September 4, 2011

The Last Call (of Duty) at XP

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , — Brad Johnson @ 9:12 am

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Spec Ops XP
Saturday was the last hurrah for Activision’s first fan-event for Call of Duty, and I made sure to sit down with the new Spec Ops Survival mode before tactically ex-filtrating via zipline (followed by epic shuttle bus).

I was teamed up with a girl who hadn’t yet played Survival herself, and she asked me if it was akin to zombie mode from Treyarch’s parallel series. I hadn’t though of it that way, but the comparison is apt; Survival is the Modern Warfare stab at the now ubiquitous horde mode concept, much like zombie mode was for Treyarch.

The difference, of course, is that Modern Warfare puts a slightly more in-universe spin on things—and a little more traditional, too. Treyarch’s zombie maps have been increasingly experimental, putting bizarre twists on Call of Duty gameplay—but Survival takes a different approach, instead packaging the standard COD trappings in a reasonably straightforward Battle Royale, though that’s not to say there are no new ideas.


September 3, 2011

The View From Call of Duty XP

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Brad Johnson @ 8:58 am

The View From Call of Duty XP LA
I arrived at Call of Duty XP unprepared for the level of loyalty the series commands, and the nature of that loyalty; if you had asked me a year ago, I might have questioned whether the fanbase was really there. Not in terms of scale, of course, but in terms of investment—everyone (almost literally) plays Call of Duty, but does it control the type of entrenched fan that seeks (or demands) an experience like this?

I wondered what niche XP filled, what need it answered.

Or, to put it another way: a lot of people watch Survivor, just like a lot of people watch Star Trek—but you can’t really have a Survivor convention the way you can have a Star Trek convention—it can’t be leveraged that way, and it doesn’t need to be. I thought Call of Duty the same.

Turns out I was wrong.


September 2, 2011

Hands On with Modern Warfare 3’s Multiplayer

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , , — Brad Johnson @ 3:31 pm

Call of Duty XP Weekend Event
Team Sugar answered the call and descended upon Los Angeles yesterday for Activision’s debut of Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer component at Call of Duty XP, striking fear in the hearts of decent Americans everywhere with our radical Canadian notions.

After being briefly lost in the shuffle as hundreds of Xbox’s were claimed by other raging nerd-journos, I eventually got my hands on the game—and found an equal share of the expected and unexpected.

Call of Duty has made its mark by endlessly refining a very particular product; succeeding in the science of visceral, fast-paced close-quarter combat, in a shooter where shooting is even more integral than the name implies.


June 30, 2011

Review – Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers Dark of the Moon
After last year’s solid War for Cybertron (my review for which you can read here), I dared to hope that High Moon Studios might once again bring their talent to bear with Dark of the Moon, and perhaps defy the movie tie-in curse.

Of course, it was almost inevitable that the shorter development cycle would hurt the product, and so it has. In many ways, Dark of the Moon is the same game that War for Cybertron was; all the same core pieces are there, but unfortunately the execution is not to that game’s standard, and a handful of missing or altered features make Dark of the Moon a wholly diminished product.

Dark of the Moon serves as a prequel to Michael Bay’s film of the same name (though a largely unnecessary one); throughout the campaign the player will take on the roles of seven distinct transformers, Autobot and Decepticon alike, across seven missions in a roughly five hour campaign.


June 10, 2011

Review – Call of Duty: Black Ops Escalation

Call of Duty Black Ops Escalation
Last week saw the release of Escalation, the second Call of Duty: Black Ops content pack, on the PC. Escalation includes four new multiplayer maps (Hotel, Zoo, Stockpile and Convoy), alongside a new zombie survival mission.

What’s most immediately noticeable is that the new multiplayer maps, thankfully, offer a range of new visual styles—especially refreshing after all the browns and greys of Black Ops proper.

Zoo and Hotel are both distinctly colorful, offbeat maps that serve as decidedly unusual combat grounds. Meanwhile, Convoy takes place on a broken roadway that feels distinctly urban and familiar, while Stockpile features a farming village that’s actually a lot less humble than it seems.


January 18, 2011

Leaked Screenshots Unveil Terrifying X-Douche

Filed under: News Feed — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Brad Johnson @ 5:16 pm

X-Men: Destiny
The destiny you’ve always fantasized about is to play a horrible Jersey Shore reject with the mutant power of extreme douchery, if leaked screenshots from X-Men: Destiny are to be believed.

You can check out a selection of art and screenshots at Comics Alliance, featuring an X-Bro apparently ripped directly from the pages of Modern Design Cliches: 101 Bags, Tattoos, and Beard Styles, who appears strangely out of place as he battles alongside elaborate, brightly colored heroes in his wife-beater. One recalls the original design for Cole in inFamous 2 and thinks “Well, I guess that wasn’t so bad, after all.”

October 28, 2010

The View from BlizzCon

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , , — Chris O'Neal @ 5:08 pm

Blizzcon 2010
Say what you will about World of Warcraft.

Go on. It’s an incredibly derisive, love it or hate it ordeal. On one side you have those who are the dedicated, forging names for themselves online and off, spending countless hours building up characters which represent an alt-reality personality that some come to love and cherish much like one would coddle a small dog or ferret. On the other side, there are those who could care less and maybe have dabbled in it like one would witchcraft.

But what of the actual players? Over this past weekend at BlizzCon, I was lucky enough to meet people for whom World of Warcraft and Starcraft aren’t merely games, but a way in which to keep tabs on friends and live vicariously in two worlds.


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