Who’s The Better Son? A Battlefield/Call of Duty Commentary

ImageComparison is human nature. Something is always better than something else in someone’s eyes, and that someone usually has to try and prove it to someone else. Some concept, huh? That’s just how we act as a society. So when I thought about a comparison piece this week, my mind instantly went to two companies that have been battling it out in the gaming industry for a while now: EA and Activision. Their Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises have polarized gamers for a few years. Is one better than the other? Well, hopefully after reading this, you’ll decide for yourself.

A few things should be noted here in the beginning. First, I do favor Battlefield more than CoD. I’ll insert a few comments here and there to show why. Also, this article is based off my experiences playing the newest iterations: BF4 and CoD: Ghosts on the PS4. I have played more CoD titles in the past than Battlefield, but that will not affect my article on here. Finally, and most importantly, I’m not a great first person shooter player (later designated as FPS for all you non-gamers), so I can’t really speak much on the reasons why a single button for one game works better than on another in terms of competitive advantage. I’m just along for the ride.Image

SO, let’s start with the single player campaigns, the main course of what I look for in any game. After all, a good game has to be accessible to those not plugged in to the network. Both play smoothly and don’t last too long. Battlefield campaign missions are much fewer than Ghosts, but play much longer. I could finish a Ghosts mission in about 15-20 minutes tops, but with Battlefield, you have to invest a little more time in its completion. What surprised me a bit was that Battlefield took the medal for very over-the-top campaign moments, which is usually a CoD thing. To be honest, after I played through the BF campaign, I was a little underwhelmed with the story elements of Ghosts. I just felt like I was going through the motions to get to the ending. Don’t get me wrong, Ghosts was still a pretty decent game to play. I feel like it rested on its laurels a bit and spent more time on the multiplayer, which I’ll get into later. So, in the single player category, I think Battlefield did more for the players.

The multiplayer for both games is a totally different kind of discussion. It’s an apples and oranges sort of preference talk. Battlefield is not really tailored for individual play; you work as a squad and as a team in order to take full advantage of what it has to offer. And it offers incredibly large battles of up to 64 players. That’s 32 people against you and yours. A basic match can become a complex and tactical match that can last for at least half an hour, giving you more time to think between deaths unless you’re foolish. It would be better except for certain technical difficulties that break up the battles occasionally. It’s definitely more for the team player. On the other hand, Ghosts is more for the run and gun player. It’s easy to see why CoD is recognized in the Major League Gaming circuits. Its short and fast-paced matches definitely get the blood pumping. A good gamer can rack up about 40 kills in an average length game. Though there are fewer game map uses, it’s pretty simple in terms of what you need to do. To put the two MP experiences in terms of other kinds of technology, CoD is the iPhone of gaming while Battlefield is the Android.

ImageI describe it like that because these two games seem to draw out different kinds of players in my opinion. Yes, there are some that play both, like myself. However, the majority of FPS players usually spend their time playing one or the other. I don’t know if there is a certain demograph type that floats to one side, but I can maybe make a few inferences to who plays what kind of game. I think BF attracts those who want a little more realism out of their FPS. The visuals are almost breathtaking to me, the kind of effect that the film Avatar had on filmgoers. The guns have very realistic sounds to them as well. Finally, as mentioned before, the multiplayer almost requires teamwork and squad-based command tactics, giving the player more of a company feeling instead of a Rambo gunning scenario.

ImageWith Ghosts, people play to get the experience of gunning and participating in something that millions of others do around the world. You jump in, you learn the controls, and then you just keep practicing. In the business world, you could call this “low entry cost”, meaning it doesn’t take much to invest in this game. I think this is what appeals a certain type of gamer. The marketing for CoD is expansive in order to attract all sorts of new people. They get in and try it out, eventually getting decent at it with practice. I know, because I’m one of those. I’ve been known to spend a lot of time at night playing over and over. I can understand the appeal; I just find BF to be a breath of fresh air in the MP scene.

So there you go. My thoughts on the two heavy hitting FPS titles out at the moment. I do enjoy BF more, though I definitely pick up the controller for a few quick CoD matches too. With the PS4 supporting both titles, I’m still trying to decide which one I want to invest more time in. Part of it has to do with how much support I can get from friends to play BF in. I’m not really a team player, and I need reliable friends to play some BF. Otherwise, I’ll be passively yelling at myself for not doing well in that one CoD match. Feel free to come find me on either playing field. (PSN: MogwaiOfOwnage)

Beyond: Two Souls Review (Spoiler-Free)

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Powerful PS3 exclusive

My friends, I’ve played many games that have attempted to impact me emotionally. Some have succeeded. Beyond: Two Souls is one of those games that made me want to completely start over at the end just to experience the whole of the story and the small turns that could be altered in the main character’s life. The gameplay is very interactive, albeit a bit repetitive in the mechanics parts, and I definitely would play through it again, especially if I had about 10-15 hours straight with no distractions.

