Archive for November, 2011

Probably the most hated kit in the battlefield franchise, and role in just about any other FPS game, is that of the sniper.  No-skill, camping, spawn-killing noobs right?  In many cases that’s an accurate description of a sniper.  I am going to give some pointers though, for all you Battlefield 3 snipers, to make you more useful, more devastating, and good team players.  Granted, you can keep sniping from the rocks above no-man’s land, trying to pick off a few people at a time, but I will continue to knife you mooks until you get in there and get some flags.  I do like knifing me some snipers.

First off, Battlefield 3 has made snipers a little easier to counter.  Scope glint, a little flash of light shining from the end of the scope, gives away a sniper’s position.  This is only on the longer ranged rifle scopes, and it requires that snipers be a little more careful.  Shoot and move becomes an important tactic.  A sniper that sits in the same place for multiple kills/shots is easily found, and knifed.  Even with a silencer, following the line of tracers and looking for scope glint can show you a sniper in fairly short order.  If you are going to be a long-range sniper that doesn’t go after flags or help your team, help yourself out a little and at least reposition after a couple of kills.

Now, here are my thoughts on being a sniper that actually helps his team.  In my opinion the best position for a sniper in the squad is that of squad leader.  You can move in on flags, set up at a distance to fire shots into the enemy area, while your squad spawns on you and tries to take the objective.  Load up your kit with the 4x scope, silencer, and bipod or grip, and sit back and cover your squad while they rush the objective.  Put down your spawn beacon and move away from it so the enemy can’t pinpoint you from your squad spawns, and your sensor so you can call out moving enemy targets.

Another tactic to be a useful sniper, is to play a modified assault role.  Load up your semi-automatic rifle with the foregrip, red dot sight, and silencer, and get in there and take flags.  If you are an accurate shot, a sniper rifle is devastating up close.  Even as a regular squad member, you can throw down spawn beacons for your team, your sensor, or on maps with a lot of armor put down a SOFLAM, and get in the heat of it.  Keep on the move, so that you are hard to pin down, your silenced rifle, and silenced pistol, can keep the enemy guessing.

~Countersnipers~

Ok, first and foremost, STOP CRYING, there’s no crying in battlefield.  If you don’t like snipers, fight back.  Battlefield 3, moreso than any other game, has provided us with plenty of methods to counter snipers.  Scope glint, reduced hearing from behind, increased bullet drop, louder rifle report, and more visible tracers.  Use cover, don’t stand still, don’t stand in the open looking for snipers, and above all, listen.  Snipers are easy to find, I have knifed many of them in the few weeks I’ve been playing this game.  So many snipers just sit, sniping from the same position for several kills.  Surround sound headphones are very helpful in finding them.  Turn your head, look around, wait, and listen.  They’ll give themselves away.

Another bit of advice.  Spot them.  Spot snipers, spot everything.  It helps your team, it gives you more points, and it helps counter the snipers.  Don’t get greedy, even if someone else finds that sniper you spotted, and kills him when you wanted to, the sniper is gone.  Battlefield 3 is all about teamwork folks.  This is not Call of Duty, it’s not just about your score and unlocks.  It is designed in such a way that you usually get more points if you work with your squad and team.  I know I get a lot more points if I have a good squad and we use teamwork, than if I lone-wolf.  A team will always overcome the lone sniper by himself in the hills.

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Ok, let me start by saying I do not work for EA, or DICE, or any other company involved in the making of this fine game.  I did not get a free copy to review, nor was I asked to write this.  I’m just a regular gamer that bought this game like everyone else.

So, I got the Limited Edition pre-order, duh…didn’t everyone?  Let me start with an overview, I LOVE THIS GAME!  Best shooter I’ve played in years, ranked right up there with Battlefield 2, Medal of Honor: Spearhead, and COD Modern Warfare (yes the COD franchise was fun before Activision put their heads in their collective backsides).  I could see myself and my clan playing this game for 5 years+ like we used to with a good game.

I’m not a professional game reviewer so going to sort of be doing this by the seat of my pants.  I’m not sure which categories to put in, or what the proper layout is, I’m just going to start typing and hope it makes sense when I get done.

Gameplay:  Controls are familiar, pretty much like BF2 with some added commands for the new features.  The game feels like BF2, with some of the added finesse of Bad Company 2 via the Frostbite engine.  Vehicles and weapons feel more substantial than they did in BF2 (I know, I hate that phrase too but in a sense it’s fitting.  Weapon recoil, damage, sound, all come together to give good immersion.)  The exploding buildings, rubble that does damage, and the reactions of the environment all come together to make quite a fun experience.

Maps:  A great mix of small, large, and huge maps, with good choices between ground, air, and infantry only setups.  Some maps are better suited to specific game types, but overall I think the variety of maps, and the design, is good.

