The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- At the halfway point

“The Internet is for haters. Everyone wants to knock somebody down, but it’s cool.” —Andy Cohen

After repelling the SDF fleet and forcing them into a temporary retreat, Commander Reyes sets out on his assignment, starting by re-capturing the lunar port to ensure Earth is not cut off from supplies. Subsequently, side missions become available, where Reyes and the Retribution can carry out strikes against the SDF forces to steal or recover weapons, eliminate targets of value or else damage SDF assets. All of this leads up to Infinite Warfare‘s halfway point, a mission set in Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons, in order to destroy a refuelling facility and cripple the SDF’s fuel supply. Combining both infantry combat and aerial dog fights with the Jackals, Infinite Warfare continues to be an entertaining game that presents an opportunity to travel around the different locations of the Solar System in order to defeat a militant faction: whether it be the grey, rolling hills on the moon, the yellow, muggy and hostile surface of Titan, the desolation of Uranus and Neptune or the familiar Earth, Infinite Warfare vividly portrays these settings to give the sense that the player is exploring and fighting in environments that have hitherto remain unexplored, creating a series of worlds that keeps each mission in the campaign novel and free of repetition.

One of the elements I’m enjoying most about Infinite Warfare are the weapons’ versatility and customisations available within the campaign: prior to each mission, players can fine tune their loadout very specifically, outfitting their weapons with the optics and attachments to best fit their play-style. There is also a recommended loadout for folks who simply want to get into the missions without worrying too much about whether or not a particular set of weapons will work. For instance, in Operation Burn Water, the mission to Titan, the recommended loadout is the EBR-800 with suppressor and foregrip, with the suppressed Kendall 44 as a secondary weapon. Given that much of this mission begins as a stealth mission, it makes sense to have suppressed weapons. However, as things progress, the mission invariably goes loud. Thus, I swapped out the Kendall 44 for the Erad, a submachine gun that can alternatively be used as a shotgun. The future setting of Infinite Warfare means that weapons designers have more creative freedom, resulting in remarkably versatile weapons that allow me to play through the campaign without worrying about whether or not I’m carrying the right weapons for the task at hand: in fact, weapons that can transition between two firing modes, like the Erad and EBR-800, are sufficiently adaptable so that I can stick with one weapon and carry a powerful secondary weapon, such as the P-LAW laser weapon or the Spartan shoulder-fired rocket launcher to deal with heavier opposition. Not affecting the game’s difficulty in any way, this ability merely changes how one feels about dealing with the different levels.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The mission on the lunar port is known as Operation Port Armour, featuring some nifty combat sequences afforded by the fact that the large windows throughout the concourse can be shot out, sending SDF soldiers to their doom. Immediately, the SDF’s actions are made known when some of Reyes’ squad mates mention that the SDF do not take prisoners – they are later seen shooting civilians openly.

  • Reminiscent of both the Principality of Zeon (Mobile Suit Gundam and all Universal Century stories) and Vers Empire (Aldnoah.Zero), the SDF is determinedly presented as an evil antagonist whose entire existence is to wipe out SATO and the UNSA. Snippets of text found throughout Infinite Warfare, and from the death screens note that the SDF is a militaristic entity wholly dedicated to victory, possessing a Social Darwinist ideology and believing that they are the rightful controllers of humanity. With their ideology ruled by ruthlessness and strength, Girls und Panzer‘s Shiho Nishizumi looks like an absolute moderate by comparison, and one “Daigensui” would be likely count the SDF’s beliefs as appropriate.

  • Naturally, anyone with a sense of empathy and compassion would immediately see the SDF as the antagonists, a threat to be dealt with and as such, find them an easy opponent to rally against in Infinite Warfare. A simple, black-and-white approach to determining the factions allows Infinite Warfare to focus on its gameplay and core thematic element of sacrifice. Back on the lunar terminal, I continue pushing through, lighting up SDF forces along the way. I pick up a shield and F-SpAr torch along the way, but being blown out into the vacuum forces me to relinquish these assets.

  • With most of the port cleared out, it’s time to go find a Coast Guard Jackal and engage enemy forces outside. By this point in Infinite Warfare, I’ve learned that energy weapons are slightly more effective against robots than organic targets, as well as that the TTK (time to kill) is a bit higher here than it is in earlier Call of Duty titles: it takes at least a fifth of a magazine to down opponents with body shots.

  • While ostensibly lighter-armoured and more lightly armed compared to the SATO Jackals, I manage just fine with a Coast Guard Jackal here, engaging the SDF Skelters and other vessels alike without much difficulty. Defeating the SDF here returns control of the port over to the UNSA, and Reyes’ team takes off to continue pushing back remaining SDF forces in the area.

  • The first Infinite Warfare trailer depicted the space combat of Operation Port Armour, coupled with the part of the mission involving the infiltration of an SDF destroyer. One YouTube, this video holds the infamy of being one of the most disliked videos of all time, having over 3.5 million dislikes. A part of me wanted to try Infinite Warfare and find good things to say about it just so I could stick it to the folks who hate Call of Duty. Despite being the third consecutive instalment in the main franchise to be set in the future, Infinite Warfare has the most solid storyline and interesting maps.

  • While Infinite Warfare is superior to Ghosts and Advanced Warfare for the most part, Advanced Warfare has a more innovative HUD: weapon and utility counts are projected as AR elements directly onto the weapon in world space, rather than in screen space as with more traditional elements. Infinite Warfare returns to a screen space based HUD that is relatively minimalistic and useful, although like the other Call of Duty titles I’ve gone through, I find myself running out of ammunition and reloading during inopportune moments more frequently than in other shooters owing to the way the game plays.

  • The first of the side missions that I took on was Operation Phoenix, set in an asteriod field near Uranus. The goal is to sneak onboard an SDF cruiser and recover a prototype Jackal fighter armed with laser weapons. With a slower firing rate and higher damage, the laser was developed by SDF teams; the SDF’s emphasis on military means that they are more advanced than SATO forces with respect to equipment, rather like how Zeon was the first to employ mobile suits and Vers had Kataphrakts powered by the Aldnoah system.

  • The second side mission I attempted was Operation Taken Dagger: over Neptune, I participated in the rescue of UNSA engineers and recover a prototype heavy weapon. One of the more entertaining aspects about space combat in Infinite Warfare is the ability to use a grappling hook as a weapon to execute SDF soldiers. This marks the first time since 007: Agent Under Fire where I’ve had access to a grappling hook – the Q-Claw of Agent Under Fire  was remarkably amusing to use in the multiplayer, being able to adhere to any surface and pull a user along quickly to otherwise unreachable places on the map.

