All posts by R.E. Davis

Killing more teenagers than a Deathwish movie!

When I was growing up, my dad always referred to the Deathwish movies as “Charles Bronson killing Teenagers.” As a kid he scared the crap out of me; in my young adult life I get a freaking kick out of the guy. And now, after being subjected to many years of shit talking, I have a new found appreciation for any time some spastic kiddies start wigging out and verbally assaulting me in-game. Their tears only make me stronger. I need a life.

I love a good FPS. I especially love a fast, frantic death match. What I don’t like is being forced to listen to kiddies shit talk all the live long day. That was the one thing I absolutely despised about Xbox Live — listening to all the lovely adolescents (both young and old) who thought saying a bunch of swear words and talking about rape was a clever skill in video game combat ( as opposed to, you know, actually fucking playing.) Don’t get me wrong: I love a good shit talking during a match. I just hate it when kids think they can say anything they defecate out of their mouths because mommy and daddy aren’t around and cussing is cool. It’s a waste of my time and makes me feel dumber for being submitted to it.

At least in Combat Arms, a free-to-play First Person Shooter from Nexon, there is no built in voice communication. There’s plenty of shit talking kiddies…but you get the luxury of not having to hear them and only reading their “I’ll rape your dog/sister/mother/your face” banter after they take a few bullets in the face from you. Satisfaction rating: Awesome.

So I suppose the real question is: Does this Free-To-Play First Person Shooter, despite having a community filled with adolescent fuckwads who couldn’t get an ePeen stroke playing more popular commercial shooters, actually stand on its own as a decent fragfest?

Let me get out of the way this game offers nothing new. Standard FPS controls here: WASD movement, switching weapons with 1-4 number keys, and mouse used for looking, firing and aiming. I was kind of dissapointed that the mousewheel did not automatically cycle weapons; but was surprised to find out you can swtich firing modes (single shot, burst fire, full auto etc). It’s not a unique feature; just a feature I didn’t expect in a free to play.

The style of the game is more team based Deathmatch oriented than objective game play like you’d find in Counter Strike or Battlefield. To be honest, it feels more Halo style with a modern military design. This isn’t bad in my book as I usually prefer more fast paced, arcade combat in my spare time. I enjoy good tactical shooters (such as the Clancy games)…but for the sake of being able to hop in and start kicking ass, the more action over realism approach works for quick gaming.

Like the rest of Nexon’s games (like the infamous Maple Story) this Korean-made game uses an item shop and leveling up system. I’ve seen this before with online shooters (such as WarRock) but I’d have to say Combat Arms does a good job not making me feel like I’m gimped by not shelling out any cash.

For one thing, almost all of the weapons can be purchased using in-game gold which is rewarded from playing matches and wracking up the kills. You also gain EXP, which levels up your rank, which really doesn’t have any true game function other than a lot of weapons and gear aren’t available until you reach certain ranks. All of the guns and gear also have an expiration date…giving players incentive to keep stocked up on credits to keep their favorite gear outfits.

They do have a special market for items using “NX” Points (their item mall currency) which means, yes, someone has to blow real cash to get these.  These are special items you can’t purchase on the normal market; but after looking over them, none of them give any real edge. All of the weapons list “equivalent stats” for non-item shop weapons and what mods to put on them. The only real edge is some newcomer or wanker can come in and use his credit card instead of earning them….but that’s not a big enough difference. Also, special character player models are available on this market. Which bothers me, knowing there’s both grown men and young kids who are probably buying the Nexon point cards from Wal-Mart so they can look like a hawt commando chick.

If you’re good, you’ll do fine with the default weapons layout. On top of that, you don’t even have to shed your in-game gold to get different or better weapons. Whenever a person is killed in a match, they drop whatever gun they’re armed with. So, yes, a newbie coming in who even has a smidge of Unreal Tournament experience can come in, headshot the guy with the badass sniper rifle, and has a new toy to play with.

