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My Most Anticipated Games of the Year - 08

That's my old list. Yeah, no comments. Sad, isn't it?

Well, we're almost halfway into the year, and some of the games I've really been waitin for are now going to start popping up. So I've decided to update my list for the remainder of the year.

-Battlefield: Bad Company: Just go watch the trailers and tell me what you think. Demo's out June 5th, full game on 23rd, on next gen consoles (PS3 and the 360, that is).

-BIA: Hell's Highway: Tactical AWESOME! Best WWII game for a while. Out August.

-Halo Wars: Must I say anything? TBA 08

-Tom Clancy's EndWar: Real time tactics... and too much for one post. Voice commands, awesome multiplayer, and SPETSNAZ!

-Tom Clancy's HAWX: Combat flight simulator. What else do I need to say?

-Gears of War 2: ...

-Far Cry 2: Great physics, graphics and everything that ends with -ics.

-C&C: Red Alert 3: I love the series, especially the spin-offs... It got me into RTSs.

Halo 3 Armour Perms: Only Cosmetic? UPDATE

Well, since I don't have any new games to review... might as well talk a bit about a game I'm playing (I'm alternating between Halo 3 and Vegas 2, and may start Viva Pinata soon - I heard it's Achievements are ea - I mean it's a good game).

So, I thought I'd bring up a common though not so controversial aspect of Halo 3's multiplayer: the armour permutations.

Since the game came out, we've all been trying to unlock our favourite amours; collecting all the skulls to add to an almost annoying number of HAYABUSA whor - I mean ninjas, playing the Campaign on Legendary for EOD, annoying Bungie for Recon... (which is, undoubtably, the most controversial armour perm).

And while you do that, your Elite counterparts do the same (though with only 5 armour perms, as opposed to the Spartan 11 helmets and slightly less shoulder and body pieces). The choice to be Elite is purely a liking of the charismatic race from the Halo universe. Or is it?

Are the armour permutations merely cosmetic, or do they affect gameplay? Bungie claims that they do not, but over my time in Halo, I noticed that they do (I don't know about Halo 2, not having played all that much of that game).

Playing as Spartan will mean you're a smaller target, and some would argue that it's harder to get a headshot on a Spartan. However, the 'box', the area surrounding the head that counts as part of the head to the game's mechanics, negate this issue, along with the rush of battle. I have never personally found this a significant advantage.

I did find something else, though.

I've played 5 games as an Elite, back when I was fairly new to Halo 3, and was still learning to master the maps and meleé, then my weakest attack, and now one of my most formidable. I notice that it was far easier to kill with a meleé; I hypothesized that this was due to their natural strength. I just dropped the issue, not considering it significant.

Until last week.

As you know, Team SWAT is now a permanent, ranked playlist, after it's two succesful stints on the DoubleExperience weekends, and it's history in Halo 2. I played it for a few games, and noted that I was usually the only, or one of two or three, Spartan. I thought it was odd, but not very important. Until the end of the game. I basically sucked, though I consider myself fairly skilled at Team SWAT, the BR being a weapon I am proficient with. Yet I was killed near 30 times on one occasion, with 5 kills.

I went over to the Bungie.net forums, and found other victims. I heard people complaining in other matchmaking playlists, occasionally, about this issue. Elites definately have an advantage in Team SWAT, though I'm not sure what this is. It's probably a greater body health compared to Spartans, which helps in the mentioned playlist. This is significant, it seems, only in this playlist. In most others, the 'dinos' are just huge targets :P.

And, I almost forgot, some obsessive players worry about the slight differences in shape between different helmets, both Spartan and Elite, with many preferring the default Mark. VI (MJOLNIR) helmet, for it's conservative shape.

So, what do you think? Do armour perms affect gameplay? Have you had any experiences that made you question the effect of perms? Comment away!

In case you're wondering, I use a Scout helmet (looks like a TMNT!) with EOD shoulders and Project: HAYABUSA body.

UPDATE: Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that the game is unbalanced. I just mean that different armour perms may have a slight effect on gameplay, which may or may not have been intentional on Bungie's part. In fact, this expands your strategic options... (Elite for Team SWAT, for example).

