Battlefield: Hardline Takes the War to the Streets – 3/22/2015

Following the disastrous launch of Battlefield 4 (known as Brokenfield among disgruntled fans) many gamers may be hesitant to give Hardline a play through.

It may not appeal to traditional fans at first, but those who want a different shooter experience will be attracted to its new concept. Despite the change in setting, it is still a Battlefield at its core that will impress fans.

Battlefield: Hardline is not just a unique title because of the new theme but a diverse gameplay setup that appeals to more than just shooter fans.

Single-Player

The story is set in Miami in the midst of a drug war not seen since the ’80s and the police are fighting to shut down the cartels before the conflict escalates. Players take on the role of Det. Nick Mendoza as he works with his partner, Det. Khai Minh Dao, as they try to shut down cartel operations. However, during their investigation they uncover rampant corruption within the department.

Battlefield: Hardline single-player is not so much a campaign but an episodic adventure made to feel like a crime show. The story has been crafted to feel like a modernized version of Miami Vice that also incorporates elements of other hit crime shows.

The gameplay setup is very diverse for a shooter as it combines elements of crime solving, stealth action and RPG to give players a fresh experience. The crime solving mechanism makes the game feel like L.A. Noire with a CSI: Miami tone. Unlike previous games in the series, being stealthy and arresting suspects is highly recommended. However, shooter fans will have their moments to go guns blazing.

Multiplayer

While the single-player episodes are designed for a diverse gaming audience, the multiplayer game was developed for both Battlefield and shooter fans. To achieve this it has taken the gameplay features of Payday and Counter-Strike then combined them into the Battlefield setup.

The multiplayer has eight different types of games that pits cops against criminals in a verity of environments. The gameplay includes heist missions along with hostage rescue while traditional fans could still battle for outposts. There is also the traditional team death-match for those who just want to kill another player.

The heist has criminals stealing the loot then transporting it to a designated location while battling the cops. Hostage is a 4 vs. 4 match were the cops try to rescue hostages or take out all the criminals. Hotwire may be the most unique gameplay mode as the cops must stop the criminals from stealing several designated vehicles (there are a lot of car chases here).

Players could purchase new weapons with the money they earn and unlock new gear after meeting certain criteria. Charters and classes can be customized based on what the player needs.

Overall

However, this is still not a flawless gaming experiences due to a few minor issues that could not be overlooked. For starters, the driving in the single-player story is really pointless and does nothing for the overall gaming experience. The story has too many clichés from crime shows while having the quality of mediocre network shows (which is an issue for those who binge watch The Wire on HBO).

The multiplayer game could have also incorporated more Co-Op and planning into its setup. While borrowing inspiration from Payday adds to the games cops & robbers theme, but the lack of real Co-Op makes every multiplayer game feel like over complicated death-match. Instead there will be a few players working towards the the games objective while everyone else is out gunning for other players.

Gamers may also experience a few minor glitches but most of them will be resolved with future patches.

It should be noted that Battlefield: Hardline may not appeal to many players as the series has been a balance between a gameplay setup that appeals to the casuals who play Call of Duty and the hardcore buffs who prefer Armed Assault (ArmA). The Battlefield series has always tried to include the user friendly setup of CoD into a more massive and challenging experience that ArmA fans could also enjoy. While the simplicity of CoD or the difficulty of ArmA is lost, a balance is found that has incorporate the highlights of both titles. Yet there will always be those CoD gamers who will find the game too difficult while some ArmA fans will feel the game is too juvenile for them.

In a genre that has become saturated with Call of Duty-knockoffs, putting players on to the thin blue line is an excellent change. Battlefield: Hardline shift from the war zones to the streets helps bring a sense of originality to the series.

Written for GameSkinny
3/22/2015
Original ArticleBattlefield: Hardline Takes the War to the Streets

5 Reasons Why Camping Is a Legitimate FPS Tactic – 1/15/2015

In the multiplayer FPS gaming world, the camper is among the most despised players (fourth only to cheaters, noobs and racist trolls). Camping is a tactic that is looked down upon because it relies on luck, cowardice, and having an auto-shotgun.

After all, everyone knows that running and gunning is the only real tactic to use in a game.

However, there is more to being a camper than finding a good hiding place. It requires mastery of a series of skills. Here are five reasons  why camping is a legitimate tactic.

