funk

I have been involved in both computers and video games since a very young age, cutting my teeth (literally) on an Apple IIe and an Intellivision. I've been writing about both for fun, off and on throughout the years, which eventually led me here -- still playing games and casually writing about them off an on. Follow @dab784

Jan 182012
 

Today, Bioware announced that the Mass Effect 3 demo will be released on February 14th on the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.  The demo promises 1-2 hours of single player content as well as access to two co-op levels.  The online  co-op portion will not open up until February 17th, unless you’re a BF3 customer, which then it will unlock immediately on the 14th.  Now you have the perfect excuse to completely ignore the sham of a holiday, Valentine’s day!

Don’t forget that EA is doing some cross-promotion of their two upcoming action RPGs through their demos.  Play the Kingdoms of Amalur:Reckoning  demo to unlock exclusive armor and a weapon in ME3 and play the ME3 demo to unlock “Omniblade daggers” in KoA:R.  The Kingdoms of Amalur demo is out now on Steam, Origin, XBL and PSN and is worth checking out if you’re looking for a game with an Elder Scrolls influence that focuses on action and combat.  That demo also offers a sizable chunk of gameplay, again in the 1-2 hour range.  2 pre-release demos that offer a significant length of gameplay that are both available on the PC?  That definitely bucks the trend over the past couple years.

Jan 162012
 

If you’ve been paying attention to the EA / Steam battle, you could have guessed that Mass Effect 3 wasn’t going to be on Steam, regardless of the fact that Mass Effect 1 and 2 are currently available.  If you were really in tune to the situation, you would have also guessed that Mass Effect 3 would require Origin to play on the PC.  Bioware has confirmed both facts over the weekend, explicitly stating that Origin will be required even if you buy a boxed copy and that it wouldn’t be available on Steam “at this time.”

While both of those things are true of BF3, and did cause some outrage, it didn’t seem to hurt the game’s sales or popularity online, and I suspect a similar outcome for Mass Effect 3.  Both games are high profile with a large following, and even though the Origin requirement will cause complaints, the number of players boycotting the game due to this alone will be low.

Origin still feels clunky even months after its wide scale debut with BF3, still calls itself a beta in its window title bar, and still shows me games that have permanently expired like the BF3 alpha and beta tests.  At this point, it’s added no value for me and only serves as EA’s latest attempt at always-on DRM that just so happens to come bundled with a game store and a friends list.  What’s your opinion of Origin after you’ve been using it (or not) for the past few months?

Bioware source.

Jan 032012
 

I’ve  already established that 2011 had lots of great games, more so than any recent year.  But being a gamer, there’s always something to complain about, and there was enough this year to keep my bitter and jaded attitude alive and well.

I wasn’t planning to just rattle off names of games that came out this year that were just terrible; that’d take too long.  Instead I want to go through games that I had at least some sort of expectation for that just fell well short of those goals.

Early in the year the indie/downloadable game, Breach, hit Steam and XBLA during a lull of quality releases and promised to have a fully destructible environment unlike anything we’ve seen before.  Of course this fell flat and the result was a bland, low budget shooter with a scattering of destructible assets and bad shooting mechanics.  Luckily, the low cost of under $15 at launch made me forget the pain quickly enough.

Also in the first quarter Crysis 2 hit the streets.  With a new focus on multiplayer, which felt like a hybrid of CoD and BF, Cyrsis 2 had potential to make a lasting impact in the multiplayer shooter scene.  Needless to say, that never happened mainly because of two reasons.  First off, the PC version was severely crippled and was the poster child for “consolization.”  From the splash screen that said “Press Start to Begin” to the complete lack of video settings beyond changing the resolution, Crytek did a complete 180 from the original Crysis, which was PC only.  The second nail in the coffin on the multiplayer side was the lack of anti-cheat measures which meant that you were almost guaranteed to join a server and see at least one, if not more, aimbots in play.  Botting seemed so prevalent that cheaters made no attempts to hide it — Crysis 2’s CoD-style kill cam made it painfully obvious, as you watch your killer snap off 4 to 5 headshots in a row from across the map in a 3 second span.  Pile on the fact the single player was average at best and it’s hard not to be supremely disappointed with Crysis 2.