  • Stealth is usually the smartest option where available: I snuck around the shadows and used melee takedowns to silently dispatch SDF soldiers, making use of a proximity scan to constantly track where enemy soldiers were. With all of the engineers rescued, the next part of the mission is to recover the prototype P-LAW and make use of it: like all of the heavy weapons, it is an immensely powerful weapon that shreds and is balanced out with its inability to be resupplied from ammunition creates.

  • Operation Safe Harbour involves defending space stations from SDF forces in orbit above the Earth. Beyond the usual engagement of SDF Skelters, there is also a pair of SDF destroyers that need to be eliminated, as well. They possess heavy armour and are bristling with weapons: my strategy was to stay afar and eliminate the weapons first with the 30 mm cannon, before pounding the ships with the 50 mm cannon. It’s a bit of an arduous process, but sustained fire results in a very rewarding sight as the SDF destroyer explodes in a blinding flash of light.

  • On my HUD, it says that I’ve defeated an enemy ace in combat. The aces and other high-value targets are figures instrumental to the SDF, but fighting them in the chaos means that there’s no stage-piece boss battle – they would fully blend amongst the regular forces were it not for an indicator over their person, and while they might be slightly tougher than an ordinary soldier, they can still be downed pretty quickly, bringing to mind how quickly bosses in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands are taken out.

  • The last of the side missions I took on before moving on to Operation Burn Water was Operation Pure Threat, set in an asteroid thicket above Europa. What initially looks to be a waste of time, when Reyes finds a derelict SDF vessel, turns out to be an ambush, and in the chaos, I bag yet another elite SDF pilot. In something like Gundam and Aldnoah, figures of importance usually pilot more powerful machines, but the reality is that ace pilots are known for their skill rather than the quality of their weapons. As such, in Infinite Warfare, while ace pilots may manoeuvre more skilfully, they aren’t any harder to shoot down than other enemies.

  • The missions to infiltrate SDF vessels and recover high value items brings to mind the sort of challenges surrounding learning about when Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name is coming out as a home release in Japan. I’ve been keeping an eye on developments, but it seems that news of box office figures, merchandise for sale and general gushing about the film is the only information that exists. There is little doubt in my mind that trying to figure out when this movie will be out on BD is about as difficult as infiltrating an SDF destroyer and stealing a weapons prototype: one wonders what the rationale for being this tight-lipped about the release date is.

  • While Your Name will have to wait for the present, there are fortunately things that can be taken care of in the present, and enjoying Infinite Warfare is one of them. Finally starting Operation Burn Water, I am inserted onto the surface of Titan. It’s a very vivid depiction of what the only moon in the solar system to possess a dense atmosphere looks like: while most of the surface is flat, there are mountains exceeding 1000 meters in height in some places. The game also captures the presence of hydrocarbon lakes and precipitation on Titan’s surface very nicely. Being on Titan also brings to mind a line from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, in which “methane clouds rain sodium hydroxide, a caustic alkali!”. Sodium hydroxide is not a known form of precipitation on Titan; methane clouds would simply rain methane in liquid form.

  • With this in mind, the chemical reaction between sodium hydroxide and sodium acetate can undergo a reaction to form methane and sodium carbonate (NaOH + CH3COONa → CH4 + Na2CO3). As we have the reaction, I could probably calculate the reaction enthalpies and determine what the energy for the reaction is, then decide whether or not it is feasible for exotic conditions to produce sodium hydroxide in aqueous form from methane clouds in an environment that humans can survive in without any sort of protection. However, I do not imagine readers are here to learn about chemistry: it’s time to return the discussion to Infinite Warfare. After playing the stealth game and sneaking through SDF-occupied grounds, I clear a landing zone for friendly forces, which bring an allied C12 tank along with some heavy armour. These monstrosities are “a cooler version of E3N”, bringing vast amounts of firepower with them and can absorb an incredible amount of damage. Small arms will not harm them at all, requiring a rocket launcher or F-SpAr torch to take out. Having one in my corner allows hordes of SDF soldiers to be dispatched with ease.

  • After the Olympus Mons appears, the C12 and heavy weapons are decimated. An air strike is the only option, and Reyes takes to the skies once more, shooting down multiple SDF air elements before landing at a terminal to remove the safeties, allowing pressures to reach dangerous levels. Once the facility is cleared, it’s a simple matter of lighting the fuse and watching a rather impressive explosion from the fuelling tower.

  • The EBR-800 has quickly turned into one of my favourite weapons: it doubles as an assault rifle and can be counted upon in a pinch. Looking through my site’s archive, March has been a busy month, featuring 56 percent more posts than February even though I’ve been about as busy at work this month as I was last month. It’s not often that I have time to sit down and relax, but weekends are the time to do so: the weather’s finally beginning to feel like spring, and after stepping out today for some errands, I also enjoyed fried chicken for dinner. A year ago, I was on the flight home from Laval, and although I fell ill shortly after returning, I recovered just in time for exam season to kick in. These days, I’ve got no exams, although my subconscious plainly thinks I’m still a student; one dream I had recently was that I failed to submit assignments for several consecutive weeks, only to begin wondering why I was concerned before waking up.

  • Despite making it back out, Reyes is shot down and left adrift in orbit around Titan with E3N. It’s hauntingly beautiful up here, and E3N’s presence is a reassuring one, keeping Reyes company until the Tigress picks him up. One aspect I’ve not mentioned too much yet is Sergeant Omar’s gradual warming to E3N – despite considering him a disposable tool early on, Omar comes to trust E3N and cracks jokes with Reyes, being a character I’ve come to respect. The characters in Infinite Warfare share a strong sense of camaraderie, allowing me relate and yearn to see what happens next to them next.

