Dale Dietrich
friedman: always supply your comparative advantage
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Category — diaries

Battlefield: Bad Company – Diary #1

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Diary: Entry #1
Reviews: Metacritic | Game Rankings
Reference: GameFAQ | wikipedia12
Developer: EA DICE, Engine: Frostbite
Status: Finished “Welcome to Bad Company” (the intro level)

Pros: Boat load of shooter fun – Immersive – Humorous – Destructible environment – Terrific death/penalty system – Save points therefore a non-issue – Very good graphics/character models – Difficulty Level is just right – Amusing squad – PC can jump

Cons: Fighting with camera while driving – No coop – No customizable controls – Daft syringe/help system – No prone position

Introduction

In Battlefield: Bad Company (“BBC”) you play Private Preston Marlowe, of “B”ad Company, a band of misfits in the 222nd army battalion of the U.S. army -currently fighting the Russian Federation.

Somehow BBC had escaped my radar until I read Paul Thurrott’s review here. Our tastes in gaming are almost identical. So on his recommendation, I decided to try it.

Other than a few hours here and there, I’ve never played a Battlefield franchise game before. So I’m new to this franchise and, so far, I’m really enjoying it! Much,  more so than MGS 4.

Battlefield - Bad Company - 360 - tank blowing up

Initial Impressions – The Good Stuff

Fun From the Start: From the amusing jazzy-organ playing opening credits/main menu this game felt like was going to be something different.

Immersive: As with other leading shooter, the ambiance, 5.1 sound, terrific graphics and, in this case, almost instant death if hit, give this game a terrific immersive (feeling like you are really there) quality that is still too rare.

Destructible Environment: The much touted destructible environment is definitely fun! But it is odd that you can’t totally destroy a building. You can knock out most of its walls but try as you might its support pillars will not blow up. So you can not, for example, topple over a two story house – even though you can knock out every one of its walls. Kinda lame.

CONTINUE READING →

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I Abandoned Metal Gear Solid 4 (for now)

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MGS 4 Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Abandoned!
MGS4 Reviews: Metacritic | GameRankings.com
Reference: GameFAQ Walkthrus | wikipedia12

As beautiful and cutting-edge as MGS4 is, after making it past the laughing Octopus stage in the second act, I abandoned the game, at least for now. This surprises even me. I have been waiting for years to play this game, but the lack of a decent checkpoint system and endless cut scenes turned me off.

Poorly Implemented Checkpoints

You cannot save the game when you want and it’s checkpoints are few and far between. Adult gamers do not have endless hours, nor the desire, to replay extremely long portions of even a great game over and over.

Solid Snake being Sneaky in MGS 4When I play stealth games I want to be stealthy and play it right. This means taking my time, exploring every nook and cranny. Being sneaky. But when I sneak around for 30 minutes, successfully execute difficult manoeuvres and then die, I do not want to play through the whole 30 minutes again. No game should ever force a gamer to replay more than 5 or so minutes. Period.

Yes, I could have cheated and run through sections with abandon, gunned down everyone until killed, thereby learning where all the baddies are and what their tricks are, to avoid them on the next play through. But I refuse to do that. That’s gaming the game and not playing the game. It takes all the fun out of it.

Stealth games, by definition, are designed to be played thoughtfully and slowly. The player should have a realistic chance of beating a level if they play that way. But, when they die, as they will, they shouldn’t be forced to replay the last thirty minutes or an hour to get back to where they were.

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Metal Gear Solid 4 – Diary #2

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MGS 4 Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Abandoned!
MGS4 Reviews:
Metacritic | GameRankings.com
Reference: GameFAQ Walkthrus | wikipedia12

Progress: I made it to Act 1 – Crescent Meridian (7th of 8 parts to Act 1)

What a difference a day makes. Discovering that Weapons/Items need to be equipped before they appear was important! (See Update in Diary Entry #1). You’d think the game or manual would have mentioned that somewhere up front!

Visuals

I can’t say enough for the visual and cinematic feel of MGS4. The particle effects, fabrics, lighting, character models, rich and detailed environments, the camo suite, the Dolby surround sound audio. This is a visual and audible masterpiece.