While Crysis 2 had its issues, a game that topped it in the disappointment category was Brink.  Touted as the next coming in multiplayer shooters (even by our own Suibhne) and the pedigree that comes with Wolf:ET developer Splash Damage, it was hard to not get excited about this one.  Except it didn’t even come close to meeting those expectations.  The shooting was bland, the gameplay wasn’t very focused and the difference in classes and sizes didn’t add anything interesting to the game play.  The game also suffered from technical issues out of the box which hindered uptake online and caused many never to come back.  Then they pulled some shenanigans with the DLC in that it was only free for the first two weeks before they started charging for it.  Brink was clearly a game that had much potential that was never fulfilled.

Sticking with the multiplayer shooter disappointment theme, Red Orchestra 2 came out this fall.  While I don’t have any specific knock against RO2 and Tripwire Interactive will always be a favorite of mine, RO2 didn’t do anything especially exceptional either.  During an off year, RO2 might have risen to the top, but instead it just got lost in the mix.  Launching with some performance and technical issues, the gameplay didn’t quite do it for me as the original RO mod had grabbed me some 7 years ago (wow!).  I’m willing to give RO2 another shot down the road, but worry that the player base may have been thinned too much by then.  I’ll chalk it up to bad timing.  Maybe with a bit more polish and an early 2012 release, RO2 may have done much better.

Rounding out my disappointments for 2011, I call out Assassin’s Creed Revelations.  I’m going to give Ass Creed Rev an “incomplete” for this year because I simply haven’t had time to invest in the game, but given its first couple of hours of gameplay and the overall reception of the game, AssRev doesn’t match the outstanding level of AssBro (Assassins Creed Brotherhood).  A very slow start, high expectations and a tough competition has put AssRev back on the shelf for me.  I’ll check it out again in 2012 and see if Revelations can redeem itself, but I worry that the Ass Creed saga is starting to suffer from too much repetition and player fatigue, something the CoD series is becoming synonymous with.

That pretty much wraps up my take on the 2011 gaming lineup.  2012 should be interesting with some marquee titles coming out like Bioshock Infinite, Mass Effect 3, Diablo 3 (maybe) and some other potential hits like the sequel no one wanted, Prey 2.

Happy New Year!

Dec 282011
 

2011 was a year where we saw a ridiculous amount of good and great games released.  After several years with a dearth of great titles, this year was overrun with quality games vying for our attention, which magnified the problem eventually encountered by all gamers: Too many games, too little time.  Here’s where I take a look at some of the more memorable ones that I’ve played.

Best “New” Game
Of course every year we’re usually drowning in sequels, but this year, we had a decent amount of new games that weren’t the 8th or 9th iteration of the same thing (I’m looking at you, CoD 8!).  Probably my favorite was L.A. Noire.  When you boil it down, L.A. Noire was pretty much an adventure game that had a dash of action and a hint of open-worldness, but the overall presentation and production values tied to an interesting story made it one of my favorite games of 2011 overall.  Top notch voice acting and an entertaining cast of characters kept me playing just to unravel the story.  Searching for clues and making a case against suspects has never been so well done as it is in L.A. Noire.  Definitely worth checking out, and also makes for a great spectator game for your significant other.  Also, it’s now available in PC form.

Honorable mentions in this category go to Bullet Storm, which was much better than I expected and is probably the game that Duke Nukem Forever should have been.  Also Telltale’s Back to the Future point-and-click adventure was very good for those who love 80’s nostalgia.