In Beyond, you plays as Jodie Holmes, voiced by the well-known actress Ellen Paige of Juno fame. Jodie is a gifted girl with a spirit companion who helps her see and do things that others cannot. Alongside Jodie is Nathan Hawkins, a paranormal scientist who nurtures Jodie throughout her younger years. (Hawkins is voiced by actor Willem Defoe.) As Jodie, you experience a non-linear view of 15 years in her shoes, ranging from her early childhood to mid-20s, giving the player an in-depth look at her struggles  and story.

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Emotions range from slight happiness to sheer fury

And struggles there are. What keeps the player going, in my opinion, is not necessarily the overall plot or the gameplay but rather the sheer sympathy that you develop for Jodie. Without giving anything away, I can certainly confess that her life is not an easy one at all. Thanks to the incredible graphics engine created by title developer Quantic Dream, the realism of the characters does nothing but heavily aid in the emotional settings and story-telling one experiences. I found myself drawn into the most random moments that were full of feeling and spirit.

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Aiden paired with Jodie

As for the gameplay, it did everything that a good adventure game should, and it reminded me of the older adventure games on the PC back in the ’90s. A few of the quick time events became commonplace over time, and I would have liked to see more variety in the things that you could do in the game. Some of the tricks you could do with Aiden, your spirit friend, started off being pretty cool but later lost a bit of their allure. Of course, this is just me being very picky, as the whole concept of the spirit companion and what you can do with him is very interesting. Aiden is a sort of playable character as well, especially when you take advantage of the Duo game mode, using another controller, Move device, or smartphone to be able to control one of the two characters.  This gives a new take to the two-player control scheme, which offers a fresh approach to classic game mechanics. The last critique I could find with it is the occasional jerkiness you encounter when controlling Jodie. Getting her from point A to point B can sometimes be more of a chore than is necessary, because of the older turn and walk control layout of old Resident Evil lore. But these instances are few and far between.

Beyond: Two Souls is a title that made the twilight years of PS3 look just as good as when the console was first released. It’s proof that the last-gen console still has some exclusive tricks. The voice and motion capture acting quality is what I came to expect in having played games from Quantic Dream. When I spend ten hours in a game, finish it, and want to start over again, that’s a sign that I was heavily engaged in the product. Now with the next-gen consoles on the market, it will be interesting to see just how far Quantic Dream pushes the boundary between movie realism and video game interactivity.

Morality in A Dead Zone

You sit and watch. Yell at the perceived stupidity of the characters. Tell yourself that you would do things differently. Because you know better than them, right? You, like millions like you in the world, are a Walking Dead fan and pass on your criticism to your television and friends all the time. What’s interesting about being a critic of a zombie apocalypse show is that your opinion could mean less than you think it does. After all, how well do you know yourself in regards to what actions you would take in the characters’ shoes?

ImageSee, I found that I asked myself this question a lot when playing Telltale Games’ award-winning The Walking Dead title recently. I used to sit with friends and watch every Sunday what Rick Grimes and the other survivors did, and we all used to exclaim our distaste for their choices and vowed that we could do better. But, it’s not easy once you have the choice and about 5 seconds to make it. I think that’s what made this game so good to so many people. It turned a mirror onto the player and forced them to consider what exactly holds weight with them.  Continue reading Morality in A Dead Zone

A Pirate’s Life: My Month with Assassin’s Creed IV

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A pirate’s life for me.

Let me begin with a sincere apology: I haven’t written nearly as much as I should these past few months. As I’m sure many of you understand, the tasks of life always seem to overtake the wishes of our pastimes. I promise to be more diligent in the future with my gaming musings and such.

Part of the reason I’ve been away from the blogging scene, besides the long hours I’ve been working, is the even longer time I spent trying to earn a 100% completion rate for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. I determined a long while ago that out of all the kinds of gamers out there, I’m definitely a completionist, especially when it comes to this franchise. It’s almost a kind of obsession I have had ever since the first title, and I definitely cannot stop now. With this title, I was able to experience a whole new type of simulation in the squalor of a pirate’s life as well as the continuing story both past and present that has kept me intrigued for years. I’ll do my best to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I’d like to focus mainly on the motivations of the protagonist, both the pirate in the history books and the present-day person you control outside of the Animus.  Continue reading A Pirate’s Life: My Month with Assassin’s Creed IV