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Video games coverage includes Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PS2, PC, iPhone and many other platforms, including web-based games and BBGs.en-usFri, 17 Nov 2017 08:00:00 GMTSat, 18 Nov 2017 06:00:18 GMThttp://cyber.law.harvard.edu/rss/rss.htmlOMGN120Copyright 2017, DarqFlare EnterprisesJCXanirus's BlogMass Effect Continuationjcauton@omgn.com (Jenner David Cauton)http://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2011/01/21/mass-effect-continuationBlog Post<p>Mass Effect 3 is almost here, and I'm very excited.&nbsp; I'm also have a few worries about the continuation system they have going with the previous games.&nbsp; I'm probably crazy, after all, what's not to like?&nbsp; Shooting, RPG stuff, and a great storyline.&nbsp; And that's exactly the problem, the storyline is good.&nbsp; Too good.&nbsp; Naturally, you're going to be attached to your character, and make each and every decision carefully, and face the consequences thereafter.</p> <p>So imagine when Mass Effect 3 comes out.&nbsp; You finish the game, and you want to start a new character.&nbsp; Maybe a female Shepard, only this time go with a Regenade personality.&nbsp; And focus on biotics.&nbsp; In order for the character to be truly yours, you'd have to be hardcore enough to start all the way from Mass Effect 1.&nbsp; The very first game.&nbsp; If all games were identical, this wouldn't be a problem, but they're not.&nbsp; ME2 is drastically different from ME1, and I'm pretty sure ME3 would be no different.&nbsp; ME2 had more than 10,000 variables (with ME3 claiming to have even more) that could be altered that change the storyline based on the player's actions.&nbsp; That's A LOT of variations of story, no matter how small in detail.&nbsp; Playing both ME1 and ME2, I've never seen any game that uses previous save data to alter storyline (or even gameplay) this much.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are websites where you can download other people's completed save files to use with ME2; they're organized by what major decisions the player did.&nbsp; But it's only major ones, not the small ones.&nbsp; There's far too many other variables to keep track of.&nbsp; But it's those variables in my disbelief that I found actually had a purpose in ME2, small as it may.&nbsp; So the question is, (assuming you like one game over the other) would you be willing to play through both games, both with two different styles of play, just to be in tune with your character in the third?&nbsp;</p><p><em>OMGN is not responsible for any blog post content on this site. The blog post author is responsible for all blog post content.</em></p>Fri, 21 Jan 2011 08:00:00 GMThttp://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2011/01/21/mass-effect-continuationAshamed to be a PC Gamer these days.jcauton@omgn.com (Jenner David Cauton)http://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/10/13/ashamed-to-be-a-pc-gamer-these-daysBlog Post<p>Like I mentioned in the Top Shot Elite article, I really love my mouse.&nbsp; Call of Duty 4:&nbsp; MW was my PC shooter of choice.&nbsp; After I got my Xbox 360, I was really pondering on whether or not to get Modern Warfare 2 on the PC or 360.&nbsp; So I ended up borrowing a co-worker's MW for the 360.&nbsp; I quickly got used to it.&nbsp; (Yes, I played online, not just the campaign.)&nbsp; I can safely say that I am quite comfortable using a controller for shooters now.&nbsp; However, because I grew up with the mouse, there's always that feeling that I could of aimed better or not miss that shot had I been aiming with a mouse.&nbsp;</p> <p>Regardless, I opted to get the 360 version of Modern Warfare 2.&nbsp; Not because I actually had friends that were playing games on the 360, but due to the general negative feedback as well as a huge but shameful and unsucessful boycott due to the lack of dedicated servers.&nbsp; Needless to say, not only would I not have my friends to play with, I wouldn't have ANYONE to play with.</p> <p>Treyarch is apparently not going to do the same mistake Activision/Infinity Ward did.&nbsp; Or are they?&nbsp; Dedicated servers are now going to be back in, but they are limiting it to only servers from GamingServers.com.&nbsp; The never happy PC crowd is in a roar again.&nbsp; So what happened then?&nbsp; Another boycott!&nbsp; Of course!&nbsp; What is this, a new fashion to boycott games that isn't 100% to someone's taste?</p> <p>Now I've never hosted a game server before, at least not a dedicated one in a game.&nbsp; The only server I've ever had experience in managing was a Ventrilo server, and that only lasted for about 6 months anyway.&nbsp; I think I paid about $10.00 a month for it.&nbsp; Not a bad deal to me.&nbsp; Now I've read that servers cost anywhere between $15.00 to $30.00.&nbsp;&nbsp; GameServers is charging $14.95 for an 18 player server, and $0.99 per player for unranked, up to 24.</p> <p>Is this issue really so bad?&nbsp; At the start of the server announcement, a lot of players were complaining that the deal between Treyarch and Gameservers as their official dedicated server provider means no mods.&nbsp; Treyarch has claimed that mods will be possible.&nbsp; Players have complained that GameServers is laggy due to having limited server locations.&nbsp; I'm looking at GameServers.com right now and I'm seeing servers in California, Washington, Missoruiri, Florida, New York,&nbsp; Canada, Japan, several locations in Europe, and Australia. And that's not even all of them.