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Red Beret's blog

7:17 PM on 09.12.2010

It's Been Awhile...

Hello, Dtoid, it's been awhile, haha.

I've been spending the past month or so upgrading and re-outfitting my Airsoft armory, so I haven't had a lot of time or money to spend on video games. Today's economy seriously doesn't help, either, but there's nothing I can do on that end except wish for better opportunities and pray that someone's listening.

The summer's oppressive heat has left me mostly lethargic and apathetic, but in order to hone my tactical prowess and prepare for the big ass-kicking I'm going to receive when I get back into the game, I've been playing Rainbow Six: Vegas 2. Mostly the Terrorist Hunt scenarios.

Now, I've said it before, and I'll say it again--I love customization, and Vegas 2 offers a whole mess of options as far as armor, camo, headgear, weapons, and weapons accessories goes (though I'll admit that some of the options are regretably lame). If you've got LIVE or you're playing it on the computer, you also have the option to take a snapshot of your face and use it on your character. How cool is that?

The story is pretty cool and pretty enthralling (a web of lies, deceit, and ass-kickery (yes, it's a word now), but I enjoyed the Terrorist Hunt missions a little more. They're not as linear, and don't require as much tactical prowess. I've managed to beat all of the levels on the casual and realistic difficulties, and recently I've been playing with friends to see who can kill the most terrorists while playing solo (there's the option of playing with two AI squadmates if you play single player, but you can turn that off at the mission start screen) on Realistic.

One of the interesting things about the enemy AI is that every now and again, they'll change up the way they spawn, so if you've gotten used to them doing something in a level, they'll eventually do something different. For instance, in the Villa, I used to be able to sit in the garage in the starting area and eliminate all 45 enemies as they came at me one to three at a time, but now they won't spawn unless I actually go into the house that makes up the main part of the map (and they kill me quickly each time--that house is seriously CQC and blindsiding opportunities, and that's about it).

Most of the maps are heavily CQC-oriented, which I find a little frustrating, since close quarters isn't my thing. There are a few that have more open areas, such as Import/Export and the Las Vegas Junkyard, but even these have a large amount of close-quarters areas (Murdertown is one of the best and worst CQC levels I've ever played in a video game).

Still, I enjoy playing it, and will continue to do so. I may upload a few videos eventually, as well, if I've got the time, haha.   read

3:59 PM on 06.29.2010

House of the Resident Evil

Ever since my first visit to an arcade, I've been a pretty big fan of light gun rail shooters, including Confidential Mission, the Jurassic Park games at places like Frankie's Fun Park, and most of the House of the Dead titles. Thus, it was a pretty standard purchase when I walked into my local GameStop and bought Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.

I figured that it would be a great game, and I was pretty much right. I'm a huge fan of the Resident Evil games (I've played up through Nemesis, so I'm not sure about the others, sadly enough), and as I said before, I'm a big fan of the rail shooter style. It couldn't possibly miss, could it?

Folks, I'm rather torn as to how to rate this. The Umbrella Chronicles is a game that is both absolutely fantastic and frustratingly difficult at the same time. Unlike other Wii titles that I've encountered, the graphics were superb and finely detailed. The story, I was relieved to see, also details the events of the segments (it covers the events of Zero, the first Resident Evil game, and Nemesis, as well as making allusions to Resident Evil 2 in sub-missions) quite accurately. Of course, there are some details that are fuzzy in my memory, but I was fairly impressed with how the story turned out.

Players are also able to select their weaponry from a growing arsenal as they go along, and any ammunition for a weapon that isn't expended during one level is available for the next. Players are able to upgrade their weapons with the points they earn from their ratings, and are scored on a letter system based on kills, headshots, damage taken, the time it took to get through the level, and items collected.

Zombies could either hit you or bite you, and some of the more mutated specimens had other special attacks. Generally, you could get away with a "grapple scene" after instructions flash up on the screen. If you follow the instructions, your character will dodge and in some cases execute the enemy attacking them in one hit.

That said, combat could be rather irritating. The zombies and other creatures you face can take a helluva lot of damage. Even if you're just facing down a regular, non-severely-mutated zombies, it takes the better part of a magazine to put them down. Headshots are recommended, even encouraged, but there are segments that had you completely surrounded. That by itself isn't the issue--Resident Evil zombies have always been able to take a lot of damage. No, what's irritating is that you don't always have time to aim, and you don't always get a chance to "shake the zombie off." This results in you getting beaten to a pulp while being able to do virtually nothing about it.