Best Indie Game
I almost called this category “best downloadable game.”  Of course, in 2011, almost every game is “downloadable” — but really what I’m looking at is indie games that haven’t had any wide retail releases and usually cost $20 and under.  This category probably had the most growth in 2011 with hundreds of quality titles released.  The one that stuck out the most this year for me was Magicka.  A witty, tongue-in-cheek story with hilarious co-op play made this one playable, and re-playable for months.  It’s hard to argue with a game about wizards and magic that comes out with a Vietnam expansion complete with M16s and grenades that totally works in its game world.  The game wasn’t without its technical flaws, including lack of mid-level saves which were magnified by random crashes to desktop during co-op after a later patch, but it still provided hours of entertainment.

Honorable mentions go to Sanctum, the first person tower defense game that started life as a UT mod, Bastion and Renegade Ops.

Best Co-op
Co-op games have become a trend as of late, and 2011 had its share.  Magicka was pretty good here, as was Sanctum…even BF3 threw one in there and dangled weapon unlocks as a carrot.  But one game stands out in my mind:  Portal 2.  Portal 2 was better than the first in every way possible, which wasn’t too hard to do since the first Portal was essentially just an extended demo / pack-in for the Orange Box.  The single player in Portal 2 was great, and the co-op was completely separate and excellently done.  Trying to figure out puzzles with a friend with sometimes hilarious results was better than expected.  Mix in a heavy dosage of GLaDOS and great writing and it’s co-op at its best.   Even if you only played and enjoyed the single player, you owe it to yourself to buddy up and play the co-op, you won’t be disappointed.

Best Multiplayer
This one is pretty easy for me.  Battlefield 3 is the obvious choice.  BF3 offers such an deep experience that lets you play the game you want to play it.  The classes you choose actually affect the way you play the game and with extra-large maps and a few different game Battlefield 3modes, this game will keep you entertained for hours on end.  Team play is not only an option, but almost required even in just regular pub servers, it’ll scratch most people’s itch for some sort of organized team gameplay.  Not to mention the persistent stat and level tracking, all available from the web, BF3 provides the most in-depth experience we’ve seen in an online shooter…probably ever.  Sure, it has its flaws, and the whole Steam / Origin debate raged during the pre-release period which was turned out to be a non-issue or at least accepted begrudgingly for most players.  Where else are you going to get your online shooting needs?  True, CoD 8 still has its followers, but it’s too hollow and shallow of an experience for my tastes at this point.

Best Single Player
Again, this is an easy one for me; Skyrim.  I only dabbled in Oblivion years after the initial craze over the game, never played any previous Elder Scrolls games, but after thoroughly enjoying Bethesda’s last game, Fallout 3, I was ready to jump into the land of Tamriel head first, and wasn’t disappointed.  This is a game that you can sink 50+ hours and still not see everything.  Also it’s hard to discount the number of internet memes this game had already created.  I’ll be playing this one well in to 2012. 

A close runner up here has to be Deus Ex.  The series got a reboot and a facelift and it made for one of the best games of 2011.  Only a game of Skyrim’s magnitude could unseat Deus Ex as my favorite game overall.  Both games are must plays.

Unexpected Greatness
Every year there’s at least one game (more if I’m lucky) that ends up being a something that I wasn’t anticipating, tried on a whim and ended up being pleasantly surprised by the results.  Previous years Batman Arkham City and Star Craft II were games I had zero expectations of and ended up enjoying so much they made my top games list.  This year, Saints Row the Third makes that list.  I never played the first, only briefly played the second, but on numerous recommendations and an aggressive Amazon sale, I figured I’d give it a go.  The game is so completely over the top and so well written with juvenile jokes that  are actually funny (unlike Duke Nukem Forever) the game exceeded all expectations I had.  It’s just plain fun to play, and in the end, that’s what counts.

Honorables
With 2011 being so rich with great games, there were several others that I enjoyed so much but didn’t make the other lists.  Dead Space 2, for example, was definitely much better than the first in every way.  Also, if you got the PS3 version, you got a copy of Dead Space Extraction, which turned out to be a pretty good light gun game that’s worth playing if you’re into the Dead Space fiction.

