Call of Duty Black Ops Review and Launch Event

Coverage from the midnight release in Buckhead, GA  ( Atlanta if you didn’t know 🙂 )  Like most places around the nation the GameStop event started at 9pm EST, an hour earlier than my compadres in Saint Louis.

It was a smaller launch than you’ve probably seen around the web but still a good time with gamers and COD lovers alike. They provided the most unhealthy food ever, considering we were all going to rush home and sit on the couch for hours and play Black Ops….    HOT DOGS!!!!!   Basically anything you needed to keep yourself jacked up all night (Mountain Dew, Candy, Chips etc)  I did not partake in the hotdogs but I did have enough chips and candy to be ashamed of.

I was 3rd in line!  Most folks didn’t show up until the 10 o’clock hour and you could see that the immediately regretted it. The line grew to the entire length of the strip mall within an hour or so…

I must say I was pleased to see all types of people there.  It really proves that “there is a soldier in of all of us”.

Everyone, young, old, military, martial arts experts were there in anticipation of this much awaited title. My wife wouldn’t have been a fan of standning outside in the not so warm weather so KUDOS to the wives I saw out there pretending to be interested enough to endure.

There were raffles and give aways. One couple won a COD wallet and then with the same ticket  won a Gears of War wallet…… not sure why they didn’t remove you once you’ve won.   Hrmmmm.

 

This guy won a Call of Duty: Black Ops T-Shirt!

There was an  “I love Zombies” T-shirt as well.  Good times good times.

My first impressions of Call of Duty: Black Ops was a bit jarring… I had stopped playing Modern Warfare 2 for Halo Reach so I was a bit rusty on the side of fast paced realistic shooters…. plasma rifle anyone??   So I’ll admit, I got my @#%^ handed to me for he first couple of matches… but the maps were gorgeous!   So I hoped out of the multiplayer and warmed up in the all new ‘Combat Training’ mode.  This was an excellent way to get used to the maps and get the lay of the land.   The only drawback to combat training is that it requires a network connection since it is found in the XBOX LIVE section of the menus.   Speaking of menus the opening menus is just….. its just… well awesome.. buy the game and you’ll see.  Anyway, I digress.

After warming up I felt like I was at home again, and eventually earned enough COD credits to buy a red dot sight and really start pwning.   I love the currency system!! No more do you get rewarded for using a gun  for 10 hours. Instead, you can earn enough credits with the gun you love and simply purchase the upgrade for the new gun you want to try.  This gives the player a much better feeling of ownership with their classes.  Your set up is truly yours based on what you’ve decided to buy rather than just what level you are at the given moment.  There is a prestige mode so prepare to have this fun over and over again, for those of you who like that sort of thing.

Many will say Call of Duty Black Ops doesn’t “feel” like Modern Warfare 2.  My response to that is…. should it???  I mean i expected it to be different, and I for one think its better. I find my self less frustrated.  Shots seem to kill the person rather than giving me a hit marker just to see my enemy sprint away.  This could be due to the fact that the juggernaut perk is no where to be found in Black Ops.  HOOORAY!!!! no more getting cheated out of a kill because your enemy has a magical floating plus sign!  There is a “Hardened” perk which increases your bullet penetration but it says nothing about increasing bullet damage.  Treyarch’s decision to remove these “damage modifiers” really gives the game a balanced feel.  This welcomes newcomers as it doesn’t promote that feeling of  “WTF!?  I shot him first!” on your first match. Sniper rifles actually kill people….. hmmmmmm imagine that.   No more shooting a guy in the chest with a 50 cal sniper rifle and watching him live to tell the tale.   I’m not sure if the 50 cal is included in Black Ops but if it is prepare to see people taking dirt naps.

I’m excited about the new modes  Wager Match, and some of the new playlists including Bare Bones, which includes a mode called PURE  ( no perks, no attachments, no special equipment, no kill streaks)  giving you that good old feeling we got back in the Call of Duty 2 Days.   Many of the playlists are unlocked as you level up. This is good as it prevents noobs from playing more challenging game types like Hardcore until they have played the game enough to be ready.

There are more things to look forward to like having a custom reticle  (eg. a scull instead of a red dot)   Or posting my clan tag on my gun so everyone knows the final kill was us!