It's worse in multiplayer--the players have a shared health bar, and if one player fails to follow through with the instructions for a "grapple scene," both players take damage. So, even if you're doing everything right, you can still get killed if the person beside you is doing everything wrong... this doesn't exactly promote friendly feelings of well-being during co-op sessions. God help everyone if the situation is volatile enough, haha (I've seen people beat each other over less significant things than a video game).

Also, the difficulty levels don't seem to affect anything other than how much damage enemies do. On easy, a zombie can kill you in about ten hits. On hard, that goes down to four. I didn't play long in "Hard" mode, so I don't know what the deal with items and such is there, but I know I got killed a lot quicker, haha.

Still, in the end, I've got to give this game an 7/10. I loved the fact that they stayed true to the Resident Evil canon (though I was disappointed that it left out a few characters--Nikolai being amongst them, that magnificient bastard). It's definitely tougher than most of the light gun rail shooters I've played in the past, but I don't like the way the multiplayer works, and as far as I'm concerned, there's no point in playing a rail shooter if you don't have a buddy on board.

Still, worth checking out if you've got some free time and extra cash.   read

1:24 PM on 06.27.2010

Ye Olde Alpha Protocol

The majority of my gaming time is spent with console games, but since I don't actually want to pay sixty bucks for the news games I want to try, and especially with some of the RPG-style games that are in the works and have been recently released (Alpha Protocol being one of them, Fable III being another), I've been getting back into tabletop RPGs. My most recent discovery, as far as these go, is one styled after the perilous adventures of none other than everybody's favorite secret agent, James Bond.

I'll admit, my introduction to 007 came through Goldeneye, but I have watched enough of the older movies not to care for the "grittier," more sociopathic Bond portrayed by Daniel Craig in the movies Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. I've played several of the games as well (including the superbly re-made From Russia with Love, which brought Sean Connery back as Bond).

A friend of mine actually brought this to my attention (if he was a Dtoider, I'd link you to him... unfortunately, he isn't), and I've managed to get my hands on the core rulebook (it was easy enough to find a downloadable version), and it looks like a very interesting bit of work. It's different from most RPGs in that when played correctly, the game sets its focus on the incredible feats of the players, setting the odds against the GM instead. The players themselves may choose to play as canonical players, including James Bond himself, but also have the option to create their own agents, either from MI6 itself or allied agencies around the globe.

As with a lot of RPGs, creating a character can be very confusing the first time around. Each player gets a certain number of Generation Points to spend on their character. Thing such as general appearance, height, and weight are all determined by spending Generation Points, as well as their characteristics--Strength, Dexterity, Willpower, Perception, and Intelligence. Generation Points are also spent to acquire new skills and even weaknesses. This is actually the first tabletop RPG that I've seen where a player can level his character's chosen skills to their highest level at the very beginning of the game if he's got the points to do it with (though, it's fairly expensive to do it, costing 180 Generation Points to max out a new skill).

The GM can always make up their own campaign if they want to, but in case they don't, there are several pre-written campaigns that follow Bond's adventures over the years. These are based off both the books written by Ian Flemming and the movies, so players who saw the movies can still count themselves in for a surprise or two if they haven't read the books as well.

Actions are performed by making a percentile roll against a Success Chance. The lower the roll, the better the outcome. Combat is pretty standard, though the challenge can be increased depending on the situation--one of the examples the rulebook listed was a scenario where the player characters are being shot at while they attempt to climb a vertical surface.

I haven't actually had a chance to play it yet (what a shocker--there aren't that many people who are into tabletop games around here), but it seems like a normal campaign would play out quite spectacularly... once everybody got past performing their best Sean Connery impressions.   read

3:18 AM on 06.26.2010

The Ghosts Get Out of Mexico

All right, well, I think I'll stick to safer topics from now on, haha. I apologize for sucking, Dtoid--I was attempting to test the waters and got eaten by the sharks.

One of the most memorable shooters I had the fortune to play was Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2. I somewhat completely ignored the campaign (you see, I'm not very good at issuing orders to or keeping track of AI squadmates) in favor of the multiplayer portion of the game. The way GRAW 2's multiplayer mode was set up was completely new to me when I first encountered it. I wasn't used to being able to play cooperatively with another player against a large number of AI enemies. That really just didn't happen in my world, haha. From my first FPS (Goldeneye 007 for the N64) onward, multiplayer had always meant PvP.

The Ghosts are generally known for their work suppressing a rebel insurrection in Mexico... twice. According to GameInformer magazine, the new Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is going to deviate from that path completely. The main enemy this time around will be the Russians, and instead of limiting the fighting to one region, the scale of the conflict will be global.