5. You have to know yourself and the enemy.

As the great Sun Tzu said:

Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

This ancient quote holds merit even today, and it applies to how one plays online.

Being a camper is not all about finding a hiding spot then waiting for someone to pass (unless you’re a noob). Good campers need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of themselves (and their teams) as well as the tactics of the enemy.

4. You have to know the environment

Level designs have changed as programmers work to ensure that no map has a spot where players feel safe turning their backs. Hence, good campers need to be able to familiarize themselves with the level to find the ideal location to hide.

How difficult this is depends on the game. It’s relatively easy in Modern Warfare 3, while Battlefield 3 requires some time master the environment. To camp successfully, a player needs to quickly identify tactical advantages and disadvantages of an area. The player must also be aware of where other players will likely engage most often, as well as what secret unlocks may be hidden in the level. It takes practice and a certain level of skill to process an area quickly and use it to one’s advantage.

3. Adaptability

Knowing the enemy and the environment allows players to adapt quickly to a dynamic environment. Adaptability is a key skill for any good camper. The player must be able to quickly identify and equip the most effective camouflage or the ideal weapon for a given situation.

Camouflage makes all the difference in how quickly the enemy notices a players who is camping. To successfully blend into the environment, the ideal camouflage closely matches the details of the level. It also helps to add a camouflage design to the weapon to avoid sticking out.

2. Campers are masters of stealth

It isn’t enough to know a setting and to be able to adapt to it. Campers must also be able to navigate their evnironments quickly and quietly, so as not to attract excess attention. This requires a mastery of stealth.

Stealthy play demands both skill and patience. Players will need to be patient and calm when moving in on kills, as rushing in will expose their position. This becomes even more difficult when you’re trying to stab the enemy rather than shoot them.

1. Camping requires accuracy and killer reflexes

This is necessary for pretty much any FPS player, but it’s especially important for campers. When it’s time to make the kill, a camper has only a few seconds before giving away their position. To truly take advantage of this short window of time, it’s important for the camper to be quick and accurate.

Every second will matter, and being hesitant is not a real luxury for a camper. (There is a fine line between the patience that stealth requires and complete hesitation.) Being slow and not knowing how to aim properly are the best ways to fail. When it comes down to a camping encounter, the players’ levels of skill and the quickness of their reflexes will determine who comes out on top. 

As you can see, there is more to being a camper then being some noob hiding in a corner. It is a tactic that requires mastering one’s own skills and the environment, while being quick and quiet enough to successfully take out the target.

Written for GameSkinny
1/15/2015
Original Article: 5 Reasons Why Camping Is a Legitimate FPS Tactic

Review: Far Cry 4 takes players to an exotic conflict of redemption – 11/26/14

Welcome to Kyrat, a landlocked country in the Himalayas that is plagued by corruption and civil war thanks to its despotic king. This is the exotic war zone that players will have to fight through in ‘Far Cry 4’.

Continuing the tradition of its predecessors; the game puts players in the role of a random character then tosses them into a conflict zone influenced by memorable stories. The first game in the series was inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau, its sequel was a modern retelling of Hearts of Darkness, and the third game morphed the themes of Inside the Looking Glass with the plot of James Cameron’s Avatar along with a little Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

 This time players will embark on a journey inspired by the Nepalese Civil War. This was a 10-year conflict that was fought between Maoist intransigents against the Royalist government and ended with the monarchy being abolished.

The story follows Ajay Ghale as he returns to Kyrat to spread his mother ashes. The moment he crosses the border, the bus is attacked by the military and he becomes the prisoner of Pagan Min, the nation’s despotic king. Ghale is taken to the Royal Palace were he is the guest of honor during a dinner celebration. When Pagan Min steps out for a moment, the player has the choice to stay seated or wander the palace. It’s this choice that determines if he joins the Golden Path in their war against the Royalist government.

Far Cry 4 is a first-person adventure that puts players into an open world that has so much to explore. Kyrat is a magnificent world that has a history of violence and many secrets that are open for exploration. Besides the Royal Army and internal conflict, the natural wildlife is also a force not to be overlooked.

The gameplay setup is identical to its predecessor with minor changes that improves the overall experience. Several new vehicles and a slightly tweaked combat system allow for a better playing experience. While this may feel like a drawback, in all fairness Ubisoft games are more memorable for their story than the gameplay.

