Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 PS3 and Xbox 360 review

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a very intense; rewarding gaming experience that is built around multilayer but still has a solid, if short, campaign mode. The action maintains a usually brisk, object oriented pace that helps to advance a storyline that I personally thought was only average. Shooter games are not my favorite genre. My first one was probably Doom on the computer, and over the years I have played plenty that were entertaining (F.E.A.R, Battlefield: Vietnam, Star Wars Battlefront, etc) – but I enjoyed the prior Call of Duty games enough to want to give this one a try. It is available on both the PS3 and 360, but I played it on the latter system.

With record-setting sales since its release, it is safe at this point to call the game a marketing and sales success (with a combination of ads, packaged deals and so on) – but is the game fun? In a word, yes. With shooter games being near the bottom of my preferred genres (sports, RPG, fighting games tend to round out my favorites), that makes Modern Warfare 2 stand out even more.

Graphics – 9.5:

I’m stingy with perfect scores, but this game comes close. The amazing environments are detailed and immersive, but more impressive is just how much is going on at all times without slowdown or graphic tearing or pop-in. I have some screenshots and also have some video footage. The screenshots are pretty but the game in motion is more impressive.

Sound & Music – 9:

Quality voice work, plenty of explosions and surround sound gun effects really help to draw you into the game. The surround sound is actually quite useful as well, often giving you an indication of where the threats are at, even if you cannot see them at the time. The music was also pretty good throughout. Very few of the themes really stuck with me afterward, but none of them did anything to pull me out of the experience either.

Gameplay – 8:

Aiming is easy, shooting at targets is not a problem. Sometimes terrain could be a hassle when it did not seem like it should have been, but overall the game was responsive, menus were easy to navigate and the lack of slowdown during the game kept things feeling fluid. While the game seems to do all of these things pretty well, it never felt like there was something amazing to put it over the top either. Most of the controls, content and so on feel familiar to fans of the series.

Intangibles – 9.5:

The campaign mode is entirely too short. However, the multiplayer is where this series lives and dies, and on that front the game is incredibly solid. The maps are enjoyable, the team sizes felt about right to me, lag was almost never an issue and the leveling-up aspect intrigued me most of all (it just appeals to the RGP gamer in me).

Overall – 9:

Not my favorite type of game, I’ve been over that. Some of my friends though consider first-person shooters their absolute favorite type of game and those friends have been playing online pretty much non-stop since the game’s release. One of them never even bothered to play the campaign mode, and just went right into the online matches. So, if that is your type of game, then Modern Warfare 2 will probably fit the bill as well as any game out there currently. There’s some language, plenty of killing, lots of weapons and more which makes this game a questionable one for children, so parents should be warned that it does come with an M rating for Mature 17+ suggested.


News and Notes from 12-3-09

Quick hits rumors and news posts from the last day or so:

EA is working on a new Medal of Honor game – setting it in Afghanistan and giving it a modern feel and storyline. Expect tons of comparisons to the Call of Duty series – including the recently released Modern Warfare 2 (which I am hoping to toss up a review to tonight).

A new gimmick to help Microsoft abduct your Xbox points is coming today – Pets for your avatar on the 360. I’ve read that these will be around 240 points and you can buy different kinds of cats, dogs, a bird, a hamster, a snake, a goldfish (they stare at you, all gold and unblinking)… possibly more. Personally, I would rather put the 240 points toward downloadable content like extra characters in Ultimate Alliance 2 or something else, but I get the sneaking suspicion that once my kids learn about this, they’ll want a pet for their accounts too. *hangs his head*

Gamespot originally reported that Logitech was creating a UMD add-on for the recently released PSP Go. The rumor makes some sense as the PSP Go has not come anywhere close to Sony’s sales expectations, with rumors of sharp price cuts for it taking place first in Europe and possibly in the States as well and there are plenty of people who have older PSP’s who would not update to a Go despite the improved display (at least over older gen PSPs). However, IGN reported that a Logitech rep actually got in touch with them and said that no – they are not currently working on this hardware expansion. However, I suspect it is only a matter of time until someone does, but if so, it appears to be a good ways off still.