&nbsp; The game will also have a developer console, a much needed tool for admins to kick and ban troublemaker players.&nbsp; Other then the fact that Black Ops is limiting the servers to only one provider, I see EVERYTHING that players wanted, but they are still complaining that GameServers suck.&nbsp; A lot of people are even mis-interpeting it as even players have to pay the fee.&nbsp; Let me reiterate, only the people who run the servers will be paying for them.&nbsp; It's been this way since day one in PC gaming.&nbsp; What is the fuggin deal?!</p> <p>A lot of people are also saying we're paying full price for an 18 man server, which, to PC standards, is usually 32.&nbsp; I don't know about most people, but after playing game after game of only living for only 3 seconds and then dying because the server is trying to squeeze 32 players in a map made for only 8 (it often says so when you load it), I appreicate the change, even as a PC gamer.&nbsp; Yeah, I like high kill counts too, but a rise in the amount of players only makes what's considered high even higher.&nbsp; I don't think many realize that the MW2 maps were made for a lower amount of players that even other games are going for.&nbsp; Many would find this as an excuse.&nbsp; My excuse to stop making excuses to discourage strategic thinking.</p> <p>I've only read one, just ONE comment from Googling the net for hours saying that the control in servers allows people to have dedicated servers again and still be able to control hackers and prevent pirate servers, which I feel is the number one reason for all this.&nbsp; Yes, if GameServers is the only way to have a dedicated server, this means that player's who have a decent amount of bandwith to spare won't be able to host their own server on their own computers for free.&nbsp; That is the one draw back.&nbsp; You want to know what else is free?&nbsp; Pirated servers.&nbsp; All these people saying that forcing others to pay for servers is bad news is just full of shit, I'm sorry.&nbsp; Yes it's a shame we can't go the free way, but if you want to blame somebody, blame it on the ones who decided to go free in the other direction.&nbsp;</p> <p>I don't know if the people who complain about not being able to host their own server on their own computers are the piraters themselves, or just only think of themselves and don't consider that they are in the minority.&nbsp; You can't please everyone.&nbsp; People were saying all they wanted with IW.net, MW2's matchmaking software, is to have stable connections and being able to play the game at a decent speed.&nbsp; It never came through.&nbsp; Now, we finally have the dedi servers back, and now they're complaining about the lack of control.</p> <p>Game doesn't have dedi servers due to piarcy, gamers complain.<br />Gamers look forward and blame piracy.<br />Game brings back servers, gamers are happy.<br />Game is pirated.<br />Game doesn't have dedi servers due to piracy.&nbsp; Gamers complain.<br />Gamers look forward and blame piracy.</p> <p>Is there a trend here?&nbsp; Grow up people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>OMGN is not responsible for any blog post content on this site. The blog post author is responsible for all blog post content.</em></p>Wed, 13 Oct 2010 07:00:00 GMThttp://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/10/13/ashamed-to-be-a-pc-gamer-these-daysAPB - A Third Look/Aftermathjcauton@omgn.com (Jenner David Cauton)http://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/08/18/apb-a-third-look-aftermathBlog Post<p>As if I didn't talk about this game enough already.&nbsp; With the recent news of RTW dwindling down from a team of hard working people to a small group of clueless employees no doubt thinking just what the @#$! went wrong, it's definitely no surprise people are in a stir.&nbsp; I sure am, because I'm tired of writing negative thoughts on an otherwise great game.&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the doubt, RealTime Worlds IS working on the game, make no mistake about it.&nbsp; I do have to credit them, for being one of very few companies that actively inform their players just what exactly they are working on, and in detail too, starting by stating the problem, what the different opinions are according to the players, (and not them, proving to us that they actually read our complaints) and their proposed solution(s). One update that HAS gone in is a balance fix to the two most commonly used (and argued over) guns in the game, the OCA SMG and N-Tech Assault Rifle.&nbsp; Whether this works in practice or just on paper, I have no idea, I haven't played much to find out.</p> <p>So here's what "I" think are the reasons for poor sales, and thus, the extreme lay off:</p> <p><strong>Matchmaking</strong><br />To be honest, I've been saving my playtime hours for some <em>real</em> fixes.&nbsp; And the real fix everyone is waiting for, is the matchmaking.&nbsp; As I have stated before, the main problem with the matchmaking is that it is often unfair.&nbsp; The current system is a bit botched many would say.&nbsp; After so many consecutive wins, your current session ranking will go up and when an APB is called against you, other players will see your rank and can just simply not accept the call, leaving you with no opposition (minimal rewards) or no back up if you're the losing team calling for some.