Iron Man Demo Impressions (MAJOR UPDATE)

With a hugely anticipated and nostalgic movie comes a less anticipated and utterly forgettable video game.

But Iron Man seemed like it would be an exception to this rule, so I decided to download the recently released demo. Here's what I think:

Graphics: From a movie-game conversion, you can't expect much, so... I'd say mediocre.

Gameplay: It's way too easy. WAY too easy. A few shots will destroy just about anything (except bosses, obviously), and avoiding fire is even easier. (Played on Formidable)

Controls: Flawed. It could've been a lot smoother, and more open. The default sensitivity is way too sensitive. You have a decent amount of actions, but they're ruined by the aforementioned sensitivity. The control scheme, however, is fairly good, whatever that counts for when it doesn't work as you'd expect...

Unlocks: Tons. Helmets, batteries, blah blah.

Overall/Fun Factor: Well... it's not as good as I (and most people) hoped. But at least it's better than Transformers... 6/10

Legendary Map Pack Review (Halo 3, d'oh)

Okay, I finally got my mittens on the Legendary Map Pack. I played it a bit, but before I tell you my opinion on it, here's what I think of paid DLC maps (since this is my first DLC review on this blog).

Games like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 have sold millions of copies. Do their publishers really need to charge 800 MS Points for a few maps? After all, Rainbow Six's Black and Red Player Packs were free (though most of the maps in those were Reduxes). To keep their communities happy, wouldn't it be better to keep the DLC free? Paid DLC seems to suit games that haven't sold as much, as a source of extra revenue. That's just one way to look at it, and it's an opinon I haven't had for long.

Anyway, here's the stuff you bothered to click this link for:

Avalanche: I actually laughed when I first played this with my friends ( 8 v. 8 ). We picked CTF, because that's what this map seemed to be best suited to. The Hornets and Scorpions made it a lot more fun, though the former were without their missiles, and the latter rather tame (compared to the campaign). The choice between human and Covie vehicles is a matter of personal choice. And the man cannons throw you straight to the flag...

Anyway, here's what I think: By Halo standards, it's a huge map. Sandtrap big, though icy and with man cannons. There really isn't much space for even mid range infantry shootouts. It's normally going to be with scoped weapons, with exceptions, obviously, like Sandtrap. But you're better off grabbing a mount (with a teammate). It'll make for some epic battles, though.

Map Rating: 8.0/10 (compared to other Halo maps)

Blackout: A solid Lockout remake. My least anticiated map, but a lot better than I thought it would be. That pretty much sums it up. If you've played on Lockout, or even Guardian in Halo 3, you'll be familiar with it. It's a classic Halo CQC map.

Map Rating: 7.9/10

Ghost Town: I haven't played much on it yet, but I like it. The environments look really good, and, as I hypothesized, it's very well balanced. Really good for most gametypes.

Map Rating: 8.5/10

Overall, the map pack is good, and worth getting if you have MS Points to spend. Otherwise, don't worry, it'll be free in time for the Easy Map Pack.

Halo 3: Legendary MP: What's your favourite map? (UPDATE!)

Straight to the point: With the next DLC coming out on the 15th, which map in the Legendary Map Pack are you most excited about and why?

In my case, it's Avalanche. I loved Sidewinder in Halo: Combat Evolved (PC)'s multiplayer (second to Blood Gulch, of course). And with the new, rebalanced Hornets and Scorpions, it's going to host some epic battles, much like Sandtrap... which I'm slowly playing less on.

Ghost Town seems like a very well balanced map as well, and the map I relate it to is the Pit. I don't know why, they're nothing like each other, but maybe it's because they're very... balanced... maps (I was going to use another word that the servers didn't like-no, not a swear word...).

Blackout seems like a good new Guardian-ish map (I would say Lockout-ish, but I haven't played much of Halo 2... all I used to play were RTSs on PC, but Halo, Soldier of Fortune 2 and Battlefield 2 got me into RTSs.

