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Posts Tagged ‘XBOX 360’

It’s 2011; No One Has Killed Halo Yet

June 3, 2011 4 comments

Whoa… that’s alot of pitchforks and torches. I do realize that the title of this article is a bit pretentious, however I do have some objective FACTS and EVIDENCE to back up this bold statement. Simmer down any urges to punch me in the face and hear me out for a few moments.

Today’s FPS games are a dime a dozen and first-person shooters are easily the most popular genre of them all. How much can developers really change the experience of looking down the barrel of a gun and blasting away at anything that moves? How did we wind up with all these different games where the core action is the same? Run/Strafe. Move reticle. Aim. Trigger. Reload. Rinse and repeat. Developers have to break up that core action by always giving the player something new to do that supplements the base shooting.

Ever since Halo: Combat Evolved, Bungie always possessed an internal mantra of taking “30 seconds of fun” and stretching it across an entire game. In retrospect, Bungie never relied too heavily on scripted events. They would craft sprawling sandboxes, give the player the tools to have fun, and let the artificial intelligence breathe. Granted, players will navigate through the same environments upon replay like in other games, but the battles unfold differently thanks to the dynamic AI. Most other games are just military-themed shooting galleries with the same terrorist popping out of the same cave and/or bunker.

A screenshot from Call of Honor: Contemporary Conflict 5 Operation: Terrorism Shits It's Pants

You might be thinking, “Whoa this guy has a hard on for Bungie”, but the truth is that first-person shooters (see: Call of duty) are banking the entirety of their excitement on “set-piece” moments. I love my Call of Duty games as much as the next gamer, but recently I’ve discovered (after the release of Black Ops) that replaying the single-player campaign in a Call of Duty title doesn’t maintain the same “wow” factor it did the first time around. These scripted moments are very intense and exciting when they pop your cherry, but coming back to reclaim the White House from Russian soldiers or marching up that hill to kill some more VC is a ride we’ve all been on the first time around. It’s like chewing gum, the flavor is amazing when it’s there but after awhile, you’re just kind of chewing it for the sake of chewing.

This moment was shocking the first time around... but do I really wanna play this part again?

Bungie’s design philosophy allows players to control their experience. Do I want to take this Warhog and tear up this extraterrestrial countryside? Or do I want to nab a Banshee and scope things out from the sky? Or should we take the tank because it’s a fuckin tank? Halo has always given players options to tackle objectives how they see fit and replaying it warrants new experiences. You may state, “Hey Call of Duty has vehicles too” but those moments, may as well be on a rollercoaster. The snowmobile opening in MW2 and the takeover of a Russian Hind in Black Ops will always play out in the same way and the destination will always be the same. At some point the programmer is going to say, “The ride’s over, get off”. A vehicle section in Halo gets me to think, “How long is this vehicle going to last me before the Covenant blows it up with one of theirs?” My point is that If your approach in a Halo game doesn’t work, there’s always another option. In other shooters, you have to act out your role. Why haven’t developers escaped this need to hold my hand to show me something cool? Give me some freedom.

You decide the approach here

When you think about it the Halo formula has never changed since Halo:CE. Bungie gave birth to the then-dreaded, now-lauded two-weapon inventory, dedicated grenade button, and weapon-specific melee. Every installment (with the exception of Halo Wars, duh) never moved away from any of these basics. Halo games have always played like Halo games, you’ll come to an area, unload, circle-strafe, and grenade Covenant (and Flood) to death. This type of gameplay may sound uninteresting to some people, but no one has been able to replicate this to any measure of success. To be objective; how many shooters are you playing now that involve you pulling left trigger to auto-aim somebody and pull right trigger to kill them? Pretty much every major shooter like Battlefiend BC, Borderlands, Call of Duty, Killzone and more recently, Crysis 2 (only to name a few). They may not all be the same type of game but they all PLAY THE SAME. I’m terrified if this control-scheme is going to be the new gold-standard. Yes, the Halo controls and the formula that comes included is about a decade old, but it still works, it’s still fun, and no other game plays quite like it. Who do you think made Y (Triangle) “Switch Weapon”, X (Square) “Reload”, and A (X) “Jump”?

