The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: FPS

Half-Life 2- Downfall: A Reflection

“Prepare for unforeseen consequences.” —The G Man, Half-Life 2 Episode 2

Gordon Freeman is tasked with retrieving a resistance weapon capable of destroying Combine Citadels in a mission whose timeframe relative to the other events of Half-Life 2 are not known. After arriving at a sawmill, Freeman fights his way through hordes of zombies to reach a derelict mine guarded by a veritable armada of Combine soldiers. Entering the mine, Freeman begins his descent into the bowels of the earth itself in search of this weapon. Released earlier this year as a Half-Life 2 mod, Downfall is an excellent fan-made addition to the Half-Life 2 universe that remains highly faithful to the mechanics and visuals of the Half-Life 2 games. Set in the White Forest area, the atmospherics and visual effects are top-tier, matching those of Half-Life 2 Episode 2 in most areas and surpassing it in others. The mod is incomplete at present, and two more chapters are planned. The first chapter is a ways longer than Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast. The mod is comparable to a single chapter in a Half-Life 2 episode, taking around three-quarters of an hour to beat on standard difficulty, but it’s an immensely thrilling ride, being the next best thing to a proper announcement about the likely non-existent Half-Life 2 Episode 3 and Half-Life 3 itself.

What makes Downfall such an entertaining mod is the fact that, while the level design is structured consistently with what is seen in the actual Half-Life 2 titles, Downfall introduces a new twist on things: players are only equipped with the legendary Zero-Point Energy Manipulation Device (Gravity Gun) to begin with. Upon arriving at the sawmill, zombies begin appearing en masse to attack the player, forcing players to get creative with the objects available in the environment. Even after a crowbar is found, things remain quite tricky – clearing an area of zombies and moving onwards is an especially rewarding feeling. One of the more exhilarating moments was fighting a poison headcrab zombie in one of the houses: I’m accustomed to having some heavy firepower in the form of under-barrel grenades and a good stockpile of hand grenades when taking these monstrosities on, but Downfall only provides players with a pistol at this point. Running out of ammunition will occur before one can take down the poison headcrab zombie, so players are forced to bait the zombie into throwing the poison headcrabs at them, and then dispatch each individual poison headcrab with the crowbar. As players acquire more weapons, the gameplay in Downfall begins feeling more like a traditional Half-Life 2 mission; engaging Combine soldiers and other enemies become rather more straightforward.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Downfall opens with a casual Sunday drive to a location where a beacon signal is transmitted, under what appears to be the setting sun. Downfall could hypothetically be set in the moments following Episode 2, after Eli Vance is killed by a Combine Advisor; Freeman must then regroup with additional members of the Resistance before they set off for the Borealis. Once players reach the sawmill, the muscle car must be abandoned.

  • There’s a definite calm in the atmosphere as Freeman begins exploring the area, and there’s an abandoned boathouse adjacent to a lake. Of all the existing instalments in Half-Life 2Episode 2 stands out as having some of the most memorable scenery, being set in the remote forests of Eastern Europe rather than the close-quarters of City 17. I’ve heard that Episode 2 was inspired by forests of Oregon.

  • The moody skies in Episode 2 bring to mind the mood of my area shortly after the Great Flood of 2013. The Royal Family visited the area shortly after, and I recall listening to a news programme covering the event while I was fighting my way through the White Forest Inn ambush. The quiet beauty of the area is offset by the fierce onslaught, so after the fighting died down, I spent a few moments exploring the area.

  • Because players only start out with the Gravity Gun and find a crowbar early into Downfall, the first segments of the mod handle similarly to the Ravenholm mission. To encourage creative play, Valve implemented an achievement called “Zombie Chopper” for using only using the Gravity Gun. While seemingly a difficult task, ammunition was already quite scarce in Ravenholm, and bullets are actually less effective against zombies than large objects.

  • The crowbar is a fantastic weapon against leaping headcrabs and can kill one in a single hit, including poison headcrabs. A large number of zombies, including zombines, appear here, but the abundance of objects that can be thrown means that there are no shortage of options for dealing with zombies. The tire swing on the left of image can be used to great effect; it is hilarious to send conventional zombies flying with it, but there is also a risk: I lost thirty points of health because the tire swing swung back at me after one use.

  • In the sawmill’s attic, players will come across the control panel for opening the flood gate, allowing Freeman to move into the next area. There’s also a large ammunition cache here, plus several computer terminals, indicating that the sawmill was probably used as a Resistance outpost before the Combine overwhelmed them. For the time being, there’s no way to actually get into the ammunition cache, which is present purely for aesthetic purposes.

  • The house here is infested with poison headcrabs and a poison headcrab zombie: while I’m accustomed to using heavy firepower to deal with them (burning them with explosive barrels, or otherwise using a combination of hand grenades and the MP7’s under-barrel grenades), these are not options in the house. Instead, Freeman must bait the poison headcrabs into leaping off the zombie, and then beat them down with the crowbar. After all of the poison headcrabs are expended, the zombie itself can be pummeled to death using physical objects, and the cinder brick found in the cellar of this house is particularly useful for that task.

  • A quick glance at the calendar shows that it’s been five days since Christmas, and six days since I posted anything. This is because it’s been a bit of a relaxing, if somewhat busy Christmas: on Christmas Day this year, the day began with a fantastic breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, hash browns and Belgian waffles. After the opening of gifts, I took a walk on the nearby hills by afternoon despite the -20°C weather, where I found some Christmas ornaments hanging on one of the aspen groves, and then spent the rest of the day playing Overgrowth. We finished the day with prime rib and the remarkably flavourful beef bones.

  • They definitely aren’t kidding when the say that the Icefields Parkway is a remote stretch of road with reduced maintenance in winter. The drive back home was as treacherous: a blizzard had began in earnest when we began making our way back. Last evening, temperatures reached a low of -31°C before windchill and a fresh snow had fallen. It’s expected to be -32°C later tonight (-43°C with windchill), making me extremely appreciative of being able to rest in a warm place. I’m sure readers are not here about the cold, so we’ll return to Downfall, where the mines are warm, even if inhabited by barnacles.

  • Upon exiting the first of the mines, Freeman comes across a rail line covered by a Combine Sniper. There’s practically no cover leading down the tracks, and while there is another path that allows Freeman to close the distance between him and the sniper, I chose to make use of a log and well-known limitation in the AI to close the distance more quickly. The sniper will throw back the first grenade, but will not do anything about the second grenade Freeman throws at them.

  • The Colt Python pistol, for all of its incredible power, is constrained by a small ammunition pool, and I’ve typically not run into situations where I’ve required it. It’s best saved for Combine elite soldiers and Hunters; in Downfall, these enemies do not appear and so, it can be used to quickly deal with the first wave of Combine soldiers Freeman encounters. Here, I look back at the train tracks and the scenery.

  • With the sniper now cleared out, I take a look around at the setting and marvel at the details of the mining structures. This mine forms the setting for the only firefight against Combine soldiers in Downfall, and while players are armed with only the pistols at this point, use of cover and a little bit of creativity will allow for the first wave of soldiers to be cleared out in a relatively straightforward manner.

  • I finally acquire the MP7, which is probably my most-used weapon in all of Half-Life 2 and its episodes simply because of how plentiful ammunition for it is. The weapon is used extensively by Combine, and ammunition crates for the weapon are easily found. While ineffectual at longer ranges owing to its spread, its large magazine capacity and carrying capacity makes it a solid all-around weapon for most close range engagements.

