BF3 – the story so far

The Battlefield 3 Beta has been out since the 26th of September now and I started playing it yesterday. Why so late? I wasn’t one of the special people who either pre-purchased BF3 via Origin (because I won’t be playing it on PC, although I have it pre-ordered elsewhere), nor did I buy the truly awful Medal of Honor. This meant that the Beta was not available to me, and everyone else until the 29th. Sure, I downloaded it on all three platforms (PC, PS3, XBOX) on the 29th, but it was a nice day so I opted to go outside (BLASPHEMY!) rather than play video games.

There was another reason why I wasn’t in a rush to play the Beta. I’d already played it. Not the Beta itself, but the Alpha a couple of months earlier. The Alpha was Operation Metro, the Beta is Operation Metro. Some players on PC were invited in to Conquest on Caspian Border to load test the servers, but that map/game mode apparently will not be available to console players. Ironically, despite all the big talk about dealing with those who broke the NDA on the alpha, at least one of the players who broke the NDA was on the Caspian Border map…. using the same gamertag as in the Alpha. That is a total pisstake by that player, and also EA/DICE for allowing it to happen (unless of course they were allowing him to “leak” the footage to begin with).

So at this point I’m a bit fed up of the same map all the time. The good news is that there have been a number of changes between the Alpha and the Beta. For example, the LAV. This was an attacker armoured vehicle but is now absent from the Beta. When I first spawned I went looking for it, but it wasn’t on the map. It took me a while to realise it wasn’t there.

The positions of the MComs on the first base (in the park) have also changed for the better. The locations are more accessible for both sides without having direct lines of sight from spawn.

You no longer vault over everything, it’s possible to leap small obstacles without doing an impersonation of Daley Thompson’s Decathalon. The vaulting is still there, and it is a cool animation, so it’s good that it’s limited mainly to objects you would normally vault.

Flashlights are in. These were mentioned in pre-Alpha posts but weren’t in the Alpha. They are a gift and a curse. The flashlight, which I’m going to call a torch from now, since I’m not American, and it takes less to type are a gift when you see the beam coming and you fire at the source to get the kill, but a curse when you’re totally blinded (especially by a team mate) and get killed. In the Alpha there was only the RDS or laser sight which caused a red blinding effect, this is also in the Beta.

The biggest hinderance I’ve had so far has been a single team mate with the damned torch. Trying to hold down an MCom is not easy when some window licker keeps running past, blinding you. It’s a bit like the team mates who blow up your mines in BC2…. “thanks dude, that was really helpful”.

What about the weapons? Well the MLG Pro are using the PP2000 and UMP45 this season as those laser death cannon kill you before you know it. The M70 shotgun is an adequate counter – but requires you to be up close and is mostly a two hit kill unless you get a head shot.

It’ll be interesting to see what others make of the different weapons and unlocks as you have to unlock each attachment for each weapon. For some I can see them getting to the level where they unlock the UMP45 and not using any other weapon unless DICE “balances” the damage characteristics.

Lastly on this let’s talk about graphics. PC understandably has the best graphics out of the three available platforms (mainly as it’s outputting on current hardware rather than components that are over half a decade old). From there it’s pretty subjective, platform of choice. Both the PS3 and Xbox360 have positives and negatives against them in the graphical department, but nothing that really puts one much much much above the other. Here’s a visual comparison between the platforms:

But don’t forget: IT’S A BETA
Which means that DICE are looking for areas that they can improve on.

That’s it. Stop reading now.

Day 2 on the Xbox, K/D: 0.71

After taking part in the Don’t Revive Me Bro podcast with bigmooney and bebarnee last night I went on to Xbox in an attempt to level up some more in order to get the Magnum Ammo at level 15.

I joined #MongolianGnome’s party and we entered Harvest Day for some conquest. Before we started I asked John what level he was since that would skill match us against players of his level in the game – as a level 30-something I was expecting more of a challenge than when I enter the game alone to be joined by blueberries with a skill level of similarly intelligent molluscs.

