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PLAYSTATION 3: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer and Single Player Campaign Review

So this game has been out for a few months now.  I wanted to focus in on the multiplayer mode because well, I go into the first 20 minutes of the single player mode and decided to see what multiplayer was all about — and I haven’t looked back ever since.  I’ll go back and finish the single player campaign — at some point.  For now, this review focuses on aspects of multiplayer.

First of all, I thought it was awesome that there weren’t any EXTRA costs in playing multiplayer on the Sony Playstation Network.  (I have yet to renew my XBOX Live account)  The lobbies and player match menus are identical to the XBOX Live versions.  Let’s start with the new game modes:

In the Standard Playlist Mode, “Kill Confirmed” is the latest and greatest.  This mode basically forces the player or their teammate to grab “dog tags” of a fallen enemy in order for the kill to count.  You’ll still get kill points for wiping the enemy out, but unless you grab his dog tags, it won’t count towards the team score.  This mode needs at least eight players to start.  In the Community Playlist Mode, “Drop Zone” is an endless sprint to a specified location on the map. Your team is supposed to hold the drop zone long enough to win care packages which range from UAV to Osprey Gunners.  Zones switch every minute.  So as you can imagine, it’s a slugfest with weapons.  I’m beginning to really like this mode because of the fast pace it delivers.

Another new feature in the game is called the “Prestige Shop.”  When you’ve leveled up your character to 80 and want to start over again with shiny new emblems and call signs, this mode is activated.  You get one “token” every time you cycle through Prestige levels.  You can spend your token on an Extra Custom Class, Double XP which gives you two game hours of double XP points, Double Weapon XP (two hours double XP for your weapons), Unlock Gear which allows you to create a class item early and carry it through future Prestige levels, and Reset All Stats (self-explanatory).  There are other packages, but I believe they exist in previous versions of the franchise.

As with the other CoD titles, the maps are fun for the first 80 levels, then they get really boring, really fast.  There are a few maps like “Dome” and “Hardhat” that everyone in the lobby seems to vote for all of the time.  These maps lend themselves to the “run and gun” as well as the “sniper” types.  The graphics are clean and great along with the sound design.  I’ve been messing around with the Theater feature which allows you to view your last 20+ games or so in full detail.  Go ahead and pause, rewind, use the free camera, or switch to a team mate view to see how well you and the team did in a particular battle.  You can even grab a screenshot.  Cool.

What I find a little annoying was that the game can place you in a game in progress on a losing team.  Sometimes the game ends before you even spawn.  Another gripe is that you can spawn in the middle of your enemies where you have zero chance of surviving, let alone getting your bearing.

Overall, the game is an excellent addition to the franchise.  Some say that it’s better than the previous “Black Ops” title, and I agree.  The new game modes as well as the Prestige Shop keep the game fresh and re-playable.  Not sure if I’ll be passing to the third Prestige level as it does take a grind to get to level 80.  Then again, I do have a single player campaign to finish.

UPDATE: Now for the “brief” single player campaign review.

The single player campaign mode was quite short.  I completed it in less than eight hours of gameplay time.  The story picks up where MW2 left off.  I can say that although it was short, the story was way less confusing than “Black Ops.”  I still don’t know what exactly went down in Black Ops.  Anyway, the game play is filled with slow-motion action where your character breaches doors in which case slow-mo is triggered and you have to try to shoot your enemies during this mode.  It was pretty cool.  One thing I noticed was that aircraft like airplanes and helicopters always seem to go down in important story milestones.  It seems to happen when your side is transporting important people, or calling in for support.  It was predictable.  Overall, the this mode was fun to play and finish.  There’s a little surprise at the end (past the end credits) for those of you who are awaiting the next installment.

Review

ProsCons
Great new game multiplayer modes, Beautiful graphics and sound design, Theater Mode, Single Player Campaign short, but fun!Spawning points on some maps not ideal, Can be placed in a loosing team (game in progress), Maps get tried and tiring, Single Player Mode storyline a bit predictable.
Rating
95%
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PLAYSTATION 3: MAG First Impressions Review

When I first heard about this game I scoured YouTube to find actual gameplay.  It looked really awesome!  To think that you can be playing with 255 other people on a map executing on various objectives sounds really cool!  Unfortunately, that’s where the coolness factor ended for me.  To give you a brief overview of a First Impression Review, it is assumed that the game has been played for a sufficient amount of time to form an opinion.  Because this is an online multi-player game only, it doesn’t take long for that opinion to form.

How it all started.  Picked up the game at a local Gamestop and came home and loaded up Call of Duty: MW2.  Yeah, I’m addicted to that game, I know.  Anyway, after two days of MAG encased in it’s original wrapping, I decided to tear it open.  The game required about 60MB worth of updating.  Once that process was done, I was off choosing a faction.  There are three to choose from (S.V.E.R., Raven, and Valor).  I chose Valor because it sounded cool.  After designing a character, I was off to training.  The training portion, or as I call it, the MW2 motor skills brainwashing was actually quite entertaining.  The typical run here, shoot five targets there, lob a grenade here were quite useful in getting acquainted with the controls.  However, that’s where the entertainment of the game ended for me.

The first four level up exercises puts you into games with 64 players.  You gain experience points be eliminating the opposing team.  Once your character has passed level four in skill, it opens up more gameplay modes.  I was able to unlock the Acquisition mode which allows you to play with 127 other people.  It’s where you either attack or defend two prototype transports and escape to the extraction point.  Sounds straight forward, right?  Well, not so fast…  I think the objective of the game as a whole carries massive expectation.  To have a ton of people on a map doing their thing sounds amazing.  The problem lies in the mechanics of gameplay – which I think Sony and Zipper Interactive have dropped the ball on.

The good:  Lag was never an issue for me.  Then again, I have Verizon FiOS which rules over everything.  Players who have headsets actually communicated within the context of the game.  Never heard any annoying 12 year old kids talking to their mom in the background about cleaning up their room.  The sounds are THX certified.  Which means the environmental audio is spot on as well as the accompanying sound FX.  All crisp.

Now for the bad:  Here we go.  First of all, the controls do not feel as polished as they could be.  Collision detection is way off.  When I’m looking down the sight of a gun and see an enemy in the crosshairs, I expect to waste his a$$.  Not so in this game.  There have been occasions when the player remains alive, even at point blank.  (It’s also a huge problem in MW2 with the shotguns)  When I have a rocket launcher aimed at an enemy and it detonates next to them, I expect them to R.I.P., not this time.  The enemies seem to think of it as an afterthought.  They live!  WTF!  (I’m calm, really!)  A lot of work needs to be done in executing the basics for this game.  I’ll let the graphics slide, but the controls, I can’t.  It hinders the gameplay completely and makes it frustrating to play.  No one wants to be frustrated when they play, right?

Needless to say, I took the game back and traded it in for a pre-order copy of EA’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2.  Which by the way, if you’ve played the demo, by far beats MAG in playability and fun factor.  Quite sad considering Battlefield is still in Beta.  Moral of this review is it doesn’t matter how many people are playing with/against you at any given time, if you aren’t happy with the mechanics of the control system and collision detection, the game will end up being frustrating.  It may even prompt you to type up a scathing review on a gaming website somewhere…  I suggest you put your money down on Call of Duty: MW2 (if you haven’t already) or Battlefield: Bad Company 2 which is out March 2, 2010.

If we had a rating system, I’d give MAG a 4 out of 10.  One for everyday I owned the copy.

Review

ProsCons
Expanse Maps in Multiplayer, Destructible environments, Beautiful graphics and sound designUnderwhelming single player mode, Controls can have a learning curve after playing MW2
Rating
45%