Monday, January 31, 2011

Fable 3 Review

It’s a Revolution, or so I’m being told be Peter Molyneux. Since the original Fable, Lionhead Studios has been touting the Fable franchise as a great RPG experience. Yet with Fable 3 very little actually RPG elements remain from previous games. Gone is the experience that you collect from fights. Instead the game is much more structured not just in leveling but also in storytelling. Becoming King or Queen of Albion is your ultimate goal, and Fable 3 is more about choice and sacrifice rather then leveling and most of the regular RPG troupes.

The reason for your needing a revolution is because your brother is bat crap insane. There really is no other way to but it, your brother is evil and now you need to stop him. You start the game similarly to Fables’ 1 and 2 by selecting your gender. I chose a female character, yet like the previous games this choice doesn’t really get very fleshed out. Your character has little to no personality to speak of, and on the matter of speech your protagonist is very selective on when they voice their opinion. Upon fleeing the Castle for reasons that I wont spoil (though like I said your brother is evil, take that as you will) you learn that you are destined to become a hero…surprise! 

Throughout the game you are sent to various locations throughout Albion in order to request help from various groups of people. Your trying to acquire an army and they bigger your army the easier it will be to fight your brother, simple enough. At first you are only accompanied by your loyal butler (voiced by John Cleese) and Ser Walter a staunch and loyal bodyguard of sorts. Of course your trusty dog is along for the journey as well, yet there hasn’t been many new additions to make your dog more useful. If you had problems with the dog mechanic in Fable 2 well your out of luck it’s still the same. He fights in combat sometimes or locates treasure, that’s it! Regardless, with this small band of rebels you need to convince each faction of society you meet into joining your cause to become ruler.

As you progress in the main story you make promises to the people you meet that you will uphold when you become ruler. These promises you make to the people of Albion throughout your quest become the entire focal point of the later half of the game. The last half of Fable is a unique concept…unfortunately the first half; the recruitment phase -- is somewhat sallow.

I say "shallow" because Fable 3 is much more linear overall then its predecessors. There is little need to follow the golden breadcrumb trail that shows you your objective since you really can’t explore much at the beginning of the game anyways. Sure because of this you remain focused, but once the game finally opened up I had realized that I hadn’t visited more then half of the actually game. Since the game is so linear you don’t feel the need to engage with the people of Albion outside of a few quest’s and the like. In fact most of the character interactions from previous games are simply done away with. Now all you can do to express yourself are simple actions such as posing or shaking hands with someone. Most of your interactions overall are fairly goofy and just don’t fit the tone of what is played out in the storyline.

Like I mentioned before most of the RPG elements have been removed from Fable 3, and I’m just not a big fan of this decision. Early in the game you explore the crypt of your father (who was the hero from Fable 2) and you are given the hero’s amulet. With the amulet you have access to an alternate plane of reality in the game that allows you to progress your characters abilities forward. Want to upgrade your sword, well then just open one of the chests that are located on the “Road to Rule” as its called, and voila! -- you magically become better with a sword. You acquire the necessary points to spend on these skill chests by completing storyline objectives, sidequests, and fighting enemies. The problem is that this system isn’t much of an improvement over a standard leveling system. I don’t feel like my character is actually progressing at all, and because you don’t level abilities in combat there is little reason to fight most enemies. You acquire very little points to spend on the “Road to Rule” by killing enemies in combat, so I found myself just running away! Combat is largely unchanged from Fable 2, so I didn’t really feel like I was missing anything.  There are plenty of enemies to fight throughout the main story so random enemy’s are just a chore. The “Road to Rule” seems like a more streamlined way to let newcomers into Fable yet its alienates the more seasoned RPG fans who want to feel like they are the ones progressing their character.

The visual and sound design is all solid yet nothing is very noteworthy, aside from some choice voice work. I’m not buying that Fable 3 is the funniest game every made like Peter Molyneux claims but most of the character’s you meet are well written and voiced. One of the more welcomed additions is "The Sanctuary." The clunky menu system from Fable 2 has been removed and instead your are able to physically walk into a secular area that acts in similar fashion. "The Sanctuary" is broken up into different areas that allow you to equip weapons, customize appearance, monitor your achievements, and other tasked that in most games would be restricted to a simple menu system. I like "The Sanctuary"; well it may not be a fast as popping in-and-out of a simple menu system to equip items it's visually pleasing and works surprisingly well.