Another game I sunk a ton of time into and will revisit, hopefully via co-op is Dead Island, a better than expected open-world zombie smasher.  After its rocky launch, the game got a bit of a bad rap, but is completely enjoyable if you’re into smashing hordes of zombies in hyper-violent style.  Let’s not forget Batman Arkham City, which was very good and while it didn’t recapture the magic that was Batman AA, it’s still a great game and in any other year could have been one of the best games of the year.

I want to mention Deus Ex: Human Revolution one more time.  I absolutely loved the Blade Runner-esq neo-noir atmosphere, the ability to upgrade your character in any way you see fit and a great story.  I’m looking forward to going back to it and playing some of the DLC.

2011 was so jam packed with great games that there were plenty that I didn’t even get to.  There’s still a few that I will probably get to next year, like Uncharted 3, Rage, The Witcher 2 and the indie shooter Hard Reset.  But no “best of” list would be complete without a corresponding “biggest disappointments of” list.  I’ll be working to put that one together over the next few days.

Of course these are just my memorable games of the 2011, I’m sure everyone has their own take on the year.  Feel free to add your comments!

Sep 292011
 
Battlefield 3

Now that the “early” access for pre-orderers is over, the Battlefield 3 “don’t call this a demo” beta is open to all, on the platform of your choice. All the juicy details are here, and if you’re playing on the PC, be sure to update your drivers, as described here.

I had a chance to check out the beta, and can say the gameplay is mostly what you’d expect from the next BF game, with some pretty great visuals.  The Battlelog stuff, as I previously speculated about here is a mixed bag, but has a lot of potential assuming DICE can streamline and optimize the experience.  Now’s the time to stop taking everyone else’s word for it and decide for yourself, no strings attached.  Get downloading, soldier!

Sep 262011
 
Battlefield 3

With the BF3 beta starting on September 27th for pre-order customers before opening to a wider release on the 29th, you’ll want to make sure your rig is ready to go to enjoy all the action.  Nvidia and AMD have you covered, with BF3 optimized drivers.

Nvidia’s drivers, version 285.38 ,are out, promising a 38% increase in performance and improve stability and image quality.  Grab your Nvidia flavored drivers here.

UPDATE:  AMD now has  their BF3 tweaked drivers available too. You can download them here.

Sep 102011
 
I’m a fan of zombies.  I’ve pretty much watched all of the zombie movies and played a good chunk of the more notable zombie games throughout the years.  I’ve sunk insane hours in to the Left4Dead games and am always willing to give a zombie experience a fair shot before casting it off as a painful exercise, such as the Dead Rising games.  So when Dead Island had that really great trailer earlier this year , it made my list of zombie things I need to try.This week I have had a chance to actually try out Dead Island, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.   This being a “first impressions” piece means I have not played the full game (or close to it), so this is by no means a full review.  Just my thoughts as I play the game, especially in the light of the botched PC release and the negative press that ensued.

Of course, we all know by now that the version of Dead Island that was released on Steam this week was the wrong version.  Some internal development and/or testing build that was never meant to see the light of day.  Considering this version was horribly broken, according to those gamers who waited up all night to play the game, this was a massive blunder which will be difficult to overcome since bad press has a tendency to stick around.  Months from now, Dead Island will be known as the game that had the dev build released by accident, and not as a different and interesting zombie/action/rpg game.  The good news is that it was quickly fixed later that same day and had a follow up patch two days later further correcting some performance issues I saw.  Luckily for me, by the time I got around to sinking some significant time into DI, all the initial outrage inducing issues were addressed and I was left playing a relatively bug free game.  Naturally in the highly variable world of PC gaming, your mileage may vary.

So what is Dead Island?  It’s pretty much just a Left4Dead clone at a tropical resort, right?  Not even close.  Yes, it will be forever compared to L4D in that it’s a zombie game and that it supports 4 player co-op, but that’s where the similarities ends.   Since we naturally tend to compare new things to old things, I will expand that out by saying that Dead Island is most certainly an action rpg game that more closely resembles Borderlands than any other game.