It’s important to note that the story is not just an improvement over its predecessor but a moral journey in the backdrops of a civil war. The story will explore themes of redemption, the emotional consequences of a broken heart along with the internal conflicts of traditional values vs. modern values. The biggest driving force in the story are the two characters who are in conflict with each other but bound by a sense of duty to an adopted country.

Unlike Jason Brody from the last game, Ajay Ghale is not some annoying brat who acquires combat skills after taking some hallucinogens. Instead he is a man with a troubled past that wants to put his mother to rest while exploring his families heritage. On the other side of the spectrum is Pagan Min, who seeks to keep control of Kyrat by what ever means necessary. This is a villain that could easily be described as a J-Pop star with the personality and style of the Joker. While he lacks the junkie-style savageness of Vaas Montenegro, he makes up for it with his charismatic charm.

Despite being total opposites, they have this twisted relationship that is very similar to what is shared between Batman and the Joker. A relationship that is best demonstrated in how Min doesn’t taunt or provoke Ghale but instead converses as if they are friends.The common theme that bounds these characters is they have a Western upbringing but have have come to Kyrat for a purpose that evolved into an odyssey to better themselves.

Despite having a solid story and multidimensional characters, the game has a few minor issues that are hard to overlook. Far Cry 4‘s biggest letdown is not that it uses the same gameplay mechanism from its predecessor — it uses of the same content that has become a trope for almost every Ubisoft game in the last few years.

The obvious has been requiring players to climb a tower to unlock a section of the map, a mini-game used in Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Watch Dogs. It’s understandable that the game wants to be challenging, but this mini-game has been played out too much.

Another common trope encountered are enemies having more red on their uniforms than the Red Army, something Ubisoft has an obsession with. Such a uniform design would make sense in the Assassin’s Creed series but no modern military forces has red painted all over their uniform. It was not just in Far Cry 3 but these red armies were also an adversary in Watch Dogs and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.

Finally it seems that they were a little lazy when it came to changing the players arsenal. Despite a few new additions, the roster of weapons available is the same from Far Cry 3 while using the same texture that was also featured in Watch Dogs.

As stated before, Ubisoft games always seem to have the most clunky gameplay mechanism but its always made up with a memorable story. While its acceptable to forgive them for reusing these tropes and the gameplay, they really need to come up with some original ideas before they start rehashing the story.

Far Cry 4 preserves everything gamers liked about its predecessor while introducing a more memorable story that is rich in context. While it will feel like a familiar game, the journey will make players explore a new world with many wonders.

Final Score: 4.5/5

Written for Digital Journal 
11/26/2014
Original Article: Review: Far Cry 4 takes players to an exotic conflict of redemption

Review: ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ brings the horror icon to the multiplayer world – 10/27/2014

FEAROnline

The concept of a free-to-play multiplayer game based on the iconic horror shooter may at first feel difficult to comprehend, but ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ is able to capture the series essence in an online environment.

Following the destruction of the Origin Facility in the first game, Fairpoint City has been overrun by demonic creatures led by Alma Wade while the Armacham Technology Corporation (ATC) is trying to cover up its involvement with an army of mercenaries. The government response by deploying the Task Force to eliminate the demonic presence and recover evidence of ATC’s involvement.

Its hard to imagine how a MMO game could be developed given the fact that the F.E.A.R. series was more of a single player game. To overcome this obstacle, the devlopment team created a Co-Op game with a story that runs parallel to the events of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.

The Co-Op missions are several different scenarios where up to five players must complete a series of objectives while battling swarms of Abominations along with squads of Replica soldiers or ATC mercenaries. The players start by achieving simple tasks (like bomb defusing) but as they progress more challenging tasks need to be accomplished.

However, no multiplayer game is complete without featuring classic modes like team deathmatch.

Players will earn experience after each game which will help them level up and gain access to new weapons. They will also earn points that can be used to purchase new weapons and gear or customize what they already have.

Unfortunately the game has a few issues that keep it from being perfect but they are flaws that can be overlooked. The biggest problem is how often it tries to milk the player to pay for gear or characters that could be used for a limited time.

Gamers can earn or purchase gear with points, but they have time limits on how long it can be used before it has to be repurchased. However, the need to purchase gear will not interfere with the overall playing experiences as a real gamer would not need to waste money on such trivial novelties.

One problem that is out of the developers’ hand is the community’s obsession with team deathmatch. Despite its amazing co-op gameplay, its hard to find or start a game due to the lack of players. However it’s real easy to find a game of deathmatch with plenty of players available to play.