</p> <p><strong>Upgrades<br /></strong>Many have complained that the upgrades make matches one sided while others say it's all based on skill.&nbsp; If removed however, it means removing the whole "RPG" aspect of the game.&nbsp; Again, like I said before, what people tend to forget is that this is a<strong> third person shooter</strong>, as well as there's sometimes a beacon on your head telling your opponent where you are from time to time.&nbsp; Frontal assaults are all too common unlike FPS games where you can't magically see around corners (or through walls) and in this case the person with the upgraded gun (compared to one with no upgrades at all) will win.&nbsp; This is not a skill based scenario, it's just common sense.&nbsp; With the help of the game's third person camera, both sides often seem to know exactly where their opponent is well ahead of time before the actual encounter.&nbsp; With the weaker gun, you're only saving grace is IF you just happen to flank your opponent or if he's distracted by another teammate, which is why I always say to play in a group.&nbsp; I also found out that lot of idiotic players never wait for teammates and just charge in by themselves, so also general idiocy can be a factor.</p> <p><strong>Teams and Groups<br /></strong>Part of this is what causes the matchmaking to be so problematic.&nbsp; The game has a distinction between groups and teams.&nbsp; A group can have any number of teams.&nbsp; You can join anyone's group, but if that group happens to be already in a mission, you won't be able to help them, as the game will lock you into a different team.&nbsp; (To prevent unbalancing)&nbsp; At the same time, if you happen to start another mission (either by yourself or with other players who have joined the same group,) you will lock your team out from the other team should THAT team finish theirs.&nbsp; A vicious cycle that often causes group members to quit.</p> <p>It's because of this overly strict team balance system that makes it very hard to ever get into a group.&nbsp; As if grouping wasn't hard enough, if you manage to join a group via a backup call, (which happens more often than the system actually finding a group manually) the game feels that it needs to drop whoever wasn't part of the original team before the mission started (the backups) when the mission is over, Gears of War 2 style.&nbsp; I don't see how leaving the team alone makes it unbalanced, considering the team is <em>not currently on a mission!</em>&nbsp; Plus, players are often too lazy to try and join the same group again manually.&nbsp; Was convienece ever part of their plan?<strong></strong></p> <p>So what's being done about all this?&nbsp; The current proposed solution from RTW, as far as matchmaking goes, is instead of giving the player a choice to accept an APB, is to give them no choice at all.&nbsp; Players can opt to go "off duty" and prepare themselves, and when they're ready, go to work.&nbsp; Players will then be literally forced into missions whether they like it or not.&nbsp; If implemented correctly, this can make do for larger matches closer to the 80 player mark that was so highly touted as opposed to the 3-6 at an average people end up playing in.&nbsp; From my experience, this alone should make upgrades more tolerable.&nbsp; For upgrades themselves, they plan to add drawbacks, forcing highly upgraded characters to make careful decisions instead of just mindlessly putting on the best gear and start cremating everyone with less play time.<strong></strong></p> <p>Of course, all of these problems are really only apparent for people who have actually paid for the game.&nbsp; The reason for the downfall of RTW was due to the game not selling at all.&nbsp; This, I might have to say, can somewhat be in due to the player's fault.&nbsp; A lot of players are stubborn, and just because they don't find one aspect of a game they don't like, they usually give up on it on the spot.&nbsp; Many players were expecting a GTA like expereince from the game.&nbsp; This typical way of thinking that a game is supposed to be like something just because of one's preference was exactly what RTW was predicting and more than announced it to the public, prior to release. (A way of thinking that I tried to ignore in my review.)&nbsp; An announcement made in hopes players would wise up to, but failed to do so.</p> <p>Another possible reason was because they scrapped the console version of APB.&nbsp; Despite player's requests, RTW stated that the type of game did not fit well as a console game.&nbsp; This is something I would have to agree to some point.&nbsp; Player's are already paying for Xbox Live, why have to make them pay more?&nbsp; Also, 80 people on a server would probably drive the Xbox Live servers to hell and back.&nbsp; Even if they did make a console version, it would of just keep RTW in business.&nbsp; It wouldn't of helped the game anymore if players had remained just as impaitent for fixes, canceling their subscription too early for RTW to make enough money to pay their employees to patch it up. &nbsp; The game still probably would of sold poorly due to bad word of mouth.</p> <p>My final say?&nbsp; The same thing that all badly released games suffer from; released too soon.&nbsp; I wouldn't of released the game with it's current lack of content.&nbsp; There usually isn't that much in mission variety when it comes to shooters, but the point is this game is marketed as an MMO, a game with a subscription fee.&nbsp; It's understandable that some kind of income is needed to keep servers running, but it's also these kinds of fees that warrant a large amount of content.