Added Features:  This game is full of new stuff that I like a lot!  The knife death scene, when you sneak up on someone and go for the knife, you get a little cutscene showing your soldier turn the guy around, knife him and take his dog tags.  I know, the victim is helpless to stop it once it starts and that might seem unfair, but if you miss, you almost always die.  Fair trade off.  Also like that the knife doesn’t kill in one hit if you don’t get the ‘killing blow’ cutscene.  Also like that you have to switch to secondary weapons in vehicles.  Used to, if your tank had a main gun, and a secondary, you could fire one with left mouse, and the other with right mouse.  Had a very devastating effect in BF2.  Lots of little things too.  Takes time to get up after being prone, negating the old ‘dolphin dive’ that allowed people to avoid fire while shooting in mid air, and jump back up shooting the whole time.  Recovery time when switching weapons, makes sense that you can’t shoot a guy while you are bringing your rifle from your back to ready position.  Oh, and when you are revived by a medic, you don’t hop back up shooting right away, you come back laying prone with your pistol, you have to get back up.  There’s tons more but those are the ones that come to mind.

Graphics and sound:  For me this is huge.  I love immersive games, where I forget that I’m at home sitting at a computer.  Nothing contributes to this than good graphics and amazing sound.  This game has both.  The graphics are the best I’ve seen, crisp, clear, and eye popping.  The sound is fantastic, echoing of gunfire from the distance, whizzing of bullets, snap of rifle fire, it’s all there.  Never heard sounds like this in a shooter before.  Watching the tracers fly into the sky at helicopters and jets, explosions, mortars, all of it lends to a truly chaotic, and awesome experience.

My beefs:  Ok, there are a couple, but mostly just things I miss from a nostalgic perspective.  I miss commander mode.  I loved doing that, giving commands, dropping supplies, vehicles, etc.  I also wish we had squad VOIP (in game voice) without having to make parties in battlelog.  Being able to communicate in voice is one of the keys to winning.

All in all, I give it a 8 out of 10.  I don’t think any game is perfect, but this one is close.  Some issues at release of course, that’s expected, but they seem to be handling it fine.  Things are getting fixed, and the dev teams seems to be listening to the community.  Can’t wait for the Strike and Karkand expansion.

Server etiquette

Posted: November 23, 2011 in PC Gaming
Tags: , , ,

Ok, for those of you who are not gamers, or online gamers, most servers that you play on are hosted, paid for, or built by other players.  In the case of FPS games, the most common occurrence is a clan, or group of gamers, that pay for a server for them and guests to play on.  Some clans charge dues to their members, others take donations from the playerbase that frequents their server.  In the majority of cases though, the guests that come to a server to play, are playing there for free.

Now that you know that, would it surprise you to know that those guests sometimes are the rudest, most ungrateful punks out there?  Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not everyone.  Our server has some fine guests that come, respect the rules, have fun, and are generally good sports.  Honestly I feel like our servers tend to gather some of the best players out there.  There’s always those tools though, that think they are entitled to act like apes in someone’s ‘house’.

So here’s my advice, for not being a tool on someone’s server.  Keep in mind that the server you are visiting is paid for by another player.  You are essentially visiting their house.  Would you go to the house of someone you barely know, and start criticizing their furniture, decor, or rules of their house?  When you go to a server and start breaking their rules, being disrespectful to the staff, and generally making a jerk of yourself it’s like going to a party with an open invitation, free food and beer, and then complaining about everything.

So, here’s a few tips to avoid being a tool

Profanity:  You aren’t cool if you cuss.  Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.  It’s one thing to cuss out loud in your room, but it takes a conscious effort to type it into a chat window.  You are doing it because you want others to see it or because you are directing it at someone as an insult.  I know the game has cussing in it, but honestly, if you were at a stranger’s house and they were watching an R rated movie would you take that as permission to start shouting obscenities?

Arguing:  Don’t argue with the admin or staff of a server.  Those guys put the server out there for you to play on.  Sometimes they have rules, sometimes they don’t.  Whether you understand the rules or not, follow them.  No one is forcing you to play there.  If you don’t like the rules, don’t argue, find another server.

Disrespect:  I know, it’s a tough concept for some, but honestly, we are all members of the same ‘club’ if you will.  Why do some have to treat people like garbage?  Be respectful of the admins, they have a hard job.  They spend a large portion of their game time making sure the guests have a good time, by keeping jerks and idiots at a minimum.  Respect the members of the clan, in many cases they are paying for the server you are playing on for free.  Respect the rules, it’s their server, they set the standard of play.  Finally, respect the other players.  They are people just like you.  Try to act like a human being.