  • I cannot quite put my finger on what it is about the lighting and assets that give Episode 2 environments such a unique feel to them, but overall, the presence of open wilderness as opposed to urban build-up meant that, had Half-Life 2 Episode 3 ever come out, I would have been hoping for more rural settings. With the story hypothetically set to take place in the arctic, it seems that players would have had the chance to explore non-urban settings.

  • There’s a restrictor here that keeps the Antlions away. These insect-like aliens can spawn indefinitely and overwhelm players with their numbers, but they can be kicked back using the gravity gun. Enough hits from the gravity gun will kill them, although their numbers makes the technique viable only with solitary antlions.

  • The elevator here leads to the control room with the energy orb powering the Combine defenses here, and disabling it will lower the force field covering the path Freeman needs to take. Antlions begin swarming the area, although now that Freeman’s got the MP7 and SPAS-12 Shotgun, taking them on becomes a bit more straightforwards.

  • While there’s been no official news of Episode 3, some dedicated folks have begun working on an unofficial continuation using the Unreal 4 Engine, which powered my Master’s Thesis project. This continuation, titled “Project Borealis”, is being undertaken to build a game from the story that Marc Laidlaw provided back in August, outlining what Episode 3 would have entailed. The project’s lead manager has industry experience and seeks to create the best possible experience for fans of the series and presently, the story is around half finished.

  • Some interesting concept art has also been provided for Arctic headcrabs and a new model of Strider. Enemy AI and weapon concepts are also entering testing; while no news of when Project Borealis’ release was provided, the team did mention that they will be keeping the community updated as they continue with the project. This is quite exciting, and it seems that, even if Valve has no interest in continuing the Half-Life franchise, dedicated and devoted community members can and will keep things going. I’m curious to see where things will end up, and with the Unreal 4 Engine driving things, the game could look quite refreshed once completed.

  • After entering the main mine shaft and descending deep underground, Downfall comes to a close. The bitterly cold winter evening is upon us, and after a warm dinner of fried chicken, I’m watching the mercury plummet. The weather is expected to warm up as we enter the New Year; before 2018 sets in, I’ve got one final post for 2017, dealing with Nekopara‘s OVA. 2017’s been a bit of an interesting year for the blog, and while I can’t say that my numbers are particularly strong a motivator for continuing this blog, a strong reader-base and the associated discussion means I’m not quite ready to call it quits fully yet.

It typifies Valve’s ability to create suspense and horror in games whose aim is not solely horror, and Downfall makes excellent use of Valve’s techniques to create a mod that feels as though it is a proper instalment in the Half-Life 2 universe. While faithful to Half-Life 2 in design and concept, subtleties in the gameplay show that there remains some room for improvement still: besides cleverly forcing players to adopt different strategies, there are other minor surprises in store for players, with the most notable being the Combine Sniper that returns a grenade players throw at them, requiring players use a second grenade to defeat the sniper. This moment was completely unexpected and shows that the Source Engine, in spite of its age, can still be made to throw off players to create refreshing moments. While there’s been talk of Half-Life 3 and Half-Life 2 Episode 3 sporadically in the years since I first beat Episode 2, my intuition tells me that the expectations for these two items is one of the contributing factors to why Valve is not actively pursuing a continuation of Episode 2. With this being said, Downfall isn’t quite finished yet, and it will be interesting to see as to whether or not its continuations will come out as the modder has suggested – if there are indeed to be future instalments of Downfall, I will definitely be interested in seeing where things are headed.

Call of Duty: WWII- A Reflection on the Open Beta

“Hot today, forgotten tomorrow. I’m not buying anything.” –James Marshall

Activision has stated that development on Call of Duty: WWII began long before negative reception to the franchise’s shift into future warfare began. The full title will release on November 3, and during the last weekend of September, an open beta was available for Steam players to try out. Offering five maps and four game modes, the beta was an opportunity for players to test the game out prior to its release. After installing the beta initially, I found myself unable to run it; the game would not load, and it was not until I reinstalled the title where the game would open. After entering my first few matches, it became apparent that the game has not been optimised fully for PC yet: frame rates dropped, the game stuttered, and death followed. When frame rates stablised, I began my own boots-on-the-ground experience, making use of the different divisions to get a feel for the gameplay. Call of Duty has always been more about small maps and fast-paced combat, as well as kill-streak rewards over the slower, more methodical and large-scale gameplay that characterises Battlefield 1. Maps feel like closed-off sets designed to give the sense of a well-designed paintball arena, rather than the wide-open spaces of Battlefield 1, and the numerous corners and hallways encourage a very aggressive, forward style of gameplay that rewards reflexes over strategy. Filled with details, from aircraft flying overhead and artillery, to muddy and damaged set elements, maps definitely exude a WWII-like atmospheric that, in conjunction with traditional movement systems, looks to return Call of Duty back to its roots. However, well-designed set pieces and premise can only carry a game so far, and the major deciding factor in whether or not a game is worth playing lies with its gameplay and handling.

During moments where the Call of Duty: WWII open beta was running with optimal frame rates, the game feels modestly smooth, although the Infinity Ward engine is definitely feeling dated. Movement is a little jagged and uneven, feeling somewhat sluggish. In a game where the goal is to move around in a high-paced environment and play the game aggressively to score points, the movement system is not particularly conducive of this particular play style, as I found myself getting stuck in geometry on more than one occasion, leading to death. Inconsistencies in movement and hit detection meant that the Call of Duty: WWII open beta felt like one protracted match on Prise de Tahure. I was dying to players coming from unexpected angles and places. Exacerbated by lag, I would open fire on players first, only for them to whip around and instantly nail me, suggesting that I had in fact been firing at air when my client put a player on screen. Performance issues aside, the chaotic nature of Call of Duty multiplayer environments and an emphasis on twitch reflexes with a high RPM weapon over finess means that Call of Duty: WWII‘s multiplayer certainly isn’t for me. This beta reminds me of my advancing age – long ago, I enjoyed close quarters combat for the rush it brought. With age comes decreasing reflexes, and I’m not able to keep up with the whipper-snappers out there now. The kind of gameplay I might have preferred a few years ago no longer feels fun to me compared to methodically picking off distant enemies and moving cover-to-cover.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Call of Duty: WWII introduces a new game mode called “War”, which is a close-quarters objectives-based match. On the “Operation Breakout” map seen in the beta, Allied Forces must capture a German outpost and then build a bridge, allowing their tanks to destroy an ammunition depot. German forces must prevent the Allies from succeeding. The game mode is admittedly similar to Battlefront 2‘s Galactic Assault, albeit a much smaller-scale version.

  • I’m not sure if this were the case in earlier Call of Duty multiplayer games, but in Call of Duty: WWII, there are different classes players can spawn in as, from the jack-of-all-trades infantry class, to the more nimble airborne class that emphasises high speed gameplay. There’s also an armoured class that can equip heavy weapons, the mountain class that is suited for long-range sniping, and the expeditionary class that dominates in close quarters.

  • Here, I equip the Bren LMG, Perrine’s weapon of choice from Strike Witches. However, despite its WWII-setting, I do not feel that Call of Duty: WWII is able to capture the Strike Witches atmospheric and aesthetic anywhere nearly as effectively as does Battlefield 1, despite the fact that the latter is set during World War One. This further stems from the very static, arena-like maps as opposed to the larger, more natural-feeling maps seen in Battlefield 1.