Eventually after you have recruited enough followers to your cause you can overthrow your brother.  Once you do so though the real meat of the game opens up. Without going into detail or spoiling the main plot you are tasked with saving the people of Albion from certain disaster. In order to save the people of Albion you most raise over 6 million pieces of gold in order to build an army to stave of this doomsday force. All the promises that you made to the various people that gave you your throne now have to be upheld, sort of! You are able to make good or evil decisions regarding the promises you have made. An example is that in order to pay for Albion’s protection you can drain the local river to mine the minerals located at the bottom, or preserve it for its natural beauty. Some of these decisions are tough especially when two groups that you both want to keep the promises for arrive with their proposals.

They decisions you initially make as "Ruler of Albion" were tough for me until you find the flaw in the currency system. Now there isn’t a money exploit like Fable 2. Yet the weight of all the promises you make is dampened by the fact that most are centered around whether or not you have the money to spend. See all you need to do is buy up all the property in the game, raise the prices, and then donate the money back into the treasury. During my playthrough the treasury was always full so promises that I had to keep for the people were easy to make. Just give them whatever they want; I have the money to burn. I just sided with what was considered the good decision when faced with my royal duties and the people of Albion loved me, yet I still had money to protect them in the end.

Let me reiterate the end game isn’t broken its just flawed. If the decisions you make don’t carry much weight then there really isn’t much choice. All the choices you are faced with have two outcomes drain the treasury to help the people, or do something evil and gain money. Draining the treasury of funds puts the people of Albion at danger but since you can have so much gold it’s not an issue. Your decisions are no longer tough when you take the need for gold out of the equation!

Peter was right Fable 3 isn’t an RPG, its an Adventure game with arbitrary choices sprinkled in at the end. I’ve played this game before, and it was better when it was called Fable 2. Everything in Fable 3 is just a step back from its predecessors in my mind. If you are able to exploit the biggest feature the game has to offer in becoming "Ruler of Albion". Why even make me King or Queen at all, it just seems pointless.

Closing Thoughts: Just because you can make a game simpler doesn’t mean you should, the exclusion of most of the RPG elements from Fable doesn't necessarily hurt the game but the "Road to Rule" mechanic isn't a better option. Becoming "Ruler of Albion" seems great on paper but because your big conflict in the game is centered around earning currency, and you have allot of it, this addition falls flat. Becoming "Albion's Ruler" is just plain underdeveloped, and if you haven't played a Fable game before you would be better served with picking up Fable 2 instead. I hope that Peter Molyneux takes a break from Fable because instead of creating the greatest game ever he just seems to always take a step back with each game.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Childhood Reflections; Part 1: Transformers!

I will establish some points; a list of what I think should be done to a potential Transformers remake. These points I will make are what I truly believe will make it a better film, for both fans and critics.

1: Establish an original Sci-Fi story structure first. What I mean is focus on trying to make a good story first. Well writing the script just come up with your own original action film. Don’t even interject the Transformers into it until you have a complete story fleshed out. Beast Wars a transformers spin-off from the mid 90’s was conceived as it’s own standalone Si-Fi series. The producers of Beast Wars didn’t start referencing Transformer lore until about the second season. By which point the main characters already had their personalities well conceptualized; and the motive for the feuding factions had already been established. Take a page from Beast Wars and start out trying to make a good Sci-Fi film, then try to mix in the Transformers back-story. To be honest I don’t think it’s necessary to have a back-story per say. Just say that the Transformers are already on Earth and only a Witwicky knows about them at this point. The Autobots and the Decepticons don’t like each other, that’s been established, so move on no back-story required. This actually brings me to my second point.

