Posts Tagged ‘ multiplayer ’

Minecraft 360 Reviews: Halloween Texture Pack

This week 4J Studios has release their newest texture pack for the Xbox version of Minecraft. In the spirit of this time of year, this pack is suitably themed for Halloween. Before I dig into this texture pack, I want to say that the Halloween theme is free, but only available till November 3rd! So I encourage everyone to go out and download it regardless of if you think you’d like it or not. However, if you require more than “free for a limited time” to convince you (or you’re actually interested in reading this) then keep scrolling down.

Truth be told, I’m not really a fan of Halloween. That’s not to say I don’t like it, only that I don’t really get excited for it. While dressing up in costumes for one night a year is kinda fun, the whole spooky/death aspect of the holiday just really takes much of the fun out of it. Pirates? Cool. Power Rangers? Why not? Slave Leia? Yes, ma’am! Man in an over-sized demon mask with far too much detail and holding an all-to-realistic fake head of a murdered woman? No thanks. I don’t care for horror/scare movies; I don’t understand the appeal of taking time out of my life to willingly poop my own pants. I don’t like Witchcraft, and I don’t believe in ghosts or other perceived paranormal occurrences. So Halloween holds very little interest for me outside of a party with friends and a few well-made cocktails.

This is my kind of Halloween!

This is my kind of Halloween!

So with that being said, I can honestly say that I love this texture pack! I think this largely has to do with the world I have already built. Everything has a purplish hue to it with many lines being exaggerated by shadows. This allows stone bricks and other similar blocks to really pop without getting as garish as the Plastic texture pack (review to come later). Every object that is supposed to be related to fire has turned a bright green as if they are the creation of magic and not the laws of physics. Torches, fire, even lava share this same color, bringing a sense of consistency to this world.

My fortress of dark sorcery!

Everywhere you look there is a small detail that brings a fun and playfully spooky feel to the world. The world is filled with an orange haze by day and a slight purple fog by night. Stone blocks contain the imprint of skulls. Flowers are small, carnivorous creatures. Glowstone Lamps create silhouettes of black cats. Minecart rails are built on broken bones. Every tool and weapon has a splash of green goo as if they were used to slay some unholy creature. Every armor set is based on a costume with the coveted Diamond Armor represented by the every fearful clown. Even the sun and the moon bear the visage of a sharp-toothed beast watching over you. Did I mention the purple rain? The list goes on. Despite my dislike of the subject matter, this texture pack is done in such a fun way that I can’t help but love it. Perhaps if my world was built in another fashion I wouldn’t have as good feelings towards it, but with my current design it fits wonderfully.

TRANSLATION

Now what about the all-important issue of translation? Or more simply put, how well do these textures work with an already built world? Almost all the blocks remain the same, only with a new coat of flair. So for most builds and designs everything should be just fine. HOWEVER! If you like to use colored wool in your designs, whether for carpeting, pixel portraits, or colorful building design, you may find yourself in some trouble. Similar to the Mass Effect textures (again review to come), many of the colored wool blocks receive total overhauls. The pink wool has been replaced by a red eye peaking out of jungle wood planks. The turquoise and dark blue blocks turn into castle window panes. Oddly enough, the grey wool now becomes black wool while black wool becomes a glowing face emerging from a pine tree. These are all really great additions to make a completely ghoulish world, however they will likely end up ruining many gamers’ use of colored wool. Likewise, building a world starting with the Halloween textures will lead to possible complications if you go back to vanilla textures as all of the sudden you’ll have random pieces of wool placed in buildings or trees.

Colored Wool in Halloween…

…and in Vanilla.

VERDICT

So should you download this pack? Well, since it’s absolutely free and will no longer be available after November 3rd there isn’t any reason to not download it! If you don’t have a heavy use of colored wool in your world, then translation problems should be very little. Overall the textures bring a pretty cool twist to a game many of us have been playing for over a year now; even to passive Halloween participants like myself. Props to 4J for their most creative textures thus far!

Enjoy some of the pictures below, but if you want to see more, check out the rest of them (as well as vanilla screen caps of my world in progress) in my Photobucket album.

Almost Everything We Know About Black Ops 2: Multiplayer

The next title in the Call of Duty mega-franchise is barely a week away. In preparation for the launch, I thought I’d bring together all the important bits of information about the game into three blogs to cover the three major aspects of Black Ops 2: Single player, Multi-player, and Zombies.

I’ve already talked about the bulk of changes coming to Black Ops 2 multiplayer and gave my thoughts on them, but since then we’ve gotten more information about what we can expect on November 12.