As it happens we did have more of a challenge, especially when we spawned 100 tickets down with all flags already capped. We started 3 v 2 but then it became 3 v 5 when every person entering the game joined the other side. Although we made a valiant effort we couldn’t claw back the tickets and saw the long slow bleed as we ran from flag to flag to be confronted by the other players and one incredibly obnoxious teabagger.

Sure, I have a reputation for teabaggery, but I do not do it after every single kill, in fact I seldom do it to non-friends unless they’ve been particularly troublesome or annoying to begin with. This guy was something else.

The second round was different and we totally demolished the other team to point of them quitting when they were down to about 30 tickets. Typical! They can give it, but not take it.

Then on to Panama Canal, which is personal favourite of mine, and again we had most of the flags for the majority of the time. I did numerous rambo revives which were very enjoyable and I even managed to kill some people too. My K/D (which I’m only mentioning for comparison between playing against more skilled players compared to the first couple of games) went down to 0.71 from 1.23 on the first night.

My main issue on the Xbox is the sticks do not have the same accuracy as the PS3 controller sticks and the fire button (Right Trigger) is currently awkward to use for pistols as you have to depress it all the way to fire unlike the straight microswitch on PS3. This means that I miss fire the pistol.

All in all the Xbox is fun but I need Donncha and DrunkinDunkin to get on at some point!

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – MrCheapKills
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David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

Why not check out my new gaming site: backslashgaming.com

PS3: I Love You, but…

I love the PS3. It’s wonderful. The original fat one with the piano black finish, the new slim one with the…. quieter stuff. Brilliant bit of hardware, Bluray player, online gaming for free (unlike the bloody Xbox360), but since PSN has been down for almost three weeks which has included not only the most Bank Holidays all at one time this country has ever seen but also a four day weekend thanks to some holiday booking at work.

Sony’s timing with the PS3 has never been good. They took so long to release it that I originally bought an Xbox360. That was 2006. It wasn’t until 2008 that I got the PS3. By that time I’d gotten really annoyed with the nature of XBL. Why? Oh I’ll tell you why:

1 – Arseholes. My console online gaming experiences were not pleasant (I was originally a PC gamer back in the day). Not that anything was done to me, but having to listen to the abuse people were giving one another…. not my cup of tea. I played some CoD4 and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter before deciding that online wasn’t really for me.

2 – Paying to play games online. When you pay for XBL what exactly are you getting? The ability to tell your Xbox that you want to play online. All the dashboard and party thingies and chat doodas are ancillary. It’s ridiculous. I paid for the console, I bought the game, I pay my internet service provider, but if I want to use them all together I have to pay Microsoft for the honour of playing on a system that they have failed to keep secure?! The Xbox360 is hacked, cracked and exploited and Microsoft cannot or will not do anything to prevent it from happening. Bag of shite.

3 – I wasn’t really playing all that much and didn’t want to play online with a bunch of arseholes (see 1.).

Things have changed (not in terms of my opinion of paying for XBL – that is still a huge con no matter how you dress it up), I now have a number of friends online who are also XBL players, some exclusively which means that I’ve got people to join up with on games that I enjoy playing. And that’s the main thing.

Having decent people to be in game with totally changed the online experience for me. Donncha was actually the first person on console that I actually spoke to properly, and up until that point I had a really dim view of the online gaming scene.

Anyhoo, here’s the thing. If I pay for XBL live then I’m not sure how much I’m actually going to use the PS3. We already know that developers seem to put more effort in to coding for the Xbox and then do a shitty port to PS3 in the hope that no one notices. I’m more likely to buy a game on the platform that I’m paying to use as well which could mean that the PS3 is left to legacy titles and PS3 exclusives.

We’ll see how it goes. Should be on Xbox by next weekend. Add MrCheapKills for teabagging events and general shenanigans.

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – MrCheapKills
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David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

Why not check out my new gaming site: backslashgaming.com

Coding for the Lowest Common Denominator

Back in the 80’s (the 1980’s not the 1880’s) a trend began where technology was diffused not based on what was best, but by who had the biggest market share.

