Call of Duty: Ghosts



When I got back home from work yesterday, another one of my recently ordered packages arrived.  This time, the one with the “Call of Duty: Ghosts” game for the Playstation 3.  It’s been a while since my last Call of Duty campaign, so I was excited – jumped straight into action.  The next six and a half hours flew by like 15 minutes.   That’s how long it took me to finish the campaign with the Regular difficulty.  During that time I fought in space, in the air, on the ground, at sea, and water.  I’ve been to the ice cold north and mosquito infested jungle of the south.  I flew helicopters, drove tanks, operated remote snipers, targeted space-based warfare, blew up hundreds of vehicles and killed thousands of people.  It was a bloody battle which required training, precision, bravery, heart of a stone and balls of steel.  But I came out on top and got all the trophies and the medals in the process.

A few minutes after the campaign finished and my red, watery eyes rested, I’ve also tried the online multiplayer.  That’s the part of the game where I’ll be spending much more hours in order to learn the maps, weapons and gear, but for now I just needed a taste of it.  While the new interface is a tad bit confusing at first, I see that all the old elements are there – different types of games, different types of weapon and equipment configuration, etc.  The controls in action are all the same as before, so I was pretty comfortable decreasing the numbers of my alive enemies.  The physics are slightly different from the previous games, but this, again, is just a matter of getting used to.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the purchase.  It’s the good old Call of Duty that I dearly love – with a good, twisted campaign and a multitude of options for men-to-men battles.

Sniper : Ghost Warrior



I’ve recently ordered a bunch of stuff from Amazon.  Somehow, my order got exploded into four or five packages, each shipped separate.  Yesterday, the first one arrived, with the PS3 version of the “Sniper : Ghost Warrior” game.  I would have never discovered this game if it wasn’t for a colleague of mine.  The game didn’t have a lot of promotion.  User reviews mostly call it average and mediocre.  But I bought it anyway.

Why?  Because I am a huge sniping fan.  Sniping is an art. Snipers are gods of war.  Sniping is the best part of the modern warfare (not the game).  Frankly, I can’t understand why most people aren’t fascinated by that.  To me, all those weapons of mass destruction are sloppy. Remotely controlled weapons are just cool gadgets.  All of them miss the point.  Sniper is human.  Sniper is very precise. Sniper is scary. Sniper is the essence of war.  Sniper is personal.

In each and every first-person shooter video game that I played, I tried the sniping mode and weapons.  Video game are getting better and better at it, but usually snipers have way too much advantage over other warriors, so game developers have a tendency to cut sniper powers to balance the game.  That’s understandable.  But what about us, people who don’t care about other warriors, who just want snipers, the more the better?

Well, for us, there are special games.  And “Sniper : Ghost Warrior” is one of them.  I didn’t have much time to spend with the game yesterday.  I thought I’d just give it a quick look and leave it until the weekend, when I’ll have more time to properly explore it.  I ended up glued to the screen for more than four hours.  There was no way I could switch it off.  Only when my neck started hurting and eyes crying from all the concentration, I remembered that I had other things to do.

If you are a fan of most modern first-person shooters, you probably won’t think much of the game.  You’ll probably name a few games that have better graphics, physics, game play, and weapons.  You’ll probably get bored quickly with a slow pace compared to most other games.  You’ll probably start hating the video sequences and will skip them fanatically. But.

If you do like sniping, if sniper is your favorite in-game mode, and if there is nothing better to you then use your stealth skills to get to that point where you look through the scope at unsuspecting targets, breath steadily, prepare, and squeeze the trigger, sending death so far that even if the enemies were looking at you they’d see nothing but a tiny spot on the horizon, then, and only then, this game is for you.  It does all the right things for the sniper fans.  There is a variety of missions. There is plenty of stealth.  There are different weapons and scopes.  But the best, the best part of it is when you aim through the scope, hear your own breath, hold it, shoot, and, if you got everything right and it is a head-shot,  you’ll see a beautiful video sequence of your bullet travelling the distance and going through yet another enemy.  Once you do your first head-shot, you won’t be able to stop playing this game.  It’s that good.

The game is not very expensive – I got it off Amazon for less than 20 GBP.  Given that I played for four hours straight yesterday, and I’m not even half through the story, I think it’s a good bargain.  There is also a multi-player mode, which I haven’t even looked at yet.  But even after this brief encounter with the game, I can do nothing but recommend it to all the sniping fans.  It’s plenty of fun and it’s not difficult at all – not like some of those sniping simulation with the calculator and such.  This one is more like the movie where you play the main character. Brilliant stuff!





Sony security problems could take years to fix

Obviously, I’m not the only one thinking that Sony’s security problems are architectural.  Here is a quote from a New York Times article.

“Microsoft used to be the laughing stock of security and now they are now the shining example of good security,” said Mr. Gula. “It’s going to take a while for Sony to fix this, I think this will take years.”

On the other hand, some people are reporting that PlayStation Network is recovering.  Let’s see for how long…

Sony hacked again. Should go open source

Sky reports that Sony got hacked and lost some of its customers data:

Sony has once again been targeted by a group of hackers who claim they gained access to details of one million customers.