Unfortunately, as with most online Korean shooters, the game has its share of hackers and cheaters. Typical bullshit you see in any FPS game: Speedhackers, aimbots, and guys who find a way to place themselves outside the battle area and snipe everyone from glitched safety. To be fair, I’ve seen this in every shooter….it just seems more apparent in free to play shooters when they used centralized servers instead of private servers hosted by the community (go figure.)

Of course, with all the Hackers present, there’s an equal problem of people who’ll report anyone who has more skill than them for being a hacker. My third match in and I was accused of hacking for getting 5 consecutive knife kills….but I wear that shit with pride. Score a double kill headshotting a couple on the other team and I can’t help but grin when the chat interface is flooded with OMG HAX!

Even better is when people begin to accuse rival team members of hacking, and I’m able to go up and shiv them or pop a couple pistol shots in said hackers head. In all the matches I’ve participated in with actual hackers, I’d have to say it doesn’t completely cripple the match. Yes, they have an unfair advantage and they’re fucking punks for doing it. But when you stomp them playing legit, again, that feeling of awesome knowing you’re making some kid demolish his keyboard in rage.

If you’re really not into dealing with cheaters, like any game, it’s usually better to connect with your own circle of friends (or atleast meet a few cool players in-game) and just locking the doors. The game has a lot of coolness to offer to the online shooter market: The maps are actually pretty well designed, with plenty of close quarter and sniper nests for different play styles. They also have all of the standard game modes…Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, CTF, even a fun “Spy Hunt” mode.

I’ve played a lot of shitty shooters, both paid for and for free. This one, while nothing new, does offer a fun experience and has a solid look and feel that makes beating up the kiddies plenty of fun. And, it doesn’t cost you a cent. Unless, of course, you really want to doll yourself up to look good in the sniper scopes of your foes.

Check out Combat Arms at Nexon

Final Thoughts:

Pros: Graphics aren’t as bad as you’d think (I liked them over CS:S to be honest), standard caveats of FPS Deathmatch shooters are present. Even though it’s a game that makes you work for your rank and money to get the guns, it’s just a matter of picking them up off a dead corpse to get to use them. The satisfaction of getting to beat up shit talking kiddies without ever having to really listen to them. The maps are well thought out and the variety of game modes keeps it fun and interesting. Wacky arcade-style pop up text for Headshots, Double-Kills and killing sprees. Lots of boom boom.

Cons: A community of shit talking teenagers, although I’ve met plenty of cool peeps too. People seem to have the urge to join games still being setup spamming GOGOGOGOGOGOOOOOOO. Cheaters and Hackers, as well as an abundance of people who’ll accuse legit players of cheating and hacking for being better than they are.  Player movement seems a little twitchy at times….it’s not a perfect lagless game, but it sure beats the hell out of the lag I’ve been getting on low ping Battlefield 2 servers. And you get to read such colorful chat.

Warhammer Online: 1.2 Update on the Horizon

From Mythic’s site:choppa08-300x240
Well here it is; The Public Test Patch Notes for Game Update 1.2. Many hours of blood, sweat and tears went into these notes, and it shows. From the sheer size (over 55 pages!) to the numerous improvements being implemented, it’s all been a labor of love (or was that WAAAGH!). In the notes below you’ll see over 500 bug fixes, 10 plus pages of career balancing, numerous RvR improvements, UI improvements, continued building on our success with improving performance and server stability and a considerable review of our dungeon loot itemization. While these notes are still technically a “work in progress” they represent the majority of the changes that will be implemented with Game Update 1.2. Please keep in mind, these notes are for the public test server and can change periodically throughout the Public Testing Process.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is a game that I want to love and enjoy very badly. A lot of concepts and ideas going into it I feel are really needed. The leveling isn’t much of a grind; a casual player can easily reach end game in a month or two devoting a couple hours a day. Rewarding PvP, fun “Public Quest” zone events that bring a refreshing new approach to having to kill X number of foes for a reward. And of course, it’s the freaking Warhammer franchise. Considering Warcraft is just a disney rendition of this brutal ass tabletop setting, of course I want it to succeed.

