Judging a Man By His Strike Package a.k.a Thoughts on Call of Duty: Ghosts

The annual release of Madden ’13 Call of Duty is upon us and I, alongside approximately 1/3 of the planet pick up a copy. So how’d that work out?

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Promo image from Gravity 2: Cruise Control

My first impression of Call of Duty: Ghosts was: “Wow, talk about diminishing returns” and then a red wave of burning hatred blanketed my vision. I’ve never been a huge fan of any of the series campaign iterations* (* exceptions for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and CoD: Black Ops) and this year seems especially dull & derivative. The shooting guns in space thing felt incredibly gimmicky and far-fetched.  YOU CAN’T SHOOT GUNS IN SPACE.  NOT NOW, NOT IN THE (not-too-distant) FUTURE, NOT EVER.  Yo, did you know you can shoot guns in space? That shit’s crazy.

I then made the radical, for me, decision to completely skip the campaign this year. Radical in the sense that every year I slog through the campaign as a way to become familiar with the weaponry and the terrain while at the same time retraining my twitch skills. Except it’s always an exercise in frustration, as all I really want to do is hop into multiplayer.  Plus, what am I missing? Another nonsense 6-10 hour series of set pieces, explosions and ludicrous plot jumps?  Who knows, ’cause I’m not playing it. Now that I no longer have the luxury of 6-8 hour after work gaming marathons (thanks, life), I’d rather spend my limited time on the aspect of the game that I truly enjoy.

Well, did truly enjoy. Becuase this year, Call of Duty multiplayer suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.

Or rather, it did, but now I like it.

Or I suck and I’ve just accepted it.  I can no longer tell.

So first off, the complaints:

– The multiplayer maps are F’N HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE. They could have easily been split in half and they would still be large enough to run around in and not be on top of other people.  Not that it doesn’t stop me from spawning right in front of opposing players though.  Also, please make sure to make EVERYONE and EVERYTHING is dull brown/grey so it’s impossible to discern the enemy. Thanks.

– Speaking of spawning: I was playing last weekend and got shot, respawned on an exploding IED, then re-spawned right in front of an attack dog. 3 deaths in roughly 1.5 seconds.  FUN and not completely frustrating.

– I’m glad Infinity Ward made a SNIPERS ONLY map (the castle level). Don’t like playing a sniper? Tough.  Crouch in the corner and wait for the timer to run out. Just lie back and think of BLOPS II.

– If your main method of playing involves jump shooting & shotguns, you should be banned from playing forever.

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This x 1,000 every single game

– Falling right back into CoD speak while playing. Don’t worry, you do it too.  See if this sounds familiar:  “Oh, ok…OH, OK…WHATEVER DUDE. DUDE!!! WHATEVER!!!…the fuck…fuckin’….goddamn it….I FUCKING SHOT YOU….DUDE WHAT THE FUCK…..i totally shot him….YEAH, FUCK YOU DUDE! RIGHT IN YOUR FACE!!!…how the fuck did he even see me?…YOU ARE SHOOTING BULLETS HOW DO THEY GO AROUND CORNERS???….i shot that guy right in the head and he didn’t die!…glad that i’m apparently using rubber bullets today….HOW DID YOU NOT DIE?……these fucking dogs….FUCK.THIS.GAME” 

I am sure my downstairs neighbors love hearing me invent, loudly, new phrases involving grief, disbelief and swears.

Things that used to be complaints but I’m now coming around on:

–  Menus & navigating: While I can appreciate the attempt at the depth IW has attempted to add to MP, the menu structure is a NIGHTMARE. But now that I’ve played for 20+ hours, I’ve finally got the hang of it, so I’ve (mostly) made peace with its terribleness. Mostly.

–  Are the weapons kind of shitty this go ’round? They seem interchangeable and boring. Which annoyed me at first but now that I’ve found a weapon I can actually kill people with, I’ve settled down a bit.

– At first glance, the perks and killstreaks were weird and different and I did not like them at all.  And those damn dogs deserve a special place in video game hell, preferably the same place as every terrible water level I’ve been forced to play. But now?  RECON HELO MOTHERHUMPERS. Related: Annoying that it’s so difficult to shoot down the enemy’s flying killstreaks.

– The field orders. Such a weird touch!  I don’t go out of my way to complete them but if I do, i generally end up with a SATCOMM.  Thanks guys.

Things that are good!