Love the Bright Sunny Arab World

Stealth games are usually too dark (can you say “Splinter Cell”). Heck, too many video games are too dark. One of the reasons I love the GRAW series so much is because they are mostly set outdoors in the bright sunlight. I wish more games were set in the sunlight.

How Do You Tell the Difference Between MPCs and Militia?

If you kill militia, by accident or not, they’ll turn on you. So it’s important to either avoid them and PMC’s in all battles with stealth or determine which of the factions is militia and which is PMC and then side with the militia (you can side with the PMC but they’ll still shoot you).

So that’s been my big question/challenge today?  Previously, the only way I could tell was to use the solid eye and zoom in close to read the character’s names (militia’s are named ‘militia”). I had thought there was going to be a colouring difference (ie: the text and symbols) but there is none – at least initially.

CONTINUE READING →

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Metal Gear Solid 4 – Diary #1

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MGS 4 Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Abandoned!
MGS4 Reviews: Metacritic | GameRankings.com
Reference: GameFAQ Walkthrus | wikipedia12

Progress: I made it to Act 1 – Urban Ruins  (4th of 8 parts to Act 1)

This is the first video game I’ve played since slicing open my left index finger on May 15. I had to abandon my GTA game play and diary to let my finger heal. It isn’t fully back to normal again (still can’t feel anything above the knuckle on my left index finger) but I couldn’t wait to give MGS4 a try.

I wrote this first diary entry mostly in real time as I played through the initial scenes of the game.

My Limited MGS Experience

The only prior experience I’ve had with the Metal Gear Solid franchise is when I played a couple levels of MGS 2: Substance on the original Xbox. What I recollect from that experience was that the cut scenes were spectacular and the game was, to me, unplayable. It had a clumsy over-head camera mechanic. There was a handicapped first person view that only allowed you to look around when you were stopped. You couldn’t shoot or move in that view. After a couple levels I gave up in frustration.

From everything I’ve heard about MGS4 (and I’ve heard, read and watched a lot over the years) it has been revamped into a thoroughly modern stealth, shooter.  I guess we’ll see.

So here we go.

CONTINUE READING →

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Grand Theft Auto IV – Diary #4

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GTA IV - Nicko Drives Boat Past Statute of LibertyGTA IV Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Entry #3, Entry #4

Key Stats: 43.45% done |  55 missions passed | 66 missions failed | $323,224 in cash | 37:47 Playing Time | 3rd & 4th safehouse

It’s been a week since Diary Entry #3. My objective was to get to the point where all of Liberty City was unlocked before making this entry. It was harder and took much longer to get to that point than I thought it would.

Despite being frustrated with GTA IV’s save system (see below), I’m still enjoying the game. I suspect I won’t post diary entry #5 until I complete the campaign.

Helicopter Fun!

Soon after the last entry, I was surprised to discover that you can park (and then save) the helicopter within the yellow lines outside the various safehouses. It’s not easy to land close to buildings without destroying the helicopter but its possible, as these pictures demonstrate (click on them for larger view):

GTA IV - Helicopter Parked at Bohan Safehouse GTA IV - Helicopter Parked at Algonquin Safehouse

I was able to fly to Michelle’s house, land there and take her out on a helicopter date – a personal flight over Manhattan (see picture below).

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Grand Theft Auto IV – Diary #3

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gta postersGTA IV Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Entry #3, Entry #4

Day 5 | 29.14% done | 36 missions completed | 25:10 hours played.

Bridges Crossed – Flights Taken

Shortly after Diary Entry #2, I made it to Manhattan (err, Algonquin). The first thing I did was purchase a new outfit. Then I headed over to the helipad for a helicopter ride over Liberty City. Take a look at Nicko posing in his new gangsta suit in front of the helicopter (click for larger image).

GTA IV - Nicko Posing in front of Helicopter & Broker Bridge

The ride was fun, we flew up and down the length of Manhattan, over Times Square, Central Park, the Trump Tower, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.