  • I’ve heard folks complain that the STG-44’s sight to be completely inauthentic: while it is true that modern electronic red dot sights with LEDs were developed during the 1970s, the concept of a reflex sight has been around since the 1900s. Earlier sights either depended on ambient light to function or else had a built-in light source whose operational time was constrained by limited battery life.

  • I only spent two hours in the Call of Duty: WWII open beta on account of a cold that saw me sleep most of the weekend that the beta was running, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on too much. By comparison, when I played through the Battlefront 2 beta last week, I had largely recovered and so, put in closer to nine hours over the Thanksgiving Long Weekend. During the moments where I was feeling a little better, I hopped into a few matches and found myself outplayed at every turn.

  • Averaging a KD ratio of less than 0.25 in almost all of my games, I’ve found the movement and handling in Call of Duty: WWII to be very poor. This is especially problematic, considering that Call of Duty: WWII is meant to be a fast-paced shooter where reflexes and high sensitivities are king: slow movements and aiming made it difficult to aim and fire, taking away from the run-and-gun style of play that Call of Duty emphasises.

  • I’ve heard that client-side modifications were widespread during the open beta, allowing people to one-shot other players with instant headshots, or else gain awareness of where all of the other players were. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I would prefer a hardware ban for folks caught cheating as Blizzard has implemented in Overwatch: this forces all but the most resourceful of cheaters with deep pockets to think twice before using tools to bolster their in-game performance.

  • On my end, I do not believe I encountered any cheaters. The biggest enemy ultimately ended up being the game performance itself: my hardware, while four years old, is no slouch with respect to performance. Nonetheless, I saw the game dip below 15 FPS during some moments, and I could only watch as other player lined up their sights and pasted my face into the walls. The lag, coupled with the fact that the beta did not even open made the Call of Duty: WWII‘s beta a little difficult to enjoy; the Battlefield 1 and Battlefront II betas were characterised by a straightforwards setup process where I activated the installer and then joined matches without any difficulty.

  • From a visual perspective, Call of Duty: WWII looks average at best, especially when compared with some of the other titles available. Textures are a bit dull, and lighting isn’t terribly complex: in fact, I feel that the graphical fidelity of Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare: Remastered to be superior. While this is just a beta, Call of Duty: WWII does not inspire me to give the game a go, whereas Battlefront II‘s beta convinced me that, provided the loot crate system doesn’t completely suck, the game might merit a purchase shortly after launch.

  • I saw some footage of Cr1tikal playing through the closed beta a month ago, and recalled his use of incendiary shells in the expeditionary class. In his video, Cr1tikal criticises the map design, and ultimately, makes extensive use of the shotguns to squeak by in a match before switching over to mountain class briefly. I was hardly surprised by the expeditionary class’ efficacy with incendiary shotguns and found myself doing much better than I had in previous rounds.

  • Stationary weapons in multiplayer shooters are always a death-trap, leaving users exposed to attack from behind and snipers, but here, I use one of the mounted weapons to defeat another player from a distance. Despite the splintered wooden poles, shattered concrete bunkers, muddy ditches and remnants of sandbags, the maps in Call of Duty: WWII simply do not feel as though they are World War Two settings, but rather, feel like World War Two-themed settings.

  • The under-barrel grenade launcher in older Call of Duty games was counted the “n00b tube” for its ease of use. Under-barrel grenade launchers are gone in Call of Duty: WWII, but the incendiary shells of the expeditionary class are probably going to be regarded  as fulfilling a similar vein: despite dealing the same damage as a conventional shotgun shell, the incendiary shells apply damage over time by means of burning opponents hit, and because they replenish fully on death, they are an appealing weapon for beginning players who can gain a kill even after they are killed.

  • During my time in the beta, I did not hear any complaints about use of incendiary shells and so, like Cr1tikal, I used them during the later period of the open beta. I’ve heard that the release version of Call of Duty: WWII will see several changes, and one of the top-most changes proposed will be reducing the damage dealt by incendiary ammunition.

  • During one particularly lucky short, my pellets outright took out one opponent and burned another to land me a double kill. One feature in Call of Duty that I’ve never been fond of is the killstreak system, which rewards players purely based on how many kills they’ve gotten before dying. The most infamous killstreak bonus is the tactical nuke, which instantly wins a game for the team that the player triggers it on. Overall, I prefer Battlefront II‘s system, where playing the objective and actions helping teammates will unlock battle points that can be spent on perks.

  • Despite the closed, arena-like maps, the Operation Breakout map has long, open avenues that are well-suited for sniping. The Commonwealth rifle proved fun to use: it’s a one-hit kill bolt action rifle, and coming from the likes of Battlefield 1, where I’ve acclimatised to bolt-action rifles lacking a straight-pull bolt, this weapon wasn’t too far removed from my usual play-style. I never did get around to learning the performance attributes of the different weapons, and I didn’t make it far enough to unlock most weapons. Instead, I looted weapons from other players to give them a whirl.

  • Medals are earned in Call of Duty by performing specific actions or scoring kills in a particular manner. They will confer a boost in XP, and are similar to the ribbons of Battlefield, appearing at the top of the screen. I believe they were introduced in Black Ops II, although as mentioned earlier, I’m only vaguely aware of game mechanics in Call of Duty titles and I find the game engine to be quite out-dated.

  • Some folks have asserted that Call of Duty: WWII is a blatant rip-off of Battlefield 1 for featuring similar features, including the bayonet charge and for returning things to a World War setting. At the opposite end of the spectrum, others claim that Call of Duty: WWII will cause Battlefield 1 players to switch over on account of limitations in the latter’s gameplay. Quite honestly, while Call of Duty: WWII is quite unique in both game mechanics and time period, I found that I have more fun in Battlefield 1. After one particularly tough match, I returned to Battlefield 1 and perform considerably better than I did during the Call of Duty: WWII open beta.

  • My last match during the Call of Duty: WWII beta was spent in a match of domination with the airborne class and the starting M3 submachine gun. I attached the suppressor to it and snuck around the map to get kills. Capture points trade hands numerous times during domination, and one thing I noticed is that in Call of Duty: WWII, the submachine guns do not appear to have an improved hip-fire accuracy.

  • One of the most infamous constructs to come out of Call of Duty is the notion of a “360 no scope” and “quick scope” moves. While considered to be trick-shots with little practical advantages in a real game, folks on the internet suggest that people of middle school age take the move quite seriously and consider it a viable tactic. Regardless of whether or not this is true, one thing is for sure: until the PC version of Call of Duty: WWII is optimised, trick shots will be very difficult or even impossible to pull off.

  • After this match ended, I decided to call it a day and went back to sleep with the aim of fighting off my cold. Two weeks later, I’m back to my usual self, although an occasional cough continues to persist. I usually get sick twice a year: once before winter appears in full, and once before spring completely displaces winter weather. I’m hoping that this means winter is upon us; it’s certainly been colder as of late, although forecasts show pleasant weather over the next while. Overall, I would say that I had much more fun with the Battlefront II beta than this one, and while the campaign looks interesting, I’ve got no plans to purchase Call of Duty: WWII at the moment.

