It's that time of year again. The time when the leaves turn brown, the air gets chillier, and another Call of Duty releases and is challenged by another FPS upstart. Ironically, the challenger is the granddaddy of console FPS games, Halo.
It's been a vicious cycle for both games every time they come out. I'd play the game's campaign first, stay on its multiplayer for nearly a month, and that's when a final verdict comes out. Either I'd keep playing because it doesn't make me rage and it's fun or I shelf it permanently or worse, sell it and recoup the money. At least with good single-player games for me, I'd be inclined to replay them to relive that fun. But for a multiplayer game, it's not enough to design a game to be fun. It has to be balanced in a way that it doesn't make me rage.
My big gripe on Halo was that in head-to-head competition, there is a big focus on controlling power weapon spawns. You can do well with the basic marksmen weaponry like BRs or DMRs but get your hands on a shotgun and prowl around a high traffic area and you'll pull ahead. Really hardcore people can memorize weapon spawns after the initial spawns like a science. And it really grinds my gears when someone gets their hands on a sniper rifle or rocket launcher and throw the flow of the match in his favor. A display of skill? Sure. But memorizing weapon spawns in order to win isn't my idea of fun.
But it sounds like Halo 4 remedies this problem by dropping power weapons in with ordinance drops and highlighting it for everyone to see on their HUD. In addition to that, Dominion sounds like an expansion of Reach's big objective maps and the further away from direct power weapon control strategies, the more wacky and fun Halo becomes. Thrashing people in warthogs, smacking fools with the Oddball, and of course the good old fashion fun of Infection.
While Halo 4 had a small head start, Black Ops 2 releases to surprising scores. Jim fucking Sterling comments on the surprising open-endedness of the campaign. One thing I've always liked about CoD is that feeling of independence from the rest of the the game's mechanics. You pick a gun and it's your gun. You pick a loadout and it's your loadout. The only thing you need to worry about on the map are power positions like a particularly good overwatch or spawn controlling position. But you don't need to specifically worry about the guns your enemy is using. It will also be unique with it's own strengths and weaknesses, just like my own gun. Of course, there's always a gripe and mine for CoD is the feeling of being thrown into the grinder when someone gets on a snowball with their killstreaks. Think back to Modern Warfare 2 and how you'd get annihilated by a Predator Missile, respawn while the Pavelow is working your team over, and die over and over again as the AC-130 or Chopper Gunner tramples all over you repeatedly. This is before mentioning my own trouble at maintaining my own killstreaks when they're only awarded to you when you scores kills and not when you play the objective like Domination or CTF.
So Blops 2 remedies that with a method that has already been explored in other games: scorestreaks. This sounds like a great idea in theory. I mean, instead of relying solely on kills, you can also play the objective like capturing a Domination point. And if you defend it from an enemy while capturing it, then that means more points for your precious scorestreak. Of course, I haven't played either game yet, so I don't know how I'll personally fare in these new environments and it's just my luck that these games lock the multiplayer out of people who rent the games. I've seen google search results returning forum topics about how difficult it is to keep scorestreaks going.
I'm seriously considering Blops 2 though. It's something I'm familiar with. I was never fond of Halo's weapon spawns and Firefight is ok but not great but then there's Zombies for Blops in addition to what else I like about CoD. I mean, Halo has Infection, but it's just not the same as Zombies. It says something when I've played Mass Effect 3's multiplayer for so long and also enjoy CoD's long running Zombies series. I can always kick back onto something co-operative when I'm tired of getting facerolled by some obsessive 14-year-old who's ignoring his homework to build his clan rep.
On the Fapcast front, I basically spent all morning working towards building it up. So you know we have a twitter and maybe you know we have a web page. But did you know we also have a Facebook page? Or that we've been making strides (Striders?) towards getting on iTunes. I spent way too much time staring at html code in order to get our RSS feed up to snuff to submit to iTunes. To be perfectly clear, I hate html coding. It's long, prone to mistakes when you're not paying attention, and is just long strings of words that are supposed to mean something in computer language. I know html but just the amount of time spent on debugging html makes me reject the idea of learning more complex forms of coding like java or C++. Hell, CSS drives me up the wall as it is, so what's learning C++ supposed to be like?
So you know, don't be afraid to submit your feedback, regardless of whether it's good or bad. It's good to know something about all this work. And don't be afraid to share it around too. God, is this how Chris Antista feels?