– I actually like the extinction mode.  The Treyarch zombie modes NEVER  made sense to me (ok, shoot zombies, yes, but everything else attributed to that mode? Total mystery). I think it helps to play with people who know what they are doing and don’t dies inside of 5 minutes. I don’t think I’ll be playing this all the time, but I’d pop in for a game or so.

– The SA-805; there are many like it but this one is mine.

– The unexpected but delightful team killing & stage altering K.E.M. Strike killstreak reward. I got one from the first crate I ever called in; imagine my dismay when all I’ve ever gotten after that was Satcomms.

– 20+ hours in, and my reflexes are somewhat starting to get back up to snuff. So instead of awful 4 kills/29 death performances, I’m back up in the 13 kills/13-15 death range.

Ultimately, Call of Duty: Ghosts is … a very workman like version of Call of Duty. Maybe next year Treyarch will shock and delight us all with whatever next-gen (when can we stop using that phrase to describe the PS4/Xbox1?) iteration they come up with. Call of Duty: Appomattox? Call of Duty: Das Boot? Call of Duty: Behind the Green Door? Dazzle us, Treyarch!

Leave a comment below if you want to join our clan, the Red Right Hand.  More than just a stolen Nick Cave song title!

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I AM AN ASSHOLE

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Treyarch & Activision: Proven to Be Filthy Liars as Nuketown 2025 is Removed from Black Ops 2

“Pre-Order Call of DUty: Black Ops 2 and get exclusive access to the Nuketown 2025 map!”

Yeah, but what they conveniently forgot to mention was that the map was available LAUNCH WEEKEND ONLY. Yeah. Go log into BLOPS 2 now and try to find Nuketown. Oh that’s right, you can’t, because Activision PULLED IT.

From the Examiner:

A remake of the popular Nuketown map from the original Black Ops was offered as a pre-order bonus for Call of Duty: Black Ops II on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The map didn’t even last a week in the multiplayer rotation though as Treyarch pulled it Monday. “Double XP weekend is official over,” game director David Vonderhaar wrote on Twitter. “That means Nuketown 2025 / 24-7 is as well. I know. RIGHT? Don’t kill the messenger.”

This means that the only way to play the Nuketown 2025 map now is in custom games until Treyarch decides to bring it back. Will they bring it back though and is so, when?
“Nuketown 2025 / 24-7 will be back for special events,” Vonderhaar continued.

When asked if the map will ever show up in the regular playlists, Vonderhaar said, “Yeah. Probably eventually. We are talking that over internally.”

Taking Nuketown 2025 out of the playlist rotation less than a week after Black Ops II has understandably upset a large number of players already. It’s certainly a strange move and one that will be remembered as one of the great pre-order negative experiences.

I think this is the dictionary definition of the sin of omission.

The Bet Hedger, Defeated

a winner is not me

Since I was unable to secure a copy of Black Ops 2 early, I bit the bullet (ed.note: haw haw) and did the two things I didn’t want to do: order from Amazon & PAY to have it delivered on its release date.  Why would I do these things?

Let me put it to you this way: you’ve seen the movie Snatch, right?  The part where Turkish is at Bricktop’s pig farm and the Chev Chelios voice over kicks in, about how you don’t want to be in Bricktop’s pocket?  Well that’s exactly where I am, except in this scenario Activision is Bricktop, I’m a more handsome & jacked version of Jason Statham and instead of being fed to pigs, I’m afraid of missing out on “exclusive” DLC, namely the Nuketown 2025 map.  The deal is, if you didn’t pre-order BLOPS 2 you don’t get the special map and you don’t get to take part in Double XP weekend. But I’m not even going to be around my PS3 next weekend and chances are that the Nuketown 2025 map would be available for a pittance shortly anyway.

So knowing that (plus the ULTRA-insult of being a Prime member yet having to pay for shipping anyway), I still went ahead and put the pre-order in.  But in reality, this was just a hedge.  I pass two local video game stores on my way home from work; I’ve got calls into both places to hold the game for me. If it turns out that the Nuketown/Double XP code is in the box regardless of when/where you ordered it (reminiscent of the Rage “pre-order” and get the special edition scam…that iD sold everyone, regardless of pre-order), I can simply return the game I ordered tonight to Amazon.  I image that I’ll be able to pick up a “Hardened” edition tomorrow at my corner spot & everyone will be happy…except Amazon, who get’s nothing, but my shipping & handling.  And what’s an extra $3.50 to quiet the rampant crazies for a few days, huh?