Playing through the beta reaffirms the reasons behind my decision in not playing Call of Duty multiplayers, but having tried the Call of Duty: WWII open beta, there are a few things that Call of Duty does well; my favourite is the instant spawning back into a match after death. The quick time to kill is also great for high-speed engagements, even if it is hampered slightly by the movement systems. However, compared to Battlefield, which has a better movement system and larger maps that accommodate all styles of gameplay, I cannot say that I’m won over into Call of Duty‘s multiplayer aspects. The single-player elements are a different story: until Battlefield 1 introduced its war stories, Call of Duty games had consistently more entertaining campaigns, and I am looking forwards to seeing just what Call of Duty: WWII‘s story entails. From what has been shown so far, it’s a return to the European front in the later days of the Second World War, featuring a modernised take on the D-Day invasion. Overall, I am not particularly inclined to purchase Call of Duty: WWII close to launch, or at any point soon, for its multiplayer content. If the single-player campaign is impressive, I might purchase the game some years later during a Steam Sale – the game certainly does not feel like it is able to offer the value that would make buying it at full price worthwhile, but I’m always game for a good war story, even if it is a shorter one.

Thoughts of Metro: Exodus while crossing the Flood-Stricken Bridge in Metro: Last Light

“If you’re on the fence about buying this game, I was reading that the PC version uses a lot of power…I know that some people have the most monster computer, and I can’t even run this at a hundred percent.” —TheRadBrad on Metro: Last Light

Motivated by the recent E3 announcement of Metro: Exodus, I returned to the mission that I played through the day that campus had been closed owing to the Great Flood of 2013, and as the rain continued to fall outside, I reached this point in the campaign, following the young Dark One as he guides Artyom to his destination. Artyom’s pursuit of the young Dark One takes him back to the surface, where he intends to travel to Polis and make known the truth at a peace conference. As Artyom begins making his way across the bridge, a ferocious rain storm picks up, obfuscating the large number of enemies. In my original playthrough and a second one during the following summer, I went loud in this mission and immediately found myself against hordes of mutant animals. Fun it may have been to shoot my way through things, to acquire the screenshots for this short talk, I decided to go with a different, quieter approach: I made use of the throwing knives and carefully moved across the bridge. Firing exactly zero shots right up until the zip-line, it proved much more effective to be sneaky. Some of Metro: Last Light‘s best moments are set in the ruins of Moscow above the metro tunnels, and after starting out in yet another tunnel, the E3 demo brought viewers to a beautifully-rendered village above-ground. Artyom removes his mask, suggesting the air is clean, and equips a crossbow before preparing to board a train in the Ural Mountains. The sequel to Metro: Last Light, Metro: Exodus follows Artyom and Anna as they move with other Rangers to the Far East. Exodus will feature a new crafting system and dynamic weather, as well as a greater degree of open-world elements compared to its predecessors, and is set for release in February 2018.

  • One of my favourite aspects about Metro: Last Light after all this time is that droplets of water and mud that can accumulate on Artyom’s gas mask, requiring that players wipe it off with a stroke of the “G” key. There’s a Valve bolt-action rifle with a holographic RDS for close quarters engagements, but my old save files had me start out with a customised Valve equipped with a longer range scope, so I did not switch out my weapons here. After climbing out of a stairwell, players will find themselves on the lower deck of a bridge.

  • It would appear that during my last playthrough of Metro: Last Light three years ago, I had access to the Kalash 2012 and the Saiga-12 in addition to a Valve outfitted for long range engagements. In short, I was well-equipped to continue on with the game at this point, having weapons that draw from a different ammunition pool to ensure that I would never be without some options even if one of my three weapons were depleted. During the course of my playthroughs of Metro: Last Light and Metro 2033: Redux, I never used my military grade rounds in combat. Made with pre-war technology, these rounds hit incredibly hard and will emit a brighter muzzle flash as a result of their increased power.

  • To walk across the bridge again evokes many old memories: prior to my undergraduate convocation in June four years ago, the weather had been quite unassuming. It was not until the day of my graduation banquet with the Faculty of Health Sciences that rainfall had intensified: a light rain had been falling in the morning, and as I sat down to play through Highway 17 and Sandtraps in Half-Life 2, rainfall had intensified, continuing well into the evening. I still vividly recall shooting my way through the Overwatch Nexus the Monday after the flood waters receded, making a substantial donation to the flood relief efforts before pushing through with the mission.

  • I finished Half-Life 2 and Metro: Last Light closer to the end of June. By this point, I had completed Crysis and Battlefield: Bad Company 2, as well. Owing to the disruption to transportation services resulting from the Great Flood of 2013, I was not able to go out to the mountains or even downtown, and so, spent a fair portion of early July wondering which titles could occupy my interest. I decided to give Vindictus a shot, and while it was fun to play through the first few missions, it became clear that this game was meant to be played with friends. After reaching level nine on a quiet, hot Canada Day, I felt that the game had lost most of its appeal.

  • Because the Steam 2013 sale had not commenced yet that year, I dropped Vindictus and began exploring Tribes: Ascend at a friend’s recommendation. While a fun experience, the learning curve and community made it difficult for me to really get into Tribes: Ascend. I had many great matches on beautifully-made maps (Crossfire and Dry Dock were my favourites): though nowhere near as detailed as something like Battlefield 1 or Crysis 3, there was definitely a charm to the visuals in Tribes: Ascend, continuing to play even after the 2013 Summer Sale occurred.

  • While remarkably entertaining and quite able to fulfil my original expectation of being a space shooter for replacing Halo 2, offering diversity in gameplay between Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Alan Wake, the prospect of a long progression ahead, coupled with the fact that I purchased Battlefield 3 later meant that my time spent in Tribes: Ascend dwindled. Even today, I’ve not found an equivalent for Halo 2 for PC as a space shooter, but Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 have proven to be exceptional multiplayer shooters that have since fulfilled the role of my online experience.

  • On my original playthrough, I opened fire and drew the ire of every living thing here; I’ve become a bit more cautious in the four years since then. Using just the throwing knives and the cover the storm provides, I managed to clear the entire bridge without altering the mutants to my position. It’s a little extreme as to how much of a difference being stealthy can be – even in other games, like Deus Ex and Crysis, a little stealth can turn the highest difficulty setting into a walk in the park.

  • While my filters are slowly being depleted, I looked around at the scenery in of the bridge. Armed with the GTX 1060, I am playing the game at full settings without any difficulty – previously, I played at “merely” high settings. With the slew of new titles announced at E3 (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Wolfenstein IIMetro: Exodus and Far Cry 5), I’m actually quite curious to know if the 1060 will be able to run these games on recommended settings: it’s done remarkably well for Battlefield 1, and DOOM, so it’ll be insightful to learn where the card’s limits lie.

  • I imagine that the GTX 1060 will be able to perform admirably for most games released in 2018: even if I cannot get 60 FPS at ultra settings for 1080p, I’m generally okay with running on very high or high, since the differences usually require careful inspection to discern. This screenshot here of me with the Valve is an example of why I am so fond of the above-ground sections of Metro: Last Light, and I’ve heard that Metro: Exodus will be a cross-Russia journey, beginning in Moscow and concluding in the easternmost reaches of Russia.

  • My reminiscences about the games of summer 2013 draw to an end here, and for the remainder of the post, I consider some of my expectations for Metro: Exodus. Having played through this mission for the first time four years ago, and having made mention of the Great Flood of 2013 here, I will be returning very shortly to discuss the flood in a bit more detail, in conjunction with a revisitation of Makoto Shinkai’s The Garden of Words – I feel the time has become appropriate to look at the movie again with a different perspective.

