Friday, November 30, 2012

Why the Maps in BlOps 2 Pwn those in BF3

[WARNING 1: Image heavy blog posting follows!]
[WARNING 2: BF3 fans should be prepared to have their minds blown!] 

When I had moved on from the tried and true Battlefield: Bad Company 2 to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, something immediately struck me about the difference in maps: those in MW3 were so much more vibrant than those in BC2. MW3's maps were not only more colorful, but the locations had a "lived in" feeling. That is, the art design of the maps successfully communicated the idea that people had actually lived in these locations prior to the arrival of the bad tempered soldiers; that the terrain players merely saw as a good camping spot or a wonderful sniper's nest were much more than that: they were formerly homes and businesses of the now displaced citizenry. it just made everything seem much more believably tragic.

Unfortunately, the maps is BC2 lacked similar depth to them. While they superficially resembled homes and storefronts, in reality they all comprised little more than a sort of electronic Potemkin village. Why? Because when you entered one of these structures, you found emptiness on the other side. No beds. No display cases. No art. No carpeting. Just empty boxes seemingly built for destruction - sort of like a Hollywood set, come to think of it. I always found this a strange and sad oversight to the BC2 art direction. After all, who wants to fight over nothing?

When Battlefield 3 was announced, and even more importantly, the Frostbite 2 engine, I was hopeful that this strange (lazy?) art direction would be shown the door; that we would no longer be asked to shed virtual blood over a mere facade of civilization. Alas, I now know that is not the case. Things, it would seem, have not changed all that much in BF3 (which is just one of the reasons why I continue to find that game to be a stagnant disappointment). Check this out:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Ops 2 & The Washington Times

Illustration COD by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

Part of my mission statement for this here blog is to get "video game-shy but politically active adults...interested in gaming (it's no longer kid stuff, you know!)."  The paratethical notation is particularly key here as I know from experience that a lot of "adults" (I'll let you define that as you see fit) avoid video games because they believe the subject matter is on par with an after school cartoon (aka: James Cameron's Avatar).  In other words, when the over 40 crowd thinks of a video game, it is likely to be Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario Brothers type of stuff that is more evocative of a cartoon than a movie.  And while there is a lot of that going on, particularly in the console sphere of gaming, a lot of adults do not realize that there is also more serious fare in the offering, the type of stuff that if it was made into a TV series, they would probably be more than likely to give it a watch.  I have always believed this to be one of the great tragedities of modern video game marketing:  it focuses almost exclusively on a young audience that it already has locked up, but refuses to tap a new (and growing) market of Baby Boomers with a lot of retirement time on their hands.  Oh well.  I guess video game marketing has to grow up a bit, too.

Anyway, in keeping with the theme that modern video games can be just as grounded in reality as any movie or TV show - and I would posit the notion that most video games are already more grounded in reality than the increasingly silly stuff found in the old media - I have found an interesting article that I would like to share with you.  It is from The Washington Times, and is called "QUINN AND SILVER: ‘Call of Duty’ video game highlights real threat"....

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cordis Die! Initial Thoughts on the Black Ops 2 SP Campaign

I knew there was going to be something special about the single player campaign in Black Ops 2 when the game began with this emotionally powerful video:

Indeed, it seems that such intense emotional energy is the driving force behind the entire BlOps 2 story, not surprising when David S. Goyer, co-writer of The Dark Knight Rises, has penned the script. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Black Ops 2...Starring Oliver North?

[Stand by for a lot of Blacks Op 2 content coming to Burke's Joystick!  I am finding it to be representative of what is best about gaming:  it is thought provoking, exciting, and wonderfully produced!]

Imagine my surprise when during one of the early moments of Treyarch's superlative shooter, Black Ops 2,  an animated character walks up to me and I am struck by a sense of familiarity.  I think: "I know this guy...."

"Hey!  That's Oliver North!" I exclaim.  And, sure enough, he is introduced as just that!  How cool is that?

Why would that be cool, you ask?  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Tale of Two Storms

No matter how hard I try to keep this blog updated, it seems like life is determined to side-rail me.  First, I had that family emergency that dominated September and most of October, and then my area gets hit with a possible candidate for Storm of the Century!  But I must persevere, for in the words of the great Catholic G.K. Chesterton:

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." 

Having quoted that, Hurricane Sandy was certainly more than an "incovenience" (does that make it an epic adventure for the optimist?  Am I now Bilbo Baggins?).  This storm blew through my community like an iron fist, toppling countless trees, smashing roofs, smashing cars, and, of course, destroying the electrical grid.

Speaking of which:  for all of you weekend survivalists - you know, the ones who like to pretend they are starring in their own episode of The Walking Dead - being without power for an extended period of time is NOT FUN.  I recall back in '85 when cat 4 Hurricane Gloria hit the area - we were without power for five days.  I remember that experience seeming like a lifetime to me.  The ol' timers around here even whisper of a time in the '70s when an epic ice storm swept through, depriving the area of power for seven days, something I only dimly recollect.  But this time around proved far worse than anything I ever dared to imagine.  Try eleven days without power.  Yeah, not fun.