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    Feb 9th, 2008 at 03:49:59     -    Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC)

    GAMEPLAY:

    I have played through several more levels including the end of the American campaign, and I can honestly say that I am enthralled in the storyline. The twists and turns that they put you through are absolutely brilliant, while keeping a realistic edge that makes the story seem entirely possible in the real world. The enemies are difficult and tend to throw grenades a lot to which you must run or toss it back, but the thing that annoys me is when the enemies throw three grenades to the same spot. A bit of overkill, but it is just a slight annoyance to the overall game experience. A rare one at that, too.

    What also annoys me is the fact that the allied AI tends to have this annoying habit of blocking you during the scenes that entrances must be made after something like blowing a door open. Personally, I would like to be the first through to see the surprise and just fire like crazy to take advantage of that, though if you happen to be a second too late, you will find yourself following very closely behind an ally. If only there was a push button, I would shove him through as a human bullet shield. I know, not realistic, but it would have been satisfying.

    DESIGN:

    First off, the controls of the game are very intuitive with the standard control of a first person shooter, also allowing you to change the controls to your preference. I made sure to change a few keys, including the melee attack which was awkwardly placed as “v” which was a bit out of the way. The controls were responsive and the hit registration was satisfyingly accurate and clean.

    The health system is not one of a health bar, but of a type of regeneration where if you take a hit, you can heal up by just taking cover for a short time. But if you take enough hits in a short period and you will be down to the ground like a dead fish. This type of health system is perfectly suited for the type of game that Call of Duty 4 is, allowing beginning players a more lenient way to stay alive and preventing expert players from attempting to commit a sort of Rambo maneuver, where they would run out in the open, gun-blazing in full auto. Not that it prevents the AI from doing the same exact thing.

    I have explained before about the enemy AI, and while they are difficult opponents to fight in open spaces, they still try to charge you when you are shooting at them. While this may be fine if they all charge at once (which sometimes happen), but you often see them charge one at a time, allowing you to easily pick them off. If they could have put in some intelligence for the AI such as letting some of them use suppressive fire (unloading their entire clip to keep the enemy in cover) while allowing their allies to rush it, it would be a much more satisfying experience. But I do concede that they effectively use grenades to flush you out.

    The graphics were a good point, allowing a immersive environment that utilized weather such as rain to give a better feel to the game as well as put very minute detail on locations that you would only probably see once in the entire game. The voice actors were superb and carefully chosen. The mission introductions makes you feel like you are getting a briefing from a superior on the objective of your mission. Not to mention that the sound effects of the weapons and explosion gives off the feeling of a true battlefield. All of these factors give the game a great immersion rating in my book, and truly makes the experience worthwhile.

    Overall, this game comes as one of my highly recommended.

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    Feb 9th, 2008 at 03:28:57     -    Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC)

    SUMMARY:

    Call of Duty 4 is about taking on the role of a special military operative and a soldier in a war against militant groups consisting of Russian and Arabian terrorists that are trying to secure nuclear arms.

    GAMEPLAY:

    I had heard a lot about this game beforehand including a video review depicting how great the gameplay aspects of this first person shooter so I had a lot of expectations when I dived into the game. I was not disappointed. The game started out slow with the tutorial that set up the controls, but once the main missions started, I was startled to find an entirely immersive game.

    The first thing that hit me was the graphics of the rain on the first mission as well as the feeling of surprise and delight at being able to finally be the one to ambush and surprise the enemy instead of the other way around. The surprise slaughter of the enemies was enjoyable, even though this scene didn’t really last as long as I would have liked. But still, this left me gleeful and expecting more, to which the game provided.

    The AI was surprisingly intelligent in the game, using cover to fire at you with also surprising accuracy. It became essential to hold yourself behind cover and peek out for quick bursts of fire. But there are still some complaints I have with the AI, especially when they come out running in the open with their guns blazing like some suicidal maniac. These are trained Russian soldiers on a military ship, right? Maybe the Russian military should reorganize their training course, starting by firing all their instructors.