2:  The Transformers need to be the focus, not humans! I don’t care about Sam Witwicky’s character (I don’t care much for Shia Labeouf as an actor either) humans hanging out with robots isn’t why we like Transformers! I don’t really need to explain why most kids liked Transfomers. Hell if I need to explain why Transformers is such a cool concept then why are you even reading this? Suffice it to say what we want to see is giant robots and the classic “good vs. evil” story line. I don’t need to see the exploits of a young adult as he leaves home and goes off for college. Personally I just believe the reason Michael Bay focused on Sam’s side of the story is because he didn’t know how to infuse the Transformers with any personality. I mean for goodness sakes how can we care about someone like Bumblebee, he can’t even speak! Michael Bay's idea of giving Transformers distinctive personalities is by turning them into gross stereotypes. The red and yellow Transformers from the second film (one was called Mudflap…the other, who cares?) were just a depiction of stereotypical black people. Jazz form the first movie was similar as well. You see the only people for the audience to relate to would be the human characters. Yet if you make sure well conceptualizing the movie to give concrete roles and jobs to each individual Transformer you can make the focus be on them throughout the movie. Once again I look at Beast Wars for ideas on how to give different personalities to each character. Ultimately I shouldn’t need to explain this though any scriptwriter should be able to conceive interesting focal characters. They just need to realize that it’s essential to making the audience care about talking robots from space!

3: Don’t over design the Autobots and Decepticons! Besides Optimus nobody from the films is someone I can recognize from the original series. I think that is a major flaw, because in the original 80’ s show most of the Transformers had very humanoid looking faces. Even though the animation was sub-par, it was easy to see emotion reflected on the Transformers because they had faces. Go back to the drawing board use the facial features from the 80’s show as a starting point, Optimus is good evidence of this being the right thing to do. Optimus most resembles his 80’s counterpart, and because of this we actual care for him. Sure our caring for him is just because of visual nostalgia but hey, it works, and people care about Optimus! Well I understand that most of the Transformers aren’t as iconic as Optimus I still think that people don’t want over designed 3D messes splashed across the screen. The fight scenes at the end of Transformers 2 are incredibly hard to follow, because you can’t tell anyone apart. Most of the Decepticons just looked like Megatron and Starscream anyways, I really couldn’t tell the difference! I couldn’t even care when an Autobot got injured because frankly I wasn’t sure who the hell it was in the first place! The Transformers War for Cybertron videogame is a perfect example of how a Transformer should look. You could tell that the concept artists were fans first and they wanted to design the Transformers with that type of fan service in mind. The Autobots and Decepticons maintained their faces from the 80’s show but their bodies and even their vehicle forms were all new. Yet because they kept the faces from the original series it was much easier to fall back into that old Transformers nostalgia that all us fans crave. Bumblebee’s car form doesn’t need to be a Volkswagen Bug, so long as when he transforms his face actually looks like Bumblebee did back in the 80’s.

In the end what the movie needs is a good cast and director to make the most out of a property that has more potential then most people think. Just because Transformers was originally a toy line doesn’t me that it didn’t eventually become a serviceable television series. I shouldn’t have to sit through a mediocre movie just because some director doesn’t think the source material is very good! Its up to the writers to make the most out of Transformers as an Intellectual Property. All movies start out with a simple idea, and Transformers on the surface is really as simple as an idea can get. “Transforming cars from space that wage wars against each other,” how could that not be a good film? Yet somehow Michael Bay found a way to screw it up…good job! Just go make Bad-Boys 3 and leave my childhood alone!

Friday, January 28, 2011

My first video game console was made of wood…wood!

Every gamer needs to remember where this industry all stated! I mean go to eBay and buy a frickin old school Pong machine. Even if it’s a little dilapidated and made of wood. Pong was the first console I ever owned, no other games came with it, just Pong! My sister and me played for hours, and this is during the time when the NES was out. Yeah I know that is kinda weird, but it was fun. You learn to really appreciate how far gaming has come. We didn’t even use the term “gaming” or “gamer” then but now it’s part of our regular culture. I actually acquired my cousin’s old NES after he bought a Super NES, and man did it blow my mind. I was late to the party again, did I care, heck no. I was playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for goodness sakes! That was a fun time but not as fun as the Christmas were I received a Nintendo 64. Now I didn’t go all out a tear ass around the place like the YouTube Nintendo 64 kid, but I was damn ecstatic. I played for weeks strait, me and Star Fox and his banned of merry men (and Slippy) flying through space blasting hordes of enemies, it was thrilling.

I play games mostly on my Xbox 360 now but I remember the earlier times fondly. Back then I was always late on the gaming scene, now I’m on top of everything. I guess that comes with the territory though, everything relating to gaming gets published exceptional quickly. Press events and media junkets all showcase games that may not be released for years but we still have intricate knowledge about them. It’s a different time, but a good one. Still I urge people to go back to the roots of gaming, get a pong console. Even check about getting an Atari or Colecovision. Many may forget these dusty machines but I say keep one around for your kid's sake at least.  If future generations can learn to appreciate were we have come from then it will be easier to move forward into the next generation of gaming I say.