To my memory it first started with the VCR formats. On the one side you had Betamax (from Sony) and on the other VHS (from JVC). Both were developed by massive Japanese companies, but technically Betamax was the superior format. We had a Betamax VCR and my older brothers enlightened my young mind to not only piracy, but also The Evil Dead. It was a shockingly awful copy, but none the less it did have an impact on how I viewed the world, and particularly trees, for quite a while later.

You all remember Betamax right? Okay, let me rephrase that: all of you who are over 30 remember Betamax right? The rest of you are probably going Beta…who? Well here’s Jimmy Wales’ link for some background. In a nutshell what happened was that Sony were so confident that they had the superior product they were sure it would sell itself. JVC on the other hand embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign.

The result: prior to the DVD generation pretty much everyone had a VHS VCR and Betamax was mostly forgotten.

My second eye opener for better format/technology being trumped by better market share was with my first computer – the Amstrad CPC464 (and I know that good buddy Hypermole had one too). At the time the competition was the Commodore64 and the ZXSpectrum, however, the Amstrad and Commodore were both superior to the ZXSpectrum in graphics and general capability (a bit like PS3 and Xbox compared to the Wii today), but the ZXSpectrum had a much larger market share and as such many game developers coded for the Speccy and then ported them to the other formats.

So for many games played on full colour machines were made to suffer the four colour blocky graphics of the ZXSpectrum. Even then, in my young mind, I felt that I was being short changed. I had this machine with all these capabilities yet I was being denied the opportunity to fully experience them because games were being coded for a lesser machine. I could never understand why they weren’t coded for the better hardware and then ‘dumbed down’ for the other formats rather than starting with the ‘dumbed down’ version and….. leaving it at that!

Then we had HD-DVD versus BluRay. Thankfully, this time around the better tech won the day!

Now we’re in 2010 and it’s the same shit…. different decade. But this time it’s a more closely matched thing. I’m not getting in to a format war here. I have both Xbox360 and PS3 (and a Wii) and the PS3 is technically the most capable machine. Yet we’re still seeing the ‘start dumb and hope no-one notices’ approach to product releases.

Black Ops…. I was talking to one of the guys I game with and he said that it was clearly coded for the Xbox and ported to PS3, the Xbox experience being much better as well. And it seems that he’s not the only person to have noticed this as there is now a petition doing the rounds relating to the sub-standard service that the PS3 community is receiving from Black Ops and Treyarch compared to Xbox360 users:

http://www.reghardware.com/2010/11/26/cod_black_ops_refund_petition/

http://www.product-reviews.net/2010/10/28/call-of-duty-black-ops-ps3-version-has-been-gimped/

I don’t have Black Ops, and after seeing this news I think I’ll be definitely be giving it a miss. I didn’t mind so much back in the 80’s when people for the most part didn’t know what they were doing, but I don’t accept this now. It’ll be interesting to see what the excuses are this time….. if Treyarch responds at all.

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


David Nicol is Articles Editor for hupitgaming.com, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

Xbox360 Overheating Problem Solved?

Recently Microsoft announced the release of the sexy 360 slim. Black and shiny (hmmm sounds like the original PS3….), more reliable and quieter than the original WHOOOOOOOOSH version. At this point I’d like to remind everyone that I am platform neutral so let there be no console wars here.

To make the console slimmer (and probably to save money too) Microsoft combined the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and the Central Processing Unit (CPU) in to one super chip. That’s fine…… if you’ve got enough power and cooling to allow it to run efficiently.

Anyone who has ever built their own computer, especially one for gaming, will be familiar with the pitfalls and trade offs when choosing processors, cooling implements, air flow and optimisation. So for Microsoft to opt for an integrated CPU/GPU seems like a serious case of logic failure. Especially if they’ve done away with the WHOOOOOOSH that makes the Xbox such a pleasure to play using headphones.

But already there is a vid on YouTube apparently showing the new slim Xbox360 overheating. I say ‘apparently’ as there is no real info on the circumstances and although there are definitely lines on the screen, it is not clear that they have actually been caused by the Xbox rather than some other cause such as crappy connections, interference or maybe even some sort of subterfuge to denigrate the new slim Xbox.