After learning that the side missions reset with the completion of a main mission, I’m likely to go back and finish all of the side missions I’ve unlocked so far, having completed Operation Burn Water, before moving onto the next mission. Unlike previous instalments of Call of Duty except maybe Black Ops III, Infinite Warfare has created a new means of approaching missions and encouraging replay of its campaign. Consequently, while the space shooter setting might be viewed as being derivative or unremarkable, Infinite Warfare‘s campaign has proven to be the strongest of the Call of Duty campaigns since the days of Modern Warfare, offering numerous options for players even if the game ultimately is very linear in nature. These directions also mean that, with the new choices available for players, the game will take a bit longer to complete. Consequently, I’m going to switch over to Titanfall 2 and also go through the Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Remastered campaigns in the near future; owing to upcoming events, I would like to complete these games before said event arrives. With this being said, I am not leaving Infinite Warfare behind: most likely, I will resume once mid-May arrives.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Impressions of the campaign after an hour

“This is Admiral Salen Kotch of the Olympus Mons. You are defeated. Death is no disgrace!” -Admiral Salen Kotch

Despite being one of the most maligned installments in the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Infinite Warfare from here on out for brevity) managed to pull my curiosity with its setting and premise, where humanity’s efforts to colonise other locales in the solar system eventually results in the formation of a radical military faction known as the Settlement Defense Front (SDF), who mount an assault against the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) to break a long-standing stalemate. The game begins with a botched operation to retrieve a weapons prototype, and in the aftermath, the SDF launch a surprise on the UNSA, crippling their fleet during the Fleet Week celebration events through a combination of hijacking the UNSA’s AATIS guns and through the deployment of the Olympus Mons, the SDF’s flagship that is now armed with the F-SpAr weapon. Despite the efforts of Leftenant Nick Reyes, only two UNSA vessels survive — he is subsequently promoted to Commander and given captaincy of the Retribution, with the mission of delaying the SDF long enough for the UNSA to rebuild their fleet. Through the campaign’s first few missions, I’ve seen the unsuccessful mission to retrieve the F-SpAr, watched the SDF attack on Fleet Week celebrations and have flown into space with the Jackal interdiction fighter, capable of operating in both an atmosphere and the vacuum of space. So far, it’s been a fantastic introduction to Infinite Warfare, and all of the negativity out there surrounding Infinite Warfare appears to have been left behind on the surface as I take flight into the void of space and begin the task of regaining the initiative in a fight with the SDF.

The premise of extremist groups forming shortly after human efforts to colonise space has long been explored as a topic in Mobile Suit Gundam, where the EFSF began contending with the Principality of Zeon as political relations between earth and its colonies decayed. In a manner of speaking, Infinite Warfare appears to be what Mobile Suit Gundam would look like had the weapons and concepts been designed in North America as opposed to Japan, featuring fighter craft in place of humanoid mecha but otherwise share the fundamental idea of a totalitarian regime fighting against a weary democratic system, opening with a surprise attack and placing focus around one ship (the Retribution stands in for White Base and the Nahel Argama). However, instead of watching things, Infinite Warfare places players directly into the boots of a pilot set in a world where there are no exceptionally powerful weapons. The absence of a powerful game-changer such as the Gundam means that Infinite Warfare is aiming to tell a different story about war than Mobile Suit Gundam does — while Gundam aims to show the horrors of warfare, it also strives to discuss the possibility and what can lie beyond war, achieved because of an extraordinary weapon that defeats other weapons. Lacking this, Infinite Warfare is perhaps more cautious in its story, and this is where I am headed now in the campaign, to see what happens next to Commander Reyes and the Retribution.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Even though I know it’s well-crafted skybox, reflective materials and a single directional light, in conjunction with some shaders, the view from Europa’s surface is phenomenal; I spend a few moments admiring it before I proceed with the mission. When I first started Infinite Warfare, I was hit immediately with a hiccough in that the game would freeze up, crash and send me back to my desktop. It plainly was not my computer’s specs, so I did some investigation and found that AVG was causing the issue. Adding the entire directory fixes things, and at last, I find myself ready to begin.

  • The question I can expect of some readers would be why in the world I would even consider, much less go through and play a game like Infinite Warfare. Aside from the fact that I am Infinite Zenith, the honest answer is that I’ve been intrigued by the game’s premise, and the campaign seemed to be a fun adventure. Thus, while some folks may express a certain amount of disgust, yes, I did end up buying the game and I’m enjoying it, so I will be doing talks on this game, although not with the same frequency as I did for each of the war stories from Battlefield 1.

  • The weapons in Infinite Warfare are quite foreign to me despite being derived off modern firearms. I’m wielding the NV4 here, the default SATO assault rifle. With low recoil and a slower firing rate, the weapon is a ballistic type, meaning it can punch through walls. The weapon players equip has a variable magnification holographic sight and a suppressor, reflecting on the operation’s covert nature.

  • The secondary weapon players have access to is the FHR-40, a ballistics-based submachine gun resembling the FN P90. With a large magazine and high rate of fire, the weapon is countered with weaker rounds and higher recoil. Moving swiftly through the facility and clearing out any SDF forces, the seventh SCAR team quickly makes its way to where the F-SpAr prototype is. Players control Dan “Wolf” Lyall in this mission.

  • One of the heavy weapons in Infinite Warfare, the F-SpAr torch is a man-portable version of the F-SpAr directed energy weapon and is the only weapon that can damage the C12 bipedal tanks that appear. The beam emitted by the weapon can lock onto enemies and explode organics into a red paste; the weapon’s damage output is immense, but so is its firing rate (it can burn through an entire magazine in seconds). Despite their efforts, Lyall’s team fails their mission and are ultimately executed by Kotch’s men.

  • The Geneva, Switzerland of the future is filled with skyscrapers; beautifully rendered here, the combination of a cityscape with large battleships gives a sense of scale that provides an impressive backdrop. E3N is introduced here, and I immediately take a liking to his personality, which gives the sense of being both reliable and having a witty character that adds much to lighten up the atmosphere in what is otherwise a very serious-feeling game.

  • After the dropship I’m riding is shot down by the AATIS network, Reyes finds himself crashing into a shopping centre where SDF forces have landed; they begin shooting civilians, but before Reyes and Salter can be killed, Reyes is given the Kendall 44 sidearm and takes out two SDF soldiers. I immediately set about finding a primary weapon. The first weapon that I encountered was the Karma-45, which resembles the Kris Vector 45 ACP.

  • While there are skyscrapers all around, Reyes is shot down over the older districts of Geneva, as evidenced by the buildings here. SDF soldiers all around begin massacring civilians, and one aspect of the game that unsettled me was when I accidentally fired upon what appeared to be a civilian crossing my sights, killing them. However, even with this occurrence, the game itself did not end, standing in contrast with shooters that enforce a do-no-harm approach.

  • One feature in Infinite Warfare that I particularly like is the grenade cooking indicator, which shows how long one has before the grenade will go off. Because enemies will try to vacate the blast radius of a grenade, cooking one will give them much less time to react. The feature was added in Call of Duty: Ghosts, which had a few space missions but otherwise looked unremarkable. I ended up passing over this one, and from the sounds of things, Ghosts proved quite unpopular.

  • Here, I am equipped with the Volk, a directed-energy assault rifle that resembles the AK-47 in design. Having a high damage but low accuracy and rate of fire, the weapon is quite commonly found in-game. Insofar, I’m not too sure what the precise difference between energy weapons and ballistic weapons are: I’ve heard that energy weapons can regenerate ammunition in their magazines over time but cannot penetrate surfaces, whereas ballistic weapons are more powerful and can punch through surfaces.

