MOH, Black Ops, BF:Vietnam…. Decisions.

There are three first person shooters (FPS) options coming out within the next couple of months. There’s Medal of Hono(u)r from EA/DICE due out on October 12th, Call of Duty Black Ops from Activision/Treyarch on November 9th and the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam expansion pack (again from EA/DICE) due to be released in “winter”. Decisions will have to be made.

What to get, what not to get. Whether to bother getting any of them….

Here’s my position at the moment. I played the MOH Beta and was fairly uninspired. Apparently EA have made many changes to the game since the closed beta…. but they can’t change what it is: a connection based shooter. And as everyone knows, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Talking of connection based shooters, Black Ops fits there too and to be perfectly honest I think I’ve had it with connection based shooters.

Oh..what’s ‘a connection based shooter’? Good question. It’s all about ping, and how it’s dealt with. Essentially, the lower your ping, the more advantage you have. I’ve touched on ping before and its effects in game, but in a nutshell the person with the lower ping has their actions recognised by the server first. In connection based shooters this equates to lower ping, rather than fastest finger, wins. For example, if two people face each other off, Player 1 has a ping of 50ms and Player 2 has a ping of 100ms. Even if they both press fire at EXACTLY the same time in the real world Player 1 is going to blow away Player 2. Brilliant.

Recently, I’ve picked up CoD4 and 5 and my gaming experience has been very poor because of ping. Especially as most connection based shooters do not use dedicated servers which means that every player is not only at the mercy of their own connection, but also of that of the host! For many people it’s not something they even think about, but for me it’s a major pain in the ass and I’m fed up shelling out cash for a bad player experience. Having two decent rounds out of ten just doesn’t appeal to me which is why I’ve recently been playing less connection dependent games (and non-FPS).

So if we’re decided that MOH and Black Ops are not going to get a look in due to their connection based nature (and MOH is poo) then surely that leaves the Vietnam expansion pack for BFBC2. A sure fire bet!

No. EA and DICE have pretty much blown it now. Why the hell would I want to give a company MORE money when they continue to insult us. Oh sure, there’s the Gun Club “loyalty” system, in which I’ve earned two rewards so far, one which is anonymous and “coming soon” and the other is as useful as a chocolate teapot (early unlock for the M24 on MOH…).

Currently, as far as I’m concerned, BFBC2 is a mess and will continue to be a mess until they sort out the crate bashers. Conquest and Squad Death Match are not as engrossing game modes as Rush, but what gets me is that crate bashing was a game ruining “feature” in BC1….. so why is it in BC2 at all? DICE apparently have 34 “issues” that they’re looking in to from feedback on the forums – what those issues are, and which of them they will realistically fix, seems to be a closely guarded secret.

While BFBC2 continues as is, I won’t be buying any expansions for it. And when BFBC3 comes out, maybe I’ll just wait for six months after it comes out and get the Retail Ultimate Edition for less than the release edition with all the added bits that everyone else paid for….and a cherry on top.

So that’s nought for three at this moment in time. I’m finding it very difficult to be enthusiastic about any shooter games because it’s effectively all the same bullshit wrapped in different packaging being sold to us by a bunch of spivs who want the dollar, but not the responsibility.

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David Nicol is Articles Editor at

Medal of Honor Does it Again…

Back in 2002 (or so) when Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (MOHAA) was released there was murmuring about how it was an insult to those who died in World War Two by being able to play as Axis (read: Germans). This was a bit of controversy and allowed all the wind bags to pipe up about how video games are the work of the devil and the biggest threat to humanity after Global Warming.

So here’s a quick bit of history for those not familiar with the original MOHAA game. In the single player game you play as an Allied soldier and you essentially battle through D-Day starting with the Normandy landings. Personally, the beach landing brought it home to me how tough a job the real heroes of D-Day had. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ did a good job of dramatising it, but this gave you the chance to be “part” of it. Obviously a keyboard and mouse is nothing like the real thing, but it’s the closest most of us will ever get to the horrors of war.

The game itself follows the historical route of the D-Day landings and simulated some of the scenarios faced by the Allies as they turned the tide of the war. The controversy was the multiplayer aspect – you could choose to play as….. *gasp and swoon* THE NAZIS! They weren’t referred to in the game as “the Nazis” at any point, with EA choosing the more acceptable term: ‘Axis’ (of EVIL…). But that was where the wind bags had the problem. “Choosing to play as a Nazi!? It’s an insult to all those brave men who died!”

