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Video games, PC games, or other interactive media that's currently caught my attention ...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Battlefield 2: Modern Combat

I recently mentioned I've been playing the Battlefield 2: Modern Combat Xbox 360 demo (among others).

After playing the online-only mutliplayer demo a lot, I decided to rent the full version of Electronic Arts's BF2:MC.

It took the full version of the game to tell me what I already knew from the demo -- It's all about the online mutlplayer.

I mean, the game is pretty good looking, and you get a lot of frenetic action. But the game play is unbalanced, and has a lot of "That would not happen!" moments. (Yes, BF2:MC is an arcade-y take on war, this game steps over a lot of game play lines.)

For example, on the first Chinese level (ignore the offensive faux accents), you can be looking at a blank wall and machine gun turret, and an enemy will blink into existance, take the turret, and mow you down. Over and over and over again.

And this level also highlights how stupid the friendlies AI is. The first time I played the level, in the segment where you trek to the next battle zone via gun boat or jeep, I could not get my guys into the vehicles. I ended up Hotswapping between soldiers to have each one get in the vehicle, and gave up on that, because as I swapped to someone outside of the vehicle to make them get in, the guys inside would get out. I ended up driving by myself to the next zone, being a one-man army, and getting mowed down again.

And, on the same level, my guys were nowhere near the action. So everytime I got mowed down by a baddie, I'd swap out the equivalent of a few hundred yards away, and have to trek back again to get mowed down. It was fun. Not so much.

The second time I played the level (the fist time made me give up on the game that night), the AI was a little better.

I do have to say the Hotswapping feature in BF2:MC is incredibly slick -- both in usefulness and in visual effect -- particularly in multi-sniper situations, or when you need to move between a Special Ops class for mowing down infantry to an Engineer to take out multiple enemy choppers. But I also found myself Hotswapping to take over idiot AI that were "sneaking" as they were getting shot in the back, and though they've removed the "line-of-sight" restriction for the feature, I found myself swapping inadvertently to someone other than who I was looking at. And the Hotswapping mini-challenges do require line-of-site, and shortest path (which, of course, were not the same). What?

Overall, with all its shortcomings, the single player is a solid renter, and the online will keep me coming back for a long time ...

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

BF2:MC; G.R.A.W.; Tomb Raider: Legend (Xbox 360)

One of the coolest parts of the new Xbox 360 incarnation of Xbox Live is the free downloadable demos.

Recently, a bunch of demos hit the network, with Electronic Arts releasing Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (BF2:MC); Ubisoft posting Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter (G.R.A.W.), and Eidos dropping the Xbox 360 version of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.

I keep getting sucked back into the Battlefield 2: Modern Combat demo (the full version ships today). The game is a visceral, intense, absolutely huge, and less-serious war game ripe for "That's what I'm talkin' about!" moments. For example, me driving a tank over a bridge I know is out, as a guy on a rooftop takes aim at me with a rocket launcher. I drive the tank over the edge of the bridge, but not before I jumped out, rocket whizzing over my head and missing the plummeting tank, as I swap to a sniper rifle and cap the guy on the rooftop. He'd just been served.

The BF2:MC demo is buggy as all get out, so I'm hoping the retail version fixes some of the glitches. Seriously, the demo makes Oblivion look good (don't get me wrong -- Oblivion is a beautiful, engrossing game; but it's glitchy, and I can't currently play it because the "fragmented disk cache fix" isn't working).

The Xbox 360 version of BF2:MC has the content from the Xbox version (prettied up), plus the three new maps and four new vehicles from the Xbox “Warsome Booster Pack” released in December.

A more serious (and much more gorgeous) demo is Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter (G.R.A.W.). This game is intense, and for the less-experienced player, pretty unforgiving. This game plays more like a war version of a chess game (where you're an shootable chess piece), and can be pretty frustrating until you get the hang of the controls and different game play style. I jumped into this after playing BF2:MC, and had to seriously adjust my "who can take more bullets" game style.

Also, this game is a totally different game than the Xbox version of the game -- developed by a different studio, and with a much higher level of quality and overall game play.

In a previous blog, I passed on info that the demo wassn't going to have co-op. But last night, a buddy and I fired it up and were able to co-op -- though he hit that steep learning curve pretty quickly, and didn't enjoy his taste of the game.

Finally, I downloaded and played Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend. I'm warming up to this, and admittedly, I'm not a big non-2D platformer fan, but my issues with the game aren't with it being a platformer -- it's that it doesn't feel next-gen.

The game is fun, and things like the water are fairly impressive. But there are some jaggies, and when Ms. Croft stands on a downed tree, for example, her feet are set apart as if she's standing on a transparent, flat surface -- which looks wonky.

If I'm playing a next-gen game, I really want the physicality of an object to be apparent. I want her feet to land roughly more where they "should" land on a tree trunk.

But I did say the game was growing on me. Lara's got some new moves, and the God of War inspired grappler is a nice addition, and I think swimming handles better than it has in the franchise.

I should play it again, and see if it grows on my some more.

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