Besides I really wont the Wii 2 to have a slick wood grain finish!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII-2 doesn’t need to suck!

Western RPG’s like Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls series; Fallout and Fable surpass Final Fantasy in this current generation of gaming. The staple of those games is a story that isn’t necessarily original but many of them have you go about the main quest line in an interesting manner. Mass Effect has a dialog and choice system and tends to be focused more on character development. Being able to customize my character not just in appearance but also in abilities and personality is how the majority of western RPG’s have separated themselves from the Japanese fare. In Final Fantasy XIII-2 it would be nice if I could fashion the main characters persona into something I craft throughout the course of the entire playthrough. Not just aesthetically such as customizing weapons, equipment, or armor (though that would be a welcomed addition) but more so in the statistical department. A simple level system is fine but I want to be able to unlock abilities and spent talent points in order to tailor my character the way I see fit. Final Fantasy X featured the Sphere Grid system for character progression, and I still consider it the best system that Square Enix has created for any of its subsequent FF titles. It could be a simple classic skill tree, maybe with a few little touches to make it seem more unique. The Crystarium leveling system in Final Fantasy XIII just made it so you manually had to progress your character on a linear track of skills. You just need to hold down a button and the Crystarium would naturally unlock each ability on a predetermined line, there was little to no actual thought that needed to be applied when choosing how to progress. I still think each character should have his or her own skill set but I should be aloud to choose which abilities I want to spend points on each time I go up a level.

Most of the characters that you play as in Final Fantasy XIII are among the stereotypical JRPG variety. Hope is a whining and annoying little kid, Vanille is the incessantly naive one, and Lightning is the broody protagonist. Lightning, Squall from FF8 wants his gunblade and his personality back! The rest fall into the same JRPG character trap. In a game like Mass Effect I don’t care about the characters just because they are aliens and they look cool. I care because they introduced themselves in a unique fashion (Thane’s intro in ME 2 is fantastic) and from the outset you knew whether or not you want to talk to them or not. You see that Hope is sad because he has….you know a sad face on, or something. It’s just a ruse though in the end he is going to grow before are eyes, blah blah blah! Like all kids in JRPG’s he'll try to endear himself to the audience. It’s the same thing we have seen before though. I don’t care about Hope and Lightning’s relationship because I know in the end she is going to warm to him and embrace him. Vanille is bright and cheerful, but oh no she uses it to mask her sadness, I’ve heard it before! All the characters are hollow…well except the guy who looks like Ludacris with a chocobo on his head, that guy is AWESOME!

Look towards Mass Effect 1 and 2 for how character interactions should be done in a game. Most of your squad has their true personality buried deep and you have to talk to them to bring it out. Bioware writes each character so well that talking to them doesn’t come off as a chore. Take Tali from Mass Effect 1 and 2 for instance in the first game I just thought when I first met her she was just a simple space nomad or something. I learned that she is a Quarian and part of a race that created the rouge AI group the Geth. The Geth became hostile and the Quarian’s were forced from their home planet. Tali is interested in the Normandy and wants to bring back any research that could help her people as part of her personal pilgrimage, her right of passage. She seems trust worthy and wide-eyed and open to new ideas, she just wants to be a sponge and soak up all she can learn on her travels through space. Fast-forward to the sequel and Tali is a respected member of her fleet and even has the right to command research teams on away missions to various planets. She is strong and sure of herself and deep down she even loves Commander Shepard even before you reacquire her back onto your ship. Even if you turn down Tali’s advances you can see that she still has strong feelings for the Commander regardless. A character having personality is about what they say and do in a game not that they have a giant sword or a bird in their hair. Give me a reason to care for the characters I’m investing my time in, making them look intriguing from the exterior is one thing actually caring about them is another. If Square follows suit with what Mass Effect and learns to write more interesting characters the story will naturally become more interesting.