 

Back in my day….(shaky old man voice).  No, really I remember a time I used to log into my favorite FPS server, and have hours of friendly competition with mature players just having a good time.  Calls of ‘Nice Shot’, ‘Damn you got me, I’ll have you next time’, and all manner of friendly banter floating in the text box at the top of my screen.  Now we jump ahead a few years, and I’m playing Battlefield 3, and I’m just amazed at how many people are complaining, insulting, or just generally being a bunch of crybabies.

This post deals with one of the major issues I’m seeing here. the blatant lack of sportsmanlike conduct from today’s gamers.  Once upon a time, one would be running along as some epic soldier in an equally epic, pixelated battle to save the day, when BAM, dead.  One didn’t look at the scoreboard, or gripe about getting shot, one would throw a ‘nice shot’ or ‘ns’ into the chat window, respawn, and try to find a different way to get to the guy that just killed you.  Now the standard protocol, after being shot dead, is to look at the scoreboard, see that the shooter has a better score than you and throw up some insult, curse, or scream ‘HACKER!’  Then respawn, run right up the same way you went the first time, and scream and cry louder when you get shot again.

Let me pause here, cause I know there are some non-gamers reading this.  A hacker, in game terms, is someone who has installed software on their machine that takes their game and adds features that give them an unfair advantage.  Basically they are the kids that have no skill, can’t actually play the game well, so they have to cheat.  Common haks include aimbot, a hak that aims your weapon for you, and wallhak, a feature that shows people anywhere on the map, even if they are behind walls, or inside buildings.  It’s also good to know that there are far fewer hackers out there than people believe.  It’s really online gaming’s version of shouting racism, or crying wolf.

So, what once was friendly competition seems to be a few people having fun and being respectful, and a large group of people just being tools.  This isn’t every server, thank goodness, but with every new game it takes time to find the servers that don’t tolerate that sort of behavior, or discourage it enough that the whiners either go away or shut their ‘mouths’.  For those out there that feel the need to get angry, remember, it’s just a game.  Have fun, and try not to bring down the fun of others.  Consider that you are playing in an arena with other gamers like you.  This isn’t some imaginary computer mind you are insulting, it’s another person.  And above all, learn from your failure.  If somebody keeps shooting you in the same spot, quit going that way!  Battlefield 3, especially, is a tactical style game.  If you do not use cover, sensible movement tactics, cover fire, and teamwork, you will always be mediocre at best.

There’s a saying I used to see, and use myself, in Battlefield 2.  ‘There’s no crying in Battlefield’.  Basically, this game is intended to be a multi-layered combat shooter that simulates the chaos of a real battlefield as best they can on a computer.  Combat is not fair.  There is no remorse for the guy who didn’t hide from the enemy tank.  No one is going to hold your hand and train you how to lay down suppressive fire.  Oh, and if you are not working with your team/squad, then you have no business complaining if your team is losing.  Stop crying!  While you type about how sore your backside is, you are wasting time you could be using to help your team win.  Stop using the same methods.  If running down the middle of the street gets you shot, STOP IT!  I don’t know how many times I have sniped the same guy, running up the same lane, to try and get to me, and then see him complain about it.  Stop crying, there’s no crying in Battlefield.

Xbox 360 Paperweight Edition

Posted: November 20, 2011 in Uncategorized
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So I mentioned this earlier, our Xbox 360, Paperweight Edition.  I thought I would cover the epic journey from a boy’s craving to play Halo, to the realization that the Xbox is really just a black, plastic box taking up space.

Normally I have no issue with Microsoft.  I have used Windows for years, never really having the desire to change to the many ‘better’ OS out there.  I tend to buy, or upgrade, to the latest version about a year or so after release.  This tends to result in getting a working OS with most of the major bugs worked out.  I’ve never been one of those that hates Microsoft because of one of the various reasons that people hate the company.  That said, whoever is in charge of their Xbox division, if there is a separate Xbox division, needs to be dragged out into the street and beaten with his own product.

Alright, our tale starts well over a year ago, when my son wanted an Xbox, so he could play Halo.  Yup, one game, Halo.  We’ll blame this part on Halo.  So anyway, I advised against it, begged and pleaded with my son to ask for a PS3 because I knew that the Xbox was a bad console.  Well, of course our preteen son knew better, his preteen friends knew better, and he was set on an Xbox.  OK, I said, here’s the deal.  If my son wanted to waste money on a console I knew was a bad product, then he was going to earn some or all of that cash.  Through a year of fighting for good grades, working on chores, doing whatever he could to earn money, we finally got to a point where his grades were good enough that we were willing to make up the difference, but he did save up a very large portion of the purchase price.