By now, I think it is obvious that Sony’s security issues are architectural.  It is not a matter of firewall misconfiguration or missed out input validation check.  That would have been closed and forgotten months ago.  Repeated attacks and extensive downtimes of PlayStation Network indicate that the problems are much deeper and much harder to find and fix.

I think the best option for them now is to go open source.  If they open the protocols they use and server software they have – plenty of people will jump on it and create alternative servers and networks.  All that will be needed after that is a firmware update that would allow gamers to connect to those alternative networks.

Call of Duty : World at War

Call of Duty : World at War

Call of Duty : World at War” is the latest addition to my addictions collection.  As I mentioned before, it’s been a while since my last gaming dive, so I don’t have much to compare this game to.  But it stands on its just fine.

It’s a first-person shooter, with the plot laid out during the World War II.  Missions are switching back and forward between two characters.  One is the US Navy marine, fighting the Japanese.  And another one is a Russian private fighting the Germans.  There is plenty of variety between the two setups.  They cover pretty much anything you can think of from the top of your head – jungles, street fights, tank battles, air-planes vs. battleships, and so on and so forth.  Up to the Berlin battle and sticking the red flag on top of the Reichstag building.

There are a few difficulty modes that you can switch between to suit your gaming preferences.  I like to walk through the missions on a moderate level, so that it’s not too easy, but at the same time not too hard.  Once I get through the whole story and unlock all the missions, I sometimes try to replay with increased difficulty level.

Once I passed all the missions a few times, I put the game away.  Otherwise it’s getting pretty boring, isn’t it?  Well, I almost made that mistake.  Again, memories of my previous gaming experience were suggesting that nothing much changed in terms of networking, so on-line multi-player won’t be much fun.  That’s how it was back a few years.  And maybe with types of games that I was playing back then.  To my surprise, not with Call of Duty.

I decided to try my luck with multi-player and was very surprised at how well it went.  Maybe because Call of Duty is not as dynamic as Quake III, or maybe because the game protocol works in a very different way, or maybe because of something else, which I truly don’t care much about, but the result is pretty good.  Not that it just doesn’t lag bad enough to spoil a game, it’s actually working fast.  Fast enough for me even to be able to snipe.  To be fair, I still can’t snipe fast moving targets (e.g.: running soldiers and dogs), but I can shoot moving targets (e.g.: walking or crouching enemies).

Also, I really like how the multi-player system keeps you in the game all the time.  You start with something like a private uniform, and gradually make your way up the military hierarchy.  Participation in games, killing enemies, destroying enemy machines, and the rest of the war stats count.  The more damage you do and the least you die, the higher you move up the ladder.   While being promoted is all cool by itself, here you have extra stuff – more weapons get unlocked and more skills are learned, which you can later on combine and save to use in the game.

Also, additional points are awarded for completing challenges while in multi-player.  Challenges are like your personal goals.  For example, kill a certain number of enemies with specific weapon, or from a certain position, run a combined distance of so many kilometers, fall so many feet down and stay alive, etc.  This is one of those little unimportant things that keeps me coming back to the game every time I have some free time, and think about it when I don’t.

What else do I like about it? Well, there are quite a few more things.  For example, I like the teams are balanced, and how best players are always highlighted using different features (ranks, clan tags, clan tag colors, etc).  I like that when you are killed in the game, they show you a kill cam, so that you know who killed you and how.  This is very useful to get rid of camping, where  a player finds a hidden spot on the map, hides in there and kills everyone and everything that happens to pass by.  With kill camera everyone is practically forced to move around and change positions all the time.  I like how the maps are built.  They have plenty of space on one hand, and they give you a feeling that you are in the middle of action and enemies are everywhere around you on the other hand.  I like the 40 second break between matches, and how matches are of a perfect length – not too short, not too long.  And I like the quick re-spawn  And I like how you can fight the battle from inside a tank, shooting a canon, or, on top of the tank with a machine gun.  Or as an infantry, blowing up those tanks.  And so on and so forth.

In short, highly recommended for anyone who likes first-person shooters.  Both the single- and multi-player modes are fun and there is plenty to explore, collect, try, and advance before you’ll get bored of it.

Grand Theft Auto IV


I’ve never been much of a gamer.  I used to play a few games here and there and all that was long ago.  The only game I played seriously at all was Quake III.  But that too was way too long.  Then I had a break for a few years, and I’ve been too busy at work.

Last year I somehow got interested in consoles.  So I borrowed PlayStation 3 from one of my co-workers.  Just to try it out, you know.  Needless to say, I was stunned.  Game industry moves very fast, and it’s hard to keep up even if you play all the time.  When you have a several year break, it’s like you get off the planet.  Games, graphics, special effects, stories, controllers – everything is different all of a sudden.

Together with that borrowed PS3 I also got a few games.  Some of them were of that cheap flavour that they add to a gaming console package.  But some were really good.  The one that got me hooked back into gaming instantly was “Grand Theft Auto IV“.  That was something.

