Admittedly, I’m a little confused by what the folks over at Activision doing right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m not terribly excited by the whole thing.
Earlier today, the official Black Ops Facebook page posted a picture that’s bound to send the CoD community into a mess of speculative confusion. This picture simply featured a weathered version of the “Welcome to Nuketown” sign that Black Ops fans have all become familiar with. However, it also had the word “Zombies” scrawled across the surface in what we can probably assume is not red paint.
Now, even though Activision hasn’t really given us much information about what the zombies will be doing in Nuketown, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’re all going to be addicted to it. Though, in all probability, they’re simply just using Nuketown as the setting for their next zombie mode, which seems particularly fitting if you think about it.
This is a smart maneuver on Treyarch’s part; by combining their incredibly popular zombie mode with their incredibly popular Nuketown map, they’ve essentially invented a new kind of candy. Like the guy who invented peanut butter cups.
For the rest of the day, I’ll probably just be sitting on the Black Ops Facebook page clicking refresh until they give me some more information. So, I’ll keep you updated as the story unfolds.
Ever since Nintendo introduced their motion control system in 2006, there’s been an idiotic game of one-upmanship happening between the “Big Three” console-makers. See, after the Wii dropped, Sony and Microsoft quickly developed and released their own motion controllers, and the industry suddenly devolved into a contest to see who can build the quirkiest control setup the fastest. This year, Nintendo will lead the way with the Wii U tablet, but then Microsoft is releasing SmartGlass, and the Wonderbook is percolating over at Sony.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to see hardware developers working on clever new devices. In fact, I’m one of the few who thinks the Wonderbook could actually be an interesting innovation. But I’m getting really tired of these assholes trying to shoehorn a gimmicky control setup into every single game simply because the option is available.
Case in point: yesterday Ubisoft revealed that Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation will have an option called “Touch to Kill” that allows players to use the Vita’s touchscreen interface to attack instead of the standard gamepad controls. The function essentially freezes time for a moment and allows players to select a string of enemies to attack.
But why does this even need to exist? It doesn’t augment the gameplay in any discernible way. Actually, it forces players out of the gameplay for a moment and then treats them to a short quick time event. Mashing buttons would be preferable in my book. At least then I’m actually playing the game.
Obviously Ubisoft isn’t going to remove the standard attack buttons, which means that, as far as I can tell, Touch to Kill is yet another silly little gimmick that has no place in a triple-A title; just ask Resistance: Burning Skies, Mortal Kombat, and basically every single Vita launch title.
Now, just so we’re all on the same page, I’m not saying that developers should be banned from utilizing the Vita’s novelty controls. Plants vs. Zombies was tailor-made for a touchscreen interface, and Sound Shapes is fucking amazing. In fact, I even love that Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation utilizes the Vita’s rear touchpad to control the canoe’s rowing motion. What I don’t love is when developers feel compelled to implement a quirky control setup simply because they’re feeling clever. The Wii was successful because it gave players a different gameplay experience, but that experience was tied to a series of games that were tailored to the controls, not the other way around.
So knock it off, developers. You’ve had your fun. You got the chance to be cute with your control setup, but it’d be nice if you just concentrated on making good games from now on.
There’s an annoying cross section of CoD fanatics who incessantly drone on about Hardcore Mode being the ultimate Call of Duty experience. If you’re even tangentially familiar with the franchise, you’ve undoubtedly run across a few of these assholes. For them, Hardcore Mode is “the mode for people with skill” and “not for pantywaist dickbags.” And even though these are well-reasoned and thoughtful arguments, they don’t change the fact that Hardcore Mode is only played by talentless morons.
Now, before you start flooding the comments section with the standard stream of self-important Internet hissy fits, lets all take a little time to discuss this like gentlemen. Or, at the very least, let me make my case and then you can make up clever, genital-based nicknames for me in the comments.
See, Hardcore Mode fundamentally alters the Call of Duty experience. It rearranges the gameplay on an atomic level, and not in a positive way. By shaving 30% off of the player’s health, you’re effectively increasing the firepower of every gun well past its precarious balance point. In essence, every single gun, save a select few, deals the same amount of damage per bullet, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a so many choices.
Last summer I got the chance to sit down with Mark Rubin, the Executive Producer on Modern Warfare 3, at Call of Duty: XP. Obviously, MW3 hadn’t hit the market yet and they were working out a few of the bugs, but one of the things that Rubin was most proud of was the balanced gunplay. Infinity Ward spent hundreds of hours tweaking and testing each gun to make sure that none of them offered any type of major advantage. Hardcore Mode disregards all of this intricate complexity and replaces it with a sledgehammer.