I find it interesting that, according to the article, the game will deliver "a wider view of the events by introducing segments played from the perspective of non-military characters, including the bodyguard of the Russian president andn a worker at an oil refinery hit by a terrorist attack."* This will be a welcome change from the usual comm screen briefing that we've gotten used to for the last two games. I think that it will also provide a unique and thrilling insight into the other side of the conflict, breaking away from the one-sided view that most FPS games provide.

The equipment the player gets to play with is also supposed to be awe-inspiring, state-of-the-art technology that would make a technophile's wet dream seem like the stone ages. From shoulder-mounted rocket launchers for the Commando class to stealth technology for the snipers, this arsenal definitely looks as though it's going to kick some serious ass. The best part? It's all supposed to be based off of technology that the US government is working on as we speak.

I certainly hope that they at least recycle the game's multiplayer modes, since that's what basicly made it for me. There's nothing better than dicking around and shooting terrorists... and it would be a nice change of pace if they weren't shouting in hispanic accents this time around. I'd also like to see the customization options again... though they really need to make it so you can change the camo color of the torso, as well, so you're not so visible when wearing certain camo schemes if they do.

Other improvements I'm hoping to see (especially in the multiplayer modes) concern gameplay. Movement was rather smooth, though performing actions could be a pain in the ass at times. Also, perhaps they'll make it so that you can throw grenades using a separate button, rather than forcing you to switch between your grenades and your rifle anytime you want to throw one. They also need to upgrade the whole grenade-throwing motion... most of the time my grenades either go over or fall short of the enemy I'm trying to reach. So far, there hasn't been an in-between.

Unfortunately, we'll have to wait another six months to see how it all turns out--it was officially announced that instead of being released this fall, the game will instead be released next spring. The local GameStop has it listed as coming out March 1st of 2011. I don't know about you, but I don't think I can wait that long!

*GameInformer, Issue 206, June 2010 (I'd just like to note that this is a wonderful magazine, for those who take a great interest in gaming and gaming news)   read

10:45 AM on 06.24.2010

Five Things I Hope Crackdown 2 Fixes

In preparation for the release of Crackdown 2 early next month, I've been playing the original for the past couple of days. It's an interesting game--I certainly like the upgradeable character, the superhero theme, and the open-world gameplay. Of course, I'm predisposed for numbers one and three there, and the superhero themes depend on the context. It definitely works for this one.

However, I did encounter a few things that I hope they're changing up in the sequel. I know it's a little late to start offering up my advice, so I've instead devised a relatively short list of what I hope the developers will fix in Crackdown 2.

#1: The (Exaggerated) Ragdoll Effect
Specifically, the ragdoll for the player character. It is annoying as all Hell to finally get to the top of the building, only to discover that there is a group of people with rocket launchers and grenades standing on top of it, especially since explosions send the player flying an exaggerated distance. The result is generally the player flying off the top of the building before they can get a shot off, falling to the pavement below, and having to respawn far away and having to find the building and climb it again... often to meet the same fate if they climb the building from the same end.

#2: The Enemy Dialogue
This is something I noticed while attempting to climb the Shai-Gen Corporation's Defense Tower (where you defeat Colonel Whatshisname). It seems that out of the hundred or so Shai-Gen soldiers I had to fight through to reach the top, the only two phrases they knew were "Die!" or "Time to die!" This finally led to me hitting the mute button, so I wouldn't have to hear the witty taunting of these soldiers ("Die!" "Time to die!" "Time to diiie!" "Die!" "Time to die!") as I tried to shut them up for good.

#3: Excessive Use of Explosives by the Enemy
This is a problem I first encountered while battling the Volk. You see, these charming bastards like explosives. Normally, I can dig that. However, when I'm surrounded by twenty of the fxxxers, and all they're doing is pelting me with grenades, it becomes a problem. Especially since you can't recover from the ragdoll effect mentioned above quickly, let alone in midair. I spent most of my time in "The Den" (the district occupied by the Volk, for those of you who haven't played the game) on fire, flying around uncontrollably, and swearing under my breath at the TV. Also to note, some of the areas in "The Den" had snipers with rocket launchers to add to the mess. These guys stayed tucked away until you were busy shooting at the grenade-chuckers. You'd get somebody in your sights, then BOOM! Explosion, on fire, and flying through the air.

(I realize that games are meant to be challenging... but sometimes it's taken a bit too far, you know?)

#4: Vehicle Handling
I realize that one of the major points of this game is to level up just about every aspect of your character, including the driving, but it's rather hard to earn driving experience when you can only make wide turns and you constantly have the police on your ass because you keep mowing down civilians.

