I’m so weak. Despite promising myself I wouldn’t, I got myself a copy of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 for the Xbox 360 and I’m rather glad that I did.
It’s one week after the release of the fantastic Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception and I’ve yet to actually finish playing the game. Although playing though the game in bite sized chunks has allowed be to savor the experience. I know that I’m not far from the end now, and I’ll be sad when it’s over. I’m really enjoying the game, as I did the previous two. I’ve dabbled a bit with the multiplayer, both during the beta and with the retail release. As fun as it is, I can’t see it pulling me away from Battlefield 3…or Modern Warfare 3.
Now that I’ve played both EA Games’ Battlefield 3 and Activision’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, I’m about as in the middle of the two publishing powerhouses’ willy waving contest as one can, unfortunately, be. EA’s public fighting talk and Activision’s aloof, faux high-ground taking retorts have resulted in both publishers being caught with their trousers down.
Battlefield 3‘s single player game failed to engage many players in the same way the Call of Duty series does. Also, the Battlefield 3 servers were unable to cope with the demands and the client (which is horrendously launched via a cheap-looking webpage on the PC) is prone to long waits and loading times as well as crashes to desktop. It’s fair to say that Battlefield 3, at least on the PC, was not finished at launch. Also working against the BF 3 game experience were the mirth-makers at NVIDIA, who whilst preparing a specially optimised set of video drivers for BF3 forgot to test them on their (not-that-old-really) DX10 cards, resulting in nasty triangles and other shading issues (thankfully a new set of beta drivers has been released that should sort this out).
Modern Warfare 3‘s single player game is more of the tight paced, Michael Bay-type action adventure stuff that we’ve come to know and love. Continuing straight after the cliffhanger ending of MW2, the story continues the Third World War yarn with the US vs. the Ruskies on the macro level and with Price and Soap filling in the more personal micro story of the conflict. Brilliant stuff. The multiplayer game is more of the same to be honest. It’s fun but all the cellar-dwelling psychos that can play last year’s Call of Duty Black Ops with their eyes closed have already reached prestige twice leaving little hope for old fuckers like me to be anything other than cannon fodder. At least with BF3 the larger conquest maps allow for a bit more strategy (i.e. sneaking and back-stabbing).
For me, Modern Warfare 3 is providing a better single player experience than Battlefield 3. And being honest, in the short-term anyway, the single player game is the most important thing for me. I’ve been playing games long enough to still feel that the multiplayer element is a free extension of the single player experience that I purchased the game for. A sad, out-of-date view, yes I know, but there you go. When it comes to multiplayer out of the two games I know that I’ll still be having the odd go on Battlefield 3 long after MW3 has been superseded twice over (unless EA starts spitting Battlefield games out every year- don’t do it EA).
It seems that both EA and Activision released their games too early. Whilst Battlefield 3 seems to have started settling down a bit, Activision are still madly firefighting a potential PR disaster. Activision are keen to tell the world that Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time, and anyone who didn’t see that coming must live in a cave. What Activision are not so keen to talk about is what on Earth has happened with the launch of their semi-subscription Call of Duty Elite service. At the moment it is broken. So broken that, apart from the free DLC, I’m not sure what the paid-for subscription gives you over the free version (which it a worry, as I signed up and paid for it like a muppet).
So as far as I’m concerned, both EA and Activision have unleashed half-baked products on the market that, whilst both will be excellent in time, they should be ashamed of right now. No other service providers in the world consistently show the level of contempt for their customers that video game publishers do. Imagine going to see a movie only to find that the film stops half way though, the film-maker issuing an apology asking you to come back and see the rest next week when it is finished (assuring you that people are working around the clock to sort it out). It won’t happen. Now here we are with the world’s top entertainment industry being run like a frat-house by a load of childish geeks. It just aint on. I hope this episode will teach EA not to be quite so boastful and curtail Activision’s plans for some subscription-based global gaming domination.
On the reviews front, I had to turn down a couple of titles as I’ve just not got the time right now. I did, however, get to review the marvellous Robin DLC pack that’ll be coming soon for Batman: Arkham City. I loved Arkham City and I loved the Nightwing DLC that I reviewed for Game Console the other week. The Robin DLC pack is even better. I still can’t take the character out for a swing though Arkham City proper, but the pack does come with a pretty inspired Kung Fu Master-style challenge map that gets you sideways-scrolling though train carriages. Check out the review on the Game console pages of Techday.com, here.
Still on the subject of reviews, the mystery discs that I referred to last week were advanced copies of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Kinect Disneyland Adventures. Watch out for the Halo review on techday.com and the Disneyland review on this site soon.
The other big recent gaming release was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Being a sad fanboy, I just had to go and get the Skyrim Collector’s Edition which are as rare as rocking horse shit in New Zealand. Whilst the dragon model is great and all, it’s the 200-page art book that really makes the package. I spend a while opening it up a photographing the contents, which I posted as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Collector’s Edition unboxing over the weekend.
What with BF3, Uncharted 3, MW3, Halo and the Batman: Arkham City DLC, I’ve not really had much time to really get into Skyrim. At first I was a little concerned that it looked a little too much like its predecessor, Oblivion, which as nice as it looks, is a five-year old game now. The beginning of Skyrim sees you trying to escape a dragon attack, the sort of thing that I’d seen done a lot better in The Witcher 2and I wasn’t too impressed. It was only when I got outside into the open world that I truly appreciated the game’s beauty. As soon as I reached daylight the game gifted to me one of those little gaming moments that stay with you for always; a rabbit scurried past me, so I drew my bow and aimed, before I could fire my arrow a black thing leapt out taking my kill. The wolf then stared towards me. re-aiming my bow I fired two shots into the wolf and took it down. Marvelous! Since them I’ve done a couple of dungeon crawls and I’ve got to say Skyrim is NOTHING like Oblivion. Whilst the game provides the same feeling of wandering a vast, living, open world, it looks and feels so much better!
One last thing: if you, like me, are getting to the end of Uncharted 3 and want to experience more of Nathan Drake’s adventures, I would suggest that you get hold of the guys at Mark One Comics and ask them about the upcoming Uncharted comic-book series!