Also, have you ever noticed that everyone who plays Hardcore Mode is forced to equip blind eye? It’s a necessity when everyone in the game is constantly hiding. This means that Recon, Sleight of Hand, Extreme Conditioning, and Scavenger are rendered entirely useless. Not to mention motion sensors and jammers.
As far as I can tell, Hardcore Players simply hate options.
During our interview, Rubin also explained that explosives had been toned down in favor of a fast-paced, gun-centric style of play that was a refinement of the MW2 thought process. They wanted to focus the gameplay on the gun battles rather than grenade attachments and claymores. These upgrades are incredibly effective in the standard mode, but I guess Hardcore players are unable to get kills in a standard gun fight.
So, just to recap, lets examine the type of player who enjoys hardcore mode:
- Incapable of going on the offensive.
- Relies on grenade attachments and hidden explosives.
- Can’t survive a gunfight that lasts more than a few shots.
- Doesn’t know how to customize their weaponry past equipping Blind Eye and adding a silencer.
- Typically spends the entire game hiding.
Yup. Sounds like all of the talented players prefer Hardcore Mode.
Actually, I might argue that a love of Hardcore Mode means that you actively dislike Call of Duty, because it circumvents the game’s central thesis: fast-paced gun battles.
Can you name a game that’s swarming with deliberate, methodical gameplay? I can: Battlefield 3. You should probably check it out; it might be your new favorite game.
Now, before you accuse me of not understanding Hardcore Mode’s superiority and tossing around phrases like “free country” and “give me your address” let me say this: I have no problem with sneaky, tactics based-games, but CoD isn’t one of those games. I enjoyed Splinter Cell as much as the next guy, but I don’t play Call of Duty to relive all of my favorite sneaky Splinter Cell moments in an FPS setting. Plus, shaving 30% off of player health doesn’t turn a fast-paced, gun-centric game into a tactical shooter.
One time I used a spoon to eat a steak, but that doesn’t mean it was the right tool for the job.
We did a lot of really cool stuff at CONvergence this year, but one of our favorite things was just hanging out with the attendees and meeting new people. In honor of all this tomfoolery, we snapped some photos and posted them on our site.
You didn’t think we were all done posting our E3 images did you? Well, we’ve got ten more for you today.
By now you’ve undoubtedly heard that an exclusive version of America’s precious Call of Duty franchise is on its way to the Land of the Red Dragon. (Or wait, isn’t Wales the Land of the Red Dragon? Shut up, I’m trying to talk about China here.) And if you’re an unwavering CoD superfan, you’re probably feeling a bit of jealousy, especially if the PC is your system of choice. However, you need to understand one thing, and it’s probably something that your parents have been telling you for a very long time: you’re a presumptuous little shithead who doesn’t understand how easy your life actually is.
See, the reason that CoD: Online is such a big deal for Chinese gamers is because consoles are practically nonexistent in China. The government actually banned the sale of consoles in June of 2000. So, while you’ve been mainlining Call of Duty for over a decade, those poor Chinese players have been forced to resort to the black market if they want to pick up a copy for their illegal Xbox.
The funny part is that even though consoles themselves have been banned, reportedly because parents complained about the games ruining their children’s minds, arcades and LAN Centers are not even slightly illegal. So avid players end up spending a good deal of time in public, which mostly means that they can’t masturbate between rounds like American gamers.
But the fact that gamers already have to pay an hourly rate in order to play their favorite games means that Activision needed to develop an alternate pricing scheme to make their product affordable. So, like most of their good ideas, they simply stole it from Valve.
The microtransaction system that Valve has been using for Counter-Strike Online has been popular enough to muster an upcoming sequel. So, it’s probably good enough for Activision to “borrow.” We don’t actually know many of the game’s details, but it sounds like players will be able to customize their appearance and weaponry by purchasing the tiny upgrades.
Also, if you’re still feeling some jealousy, just remember that CoD: Online is based on the Modern Warfare franchise, and the last time I checked, we already have access to that series.
Of course, the real irony in all of this is that every Xbox 360, PS3, or Wii was manufactured in China and then promptly hustled across the border before any slave shop employee might inadvertently enjoy it.
So, the next time you feel like complaining about China’s exclusive, you should take a minute to thank your dad for impregnating your mom in the land of free consoles and early releases.