Trailer Park: Call of Duty Elite Now FREE for Black Ops 2 (plays “Fixin’ To Die Rag”)

Anyone else get suckered into paying $99 for Elite for Modern Warfare 3? The free DLC was nice but I think I went into panic mode and just paid for Elite so I wouldn’t miss out on the exclusive badge & callsign. Which, all in all, may be the dumbest reason to pay $100 for anything. Speaking of the DLC, by the time it drops (for us PS3 scrubs) I’ve already moved on from playing CoD. I think I picked up the first two or three content drops for MW3 and played them for a week or two.  I haven’t been back.  Maybe this year will be different? Maybe BO2 will offer something so compelling that I just have to keep playing it. But as of now? Doubtful.

Lastly, does anyone else find the actual Elite site incredibly hard to navigate? You sign in, but you’re not actually signed in to Elite, then when you sign into Elite you then have to sign into Activision…I just tried to access my account for the first time in months and I have zero idea where any of my info is.  Sweet design bro’s!! I would try to share my stats with you, but that’s apparently unpossible to do with Elite. GAH. So I guess we do this the hard way: if you’re interested, head over to COD Elite  nope, apparently you can’t do that either.  Coolcoolcool.  How about this? If you’re on Elite, check me out, my player name is Savage6000 (I hadn’t yet settled on the IR name when I’d set up my PSN account 6 or so years ago and apparently you can’t change it.) and I’m wicked good with a P90 or a Type 95.

Trailer Park: Dude, You Just Got Left 4 Dead in my Black Ops 2!

The first CoD: Zombie whatever I played was in Black Ops; it never really did much for me. I didn’t get what I was supposed to do besides kill zombies. That’s fun, right, but there’s clearly other stuff going on with vending machines and doors and i don’t even know what. It seemed stupidly complicated for something that should be stupidly simple. Did Cod: MW3 have a zombies mode? I would look but I just don’t care enough to. (ed.note: That is 10 demerits you lazy bastard! The answer is no, by the way.)

So Zombies mode is back in this Fall’s Black Ops II and you know what? It looks just bananas enough that I’m going to give it a go, even though it, shall we say, looks to borrow heavily from another popular zombie franchise.

Time to Stress: Black Ops II Hardened & Prestige Editions Revealed *UPDATED*

All pretenses of the Modern Warfare not just being a yearly cash grab has just been completely defenestrated (that’s your word of the day; Modern Borefare is for the kids!!) with today’s we-all-knew-it-was-coming-but-here-it-is-aren’t-you-surprised reveal of super expensive packages full of plastic crap you don’t need!!
Wow In the Hardened Edition, along with the game you get the along with the Nuketown 2025 map, Nuketown Zombies map, Xbox Live Claw avatar prop, Zombies Avatar costume, limited edition Challenge Coins, exclusive weapon camo, exclusive player card backgrounds and the official soundtrack. On PS3 the Avatar items are replaced by exclusive multiplayer and zombie themes.

Prestige for the prestigiousThe  Prestige Edition comes in your very own Care Package crate, which you can drop on your friends IRL to earn badges (i.e. jail time).  It has everything that the Hardened Edition has along with this year’s toy du jour, an  RC Dragonfire Drone you can fly around. Pair it up with your MW2 night vision kit & Black Ops RC Car to successfully remain a virgin forever!

There’s of course no pricing yet, but based on previous years, I’d say the Hardened edition goes for around $99 while the prestige edition is between $149 and $199. See you at midnight on November 13th, jerk-ass!

**UPDATE 3:25 pm 08/28/12: Hardened edition is $79.99 and the Prestige edition is $179.99

For reference, here are the Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2 prestige editions. Hurry, still available!

After the jump, a sneak peek image at one of the maps mentioned above and the official press release. Continue reading

Trailer Park: First Look at Black Ops II Multiplayer

As much as I’ve bitched & moaned about this game (and will continue to do so right up until release day) this looks super awesome. Dammit.  DAMMIT. Every year they pull me back in!  Am I really so bereft of willpower?

Notes from the trailer:

– What is that thing he’s throwing?

– I like that they’ve changed the kill notifications.

– Is one of the killstreaks a portable microwave emitter?

– Those flying Dragonfire things are going to be as annoying as the RC cars from Black Ops I.  Just you wait.

– You can get a MECH? That is awesome & wholly unfair.

– The throwing implement this go round is a sweet looking hand axe. I look forward to sticking this in your skulls, anonymous BOII players.

– Kamikaze swarms?