Actually no. But when it comes down to it you’ve got a multiplayer game where the objective is to kill each other, you have two sides which means that one side has to be the Allies and the other has to be….. Axis. An insult would have been a multiplayer based on UK vs USA – there was plenty of blue on blue during WWII but not really appropriate in any game.

The main issue seems to have been because the game was based on events from living memory. There were no such qualms about the RTS games of the time featuring historic battles from the Napoleonic era. There were no newspaper articles filled with such nuggets as “My great-great-great-grandfather didn’t die at Cape Finisterre so that you could play video games about it!”. So that seems to be the touch paper – propinquity. How close to the present is the depiction in the game to cause “offense”.

Considering that ‘The War on Iraq/Afghanistan Terror’ is still ongoing it was only a matter of time before the politicians started filling their windbags with hot air ready to blow in Medal of Honor’s direction. Although it’s fairly obvious that they have no concept of the games industry, or what is going on otherwise they would have been “offended” prior to the imminent launch of the game.

On Sunday, Mr Fox said he was “disgusted” by the game, which allows players to adopt the role of the Taliban in the Afghan war.

“It’s hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.”

Hmm…. what other side should you be able to choose? You have two sides! You have to be one or the other if you want to have a multiplayer game. It’s about war – a war that Dr Liam Fox backed from the start (voting for both the invasion of Iraq AND Afghanistan) so surely he should be pleased that the electorate can get each other virtually killed without having to travel thousands of miles at the taxpayers expense. EA are doing him a favour by creating a marketing and recruitment tool not seen since America’s Army in 2003. After all, games have been shown to be an excellent recruitment tool so there should be plenty of people signing up to continue the war that Dr Liam Fox helped create and perpetuate.

If anything it should also cut down on the insurgency (or at least the amount of people planning on becoming insurgents) when they realise how shitty the Taliban weapons and uniforms are compared to the US equipment. But no. The politician’s thinking probably went like this:

1- Go on YouTube looking for Hannah Montana in concert
2 – Related videos ‘Medal of Honor’
3 – Watch ‘Medal of Honor’ trailer
4 – Thinks….’hmm maybe I can get an Xbox on expenses….”
5 – Reads the IGN review….. WHAT?! YOU CAN PLAY AS THE TALIBAN! /ban mode activated

Films (and later, games) that graphically portrayed events in Vietnam suffered similar criticism when they were released in the late 70’s and early 80’s with the same reason given: It’s an insult to those who died. Personally, I think it’s an insult to those that died, and especially to those that survived to attempt to prohibit works – whether they are film, games or even art – that present a perspective on events that have already happened. As I said earlier, prior to seeing Saving Private Ryan and playing MOHAA I’d never really given any thought to what it was actually like to have been there – I’d seen pictures, old film and read about the events, but it was never “real” to me. Those events changed that for me and gave me a new respect for those who were involved – on both sides of the war.

Politicians: pointless windbags who only urinate whatever way the wind is blowing and spend so much time concentrating on the direction of the wind they lose touch with reality. Here’s a reality check. Medal of Honor will probably have an ESRB rating of 18. The age of majority (for voting) in the UK is 18. The average gamer is aged around 18. It’ll be interesting at election time.

But let’s not forget something important – these are video GAMES. Games! Not real. No matter what they are based on.

For your information – I support every single service person who is sent wherever our politicians send them to do the shitty jobs that they would never touch themselves. I do not, and never have supported the invasions of Iraq and Afganistan based on the reasons given by the politicians (yes, Saddam and the Taliban needed to be gone, but that was not the way to do it). In general, politicians are not worth the skin on their backs. And both my grandfathers served in WWII, one in the Merchant Navy and the other for the Polish forces (who was caught and escaped twice from PoW camps before making it to Scotland).

Medal of Honor Beta – First Impressions

I’m trying very hard to focus on the positives here. It is a bit difficult, I know that it’s a beta, but there are some problems that really shouldn’t be in a beta – they should have been picked up in QA prior to any public launch (closed or not).

So I’m going to get the negative bits off my chest first otherwise I’ll just be sugar coating them.

1 – Freezing – when playing as Afghan/Local/Insurgent if you check the scrore screen during spawn the PS3 freezes, if you score 40 points with your gun the PS3 freezes. I think it may be an anti-terrorist measure, but it’s definitely annoying and worrying too. I don’t want my PS3 freezing! What happens if it freezes and the magic smoke escapes – I’m pretty sure that in the T&Cs I agreed to to play the Beta there would have been a section that says something like: “Your PS3 may explode, we accept no responsibility for such situations….” so I’m thinking that either I’m not going to play the Beta until this issue is resolved, or just not play as the locals. Which brings us nicely on to….