Quick-scoping? No. Just no...

Lets shift our focus over to what is now a strong selling point to most gamers: multiplayer. A proper multiplayer suite was a pipe-dream for most console gamers and developers until Bungie put their foot down. Halo:CE featured co-op play throughout it’s entire campaign via splitscreen, 4-player splitscreen deathmatch, and 16 players via system link. Pretty lackluster by today’s standards undoubtedly, but why are shooters these days still struggling to create a cooperative splitscreen experience? There are too many great games out there where I think to myself, “This would be cool if it had splitscreen.” The Halo franchise was great for getting people to play together.

"I brought some friends... and a few rides.

My heart broke a bit when Battlefield: Bad Company didn’t feature any splitscreen support through it’s campaign. Everyone and their mothers were begging for it in Killzone 2 (we eventually got it in Killzone 3). I don’t want to pass off, let me give another controller to someone else so we can kick some ass together and enjoy the story. Props to the team at Gearbox for giving us splitscreen play in Borderlands, a game that could’ve easily shipped without it, was made more enjoyable when you have someone to loot with. As much as I want to commend Treyarch for implementing a cooperative campaign in World at War, they subsequently removed a splitscreen campaign in Black Ops. It’s like they were thinking, “Boy that was fun, lets get rid of it.” What!? Halo never REMOVED any cooperative elements from their games.You want splitscreen coop throughout the entire campaign? Bank on Halo. Campaign co-op online? H… a… l… o…

It's good to kill together

You want splitscreen competitive? Guess what? Yup. Since Halo 2 (that’s on the first Xbox yuh…) you can jump online with up to 4 buddies on the same couch. It’s a wonder as to why developers can’t implement 4-player splitscreen online. I’m aware that Black Ops has pulled this off, but it’s still limited to just two players on a single console. Although, I’m not completely heartless, splitscreen Black Ops is balling. My wish is that more games/developers follow this model if their goal is to get people to play online more. There is nothing quite like teaming up with people in the same room and coming out on top. It’s a high-five bromance-a-palooza that not too many other multiplayer games can replicate. Halo’s base shooting may not have the depth other shooters possess in the online arena, but the franchise has always presented a wealth of campaign, cooperative, and competitive features that is still unparalleled to this day.

Wanna grab a few beers after this? Better yet, lets grab a few beers now

For those who like to see the stats that match the glory, Bungie has included a wide-array of stat tracking ranging from weapons used/favored, killzones on particular maps, and proficiency in each gametype. All of which can be viewed thoroughly (for free) at Bungie.net. Each individual player’s stats are persistent across all Halo titles that were released on the 360. So if you want to see the mountain of numbers that prove how great you are, Bungie has you covered. It’s also on the house.

Statistical stats and such...

Halo has always been a social shooter. But perhaps what’s more telling is the footprint it still leaves on other games in the same genre. Sure, it’s a game about space marines, pious aliens, and intergalactic undead; but it is THEE game about space marines, pious aliens, and intergalactic undead. Remember, at it’s inception Halo was an RTS that was developed in the mid-90’s on the Mac. Halo put Microsoft in the console race and shaped the brand to what we know it as today. Halo 2’s online features catapulted Xbox Live and made PC gamers blush, right about the same time the first Killzone fell flat on it’s face. Halo 3, ODST, and Reach carried the torch by allowing players blast their way across the sprawling campaigns in splitscreen co-op or in 4 player squads online. Xbox gamers with a thirst for competition can jump online with three other buddies on the same console. There’s nothing more fun than gathering your own rag-tag team of couch potatoes and unleashing a teabagging epidemic upon the next unsuspecting matchmaking party.

Best. Pistol. Evar.