#5: Smoother Melee Combat
Compared to the rest of the list, this is actually a minor issue. Punching and kicking people off buildings was one Hell of a good time, and I'm certainly not complaining about being able to punch out cars, trucks, and tanks, but as the legions of enemies I had to plow through got larger in number, I found my character was kicking dead bodies instead of immediate threats, even though I had the stick pointed at said threats. That, of course, has led to two deaths and roughly half an hour (combined) of hiding until my health recovered. Hopefully the combat will flow just that teensy little bit better in Crackdown 2.

And that concludes this list of, well, relatively minor annoyances that I'm hoping will be resolved when the game comes out July 6th. We'll just have to wait (approximately a week and a half) and see.   read

4:18 AM on 06.23.2010

Why haven't I played this before now?

Well, folks, I returned Operation: Flashpoint, got my money back (thank you, GameStop, for your 7-day policy for used games), and then spent it on a game which I should have bought as soon as it came out..

Seriously, why hadn't I played this? Dead Space is one of the best survival horror games I've played since Silent Hill (the old Silent Hill games, not the newer ones with the Shamalayan-esque twists), story-wise. I also like the gameplay mechanics, though as with any survival horror game, it gets to the point where fighting through the monsters becomes less of a thrill and more of a bore.

Still, as I said, I find the story rather engaging, especially the way key pieces are presented to the player through logs left lying around the ship. It fills in the blanks while still leaving plenty of questions. The explanation at the end of it is... kind of BS, but it's not bad enough to where I can't stomach it. Plus, the background behind what happened on the USG Ishimura is plenty to the player in the game.

The gameplay was smooth overall, though some of the actions could be described as "clunky," such as the Zero-G jumps and using kinesis. I was actually quite happy that the developers decided to throw away the traditional HUD concept and use in-game holograms to show players their inventory, objectives, ammo count, and the health meter being a part of the player's RIG was also pretty unique, as far as I've seen. Even though the levels are pretty linear, there's still plenty of room to explore the Ishimura as you go along. The spacing of features like stores and workbenches were well-done, though it could be frustrating trying to get to either at some points during the game.

I do feel that the melee combat system could have been implemented better... especially when the player had to deal with low-lying enemies after running out of ammunition. It was a real chore trying to stomp those little skittery nerve endings (or whatever they're called--that's just what they looked like to me) out of existence... they didn't try to latch onto you, so you either had to stomp them or get them while they were on the walls. Other than that, the shooting bits went quite well, and being able to upgrade your different pieces of equipment was a real treat, too.

All in all, I'd give this one a 9 out of 10. Great story, great critters (if you don't include the cartwheeling leech things), and an adequately unnerving feel. I'm looking forward to the sequel, and crossing my fingers in the hope that it won't suck like so many sequels tend to do...   read

3:35 PM on 06.21.2010

Operation: Flashpoint... A Tedious Study in Realistic Combat.

Well, I went out and bought Operation: Flashpoint, Dragon Rising the other day, and so far, I haven't quite made it past the halfway point in the second campaign mission. I was impressed by the realism that the game conveys... the way you have to heal yourself to avoid bleeding out, and the way getting shot in certain areas affects your ability to walk, shoot, see, et cetera. I also commend the detail in the graphics and the way they managed to make it somewhat simple to issue complex orders to your squad mates.

Then there came the issue of actually playing the game. Your AI squad is unreliable at best, by the time you get close enough to the enemy to actually see what you're shooting at, they've put three rounds through your skull and killed off your team mates... and that's only if there are one or two of them. You don't actually stand a chance if they manage to swarm you. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to invade an island occupied by enemy forces with only eight substandard Marines (the highest number of friendly soldiers I've encountered so far, including the player character) obviously missed out on some part of their training.

And the walking--oh the walking. To expand upon its realism, instead of fighting over a reasonably small map area, they actually made the different "levels" to scale. This sounds like a cool prospect until you actually have to go somewhere. Going outside and walking a mile in real life is less excrutiating. there are random enemy strongholds scattered throughout the area, sure, but you really don't want to engage them, since A) you won't see them until it's too late and B) they are better shots than you. Always.

I'll be taking this game back and getting something less suck-tastically realistic. If you can find three other players online at the same time, then this might be a genuinely enjoyable game... otherwise, good luck getting through the first couple of missions.

