Battlefield Heroes Beta

Note: This was written two weeks ago and was never published due to a lack of time, many things have changed in the last two weeks for Battlefield Heros. Look for an updated article in a week or so.

Unexpectedly, Friday (March 20th) morning a gift from DICE awaited in one’s email inbox. This gift was a beta key to access the Battlefield Heroes closed beta. After activating the key, since the laptop was already on, one installed Heroes on it. Installation is no slower than games distributed via DVD on a 8mbit/s Internet connection. Surprisingly, the frail Intel GMA X3100 graphics can cope with Battlefield Heroes just fine, though at “low” quality settings. Just about any “standard” 4:3, 16:9, 16:10, and 5:4 resolution are supported, a nice change as all of one’s screens are now 16:10 format.

After playing a good seven or so hours, one has found things about the game that could be improved. The first is the matchmaking only play type. One has never been a fan of such schemes, playing on clan servers is typically more enjoyable. However, as this game is trying to be more casual matchmaking does work well. Since this is a Third Person Shooter (TPS), the camera is always more or less “over the shoulder”. This becomes a problem when up against a wall as the camera gets stuck as it can not go through the wall. Sometimes it will try to go up, which ends up looking at the character’s feet–not good when trying to blast apart enemies. Basically, do not back up to a wall when being attacked as you will most certainly die. Also, tall grasses somehow penetrate the floor pan of the jeeps–just goes to show this is still a beta for a reason.

There is absolutely no team work encouragement. This takes one back to the Halo for PC days when everyone wandered around aimlessly blowing eachother’s brains out while occasionally some one would get lucky and bring the enemy flag to their base. Don’t take this the wrong way, Halo for PC is very fun to play online, it just has nothing that promotes teamwork, something Battlefield has traditionally had. In short, one misses having squads. In Battlefield Heroes it is much easier to do things when working in pairs or groups of three or so, nothing actively encourages or facilitates this behavior.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Crysis Warhead

The only game one received this Christmas was Crysis Warhead. This covers Sgt. Skyes’ (Psycho) journey during the events of Crysis. Like Crysis, the graphics are amazing, even in super low settings. However, you never do interact with Nomad, as in Crysis, which is a letdown. The expansion, if you could call it that (Crysis Warhead does not require Crysis to be installed or even a CD key for Crysis), is more polished than Crysis.

Ammo is automatically picked up, previously it had to be manually grabbed. Ammo is abundant, in Normal difficulty one never found oneself out of ammo while trying to fend off enemies. Unlike Crysis, when you encounter the aliens you have an effective weapon to fight them (the Gauss Rifle). In Crysis you had a shotgun or FY71 (possibly a SMG or Scar but usually there is not enough Scar ammo around and the SMG is less effective than the shotgun and FY71) which are not nearly as effective. New weapons and vehicles are nice. The ASV Armored, basically a HUMVEE with heavy armor and usually come equipped with an anti-vehicle machine gun. This easily tears through the normal HUMVEE like vehicles the Koreans have and the transport trucks.

Landmines are an addition that seemed geared more towards multiplayer game play. The Claymore anti-personal and the anti-tank mine were only available in the multiplayer mode of Crysis. In reality, though available, there really are no places effectively to set traps with mines. Sure, playing with the Claymores was fun, but not as fun as simply running down or sniping enemies. Not once in the campaign did one use the anti-tank mines. There simply was not a good area to deploy them. Again, in multiplayer mode the mines are much more useful.

The FGL40, a grenade launcher with a six shooter style magazine, is perfect against groups of Koreans or Aliens, but not effective against tanks or large aliens. The AY69, a “micro machine gun”, is a fully automatic pistol that can be dual-wielded. It is one’s favorite weapon now. It packs a much harder punch than the normal pistols. With 40 rounds in each gun, you can empty 80 rounds into a group of enemies without reloading. For short range fighting, the dual-wielded AY69 is the best weapon choice. Not only is the dual-wielded AY69 effective against Koreans, it also makes short work out of those small pesky aliens as well. Simple rule of thumb, for your side arm, always duel-wield the AY69.

