Friday, 22 October 2010

Killstreaks are just trolling on easy mode

Don’t you just love it when the elusive bastard who has been killing you round after round suddenly drops a guided missile, a harrier strike and a helicopter gunship on your head whilst you struggle to pick out targets through the random carnage? I personally can’t see the masochistic charms of games like Modern Warfare 2, but online gameplay statistics state that the majority of people enjoy them.

This fascination in killstreak rewards that were first popularised in Call of Duty 4, and now Medal of Honor is beyond me. I really don’t find it fun when the guy who camps in the corner, snipes from his cosy cubby hole, or is generally miles better than anyone on your team gets to pile up the kills in a ridiculous fashion.

What twisted logic decided that those who are doing better than everyone else should suddenly gain the ability to get almost unavoidable death strikes from the sky? It’s a kind of mentality that doesn’t reward team play, but instead holds those who focus on looking after number one in a high regard.

Surely those who are playing poorly should get the killstreak to boost their team performance, to even the odds on those who clearly have the upper hand in terms of occupied ground or sheer ability. When a golf player gets a hole in one and shows that he is clearly superior to his losing opponent, he doesn’t then earn the right to take his golf club and crack his opponent in the arm, making sure they can’t vastly improve their score. Why should the case be the same in games?

The worst time that this mentality rears its head is in objective based team matches. There are usually way too many snipers on the attacking team which rack up the kills virtually out of sight. They then get the killstreak rewards and start raining hell down on the defenders. Arguably, this is how they can contribute to the team effort. But when it is five people doing it over and over again, it gets very boring and un-fun for the defending team who get suppressed so badly they cannot enjoy the game properly.

However, due to the attackers having such a massive sniper presence, hardly anyone goes for the objective, and the ones that do can get foiled by the defenders in between air strikes, mortars or lingering war planes. This means that the match is dragged out and is no fun for anyone other than the kill hogs.

I don’t have a problem with the idea of killstreaks, I just think they need to be far more removed from the regular free kill generators that they are in their current state. Call of Duty: Black Ops looks like it is timidly stepping in the right direction by making them involve the player more. You now have to pick positions to mortar, where helicopters should roam and generally make yourself slightly vulnerable when preparing death from above. The kills gained from such super weapons will also not contribute towards the next killstreak reward, a definite bonus.

Is it enough though? I feel that killstreaks should possibly be team buffs and defensive rather than huge kill magnets that they seem to be. Medal of Honor gives the player the choice between a supportive and offensive killstreak reward, but the sad thing is that the majority of punters, in my experience, will always take the free kills over the team booster.

The only purpose that I see in killstreaks as they currently stand is that they artificially boost the scores of the winners, and wind up the people who are on the less than healthy end of the mass death strikes. They are not progressing the online FPS shooter experience, they are changing it for the worse.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Post Eurogamer reflection

It’s nice to see that over the course of three years, I still have the hang of this regular blog thing. I’ve been quite busy post Eurogamer, writing up a lot of previews for the stuff I encountered there. It didn’t help that my computer decided to eat the second power supply I fed it within a month delaying said write ups, but I’m fairly sure nobody really cares about that.

Anyway, my experience at Eurogamer was largely a pleasant one, full of many awesome games played including Gears of War 3, Crysis 2, GT5 and Bulletstorm. The interview with Yuji Naka went really well too, despite feeling slightly awkward in a room with three PR people sitting in on the conversation being conducted through Mr Naka’s translator. I definitely haven’t been put off the idea of going to another games expo anyway.

In terms of expectations being met, on the games side of things I was fairly satisfied. Numerous pictures online of what I understood to be expos featured people in often hilarious, home made costume that I was looking forward to experiencing first hand. Of course on the occasion that I get to a games expo, it was a bit like going on a safari and only seeing a single lion that is so close to the brink of death, it couldn’t run away scared at the sound of the engine. I saw a grand total of one Lara Croft in attendance, and she was a lot shorter than you would expect. Also, her carrying two holstered toy guns around London didn’t strike as the smartest thing in the world, but ah well.

This is just a quick update to assure loyal readers (both of you) that I survived Eurogamer and am still capable of stringing sentences together. Now, please stay tuned for some actual content coming in the near future.