But, it’s falling on its face. Not as bad as Hellgate:London did, but it’s still falling short and the server populations are demonstrating this. Launch resulted in a mad dash to end game, only to find the end game wasn’t really as epic as promised and it was more fun getting there then actually being there. The big rewarding gaming experience everyone was working towards — the epic, open world Realm vs Realm wars and sieges — wounded up being flawed, lagtastic and ultimately too much for the servers to handle.

I played it pretty hardcore at launch; became very frustrated with the community of my original server and forced myself to take a break when these server-crashing bugs became evident at the end game. Restarted at the beginning of the year, barely got anywhere before I grew a little bored again and wound up dropping it and WoW and even cutting back on my beloved drug of choice (Guild Wars) for a few weeks of MMO Detox.

Some things from the patch notes I’m looking forward to:

  • Public Quests are being scaled back to where each chapter offers quests varying on party size, even some that are scaled back for small groups and even soloers. While being a PvP focussed game, I still thought the Public Quests were one of the best features of the game in that it was a form of PvE that broke away from the boring “FedEx” quest styles that encouraged both team work (for completion) and competition (those who contribute the most have a better shot at the best rewards). Unfortunately, shortly after launch these awesome open world events became Ghost Towns and often impossible to complete due to lack of interest from the community.
  • Rallying Call feature where select players will be offered a quick hot button to warp them directly to the middle of an open RvR field and engage the battles. I’m all for this as sometimes it’s hard to tell where on the battle lines I’m needed, or if it’s even worth showing up or not.
  • Shit ton of bug fixes and class balancing. We’ll see if they actually address important game breaking bugs and stability issues and really balance the classes when the time comes.

I have a couple time cards sitting on my desk, collecting dust. I’m standing by, waiting for the release of patch 1.2 in March and hoping that it’ll address enough issues and add enough incentives for a lot of peeps to return and maybe, just maybe, give us a decent battlefield to smash faces in again.

If not, no biggy, as there’s plenty of games to get my bloodlust checked in.

Check out Mythic’s Patch Notes for 1.2

Relaunches are healthy….

Oh-Niner is a year of necessary change. Not changes you promise to yourself, not necessarily changes you want, but changes you have to nod your head at and say “Damn, I have to fucking do this.” With a new President in office, whose policy is CHANGE in big blinking red neon letters, facing a crippling economy and a whole shit storm of problems you’d have to be crazy to be willing to take on, I think we’re looking at a metaphor for the year to come.

For me, personally, I have a lot of crap I need to change. Not out of need, but necessity. My weight, my blood pressure, my finances, my productivity….all need to see more activity and attention. My health, I have no option on: Make some changes this year or suffer the consequences. My finances…I’ve always needed to grow up in that department. I could use a career change….but this year it seems that’s the one thing to NOT change, as just having a job is a source of status.

Anyways, what a better time than to have yet another re-launch of the site.  I’ve come full circle; I originally started out with Word Press and “a Vague Idea” and followed up to “The Chaos Grenade”, which was often neglected as I spent too much time playing games as opposed to actually writing anything about them.

So, in the year ahead I’ve promised myself to write more. I’ve had so many hobby gaming projects I’ve wanted to work on and start developing, and I’m tired of sitting on them. I figured the site needed an overhaul too….something a bit more professional looking and not just some crazy angsty blog. Plus, WordPress has come such a long way…Drupal is awesome for the code freaks and I’ve enjoyed using it at my job as an e-Commerce solution. E107 is another CMS I dabbled in, which is awesome for turnkey-style stuff for community pages. But now, looking at the new WordPress (vs. the WP of a year or more ago) I’ve decided to make my homecoming back to this site and turn it into something expansive, growing, and awesome.

Here’s to the year ahead.
Expect some reviews and articles shortly!