&nbsp; Content, that this game does not have enough of.&nbsp; RTW released their game with a core concept of shooting, very little content to play through, but expected players to pay anyway.&nbsp; There are only three areas in the game, two of which any action really goes on.&nbsp; The cities are complex, but the game is just begging for at least one or two more districts, and more activities to do in them.&nbsp; Personally, I'm hoping for a Chinatown.&nbsp; At the very least, the proposed balance fixes mentioned above should of been there from release.&nbsp; I don't know how many times developers need to realize you need to get the game's core concept done right first, THEN you fill it up with missions and storyline for filler.</p> <p>I'd also say that the beta testing was probably screwy as well, that, or the testers themselves were too daft to realize that a lot of the game was unbalanced.&nbsp; When the beta came to it's "Key To The City" point where it was easy for anyone to get in, RTW felt content to only give players 5 hours of playtime to use in a week's time before the launch.&nbsp; This, I can whole heartly say, is not enough time to give players a decision on whether they want the game or not.&nbsp; The whole point of beta testing is to give players what you have developed so far and leave them open for feedback.&nbsp; Why bother if you're going to limit their time to play the game?&nbsp; Of course, many websites have called it the Key to The City <em>Beta, </em>while RTW called it an <em>event.&nbsp; </em>Miscommunication?&nbsp; Who knows.</p> <p>There are many possible factors for the reasoning behind RTW's huge lay off, but it's safe to say their own game didn't help.&nbsp; Let's hope the UK and US's interest in the company can do better.</p> <p>I also could of sworn I read somewhere that RTW stated "We just wanted to get a workable game at release."&nbsp; Yeah, "workable" is the key word here.&nbsp; Because it needs a lot of it.</p><p><em>OMGN is not responsible for any blog post content on this site. The blog post author is responsible for all blog post content.</em></p>Wed, 18 Aug 2010 07:00:00 GMThttp://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/08/18/apb-a-third-look-aftermathMy review breakdowns.jcauton@omgn.com (Jenner David Cauton)http://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/07/20/my-review-breakdownsBlog Post<p>Everyone at OMGN reviews games differently.&nbsp; I break it down at the end, and give an average rating based on all the different elements, as well as mention misceallenous tidbits that weren't mentioned earlier.&nbsp; So if anyone who wants to know how I do mine, here you go.</p> <p><strong>Presentation</strong></p> <p>How the game presents itself in terms of style, or how well on target the end product is as it was advertised to be.&nbsp; Use of cutscenes, liscensing, gameplay options etc. are also considered.<strong><br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Story</strong></p> <p>Most games have a story, and good writers can determine whether it's an edge on your seat epic, or a snoozer.&nbsp; For games with any kind of single player content, story is pretty important, as it's pretty much needed to give any feeling of the world the player is in.&nbsp; It's not so important in multiplayer games, especially MMO's, as it's kind of hard to break the action to tell a story when you have many others online at the same time.&nbsp; For these games, I'll be more lenient.&nbsp; Some games make it obviously clear that any kind of story at all was not their intent or is not really needed.&nbsp; (Puzzle games.) &nbsp;&nbsp; In this case, I will give the game an N/A and ignore it from overall rating.&nbsp; Basically, if a game attempts to have any story at all, I'll grade it based on the length and type of game it's supposed to be.<strong><br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Graphics</strong></p> <p>Definetly not as important as gameplay but shouldn't be avoided altogether.&nbsp; Many games have different graphical styles on purpose, so I find it important to consider that too.<strong><br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Sound<br /></strong></p> <p><strong></strong>Both music and sound effects are graded here, and I find both just as equally important.&nbsp; I'll also look at times when I think there should of been music and there isn't.</p> <p><strong>Gameplay<br /></strong></p> <p><strong></strong>If it isn't fun, the rest doesn't matter.&nbsp; Self explanatory.</p> <p><strong>Current Stability<br /></strong></p> <p>Every game has bugs, and it's usually impossible to find all of them upon release.&nbsp; This area considers how many bugs there are in the game, and whether or not they ruin the overall experience.&nbsp; I say current also, because patches take time, so if I give one a low score that doesn't mean it won't get better.&nbsp; It also doesn't mean it will either.&nbsp; =(<strong><br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Lasting Appeal</strong></p> <p>If a game had no reason for you to keep on going, or ever playing it again once your finished it, it would get a low score here.&nbsp; Typically adventure games that rely on one-time shot puzzles as it's only means of gameplay, (Sam and Max) would suffer in this area.&nbsp; Don't let it defer you that games that receive a low score in this department are boring however.