particular map. Perhaps more importantly, go for the objective. There's nothing more frustrating than being in a match of Domination and having somebody on your team playing like it's Team Deathmatch. I.E., in it for the kills.

7.) Pick up Black Ops: When in doubt and nothing seems to be working, get Call of Duty: Black Ops. Black Ops has the mode I talked about earlier - Combat Training - which lets you play multiplayer maps by yourself against bots at a difficulty of your choosing. It's really the best way to train your thumbs.

Game Review (NFL Blitz Arcade - Xbox LIVE Arcade)

I was a huge fan of NFL Blitz 2000 on the N64, and seeing this on XBLA made it an instant-buy for me. In case you're wondering if it stacks up, the answer is yes. NFL Blitz games of old were great because they were high scoring, frantic, fast paced, and had a hefty amount of rubberbanding, which was both beneficial and not-so-very beneficial at times... but that's what made it Blitz.

All that should be said is that this game should be bought if you had any interest at all in past Blitz games. This game is what those games were and more (except for the late hits. Unfortunately, the NFL wouldn't let EA put them in the game. Bummer, right?). Blitz Arcade is a really worthwhile game if you're a fan of games that like to make you shake and nearly give you a heart attack - every game is close from beginning to end, and you'll likely find many of your games going to overtime.

While the subtractions of late hits is disappointing, the new features make up for the absence. There is now a Gauntlet mode, a la Mortal Kombat, that allows you to choose a team and go head-to-head against the A.I. until you get to the top. It's fun because there are boss modes in between real NFL teams that include the likes of cowboys, lions, and many more.

Another new mode, and perhaps my favorite, is what EA has in its most popular sports games now, and that's the whole card thing. You know, where you earn in-game currency (In this case, Blitz Bucks) to buy card packs to improve your team, team logos, banners, and even cheats -- albeit ones that are purely visual.

The graphics are pretty good for an arcade game, the game runs pretty smoothly, the commentary is funny (even if it can get a bit redundant at times), and the game is about as fun as ever. What I think will really make NFL Blitz Arcade worth going back to is its Blitz League mode (The one where you use Blitz Bucks to build a team). The thing I'm really worried about though with Blitz Arcade is that I don't know just how long the game will last.

I say that because the only way to get Blitz Bucks is to play online, and obviously, if no ones online, you won't be getting the currency, and so the Blitz League mode will die, leaving you to play with nobody but the A.I. Even if that does happen, Blitz Arcade is a measly 1200 MSP ($15), and you're more than likely going to get several hours of worth from this game... so do yourself a favor and get it.

+: Best Blitz since NFL Blitz 2000; pretty decent commentary; say good-bye to playing in the same; old generic stadium; new features are awesome.

-: As good as this game is, nothing will beat the original few games; As is a worry with any XBLA game, how long will there be an online community?