Friday, November 12, 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops First Impressions

Hello everyone,

I didn't attend the midnight launch for this game, but I did go to gamestop the next day.  When I got home I popped the game in and I had about 4 hours to play.  I'll try to put this into perspective, but in that 4 hours I played two rounds of multiplayer, one round of Nazi Zombies, and about 3 campaign missions on normal difficulty.  I'll be posting a full review of the game next week, but right now I'll share my initial thoughts.

Campaign:  As of right now I have finished the campaign, on normal difficulty, and I'm not impressed.  There were definitely some interesting levels, some really innovative, but the majority were very repetitive and tried too hard to be Modern Warfare 2.  In every single level you can count on two things:  Some kind of quick time event and at least one moment in which you will need to draw your pistol, that you don't even have as a weapon, and save someones life.  In these aspects, Black Ops isn't innovative at all and it overdoes what Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 did so incredibly well.  What Black Ops's story does well, however, is the actual "Black Ops" levels.  I can tell you, the first two levels, and maybe three more in the entire game of 15 levels.  I really only enjoyed 1/3rd of the game, which doesn't sit well with me.  However, the levels that I did enjoy were incredibly innovative and fun.  I don't want to spoil anything, but all of these levels shared a feeling of being behind enemy lines and fighting, not only to complete your mission, but to survive.  Unfortunately though, I felt the same way about Call of Duty: World at War.  Treyarch does develop games really well without any outside influences, but when they try to live up to Modern Warfare, they fail, which is unfortunately about 2/3rds of the game.

Multiplayer:  I haven't played many matches of multiplayer, but from what I've played I think the maps are a little too big.  Most of the maps in Modern Warfare 2 were close to medium range maps, which really worked well, but Black Ops's maps really encourage you to snipe and camp.  Also, the pre loaded classes are really under powered.  I feel like I can get several kills with the weapons they provide, but no where close to someone who has unlocked the custom classes. 

Nazi Zombies:  Nazi Zombies hasn't changed much from the final map pack in Call of Duty: World at War.  You are initially trapped in a facility and need to turn the power on to access different rooms to get back to your own time period.  There's not much to say about this map, but there are three total maps that come with the game.  The second map is really crazy; you play as Nixon, Castro, JFK, and JFK's advisor to defend the Pentagon from invading zombies that happen to be Nazi's.  This map is much more like the original map that came with World at War because the map is much smaller and there are only a few doors to open.  I could easily see spending a lot of time in this map, but not necessarily the first.  I haven't unlocked the final map, but I'd like to see what it is. 

A full review will be posted some time next week after I've had some more time with the game's story and multiplayer modes. 

Cheif Goku C

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Game Review of the Week: Assassin's Creed 1 and 2

Hey guys,
After an unexpected hiatus I'm happy to say that I'm able to start posting on a regular schedule again.  Over the past month or so I've gotten and played many different games, mostly in anticipation for the upcoming games of the holiday season.  One game coming out is Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.  I am still considering getting this game, so in preparation I bought Assassin's Creed 1 over the summer and Assassin's Creed 2 several weeks ago.
Assassin's Creed 1:

Story:  This game is definitely a game worth seeking out because of how great the story is.  You take on the character of Desmond who wakes up one day in a facility with only two other people who seem to be holding him hostage.  After some explanations you lay down in some kind of strange machine called the Animus, and suddenly you become Altair, a master assassin from the late 12th century.  The game begins with Altair and two other assassin's attempting to secure an artifact from the Temple of Solomon.  The Brotherhood of the Assassins only requires three rules:
1.Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent
2.Hide in plain sight.
3.Never compromise the brotherhood
Altair, being arrogant, clearly disregards the central tenets of the Brotherhood which results in the death of one assassin and a severe injury to another.  After returning to the Brotherhood stronghold in shame he must attempt to fend off an attacking army, and while this act is valiant it does not make up for breaking the Assassin's Creed and is executed by his master.  Hours later Altair wakes and realizes that he was not spared, but at a high cost.  Altair must start at the bottom of the Brotherhood, loosing all of his weapons and experience, he must assassinate nine targets in order to restore his previous rank and standing in the Brotherhood. 
This is where the game essentially "starts".  Assassin's creed's story was incredibly entertaining and interesting.  I found myself really wanting to finish this assassination so that I could see what happens next to Altair.  Furthermore, the fact that Altair is a flawed character makes him more likable as he embarks on his journey of self discovery to restore his honor and respect for the creed. 

Gameplay:  The gameplay is incredibly fun, but there is a large learning curve.  The game manipulates the controller to actually provide double the buttons, and this control set up can be confusing at first, but once you get the hang of the control scheme it really isn't noticeable.
The fighting in the game is very focused on sneaking and killing silently without attracting attention to yourself.  This game play style works well for the game because if you get into a large fight with more than ten people it is very difficult to win, mainly because you are equipped to take out one or two guards.  Once a large group shows up you can quickly be over powered and killed. 

Graphics:  Considering the game came out three years ago, the graphics are good, but not great.  Facial animations look off and textures can look distorted from a distance.  However, the landscapes are beautiful and the cities are very large and detailed. 

Bottom line:  Assassin's Creed is something that every gamer should try because it really is a defining game.  The game play isn't all that different from other action adventure free roam games, but the assassinations are incredibly fun and the way that the game plays is incredibly immersive. 

Assassin's Creed 2:
Story:  Assassin's Creed 2's story is totally different from Assassin's Creed 1.  You take on the role of Desmond, who is escaping the facility he was held hostage in.  To avoid spoilers, Desmond eventually gets to a warehouse where he goes back into the Animus as a different assassin, Ezio.  However, when Desmond first takes control of Ezio he is just a thug driven by nothing, but when his entire family is executed by the Templar Knights he becomes driven by vengeance.  Donning his fathers secret assassin cloak, Ezio takes up the cause of avenging the death of his family and discovering the Templar's evil plans.  I thought that the story for Assassin's Creed 2 was much more "over the top" than Assassin's Creed 1's story.  Also, I found Ezio to be less likable than Altair, but more motivated in his mission.  It also appears that the Brotherhood has dissolved and all that is left of the assassin's are small groups of resistance fighters across Italy.  I still found this game entertaining, but I think the main problem that I had was that Altair was such a cool and interesting character that I didn't want to let him go, and luckily he makes several appearances in this game in some interesting ways. 

Gameplay:  The gameplay of Assassin's Creed 2 is exactly the same as Assassin's Creed 1, but with some added bonuses.  For example, Ezio is equipped with two wrist blades and a host of other weapons.  Some of which include poison, smoke bombs, and flying machines!  This definitely makes the game more fun and varied, but at some points there is little to no challenge while using these new additions to the inventory.  I found the controls to be tighter and more responsive, but there is still a slightly confusing control scheme.

Graphics:  Assassin's Creed 2 is incredibly beautiful to look at.  The way that the water ripples, the way that enemies fall, and the way that you run just looks immensely beautiful and polished.  There are still some issues with facial animations, but other than that the graphics are top notch. 
Bottom Line:  I personally liked Assassin's Creed 1 more for the story, but Assassin's Creed 2 is definitely worth investing in, especially for the continuation in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood which is coming out this holiday season.  If you liked Assassin's Creed, or other action adventure games like Uncharted, you'll like this game. 

Hope you guys liked these reviews. 
Upcoming posts are: 
Halo: Reach review (long overdue)
Call of Duty: Black Ops first impressions
Call of Duty: Black Ops Review

Thanks for reading,
Cheif Goku C