The combat focus seems to lie heavily on melee, and it’s about as gruesome as it gets.  Those easily offended need not apply, although if that’s the case you’re probably not into zombies anyway.  You’ll be smashing and decapitating many skulls, breaking many limbs and dismembering zombies all day long.  It’s actually quite satisfying.  While L4D is mainly cartoonish in its violence, DI goes for a visceral, realistic approach and doesn’t hold back.  The first-person melee combat works surprisingly well, and you can target basically 5 different points on a zombie’s body, the 4 limbs and the head.  Breaking arms makes them hang limp and breaking legs limits them to crawling around.  Destroying the head will put them out of their misery, but on tougher zombies (or larger numbers) it’s not an instant kill, you may need to disable a few zombies before giving them a finishing blow — so only going for the head doesn’t always make sense.

There are four characters to choose from, each with their own specialty: bladed melee, blunt-object melee, throwing weapons and guns.  This does not limit you as to what weapons you can use, since all weapons are available to all the characters, it just limits where you can spend skill points on bonus abilities which favor those types of weapons.  Weapons do break down over time, and all weapons have their own stats, easily visible before you pick them up — also making it clear as to how it compares to your current weapon.  The weapon durability varies and the game does a good job of visually showing you what kind of shape your weapon is in.  After bashing a decent number of zombie skulls with heavy metal pipe, it will be pretty badly bent up not to mention completely covered in blood.  There’s also a straight up hud meter showing you how much “life” is left in that weapon.  Weapons can be repaired and modded at workbenches scattered around the game in safe houses, and for whatever reason cost in-game money to do so.  Luckily, money is literally laying around everywhere and is available for looting — again much like Borderlands.  Also, loot drops are regularly replenished so I doubt resources will ever be a problem unless you skip looting entirely.  The inventory system is fairly well balanced in that you can carry 12 weapon or health items with you at any given time, but you can hold unlimited amounts of weapon mod components encouraging you to loot everything and also ensuring you’ll most likely always have the various parts needed to make up some insane weapon contraption.

You gain experience by killing zombies, completing challenges which are in-game milestones similar to those in Borderlands (i.e. break down 10 doors, decapitate 10 zombies with a kitchen knife, etc.) and by completing main mission and side quests.  You can find quest givers throughout the environment which usually amount to finding items and bringing them back, or clearing out areas of zombies/enemies — again, very similar to Borderlands.  XP points earned level your character up, which then gives you points you can spend in skill trees boosting your characters combat styles (i.e. 10% damage boost, 10% weapon degradation reduction) and also survival skills like lock picking or health increases.  There’s also in-game collectibles to be found which also reward you in XP.

The game feels completely worthwhile playing in solo mode, unlike L4D or Borderlands — which almost have to be played co-op.  You can make your game publicly joinable or private, and the game will notify you if there is another player in the same area as you around your same level with a joinable game, and you can jump into his or her’s session with a key press.  A quick tip if you don’t want to see these pop-ups, you can actually set your game to be multiplayer – LAN only and you won’t be bothered by the notifications.

The more I play it, the more I like it.  I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the game, but there are lots of missions to do, lots of loot to loot and lots of XP to gain.  The story isn’t anything great, but makes sense in zombie-lore, the voice acting is solid but not outstanding, and there is a boatload of stuff to explore and roam around in — in an open world setting.  The graphics are great but do suffer from too much bloom in my opinion.  The Steam forums offer a convoluted way to disable bloom although I may wait for a more “official” way to do that.  Luckily, changing the game’s FOV isn’t nearly as difficult, but still not as easy as Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s in game control.   Can we somehow get a standard of in-game PC settings for the gaming industry to adopt?  Editing config files reminds me too much of setting jumpers and DIP switches on hardware.  We should be beyond that, but we’re not.

So far it’s an enjoyable game that what it lacks in polish makes up for it in content, depth and atmosphere.  Check it out if you’re a zombie nut who’s into action rpg type things.