Death match is fun but the co-op story offers gamers such a unique experience that it’s a real disappointment that many prefer to play the same deathmatch that could be found in every other multiplayer shooter.

Just in time for Halloween; F.E.A.R. Online is not only one of the best free-to-play shooters but also an ideal follow-up to one of the most iconic horror games of the Seventh Generation era.

Final Score: 4/5

Written for Digital Journal 
10/27/2014
Original ArticleReview: ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ brings the horror icon to the multiplayer world

Op-Ed: A minor delay is better than a broken game – 7/26/2014

Hardline-578-80
It appears that the 2014 Holiday season is going to be a dry one for gamers as so many highly anticipated titles have been pushed back for a 2015 release.

Early this week, gamers got the news that Electronic Arts is pushing back the release date of Battlefield: Hardline from October 2014 to an unknown date in 2015. They are not alone as Ubisoft had announced before E3 that Batman: Arkham Knight and Tom Clancy’s The Division would be delayed until 2015. CD Projekt RED has also made the hard choice to push back The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for a Winter 2015 release.

While gamers will be disappointed that they have to wait until 2015 for another Battlefield, long time fans will understand that it was necessary to avoid another disastrous release like Battlefield 4.

Battlefield 4 was a very promising game and superior to Call of Duty: Ghosts in terms of the quality of gameplay. Yet due to a series of of glitches and bugs made the game unplayable upon its release. Hence many disgruntled fans began referring to it as “Brokenfield“.

Sadly a lot of the problems that plagued Battlefield 4 could have been avoided had more time gone into the development process. Yet due to an unrealistic deadlines along with the need to compete against Call of Duty: Ghosts probably pressured EA to sail full-steam ahead into the iceberg.

Common sense would dictate that delaying the game would have been the best action, yet game industry considers such a decision as a catch-22. Its a common belief that the longer a game is in development, its chances of being a disaster increases. Many studios continue to fear releasing a disastrous game like Duke Nukem: Forever while many old school fans still recall how Daikatana sullied the reputation of John Romero (I’m still confident he will have a career comeback).

However many always overlook that games like Duke Nukem: Forever and Daikatana were in development for more then four year while undergoing multiple software changes that forced the development team to start from scratch. Meanwhile Arkham Knight and Hardline are being delayed because more time is needed to fix the glitches and patch-up the bugs.

The decade long murky production of Duke Nukem: Forever has now become the textbook example of how not to develop a game. Production started by 3D Realms Studio back in 1996 using the Quake II engine until they switched to the Unreal engine in 1998. Meanwhile as the industry model began to change in the early 2000’s, 3D Realms failed to adopt while being in constant conflict with its parent company, Take-Two Interactive.

After a long production time, Gearbox acquired the intellectual property and took over the project with the goal of a 2011 release date. When the game was finally released for all major consoles, it was universally panned by both critics and gamers. Despite a decade long production, the game was neither innovative or cutting edge while also suffering from a series of annoying glitches.

Meanwhile successful games that have had long production time have been both innovative and groundbreaking while the staff had been focused on a set goal. The obvious example to look at would be Grand Theft Auto V, which development started back in 2009 and was released in 2013. Rockstar North had setup a series of goals that had to be meet while working with the RAGE engine along with adding components of the Euphoria engine and Bullet Physics.

Finally when Grand Theft Auto V was released in September 2013, it was highly praised by critics and gamers. Its story was highly praised for its in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society in a style influenced Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson. It also became one of the biggest selling media properties by generating over $1 billion in three days while going on to generate almost $2 billion by December.

Yet the production of Grand Theft Auto V might be a unique example while Ubisoft has demonstrated that a small delay payoff when the final game is a hit. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Watch Dogs had their release date pushed back while South Park: The Stick of Truth needed to be delayed as Ubisoft acquired the rights after THQ went bankrupt.

Ubisoft has demonstrated that a small delay is always necessary if time is needed to ensure the game is flawless when hits store shelves. The botched release of Battlefield 4 has taught the gaming industry the backlash of releasing a broken game outweigh the disappointment when it has to be delayed.

Gamers who were hoping to play Hardline or The Division are better waiting for a flawless game rather than playing a broken one in 2014. On the bright-side; Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Far Cry 4, and Destiny should keep gamers entertained.