</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p><em>OMGN is not responsible for any blog post content on this site. The blog post author is responsible for all blog post content.</em></p>Tue, 20 Jul 2010 07:00:00 GMThttp://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/07/20/my-review-breakdownsAPB - Restraining Orderjcauton@omgn.com (Jenner David Cauton)http://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/07/18/apb-restraining-orderBlog Post<p>This can be the icing of the cake for many; the game's atrocious performance restraints. You can have a system that just destroys the game's recommended system requirements, but if you have a 32-bit Windows, the game will look like somebody pissed all over your hardware. If the game detects that you are running a 32-bit operating system, the game will activate files that <em>purposely</em> degrades many of the games textures, even if you raise the settings to max in-game. The in-game video settings is just a single slider from low, to high, and that's it. No individual boxes to check off settings like bloom or set the individual levels of other graphical things like shadows.</p> <p><strong><em>"OS:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;Windows Vista / Windows 7 (We recommend a 64-bit operating system for the best experience)"</em></p> <p>This is what it says on the system requirements. What does that mean? Best experience? To me that means to run all the graphical settings without any slowdown. It's obvious that better hardware means a smoother gaming experience, not visual. Don't fix what ain't broke. If 32-bit runs fine for many other games, why should you change it? This warning is pretty vague. There is no other warning on the box before you purchase the game, and you are only warned just exactly what it means AFTER the fact in the in-game video "options." Other than DirectX compatibility, never in my life, let alone an MMO that you a required to pay for monthly, have I seen a game that deliberately downgrades your graphics just because you lack the hardware that someone deems too weak. I consider it a very large insult that someone does not think their own consumers are smart enough to know what their computer can handle, or at the very least, if they really don't know, respect them enough to leave it to them to tone it down themselves if they're experiencing problems. If their computer's hardware somehow affects <em>other </em>people's performance, then fine. But this is not the case. I find it extremely unprofessional to deny someone the full product just because their system isn't up to par to meet certain standards. If a consumer wants to upgrade their system in order to better support what has been given to them that they paid in full for, it should be <em><strong>their </strong></em>decision, not anyone else's.</p> <p>The thing is, due to the ludicrous way 32-bit Vista handles RAM, the game apparently has trouble rendering certain textures, as well as downloading and loading all the hundreds of decals and designs of the people you run into. Despite me having a 1024 MB video card and 4 GB of RAM, (the game recommends a 512GB card and 4 GB RAM) the RAM will never get that high. If your hardware is up to speed, and all that's stopping you is the OS, the environment textures like walls and streets all really look fine, the difference doesn't seem to be noticeable compared to people with a 64-bit OS. (At least, not in the fix that I will mention later.) The game has different levels of restraints depending on your system. But if there's one graphical aspect the game decides to degrade purely based on your OS to a HUGE noticeable degree, why on earth did it have to be your own character and vehicles? That's right, the game's main selling point, the one thing that differs it from other games like it, being able to customize your own image, is degraded if you run a 32-bit system. The only time it looks great is in the game's editors, but the minute it actually loads in-game, you are treated to a muddy, blurry, pixelated mess. The textures look slightly worse than a PS2. If you're decal has words on it, good luck having anyone running a 32-bit trying to read it, as the fonts don't even represent letters.</p> <p>There is a workaround for this, however, but I wouldn't recommened. It mostly works, but not without consequences. Some people found out that removing the files and then just running the games executable instead of the launcher (the launcher will just redownload the files if it detects that they are missing or are editing from it's original version) removes all the constraints, and the game effectively looks what a 64-bit is supposed to look. In its full glory, I don't think the graphics are that good enough to justify requiring a 64-bit system to view properly. At least I can see my decals I worked so hard to create. Of course, this workaround is not supported by RTW. This worked during beta, and actually gave an INCREASE in performance instead. It also can lead to more out of memory errors, depending on your system, but as of now, these particular game files are required to run. The only workaround that still works today is directly editing the game's .ini file that, though complicated, is the same values that a simple in-game graphic options edit much easier.</p> <p>The screenshot near the end of the shown near the end of the review shows differences between using the game's original, and an edited .ini file, a risk I took at <em>possibly</em> damaging my own hardware from pre-longed use.