Most RPG’s this decade are about choice, but there really isn’t much of that in Squares classic series. FF XIII was as linear as a game could possibly be; well at least until you surpassed about 20 hours of gameplay then the game began to open up! I shouldn’t have to wait that long, a game that takes 20 hours to really become enjoyable isn’t something that most people want to sit through. Instead give me the open world right away; you can even go about giving me a vehicle like classic RPG’s but right at the beginning of the game instead of the tail end. Just lock certain areas of the game for later that will not open up until you progress in the main story. These open areas should have towns or cities as well. The removal of such in FF XIII wasn’t a game breaker, but having towns and cities don’t make Japanese RPG’s feel old, so why take them out? Mass Effect and Oblivion have many towns and hub areas and exploring each is what makes RPG’s fun. You want to feel like you are in a living breathing world. I understand that FF XIII’s story made it so the main characters were on the run and couldn’t settle down for fear of being captured.  That’s the problem FF XIII's story wasn’t all that trilling or memorable so the absence of the traditional hub area’s that are featured in most RPG’s became a glaring omission. Give me open towns and cities with lots of people I can converse with and accept sidequest’s from. No not simple fetch quest’s either instead follow the route that Fallout paved. Each quest in Fallout 3 (not New Vegas) had you doing something different each time. Sure most of the quest had you killing something or someone but it was how you were approached by that NPC for the quest and how they made you care for their plight. The Fire Ant quest in Fallout 3 remains one of my favorites from the entire game. You are tasked with helping a young boy find his father but you quickly learn that giant fire ants have overrun his town. You learn that the father of the boy your helping is dead as are most of the inhabitants of his town. As the quest progresses you learn that the fire ants have a colony underneath the town. You are given the option to either kill the queen and all the ants, or gather research for a nearby scientist and leave the ants and queen alive. You see western RPG’s are about having multiple choices with sidequest that actually matter. I enjoyed the sidequest’s in Fallout more then the main storyline, Mass Effect is similar as well. Even if you don’t want to have a morality choice system in FF XIII-2 at least give me quest’s that have different outcomes and rewards for what I chose to do at the conclusion of said quest.

Honestly though FF XIII would have been a much better game if the battle system that was featured in the game was actually enjoyable. At first the battle system is simple, as most RPG’s tend to be at the beginning of the game. As I progressed (6 or so hours in) I began to think that, “Wow all these abilities and combination's, and its so cinematic too, such variety! This is going to be great!” I thought that the game would become more like a fast passed chess match were you try and strategically overwhelm your opponent with stacking ability and combos. The problem is that because the game is in real time it ends up taking too long to input commands manually in order to attack or defend. By the end of the game all I was doing was pressing the auto attack feature repeatedly during battle. It was all I could do! Usually if I stopped to input my own commands I would usually get hit to many times and them I would need to spend time restoring my health. It’s almost impossible to play that game as a healer and try and input commands over and over and not get frustrated. 

The battle system has potential you can see that at least on the surface. You don’t need to completely discard it just revise some things and it could all come together quite nicely. Slow down enemy attacks or even give me the option to pause gameplay completely, and take out the auto attack feature. Even if these were things that could be accessed from the options menu in FF XIII as a personal preference they should have still been the default set up. Being able to only control one character during battle stinks as well, slowing the overall fight down gives me the ability to switch between characters and micromanage them. What is the point of having the ability to level up your group of characters if I can only command one individually during combat anyway? All I did was just use Lightning (the most balanced character once fully leveled) throughout the entire game anyways! Why bother going into the menu and choosing someone over Lightning as leader?  

Id even like the option to have Co-Op implemented into the game, hear me out on this! Many JRPG’s actually have the ability to have a second or third player control ancillary squad mates, why not Final Fantasy? If the game is too fast for me to control my entire squad to the point were the AI has to do it then give me an option for a friend to take over. Well it’s not necessary it would be a welcomed addition and could lead to some truly climactic battles with you and your friend’s….wait climactic battle with friends, gross! Now I don’t think Square would be releasing a true sequel to a flawed game without any tweaks to the battle system anyways. That being said who knows maybe they are just trying to recoup some of their financial losses with a quick release sequel that doesn’t fix anything! I’m not ready to give up on Japanese RPG’s just yet though. Chrono Trigger, a JRPG, is still one of my favorite games for a reason. It didn't follow the same tired mold that Final Fantasy has, and it even had sidequests that effected the some 12 different endings! JRPG's are not done, trust me.I just hope we don't get the same cookie-cutter traditional Japanese RPG set up with Final Fantasy XIII-2. Square can recapture the magic in its franchise but they need to look towards western developed ideas for a little help.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mass Effect pooped the bed and I don’t care!