Sep 012011
 

Now that September is here, the holiday game rush is upon us.  It’s also back to school season, back to serious work season and before you know it, the actual holidays themselves will be here, all resulting in limited gaming time.  Lots of games plus limited time equals important decisions to be made.   Let’s take a look at three of the more notable multiplayer shooters that will hit the PC over the next month or two and examine what will be worth your time and money.  Each one is a sequel and each has an appeal to a specific market segment.

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

The first of our 3 games we’re looking at today will hit the virtual shelves on September 13th.  RO2 is the underdog in this fight, coming from Tripwire Interactive, who got their start as a Make Something Unreal winner with the original Red Orchestra UT2k4 mod.  RO2 is the ambitious follow up to the retail version of RO, now using the latest version of the Unreal 3 engine.  RO’s focus is on realism (relative to other games in this genre) and provides a bit slower paced, more strategic experience than the BF and CoD series of games.  Another noteworthy aspect of RO2, is it is one of the few World War II games still around, after they were totally over-done in the past decade.  That means you won’t have any high-tech gadgets or laser guided nukes to kill your enemies with, which depending on your point of view may or may not be a good thing.

Price:  It will be the least expensive of the 3, with a MSRP of $40. Pre-ordering on Steam will knock off 10% or 20% if you own the original game.  Early beta access (right now) requires the “Digital Deluxe” edition for an extra $10.

DRM: Steamworks.  No matter where you buy this game, it will have to be activated and tied to your Steam account.  No additional layers of DRM should be present.

Summary:  RO2 will be a good choice if you’re tired of a lot of the “arcade-like” elements traditionally found in the CoD games and, to a lesser extent, BF games.  Classes and vehicles play a large role and allow you to play the game in a way that more fits your style, similar to the BF games.  Keep in mind the community for RO2 will be smaller than that of CoD and BF, so you may not have many friends playing this game, at least initially, although word of mouth could be strong.  Generally speaking, the community will be a little bit more mature than the other two games as it’s catering to a smaller, more realism based market.

Battlefield 3

BF3 is far and away the most hyped game of the three, especially on the PC side.  DICE has been touting the PC as the lead development platform and has promised key PC centric features like Direct X11 visuals and robust community and social features through their web interface dubbed “Battlelog.”  BF3 on the PC will allow for up to 64 player battles on huge maps and a few different game modes including conquest, rush and death match.  Since it’s set in a modern warfare setting, you’ll have lots of high-tech gadgets, along with lots of vehicles, including jets to play with.  While the BF series does rely heavily on team play, it does have its share of arcade-like elements and is probably best described as somewhere in between RO and CoD in terms of gameplay speed.  Lastly, BF3 will have a co-op mode that is separate from the single player story, allowing you to team up with a friend to complete missions like rescuing hostages and the like.

Price:  BF3 and CoD both retail at $60.  Pre-ordering gets you the “Strike at Karkand” DLC (basically a retro map pack) which will cost an undetermined amount of money post release.

DRM: BF3 will require you to register and associate the game to an EA Origin account.  Origin will be mandatory no matter where you purchase it from, and the game most certainly will not be on Steam.

Summary:  BF3 will have a large community and will likely be played for years to come (if it follows previous BF games).  Chances are you’ll have friends that will be playing it, and it promises to offer worthwhile single player and co-op game modes.  The upside of a long lasting game is that you could wait a bit, play one of the other games and pick it up deeply discounted at some point next year.  BF3 will be out October 25th.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 aka CoD 8

Admittedly, I’ve followed the progress of MW3 the least out of the 3.  After being an avid player of previous CoD games, the yearly iterations have resulted in a bit of a “CoD fatigue” for me.  Gameplay reports for MW3 seem to follow a similar CoD model with the usual assortment of kill streaks, perks and multiple game modes.  Also, single player will be back, continuing the saga of the previous two MW games.  Of course, your enjoyment of that mode will depend on how much time you invested in the earlier games.  Also new this year is the addition of social features for the CoD community, similar to BF3’s Battlelog.  Most parts of that will be free, although certain aspects will require a subscription fee.