Crysis Warhead is short, on Normal mode, one beat the game in about 8 hours. One did not try to beat the game as fast as possible, nor did one take the “scenic route”. And, by no means is one a “hardcore gamer”. That said, it is very entertaining. Ideally, it could be three times longer if they added in the interactions with Nomad and expanded the story a bit more. Now, if they would only make an “expansion” tracing the actions of Prophet.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

The Crysis is Over

The graphics were awesome (even at low settings), the campaign was fairly quick moving and in a very linear fashion in most cases, but the ending came abruptly. Anyone who after playing the campaign doesn’t think a Crysis 2 is in the works is a little dense.

As in halo, the first set of enemies were fun to kill (in this case the North Koreans) as they liked to use provocative language and curse at the player, even if they couldn’t see him. The second set, those pesky aliens (in Halo I do not like the flood that much), were a pain though the gauss gun makes quick work of them (grabbing the smaller ones is equally effective). And a word to the wise, even though I was able to play Crysis on my P4 3.0Ghz, 1.5GiB RAM, Geforce 6600GT computer, I would not recommend doing it on equivalent hardware. Additionally, I would not recommend running on anything less than 1.5GiB of RAM as Crysis was eating a full GiB on my machine. The game itself never crashed once, a first for me with a sub minimum spec computer.

Multiplayer looks cool, but I’m not going to even try until I get some new hardware. Until then, 2142 and CoD4 will have to do.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Battlefield 2142 Addict

Battlefield now surpasses Halo as my favorite PC game. Running around and shooting people just gets old every now and then, and in Halo no one works as a team, except in certain occasions on clan servers when many clan members are on. In general, in BF 2142 people work as teams, which makes it much more enjoyable. Since a week ago, I believe my brother has played AEO 3 a total of 1 hour, while playing BF 2142 a total of 8 hours. Admittedly, I still suck at the game, even when approaching the seventh rank. Mainly I die too much, which is attributed to Halo online play where dieing isn’t that big of a deal as you respawn within 10 seconds typically. Surprisingly, my P4 2.0Ghz, 1.5GB ram, Radeon 9600, 5400RPM hard drive system can still play it without uber lag. Comparing my brother’s system with mine for BF 2142 is comparing day and night. He can run with full everything, and not lag, while I’m on just about the lowest settings and lag when on a Titan when the shields are down (this is a game bug that was supposed to be fixed, but hasn’t been yet). It’s time for a system upgrade, which will involve a custom built case. (I saw a really neat case mod made out of aluminum and I’m planning to one up the person’s design, and possibly add some carbon fiber elements (or even make the entire thing out of carbon fiber))

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Mike Hatch Hates The First Amendment?

After Minnesota’s anti-game law was found unconstitutional, the state attorney general guaranteed that he’ll waste more taxpayer’s money. Hatch plans to do this by fighting the court’s decision. Similar cases failed in other states, wasting the local taxpayer’s money. Speculation arises about Hatches motivation for defending the dubious law. November may have something to do with it, along with Hatch’s campaign for governor.

The law that was to take effect today forbade the acquisition of Mature or Adult Only rated games by persons under the age of 17. Fining consumers 25USD for every infraction rather than the vendor created a unique enforcement situation. According to Senator Sandra Pappas (DFL, District 65), the law was never intended to be enforced, but rather a way to get the attention of parents. Paul Smith, of the Entertainment Merchants Association, reports that lawmakers know that they are passing laws with marginal constitutionality, and yet that doesn’t seem to deter them. Various online forum threads buzz with a calling for lawmaker responsibility. Many overlook the upcoming election as an opportunity of forcing politicians to be responsible, by voting for the opponents of those deemed irresponsible. Various political theories suggest reasons behind this activity, and its merits and faults but that’s another day’s story. This November I’m voting, are you?

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]