Modern Warfare 3 Confuses Me

I would like to preface this by saying that I haven’t played MW3, I probably won’t, but I have played Battlefield 3; take from that what you will.

I really don’t understand how Modern Warfare 3 is getting the review scores it’s getting; 4/5, 8/10, etc. Every review I’ve read, seen or heard has said pretty much the same thing, that the game is formulaic, only a small iterative improvement over the previous one, that it’s a lot more scripted than the previous one, that half of it is on-rails shooting, that the multiplayer is pretty much the same as the previous one – if not worse in some aspects due to design choices. On the upside, it’s a polished version of MW2 and it does resolve the story that has been built up through MW1 and 2.

So how does this equate to an excellent game? Because it’s sold more than 9 million copies? Because it’s a big AAA title? Because it’s part of a popular franchise? Surely none of these things should have any impact on the review score. It seems to be getting worse and worse over time; reviewers basically saying “This game is essentially the same as the last one and doesn’t really do anything new. 5 Stars!” or “Well the single player is shit but, you know, there’s multiplayer that’s really good. 5 Stars!”

For the record, I have nothing but bad things to say about the Battlefield 3 Single Player campaign because it’s a poor attempt to copy Modern Warfare and should never have been shoehorned in to the game. It would have been much better not to include a single player component at all. That said, people don’t buy Battlefield games expecting a solid single player game, they buy it for the multiplayer and I’m willing to cut it a little slack from that point of view but I still believe that it should negatively affect the review score because it’s a part of the game experience that is substandard.

I’ll admit that I don’t put much stock in review scores, because they’ve never seemed to me to be a particularly good metric with which to measure something as complex as most games, but if you’re going to have them then please try and make them consistent with the text of the review, otherwise you’re just making yourself look bad.

Bad Science

Bad Science
Bad Science

If you have not already read Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (of the excellent badscience.net and the Guardian’s Bad Science column), then I insist that you buy it now.

Go on, buy it now!

Seriously, it’s easily the best book I’ve read this year and it’s probably one of the best books I’ve read in years. It certainly made me re-evaluate how readily I accept the information in news stories and parroted by other people.

Beat Hazard

Beat Hazard is the latest in a growing line of games with dynamically generated content based on the player; in this case, the player’s music collection. To quote the marketing guff: “Experience your music collection like never before with this intense music driven arcade shooter. Each of your songs will have its own unique ebb and flow based on the music. Power up your spaceship and watch as the music boosts your firepower. Unleash hell on the enemy ships when you max out with weapon pickups!

Now, I own Audiosurf and while it’s not the kind of game to spend hours at a time with, it’s great fun in 20-30 minute chunks. With this in mind, I was hoping for a similar kind of experience with Beat Hazard but I was sadly disappointed… Continue reading Beat Hazard

Splinter Cell Conviction

Good story, good gameplay, good God it’s finished already.

Now, I haven’t played a Splinter Cell game since Pandora Tomorrow; Chaos Theory annoyed me with its overly Xboxy controls & interface and Double Agent didn’t get great reviews, but I really loved the first two so in spite of a lingering bad taste from past experiences and bearing in mind the obscene Ubisoft DRM, I decided to give Conviction a shot…
Continue reading Splinter Cell Conviction

Just Cause 2 – Mini Review

Just Cause 2
A Quiet Day On Panau

You know a game is doing something right when it has you giggling with glee like a small child: The very first mission of Just Cause 2 sees you fleeing a horde of soldiers in Jeeps across a bridge while standing atop a speeding car. Now, you could just shoot at them, or you could use your New And Improved™ grappling hook to attach them to the bridge’s support struts, pinging them acrobatically over the edge and into the sea below.

The game is all about Chaos, specifically causing as much of it as you can in order to destabilise the government of Panau, a south pacific island cluster with an improbable number of airports and military installations. You achieve this largely by shooting at things, blowing things up, shooting at things to blow them up or crashing things into other things to blow them up. There are over 100 unique vehicles in the game and a decent number of different weapons to get you started and you can call on additional weapon & vehicle drops from the mysteriously well armed Sloth Demon at any time.

Players of the first Just Cause will be familiar with the grappling hook and parachute combo, which allow you to pull off the ludicrous stunts that make the game so enjoyable, and the sequel has made a number of improvements; firstly there’s the aforementioned double-grapple which allows you to tether any two objects to each other (man and car, man and gas canister, man and helicopter, man and other man, etc), then there’s the ability to use the grapple & parachute together as a form of (rather slow) transportation, latching onto nearby scenery to pull yourself along.

There is a main storyline to follow, but with only 7 missions from start to finish it’s not exactly an epic; that said, there are literally hundreds of side missions, races, collections, explorations and the like, not to mention the Steam Achievements and as with the first game, the fun really comes from the massive sandbox that you have to play with. Who needs a story when you can sneak into a military base, blow up a 100ft broadcast antenna with high explosives then, when a gunship turns up, attach your grapple to the underside, swing into the cockpit, knock out the pilot, fly halfway across the map and then bail out and start making parachuted strafing runs on an airfield with a pair of SMGs while the carcass of your now abandoned helicopter crashes into a bank of fuel tanks blowing the whole thing sky high? I’ve played over 24 hours so far and I’m only at 34% completion.

The only real complaint I have is that on the PC, lacking an analogue keyboard, vehicle control and precise movement can be a challenge especially at high speed and it does make it difficult to realise some of the awesome manoeuvres that you know you *should* be able to pull off with the equipment you have.

You can buy Just Cause 2: Limited Edition from Play.com for £24.99 and you should.