I could talk all day about this game look into some of the new modes on callofduty.com

Overall  Call of Duty Black Ops is a solid addition to the franchise and will keep COD lovers playing until the next one!  See you on my next kill streak!

Jason Thompson | TheImpetuousOne

 

Mario 64 on iPhone 4!

We have seen Mario 64 running smoothly on jailbroken iOS4! If you don’t know what jailbreaking is, google it. 🙂 We’ve all seen gaming on mobile phones but this was exciting to see. Just think… these games once needed a console and a cartridge an it is now I’m the palm of your hand! Mario 64 seems to be the smoothest running N64 game I’ve seen on the device. Check it out:

Now, where the iPhone lacks is the absence of a keyboard… While this was the coolest feature back in 2007 when the iPhone launched, it is limiting when gaming on the mobile device. You either end up with buttons over your image or only using half the screen like you see above.

I was excited to see that the save feature worked also. And I’m not talking about save states but actually in game saves! The gyroscope and accelerometer are also used for camera adjustment controls.

Awesome stuff. The lack of an analog stick was missed when trying to run in a full circle but HEY playing Mario 64 on a phone is cool enough!

The mobile gaming industry ( The PSP, DS etc) has already been threatened by mobile phone devices. As far as graphics and processing speed, this is proof that they can hang with the best!

Kinect Review – TV mount not included? no Netflix??

Anything missing from this picture?

Well folks,  its been a little over 18 hours since Kinect was release on the east coast and I still need to catch up on some sleep.  I spent the early morning hours setting up Kinect and marveling at all the things we’ve drooled over watching demonstrations.   Now that the “honeymoon” phase is over  I can get down to reviewing the product.

I like it.  Simply said. But there are things that I’m not happy with. So I’ll start with the cons and then talk about how much I enjoyed it.  😀

The first surprise was to find that the mount attachment for placing Kinect on top of your flat panel TV is NOT INCLUDED….. YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY NOT INCLUDED.   This was a disappointment  especially after seeing video after video and demonstration after demonstration where the Kinect was featured mounted above the television.  Would it have really been so hard to put this little piece of plastic in the box Microsoft?   Imagine my dismay when I saw this….

SOLD SEPERATELY!?!?!

How much could they possibly sell this for? Anything above 5 bucks would just be robbery.  Look Gates, we’re already buying a NEW version of the Xbox360  and a NEW peripheral, you could at least give us a mount to put it on our LCD/Plasma/LED/….  for $150 bucks I should be able to mount it on my HEAD!

Moving on…

“XBOX PLAY…………NETFLIX PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!………………….XBOX STOP……….um NETFLIX STOP??……………….uh  HELLO??????????????????????

So after a little two sided tape and a WOOOO-SAH, I jumped into the dashboard to find another disappointment. Remember the product vision,  all the families having a great time watching Netflix together?  Yeah? Me too, well it turns out that the Netflix application is not yet “Kinect Ready”  I was unable to find anyway to control the Netflix application with the Kinect sensor.  Furthermore don’t get excited about navigating ANY of the regular menus with Kinect.  As far as the dashboard goes  you have to enter the ‘Kinect Hub’ somewhat of a sub menu to the actual dashboard.   I wonder why this was  still needed after the huge overhaul the dashboard took for the fall update???  Personally I would prefer to be able to control any and every part of the 360 dashboard with the Kinect Sensor… but that’s just me I guess.   *SHRUG*

One other tidbit on the CONs side is the distance requirement.  The Kinect expects that you be at least 6 feet away from  the Kinect sensor.   Is that average? Go check out your living room now and measure the space between the TV and the couch.. I’ll wait

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Is your living room tall enough to go on this ride???  Chances are, it isn’t.  Kinect Adventures actually suggests that you move furniture if you can.  While I can get over this and calibrate the sensor to adjust for the small play space, this isn’t something their telling you before you buy.  Mom’s and Dads beware,  before your kids turn your family room into a gymnasium.  😀

Don’t misread me guys, I don’t HATE the Kinect, I think like many I was pulled into the hype and expected a perfect product. Lets hope some software patches fix some things ( ahem.. Netflix) and we can all move forward amicably.

