Breaking Down the Perfect XCOM Run

Enemy Within

One of the things that I’ve loved about gaming in recent years is the explosion of Let’s Play videos and streaming. With the new opportunities gamers have to capture themselves playing more easily, it’s bringing us back to a day of speed runs, high scores and documenting really monumental achievements that players are accomplishing every day.

Take for instance the Impossible Ironman playthrough of XCOM: Enemy Within by Youtuber Antti Kokkonen, where he managed to beat the game’s new expansion pack on the hardest difficulty, with no saves—losing zero soldiers. It’s one of those things that’s almost impossible to imagine if you’ve played any XCOM, and experienced its startling brutality firsthand. This writeup by PCGamer is incredibly fascinating, breaking down the most nail-biting moments and critical saves that Kokkonen experienced over the course of his time playing the game.

This is one of those things I could totally see myself doing if I had the time. I remember spending hours in front of Mario 64 trying to perfect the timing of jumps and platforming, and running through Metal Gear Solid on total memory in just around 2 hours. What kind of madness have you pulled off in a game recently? Have you watched any of Kokkonen’s playthrough? Go!

Source – PC Gamer

Going Through the Motions with Blood Dragon

Blood Dragon

I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t love Blood Dragon.

After being so excited about Far Cry 3’s far-out DLC with a cheesy sci-fi bent, it turns out I’m just not that into it. The atmosphere of the game, full of reds, purples and neon colors, actually makes it kind of hard to pull of Far Cry 3’s refined, excellent gameplay. You can’t see enemies very well, you’re so superpowered that stealth barely matters, and with all the colors you rarely have any idea of where enemy fire is coming from.

But more than anything it just makes me want more of the real game. I’m not sad that I purchased it — I think DLC like this should be made more often — it’s just not really floating my cyber-boat. I find that I’m having to force myself to play the game, even after bumping it down to Easy to make it pass more quickly.

With gaming, I tend to muscle through most of the time and finish titles, even if I’m not 100 percent feeling them. But sometimes, I run into a Blood Dragon, where I legitimately do not even want to play it anymore, but feel like I should. So my question for you guys is this: when do you decide to cut the cord on a game? And what’s the last game you decided to stop playing? Go!

Battlefield 3: End Game is an Inauspicious Final DLC

As the announcement of Battlefield 4 draws every closer (seriously, they just teased the reveal trailer on Twitter), the last piece of DLC for Battlefield 3, End Game, has hit. With dirtbikes, Capture the Flag, and Air Superiority, End Game is throwing a lot at the wall. Does it all stick? Luckily for you, I’ve made a video summarizing my thoughts on End Game. Give it a watch, will you?

It’s not exactly the best way to close out Battlefield 3, but it’s not awful, either. As a final piece of DLC we could have gotten much worse. Unlike Armored Kill, I could see the maps from End Game easily slotting in alongside the Aftermath, Karkand, and vanilla maps. Has anyone else been playing End Game on PC? Any YouTube experts want to give me some constructive criticism? Go!

Battlefield 3: Aftermath is the Expansion We’ve Been Waiting For

battlefield 3 aftermath review

Continuing my trend of reviewing the DLC for Battlefield 3, like Close Quarters and Armored Kill, I’m going to sit down here and rap with you for a bit about Aftermath, DICE’s newest contribution to the steadily growing stable of post-launch content for their combined-arms FPS.

Like the previous two pieces of DLC, Aftermath has a “theme” to go along with it, and in this case it’s picking up from the single-player story by giving us four new maps set in a post-earthquake Iran. This means rubble-strewn pathways, and in the case of Epicenter, aftershocks that will shake your camera around a little bit. It’s not too noticeable that it will affect your aim, but you do have to compensate for it a bit.

The new maps are more in the style of the vanilla BF3 maps, having several choke-points leading to wider areas for you to mess around in. Coming off of the Armored Kill maps, which sometimes felt a little too big, this is a welcome change of pace. The maps are more suited to infantry combat, as tanks are a rare sight even on 64-player Conquest. The new hotness is the customized vehicles, which are basically civilian vans and Humvees with a grenade launcher and a machine gun bolted on. They’re a ton of fun to rip around in, and in a nice change of pace from the armored jeeps of the main game you can actually kill the occupants with a few bullets or a grenade. Continue reading Battlefield 3: Aftermath is the Expansion We’ve Been Waiting For

The Retaliation Co-op Pack Breaths New Life Into Mass Effect 3

mass effect 3 retaliation

It’s been more than half a year and I’m still plugging away at the multiplayer mode for Mass Effect 3. While the mode was a little basic to start off with, the various classes and maps that have been added to the game since release has kept its longevity going, and the new pack for Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, Retaliation, brings a whole new enemy faction into the mix.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the news on Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer mode, Retaliation reintroduces the Collector faction from Mass Effect 2, but this time around they pack an even bigger punch. Collector captains are the brand new foes and in addition to being tougher than the regular Collector trooper, they can also release Seeker Swarms which block your power usage, something that can be downright terrifying when you’re facing down a couple Scions or a Praetorian.