I love it…not the poo part that didn’t actually happen. Well it did in the figurative sense let me explain. Mass Effect is a technical mess, it really is! In almost all phases visually, structurally, and the controls weren’t fully fleshed out until the PC release. An entire segment of the game (using the Mako to traverse unexplored planets) was so awful it was effectively axed entirely from the sequel. Between texture pop in’s or textures just plain not loading at all, frame rate issues (sometimes the game doesn’t even run, it just sits and thinks) and collision detection problems, ME runs like poo...or more like diarrhea, I didn't want to say that though, but I guess I just did! The first time I played ME my character (David Ryder Shepard) got stuck in a wall while trying to exit after an exceptional long elevator ride, aren't they all? Which brings me to the thought, the long elevator rides are supposed to mask a lot of the visual miscues, texture loading and such? Instead when I step onto a new floor walls are bare, tree’s in the Citadel aren’t visible until approached, and most NPC's have to wait until about 2 to 3 different texture's load in on their faces. With corrupt save files and crappy autosaves I’ve been forced to start ME over numerous times…but in the end, Damn it I don’t give a rat’s ass! I LOVE THIS GAME!

The Universe that Bioware has created in my mind is on par with what Star Wars is for space cinema and what Star Trek is for space faring television. It’s one of those truly transcended pieces of media that despite it’s many faults I still now and forever will contend that it’s a masterpiece. Think about that, most games would get thrown in the trash if they even had half as many problems as Biowares space shooter, not Mass Effect!

Character is what makes ME so great I actually and truly care about the many inhabitants of the Normandy. I love them all! Be they tentacle headed mono gendered blue aliens or painted space vultures (talking to you Garrus), or walking turtles that have less intelligence then Bane from the Joel Schumacher Batman and Robin film.

The Gameplay in ME would have to wait until Mass Effect 2 to fully reach it’s potential, yet it did so in glorious fashion. Still after beating Mass Effect 2 multiple times I went back to the original just to take a trip down memory lane. Their sure are a lot of pot holes on memory lane, and Mass Effect Park has a lot of bullet holes in the welcome sign! It’s was a mess the first few hours, but then it all clicked back in. Hearing the electronic tunes and conversing with various aliens (the Elcor are just plain awesome!) I realized that despite it’s faults the original ME is still good.

Its flawed -- yes, but not fatally. Was it over-hyped, potentially! Is it still a damn fun roller coaster ride of a game even if the seats on the ride are about to break? Yes, and yes again…I'd stand in line to ride, again and again!

Call of Duty is Madden now!

Just once EA can your sports department take a hiatus, at least 2 years away from sports games, and come back and deliver something truly special. I buy Madden every year, I can't help it I want that new roster and the advancement in player ratings. What I don't want is a shoehorned augmentation that's considered a so called "innovation" to the gameplay. Most of these “innovations" in Madden last for about one or two yearly iterations and then are taken out for some other garbage tweak to the gameplay the following year. Remember the vision cone from Madden 06 (most have tried to forget it), yeah that lasted long. Most of the gameplay additions in each Madden are met with cynical skepticism, if not pure negativity until they are eventually taken out in the next year’s edition. In fact this years Madden promised a streamlined audible system, but hardcore Madden heads hated the new feature so much EA released a title update giving fans back the old system, that’s how you show conviction in a feature.

Madden is an "annualizable"(not a real word, but we are going with it nonetheless) video game franchise, I accept that fact! If the big wigs at EA see there yearly profit margins drop around the time when a new edition of Madden is supposed to release they would all collectively have aneurysms. That doesn't mean that Madden as an IP wouldn't benefit from a year or so off, hell the entire EA sports department should collectively do the same. I'm sure the dev teams working on these "squeezed lemon" games would appreciate a sabbatical, just to come up with some new ideas. I loathe the term "annualizable"(damn it spell check stay with me on this) it just seems like a touch and go term signifying churned out video game crap. I fear that more games are headed in this direction...well Its actually already upon us but with games that I actually care about, as apposed to a game were all I’m concerned with is a roster update!

Call of Duty is just like Madden at this point; actually it's been an annualized game for the passed 4 years. Let's just say it Call of Duty 4 was the best in the series, each subsequent COD since has just been a step back in game design and forward thinking. With COD 4 we had a balls to the walls intense singleplayer game with a simple story and characters that you actually cared for when you saw them get their brains blown out! The level where your actually in the center of a nuclear blast (sorry the actually name of the level escapes me) is one of the single best videos game moments ever, ever! Each mission was just a masterpiece, at least at the time. Now each COD, hell each FPS needs to have you involved in some kind of catastrophic event (where the character you play as dies or something) and has the same layout. 