Price: CoD MW3 has a MSRP of $60.   Expect regular releases of pay-for map packs post release.  Subscription fees for “premium” social features.

DRM: Steamworks.  Continuing the trend from MW2 and BLOPS, MW3 will use Steamworks, meaning no matter where you buy it, you’ll have to register and activate it through your Steam account.

Summary: CoD MW3 will most likely be the most popular of the 3 across all platforms.  Fast-paced shooting with minimal team-based elements.  MW3 won’t make you a CoD convert, at this point, you know whether you’re a CoD guy/gal or not.  Like BLOPS, it will support dedicated servers, so it’s not as PC-unfriendly as MW2 was, but still MW3’s bread and butter lies on the consoles.  Chances are you’ll have friends playing this game, but don’t expect this game to stay popular for more than a year, since CoD 9 will supplant it around this time next year.  CoD: MW3 will be released November 8th.

Aug 312011
 
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

Update: To clarify a point that wasn’t clear initially, the RO2 beta is only available to those who have pre-ordered the “Digital Deluxe” edition.  Basically, you need to shell out an additional $10 if you want to play the beta.  While I am a card-carrying member of the Tripwire fanboy club, I am most certainly not a fan of these pre-order shenanigans.   Turns out I will not be checking out the beta over the weekend.

The Red Orchestra 2 multiplayer beta is now live on Steam for those who have pre-ordered the [digital deluxe edition of the] game.  I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but am hoping to have some time for it over the upcoming long weekend.  A reminder that if you pre-order now you’ll also get 10% off, which bumps to 20% if you owned the first RO.

Check out Red Orchestra 2 on Steam.
Here’s some bonus in game video from a slightly earlier beta build:

More videos can be found here.

Aug 202011
 
Battlefield 3

Much has been made lately of BF3 moving some key features that normally appear in game to a web interface.  Things like friends lists and the server browser.  PC gamers are a fickle bunch, and when they hear things they’ve been used to a certain way for 20 years are now changing, internet outrage ensues.  Before you start to rage, listen to DICE developer Alan Kertz, who  makes the argument on why it will be better that way:

Why Battlelog in a browser? Battlelog let’s you check your stats, your friends, your feed from Any Where. Work, the toilet, the pub…

Battlelog on the web also makes it easier for us to support you the players. We can build a better Server Browser on Battlelog.

Finally, you can use all the features of Battlelog while playing via alt-tab. So you can check stats or browse servers in play (unlike BC2).

In case you’re late to the party, Battlelog is the name for the all-in-one website that will serve not only as your server browser when you launch the game, but as a social media hub for all things BF3.  Much like what CoD MW3 is doing and will be charging a subscription for, except Battlelog is free with your purchase of BF3.

While I’m part of the fickle PC gamer crowd, I don’t necessarily think the sky is falling with Battlelog.  Let’s face it, previous BF games, and especially BC2 had notoriously bad server browsers, and terrible friends list support.  Remember after a patch, your whole friends list disappeared, and then you had to re-friend everyone?  Then remember when it happened again?  Remember how horribly sluggish the server browser was the first 6 months BC2 was out, only to get marginally better later on?  We’re not exactly losing the pinnacle of in-game multiplayer support.

It stands to reason that a web interface for all those things would be much easier to build, and then easier to maintain than building it in the BF3 codebase.  Changes to the browser and other aspects of Battlelog can be done independent of gameplay changes and be completed more quickly — so I really do believe they can build a better server browser on Battlelog.  Will it be a hassle to Alt-Tab to get to those things that we got to in game previously?  Possibly, but usually to get to those things before, you had to quit a server (or whatever you were doing) to get to those menus. Now an Alt-Tab might be an improvement, since you can stay connected, browse for a different server and then have friends follow, without having to navigate clunky/non-responsive in game menus.

We’ll see how it plays out, but Battlelog has the potential to actually offer a better experience, assuming it’s done right.  Keep your pitchforks and torches in the closet for now.