Tobold's Blog
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Call of Duty

There are certain types of games I generally don't play, due to a lack of both skill and interest. First person shooters fall into that category. I tried some of the early ones in the 90s, but didn't like the lack of story, and the first person view was causing me video game motion sickness. But occasionally I have the feeling I'm losing out on a whole genre. I read PC game magazines, and apparently the FPS genre has much improved, both technically and in story-telling. So I decided to try playing a shooter during my christmas holidays. I was looking for a game which wouldn't cause me nausea, and which was easy enough for a total noob.

Well, typing "world's easiest shooter" into Google didn't help, but looking at various reviews of various series of shooter games, it appeared as if the Call of Duty series was quite easy, at least on the easiest setting. Call of Duty 5 just came out, so I had a range of different titles to choose from. To test for possible video game motion sickness induction, I downloaded demos from Fileplanet. Check, I can play those without getting nauseous, and I was actually having fun in those demos. So which one do I buy?

More checking of reviews revealed that Call of Duty 2 is considered better than the original, Call of Duty 3 only came out for consoles, and Call of Duty 5 didn't get quite as good reviews as Call of Duty 4. Call of Duty 4 seemed especially interesting, due to having a better connected story through all missions, and being the only one not playing in World War 2.

Then I was surprised about the huge difference in prices for Call of Duty 4. Steam sells it for €37,49 in a "25% off christmas sale". The box sells for up to €60 in the local shops. Finally I found selling Call of Duty 4 for just €16.50, but having only 2 copies left. So I quickly ordered it there. Which still left me without a shooter to play, as it'll take another week or so for me to get the game. So I ended up buying Call of Duty 2 too, for €14.99 from Steam. Still a good deal, because now I'll get both 2 and 4 for less than the second-lowest price I saw for the 4 alone.

I started playing Call of Duty 2 last night, and did the first couple of missions in the Russian campaign. Much fun, and very atmospheric. There isn't much of a connecting story (CoD 4 is supposed to introduce that), but there are tons of very tense scripted moments, like tanks rolling over your head while you are crouched in a ditch. I'm still playing on the easiest setting, but might replay it at harder setting later. Not that I'm going to change this blog to Tobold's FPS blog, but with their more visceral combat shooters are a nice break from long MMORPG sessions.
I only picked up WoW after Battlefield 2 died and nothing ever came along to really replace it. FPS games are pretty fun.

Call of Duty 4 is a decent FPS game. Never played much single-player mode, but the little that I did was relatively fun.

Once you get the hang of the game, try playing online. Its free, and you can see how the other half live. Its permanent PvP, which is probably why Ive always prefered PvP in WoW to PvE, but its nice.

Think of it this way. In WoW PvP, if you are in a BG that has a lot of "class X" that overpowers your team makeup, you're pretty much screwed. In FPS games, you can always switch out your gun kit in the middle of a game...rather than having to level a character for a month and spend another month gearing it out.

God I can't wait until BF3 comes out.

Tobold - try multiplayer CoD4 whenever you finally get it. You might not like it, but it is pretty fun.
I'm very proud of you! Should your hunger for FPS game grow, I can wholeheartedly recommend Left 4 Dead. On the easy setting it's quite simple to do, and the AI director on top of selectable difficulty means you should really not have any problems, and there's less risk of it being TOO easy at the same time. The hardest difficulty setting is ridiculously hard which provides added challenge once you've been playing for a while. Of course, the PvP is ridiculously awesome since then you get to mess around playing the special Zombie characters, but, one thing at a time.

Oh, there's not really much story by the way. But there is a certain sense of camaraderie with even the NPC bots, as you all need each other's help and they have a lot of situation-appropriate one-liners, call out to say when they're reloading, etc.
I don't care much for realism in the FPS games I play, but I did enjoy the single player mode of CoD4. Good story line and the missions gave a sense of urgency. Rather than repeat the same type of mission over and over (eg. GTA IV), there is variety in the missions and the whole storyline does not drag on needlessly. It has a good ending. It's one of the best single-player PC games I have played. I haven't bothered with multiplayer much - I'd rather play TF2. I have yet to try CoD5.
Hope you enjoy Call of Duty 4. There are several moments in the single player campaign that ..well...for lack of a better phrase it "gets to you". You'll understand what I mean pretty early on.
COD2 was the first modern shooter I dipped my toes into and I really enjoyed it. It's not a terribly difficult game, so it was perfect for a newbie, and I found the graphics, voice acting, mission types, and pacing to be excellent.
If you want story and immersion, Half-Life 2 and its episodes are a must play, IMO. The Orange Box will get you right up to date if you can find it, as well as including the peerless Portal and Team Fortress 2.
I tend to get motion sickness if/when you have to run while looking up or down (Descent comes to mind as another game which made me nauseous). Luckily, I think a lot of FPS games nowadays must know that, because it hasn't been occuring in any of the FPS games that I've been playing.

The zombie killer FPS, Left for Dead, has gotten some good reviews. Too bad my PC probably won't play it, but maybe yours might?

You've also picked up on something that I've noticed - some PC games are selling for a discount (although it's getting harder to find, even for games that have been out for several years). What's noticeable is that prices don't tend to drop nearly as much for console games.

