Archive for November, 2013

The game has been out less than a week and I have to say it has absorbed quite a bit of my free time.  One of my co-workers has been playing with me a lot online and together we’re pretty hard to beat.  On more than one occasion my fiance has had to work extra hard to pry me away from the PS3.

My Thoughts

I have to say I was a little skeptical about this game.  I was always a huge fan of the Infinity Ward games (particularly Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2) but the new team at Infinity Ward hasn’t impressed me that much.  That said, this game removed all doubt.  The online multiplayer has been revamped and is better than ever.  While I still miss certain features from the Modern Warfare series, I welcome the new changes.

I haven’t played the campaign at all, so I can’t comment on that although I’ve heard its really cool.  I’ve focused strictly on the multiplayer at this point.  Typically my fiance plays the single player portions long before I do.  In my opinion, the campaign is just a bonus feature in these games.  Most of them last less than 5 hours and while they’re usually fun and impressive, I prefer spending my time climbing through the ranks online.

Online, I focus on playing as a sniper.  I have gotten very good over the years and my friends hate to play against me.  This game is very sniper-friendly, so I enjoy it a lot.  There are open lanes on just about every map, unlike previous games where certain maps just didn’t fare well for long range shooting.  I can play well using just about any type of weapon, but my slow and steady play style is better suited to using a weapon that often requires patience to master.

Becoming the Ghillie Monster

On Nov 7th, just before midnight,  just two days after the game released, I unlocked the ghillie suit for my characters.  My performance as a sniper in the game has increased exponentially.  The graphics in the game are extremely good and the ghille suit makes it very easy to blend into the environment.  I’ve had many people run right past me or struggle to see me, simply because I was wearing the suit.  What I’m saying is that it is well worth the effort to get it, and I’m not looking forward to the future when every sniper has it.

In past games, the ghillie suit was typically given to players after they completed certain challenges (several hundred “one-shot kills” I believe), so long as they equipped a sniper rifle as their primary weapon.  This game allows you to equip it to any character, but its a bit more difficult to acquire.

To get the ghillie suit, you need to have the “chrome barrel” attachment on your sniper rifle and complete the 3 chrome barrel challenges.  The first is 100 kills, the second is 250, and the third is 500.  So the total you have to get is 850 kills using the chrome barrel.  Not an easy feat by itself.

However, this game is also unique in that you don’t have access to every challenge at once.  In previous games you unlocked more challenges as you leveled up.  In this one, you’re given a certain amount in each category and they only change if you spend points you’ve earned or wait the 2 weeks between sets.  So in order to get the ghillie suit, you also have to make sure you have the chrome barrel challenges open in the Operations menu.

My suggestion for unlocking the ghillie suit, if you choose to do so, is get rid of all other loadouts that don’t contain a sniper rifle with a chrome barrel.  Doing this will force you to play as a sniper (which is possible on every map) and you’ll develop the play style you have to have instead of flipping back and forth and trying to maintain different skills.

By default you start with 3 loadouts available.  I used one with an ACOG scope and the other two with Variable Zoom scopes.  Variable zoom lets you play well on most of the maps and the ACOG gives you the flexibility you need on smaller or more urban maps.  Set the perks and equipment up for how you like to play (I like perks that hide me and equipment that protects me from behind) and you should be good to go.

Likes

There are a lot of things I like about this game so I’ll just focus on the things I like the most.  Since I haven’t played the campaign yet, this will focus only on the online multiplayer portion.

I really like that they’ve added game types.  I particularly like the addition of Infected.  I remember playing something like that in Halo once at a friends house.  Its a  lot of fun if you play with a group of friends.  Cranked is also pretty neat.  I’ve only played a few times but its different and I like that they tried to add something instead of relying on only what worked in the past.

The maps are really cool.  It takes a while to memorize the maps and until then its just a lot of running around like you’re lost.  Once you figure it out though they all have a lot of unique features.  My favorites by far are Warhawk and Octane since they have something to offer everyone from snipers to those guys with SMGs.

I think they balanced the weapons more.  From the time I’ve spent with the game it seems the weapons have been a little more balanced this time and I like that.  Other people may disagree but I still have nightmares from the first Black Ops where nobody used anything but sub machine guns because they were so powerful.

Dislikes

There are only a few things I don’t like about this game and they’re easy to get past.  During the first few hours I had a tough time with creating a class.  The addition of so many perks and the fact that depending on what specialty you give your character changes which perks you receive early made it a bit confusing.  It was quite a change from previous versions.  After a few hours though it got easier to figure out and now I have no problem at all (though I still prefer the older create a class systems).

While playing a match, the statistics screen (brought up with the select button on the PS3) has been moved.  Instead of being in the center of the screen, its now smaller and at the top right.  The benefit is that it can be left up while you play, but the downside is that its smaller and harder to read.

Muting players online.  This used to be easy from the statistic screen.  You simply highlighted a player and pushed the mute button.  Now you have to open the pause menu and select mute players.  At that point its pretty much the same, highlight a player and push mute.  Unfortunately it takes longer to do while playing and took a while to discover.  That meant I had to sit there listening to chipmunks and 13 year olds cuss back and forth the whole time.