Written for Digital Journal 
07/26/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: A minor delay is better than a broken game

‘Alien: Isolation’ still haunted by the failure of ‘Colonial Marines’ – 6/15/2014

Sega and Creative Assembly are attempting to redefine the horror-survival genre with Alien: Isolation, but every attempt to demonstrate the games uniqueness has been overshadowed by the failure of Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Recently OXM reported on the struggle Creative Assembly is having in promoting the game while trying to escape the shadow of Colonial Marines. The article noted that many gamers who sampled the demo at E3 2014, tried to play the game like a shooter rather than a horror survival.

The games presentation and demo at E3 2014 had been praised by critics but gamers are still bringing up comparisons with Colonial Marines.

When the game was first unveiled on January 7, gamers were a little weary of the announcement with most of them expecting the it to be a failure. Since then; any news or preview about Alien: Isolation has always been meet with remarks that bring up the failure of Colonial Marines.

The moment an article about Alien: Isolation is published on a news site or posted on a aggravator site like N4G, the discussion will quickly be dominated by expectations of failure while citing Colonial Marines as an example of what to expect.

In response to the negative backlash, several game pundits were trying to assure their readers that Alien: Isolation will not be a disaster while encouraging them to give it a chance. Many were quick to point out that the game is influenced by Ridley Scott vision and not the James Cameron film.

However gamers had been quick to dismisses the pleas of giving the game a chance.

Alien: Isolation will be released on October 7, 2014 for all major consoles and the PC. With so much bad publicity, the development team will be under a lot of pressure to avoid another disaster like Colonial Marines

Written for The Gamers Progress
06/15/2014
Original Article: ‘Alien: Isolation’ still haunted by the failure of ‘Colonial Marines’

Gamers surprised that Crytek is developing ‘Homefront: The Revolution’ – 6/6/2014

Crytek official announcement that they are developing Homefront: The Revolution has impressed many gamers while pundits in the media are surprised that this sequel was even considered.

The original Homefront was a highly anticipated game that was promoted as a new vision for the shooter genre by having players engage in a guerrilla war against North Korea’s (known as the Greater Korean Republic in game) occupation of America. Its biggest selling point was a story written by John Milius, Hollywood icon who directed Red Dawn.

However the game was meet with mediocre reviews due to what was seen as a bland gameplay that offered nothing original. The failure of Homefront resulted in Kaos Studios having to shutdown while playing a contributing factor that lead to THQ having to file for bankruptcy in 2012.

In a market dominated by the rivalry between Call of Duty and Battlefield while saturated with forgettable knock-offs, Homefront had faded from gamers memories. So when Crytek announced a squeal, the premise impressed the gaming media while also having them ask “why?”

Hayden Dingman of PC World started his article by stating, “I’ll be honest: I’d sort of forgotten that THQ ever contracted Crytek for a Homefront sequel. I’d definitely forgotten that Crytek then purchased those rights when THQ went bankrupt just so they could finish creating said sequel.It exists. Crytek is making Homefront 2—titled Homefront The Revolution—a reality.

Aaron Birch from Den of Geeks started his preview by stating, “Despite the first Homefront being almost universally mauled by the critics, and being seen by many as one of the worst FPS titles in recent memory, a second game is on the way. ” After that he goes into details about the game with some optimism.

In an interview with the development team, David Jenkins of Metro starts by asking, “I know everyone must be asking this but… why? Why buy the Homefront franchise when the basic gist of the story seems easy enough to recreate without the licence? I mean, the idea of America under occupation is interesting but the whole North Korean angle is rather silly and you could’ve easily just swapped in aliens or another country and made pretty much the same game.

In a less optimistic outlook, Jesse Rogalski of Hardcore Gamer stated, “Is the idea of a sequel to a title that undersold, under-delivered and one that can be directly linked to the demise of not only the developer, but the publisher itself, already doomed before release?

Gamers have also shared their concern on social media and forums as many surprised a sequel to Homefront is even being considered.

Despite many asking “why bother,” the premise along with Crytek reputation has sparked gamers interest and are whiling to give it a chance. Rogalski and Dingman do note at the end of their article that the game does look interesting.

Homefront: The Revolution will be a reboot the original game and will have players fight a guerrilla war in an open-world setting built using an updated version of the CryEngine.

Written for The Gamers Progress
06/6/2014
Original Article: Gamers surprised that Crytek is developing ‘Homefront: The Revolution’