New player classes have also been bundled with Retaliation, including a turian Havoc (a jetpack-using close combat class) and a volus Adept and Engineer. Yes, those little balls of asthma are now playable, and they’re just as hialrious as you expect. Watching a volus roll around and blast Collectors is quite the sight, especially considering they can’t take cover and just sort of stand behind most obstacles (which works because of their short stature). Cerberus and geth also get new types added to their lineup in the form of the whip-using Dragoon and the grenade-launching Bomber, respectively.

BioWare could have let Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer languish, but they’ve shown a surprising amount of dedication to it. They even put up a whole new web portal for stat tracking, including the brand new N7 challenges. Even though this is the last pack for multiplayer, new classes will continue to be added. While there are still server problems and synchronized kills from the large enemies continue to be frustratingly random and Vanguard-inhibiting, this new feature for the Mass Effect series is still going strong, and is a large part of why it’s staying high in my personal top ten for this year.

Is anyone else still playing ME3 multiplayer? What do you think of Retaliation? Anyone going to hop back in now?

Battlefield 3 Armored Kill DLC Impressions

battlefield 3 armored kill impressions

Battlefield 3’s third expansion Armored Kill dropped last Tuesday for Premium members, and because I am part of such a prestigious club, I’ve been playing the maps and have had enough time in them to form a pretty solid opinion.

In a big change from the last DLC, Close Quarters, Armored Kill is good old fashioned Battlefield fun. I’m talking Battlefield 2 type of action here, with huge maps, tons of vehicles, and lots of carnage going on everywhere. The four new maps, Death Valley, Alborz Mountain, Armored Shield and Bandar Desert, feature big swaths of open terrain, with Bandar Desert being the largest Battlefield map in the series history. It doesn’t hurt that these maps are really good looking either, from the rural countryside of Armored Shield to the almost Skryim-esque landscape of Alborz Mountain. DICE also removed the damn blue tint that really downplayed this game’s otherwise great style, so props to them for that.

Armored Kill adds a couple new vehicles to the mix, namely the AC-130 Specter Gunship and the new Tank Destroyers. The Tank Destroyers are great fun as they’re essentially Infanty Fighting Vehicles with a huge cannon strapped on top, meaning they have greater maneuverability than the MBTs and can take out a full-health tank in a couple of shots. Being based on a lightly-armored chassis, they’re fairly vulnerable themselves, but a tank push with a couple Destroyers for backup can devastate an enemy position.

The AC-130 was one of the features that was touted the most leading up to Armored Kill, but it isn’t as big of a deal as you may think. Sure, in Rush mode when the attackers have the gunship and are railing the mostly static positions of the defenders it can be a little infuriating, but in Conquest mode, getting killed by the gunship is more of a momentary annoyance than anything else. The gunship is available to each faction, they just have to hold and control the capture point associated with it (denoted by a little plane icon beside the flag). I’ve only had a couple kills with the gunship, as it’s such a big target for jets and AA emplacements that it doesn’t stay in the air long.

If you were hesitant about the BF3 expansions after Close Quarters, rest easy because Armored Kill is DICE at the top of their game. Ripping around gorgeous maps with explosions going off all around you, shooting down fully-loaded transport helicopters with a Tank Destroyer and parachuting in from the circling AC-130 is all classic Battlefield. While playing the maps one after the other (especially on high ticket-count servers) can be a little draining, once they get inserted into rotation with the vanilla and Back to Karkand maps, they’ll be a great compliment to your BF3 experience.

Has anyone played Armored Kill? What do you think of it?

Let it Snow with the Battlefield 3: Armored Kill Trailer

Oh, Battlefield 3, what a strange relationship we have. First I liked the game, then I hated it, and now I like it again. Fanboyism is a fickle beast (just ask BioWare and Blizzard), but as long as DICE keeps making quality expansions, I’ll be happy. Just don’t ask me about Battlefield 4.

Here’s the trailer for the upcoming Armored Kill DLC, thundering your way in September. Snow maps, everybody!

I think I posted on a Halo: Reach DLC trailer that I never expect the games depicted to turn out the way the trailers advertise, but with Battlefield, I can totally see everything happening. Charging through a rocket barrage while helicopters, jets and gunships clash overhead is just a normal game in BF3. What do you guys think? Excited? Sick of my roller-coaster affair with Battlefield 3? Come at me, bro.