This is not an attempt to say that the Halo series is the best ever. Far from it. It’s just to say that the Halo formula is often imitated, but never perfected. It’s style of gameplay and features from the last generation are still fairly non-existent; even in the current generation. People looking for a sweeping sci-fi saga will find it here. Halo is meant to be enjoyed together. Be it split-screen on the couch or online. Halo is the kind of first-person shooter that other shooters can only hope to be. I’m sick of scripted moments, watching the same explosion, and being funneled into another shooting gallery. I know haters are gonna hate, but if I have to pull left trigger and then right trigger to kill someone in a game one more time, I’m never buying another damn shooter again.

Face it, no one has killed Halo yet.

Oh Yeah, Gears of War 3 Is Still Comin Out…

May 28, 2011 1 comment

After a delay, Gears of War 3 peeks out a couple of weeks before E3. Of course there was the multiplayer beta… if you played got Bulletstorm. However, this time Epic has revealed a few snippets from the campaign. The campaign trailer shows some promise with a further refined Unreal engine, along with more monsters and more bromance. Epic has promised that the third installment will be intensely cooperative and possess the lengthiest campaign in the series. Hopefully it will wrap up all the loose ends of the trilogy. We can only find out when the game is released WORLDWIDE on September 20th 2011 on the Xbox 360.

It’s like UP and Steampunk made love and had a Baby.

August 12, 2010 1 comment

Ken Levine introduced the world to Bioshock Infinite to the world and Wow does it look amazing.

This the synopsis straight from the official Bioshock Infinite website:

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter currently in development at Irrational Games, the studio behind the original BioShock (which sold over 4 million units worldwide). Set in 1912, BioShock Infinite introduces an entirely new narrative and gameplay experience that lifts players out of the familiar confines of Rapture and rockets them to Columbia, an immense city in the sky.

Former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt has been sent to rescue Elizabeth, a young woman imprisoned in Columbia since childhood. Booker develops a relationship with Elizabeth, augmenting his abilities with hers so the pair may escape from a city that is literally falling from the sky. DeWitt must learn to fight foes in high-speed Sky-Line battles, engage in combat both indoors and amongst the clouds, and harness the power of dozens of new weapons and abilities.

Ken Levine says that the game has about a year and a half left of development time but here a few screenshots to hold us over. Head on over to http://www.bioshockinfinite.com/main.php for more news and details. Bioshock Infinite is due on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and lets hope its better than Bioshock 2.

I’ll say it loud and proud, I play sports video games

August 7, 2010 Leave a comment

My name is Joe and I’m a Madden-aholic.

It’s true, I play Madden and I love it. I don’t care that everyone says that real gamers don’t play sports game because it’s bascially the same product released every year with new names and the occasional new gimmick. I don’t care, I love play sports games. I’m so addicted to Madden that I spend the time before the game comes out building up draft rosters with all the college plays properly represent in NCAA Football. I have about 15 years worth of drafts ready to export into this years Madden. I love building up the Lions (Sorry Stafford) in Franchise Mode every year with QB  #3 Joe Nolan, drafted in the first round.

I also love playing MLB The Show, the NHL series and the Smackdown Vs. Raw series because of their incredibly deep single player career modes. Each game treats their respective sports like RPGs where they require the player to grind for experience so they can become good enough to level up and unlock new skill sets. I love playing sports game because it allows me to live out all my greatest dreams. I’ll never be 6-3, 230 pounds blessed with the ability to throw 100 mphs or shoot a puck at the speed of light, but in videos games I can. Video Game Joe Nolan is a Hall of Famer with 953 Career Home Runs, 84,658 career passing yards, 1,034 career goals and I’ve won every title in the WWE with my create-a-wrestler “Thunderous” Joe Hawkins.

When Madden 2011 comes out, I’ll be there bright and early to buy my copy and I don’t care what you say. I have Madden Fever and I’m no longer ashamed to say it.