WEAPONS

When you now Prestige your weapons will no longer reset themselves. Any progress you’ve made with each weapon (challenges and attachments) will hold over whenever you prestige and reset your progress. Instead, weapons will have their own Prestige system, allowing you to manually reset you weapon’s progress. This means that you can reset your weapons multiple times without going Prestige with your character, and you can also go several Prestige levels without once resetting your weapon’s progress. While Treyarch did not say so, you can bet that certain weapon skins or other customizable options will be locked behind each weapon’s individual prestige level; such as the infamous Gold paint job. One reason why weapons now have their own ranking system is because…

PRESTIGE

…pressing the Prestige button no longer resets your progress! That is…you still return to level one, but you don’t have to lose your challenge and weapon progress just because you press a button. Prestige-ing now gives you several options on how you want to continue your play. Every Prestige level will give you a token you can use to permanently unlock weapons, perks, and equipment so that you can access them no matter what level you are. In addition to those tokens, you’re also given one of three choices: unlock another Create-A-Class custom slot, reset all of the Prestige tokens you’ve spent (so you can re-spend them on other items), or classically reset all of your progress like usual (except weapon progress). At Prestige level 10, everything will be unlocked for the player, which is a big deal since you can’t unlock every weapon, perk, and equipment in a normal playthrough.

TRAINING

The original Black Ops introduced Combat Training, a feature that allowed players to play multiplayer game modes, but substitute real players for AI-run bots. Absent in Modern Warfare 3, Combat Training returns with a few extra features. Combat Training can now contribute to you multiplayer progression, allowing new or less talented players to safely build up their character to level 10 and start multiplayer with custom classes, challenges, and Scorestreaks unlocked from the start. Combat Training that contributes to your progression is split into three major parts: Bootcamp, Objective, and Bot Stomp. Bootcamp is a 6v6 team Deathmatch mode that pairs three human players with three bot players on each team. Objective is unlocked after playing Bootcamp and follows the same human/bot split but includes Domination, Demolition, and Capture the Flag game modes. However Objective will only give the player half of the normally accrued. The last mode is Bot Stomp and it trades the human/bot split in favor of six humans versus six bots. However, Bot Stomp does not reward multiplayer XP and is designed more for practicing gameplay tactics with friends.

MATCHMAKING

There are two major aspects of how you will connect to other players in Black Ops 2: skill level and ping/latency levels. Firstly, your skill as a player will determine the type of players you will be consistently matched against. As you win and lose matches and your K/D slides around, you will be bumped up or down tiers of players with similar skill. So hopefully that should reduce the number of times you will get matched into a group of players who are ridiculously more talented then you, and also preventing you trolls out there from continuously jumping into groups of less talented individuals and lording your K/D over them.

Secondly, you will now be connected to players based on their connection, not by your region. Now, you’ve always been connected to hosts the game thinks you will fit best in, but it has always been restricted to hosts within your reason. This will most likely not be that noticeable to most of us American players, but those in Europe, Asia, and Australia will benefit more because of their more diverse region coding no longer restricting who they connect to.

However, if Treyarch does not fix whatever happened with the lag compensation of MW3 then I doubt these features will really help. The lag compensation was one of the biggest reasons why esports players turned from Call of Duty…

SHOUTCASTING

…and esports is a big target of Treyarch. Included in Black Ops 2 is a shoutcast feature for multiplayer. You can enter a multiplayer game as a spectator and will be given a whole host of options on how to view the game. You can juggle between first- and third-person views of each player, view an overhead map showing the teams, view player scores, or a number of combinations of each. You can also listen in on a team’s conversation and add your own voice commentary as well. You will then be able to stream your view of the match over the interwebs without the use of video capture hardware or software. All of it is built into the game. There is no official word about how it will be done, you can bet a partnership with twitch.tv or justin.tv is in the works. I would also say that the same shoutcast features will be included in the revamped Theater (which allows you to combine multiple edited clips together and new camera options to create insanely long or complex productions), though I was unable to find a direct statement or reveal saying so.

 

So those are the big changes we have to look forward to in Black Ops 2’s multiplayer. What are you excited for most about the upcoming blockbuster?

ALSO CHECK OUT:

Single Player

Zombies

What We Know About BO2 Multiplayer (so far) And How I Feel About It (Pt 2)

(cont.)