So, overall, I think this new map pack is going to be a lot better than the mediocre Heroic map pack. Foundry was good for Forge, but only okay by default. Standoff was a decent map, but it seemed empty in Team Slayer, but crowded-ish in BTB (especially Land Grab...). Rat's Nest was a good mix of infantry (close-quarters) and vehicular combat, though the latter was extremely linear.

UPDATE: I completely forgot about the new special effects. It's going to be really good for machinima. And it'll affect gameplay as well, so you're effectively myopic with some effects. Others just change the ambience ("Bring on the Gears of War one!").

I haven't played much of Halo 3 in a while... (blame RSV2, Bungie, not yourselves), and undoubtably, this batch of DLC will suck me right back in.

P.S. Do you think this will be the last Halo 3 DLC? They seem to have run out of names (difficulty settings... Easy, Normal, Heroic Legendary. I doubt there's an "Easy Map Pack"...), unless they have something else in mind (Remakes Map Pack, Earth Map Pack, the Ark Pack, etc.).

Things I want in Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

You've all probably heard of Tom Clancy's HAWX, previously known as Air Combat. It's announcement was almost taken as a joke (by me at least), being on April 2 (a little late). But it's authentic, and looks good as hell! It's a combat flight simulator set in 2012 in the Ghost Recon universe, a bit ahead of where Splinter Cell currently is and eight years prior to EndWar. So here's what I want from it as a combat flight simulator in particular:

-Not arcady. Please.

-Decoy chaffs. It's supposed to be realistic... And not even a supersonic fighter-bomber can avoid a missile like the plane in the teaser. Unless the missile's manually controlled. By a drunk monkey.

-Electronic warfare in multiplayer. Get someone on your team to fly Prowlers. Jam the enemies' radars.

-Good multiplayer. Must I say...?

-A good HUD.

-Large playable environments. You see the screenshots? Look at that mountain in the background. You should be able to go there.

Retaliation: Impressions

Retaliation: Episode One, Calm (A Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Machinima)

Incase you haven't heard of Retaliation yet, here's a summary of it; it a machinima, by Third Day Productions and "published" by Machinima.com, about, well, retaliation! As far as we find out in the first episode, *SPOILERS*, a British military base in the U.K. is attacked by a car bomb, and for some reason, American forces (Marine Force Recon) seem to be avenging it... Anyway, there's a team of snipers (Team Bravo), hunting a terrorist leader in the fictional Middle Eastern coutry CoD4 is set in.

But the story's kinda hard to make out in the first episode. Especially with the audio turned off.

Anyway, I found it to be a very well made machinima, and I would recommend it to everyone. The directing is excellent, and it's only limited by CoD4's occasionally jerky animations.

The audio, voiced by only two people, is well done, though it would have been better had they had more voice actors.

It's full of realistic, and creative action. The machinimists (is that the right word?) knew what they were doing, and the limitations posed by the game, and understood it. They also had a fare bit of knowledge about the military, *cough* unlike most CoD4 player *cough* that game is not realistic .

So, overall, it's a pretty good machinima. Otherwise, I wouldn't waste a hundred words of teh Intornets space with this. It's a lot better than the amateur-ish Halo 3 machinimas that have popped up recently (excluding Digital Ph33r and Rooster Teeth, of course).

Grifball: Can it be a mainstream Halo playlist?

Grifball. Another reason to love Rooster Teeth, the awesome makers of Red vs. Blue: the Blood Gultch Chronicles and the recently announced Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction series, among some spin-offs (like Recovery One and Out of Mind).

Go sponsor them already!

Anyway, back to the point. With Bungie now adding the DoubleExperience Weekend playlist to Halo 3's matchmaking, a lot of people who grew tired of Halo 3, or decided to play something else for a while, are returning in hordes. After the success of the initial Grifball and Team SWAT (twice), Bungie's bringing out the unnofficial flagship gametype and map for the Heroic Map Pack to Social Matchmaking. Again.

So, I decided to play it for a while, having only played Grifball a few times with some friends back when the Heroic MP was released. I enjoyed it to an extent, but after that I was just challenging myself to try to get, say, more than 50 or 60 medals in a game. Because that's not only possible, it's pretty freaking likely if you know how to wield the Gravity Hammer.