Have fun! (Make sure to play multiplayer!)
I recommend keeping an eye on Battlefield Heroes and Quake Live, both are browser-based shooters in devlopment that promise robust matchmaking systems.
With the offerings coming down the pipe for MMO's in 2009, you have made a good choice to stray into other genres.
As I have stated on my blog...2009, The year of the single player games.
I too sometimes fire up an FPS (my first one was Wolfenstein), but with the years came less and less fluid dexterity, so now if i want to FPS i have to play on easy settings most of the time (and just forget about any online fighting). Also someone mentioned DESCENT, i remember that game for succeeding in making me extremely, super-nauseous in just a few minutes, a feeling which lasted considerably longer than that unfortunately. Ah, the horror...:D, Descent could be used as a torture device on me.
There are other good FPS games out there too. Crysis and Crysis Wars, although it's basically just good until "winter" arrives. As mentioned before Left 4 Dead is really great but has a very high pace. Fallout 3 is also awesome, but that's more a cross between a FPS and a RPG game.
I highly recommend the Half Life 2 series to you, Tobold. The story and character development are really impressive in that series. If you're not one for shiny graphics I'd suggest hitting up the original half life if you want to get a feel for when FPS' first started introducing interesting story elements; I'm pretty sure that was the one that started it all for PC. However, if you don't want to go back and play an old and not so pretty game (like myself) I'd suggest holding out until the the Half Life 2: Black Mesa project is finished. It's a complete fan update of the original half life for the new source engine --looks gorgeous so far.
I cannot understand the fuss about the Call of Duty series, it never caught my attention. It is for sure good. MY PERSONAL "WOW" FPS games were Doom 1,2, Wolfenstein, Duke Nukem 3D, and then it was left for FAR CRY to set new standards. Crysis, Magrothj already mentioned it, is the sequel to Far Cry, and also very enjoyable.

I really recommend a bargain bin copy of FAR CRY. It still has superb graphics and enjoyable gameplay and setting, tropical island instead of brownish dungeon. :)

But I am open to suggestions for other shooters from active players of the genre. My brand new laptop system is a 2,4 Ghz Penryn with GeForce 9600 GT and 4 GB RAM or so, maybe someone can recommend me some modern shooters for it! :)
bored with WOTLK already ? is it shorter than the burning crusade expansion ?
I was not a fan of FPS until my brother-in-law blackmailed me by getting me CoD4 for my bday (xbox360). I never got around to playing the story because I started playing online with him right away and was hooked. Try the online play but be warned, you will suck for a while ;)
Two others have mentioned it, but I will too. The Orange Box is probably the greatest deal you can, let alone all 5 games being high on the quality scale. If you want to branch out and play a more "fantasy" style First person game, try out the Thief series.

I go away for a few days at Christmas and I come back to find that you have actually playing an FPS????

What about nausea? What about headaches???

(Perhaps, like me you have found that better graphics with fast refresh rates cures a lot of the headaches).

COD2 is a good choice. I replayed quite a bit of it just before Christmas and it still grabbed me. I preferred the US missions but there's a lot of god stuff in there. As others have pointed out FPS multiplayer is the ultimate gaming adrenaline rush but I'm not sure if many folks are still playing COD2 multiplayer. Orange box, Cod4 or I believe (but haven't tried it yet) Left for dead are probably the way to go for FPS multiplayer.

Side question - for some reason I always thought you were German by nationality Tobold, perhaps I am wrong but if I am right how do WW2 games go down with German audiences?
Tobold, I think it's great that you're giving the FPS genre another shot. Things have changed a great deal since the days that ID Software ruled the roost of the genre. Unreal and other engines since have caused quite a rethink of how tactical, first person combat should be done. What you'll see is the culmination of the effects that competition has had in the genre. Although ID Software and Cliffy B's gang have(pretty much) the engines of choice still, the effects that the Mod community has had on the FPS genre are a direct result of the shift in playstyle mechanics of todays shooters. From RTCW, Unreal, Halo, and even Planetside, the types of combat you see now are far removed from the simple aim-point-click-shoot twitch fests of old.
Go for the Orange Box. Portal is an AMAZING, albeit short thinking man's game more than a first person shooter, but uses the format. Very cute. TF2 is more casual than other FPS online environments I have found, and if you stick to pub games you can have fun with the various classes and their unique styles of play. And Half Life 2 is a great single player game with one of the better stories in a sci fi FPS.
You really should try Left 4 Dead if you get the chance. =)
Call of Duty 4 lacks vehicle combat. I really like the infantry, tank and air combat in the Battlefield series. Best play is in the Battlefield 1942 mod called Desert Combat. I really have high hopes for BF3, but that's years away and its being done by EA so....
By now as a diversion to WoW, I'm having a great fun with Fallout 3 and latest Prince of Persia.

I'm very bad with FPS games and platform games too. Bad coordination and reflexes.
Anyway both have improvements to let anyone to have fun.

Fallout 3 is a good RPG with realtime combat. But you can always switch to a strategic view and choose what to hit and how and where. (for example, an head shoot or hitting enemy weapon to incapacitate him etc). After you took your choices, computer will just use a dice like a real RPG game and at same time showing you results in a slow motion scene like in a film.
And for everything else, Fallout 3 just rocks. Plot, quests, scenery etc....

For Prince of Persia, many placed a thumb down for that game as is too easy. For me is exactly perfect :)
To that add that you can't die (Elika, your partner moved by AI will save you.... always. Putting you back a few steps before the mistake). So you can repeat your mistakes... ehm... you can repeat the scene with a perfect jump :)

Both games have good graphic without needing ultimate hardware.
I did the same thing as you over the holiday weekend except I picked up Left 4 Dead. COD4 is great but I bought it when it first came out so its a little stale for me now. Two thumbs up for Left 4 Dead! Me and my friend made our own lobby and played through some campaigns together and had an absolute blast! Most fun I have had in a fps in along time.
You have chosen wisely.
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