Lastly, EA’s somewhat controversial game Dante’s Inferno (the controversy has revolved more around the marketing tactics than the game itself so far) has a downloadable demo date for the PSe on Dec 10th and Xbox 360 on Desc 24th. Apparently there is no demo date confirmed for the PSP which is also one of the targeted release platforms.

News and Notes from 12-2-09

Looks like according to Yahoo! there is going to be a good deal on Wii systems through Walmart. The price of the system will be offering a $50 gift card when you purchase a new Wii. This deal if very similar to the recent but popular deal where you could but a new Xbox 360 Arcade and get a free $100 gift card, active at the moment of purchase. The deal goes into effect Dec 5th until Dec 12th, or until supplies end. Considering most sites said that the 360's were sold out on the previous deal within 30 minutes at most stores, I wouldn't wait until Dec 11th if this interests you.

Walmart is also apparently going to trim some dollars off of popular brand new titles as well for other consoles such as the excellent Dragon Age: origins, Halo 3: ODST, Uncharted 2 and Madden 10 (some of these I plan to review in the near future as well on here). Happy hunting!

Soulcalibur IV PS3 review

I figure for my first game review on here, I’ll go ahead and post up a game that I’ve had for some time. However, when I was playing around with some capture software I had, I was able to make some videos of gameplay. This gives me an excuse to put up images and video content and test out some of my blogging options here.

Soulcalibur has been around for awhile, but I didn’t really get to play the initial iterations more than a few times here and there. Some friends had it, and I would play when I came over to watch the NFL on Sundays, but it was never a series I owned. However, the hype about Soulcalibur IV kept increasing as it came closer to release date, and I was in the mood for a fighting game at the time, so I picked it up on its first day out. This also happened to be one of my first Playstation 3 games. I picked it up on the Playstation 3 for a couple of reasons – my library of games for the PS 3 has always lacked compared to my Wii and Xbox 360, and the PS 3 version had Darth Vader and the Xbox 360 had Yoda. The idea of being a large Sith warrior won out over a green puppet in my mind, so PS 3 it was.

Graphics – 8.5:

This game has excellent graphics, and even though the game has been out for over a year now, they hold up quit well against any of the more recent fighting games to come out as well. Characters are fluid and detailed, with a wide variety of animations that compliment the weapon and fighting styles very nicely. The frame rate holds up well, even during the most heated exchanges. I also found most of the backgrounds to be quite nice. Some are more animated than others, but overall they are very well done and fit the themes of the game. The cut scenes also deserve a nod. They are not the best I have ever seen, but they look better than most games.

Sound & music – 8:

The voices sound good and appropriate for the characters, and the music is good overall, with a couple of levels standing out as excellent. The appropriate sounds for strikes and moves are all there, though the game does sometimes sound a bit repetitive but this is a common trait with just about every fighting game. You get that sound of a character screaming for one attack, or the sound of a staff swinging and you tend to hear it over and over again. The announcer’s voiceover kind of cracks me up with its overly serious tone. Nothing wrong with it – it just makes me chuckle now and then.

Gameplay – 8:

Fighting games are made or lost right here. You have to feel that the controls are responsive due to how fast-paced the action is, but you need more than a few combinations to help keep things diverse. Some games you can button mash through, and this is one of those. There is nothing inherently wrong with this – it makes the game more accessible to a larger number of people. Compared to a game like Street Fighter IV though, where precision is everything and button mashing is sure to get you killed, Soulcalibur does feel a bit easier and an inexperienced player is more likely to get a lucky win in with this sort of control scheme. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind. I played quite a bit online and overall I found that the game handled pretty decently most of the time, though it could sometimes take forever to find a match, and then they had a tendency to be over very quickly.

Intangibles – 9:

The game has a huge roster of characters. If that is not enough for you, there is a character editor/creation screen with a fair number of unlockables as well. I am a big fan of character customization, so this appealed to me quite a bit. There are several modes as well between arcade, storyline, online and the tower modes (one is an endurance test and the other a collection of preconfigured conflicts that have unlockable content for meeting certain criteria). I think that out of my PS 3 games, Soulcalibur IV is my most heavily played.