  • Here, I wield the RAW light machine gun, pushing through the burning streets of Geneva en route to the AATIS control station. Owing to the way the weapons work in Infinite Warfare work, it stands to reason that it’s a good idea to have an energy weapon and a ballistic weapon so one can be ready for most situations. In general, I always stick with a good all-around weapon, like an assault rifle, and then pair it with any other weapon with a more specialised role.

  • An SDF gunship makes it difficult to close in on the AATIS control facility, but fortunately, one has access to some friendly close-air support, which will sweep through the area and clear out large numbers of enemies very quickly. With this feature in mind, I pushed up the hill and hid in a downed dropship while awaiting for the support to come back online after taking out ground infantry.

  • Designating the SDF gunship as a target is the only way I can think of for taking it out quickly: other mechanisms are ineffective or will expose one to the elements, since I don’t think there are any MANPADs conveniently hanging around for players to use. Once this threat is neutralised, players enter the facility and regain control of the AATSI guns, learning that there is a spy, Akeel Min Riah, an SDF agent responsible for sabotaging the UNSA. After Riah is apprehended, Reyes and the other SCAR operatives take to the skies.

  • The transition from boots-on-the-ground gameplay to taking control of a spacecraft is remarkably smooth, and if I had to guess, I imagine that the cutscenes incorporate some trickery to give the sense of multi-scale; through my research, I realised that true multi-scale will likely remain unattainable with current generation technology owing to the allocation of resources in order to smoothly transition from one scale to another. Instead, various sleight of hand techniques, such as altering the scale of objects and spaces, are used to convey differences in scale.

  • The first space combat sequence of Infinite Warfare is ferocious and fast-paced. One of the features that proved to be unexpected was how the Jackals handle in flight. Movement is more similar to walking than flying, similar to the Banshees of Halo, and so, I found that it makes more sense to have standard mouse look directions while in flight, rather than the inverted that I prefer for conventional flight controls.

  • The “dog fight mode” mechanic from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon appears in Infinite Warfare, allowing players to lock onto fast-moving enemies and have the autopilot steer so that they may concentrate on shooting. The mechanic was a bit of a contentious point, but it’s straightforwards to shoot down enemy fighters without it: to those folks who dislike it, there’s nothing stopping them from simply not using it. Further to this, it turns out that higher difficulties remove this ability entirely, forcing players to depend on a sure aim to shoot down SDF fighters.

  • While we are on the topic of Ace CombatAce Combat 7: Skies Unknown was recently announced for PC. There’s no concrete release date, but the game is powered by the Unreal Engine and set in Strangereal, making it the first-ever Ace Combat game set in Strangereal to be on PC. The game’s a little more than half finished by this point in time and is likely to come out later this year; I’m excited and might pick it up shortly after launch if the PC version proves to be well-received. Back in Infinite Warfare, I pummel an enemy cruiser here with the 50 mm cannon, eventually turning it into a glowing pile of wreckage.

  • The sudden arrival of the Olympus Mons was a bit of a shock and changes up the tenour dramatically: listening to the radio chatter, a sense of concern is conveyed when Salter and the others note that nothing the SATO forces have is effective against the super-carrier. However, exhibiting the qualities of a capable leader, Reyes orders his forces to concentrate fire on the vessel even as it destroys a SATO vessel in one shot. This action is reminiscent of Théoden King, who rallied his men and ordered them to “reform the line” when the oliphants appeared.

  • These overwhelmingly large beasts instill fear in their enemies through their size, but in giving his orders, Théoden forces his men to rally and regroup before fear kicks in, causing discord. His decision to take them head-on might be questionable from a tactical perspective, as it would maximise casualties, but from a strategic perspective, was probably a better move, since the act would show the Haradrim that their greatest weapon, fear, would not be efficacious here. Returning to Infinite Warfare, the Olympus Mons is the largest and most powerful warship ever built in this universe, with a length of 927 meters. Reyes hands control over to Ethan and things momentarily becomes a rail shooter, where the only goal is to damage the ballistic cannons on the Olympus Mons.

  • The Retribution executes a tactical collision (really a more professional way of saying “we’re ramming it”), forcing the Olympus Mons to retreat. In the aftermath, Reyes returns to the Retribution and learns of the extent of the damage that the SDF has inflicted. He is promoted to commander and tasked with keeping SDF forces at bay while the SATO fleet regroups and rebuilds. Speaking freely, I’m highly excited to push forwards with the campaign after the first set of missions, but the unexpected arrival of the Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days OVA will require some minor adjustments to my schedule so I can get a talk out on that soon.

An hour into Infinite Warfare, and I’ve been quite pleased at how smoothly the game handles, both with respect to the boots-on-the-ground aspects and the sequence involving Jackal combat. I’ve got no gripes about the gameplay itself, and note that while I did have a bit of trouble starting the game (the fix was adding the entire Infinite Warfare directory into the exceptions for AVG), once things got started, it has been a solid experience. Gunplay is crisp and responsive, more so than any Call of Duty I’ve previously played, and the set pieces are appropriate. From these experiences insofar, I’m enjoying the campaign and its presentation of an interactive variant of the Mobile Suit Gundam story. There might be no Newtypes or mobile suits, but Infinite Warfare‘s first few missions give an excellent sense of what this game’s campaign is about. I am very excited to experience where things go next, and while I’ve only got a minimal interest in the multiplayer, I can say for sure that this game is not one that is deserving of the negativity and vitriol that would better be directed towards more constructive activities.

Returning to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare- Another Review and Introspective

“It’s quite simple. Either we retake the launch facility or we won’t recognize the world tomorrow.” —Captain Price

When I last played through Call of Duty 4, it was the summer of 2012. I was staring down the MCAT at the time; the preparation courses had just started, and one of my friends had lent me his Steam account such that I could help him idle for items in Team Fortress 2 while he was on vacation (this was back during the era where idling was a functional means of accumulating enough metal to craft hats, and while it lasted, we got some pretty cool stuff out of it). I noticed that Call of Duty 4 was in his Steam library and decided to give that a go while idling. At that point, Halo 2 Vista was the shooter I played the most frequently, and so, Call of Duty 4 was a complete breath of fresh air. Coming from a game where I handled missions on my own and where armour was inconsequential, Call of Duty 4‘s campaign played in a completely different manner. The game presents a tale about the theft of nuclear weapons by Ultranationalists, and the player takes on the role of a variety of infantry units working in a squad to advance further and ultimately, thwart the Ultranationalists’ plans. Although this approach is now formulaic and oft-maligned, it was a completely new direction back during 2007, when the game first released, and for me, Call of Duty 4 marked a completely different experience than something like Halo 2 or 007 Nightfire. Whereas I had been previously used to fighting through locales on my own, Call of Duty 4 placed me in a squad where I could count on support from other allied soldiers to carry out a mission (in fact, Call of Duty 4 is where the notion of player-unopenable doors began). Similarly, whereas I previously disregarded armour as being a credible threat, Call of Duty 4 changed that perspective, since I was no longer a super-soldier capable of independently engaging tanks on my own.