Maybe I've gone too far ahead without introducing Grifball. You should (and probably do) know it. It's played on an empty map variant of Foundry, and the gametype is a variant of Assault, with players starting with a Gravity Hammer and Energy Sword. The bomb carrier turns orange (like Grif from RvB), and is a bit faster than usual. No grenades or pickups, infinite ammo.

Learning Curve: About 2-3 games, to realise the full potential of the Gravity Hammer (the hard way, be warned).

What's Fun: Killing. This isn't a sociopathic issue; you can get HEAPS of kills, Extermination medals (wipe out the whole team), killing streaks, Killionaires, even! It'll really help your K/D, if you capitalise on it. And chasing the Grif while being chased by the other team.

Annoyances: Freaking spawn-campers and team killers. Just use blind hammering against spawn campers (IF YOU'RE ALONE!). And about team-killers, don't fight back. It happens in a while. But if they're doing it intentionally, shout at them, talk about their mum or something. Ok, don't. Just tell them to stop. If they don't, their parents have obviously disabled the voice chat setting, or they live in an isolate bunker in Antarctica and don't understand English (besides "Capture the Flag!" or "Assault").

So, why can't it be a permanent playlist?

There are so many kills, that's why. Playing for a while will make the hammer or the sword your highest killing weapons on Bungie.net (in a couple of hours if you're a junior officer). It (perhaps unfairly) improves your Social Kill/Death ratio, and you get a s@#$-load of otherwise difficult medals (*cough* Extermination *cough* Killionaire *cough*).

The future of Tom Clancy games...

With the announcement of HAWX just a week after Ubisoft bought all the rights to Tom Clancy's new and old IPs, I suspect a new wave of Clancy titles in the next year or so. Tom Clancy's newfound popularity in gaming is surprising, considering that only a year or so ago, the only mainstream Clancy game was Splinter Cell, with Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon having only relatively cult-ish popularity. But then, with Ubisoft's aqcuisition of Red Storm Entertainment, the Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon series recieved makeovers, to make them more forgiving and-I hate to admit it-fun. Splinter Cell is also changing (Conviction...).

Though games had to be approved by the almost legendary author, he didn't really have a say in their content and gameplay. Having seen how his novels transformed from the glorious succeses in the 80s and early 90s (Red Storm Rising, the Hunt for Red October, the Cardinal of Kremlin among others), to the mediocre mid- and late-90s and 2000s, with books written by others, though being his IPs (PowerPlays, NetForce, OpCentre), but some gems (Rainbow Six, the Bear and the Dragon), I fear that his games are going the same way. Many agree that the Splinter Cell series is part its peak, and it'll be interesting to see where Team Rainbow heads next, though Ghost Recon seems stable, and likely to continue to be good. This milking of the Clancy-cash-cow (woah...awesome alliteration) has produced two new IPs, set in the Ghost Recon/Splinter Cell universe, instead of the Ryan-verse like Rainbow Six. Though this won't affect their quality, it is an interesting change, signaling that the Ryan-verse has grown old. Besides, the main characters in Rainbow Six, the second last Ryan-verse novel, would've been way too old now.

This change isn't a bad thing really, with more Clancy titles, though they may be normal games with his name on them. But anyway, EndWar and HAWX look hell good. Accept the change, fanboys. Move on.

The game v4.2: The Plot

If you remember (and bothered to read the post), I mentioned a game/mod that I just began. Currently untitled, it's gone through another change, but at least it finally kicked off.

Anyway, it starts off with a cutscene, at an amusement park in Germany, with the newly resurrected Baader-Meinhof. A BM terrorist gives a soliloquy about capitalism, and the cutscene blacks out, with a gunshot. Then there's the actual gameplay, as a German rapid-response counter-terror team. The player then assumes the role of multiple spec ops troopers that have to deal with terrorist attacks on their homelands; seemingly random events. But as intelligence agencies start to co-operate, they uncover a dark secret...