    I shouldn’t just bash on the enemy’s AI, because the ally’s AI suffers as well, but they might not be so noticeable at first. The fact that you do not have to care for their welfare is a definite plus, as games that required you to baby-sit dumb AIs like the Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter series just makes the game a chore than a pleasure. But their intelligence is limited by a set, defined pre-scripted path that makes it entirely predicable where they will go and what they will do.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 01:41:54     -    Gradius 3 (SNES)

    GAMEPLAY:

    After spending more time with this game, I am starting to loathe it even more. You are practically required to take at least one power-up of speed-up, otherwise your ship is way too slow to efficient dodge enemy fire. I have tried numerous times to forgo this, but it is such a necessity that it shouldn’t have been a power-up. It should have been an integral part of your ship from the very beginning.

    I managed to get farther into the game, but the game itself keeps bombarding me with its ridiculous difficulty. A part that came to my mind is when I had to battle giant bubbles that bombard your screen with their slow movements, but splatters into several smaller bubbles when destroyed. In that scene, enemy ships spawn from behind, with the only intent to slam into your ship in a kamikaze style. Really, what is with this shoot ‘em up? I know that you have enemies, but they could at least stop trying to commit suicide on your ship.

    Overall, this game has been a horrible experience. I would highly recommend one of the Japanese’s more modern shoot ‘em ups than this classic frustration.

    DESIGN:

    One of the innovative features is the ability to choose what kind of power-ups that you want to have at the beginning of each “life”. During the battles, you can pick up the power-ups and eventually be able to get to which power-up skill you want and use it. But it also presents another problem. For one of the higher skills, it takes several power-ups to reach that level, power-ups that would be better applied if you just stick to the skills that only require a few power-ups to achieve. While it makes the game more strategic in deciding what skill you want to have, it also makes it harder to achieve the desired skill.

    The AI is a point of interest in this game. Quite frankly, it reeks of mindless intelligence. Each enemy’s main goal, like in any shoot ‘em up, is to shoot you, but like other lesser games, it also wants to kill you by any means, including kamikaze style killings and using the environment to its advantage. The enemies simply aim at you while on their regular flight path, with the only real exceptions are the equally dumb ground troops that walks back and forth as well as the kamikaze ships that tries to hit you in its turns (though they don’t seem to try that hard). The bosses are one of the big dumb points that I have encountered so far. Examples would be the first two bosses that have only one repetitive attack each. Once you know the attack, it is surprisingly easy to beat the boss. The only chance that they could kill you is if by surprise, which it quickly loses.

    The environment, a landscape that is somehow in space in which, if you touch it, you can be destroyed. The bottom of the screen is a prime example, as you will be instantly destroyed upon even trying to feel the ground landscaping, but if you were to touch the exact same graphics on the top of the screen, it will have no effect unless it is one of those large hills or mountains. The landscape is constantly against you, as there are spots where it has some kind of weird maze in the middle of the screen that you must transverse. Your shots will not penetrate through the environment, but your enemies’ shots will.

    This game was made in an arcade style only suited to a small audience. Thank goodness that people have improved a lot on shoot ‘em ups since then.

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    Jan 24th, 2008 at 23:14:28     -    Gradius 3 (SNES)

    SUMMARY:

    Gradius III is a shoot ‘em up game for the Super Nintendo. Essentially, this means that you are flying a spaceship that must fight through gallons and gallons of enemy ships and creatures in space.

    GAMEPLAY:

    I wasn’t expecting much from an old-style shoot ‘em up (also known as the shortened “schmup”). And I was right, for the most part. The first thing that hit me about this game was the lack of a story, or if there was one, I simply could not find it. I like at least a bit of a story to compel me to play further, even if it doesn’t have too much importance. The game essentially throws you in the mist of combat at the very beginning.

    After choosing my selection of what kind of power-ups I would like, it began with my ship flying in space. And I quickly found out that this game is a lesson in frustration. You are given three lives and several continues, but every time you die, you have to start over at a checkpoint. Now this wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasn’t for the fact that you die in one hit. Make a mistake and you are sent back to the start of the checkpoint without any power-ups except for one measly given power-up to somehow get you by.

    I am, by no means, an expert or hardcore player of shoot ‘em ups. I would even say that I am just a casual player, but this is utterly ridiculous for difficulty. While I was able to get further and further each time I died, the fact that dead is inescapable even on easy except for hardcore shoot ‘em up fans makes me want to throw my controller in frustration. What’s even worse is the fact that you are given a limited number of lives and continues. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could try again and again; and get further each time, but with a limited amount, once I lost it all, it’s back to square one.

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    1Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC)Playing
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