Soulcalibur IV intro

Overall – 8.4:

I do not have any particular nostalgia over this series – this is the first of the Soulcalibur games I have owned to date. However, the wide assortment of characters and considerable replay value has made it arguably my favorite Playstation 3 game to date. The inclusion of Star Wars characters was odd, and the storylines make very little sense, but generally you get a game like this for the fighting content, and there is plenty to be had in Soulcalibur IV. It is rated as Teen, so it is recommended for people thirteen and older. There is a good deal of violence and a couple of women who seem to have misplaced the majority of their outfits, but I do not recall any gore or swearing (though the ESRB did flag it for mild language) so keep those factors in mind if you are considering this game for a child. Considering that the game has been out for over a year now, it can probably be acquired used pretty reasonably as well.

Hopefully you liked this first review. In the future, the videos will likely be smaller, but a bit less blurry as well, and the images if clicked on will show at a full size if you want a closer look at them.

News and notes from 11-13-09

Final Fantasy XIII is coming out March 9, 2010 in North America in Europe. In Japan the game has been slated to release December 17th of this year for awhile, but this March 9th date is a big one for fans of this long-running RPG series (including myself).

Braid was a very popular Xbox 360 download last year that got plenty of good reviews, and now it is going to be available on the Playstation Network. I never got to give this one a try, but a buddy of mine at work did and said that it was both challenging (sometimes, a bit too challenging), but a very good, unique game.

The remake of Silent Hill for the Nintendo Wii is slated for December 8th. Considering most horror games seem to die a quick death before reaching North America for the Wii (Fatal Frame, anyone?), this is exciting news for fans of the genre.

I just got the email today from the Xbox 360 Live Network about the changes coming on Nov 17th. A mandatory update will take place that date that enables Facebook, and Twitter functionality. Rumors and screenshots are out that Playstation 3 will be incorporating Facebook as well in the very near future.

Let's get this first post out of the way, shall we?

So, this is my first shot at Blogspot, and I suspect it will be very much a work in progress as I learn my way around it. I have quite a few hobbies: reading, writing, the NBA (Go Pistons!) and the NFL (Go Lions! … yes, I just wrote that. They have fans. At least, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one left. Someone help me with this? I’m suddenly feeling a bit lonely…)

I’ve long thought about putting up a gaming site of some sort – and I have a wide variety of ideas, but I would certainly appreciate feedback. My first gaming system was a TI-994a. *pauses to listen for crickets* Think of it as an Atari with a keyboard and the Basic programming language for simple programming. I received this particular system back when I was 4 ½ years old for Christmas (notice with kids you take note of the months, or half year marks? When you’re older, you just respond with ‘thirty something’ and hope no one asks which side of the teeter totter you are on).

Over the years I have owned/had access to the original NES, Sega Master System, an Atari, Apple II, SNES, Genesis… the list goes on. It includes Playstation 1 and 2 – but I keep current on my little hobby as well, with the current gen systems as well. So what do I plan to blog about here? A little bit of everything, at least to start. I plan to post images and videos of old NES games, and maybe even from current systems. I would like to write reviews about various games and systems. Certainly there are thousands of places like IGN, Gamespot and more that have reviews as well, but it never hurts to have a place to get a second or third opinion, right? Maybe my opinion can be that one, and hopefully it’ll be an enjoyable one.

I plan to post some polls now and then as well – see what people are playing, what they’re interested in, and that sort of thing. I have a limited budget and often buy games just to trade them in for future games after I’ve beaten them. So if there is a system or game you are interested in, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do, but I certainly have my limitations as well.

One last thing I plan to toss in now and then are video game related bits of news. I browse a large number of sites and honestly 3/5 of what I see in the upcoming news and gossip area doesn’t interest me too much, but if something does catch my eye, I will toss it out here for others to see and hopefully it will be of interest to you as well.

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