When I first played through Metro: Last Light during 2013, I was impressed with the narrative and visuals of the game. Delving into things, I became more familiar with the Metro franchise as a whole, and it was therefore a pleasant surprise to learn that a continuation was being made. From the E3 footage and new information, the game is becoming closer to the title I was anticipating after watching “Ten minutes in the swamp” to learn more about the game I received with my old GPU. With its greater emphasis on crafting, and open exploration in conjunction with superb visuals, I am excited to see what directions Metro: Exodus will take. Further to this, the fact that Metro: Exodus is set in the Eastern reaches of Russia, with the eventual goal of reaching Siberia, Kolyma or even the Kamchatka peninsula, has greatly elevated my interest in the game. I’ve long been drawn to the mysterious nature of Russia’s far east beyond the Ural mountains, and a game set here provides a fantastic opportunity to explore a virtual interpretation of this side of the world. Cold, vast and desolate, it is here that some of Stalin’s most infamous Gulags were situated, and even today, the remoteness of the area means that populations remain very low. The area’s history means that, even though the terrain and biome is quite similar to the forests and tundra of Canada, there’s a sense of history in Russia’s far east that is simply absent in Canada. As such, I look forwards to learning more about Metro: Exodus, although it is most likely that I will, as I have for numerous games previously, pick it up once I learn more about the system requirements and game length, before making a definitive decision to buy the game shortly after launch or otherwise wait for a sale.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Final Review and Impressions

“Peace to the fallen.” –Honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty

Upon reaching Earth and fighting to reach Riah, who’s escaped, Reyes’ plan fails when Riah bests him in one-on-one combat and commits suicide, signalling for a full-scale SDF invasion. Admiral Raines is killed when the Olympus Mons fires on the UNSA headquarters, and Reyes decides to board the Olympus Mons, fighting his way to the bridge and killing Admiral Kotch. Commandeering the Olympus Mons, Reyes and the Retribution launch a desperate attack on the SDF shipyard to disable their fleet and ship-making capability, although they crash on Mars surface before any real damage can be done to the shipyard. Rallying the survivors, Reyes commences a ground assault on the shipyard, and Salter gains access to an SDF Destroyer. E3N sacrifices himself to unlock its moorings, and Reyes activates its weapons, allowing Salter to destroy the shipyard. Reyes himself is ejected into the vacuum of space and dies from flying shrapnel, with the knowledge that their mission was successful. The UNSA honour their sacrifice in a ceremony, and its shown that Salter survived the assault with three other soldiers. Thus ends Infinite Warfare, my first ever Call of Duty title set fully in space, away from the modern warfare setting. Overall, the diversity of settings and weapons give this game a different feel from previous Call of Duty titles – the sum of these components come together to create a remarkably entertaining campaign whose biggest draw is simply being able to shoot things in space. However, Infinite Warfare is far from being a shooter devoid of a thematic element.

By the end of Infinite Warfare, the main thematic element is that sacrifice may be necessary to achieve a longer term victory even if the short term costs are high. Infinite Warfare presents this directly, bereft of any excess symbolism and other obfuscation. Quite simply, Reyes makes the ultimate sacrifice to cripple the SDF, knowing that he is giving up his life so that SATO and the UNSA can fight another day to keep the SDF at bay. This was a non-trivial decision, and the ending shows that it was the right decision: themes of sacrifice are quite common in anime, and one particularly noteworthy example is the contrast between Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Yūki Yūna is a Hero – there are some uninformed who believe that the former surpasses the latter on virtue of Madoka sacrificing her life to become a god for the sake of her world and Homura, whereas Yūna falls short of being a hero because the ending “undermines” her sacrifice. However, this is not true: both are heroes in their own right, prepared to give up their own well-being for the sake of others, but in the case of Madoka Magica, Madoka’s premature sacrifice allows Homura to undo everything she’s created. While a fine anime, Madoka Magica fails to account for when a sacrifice is appropriate: this is something that is explored more appropriately in Infinite Warfare. The stakes are laid out: if Reyes and the others are not ready to do what it takes, even giving up their lives if it comes down to it, to destroy the SDF shipyard, then only more casualties will follow. Salter continues channeling Reyes’ spirit, doing her best to bring him back alive, and Reyes himself does his utmost to complete his mission and survive. That Reyes dies at the end illustrates that fate is not always so kind, but it was not a death in vain. This is something that a great deal of anime fans fail to comprehend: heroics will involve sacrifice, but sacrifice need not be total, and dying in the line of duty needlessly can have far reaching consequences in the future. Reyes’ sacrifice is a calculated one, made on the basis of facts, and it is shown that he makes the right call, standing in contrast with Madoka, whose sacrifice only served to drive Homura to despair and ultimately undo everything Madoka had built out of a want to protect her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • So here we are, at the final two missions of Infinite Warfare, where the pressure is on to find the means to defeat a seemingly technologically and definitely numerically superior enemy: it is definitely an interesting experience to be fighting against a faction said to surpassing the protagonists in capability, and there are points in the game that bring back recollections of some folks I’ve known who present themselves to be far more capable and accomplished on social media than is reality. However, social status in online platforms is really a paper tiger: hard work and humility are far more potent in the long term than likes, shares and re-tweets.

  • Thus, when playing through Infinite Warfare, it is a constant reminder that even against what looks to be unfavourable odds, what prevails is a constant amount of sustained effort and persistence. The SDF may look to be imposing, but Captain Reyes and his crew’s determination to get the job done allow them to dismantle the SDF leadership and war machine one component at a time. By this point in time, the SDF High Council is largely gone, along with most of their best soldiers, and it’s a race against time to find Riah.

  • The EBR-800 becomes superbly useful in the dark streets of Geneva when used in conjunction with drones and seeker droids, which automatically locate and neutralise enemies hidden in the ruined buildings. Its versatility in Infinite Warfare is such that the weapon is useful for most situations in a variety of ranges, owing to its ability to switch rapidly between a long-ranged shot and automatic fire for closer ranges.

  • I find a KBS Longbow here: the only bolt-action ballistic rifle available in the campaign, it is, on an per-shot basis, the most powerful and accurate long-range weapon, featuring high stopping power at the expense of firing rate and reload times. On my playthrough of Infinite Warfare, I did not manage to find all of the weapons available in the game, but I did manage to complete all of the side missions. On a future playthrough, this means I will have access to upgraded weapons, which could be useful for playing Infinite Warfare on higher difficulties.

  • Having said this, I’m not too sure if I will be looking to go through Infinite Warfare again – for one, the game occupies a non-trivial amount of hard drive space, and it’s a time commitment to go through again. I imagine that the most likely course of action is that I will uninstall Infinite Warfare in the near future for the purpose of saving disk space even in spite of my enjoyment for the game. Shortly after exiting the church, Reyes finds himself face to face with Riah, who handily defeats him in hand-to-hand combat before committing suicide, signalling for the SDF invasion to begin.

  • A window of opportunity opens up after the Olympus Mons appears: while it destroys the UNSA headquarters and causes Admiral Raines’ death, Reyes is determined to settle things between him and Admiral Kotch once and for all. He orders a Jackal to his position and flies towards the Olympus Mons under a distraction the Retribution creates, managing to board. It’s a fierce firefight once Reyes hits the hanger, although there is plenty of cover to make use of here. With patience and returning fire, the hanger is soon cleared, allowing Reyes and his team to move on.