STANDARD Call of Duty or -insert generic FPS hear- 

Guy 1:"Now your a Sniper in weeds!"

Guy 2:"Oooh! That sounds good what else"

Guy 1:"Uhm...oh, oh now your like a terrorist or something, but not really your still like the good guy or something I'm too awesome to think this through. Then the guy you are playing as dies!"

Guy 2 or 3(doesn't matter): "Dude my pants are completely full now, you have to stop."

Guy 1: "Oh I'm not finished, hike up those pantaloons! Man how about you have this gruff grizzled war vet with you the whole way through"


Guy 1: "He has a beard!"

Guy 2: "........."

Guy 2: "...when you die I'm gonna stand over your body and inhale your soul hopefully that will make me almost as brilliant as you"

I don’t need to emphasize how shitty and incoherent Call of Duty Black Ops singelplayer is. After COD 4 I stopped carrying about the singleplayer in each subsequent COD. Suffice it to say you’re the dude from Avatar and you’re in the 60’s (Although by the guns featured it could be anywhere from the 60 to 90’s damn near) with Ice Cube and a guy who desperately wanted to be as cool as Captain Price! You experience nonsensical flash back's through Jake Sully’s memory of prior events, none of which are particularly noteworthy or interesting enough to mention. Actually the best part of the singleplayer is when its over, well more like after the credits are finished. Mainly because you decimate zombies and get to play as Kennedy, Nixon, Castro, and uhm some guys with glasses, I’m 24 how the hell should I know who that guy is! That’s a problem though when the only addition to your single player that a person enjoys is after the credits roll!

Activision is a business I get that, they want money, everyone does that’s not a sin. What is an offense is adding currency to COD Black Ops multiplayer and calling it innovative or for that mind even a feature. That’s your now feature, money? Really so now I have to pay for the weapons that are already mine? It just said I unlocked an AK 47 why then do I have to pay; it's not even a matter of whether I have the money! It's just not a feature that adds any fun or excitement to the multiplayer experience. Take out the currency system in Black Ops and your left with the same multiplayer we were offered in 2007 with COD 4. Oh I unlocked a new gun, but I need "COD points," well I have like 100 thousand that should be enough. You see after the first 20 or so ranks in multiplayer you accumulate so much money that it just becomes an arbitrary feature, why do I need to pay for something that I just unlocked! "Hey you can customize your character this time around in Black Ops right?” you can create your own emblem to be displays on your playcard well in the game lobby! That’s not customization, especially since most peoples emblems consist mostly of penises ejaculating...I was gonna something here but I'll leave that last sentence on it's own.

COD 4 is the pinnacle of the Call of Duty franchise for sure, but I don't need another lack luster sequel like modern warfare 2 to try and remind me of it's greatness. COD needs to step out from its own shadow and try and generate something new. I'd say with Modern Warfare 3 (since it seems like that's what we are getting this November) SCRAP EVERYTHING! I don't just want new guns or perks, no more then I just want a new roster update from Madden. Look back at COD 4, but don't copy it, emulate it! COD 4 had a unique multiplayer and its not broken but I've played it long enough, I'm done with it! 

Give us 2 years Activision I don't care if you lose millions (obviously since it’s not my money), and you shouldn't either...I'm sure you've got the money to spare. Release a new COD in 2013 after the masses have been completely depraved of it they will flock to a new copy after such a long time, trust me you’ll make your money back! Many believe good things come to those who wait, and development time for a AAA title has never hurt the over all quality of a game (Alan Wake probably not withstanding.) What is left of Infinity Ward is working on MW 3 set to come out this year but that's not what I or the real COD fans want. We want creativity and that only comes when people stop and think and together come up with something truly great. It can be done it will just take someone with enough balls to say, "We are running Call of Duty into the ground!" If the right person says it, and others back him, then and only then will COD 4's brilliance be emulated again. Just take some time off!

OR you could just give me back the G36 Assault Rifle for Modern Warfare 3! BECAUSE I'M GOING TO BUY IT ANYWAY JUST LIKE MADDEN!