My interests in Call of Duty 4 had been piqued by the Pripyat mission, All Ghillied Up: one of the most iconic missions in first person shooters, All Ghillied Up marked a profound change of pace from preceeding missions. The player assume the role of Captain Price (then a lieutenant), sneaking through Pripya to reach a vantage point and assassinate a terrorist. However, while the name of that mission was stealth, the game also provided some allowances for players who failed to be completely stealthy: unlike modern shooters that give players an immediate game over, being spotted in All Ghillied Up led to firefights with enemy forces, and should players succeed, they would get an admonishing from Captain MacMillian. The mission would still continue, mirroring how real life provides individuals with some tolerance for not adhering entirely to a plan. Thus, I yearned to try this mission out for myself and made my way through Call of Duty 4 for the purposes of experiencing the entire title. When I finished, I found Call of Duty 4 to possess a unique atmosphere: it felt like playing through a political thriller/action film, and the game would forever remind me of the long days I spent studying for the MCAT.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Playing through the original Modern Warfare again was a real treat, and even though the game is now nearing its tenth anniversary, it remains as one of the most iconic military shooters that influenced a large number of games. The biggest thrill, however, is the opportunity to fight through the Azerbaijan countryside near the Caucaus Mountains of Russia: this is what I missed the most while playing through Modern Warfare 3.

  • Call of Duty 4 made widespread elements that continue enduring in present-day shooters, such as aiming down sights to reduce bullet spread. Besides Captain Price and Soap’s side of the story, Call of Duty 4 also depicted the narrative from the perspective of American soldiers fighting in an unspecified Middle East country. One of the most surprising moments in Call of Duty 4 was when an American soldier witnesses the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the Middle East, precipitating the events of Modern Warfare 2.

  • Throughout this post, I will refer to Call of Duty 4 interchangeably with Modern Warfare and note that the screenshots are unevenly distributed towards Soap’s missions. The moody and wistful lighting of the Azerbaijan levels were remarkably fun to play through, while the missions set in the sandy Middle Eastern levels felt a little more pedestrian. It comes as no surprise that playing through these levels remind me of the MCAT without fail.

  • The weapons loadouts in Call of Duty 4 set the stage for how other modern military shooters, such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2, handled things: the starting weapons for Soap are usually an M4A1 SOPMOD (configured with a suppressor, M203 under-barrel GL, reflex sight and infrared illuminator alongside the M21 rifle. These weapons handle exceptionally well and usually do not need to be swapped out: the M4A1 handles quite well at medium ranges, while the M21 is well-suited for longer range combat.

  • Switching out weapons then becomes a matter of personal preference, to experience the game differently: in general, I tend to stick to the starting weapons because they have optics. Most of the weapons enemy forces carry are only found with their default iron sights, and I’ve never been particularly good with iron sights in games owing to how they’re rendered. While RDS and other optics offset accuracy very slightly in reality, in games, they confer a superior shooting experience, and as such, I usually run with either the Coyote sight or holographic sights in Battlefield 4.

  • I was quite excited to hear that Modern Warfare would be getting a remastered edition in November, but that excitement turned to disappointment when I learned that the remastered edition would only be sold in conjunction with the 110 dollar (Canadian) Legacy Edition of Infinite Warfare. I would have easily shelled out 40 CAD or so for a renewed take on Modern Warfare, and Infinite Warfare looks interesting, but I don’t think it’s an economically sound decision to spend 110 dollars on a game until I’m a little more certain as to whether or not I’ll enjoy it.

  • I’m certain that I’ll enjoy the updated Modern Warfare and in fact, look forwards to most seeing what the rejuvenated Pripyat looks like. However, I’m not certain how Infinite Warfare will go, and since I don’t play the multiplayer component of Call of Duty games, it’s better to wait and see. With that being said, I am quite confident that the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be something I will love playing through: I pre-ordered the Day One Edition today, and it’ll unlock on August 23. Speaking of August, observant viewers note that I write posts on the fourth of August every year. This is no coincidence, and tonight, I settled down to a nice homemade dinner with pork chop and freshly-steamed garlic prawns, making the pre-order for  Deus Ex: Mankind Divided while waiting for the prawns to finish cooking.

  • Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up and purchase the GTX 1060 before then, so I can enjoy both Mankind Divided and DOOM the way they’re meant to be played, at 1080p and 60 FPS with ultra settings. Back in Modern Warfare, my collection of screenshots have finally reached the part where I make my way through Pripyat and the field surrounding Chernobyl. Despite the four years that have passed since I first played this, the sense of immersion in this mission remains unmatched.

  • I wrote two special topics posts about the Pripyat missions to assassinate Zakhaev back during 2012, one for “All Ghillied Up” and one for “One Shot, One Kill”. Both were written in early June, when my MCAT course and physics courses overlapped, resulting in a modestly busy schedule. I learned that taking summer courses was a surprisingly melancholy experience, as I would need to study while my peers were enjoying the summer weather. From there on out, I resolved to work harder from there on out so I could spend my summers engaged in research or working.

  • Armed with my then freshly-reawakened knowledge of projectile motion, I quickly ran the computations to determine that the trajectory of the bullet in “One Shot, One Kill” made sense and subsequently managed to snipe Zakhaev in one shot. In the four years that have passed since then, I’ve become a poorer shot and it took me multiple attempts to successfully blow his arm off, leading to the next phase of the mission. Involving keeping the Ultranationalist soldiers at bay, this part is rather more straightforwards.

  • While the placement of iconic features in Pripyat’s cityscape are not correct, nor is the chronological state of different facilities in Pripyat (the city’s pool, for instance, was still operational as late as 1996), that the developers went to great lengths to craft a compelling, detailed virtual Pripyat is impressive. It is for this reason that the Pripyat missions in Call of Duty 4 continue stand out clearly even in light of the numerous shooters I’ve played through since 2012.

  • There’s a certain melancholy in the mission set after “One Shot, One Kill”: titled “Heat”, the goal is to repel an ultranationalist counterattack and last long enough to reach extraction. On this playthrough, I’ve deliberately chosen to leave all of the intel (collectible laptop computers) where they were even as I found them; I plan on going back at some unspecified point in the future to collect everything.