  • As Reyes moves through the Olympus Mons, Kotch’s now-familiar visage graces screens, warning Reyes that his efforts are for naught. Reading through Infinite Warfare‘s excerpts on the SDF’s values and beliefs provides an unusual insight into their society. Even more militant than North Korea, the SDF are comically evil to an extent: so much of their way of thinking is ridiculous to the point of humour, although it could also serve as a warning about a society that is content to follow rather than take charge. The number of people out there who ardently accept beliefs and ideas expressed in social media is bewildering, and subscribing to extremist thought expressed by the unlearned is precisely what leads to an erosion of liberty.

  • Sprinting through collapsing sections of the Olympus Mons brings to mind the sort of chaos seen in a Portal 2 level; Kotch is scuttling sections of the ship in response to Reyes’ determination, but even this is not enough to stop Reyes and his soldiers. My belief in critical thinking and a healthy skepticism to information until it can be shown the information is credible drives how I take in news and information. While it’s the way of thinking that is encouraged, it also earned me some enemies of some classmates back during my time as a student – these individuals did not understand that I was opposing their ideas, rather than their person, and so, considered it a personal attack when I did not agree with them on things ranging from something as simple as how square brackets are used to more serious matters, such as whether or not it is feasible to involve all students in activism.

  • With so much time having passed since those days, I’m hoping that their grudges have long vanished – I know that I have no quarrel with them on account of how busy things are. Back in Infinite Warfare, upon learning that Kotch is in the bridge surrounded by robot soldiers, E3N hacks up the robots to fight for Reyes, and Reyes himself takes control of a robot to deal as much damage as possible before self-destructing in front of Kotch, fatally wounding him. I finished off Kotch before his last words, primarily because I was going for the “You know nothing” achievement.

  • After the Olympus Mons’ weapons come online, Reyes is given access to the F-SpAr and is set to target the Tharsis shipyard in the distance. Active SDF destroyers show up, and it’s finally time to give the SDF fleet a taste of their own medicine: it was a blast to wipe floor with the SDF destroyers, although for the short moment players have access to this awesome power, the Olympus Mons sustains heavy damage and is unable to use the F-SpAr against the shipyard.

  • The final battle at Mars has a little of everything, from fantastic set-pieces and space combat to boots-on-the-ground combat. Here, Reyes boards a Jackal with the goal of clearing the airspace around the Olympus Mons so that it can ram into the shipyard and cause enough damage to significantly lessen the SDF’s ability to construct new destroyers. I am tasked with taking on three SDF aces here and remark that, total completion of the main missions and side missions will naturally allow for the Royal Flush achievement to be unlocked (eliminate all SDF aces and captains).

  • While perhaps not quite as varied or innovative as the Titan-to-Titan combat of Titanfall 2, the Jackal sequences in Infinite Warfare were overall a thrill to play through, offering breaks in the campaign that serve to mix up the gameplay. To ensure things did not get stale during the side missions, I alternated between the Jackal Strike and Ship Infiltration operations; the main missions themselves offer a reasonable balance between flying and boots-on-the-ground combat. I nearly finish taking out the last SDF ace here and thought I had sustained excessive damage, but it turns out that Reyes’ crash is scripted, occurring as the Olympus Mons is forced to divert in order to avoid collision with the Retribution.

  • Following a crash-landing on the surface and the realisation that their initial attempt to destroy the shipyard has failed, Reyes rallies with his forces and motivates them to fight on, reasoning that either they live and cost the UNSA the future, or else risk their lives to ensure a future for the UNSA and SATO. This is a sacrifice that is reasoned through and thought out, making it one whose necessity becomes very clear. When starting the mission, I opted to go with the RAW equipped with a recharger that gave me unlimited ammunition, as well as the Trojan optic for quickly picking out enemies.

  • The value of a total sacrifice costing one’s life is ultimately determined by considering the outcomes of that sacrifice relative to the outcome of living to fight another day. In Madoka Magica, Madoka’s actions, while heroic and allowing her to help her friends find happiness, also bars her from intervening directly when Homura decides to change things. Hence, this was not a meaningful sacrifice, since its benefits in the long term were cancelled out by Homura’s actions. By comparison, Reyes and the Retribution make sacrifices knowing that they have an exceptional opportunity to damage the SDF military machine, and the outcome of this is a strategic victory for the UNSA.

  • After fighting to the shipyard’s orbital elevator station, Reyes and Salter, plus a few others, make the ascent to the shipyard while the Retribution’s crew remain on the ground to hold off the SDF. The combat is intense, and even with fire support from the Olympus Mons’ remaining weapons, it’s a difficult battle. Careful, controlled use of the RAW here allowed me to go through the mission without reloading the weapon, and it is with the fusion magazine attachment that energy weapons shine.

  • Besides the RAW, I also carried the F-SpAr torch throughout the final mission. Obscenely powerful, it’s a highly effectual means of beating the RC-8 combat drones. An upgrade to the C6 drones, the RC-8 deal massive amounts of damage and can absorb punishment, as they carry shields that can absorb incoming fire. Usually, it takes sustained firing in conjunction with grenades to bring them down, but heavy weapons make short work of them, hence my decision to hold onto the F-SpAr in case I encountered them.

  • This turned out to be a good idea, since in the corridors in the shipyard are filled with hostile elements. I encountered an RC-8 here and tossed shock grenades to stun it, hitting it with the F-SpAr while it was disabled to permanently remove the threat it posed. This past weekend has seen a recurrence of the events five years previously, as I played through Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up” after a fantastic dinner of pizza from one of the more famous pizza places in the area: their donair pizza and all-meat pizzas are delicious, having more toppings and a more flavourful crust than pizzas I’ve had previously. Today was a bit duller, as the cloud cover gave way to thunderstorms by evening, although I did manage to unlock the Chauchat Low Weight in Battlefield 1, the first of the assignment weapons for the “They Shall Not Pass” DLC.

  • I spent a total of ten hours in Infinite Warfare‘s campaign, discounting the extra hour-and-a-half I spent trying to get the game working on day one, and subsequently, the waits for the game to load. My computer, while powerful, encountered some difficulties in loading the game and some of the transitions were not seamless, but overall, ran the game at 1080p with 60 FPS on the highest settings. By this point in the game, I’m liberally using the gadgets available to fight the hordes of SDF soldiers and robots; looking back, the seeker bot and drones were my favourite options. The shield and hacking charges, while fun, were not used as frequently.

  • Salter suggests stealing an SDF destroyer to cause enough damage to the shipyard to put it out of commission permanently. While an armed destroyer is available, its weapons are offline and it is docked to the shipyard. In order to release the docking clamps, E3N offers to destroy a reactor powering the clamps, but can only do so by creating an explosion large enough to do so. E3N’s “death” was quite similar to BF-7274’s in Titanfall 2 in that both interact with a high energy source to disrupt and destroy it, and both moments result in a moving end for the robots in their respective games.

  • Reyes watches as the shipyard is destroyed, and despite Salter’s efforts to save him, Reyes does not make it: his helmet is shattered by debris, exposing him to the vacuum of space. In his final moments, Reyes dies knowing that his mission has succeeded. This brings my journey through Infinite Warfare to an end, two months after I started the campaign, and I had a fantastic time going through the game. The next Call of Duty title is a return to WWII, and is set to feature older game mechanics, such as health pick ups. I’m curious to see what it will look like, but at present, I have no plans to buy this title.