Now for the good stuff.  Kinect does live up to its reputation in many other ways. Its really fun moving around in the ‘Minority Report’ style we all have been waiting for.  The responsiveness is extremely smooth and surprisingly accurate. People will want to call this a ‘Wii Killer’ but its simply a new animal, completely set aside from the Wii. It has some of the same quirks we saw with the Wii launched and the same basic functionality games at launch.   We’ve all seen how the Wii has continued to give developers a chance to be creative, so I’m excited about future titles for Kinect.  ‘The Micheal Jackson Experience anyone????’   Pardon the nerd moment but I think we’ve all danced like the King of Pop in our living room at some point, now we’ll have an excuse.  Sources say it wont be released until March of 2011.  I think its worth the wait.

Somewhere between being able to navigate the Zune and ESPN apps with a wave of my hand or  Telling the XBOX to pause when the phone is ringing and a video is playing, I was impressed!!!   The sensor does a great job of recognizing your voice, unlike many of the other voice recognition technologies that mistake  “Play Next Track” for “Disable Bluetooth”   😐

The games are fun, it ties in the more casual gamer, and to add a tag line that everyone seems to love nowadays,  ‘This changes everything, again’

I’ll be reviewing  ‘Your Shape: Fitness Evolved’ on my next post, stay tuned!!

Review – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

BUY IT!!! Enough said…. Well, I guess I should tell you the reasons why you should purchase this gem.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is published by Namco Bandai and developed by Ninja Theory.

Enslaved is a third-person action-adventure game with a fairly simple combat mechanic. You dispatch of enemies with quick and heavy attacks, some area attacks, and a long range weapon. A secondary companion assists you by being able to distract enemies so you can take them out strategically. The game also has the typical upgrade system. You can add some new moves to your aresenal, but most of the upgrades add to your shield, your health gauge, and long range weapon stats. Your character traverses areas by scalling walls a la the Uncharted series. The game does not give you the option to fall to your death because you cannot jump anywhere that the developers don’t want you to. An interesting decision and something that I was happy it did when looking at the sum of its parts. The camera is the only thing I had an issue with while playing. I have never been a fan of a static camera, but Enslaved could have used some kind of arena-style camera that focuses on the action. The game does this in some small non-combat areas, but I think my frustrations could have been averted if this was applied to some combat areas. There were multiple times I was fighting an enemy off-screen because I didn’t have time to move my camera.

The ‘game’ of Enslaved is solid; however the star of the game is its story. The game follows the ‘Odyssey’ of Trip, a tech savy girl trying to make it back to her home town, and Monkey, the acrobatic brawn of the game just trying to live. Enslaved is set in New York City 150 years after a war with mechs has dessimated human lives and the world as a whole. Any humans left have to either survive the slavers roaming the land or the dormant techs that can be alerted to your presence. Enslave starts on a slave airship that is going down over New York. Monkey watches as Trip somehow escapes her cell and hurries to get off the ship before it crashes. After explosions uncage Monkey from his cell, he quickly follows after Trip. When Trip makes it to the last escape pod, Monkey latches on and is flung through the sky and crashes somewhat safely on the ground. When Monkey comes to, he is told that he has been fitted with an enslaved headband she controls. If Monkey doesn’t listen to Trip’s commands she can kill him. If Monkey gets too far away from Trip the headband kills him. If Trip dies Monkey dies. Trip needs to make it 300 miles west, she can’t make it alone, and needs Monkey’s help to get there. I really don’t want to talk anymore about the story because I do not want to ruin any of the game. Just know that it’s worth it.

If you are familiar with Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword released for the PS3, you know that the cutscenes for Enslaved are wonderful. The cutscenes convey feeling that I’ve never seen in any game. Facial expressions and eye movements are used to give meaning to the story where other games add vocals and sharp actions (see Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Final Fantasy XIII). You can see the fear and despair in Trip’s face and the confusion and determination in Monkey’s.

You put Ninja Theory’s motion capture together with solid gameplay and a story that is based on the ancient Chinese novel Journey to the West and you have a narratively rich game that captivates the player and keeps them going from chapter to chapter. This is an expreience that you have to be a part of. My suggestion is that you purchase this game….NOW!