&nbsp; Once in a while my game did crash, but in no consistent pattern that determines if it's really my hardware, or just poor optimization for 32-bit systems. With the exception of having a 32-bit system, my system seems beefy enough to run this game on a constant 60 FPS, and this is with or without an edited .ini. Often times, if and when I did run out of memory, it's strangely wasn't during heavy combat, but while just loading a single car on the screen, staring at walls, or when accessing menus in which all the graphics in the background are blurred out anyway. It's happened both after running the game for several hours, or sometimes, just after 5 minutes.&nbsp; There are many games where you can edit a game's .ini file to tweak the graphics, but this is the first game that has such an .ini file that is said to prevent hardware to one's system, at least, that's what is said.&nbsp; Is this really the case?&nbsp; I don't know, but it's besides the point.</p> <p>Even though 64-bit systems have been out for a while, when they first started, there were been many game benchmarks with actually WORSE results than their 32-bit counterparts. Naturally this scared off many gamers, so they stuck to 32-bit systems. If your computer runs games to the fullest, why spend any more money? We are only now coming into an age that 64-bit is becoming more useful and better supported, but according to many sources like <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey" target="_blank">Steam</a> (as of June 2010) who hold more accounts than World of Warcraft, 32-bit OS's are the majority.&nbsp; Roughly 60% of Steam users (which this game intergrates with by the way) all use 32 bit Windows.&nbsp; The 64-bit users don't even make up the other 40%, as 10% of that are Mac users.&nbsp; That fact that 64-bit is better, which it probably is now, shouldn't be the case.&nbsp; Unlike other games, which may or may not just simply run better with a 64-bit OS, this game actually "requires" 64-bit to enjoy one of it's main selling points.&nbsp; There are many games that run perfectly fine today if you at least meet recommended system requirements, but to deny you their product in full, not cater to a broader audience, and expect many gamers to suddenly change their entire OS and possibly hardware for compatibility, for the sake of one game, is just sloppy marketing.</p><p><em>OMGN is not responsible for any blog post content on this site. The blog post author is responsible for all blog post content.</em></p>Sun, 18 Jul 2010 07:00:00 GMThttp://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/07/18/apb-restraining-orderAPB - A Second Lookjcauton@omgn.com (Jenner David Cauton)http://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/07/18/apb-a-second-lookBlog Post<p>If you found this article, you may be wondering why I'm reviewing it again.&nbsp; This isn't a review per se, but an in depth look at the flaws of APB, and possibly why many reviews give this game such a low score.&nbsp; While I probably won't do this for <em>every</em> game I review the details mentioned here can really cripple almost all the aspects of the game.&nbsp; Read on before you take the plunge.</p> <p>A common debate in various forums and in-game in APB is that there are mainly only two weapons widely used, the OCA (SMG) and NTec (Assault Rifle.) People who are using the Ntec are often referred to as noobs simply because it's stronger. But that's because they are staying their distance. Pull out an SMG in front of their face, and they don't stand a chance. (Even if the Ntec has slighter better damage) In a lot of FPS games I've played, this isn't usually the case, regardless of range, it just seemed that the assault rifle triumphs over the SMG. To APB's credit, I don't know whether or not this is considered balanced or not, but I do enjoy the fact that literally almost every gun has a use. A common setup I use is an SMG paired with a magnum pistol. If I can't get close enough to my enemy, I can just use my pistol which deals a lot more damage, and can be shot at a greater distance.&nbsp; Regradless, the community often complains about these two main guns, so be prepared for it.</p> <p>Your rating is your character's level.&nbsp; (The max is about 300 something.) You don't level per-se in terms of a typical RPG, it just tells you what equipment you have access too, like different guns, cars, guns and gun upgrades. You still have to buy them. The problem is the game's matchmaking, as mentioned before.&nbsp; Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.&nbsp; Often it goes for the latter.&nbsp; The matchmaking does a surprisingly sufficient job at making sure that neither team is severely out numbered. For example, if you start a with a mission with a group of three, the game will try to find another group of three to oppose them. If it can't, it may find just one or two, but gives the smaller team the ability to find one more mid-mission. But just one, no more.