They changed the challenges.  I always thought the challenge system they had was really good.  I don’t feel like the changes they made to that part of the game improved the experience at all.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of the online portion of past Call of Duty games, Ghosts will not disappoint.  My complaints about the game are minor and not worth worrying about (I’m just one of those people who hate change).  The game is well worth the $60 price tag.  If you don’t like that they release a slightly different version every year just to make money, then don’t buy it.  Its not significantly better than past games, and I definitely wont be trading my old ones in.  But I can say with absolute certainty that when I play a COD game during the next year it will be Ghosts.

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Today is election day in several states.  While the race in NJ doesn’t seem to be that big of a competition with Chris Christie holding a pretty large lead over Barbara Buono in pre-election polls, things in VA are quite different.

It may not be an extremely close race in my home state with the majority of people leaning toward Terry McAuliffe (D) but its close enough that either candidate from the Big Two could win depending on voter turnout.  The red candidate, Ken Cuccinelli (R), running as a Tea-Party supporter, is trailing enough that unless his supporters surprise everybody at the polls, he’s unlikely to win.

While I haven’t been of voting age but a few years now, I have to say this was an awful campaign from both parties.  There were almost no ads that didn’t attack the other candidate.  Very few ads featured a candidate talking about where they stand on the issues facing us right now.  Judging by where Libertarian Robert Sarvis stood in the pre-election polls, it would seem Virginians are not happy with either of our red and blue choices.

Robert Sarvis is on the ballots today as a Libertarian.  There are many out there who claim he’s not a Libertarian at all or he’s just a dressed up blue guy trying to steal votes away from The Cooch (Cuccinelli).  Regardless, Sarvis has gathered quite a bit of support with his very limited resources.  Polls were showing Sarvis having between 5 and 10 percent of the vote before election day.

I’m not a fool.  I know that Robert Sarvis has no chance of winning the election.  I’m pretty sure he knows it too.  But the fact that there is a large group of Sarvis-supporters out there show that people might be getting sick of the polarized political system we have right now.  I’m one of those people.  I voted for Sarvis.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t vote for him simply to show the other candidates that I dislike them tremendously.  I also felt like he best represented where I stand personally on political issues.  And after all, isn’t that the point of our “democracy”?  To vote for people who can represent you the best way possible?  It’s not the “vote for the lesser of two evils” system that so many people seem to think it is.  If you don’t like Candidate A or B, don’t vote for him.  Unfortunately we don’t always get an option for a Candidate C.

A lot of people blame 3rd parties in elections if their guy didn’t win.  “McCain only lost because of Gary Johnson!”  When The Cooch loses today, Republicans will blame Sarvis and say: “If all of those people had voted for Cuccinelli, he’d have won hands down!”  Well, speaking for myself, I would not have voted at all today if Sarvis hadn’t been in the race.  I just don’t think I want either of those guys to be His Excellency.

It’s also my opinion that if Sarvis had been allowed to debate with the other guys, he’d have had an even bigger following, from both the red side as well as the blue side.  Its about time that we, as Americans, get over this notion that we have to label ourselves as Republicans or Democrats, or anything at all.  We’re Americans, first and foremost.  Vote for the candidate who is best for the country, not the guy waving the same flag as you.

We’re a country, not a gang . . .

But no matter where you stand on the political spectrum or the issue of polarization in America, GO VOTE!  Get out there and show your support for whoever you choose.  Its your right to do so, so go do so.

**  UPDATE – 11/6/2013  **

As I predicted, The Cooch lost.  The blue guy won.  I was also correct in my other prediction, that people would blame Sarvis.  He received 7% of the vote which was more than enough to have elected Cuccinelli had they ALL voted for him.  Have a look at some of the comments I found in just one article about the election:

“The only reason Cuccinelli lost was because software billionaire Joe Liemandt, who just happens to be a top bundler for President Barack Obama, helped pay for professional petition circulators responsible for getting Virginia Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert C. Sarvis on the ballot.” – Yiddishlion

“Proof positive that an independent vote in a regular election is a wasted vote.” – Armand

“What I learned is that the Dems will support party to the death while Republicans would gladly see the demise of their party in order to jump ship and vote for a Libertarian. Cucinelli got Perot’d” – Al

“McAulife barely won only because the Dems paid for and ran a libertarian candidate that took 7% away from Cuccinelli. What it shows me is that the Tea Party remains strong and will do very well in 2014.” – NickV

“Once again a third party candidate with an ego too big for the room refuses to step aside in the last two weeks of an election, which allowed the candidate that he is in least agreement with win the election.” – I don’t think so

But then I found someone who seemed to feel as I do.  Someone who came to the same conclusion as I did when Sarvis earned that 7%:

“What it tells us is that extreme left and right politicians WON’T be tolerated.  All you elected officials need to get over your party ideology and work for US, the American people.  We are bigger than just left/right, black/white, rich/poor issues.” – Eric

I don’t know what else to say.  I’m only 23, so I know there are a lot of people out there who will discredit everything I say because I lack experience and that’s fine.  But you can’t tell me that you like the current state of affairs in this country.  You can’t tell me the system we have is working.

Then again, I guess that’s what 93% of Virginians did yesterday when they voted Red and Blue . . . so enjoy it.  Enjoy the never ending back and forth bickering.  Enjoy all the lies and deceit.  We’ve all earned it and its here to stay.