2 – Unbalanced Teams – it seems that the only people who actually choose to play as the locals, or let the system choose for them are the new players like me. The freezing issue means that people are opting NOT to play on the locals side, and those that do get frozen out of the game as soon as they manage to string a couple of kills together. So you end up with hugely unbalanced games. I thought it was just DICE’s awesome team balancing effort again, but on ponderation the reason is now clear (see 1 above).

3 – Arse Backward Weapons – Weapons that should be strong are weak and vice versa. Especially the tank – it’s redundant and pointless.

4 – Non-destructible environments and pointless vehicles – I don’t understand the reasoning for having indestructible environments, especially when you have tanks in the mix. Fair enough don’t have guns damaging buildings, but RPGs and tank rounds should damage them, or at least injure people hiding behind them. Do I really have to get a perfect headshot with a tank against someone hiding behind a MUD BRICK wall before they can fire a rocket at me from their impenetrable fortress of dust? Come on, it’s ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the vehicles themselves. The tanks should really just be stationary heavy MGs or something as the maps make it that you can’t go anywhere in them anyway. The maps are too small and the battle areas are too cramped for tanks.

I think that’s the negative bits out of the way…. so on with the positives:

It looks nice.

It also rewards players who put the time in with godly powerful weapons, but that’s a bit moot if EA/DICE continue with their pay-to-boost business model.

As andresparra said to me about the game: “it combines all that the Battlefield fanboys hate about COD with all that the COD fanboys hate about the Battlefield saga”. I think that fairly sums it up in its current state.

Let’s not forget that this is still in the Beta stage so any and all of the negative aspects will probably change. It’ll be interesting to see the difference between this beta and the demo (if they bring a demo out) or the full game. Currently I don’t see this game being high on my list of games to buy. You can’t be all things to all people and this is what Medal of Honor is attempting to be.

Peas and loaves.

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MOH Beta

Today one of the guys from YouTube gave me a code for the Beta of Medal of Honor from EA/DICE which is awesome in itself. I’ve never played the beta of any game before so this is two firsts in one for me.

I got it all sorted out without any problem – I guess I must be lucky due to the amount of people complaining about not being able to get in to the beta, or it could be that DICE have done some tweaking. I had a quick partial game of whatever the conquest type mode was on Helmand playing as the locals. It was only a quick game to make sure it was all working okay.

When I spawned it was to the losing side – DICE at its finest – and quickly found that pretty much everything is different to both MW2 and BFBC2. The Americans(?) were attacking and they were in their tank. It shot me in the face a number of times while I tried to hit it with the 40mm grenade launcher until my daughter helpfully said during one of my numerous spawns “Why don’t you play as that guy with the thing on his back?”. I’d been choosing the assault class each time, not realising that the ‘special ops’ class had an RPG! It is a bit silly though – I would have thought that Spec-ops would be have been some sort of sneaky mode class – not a KABLAMMMO LOOK AT ME OVER HERE class. But I digress.

Over all my initial taste was fairly frustrating, but that’s down to me for the most part. I’ll be playing it later and recording it in order to give my view of the beta so far.

Peas and loaves.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops

(apologies for the annotations – Machinima are “subliminally” plugging Alan Wake)

Last night Mike asked me if I’d be getting the new Call of Duty game when it comes out. At the moment, I’m falling on the “No” side of the decision fence. Not because I have anything against Treyarch, or Activision, nor do I have a problem with the Call of Duty series. It’s because I don’t like trees.

I don’t have some pathological hatred of them. It’s not like I go to the park and scream abuse at them. I just mean in games I don’t like trees. It all stems back to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. There was a level on there, in the snow, with snipers and you had to get through this forest without getting killed. It sucked. You’d be getting sniped and be thinking “if I haven’t got a clue where you are, how the bloody hell can you see me!?”.

Then there was the Ghost Recon series, and notably the Island Thunder expansion pack. On that game the AI was programmed in such a way that they would always get you with a headshot if you didn’t kill them quick enough (they disguised this with erratic firing first). So when you’re stumbling through the jungle and they catch a glimpse of you, if you haven’t seen them, you’re toast – and forget about hiding because if they lose sight of you, then they would chuck grenades directly where you were cowering.