  • According to the in-game dates, much of the events of Modern Warfare are set in 2011: while the year started a little more unevenly than I would have liked with respect to my coursework, I had a particularly memorable summer once courses ended and research began. During that summer, I developed an agent-based model of fluid flow in a nephron, obtained my basic operator’s license, watched Sora no Woto and spent several evenings at LAN parties on a lazy summer’s night.

  • Back in Call of Duty 4, the final mission of the second act is to chase down Zakhaev’s son in an attempt to learn where Zakhaev himself is. Soap begins armed with the R700 bolt action sniper rifle, the only bolt action weapon in the campaign. It makes up for its low capacity by having high stopping power, although the low carrying capacity means it will soon be discarded in favour of another weapon.

  • Equipped with a reflex sight and sporting a high hip-fire accuracy, the G36C is a common sight in the campaign and is a fine secondary weapon. One aspect of Call of Duty that I found to be enjoyable was the large pool of flash bang grenades and fragmentation grenades: the former are particularly useful for stunning enemies in a room long enough to neutralise everyone, making them a powerful asset on higher difficulties.

  • Here, I’m wielding the W1200 shotgun, having made use of it to clear the building en route to capturing Zakhaev’s son. A pump action shotgun, the W1200 is lethal at close ranges, and I usually chose to equip shotguns where there is a great deal of combat inside a building. During the daytime missions, the age of the graphics in Call of Duty 4 can be seen; at 1080p, the mountain skyboxes look a little blurry, but surprisingly, the textures and assets of the game objects themselves remain quite sharp.

  • The last act in Modern Warfare is to infiltrate a Russian launch facility under Ultranationalist control and thwart a rogue launch. According to the animations, the projected causalities for failure would exceed 40 million, lending itself to the page quote. With this in mind, there’s actually no real time limit to how long one has to enter the facility, so it is possible to play through at a slower, more methodical pace.

  • Here, I reach the power lines that supply the launch facility and making use of C4 to destroy some pylons to take out the power, buying some time for an infil. It suddenly strikes me that on this play-through of Modern Warfare, I completed the game (including all deaths) in around six hours. I can see why the campaign of Modern Warfare and other modern military shooters are considered short, especially considering how Alien: Isolation has occupied around 14 hours of my time, and how DOOM can reasonably be expected to yield a 12-13 hour campaign.

  • However, for the price of admissions, I gauge the value of a game compared against the value of a movie. Since the average movie costs 13-20 dollars to watch (for anywhere from 1.5-3 hours of content), I believe that a game that can deliver six hours of content for eleven dollars is not doing too bad. I remark that while the graphics throughout most of Call of Duty 4 have aged somewhat gracefully, the last two missions, set inside the bunker and on a frenzied pursuit, have not: it was quite tricky for me to get good screenshots for those moments, so I’ve ended the review here on the “All In” mission.

  • The penultimate mission, “No Fighting In The War Room”, feels distinctly like a James Bond shooter — the tight corridors of the facility makes shotguns and PDWs viable here. With Call of Duty beaten a second time and discussed, this post comes to an end. Coming up next will be a talk on New Game after three episodes: having seen enough episodes of New Game, I conclude that it is an anime I will be following this season. However, there’s no trace of the anime glorifying overwork, and some details folks at Tango-Victor-Tango claim are significant are in fact, quite minor. Beyond New Game, I’m actually not too sure what I’ll be writing about this month, but I’ll write about things as they happen.

I wrote the MCAT exam four years ago, and since then, I’ve had the opportunity to go through numerous other shooters, each offering something different and unique with respect to narrative and mechanics. However, despite the time that has passed and experiences that the passage of time confers, Call of Duty 4 remains an intriguing game. Thus, during this year’s Steam Summer Sale, I jumped on the chance to pick up the game on discount and experience it once more. For me, the most enjoyable aspect of Call of Duty 4 remains the fact that half of the game is set in the Caucasus Mountains and the more remote regions of Russia, which have always exerted a strong pull over my curiosity. From the news that’s been present, it appears that Call of Duty 4 will be getting a remastered version, and although I am interested to see how the remastered edition will bring new life to a classic, it appears that it will be only bundled with Call of Duty‘s latest incarnation, Infinite Warfare. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare itself actually looks quite interesting, but I’ll probably wait around and see how the campaign itself is before I decide on sinking any coin into picking the game up: I’ve got two eyes on Battlefield 1 right now, which feels like Strike Witches in the Frostbite Engine and could very well have an interesting campaign to go with the WWI multiplayer.

Steam Summer Sale 2016

“If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all of your items, just carry those twenty percent.” —Henry A. Kissinger

We’re dead in the middle of a Steam Summer Sale right now, and this year’s sale comes a little later than it did last year: starting on June 24 and ending on July 4. Dispensing with the flash sales, this year, sale prices are fixed throughout the entire sale at one rate to ensure that everyone who’s interested in a game can buy it at a constant price without waiting around for the flash sales. In addition, gone are the somewhat chaotic events of last year’s summer sale, which featured an 8-bit monster hunting theme that allowed for interesting badges to be unlocked and the previous year’s infamous team event; the 2016 sale is simpler in nature, following the Winter 2015 sale in providing trading cards through viewing one’s discovery queue. This approach shifts the sale event back to the sales itself, as opposed to earlier years, where the events appeared to generate more interest than the discounts themselves. I rather prefer this approach, and in the 2016 iteration of the sale, my wallet lightens considerably as I add DOOM, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Refunct, SUPERHOT and the Go! Go! Nippon! 2015 DLC to my library of titles. At the time of writing, now that I’m afforded some time to relax, I’ve gone back to beat SUPERHOT‘s campaign to unlock challenges and endless mode. In addition, I’ve also returned to Pripyat with Captain MacMillan in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

  • This is perhaps one of the biggest single purchases I’ve made on Steam at any one given time: the prices were driven up by the fact that DOOM is still a lofty 48 CAD even with its 40% off sale. Armed with the 20% off discount and a bonus 15% off coupon, SUPERHOT becomes a more reasonable 23 dollars. I did say that if the game cost 25 dollars or less, I would pick it up without any questions. Finally, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a game I’ve been looking to introduce into my library: it’s an amazing single-player experience that I longed to experience again ever since playing through it four summers ago on a friend’s account.

  • Thanks to the discovery queue, I learned that Go! Go! Nippon had new DLC, bringing the game into 720p and offering nearly double the content compared to the base game. I’ve beaten the Makoto route, but the DLC brings the game into the modern era, with higher resolution artwork and new places to explore. I came across Refunct through the discovery queue, as well: it is through this queue that cards are earned, and it’s relatively straightforwards to accumulate enough cards to obtain a summer sale badge.