But flying the helicopter myself was much more fun. I ‘accidentally’ jacked the helicopter for my second flight – then proceeded to dump the helicopter into the Hudson!  It’s much harder to fly than I thought it would be. Here’s me flying past the Statute of Liberty (Statue of Happiness).

GTA IV - Nicko Flying Helicopter Past Statue of Happiness at Sunset

They say it is modelled after Hillary Clinton. I didn’t get close enough to tell (maybe next time). I tried to get a look at Ground Zero but couldn’t see anything there, not even a memorial.

Tip: Take a cab or a junker to the helipad because when you return, your ride will be stolen. I lost my Porsche that way.

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Grand Theft Auto IV – Diary #2

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grand theft auto niko & roman

GTA IV Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Entry #3, Entry #4

I’ve finished day 4 of my Grand Theft Auto IV adventure. I spent most of my game play achievement hunting so I’m only 25.06% of the way done – and still not off the first two islands. I suspect I’m very close.

Achievements

Day 4′s achievement hunting yielded mixed results:

It’ll Cost Ya: Take a cab over a bridge and don’t skip ahead while riding. Time consuming, but easy.

One Hundred and Eighty (aka Darts): Probably the easiest achievement points (outside the plot-line achievements). Triple a 20 three times and you’ve got it.

No More Stranger: I found my first ‘blue man’ icon on the map and found him. I have no idea how many of these guys I have to find for this achievement. I haven’t found any other in hours of play.

Wheelie Rider: Argh… I’ve been trying to get the ‘Wheelie Rider’ achievement from the beginning and I keep falling off. Man that’s hard.

Tip 1: don’t try this one when in the middle of a mission. You’ll likely die and have to start the mission over again.

Tip 2: I hear doing wheelies on the airport runway is the way to go.

Pool Shark: I beat Little J (and earned 10 points) on the first try. Actually, he was about to win but sunk the black-ball giving me a victory by default.

Gobble Gobble: Forget this one. Bowling three strikes in a row is way too much work for 10 points.

‘Courier Service’ & ‘Order Fulfilled’: OK, I thought these would be much easier than they are. The first involves 10 drug delivery missions, the second – 10 car stealing missions. All involve extensive travelling.  They are doable – just very time consuming. And, some are tricky. I’ve done 3 of each so far. I think I’ll wait to the end of the game and come back latter.

As a reminder, GTA IV Achievement Point details can be found here.

CONTINUE READING →

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Grand Theft Auto IV – Diary #1

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GTA IV Logo

GTA IV Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Entry #3, Entry #4

It’s day 3 of my Grand Theft Auto IV adventure. Given the sheer size of this game and the fact that I may not be finished for a week or two,Chad Sapieha’s daily GTA IV Diary inspired me to write diary posts as I work my way through. I will write a detailed review when finished.

Wow!

I came in to GTA IV expecting to hate it as much as I did the earlier games in the series. Despite my reluctance, the staggeringly high review scores (see Meta Critic and Game Rankings) made it worth taking a look. The reviews got me to the party. The ‘atmosphere’, the scope, the beauty of the city, the cinematic feel and the well written story kept me coming back. Now despite some frustrations, I’m hooked.

Thanks for the May 6 netfiler, tax extension Revenue Canada! Otherwise I’d have had no free-time to play this over the last few days.

Initial Impressions!

Scope & Style: I was drawn in from the beginning with GTA IV’s engaging, Chronicle of Riddick-like interactive opening credits. The massive sand-box magnitude of the game is similar to Crackdown and Assassin’s Creed. The writing is good, very good. On par with Naughty-Dog’s Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. But, not on par with The Godfather as some reviewers claim.

City Alive: You’ll notice almost immediately that this game is alive unlike almost any other game you’ve played. People are walking, jogging and driving around this huge city (see interactive ‘hood’ map), obeying traffic lights, conversing and going about their business  in a convincing manner (well, if you don’t look too closely). Neighbourhoods have their own distinctive feel. I feel, more than in any other game, that I’m moving around in a real city.

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