Now we have BFBC2 – damn those trees! How many times have you been killed by someone, and the after kill cam shows you them sitting in a tree like a massive homicidal squirrel? And it’s not just wookies either, I see engineers and medics hiding in the bushes (not assault goes as much though).

So the idea of a game based around a war that was fought pretty much exclusively in a jungle environment makes me think two things: “Charlie…… in the trees” and “The horror…”

But I’m reserving judgement a little bit after seeing the trailer. It looks like Agent Orange has been doing some work already so maybe there won’t be as much foliage fear as I suspected.

Peas and loaves.

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Infinity Ward – Is this the end for gaming?

This post relates to the sacking/quitting of Jason West and Vince Zampella by Activision for “breach of contract and insubordination”. Now the only people who currently know what really happened are Jason West, Vince Zampella, and Activision. I’m not in a position to speculate on what happened, or who did what to whom and why (there are plenty of other resources to look at if that’s your thing) but I did want to touch on one rumour that was bandied about when the news broke. Allegedly Jason and Vince had had a meeting with EA Games and Activision got wind of it. How true that is may or may not come out in the wash, but the very notion of them being in discussions with EA fills me with horror.

To understand why, we need to step back in time……..

2002 – Medal of Honor:Allied Assault (developed by 2015 for EA) was launched to much fanfare and it was for the time a relative commercial success. It was my first real online PC shooter and I had just got the wonderous new technology called broadband so I was able to pwn some noobs (that’s not strictly true, I’m as bad at shooters now as I was then). It was a great game, except for cheating, hacks and exploits online being used by certain groups in the gaming world. At one point it became almost impossible to find a decent game. EA didn’t really address the issues to any meaningful extent and promised that everything would be sorted with the Spearhead expansion pack.

So the Spearhead expansion pack came out for a small amount of time everything was rosy. The expansion pack was good, the maps and new stuff added a new dimension to the game…..but then the cheats, hacks and exploits crept back in and we were back to square one. There were calls for EA to implement PunkBuster or similar technologies, or at the very least….do something.

Then two of the 2015 Medal of Honor guys left, founded Infinity Ward and there was word of a new WW2 shooter called Call of Duty in the pipeline. There was much discussion on the forums and within the groups that I was playing online with about the title. Don’t get me wrong, Medal of Honor was a fantastic game and I spent many hours playing it, but the title was sorely let down by EA. In the end it was obvious that EA only cared about retail sales and had no interest in resolving issues that the gaming community had.

When Call of Duty came out it really was a “Wow!” moment. The game was amazing. It was innovative, it looked good (for the time) and it pushed the boundaries. But even more important was the fact that Infinity Ward actually responded to the gaming community concerns, there was PunkBuster and even more crucially – they patched hacks and exploits quickly. It was like the Golden Age had arrived and its heralds were…..Jason West and Vince Zampella.

So for them to allegedly to have been meeting with EA would have been the end of gaming for me because I no longer buy EA games. Since 2003 every EA title I have purchased has been a disappointment. On the surface the games are pretty, but after playing for a while it’s obvious how repetitive and ugly they really are with clunky controls and glitches. Sometimes when playing EA games it feels like I’ve paid £45 to be a beta tester to find bugs that won’t get fixed – in 2007 I said enough was enough and blacklisted EA.

So there we have it, potentially the end of Infinity Ward as we know it, and unless someone else steps up to bat the end of FPS gaming for me (I don’t like Quake or Halo).

And in other news:

I’ve taken the Cheap Freaks off my controller due to slippage – read the update at the bottom of this post for more info.

It’s the weekend so I’ve been getting my arse handed to me online. I’d like to blame it on the fact that I couldn’t use my headset last night for the majority of time I was online, but in reality all that would have improved would’ve been the forewarning that I was about to get shot in the face. No scores or maps listed as it really doesn’t matter – I went negative on most of them. It was so bad I was considering ringing a victim support line…..

One highlight though was playing HighRise. I decided to try and play a bit more tactically on there after watching sasbenjr’s YouTube videos. Unfortunately there was some idiot running around with commando and the tactical knife…..and it wasn’t me! So after the third time he got me I changed to my Game Rage class but he was still getting me. Using some of sasbenjr’s tips the tac knife commando numpty became my bitch as he kept using the same route! After the fifth time killing him in the same place he became a bit more wary……which just made it easier. He was even the game winning kill cam to my MP5K – HOORAY! So even when you spend the evening being violated, there’s always a bright side.

Peas and loaves.

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