Perks And Weapon Attachments

What It Is:

Yet another staple system since CoD4, Perks and Attachments are ways for players to customize their style of play. As a player ranks up in levels they unlock Perks they can apply to their character to alter their characteristics, such as reducing their hipfire spread, reloading weapons faster, or hiding the player from the enemy’s UAVs. Since MW2, Perks have also included an unlockable Pro version of the perk. By completing certain challenges for each Perk, the player was able to unlock more abilities within that perk to further its specialization. As a player used their weapons they unlock attachments for said weapon. Attachments have ranged from simply replacing the gun’s iron sights with a red dot to increasing the magazine size and attaching a grenade launcher. While perks and attachments have varied and increased with each iteration of the game, the basic principles of the systems have largely remained the same.

In BO2, the Perks and Attachments will become more independent from one another. Perks will no longer affect the capabilities of the player’s weapon, only attachments will. So instead of picking the Hipfire Perk to reduce your hipfire bullet spread, the player will slap on a laser sight instead. Slight of Hand, the Perk that reduced the reload time of your weapons, will instead be replaced with Fast Mags.

Perks will only apply to the player’s character and will be far less “absolute” than in previous. The example they gave is that the Ghost perk, which has traditionally kept the player invisible to enemy UAVs and other spotting equipment will now only keep the player hidden when they are moving. If they are sitting in one spot, the perk will not be active. The Ghost perk has also been split across three different perks now. Ghost keeps the player hidden from UAVs, Blind Eye is necessary to keep AI controlled Killstreaks from targeting them. The third perk, Cold-Blooded, rounds out the old perk by providing the player a resistance to enemy lock-on equipment, but does not make them immune to lock-ons. Treyarch is hoping that by splitting up these Perks into multiple abilities across different tiers will help balance the game more and prevent the use of traditional “Power Perk” setups.

What I Think:

I can’t say that I’m particularly thrilled about these changes, but I’m not really opposed to them either. I think that this will be one of those things that I’ll get more comfortable with as I play the game. Looking over the list of Perks and Attachments Treyarch is including, I do worry that it may be more difficult to fill out a class to fit a particular role. Maybe that’s Treyarch’s intention, but I’m not seeing a great “anti-Killstreaks” setup I can put together. I’m just going to have to reserve my judgment until I can get my hands on the game and put some time into it.

Progression and Unlockables

What It Is:

The progression system introduced in CoD4 is viewed by some to be CoD’s biggest draw outside of solid gameplay controls. As players racked up kills, defused bombs, and killed other players with their own explosives, they earned experience points. When the player reached a certain number of experience points they earned a level. Every couple of level the player unlocks a weapon, a perk, or a piece of equipment. The original Black Ops is the only title in the series to change up this mechanic. Players unlocked weapons and perks at various levels, but they could not use them until the player bought them with the in-game currency Treyarch added. Treyarch still wants to stick with the idea of purchasing items you’ve unlocked, but have ditched the currency system. Instead, each level the player gains gives them a point (up to 55 max) which they can then use to unlock perks, weapons, and equipment. There are more than 55 items for the player to unlock, so they will have to pick and choose what they want to have available to them in their arsenal. Players will need to Prestige in order to reset their points to unlock other items.

What I Think:

At first I was pretty upset about this. CoD has always been about being able to change up your playstyle whenever you feel the need. After thinking about it though, I cannot list any CoD game where I’ve used 55 different weapons and equipment at any given time. Heck, aside from World At War, I ignore the sniper rifles almost completely. I also tend to stick with one or two styles of play with each Prestige and don’t change it up until I Prestige and start over. So ultimately I think this will have little effect on my play, and probably that of most other gamers out there. And if Treyarch really want to stick with this unlock-then-purchase type of system, I’d have to say that this is a much better implementation than the CoD Cash from the first BO (which was horribly imbalanced and became useless way too soon). Here is a complete list of all the unlockables Treyarch has said will be in the game.

So that sums up all the major changes Treyarch announced for the upcoming BO2 game. They did also go into some detail on the shoutcasting and streaming integration into the game, but, as it doesn’t apply to the gameplay of BO2, I’ll talk more about that separately. So what do you think? Is Treyarch doing enough to keep the series fresh? Are they changing too much? Will this bring back any of you that have left the series or avoided it so far?

What We Know About BO2 Multiplayer (so far) And How I Feel About It (Pt 1)

This week marked the passing of Gamescom. Where E3 is the largest industry event in video games (and pretty much kicks off the upcoming gaming season), Gamescom is the largest gaming event, period. Over 270,000 gamers flooded the streets of Colon, Germany to get their hands on the working models of games announced at E3 and anything else that wasn’t covered at the event. Gamescom also marked the first time the public would see the all the upcoming changes (and similarities) that gaming studio, Treyarch, has made to the Call of Duty series in the upcoming Black Ops 2. After 4 days of events to show off what the next CoD title will bring to the multiplayer space, we can look forward to some of these changes and updates:

Create-A-Class

What It Is:

First introduced to the CoD legacy in CoD4, the Create-A-Class system has largely been untouched. The system in BO2 hasn’t changed much in its form and function, but it will be introducing a brand new way for players to truly customize a class that fits their playstyle. Instead of requiring a player to always have a side-arm weapon or 3 perks to their loadout, BO2 will instead give the player 10 points that they can use to pick and choose what they want to run with and leave out what they don’t need. The new 10-Point system gives each weapon, perk, and equipment a 1 point value, letting the play mix and match what they want. Don’t want a side-arm? Use that point to give yourself a second attachment for your main weapon. The 10-Point system will also carry a list of “Wild-Cards” the player can use (at 1 point a piece) to really get nit-picky with their loadout. Grab the card that allows a third attachment for your gun, or get two Tier-1 perks. Heck, run around with nothing but a pistol and 6 perks! Developers from Treyarch said they got the idea from an old card game.

What I Think:

I like that this is an attempt to give the player more control over their class. I’m definitely excited to see how well this is implemented. However, I can definitely see this as a limiting factor on how you set up your loadout. Being such a drastic change from the traditional system may require some getting used to, and it may even force some players to change how they play as they may not be able to rely on having so many tools and gadgets on their body at one time. Overall I think this is good, but I’m definitely reserved when I say it.

Killstreaks

What It Is:

Also introduced in CoD4 was the Killstreaks system. After a certain number of kills, without dying, the player was awarded Killstreaks bonus. Originally capped at three Killstreaks (UAV at 3 kills, Air Strike at 5 kills, and Attack Helicopter at 7 kills) the system has exploded with options for players to choose what awards they receive in their streak. The system got somewhat of an overhaul in Modern Warfare 3, which divided Killstreaks into two categories: Assault (awards were all offensively based and reset after players death), and Support (awards were more aimed at helping your fellow teammates but did not reset after the player’s death). They also added a third streak system that allowed the player to unlock extra perks after every two kills and eventually unlocked every perk for the player. MW3 also added the ability to earn points toward your Killstreaks by destroying enemy Killstreaks equipment and completing objectives.

BO2 will be taking notes from MW3 by making its Killstreaks system aimed at objective based play, but ultimately goes back to the series original systems.

Like previous iterations of the Killstreaks system, the Killstreaks in BO2 will reset themselves upon the player’s death. But like how MW3’s system was designed to encourage players to do more than kill, the player is awarded points towards their streak by completing objectives, defending objectives, and destroying enemy Killstreaks. Players can even earn additional points by getting double kills and even get points for enemies that are killed during the life of the player’s UAV. However, BO2 does not appear to be keeping the “class” streak systems. So to counteract the player’s score resetting upon death, points awarded by non-killing means are often two to three times worth the points awarded by killing. The streaks are still customizable with a large list for the player to choose from.

Deathstreaks, awards players gained from dying a certain number of times in row without getting a kill, will not be making a return in BO2.

What I Think:

I love the idea of awarding players more points for doing objective-based actions like planting/disarming bombs or destroying an enemy helicopter, but I am a little concerned about going back to the reset-score-on-death mechanic for streaks. MW3’s take on the system and allowing players who are more team-oriented to help despite a low K/D was a refreshing experience. While it did contribute to me having the lowest K/D in any CoD title to date, it opened up my options for play. Domination and Demolition modes are finally enjoyable for me to play. These objective-based modes have always classically played by two different types of gamers: those who play to win the mode, and those who play to camp the objectives to rake in high Killstreaks rewards. The modes basically encouraged players to not play the objective because all that would end you up with was a low K/D and feeding the enemy players free experience points and Killstreaks rewards. The Support Pointstreak system introduced in MW3 helped mitigate that problem by awarding players with points towards their own Killstreaks awards but did not reset them upon the player’s death. While the Support Killstreaks aren’t as damaging as the traditional Killstreaks awards, they allowed players who captured points or planted bombs to actually contribute to the fight by giving them UAV Jammers and EMP Blast awards to mess with the enemy team’s effectiveness. For once players could actually help their team despite their lack of Rambo skills.

With the Treyarch apparently dropping the Support Pointstreak awards, objective-based modes sound a lot like they did in the previous four iterations of CoD: pointless without much fun to be had. I understand Treyarch is trying to solve the loss of Support by making objectives worth more than kills, but what good does it get you getting three points for capturing an objective if you die from the enemy’s grenade as soon as you earn them? I appreciate Treyarch for trying to change things up, but this is one decision I wish they would rethink. As it is I’ll probably once again be relegated to Team Deathmatch modes only.

 

NEXT: Perks and Progression