This sort of makes me reflect on the fact I don't generally play FPS games for the realism... in real life, combat sucks big time. There are no respawns, there is no "get hit and five seconds later you're fine," and the distances you have to travel without an engagement are certain to be daunting. I might recommend this game for the more hardcore FPS players... otherwise, stick to something like Ghost Recon or Call of Duty.   read

6:58 PM on 06.17.2010

Sgt. Foley will never live this down...

What can I say? I'm not a great artist, but this was something I felt inspired to draw, especially after playing through the CoD:MW2 campaign. Now, I don't know how late I am to the party, but here goes:

I'll admit, I have become somewhat disillusioned when it comes to the Call of Duty franchise. I enjoyed the first one, and I enjoyed both the original Call of Duty 2 and "Big Red One."

Personally, Call of Duty 3 was the first blow against the series. The first Modern Warfare game did its fair share of damage as well, but not as much damage as the sequel. Yes, Modern Warfare 2 ruined Call of Duty for me forever.

The thing that turned me off wasn't the "shocking" airport scene (I've played through four Grand Theft Auto titles and both Saints Row games, so gunning down virtual civilians is kinda been-there-done-that for me), but the incessent "RAMIREZ!" followed by tedious mission objectives, such as single-handedly assaulting a deli to grab the control module for a Predator UAV, then using it to clear a path to the burger joint across the street, only to realize once you get there that Sgt. Foley forgot to mention that there was a Stinger missile in the deli the enemy just re-occupied, and you're gonna have to go get it so that you can shoot down those pesky oncoming helicopters.

That being said, I don't know if I'm going to give Call of Duty: Black Ops a chance when it comes out in November. From what I understand, it will involve somebody with a Rambo-esque headband, possibly flying a helicopter, and men in labcoats. I took a look at the Freezeframe: Call of Duty: Black Ops trailer in stills and it seems to confirm the men in labcoats, as well as several blindingly bright explosions and what appears to be somebody with an arguably malignant brain tumor giving the ol' "Sieg Heil" with his gun.

Currently, I'm leaning toward "no" on this one, though I may change my mind once it's actually released.   read

5:46 AM on 06.15.2010

An Introduction... Possibly.

Well, I'm new to Destructoid, so I figure I'll go ahead and introduce myself in my first blog post. I generally go by Bennett, though you're welcome to call me Red Beret, RB, Arbee (which, incidentally, was my first choice for username, though it's already in use, haha), or any variation thereof. My current console of choice is the Xbox 360, and due to my location and the lack of wireless Internet, I generally play single player games... any multiplayer gaming generally presents itself in local/splitscreen or a system link, when I'm fortunate enough to have a friend who brought their own 360 over.

I first got into gaming with computer games, mostly RTS games because, well, I could create my own maps and scenarios (I enjoy customization, be it characters, maps/levels, et cetera). I mostly stuck with Nintendo consoles through most of my childhood, and I've had the priveledge of playing on the original NES, SNES, the original Gameboy system and all the variants up to the GBA SD (that backlight was so glorious--I could now play games at night instead of going to sleep!), and the N64. I was introduced to the PS2 during adolescence, and it lasted me quite awhile. Now I've got the aforementioned 360, and I'm hoping that they'll continue to make games for it so I don't have to go out and buy a brand new console, haha.

The games I enjoy most are shooters, though I prefer the third person point-of-view over the first person point-of-view, especially when character customization is a big part of the playing experience. I especially enjoy sandbox shooters, as there tends to be less focus on the storyline and more focus on exploring and discovering all the neat tricks and things you can do. GTA: Vice City was actually the first sandbox shooter I ever played. Haha, good old Nostalgia... by Adrian Veidt.

As I mentioned before, I don't have any wireless capabilities where I live, so I don't have much experience with online play. Thus, if I ever give a review for a game, it will most likely be based off the single-player campaign or extras, like GRAW2's multiplayer maps or Rainbow 6: Vegas 2's Terrorist Hunt missions. Luckily, I don't often review games, so you guys probably won't have to worry about that.

My current collection of games, unfortunately limited due to lack of funds, is as follows:
Rainbow 6: Vegas 2
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (my father is actually addicted to this game, especially after he found the DLC)
The Saboteur
Soul Calibur IV (and last, but certainly not least)
Fable II

But that about sums "Gamer Me" up. When I'm not playing videogames, I generally chat, stalk whatever forums I happen to be interested in at the moment, or sit idly and ponder the big questions in the universe, such as "When is somebody going to offer wireless Internet service in my area?"

Haha, that's about it. Hope I haven't bored you to death with that, if you read it at all. And so I will go back to lurking, until I find something I think I can post in without, erm, upsetting anyone. That said, see you guys and gals around. Ciao!   read

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