It may come as a surprise that I found the sacrifice in Infinite Warfare to be better executed than that of Madoka Magica – this stems from a worldview that people are worth significantly more alive than dead. Heroics is the willingness to do what is necessary and be selfless, to be prepared to make sacrifices for what one believes is correct, not the reckless, uncalculated self-sacrifice with the hope of making a difference. In fact, dying needlessly is unheroic, as it deprives the individual the ability to make a difference later on. Ultimately, the hate and doubt directed at Infinite Warfare was misguided and unnecessary – there’s a clear theme, solid gameplay and an impressive range of environments that come together to make the game’s campaign far more entertaining than expected. It was definitely a pleasant surprise, and I liked the way things played out because it was a logical progression of how the decision to make sacrifices is reached. Beyond these elements, the combination of boots-on-the-ground and Jackal combat in different parts of the solar system kept things fresh even if some of the mission ended up being quite similar to one another: the set-pieces in the game were stunning, and unique to the different locations reached. Overall, I would recommend Infinite Warfare for the campaign and zombies modes when the game is given a discount: the multiplayer is not particularly inspired, and the replay value is moderate, so one would not get their money’s worth should they buy Infinite Warfare at full price.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Review and Impressions ¾ Mark

“He’s one of us! Ethan! What’s the Navy’s official policy for a gunfight?”
“Send in the Marines!”

–Staff Sergeant Usef Omar and ETH.3n

Reyes is recovered by the Tigris and returns to the Retribution, mopping up SDF operations over the dwarf planet Pluto and restores control of a salvage site to SATO, returns to Titan to decimate SDF vessels while they are refueling and proceeds to intercept a chemical weapons vessel in orbit over Venus. Subsequently, Reyes receives word that there is a disturbance at a SATO facility in an asteroid mining station near Mercury. Fighting both hostile robots and extremities of temperatures, Reyes and his team narrowly miss incineration and only just escape the facility, although Staff Sergeant Omar dies when Salter takes off early before their window to evacuate closes. Upon returning to the Retribution, Reyes and the others learn that this operation had been a diversion: the SDF destroy the Tigris, leaving no survivors. Reyes later devises a plan involving the beacon that Riah is carrying; this is a signal that will prompt a full SDF invasion, and in theory, cutting off the beacon will lead the SDF to assume the time is appropriate for a full-scale assault. Before returning to Earth, Reyes engages a remaining SDF operation in orbit around the sun, where the blistering temperatures only confers his Jackals limited time before they malfunction. Completing this task, the Retribution’s crew gear up for a final shot at the SDF fleet and recovering control of the solar system. This is where I am in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare after some eleven hours of play – with all of the side missions complete, I turn my attention towards the final two missions left in this game.

While very much a corridor shooter in the vein of its predecessors, Infinite Warfare provides a very uncommon approach towards its gameplay – the side missions have proven to be quite enjoyable despite their similarities with one another. This is not too surprising, as the side missions come in two varieties: Jackal strike missions are purely space combat driven, involving dogfights and attacks on SDF vessels, while infiltration missions involve boarding SDF vessels to recover high value articles or carrying out acts of sabotage. While these missions play identically, they offer additional insights into the SDF, which is by this point, very nearly comical in its portrayal. A militaristic, totalitarian regime, one must wonder if Infinite Warfare is willfully presenting a satire of such governments, indirectly mocking both Gundam‘s Principality of Zeon and Aldnoah.Zero‘s VERS Empire for their methods and principles. Developing secret weapons stolen from SATO and resorting to WMD, the SDF are unquestionably appalling, an entity that is very difficult to garner sympathy for: this makes it easy to provide a backdrop and justification for the diverse locations seen in Infinite Warfare. While the narrative might be quite thin on closer inspection, it is successful in giving players a chance to experience combat operations set in different locations around the Solar System, and while there is a degree of repetitiveness in the side missions, they are intended to supplement the relatively small number of main missions, which are rather more diverse in terms of design and atmosphere.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In 2006, the IAU formalised its definition of a planet after the discovery of several objects in the Kepler Belt with similar masses to Pluto: it has since been re-designated a dwarf planet, although scientists are still in debate as to whether or not the new IAU definition is satisfactory. The definition is seen as pure matter of semantics, and under the IAU terms, Earth would not qualify as a planet for having failed to “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit”, which is given as becoming a gravitationally dominant entity in its area, although this is loosely defined and consequently, is considered inadequate a criteria.

  • In Rick and Morty, Jerry Smith argues that “If [Pluto] can be a planet, it can be a planet again”. It’s not quite as eloquent as a formal argument, and from a personal perspective, I argue that the third criteria is indeed open to semantics: in a hypothetical young star system with several gas giants several times the mass and radius of Earth, these would not be considered planets if they are surrounded by a debris field under the “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit” constraint. This makes very little sense, and the suggested, simpler definition encompasses two criteria, which makes rather more sense: a planet should be a sufficiently large body orbiting the sun that is of a sufficient size to maintain a spherical structure, and where the size exceeds a certain threshold (e.g. a diameter of 2000 kilometers or greater). Any smaller object with a spherical shape is then counted as a dwarf planet.

  • The object of one of the boarding missions around Pluto is to infiltrate an SDF vessel and execute high value targets belonging to the SDF command: crippling their leadership will weaken their ability to strike the SATO forces. Donning a SDF uniform and equipment, Reyes manages to sneak through the vessel undetected and deactivates the life support system, leading to near total casualties.

  • I’ve now said two controversial things in this Infinite Warfare post, and while I do wonder what readers think of these topics (both of my perspective on Zeon and Pluto’s state as dwarf planet), I note that this is a gaming post intended to detail my run through a futuristic first person shooter. Hence, comments that deviate too greatly from the scope of discussion will likely not be answered in full because a proper response will be quite wordy. Returning back to Infinite Warfare, here, I participate in a mission to engage and destroy SDF fighters, as well as vessels, in a salvage yard over Pluto.

  • Very much cut and dried, the Jackal strike missions turned out to be quite enjoyable despite being repetitive owing to the different locales they are set above. By this point in the game, I’ve become very comfortable with the handling of a Jackal, which is unlike the jets of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 and Ace Combat. In fact, the controls are more similar to the Banshee of Halo and Halo 2. As well, I’ve unlocked all of the weapons and specialisations for the Jackal. I usually sortie with the default loadout, which offers a nice balance between firepower and firing rate.

  • The skies of Titan are moodier as I return to wreck havoc on the SDF A-Jak Cutters, smaller warships with vulnerable panels near their engines that can be destroyed quickly, dealing massive damage to the Cutter. The larger destroyers take a much longer period to engage: my preferred strategy is to hit it from the sides and rear, eliminating the cannons and missiles as required. After sustaining enough damage, the destroyers will explode spectacularly, although I do find it interesting that a single Jackal can do that much damage to an entire destroyer.

  • Flying above Venus’s noxious atmosphere of sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide in this mission, Reyes and the Retribution prepare to board the Hellas, which is suspected to be housing chemical weapons. That there is no “boots-on-the-ground” mission on Venus makes sense: despite being considered Earth’s sister planet, the surface is shrouded in a heavy atmosphere that exerts ninety-four times the pressure relative to Earth’s. Simply, explorers on the surface would be exposed to an unpleasant combination of extreme heat caused by the runaway greenhouse effect and corrosive elements that, in conjunction with the pressure, would make combat and movement near-impossible. Conversely, telemetry has found that the upper atmosphere, some sixty kilometers above the surface, has a similar composition to Earth’s atmosphere.