  • I also decided to capitalise on the heat of things to get a Sakura Angels badge: last year, I did mention that I would craft the badge, and the result was that I got a cool emoticon and wallpaper out of it. With my graduate programme ending now, I will need to decline some of the scholarships I was offered and figure out what else, besides revising the thesis, needs to be done before I can graduate for real.

  • For now, however, I will take things easy and enjoy Canada Day tomorrow: it’s a well-earned break after nearly six full months of solid work, and I’m looking forwards to an adventure in the mountains. As I’ve mentioned last year, these screenshots of my current Steam profile give some insight into how things change over time. In this year’s post, only the iTunes logo is different, and a close inspection finds that I’m now level 25 in Steam compared to last year’s 22. I’ve also got 218 more achievements and two more perfect games.

Looking back at some of my reflections on games during 2015, I’ve finally purchased SUPERHOT after much anticipation from last summer (in fact, I’ve been waiting for SUPERHOT to release since September 2013 after a friend showed me the prototype). In addition, DOOM enters my library: it’s looking to be a fantastic game, and I cannot wait to purchase a new GPU to see how fantastic DOOM looks on it. Similarly, four years after my MCAT, I finally have the opportunity to crawl through Chernobyl in a ghille suit in 1080p. This has been a wonderful sale, and my eye now turns to pre-ordering Deus Ex: Mankind Divided once I return from my conference; standing as one of the best games I’ve ever played, Deus Ex: Human Revolutions set a new standard for what constitutes a good game, and it’ll be exciting to see where Mankind Divided will go with Adam Jensen’s story. For the present, there are some four days left in this year’s sale, and I’m quite pleased with this year’s acquisitions: between these games and Mankind Divided, there will be no shortage of games for those rainy days where I do not feel like talking a hike in a nearby civic park or getting some friends together for wings and beer.

Call of Duty Black Ops: A Reflection

“[The numbers have] always been real Mason. This isn’t a game. We face annihilation unless you cooperate. Where is the broadcast station?!?” —Special Agent Jason Hudson

Purchased on during a sudden, unexpected Steam sale back during September, I picked up Call of Duty: Black Ops at half-price. Following CIA clandestine black operations, the story is centered around Nova 6, a biological weapon developed in Nazi Germany and refined by the Soviet Union for war against the United States. The story is told through several individuals’ perspectives, including SAD/SOG special forces operative Alex Mason, CIA agent Jason Hudson and several other characters. Each individuals’ roles come together to fill in the pieces about Nova 6: the different missions are set in a variety of locations around the world, from Vietnam to the Ural Mountains. As the story falls into place, more about Mason’s background is revealed, along with the mystery behind Nova 6. The end result is a campaign that is quite gripping, and the variety of settings means that the shooting is never too repetitive: I definitely enjoyed seeing the hunt for Nova 6 from varying perspectives and exploring the plethora of locations. Unlike Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the combat system feels satisfying and well-polished. Movement is responsive, so I never got stuck in the geometry or died to stray grenades. The weapons also feel quite powerful, giving a very tangible effect on enemies when fired. In fact, the effects of shotguns and explosives were reminiscent of the damage that the weapons from Wolfenstein: The New Order caused.

The story in Call of Duty: Black Ops stood out to me, not so much for the execution, but its premise. Around a year-and-a-half ago, I had just finished watching Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, an anime set in 1983 in a village known as Hinamizawa. Protagonist Keiichi Maebara, moves to Hinamizawa and befriends his new classmates Rena Ryugu, Mion Sonozaki, Rika Furude, and Satoko Houjou. Keiichi joins their after-school club activities in a peaceful setting. However, things take a turn for the ugly during an annual festival, resulting in the death of either characters or the destruction of the entire village. Dubbed Hinamizawa Syndrome, this mysterious agent forms the core of their plot, rather similar to how Nova 6 is at the heart of Call of Duty: Black Ops. While both stories are quite distinct from one another, I sometimes wonder how these separate stories might have meshed together. A fan fiction out there makes an appreciable effort at bringing these two universes together, weaving a contemplative narrative that presents the characters in a different light. In choosing to let words, rather than bullets do the talking, said fan fiction is remarkably well thought-out. I myself wonder about alternate histories: my favourite story to entertain would involve Higurashi‘s secret organisation “Tokyo” clandestinely allowing Nova 6 to be deployed at Hinamizawa to start a war between Japan and China in revenge for the Second World War’s outcome. Mason would be forced to fight through the mountains and forests of Gifu to stop this plot, as well as capture a Chinese agent who’s had a hand in Nova 6’s weaponisation. The Cold War was definitely a frightening, tense period of history, but also is sufficiently intriguing as to have yielded numerous stories.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My favourite aspect of Black Ops was the sheer diversity of locations one had the opportunity to fight through. The game starts with the Bay of Pigs invasion and features a fictionalised attempt on Fidel Castro’s life. The particle effects throughout Black Ops are incredible, especially considering that the title was released back in 2010.

  • High on the list of things I’ve always wanted to do in a first person shooter is to fight my way through a Gulag camp located in the frozen Soviet wastelands. Vorkutlag was a gulag located in Siberia, 160 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. This was a coal-mining camp, so the massive bucket seen during this mission might be plausible, although existing photographs of the gulag are few and show a more primitive camp compared to what’s seen in-game.

  • An uprising at Vorkuta did happen in 1953 (rather than 1963 as depicted in Black Ops), where inmates walked off their positions, demanding a right to attorney. While the guards initially did not act, they were eventually ordered to put down the strike using lethal force when the prisoners barricaded sections of the Gulag in response to arrests of the prisoners. Here, Mason wields the the “Death Machine”, a man-portable minigun found only in this mission. With a 999-round capacity, this weapon is powerful enough to wreck vehicles and riot guards with ease.

  • There’s a certain joy about fighting at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the world’s oldest space launch facility: the mission is to sabotage a Russian launch. After the initial mission is compromised, Mason and the others manage to destroy the rocket before it launches. The same facility is taken over by terrorists intending to use the site for launching nuclear missiles in Tom Clancy’s Locked On, forcing John Clark to reassume control of Rainbow Six to regain control of Baikonur Cosmodrome and stop the launches.

  • Mason is then forced to recall his time in Vietnam five years after the mission at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Fighting in the trenches with an M16A1, the mission’s goal was to investigate the possibility of Russian involvement in the Vietnam War. In reality, aside from donating military hardware and provisions to the Viet Cong, the Soviets had very little to do with the war: American involvement was motivated by a containment policy that was intended to stop the spread of communism, but the Vietnamese desire was merely a reunified nation.