</p> <p>The game also gives you the option to always be "Looking for a group," even if you're in a mission. (It's different than calling for backup.) To make matters fair, the problem with this is that while looking, and a mission pops up and you accept, any members who enter your group <em>after</em> the mission has entered an APB state (you are being opposed) will be in you're group, but not in your <em>team</em>, and therefore cannot participate in the mission. Before you know it, those members not in your team, but in your group, will be doing missions on their own, you finish yours, and cannot join theirs because they already started one themselves. Then your team starts one, they finish there's and...yeah...this cycle keeps going on and on. The matchmaking limits how much both teams can call for backup so neither side is severely outnumbered, but at the cost of forcing players in the group to either sit around and wait, or do a mission themselves. And no, you don't want to do missions solo. If you start a solo mission and reach an APB before getting another player to join, the game seems to stay 1vs1 for the mission's entirety.</p> <p><em>"Funnily enough I'm just reading the Eurogamer one just now, and there are misconceptions about more powerful characters and more powerful guns. There are no more powerful characters and there are no more powerful guns in the game. But people die and they see a rating on a player. Rating has nothing to do with the kind of equipment they have. Our weapon system is exactly the same as Modern Warfare. We don't have more powerful weapons. We just have a different range of weapons."</em></p> <p><em>Dave Jones</em></p> <p>http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/realtime-worlds-dave-jones-interview?page=3</p> <p>As far as Modern Warfare goes, yes, this is true. Like Modern Warfare, as you progress in rank, you unlock new guns to use. To keep the game at a fair playing field, higher level guns aren't necessarily better than the previous ones. For example a gun of the same type at a higher level may be stronger, but it may also have reduced accuracy as compared to one unlocked at an earlier level.</p> <p>Ok, so the team balancing thing can actually be forgiven, as I guess it's there for a reason. The problem is what the game considers just exactly "who" to bring into the fight. What this system takes into account, a player's threat level, overall rating, etc., has constantly been debated over and over again in the game's forums. At first, it was based on player's rating. As Dave Jones mentioned above, rating has nothing to do with the equipment they have. Yes, not the equipment they <em>have</em>, but it does mean they what equipment they have<strong> </strong><em>unlocked.</em> And I'm sure any player with the intention of actually trying to win would put on the best gear available to them. One little upgrade isn't going to do much, but 6 upgrades versus someone who has just none at all is a completely different story. (I counted. I can take about 3 seconds of oncoming fire from an Ntech, but a fully decked out Ntech will kill me in HALF the time.) Because of this, a system based on rating seems solid, but it can only go so far. You can have players who have good weapons but just overall not good at the game.&nbsp; So then the system eventually switched to be based on threat level, and as mentioned in the review, is an ever-changing variable that can increase by playing well (winning, getting kills, etc.) and deteriorate with in-activeness or being offline. Unlike rating, it does not reflect what weapons you have unlocked. Just how well you, as a player are currently doing.</p> <p>This change as well, isn't exactly effective, as two people can be a low threat level rating simply because they just started playing for the day, but one person could have better weapons than the other, meaning a higher rating. This system is still in effect today, and countless times I have faced players at least 150 more rating levels than I am. This means they are touting weapons with enhanced damage, extended clips, and better accuracy, while I"m stuck with a weapon with nothing at all. Another thing to add is that whenever you are given a mission that will cause an APB, you are able to see the other teams numbers and threat levels before accepting. While helpful, it can also be exploited heavily for griefers, and will also cause other players to never come to your aid if they feel they're not strong enough.</p> <p>The system does try, after all, it can only pick from so many players if all there is high level players on the server. But often enough it's just amazing how often I faced players with weapons well beyond my level mission, after mission, after mission. So as of yet, the matchmaking system has been unable to find a comfortable medium. A medium that RTW is still trying to look for, but if they want to keep any fan base, they better hurry. It seems that anyone who has more time to play the game as to opposed to others is always going to be the ones to prevail, despite this game being touted as a skill based game, and not how much time you play. This system of PvP is often seen in full on MMORPG's like World of Warcraft, but at least in that game it has a choice of a few thousand players to pick from in Battlegrounds, that, and PvP isn't it's only type of gameplay.</p> <p>The game is very tactical, and is really more about positioning and flanking more than shooting, given the gun's balance. Actual damage is different. Every player only has a single hitbox, and it's quite big too, making aiming a little bit too easy at long distances. There are times I get more kills with my magnum pistol than my SMG due to the really loose hitboxes. This means highly accurate players won't see any damage difference whether they getshot in the chest, head, or foot. For example, it can take three shots, to the head or not, with the first unlocked sniper rifle to die.