In brief, GTA IV is massive, detailed, bloody, swearing, and addictive.  You play a character called Niko Bellic, who is an immigrant just arrived to the USA.  Niko has some dark past and he came to the country to stay with his cousin Roman.  It turns out that Roman is half a criminal and he is in a heap of trouble with the local mob.  Mission after mission Niko tries to help his relative, but instead he is just getting deeper and deeper into mafia wars.

The game is very engaging.  The story line is continued by short movies between missions.  Sometimes, you have to make a choice which way the storyline goes (for example, when being hard by both sides of the conflict, which side do you take out?).  And while missions are cool, there is much more to this game.

The GTA IV world is amazing.  Everything is happening in a huge Liberty City.  There are poor regions of the city, with crappy shops, rusted cars, and street fights.  And there are rich regions with lots of expensive cars, excellent roads, and such.  And there is everything in between.  The city is full of people.  Some walk around, some drive.  You can scare people, shoot them and hit them, drive them over, and do all sorts of crazy stuff.  You can still their cars, motorbikes, boats, and even helicopters.  You can take a train from one region to another.  You can have a really serious conflict with police.  You have a phone which you can use to call people and send messages, take pictures, utilize the organizer, etc.  There are quite a few things that you can buy – from food and beverages to clothes and weapons.

Did I mention that the game is huge?  It has loads and loads of missions.  It took me a few good weeks to get to the closing titles.  And then I was just dropped back into the game with more missions.  And the game statistics show that I have only completed 62%.  I don’t know much more is there.  But I’ll probably need the rest of the year to push it to 100%.  And then there is also a multi-player mode, which I haven’t even started.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the game is the level of details.  It’s the fourth game in the series, and it shows – every tiny thing has been thought through, tried, and tested.  For example, when you drive a car, you can switch radio stations – and there is a whole bunch of them to choose from. Some are music radio stations, some are talk shows.  The stuff that goes on in advertising and in talk shows is hilarious.  You can just listen to it hour after hour after hour and it never gets boring.  Or, when you make a traffic accident, the other car’s driver shouts at you, and often he complains in a foreign language.  Greeks are frequent among taxi drivers, for example.

By the way, the game is definitely not for kids.  There’s just too much graphic violence and swearing.  And I haven’t seen any options to switch them off.

Overall, an excellent game that will keep you occupied for hours and hours.  Highly recommended.

Gaming experience : PlayStation 3

A couple of days ago I got my hands on a PlayStation 3.  Boy, was that a wrong day of the week!  But let me tell it to you properly…

I am not much of a gamer.  I like games and all, but somehow I don’t spend all that much time playing.  Most of my gaming activities in the last few years were spent either in Quake III or OpenTTD (open source Transport Typhoon Deluxe clone).  There were also a whole bunch of simple games like mahjongg, Desktop Tower Defense, and the rest of the flash entertainment goodies.

I never had a gaming console.  A few of my friends had though.  And back then consoles were very different from PCs.  PCs were in the form of huge and heavy desktops, that were booting too long.  Gaming consoles were of a much smaller size factor, and they were booting faster.  All you had to do was put the game cartridge in, and you were in a game.  And that was fun.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago.  I get this huge laptop bag, which is pretty heavy.  I take it home.  PlayStation 3 is in there, with a bunch of cables, and a few games.  My first impression – PlayStation3 is not much different from a computer.  It’s large, it’s heavy, it’s noisy, and it’s blowing hot air to its side.  And, I guess, it costs pretty much as a PC too.

Then I connect this thing to my recently bought Sony Bravia 32-inch flat screen TV.  With HDMI cable.  When you hold an HDMI cable in your hands, you feel the solid quality.  You know that whatever comes through this must be really good.  It’s hard, it’s thick, and it’s long.  Like a coaxil cable or something.  And that was true – the moment I got the first picture from the game, I was stunned.  I was just looking at it speechless.  No television channel or DVD had the quality of the picture that I had in front of my eyes.  Absolute brilliant stuff.

So, I played “Need for Speed” just a bit.  I had to get used to joystick – form factor is weird for my hands that are used only to keyboards and mice; and it has so many buttons and controls that it takes some time to manage.  I like “Need for Speed”, it’s a nice car racing game, which I used to play on PC some years ago.  But since I got a Genius wheel and pedals for one of my birthdays, I don’t like playing car simulators without them anymore.  Joystick is OK, but not that much fun as having a real wheel and stuff.

I check the bag for more games, and among unfamiliar titles I noticed “Grand Theft Auth IV”.  Now that was something I wanted to try.  I’ve heard a lot about the game, but never had a chance to try it out.  It was Tuedays, 11:00pm when I started the game.  The next thing I know – Maxim woke up.  It was Wednesday, 7:30am.  Now if that is not a sign of a good game, I don’t what is then.

Coming back to that comment above about the wrong day of the week.  It’s a well known fact that no new games or gadgets should be opened or started on any day of the week except for Friday or Saturday.  Cause it’s too easy to get carried away and spend a night playing with the new stuff.  This time I forgot that, and a sleepy, half-focused Wednesday was a good reminder to me.  Gladly, the weekend is ahead of us…