If we take the video author at their word (and we have little other choice) then it looks like Microsoft have replaced one design flaw with another.

Peas and loaves.

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Paging Alan Wake….

*This is also posted at GamesInANutshell*

Anyone who has been watching Machinima videos for the past…… I don’t know how long, it’s probably like seventy years in Internet terms, will have noticed references to Alan Wake.

If you’re missing your quota of gumption you’ll be posting “Hey! WTF is up with the popups!? You suck Machinima! YOU SUUUUCK!!!11!!11!eleventy1!” or words to that effect in the comments section of every video they put up. If you have a small amount of gumption you’ll have turned annotations off.

Everyone else will know that Alan Wake is a game that is coming to the Xbox360, there are also mini episodes or tasters (mmmmm….morsels) – live action films to give you the creeps make you interested in the title.

The short films are a bit odd – anyone old enough to have watched Twin Peaks will be familiar with the level of wierdness. For everyone else, it’s weird! What!? You haven’t seen the films? Boot up your 360 (and by that, I mean turn it on, not kick it across the room) head to the market place and look for the download.

Can’t be bothered? What’s that you say?… “Just show me the damned game!” …thought so. Okay champ! Here goes – the guys at liketotallyawesome have had a sneaky peaky and reviewed. It looks like it’s going to be a pretty engaging game and blurs the line between cinema, gaming and entertainment even more.

Here’s the vid:

Peas and loaves.

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My Thoughts on the BFBC2 Patch

**WARNING – LONG OPINIONATED POST ALERT!**

In Donncha’s post about Shotguns I followed a couple of links and came across the definitive patch list from the horse’s mouth.

The original post can be found here.

I’ve read through the changes and feel my nerfaphobia rising. Weapons should not need to be nerfed or buffed. Issues should be resolved at the very latest in the Beta stage. That’s the point of a Beta isn’t it? The nerfing and buffing appears to be a reaction to general whining rather than genuine issues. When the game is played properly and in the manner it was intended then it is extremely balanced. But when you try and play it as if it was Modern Warfare 2 then it becomes unbalanced.

The nerfing and buffing that is going on is only going to make people move to the next most effective weapon combination. Then what? More complaining? “Oh such-and-such a gun is sooooooooo overpowered :sadface:” More nerfing and buffing until it’s all Ogga Ug Banga Whack Whack?

Here’s each nerf/buff section by section, along with my opinion on the changes:

Increased the base range of all Automatic and Semiautomatic weapons for more consistent close range combat.
Slightly increased the damage of Semiautomatic rifles over long range for more consistent damage output.

….consistency.
agreement, harmony, or compatibility, esp. correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing

So they’ve all been made the same for close and long range damage? That’s what that means to me.

Ogga

Slightly reduced the base damage of the M16 and G3 to balance the increased range.
Slightly increased the damage of the AEK971, F2000, AN94, and AUG over long range to balance them with other Assault Rifles.

…. so the M16, G3, AEK971, F2000 and AUG now all have the same damage to range ratio?

Ug

Reduced the lethal blast range of the 40mm grenade and M2CG to highlight their role as a secondary weapon against infantry.
Slightly Reduced the max range of the 40mm shotgun to balance it with other shotguns.
Slightly increased the base damage of shotgun rounds and reduced their range to clarify ideal shotgun combat distance.

Okay – this has to be the most messed up nerfybuff so far….. reducing the explosive damage of explosive weapons to make them more of a secondary choice against infantry. Both the grenade launcher and Carl-G take one lunar cycle to reload which means that unless you’ve actually killed everyone on the map you’re going to be dead if you try and use either of them as a serious choice for offence. They are explosive weapons, not bubble blowers – the clue is in the name. KABLAMMO go BOOMY! If a weapon is capable of taking out a tank or a helicopter then funnily enough it should also be ideal for vapourising a group of enemy that are engaged in a group hug.