  • Consequently, the north Vietnamese armies fought with a far stronger resolve, eventually leading the American forces to withdraw in 1975. Here, I’m using the M60 (alternatively known as “The Gun of Rambo”) in the trenches, and in a later section of the mission, an AK-47 with an underslung flamethrower can be found. Such flamethrowers did exist, but were an uncommon sight.

  • The Dragon’s Breath shots for the SPAS-12 are also real, being typically used for demonstration purposes rather than combat. In Black Ops, the weapon is surprisingly effective and will set enemies ablaze when it hits them. In general, Black Ops is rather gorier than other incarnations of Call of Duty I’ve seen: powerful weapons can blow limbs or even entire bodies apart in a similar manner as Wolfenstein.

  • Besides fighting through a Gulag, Black Ops allowed me to play through another two things on my “list of things to experience in a first person shooter” at once with its “Numbers mission”: to fight through the rooftops and corridors of Kowloon Walled City with the Koffler & Stock D17 Heckler and Koch G11. A scoped version can be found later in the level, and I rather enjoyed this mission: I’ve always felt that the shady nature of the Kowloon Walled City would be the perfect place for illegal research on biological weapons.

  • While it’s clear that creative liberties were taken with the level design, it was quite rewarding to see the Yamen at the centre of the Kowloon Walled City: this lawless district resulted of the refusal of the Chinese, British and Hong Kong government to take responsibility for the land, making it suited for criminal activity. In the 1970s, haphazard build-up resulted in 14-story high buildings enclosing narrow corridors, and by 1987, the Hong Kong government’s patience was reached: they demolished the city and resettled the residents.

  • Black Ops then returns to the months after WWII had ended: Nazi facilities near the Arctic Circle were being raided by the Russian forces to secure any weapons research and staff before the Allied Forces arrived. If the in-game map is to be believed, this facility would be set in Baffin Island in the most remote regions of Northern Canada, which is coincidentally, where Les Stroud shot one of his more memorable Survivorman episodes where he caught Arctic Char.

  • British SAS Commandos appear later in the mission with the intent of capturing the Nazi research, and although they are technically Allied forces, they are hostile to the player. Following the end of the Second World War, the Allies scrambled to capture as much Nazi technology as they could. Werner von Braun’s capture by the United States proved to be a major boost to their space program: von Braun, who had developed the V2 rocket, would later design the Saturn V that put man on the moon.

  • From the coldest tundra to the most humid jungle, Black Ops biggest strength was the diversity of the environments in the campaign. The constant change in scenery is all tied together by Mason’s interrogation, and consequently, far from feeling jarring or disconnected, the player is transported to a variety of locations that serve some roll in advancing the story, so the game never feels too repetitive or stale.

  • Having access to vehicular weapons is always a blast, allowing players to wreck havoc en route to their objectives. By today, I’m finally done implementation of the multi-agent aspect of my simulation. There are still critical bugs that I need to iron out; collisions can cause the Unreal Engine to lock up entirely, but I’m hoping that the fix I’ve used for similar problems will be similarly effective. I’ll begin working on the C++ ODE components of my project now, and return next week to solve the bugs before returning my attention to my simulation’s mathematical modelling component.

  • The first time I played the WMD mission was at an electronics store at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets back during my trip to New York during the summer of 2011, although I never did finish the mission. I fondly remember this summer for getting my basic driver’s license, watching Sora no WotoK-On!Break BladeIka Musume and The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, succeeding in building a fluid flow model for the nephron, travelling into the mountains on several occasions and playing Halo Reach at a friend’s place after a BBQ.

  • Summer 2012 and 2013 were rather more melancholic, but the previous two summers have been as spirited as that of 2011. Returning to Black Ops, I’ll probably return in the future to do a special talk on the WMD mission: it’s easily the most memorable level in the game owing to excellent level design and atmospherics, and two screenshots is not nearly enough to fully detail all of the different elements that made WMD so immersive.

  • That isn’t to say the other missions weren’t fun: a subsequently mission has Mason piloting an Mi-24 Hind in his quest to find Dragovic’s second in command and wipe him out. The terrain in Sekong, Laos is beautifully rendered. As an older game, my rig has no trouble running it on full settings at 1080p, although I did have to double check to make sure that the graphics were turned out to maximum: back during Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, I left everything on highest rather than native, which resulted in fuzzy textures.

  • One of the themes covered in Black Ops is the uncertainty of knowledge: throughout the game, Mason is portrayed as having undergone brainwashing and thus, has trouble remembering certain events, even to the point of fabricating them in his mind. That one’s memories can be tampered with or repressed is a very real and frightening possibility, usually occurring under great duress.

  • After getting through to Mason, the location of the enigmatic numbers station is finally revealed, and a final assault is launched to stop the deployment of Nova 6. The broadcast is stopped when Mason destroys the station, averting a crisis. Covering a plethora of intriguing Cold War topics, Black Ops was a thrilling ride from start to finish. I finished the campaign over six hours of gameplay, so the game is rather short. With that being said, while gamers have complained about short campaigns in shooters, I remark that older shooters like 007 Nightfire have short campaigns: I beat Nightfire in roughly four hours for a single play-through, excluding repeat missions for unlocking stuff.

  • With the end of this Black Ops post, a glance at my upcoming programme finds that I will need to write the post for the Yuru Yuri Summer OVAs. Besides the now-weekly posts on Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??, I’ve also got some special topics posts that I’ll roll out later this month. I suddenly recall that Black Ops III is coming out in two days, but it’s not a game I’m likely to pick up (even if my PC is capable of running it).

I’ve only played a few rounds of Zombies, the game-mode that Black Ops is best known for. In comparison to the main story, Zombies adds a degree of humour and changes up the mood in the game. While defending the Pentagon, I was playing as John F. Kennedy, and it was remarkably amusing to hear him give a one-liner after killing a zombie. I’ve yet to delve deeper into the story, but the inclusion of a single-player zombies mode was most welcome. All-in-all, Call of Duty: Black Ops was an excellent ride, marking one of the few recent Call of Duty titles to be set during the Cold War. The premise of modern warfare has been explored to exhaustion by present-day titles, so it is refreshing to see shooters set in different eras, and the Cold War allows for more intriguing stories to be developed. The next Black Ops title will be set somewhere in the future. At present, it appears that the near future is what’s trending amongst developers, but one must wonder whether or not shooters set in World War II or the Cold War, could be written to have a compelling story while simultaneously sporting current visual and graphical elements. Presently, Black Ops shows that it is possible to develop a reasonably coherent story set during the Cold War, and with the campaign completed, I will probably return to Call of Duty: Black Ops to experience the zombies game-mode in all its glory.