So, we went off to the store and bought him, with his money and some of ours, an Xbox 360 ‘Elite Edition’ with a 4G HD (I think that was the size of it, it has no bearing on the story though).  How our excited son takes it home, plugs it in, and a two month long fragfest ensues.  Kid is playing halo with friends, online, all that good stuff.  Then something happens that, on any other console, would be nothing at all to worry about.  The Xbox fell from it’s ‘standing on side’ position to ‘flat on the floor’.  This happened on carpet, something that has happened to my PS2 countless times, and all my other consoles before that.  No big deal right?  Apparently the Xbox, however, is made from fine china, egg shells, and tissue paper, because a couple days later nothing.  Kid goes to play, gets nothing but a black screen and a TV saying ‘no signal’.

Thus begins our journey through the vast web of suck that is Xbox support.  Now, for the record it didn’t suck at first.  This very first experience with support was great.  I called, after going to their site, got a hold of someone who took my information, sent in a ticket, emailed me a shipping label, and away went the console to be fixed.  We awaited the appropriate amount of time, got the email updates about progress, and in short order we had a new (well not new, refurbished) console.

So, newly refurbished console is plugged in, and halofest resumes.  For about two weeks that is.  Then the screen flickers,  and the Xbox dies.  Again, same problem, ‘no signal’.  This is where the support gets irritating.  They are wanting me to check my HDMI cable, ok, checked.  Maybe it’s my TV…but everything else works.  I do some research and turns out the soldering used on the connections inside the console are done with a cheap, non-heat resistant material.  I can buy a repair kit for $100 and fix it myself…wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft sells that kit.  After a stressful phone conversation, support agrees to replace this one, with a new…refurbished one, and to call me to check on it, as they plan to expedite the service.  Emailed shipping label, Xbox goes in the mail, and we wait.  No phone call, and if anything expedite means 9 days instead of 10.  YAY!

So, this one arrives.  Gets hooked up, plugged in…DOA.  Yup, that’s Dead On Arrival.  The one they sent us was a dud from the get go.  Now I’m more than pissed, the kid is upset and wishing he’d bought something else, the wife is stressed.  We call them.  Something needs to be taken care of right now, we tell them.  We do not want a refurbished one, a rebuilt one, a repaired one, we want one that has never been so much as plugged in except for testing.  After answer the same questions about cords and TVs, did we do this, test that, etc, they agree to send us a new console that has never been used, complete with warranty paperwork, and free Xbox live credits to make up for the lost months of subscription time without a box to use the subscription.  Alright, this should do it right?  A new console, heck yah.  Oh, and they agreed to call us again, to check on the progress of the situation…no call.

We wait the appropriate, expedited time of 9 days (I think this one took longer), and finally shows up our new console.  I could tell it was new because of the smell.  Anyone that builds computers, or buys a lot of electronics knows what I mean.  There’s a smell to new electronics, especially after you turn them on the first time.  So, we hook it up, turn it on, and it works, woot!  Halofest continues.  This is now late summer by the way.  My kid’s entire summer is wasted by waiting for a working Xbox, that he paid for (mostly).  How awesome is that, right?  So, anyway, the new one works.  For about a week.  Same thing, same issue, same irritation.

This time I am beyond any level of disgruntled I’ve ever felt with a company.  I want my son’s money back, period.  I call, and here’s where it gets extremely fun.  I talk to support, who tells me they can’t help me with refunds.  I need to call the Microsoft customer support.  I get their number and call them.  Oh no, wrong department.  I need to talk to the warranty center.  I get the number and call them.  Warranty center says that all Xbox issues have to go through Xbox support…The FIRST PEOPLE I CALLED!  Ok, so I call them back.  The lady on the phone puts me on hold for a supervisor and uses the line that I was always told never to use in customer support “Sure, you can talk to a manager, but they will tell you the same thing I have.”  I don’t care, get me a freaking manager!  So, no luck, she can’t get me a manager so tells me one will call back in 24-48 hours…that sounds familiar.

I wait, 24-48 hours, and call back.  No record of my call, no one knows what’s going on.  See I have this little number that she gave me, my support ticket number, but for some reason it’s not in their system.  That’s so odd (can you hear the sarcasm?).  So anyway, I do get a hold of a manager, and talk to them, and what do you know?  No refunds, no matter how many times we go around about this, no way no how am I getting my son’s money back.  Putting out a working product, and standing by it is not the concern of Microsoft’s Xbox division it seems.  They had our money, that’s all that mattered.  So I stew on that for a bit, ready to just give up and take our losses.  A new idea presents itself though, so we go into action.

We start the process of replacing the bad Xbox, get the shipping label, send it back, wait a few days, and in the mail comes another of the hated black boxes.  We package it back in the original packaging, controllers, cords and all, and take it to an undisclosed game retailer to see what we can get for it.  They give us $105 for the thing, and there’s a sale coming up on PS3s.  So, after all of that, we will be buying the console I recommended all those months ago, and I am firmly entrenched in my vile hatred for Xbox.  I will tell everyone I can to avoid that system like the plague.