Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gaming update

I realized I never put up impressions of Black-Ops or Gran Turismo. Of
course, that is usually the case, me not putting up anything I say I am
going to put up.

I'm still playing Black-Ops periodically, but I'm spending a lot less
time with Gran Turismo. Some impressions on both titles, listed by
positives and negatives:



+ Online play is more balanced than MW2. Killstreak kills don't count
towards earning more kill-streaks, there are no death-streaks (hated
those, if you suck, you suck), NO SHOTGUNS AS SECONDARY WEAPONS (thank
God!!!!), a lot less knifing from 15 feet away, and I have not noticed
any ridiculously over-powered weapons.

+ All levels are fun and balanced. No real stinkers in my opinion

+ Love the new currency system that lets you buy attachments and perks
in the order you want. Some items and weapons are still locked until a
certain level, but this method works a lot better for quickly setting up
classes you feel comfortable with and suit your play style.

+ The wager matches are a lot of fun and a unique twist to the regular
on-line formula. In fact, I should play more of these. I tend to
forget they are there.

+ The "Service Record" is awesome! It keeps track of a TON of stats
for you. I find myself constantly examining my performance via all the
helpful stats.

+ The Saved Films work basically just like Halo's and I absolutely love
it. Wish I had this since CoD4. Plenty of matches I would have loved
to have saved.


- The visuals seem to be a downgrade from MW2. The game is not ugly,
but MW2's gun models, textures and overall look seems to still be a
notch above this one. I recently played some MW2 and sure enough, I
felt that games does look significantly better.

- Even more so than in MW2, if you have less than 4 connection bars you
have a severe disadvantage to other players who do. This is the most
annoying aspect of the game by far and I almost stopped playing it
because it got so bad. The difference can be huge. My k/d ratio is
probably more than two or three times as high when I have a four bar
connection or when I am hosting as opposed to when I have three. That
Killcam discrepancy can often make you want to throw your controller
across the tv.

- I have been having some matchmaking issues lately (360 version btw, I
know PS3 has had a ton of problems). If I am in a full lobby and after
a match ends players leave or quit and there aren't enough players to
start a new match, other players NEVER join the lobby and I have to back
out and search for a new game. As a test I've waited around for over 10
minutes and nobody ever joins. It says "awaiting "x" new players", but
for some reason, none ever join. My NAT settings are open, so I'm not
sure what is going on there.

That's about it. Other than some network issues, I have really been
enjoying Blops online. I also finished the single-player campaign and
it was entertaining to an extent, but ever since CoD4's campaign (which
I loved), I haven't really enjoyed any subsequent campaign in the
series. It seems like they are just trying too hard to top all the
awesome "wow" moments in CoD4 but they just can't. Maybe I'm just
desensitized at this point to all the over-the-top action sequences.

Another issue is just how linear and scripted these games are. It was
even more noticeable in Blops, maybe because I had played through Reach
about 3 times recently. The Halo "formula" may be getting a little old,
but there is no denying that its campaign gives you a dynamic experience
where the same battles can play out differently every time thanks to the
great non-scripted enemy AI. CoD's campaign and enemy AI is laughable
in comparison.

Gran Turismo:


+ The premium cars look absolutely gorgeous

+ The photo mode can produce some amazingly realistic looking results

+ The driving feels fantastic

+ Plenty of variety: standard racing, NASCAR, F-1, rally, go-karts . .

+ TON of tracks

+ Tuning cars never gets old


- The menu system sucks. Looks like it was designed to work with a
mouse. Too bad you use a controller to play this game!! Just stupid
design. It looks nice, but it's a chore to use

- Even with a pretty large HDD install, the load times in this game are
way too long. Everything needs to load. Even navigating the menus have
enough of a delay that it just makes doing anything pretty annoying.

- Even though the driving itself feels fantastic, the physics for
collisions (against other cars or roadside obstacles) is laughably bad.
For a game that strives for such realism in certain areas, this one
aspect will always make GT feel like a video game instead of a "real
driving simulator". You can hit a barrier, head-on, going 200 mph and
all that happens is that you car will come to a complete stop. You can
then hit reverse, straighten out, and continue as if nothing happened.
Boo Polyphony. Boo. It's 2010 (2011?), these are basically the same
collision physics the series has had since the very first game on the

- Visual car damage is so bad I wouldn't be surprised if they only
spent one week of the game's 5 year development cycle programming it.

- Is it just me, or does it seem like there are too few events to race
in in the single-player? Maybe it is because a lot of the events have
very specific requirements to enter, but I find myself wanting to use
certain cars which I enjoy driving a lot, but I can't really find any
events to use them in. In Forza III it just seemed like there were far
more events to choose from and if I wanted to used my 2010 Camaro then I
would have plenty of events to choose from. Not so much in GT. Yes,
this forces you to mix things up and constantly buy new cars, but what
if I want to use my favorite car more often? I like those specific
events that have very strict entry requirements, don't get me wrong, but
I just want more chances to play the game the way I want as well.

- Overall I'm slightly disapponted with Gran Turismo. The series has
been evolving at a snail's pace and it is being left behind by other
racing titles as far as innovation and moving the racing genre forward.
So far I have enjoyed my time with Forza III more than Gran Turismo.

And that's about it. I recently picked up Lara Croft and the Guardian
at Light and all the Mass Effect 2 DLC thanks to the great 12 days of
Christmas deals on Xbox Live. Lara Croft is excellent. A lot of fun.
Haven't tried the ME2 DLC yet. Maybe I'll put up impressions soon.
Start holding your breath as of . . . NOW!

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