</p> <p>The way that I see it, what RTW seems to not understand is despite comparing their weapon system to Modern Warfare, is that APB is a <em>third person shooter, </em>not a first person. One can easily use the camera to their advantage to peek around walls without exposing themselves.&nbsp; This is fine.&nbsp; Because the cities are so large, searching for a certain player you're supposed to kill would be difficult, so the game puts markers on all the players that everyone can see. Depending on the mission, sometimes they go away, but other times, they don't, as if you can see through walls. This often leads to camping, and firefights head on. If both players are in close proximity to each other, with both of them at both sides of a corner, it's very easy to see each other. In this situation, which happens all too often, if both of them happen to be using the same type of gun, the player with the one with no upgrades simply has no chance at winning unless a teammate was to distract him. Unlike Modern Warfare, one can just unlock a single gun and easily able to unlock upgrades for them after a short while. In this game it takes a <em>very</em> long time to unlock any upgrades at all, and when you finally hit that level, it's only just a single upgrade. Eventually, you'll hit that level as well where more options become available to you, and probably enjoy the game more. But you'll be enjoying it for all the wrong reasons.</p> <p>The game also includes a marketplace in the social district, which I avoided mentioning until now. This marketplace can be used to, you guessed it, sell items to other players. This means you can buy weapons that you normally wouldn't have access to because you haven't unlocked it yet, causing even low rated players to have over powered weapons for their level...providing they have either good connections with friends or enough funds for the already inflated economy in-game. If there was an actual crafting system, I would definitely find this aspect of the game enjoyable. You could collect components and either sell these components to get money or make the guns yourself. But because there is none, there's no incentive to make your prices reasonable, and believe me, many are not. You can even mail items to your own alternative characters as well, making for even more exploitation. You can also spend real money to buy RTW points, which is the point system the the game uses to buy gametime, or sadly, in-game items. Yes, you can buy weapons well beyond what you've unlocked in a <em>skill </em>based game, simply by paying real money. Or you could also just buy in-game currency, as the lousy gold farmers that RTW had promised to keep a watch out for, seemingly spam away undetected 24/7. I find it quite intriguing however, just exactly how the farmers are making money ever since the ability to make money while spending time in the customization areas has been removed. (Just leave your computer on overnight.) Since the only way to make money is to actively participate in missions, which requires competition against actual real players, not NPC "mobs," I don't know why they're still here. I'd like to see them create macros that fights real people.</p> <p>The game also supports VOIP...and no...that's not working too well either, and this game isn't exactly keyboard friendly. The game defaults VOIP to voice activation, which means a lot of new players might not even notice they're own sighing, burping, swearing, or unrelated speech is all being transmitted, as well as their own speakers output. (Frustratingly enough, my own headset mic picks up its own sound the headphones are making.)</p> <p>Oftentimes, the VOIP will attempt to transmit even when the player isn't saying anything at all. If you have audio ducking enabled (in-game volume lowers temporarily so you can hear their voice) it can get irritating to listen to your game constantly lowering the volume when no one is even speaking. This makes the push to talk function more desirable, but unfortunately, you have to hold down the button for at least 3-5 seconds before it activates, and even at that it just struggles to stay on. Not exactly enough time to spot enemies, or to tell someone holding a mission item in their hands to go and drive away without them while you keep enemy players busy. Without a headset, and no quick message system, you have to rely on your gut feeling on unspoken word. Some gestures are obvious. Players that drive up and stop next to you indicate that they want you to get in. A player that opens up his supply case can tell you that opens his supply case can ask if you need ammo, or is changing his own loadout and needs cover. Anything else more complex will require the shoddy VOIP. Someone also decided that it was best to have the ability to hear nearby players, including <em>enemy </em>players, so you can now enjoy meaningless bitching about who won or lost in-game instead of just Xbox Live lobbies.</p> <p>All of these flaws mentioned are currently being looked at by RTW, but I wonder if it will come soon enough.&nbsp; MMO's have a curse that they need to get the majority of the game right the <em>first</em> time.&nbsp; If APB had PvE content in addition, this would of sufficed.&nbsp; Sadly, this is not the case, and should of been looked through more carefully.</p><p><em>OMGN is not responsible for any blog post content on this site. The blog post author is responsible for all blog post content.</em></p>Sun, 18 Jul 2010 07:00:00 GMThttp://www.omgn.com//blog/JCXanirus/2010/07/18/apb-a-second-look