12/18/2010

SAW

Posted by – December 18, 2010

I‘ve played a bunch of on-line games, and while I was impressed with all of them, they always end up tiring out because the maps are too limited, your fellow players are too retarded, the enemies are too predictable or the AI is just outnumbering you. I’ve been picking up on ARMA2 multi-player, once again after a long intermission, and it’s like I’ve never left: the coop missions are still there and the community itself, from newbies to veterans, is always as helpful as ever in getting you through the mission. And as usual, the thrill to make it through after a carefully planned approach at the AO (definition) is… a good feeling: that is without feeling guilty that you hit your targets with an M249 SAW. It’s still a video game after all: a good one at that.

For example, earlier today, I parachuted in, joined up with a sniper team and advanced towards a small town. Everybody wants to be a sniper: for most people this means that they can hang far away from combat and get their ‘kill-list’ up. This works for most FPS, but not for ARMA2: if the AI gets hammered it will try to flank you or hit you back with superior suppressing fire. As I by experience knew what was going to happen, I positioned myself on the left flank and ended up with multiple run-ins with AI. Eventually someone hollered “What the hell is going on there”, I could only answer “Left flank uh clear, now”.

I do find that playing with more than 20 people online causes more confusion: that is, there are more friendly fires than normal because everybody is jittery and nervous when it’s time to do mop-ups or patrols. The only way to get around that is to team up with somebody or have someone team up with you: this happens fairly automatic though. You’ll thank your buddy for dragging you out of the line of fire and bandaging you if you get hit.

1 Youtube COOP Domination Multi-player.
2 Sample video how hectic it can be at times (foul language ahead)

05/15/2010

Jupiter and so

Posted by – May 15, 2010

I read this the day before yesterday: apparently, Jupiter has lost one of it’s bands (National Geographic on this) within the last couple of months (or even year). If you’re curious if this will have any impact on our Earthly lives, please check your local daily astrology forecast.

Computers are fascination and so are games: depending on your mileage, of course. Earlier this month, I learnt that a senior fellow in the US managed to defeat the game ‘Bejeweled’ by reaching the topscore of (wait for it, wait for it), 2,147,783,647. If you’re not familiar with that number, for your reference I present Wikipedia’s entry on Integer numbers.

And last but not least, via Reddit, I came across this gem (or youtube video) showcasing the excellent animation stuff in the Arma2 game. I looked at this game a year or so ago and while buggy, I was extremely impressed with the online-multiplayer portion of Arma2. From the ‘Leave no man alone, rescue Arthur’ mission, to that ‘long lonely walk until someone offered me a ride on his bike to the battlefield’ occasion. No really: surreal.

07/12/2009

Arma 2

Posted by – July 12, 2009

Earlier A town called alicethis month, I decided to get Arma 2 (official site), which is a tactical first person shooter produced by Czech game maker Bohemia Interactive. Originally, BI wrote Operation Flashpoint (which in turn was published by CodeMasters), but both companies have gone their own ways: CodeMasters is currently developing the ‘original’ successor to FlashPoint: if you’d say that Arma 2 is the true successor to the whole FlashPoint line, you wouldn’t be off the mark (see Wikipedia).

Anyway: if you played and finished Ghost Recon (PC) (earlier), you’ll probably like Arma 2. If you’ve played Arma 1 and Operation Flashpoint, you’ll find that Arma 2 has graphically and geographically improved (more land to uncover, I think around 200 square kms) but that most of the commands have stayed the same. This time the game puts us in combat in a fictional land called Chernarusk where (in single player mode), you fight for the US against either one or more of the 6 available factions.

Let me take a step back for a second: there’s one single player campaign (Blood Harvest) and (despite what reviews claim) most of it is scripted. Certain reviews also laud the option to ‘walk around’ freely in Chernarusk and while this is possible, at the end it still feels heavily scripted particularly knowing that the campaign is only 12 missions long. It’s particularly this single player campaign I’m mixed about: it is buggy for sure and I feel that the AI is too unbalanced, that is, for some reason when it finds you, you’re dead. I’ve only been playing Arma in ‘Regular’ mode, but I feel that the AI is hurting the game.

However, the game shines in multi-player mode: literally each vehicle and aircraft is available to drive or fly around. You can even parachute in if you feel so inclined. Complex orders in the single player game suddenly make sense in this mode too: there’s a whole range of commands you can issue to and/or receive from your fellow players. Additionally, the moment you’re on the battle field it’s all about battle tactics with the number one rule: if you can’t flank the enemy, you’re stuck in a rut with bullets flying around you.

I don’t think there’s a need to elaborate too much on Arma 2 today, though: graphically there’s nothing to complain about. On my system (a 2.0 P7350, 4 gigs of RAM, 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT) the game runs fairly smooth (in 1280 x 800 no less). You probably don’t want to run it on anything lower than that. There’s also nothing wrong with the multi-player part of the game: however, some elements of the single player portion are absolutely buggy. Sure you can make your own missions in the built-in mission editor, but if the AI is buggy the fun will be gone fairly quickly. However, I must admit that ‘The Armory’ (a subsection of the game where you can try out vehicles and planes) can be fun, and is probably the first place to try/practice flight before you start doing this in the multiplayer world.

So, cautiously, if you like tactical fps games and prefer multi-player games you’re fairly good with Arma 2. In other cases, you may want to wait for CodeMaster’s “Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising”, which seems to come with a totally open and unscripted single-player campaign.

See below for more in-game screenshots:

08/09/09: Patch 1.03 was released a couple of days ago with, reportedly, AI and performance fixes.

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