Then we have the shotguns (which Donncha’s original post was about). Fair enough, reduce the range of the Master Key attachment (which should have a ridiculously short range anyway), but upping the damage and reducing the range of the shotguns in general…..

Banga

Reduced the base damage of the PP2000 to balance the increased range.
Increased the damage of the 9A91 over long range to balance its lower magazine size.

So the PP2000 (which is crappy compared to the Uzi) is now the same as the 9A91…. which means that the fifth gun you unlock a gun is not really any better than the first gun you get except it has a higher rate of fire…. Fab!

Increased the damage and range of the M9, M93 pistols to make them more desirable as a secondary weapon.
Increased the range of the MP443 pistol to make it more desirable as a secondary weapon.
Increased the damage of the MP412 over long range to balance its low rate of fire.
Slightly reduced the rate of fire of the M1911 pistol to balance it with other pistols.

Don’t bother reading that ^^
In a nutshell: all the pistols are now the same.

Whack

Increased the repair and overheat speeds of the Power Tool. Now overheats sooner but repairs the same amount before overheating.
Increased the maximum number of Motion Sensors that can be carried from 2 to 3 and increased the speed which new sensors are acquired from ammo boxes.
Significantly increased the speed of the Tracer Dart projectile to make it more effective against airborne targets.
Increased the reload time of the Mortar Strike and reduced the damage it does to heavily armored vehicles.
Decreased the range of Bolt Action Sniper and Pump Shotgun Slug rounds when using Magnum Ammo for better Kit Balance, especially in Hardcore.
Slightly increased the Health of soldiers in Hardcore for better Kit Balance.

The first one, the repair tool – lolwhut? Increase the repair speed and overheat speed so it has the same effects but faster!? Why?! I’m not a mechanic but I know that it takes a damned sight longer than a couple of seconds to repair a vehicle. The repair time should be INCREASED not decreased. Or have it on a damage/repair ratio – the more heavily damaged a vehicle the longer it takes to recover each “blip” to a certain amount. Instead they make it easier for Engineers to keep vehicles running?

Tracer dart speed – I’ve considered this one for a while as I have a real problem hitting helicopters with the tracer dart. The increases speed will help me no end….. but I don’t want it. I think it’s fine the way it is. If they increase the speed, why not introduce bullet drop as they are effectively grossly unbalancing the tracer dart just because people complain that they can’t hit shit with it!

Increasing the mortar strike reload time…okay, I don’t have a problem with that, but reducing the damage against heavy armour? Now there’s an excuse for a whole squad of wookies:- “we’re providing mortar support….”

Decreasing slug range….. okay, fair enough on that one. Realistically slug rounds are heavier so shouldn’t go as far. But increasing health in hardcore – seriously!?

Increased the benefit from the Medkit Heal+ specialization to make it more desirable as a Specialization.
Decreased the benefit from Vehicle Reload Speed to balance it against other Vehicle Specializations.
Slightly decreased the benefit from accuracy specializations to balance the changes to range and accuracy tweaks.

Fixed a bug where the BMD3 would take extra damage to the front armor.
Reduced the explosive damage from Attack Helicopter cannons.
Increased the damage of AA guns against all targets. The AA gun should be much more effective against infantry on Port Valdez.

Medkit Heal+ isn’t used in preference to other specialisations because you get more points for kills. If they want people to more interested in objectives and using kits as they are intended then they should change the scoring.
Why reduce the vehicle reload speed spec? It is offset by an enemy running armour…..or did they forget?
Reducing the accuracy spec because the weapons have been equalised…… oh come on! What’s the point of using it then?
And the last couple…. talk about schizophrenic. Too much Boomy, not enough Boomy, all go Boomy Boomy. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Whack

But I’m not complaining. I couldn’t care less what they change. If you have a decent squad then it doesn’t really matter what the other side are using. Getting M60’d is annoying, but not as annoying as an M60’er being blown away from across the map by an M870 magnum/slug combo (muahahaha!).

There’s always a counter to something that is being used in game. Whining is not a valid tactic. (but winning is)

Peas and loaves.

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