  • It is up here that the events of Operation D-CON are set. I start with the recommended loadout of a Mauler LMG and Reaver shotgun, both projectile weapons. Having an LMG is useful for situations where there is a large number of enemies, while the shotgun is well-suited for the tighter corridors of the SDF destroyer. It’s business as usual, then: make one’s way to a part of the warship, do something and then get out. While the side missions are unremarkable from a gameplay perspective, they provide additional information on the war between the UNSA and SDF, as well as unlocking attachments and upgrades for players.

  • The side missions also reuse a great many assets: it’s actually quite convenient, since the SDF warships likely have a standardised interior, it should be no surprise that all of the warships look the same from the inside. Here, I have swapped over to the Reaver for close-quarters combat, and note that the weapons of Infinite Warfare‘s campaign can be customised to an incredible extent: while there is a default recommended loadout, players can set up their initial loadout to be anything they wish (even spawning into a mission with the F-SpAr torch if they so wished). By default, the Reaver of Operation D-CON is equipped with smart shot that guides the pellets along their trajectories to an extent.

  • After reaching the weapons room, it’s a matter of clearing out the SDF, waiting for a proximity hack to complete and holding off attacking SDF while the hack is progressing. The LMG becomes useful here, and after the weapon is acquired, it’s time to get out. That the SDF are willing to resort to chemical weapons is indicative of their extremism, bringing to mind Zeon, who similarly used chemical weapons to completely depopulate a colony cylinder before attempting to drop it on Jaburo base during Mobile Suit Gundam‘s Operation British.

  • With the side missions largely finished save for one, I resume the main campaign and set out for an asteroid base Vesta 3 orbiting Mercury; by the time Reyes arrives to investigate the site for any survivors, its orbit has destablised, and the asteroid itself is rotating erratically as a result of the SDF Olympus Mons having fired on the asteriod: day and night cycles are minutes in length, with blistering heat by day that makes movement particularly hazardous. It’s a fantastic set-piece mission, and players can only move in shadows or during the dark.

  • The interior of the Vesta 3 base is eerily quiet, bringing to mind the sort of environments I saw in Alien Isolation. I began Alien Isolation nearly a year ago, a few days into June after delivering my department seminar presentation in preparation for the thesis defense. By this point, my paper was largely finished, and I had picked up Alien Isolation on a fantastic sale that saw the game go for 75 percent off. It was quite unlike anything I’d experienced before and also a highly enjoyable one, save the mission in the reactor core.

  • It took me a week to summon up the courage to attempt the reactor basement mission in Alien Isolation, and by the time I finsihed the game, it was late August. Returning to Infinite Warfare, I continue making my way through the base here, which as thus far been devoid of any human opponents. In the quiet, I shop to look around the level’s designs and notice that, like Titanfall 2, one can find hanzi (Chinese characters) in some parts of the settings that players go through. I’ve not read or written much Chinese as of late, so my recognition of more complex characters has decayed over the past several years.

  • It turns out that the deaths at the facility were caused by the SDF hacking into the security robots and having them kill off the station’s inhabitants. These robots are now hostile to all humans and will kill them on sight, hence the wisdom of having good energy weapons: they are particularly effective, in conjunction with shock grenades, against robots.

  • Once the sunlight has passed and gives way to darkness, it’s time to move on to the next area. During one transition, the sun re-appears and begins burning Reyes – flames can be seen burning on the surface his suit, only to extinguish themselves as Reyes returns to cover. I’m not actually sure how this would work, since fires are the result of a fuel source undergoing combustion, but in the moment, this was the last thing on my mind: the only goal was to get to some cover. When the door is reached, a horde of robots appear, and Reyes must fight them off while the proximity hack is executing.

  • I manage to find an F-SpAr torch at the base, and decided to save it, feeling that it would come in handy later on. While the casualties are extensive, Reyes and his team manage to save some of the miners. In news quite unrelated to Infinite Warfare, first person shooters and games in general, the owner of the file sharing site, nyaa.se, scuttled the site out of concern that the EU’s new anti-piracy laws could land them in legal trouble. It’s been one of the bigger events in the anime community, and while my opinions on internet privacy and information sharing are my own, these events is an ominous indicator of the decline of freedom in electronic communications in the near future.

  • The deletion of nyaa.se and its associated domains leaves viewers of anime unable to acquire older shows, OVAs or movies effectively. One may then wonder if this would affect this blog in any way, and the answer to this is that I largely remain unaffected by this news – my discussions for anime series, OVAs and movies should still come out as scheduled. The next anime post will be Hai-Furi‘s second OVA, continuing with Kōko Nosa’s experiences as she struggles to deal with news that the Harekaze will be scrapped, and this is coming out near May 24. Back in Infinite Warfare, I make my way through the asteriod’s molten interior in a perilous catwalk, and here, I wield a Volk that I found.

  • A veritable army of robots awaits Reyes and the others at the extraction point. The wisdom of having held onto the F-SpAr comes into play here, and it is an indispensable asset that, when used in conjunction with the shock grenades, allows players to clear out the area quickly. The Volk is a modestly effective fall-back weapon, but its slower firing rate made its use a bit of a challenge. After eliminating the robots, Salter lands, but the heat forces her to take off, leading Staff Sergeant Omar to die in the process. I was sad to see him go, especially after seeing him warm up to Ethan. After a heated discussion on the Retribution’s bridge, the officers decide that they must now prepare to deal a death blow to the SDF by luring them into a trap. Before this can happen, there is one final side mission to complete.

  • The final side mission unlocked is a timed mission close to the sun – prolonged exposure to the extreme temperatures (exceeding 700ºC) will damage the Jackal’s components, so Reyes only has six minutes (on standard difficulty) to clear out the SDF forces guarding vital resources belonging to the UNSA. It’s a spectacular mission, although eliminating all of the SDF Skelters and Ace pilots can be a little tricky.

  • In the end, I finished the mission with around twenty seconds to spare, having spent most of my time trying to find the Ace pilots. This brings my Infinite Warfare post to a conclusion, and I note that the reason why I am suspending my writing for the next two weeks is because I am set to go on vacation quite soon. This is why the next major post dealing with anime will be the Hai-Furi OVA, and in the meantime, I will need to get to packing and carrying out preparations for this trip. I will return after my trip, before the month ends, to wrap up my thoughts on Infinite Warfare, and depending on how scheduling works, I might also do a post on the upcoming movie Koe no Katachi before May draws to a close.

The topic of Zeon brings to mind a conversation I’ve shared with a friend about Mobile Suit Gundam: despite being intended to fulfill a similar role in Gundam as the SDF do in Infinite Warfare, there are some individuals who believe that Zeon’s cause is just in spite of all of their atrocities. Their argument is that Zeon was born of noble origins, even if their methods are disagreeable. My friend thus argues that this support is to suggest a deep-seated belief within these individuals that power should be concentrated in the hands of the few, that might is right. Inspection of Gundam finds that Zeon is generally dealt the short stick: its leadership consists of fanatical bigots who view the citizenry as disposable, a means to an end, and while the citizens might be people with their own stories, the leaders of Zeon certainly are intended to be viewed as no different than history’s most infamous despots. This is meant to challenge black and white viewpoints of warfare, and consequently, the extremities in Infinite Warfare might be intended to satirise these figures, fictional and real, as well as make it clear that the SDF are antagonists, not to be sympathised with, but a force threatening freedom and liberty. It certainly simplifies the amount of discussion that can be had about the nature of warfare from Infinite Warfare, but also drives home a different theme that will become apparent as Infinite Warfare enters its final chapter.