Well this has been an interesting week for PC Gaming hasn’t it? Who’d have thought that the release of a game could cause so much havoc in the gaming world (If by now, you haven’t guessed that this is about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, then here’s the sentence pointing this out)? And it’s caused a bit of a stir in the non-gaming world as well hasn’t it? Well, thank you Activision. Not only have you made the outside world hate gaming more and pissed off several gamers, you’ve also buggered up my schedule. Thanks!
So, Call of Duty. I’m in nowhere near a good enough position to comment on the actual game, not having played it. I’ve been listening to all the news around the world(Read that as England) about its release, and I feel the need to voice some of the views that I have*; I’m not going to review it. For now, let us take the build up to the game. The game is announced, everyone goes ‘Wow! New Call of Duty’ and hype is built. Stuff happens in developement, it gets to a stage that they start to show it off. E3 looms, and its received quite well. It looks good, and more hype is made. More stuff happens, more advertising, more hype blah blah blah
By the time it gets to about 1 month from release, we get into the month where Infinity Ward make the decision to not include Dedicated Servers. Anger is heard. Boycotts are created (Everyone knows how well they work…). I’ll just stop here for now, pull up the car and give some money to the nice drive through man of time. The dedicated server decision was a bad move. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a decision like that before (Actually, reading over it, hasn’t Starcraft II done something similar? Anyone else noticing a trend in publishers?). Especially one that quite possibly hit the most promising parts of the gaming community, the professional players (The professionals are our best route into mainstream acceptance as far as I can tell) the hardest. There are several reasons why dedicated servers are useful, but the most is ping.
Lets take this anachronistically, and point out the fact that they really messed up the ping idea. Everyone knows that if you host a game yourself, then your ping will be zero. Anyone playing on your local LAN will have a minimal ping (I say minimal in case you use a wireless connection like I do), and anyone getting into your machine will have a ping. This is determined by a combination of your download speed (You can visit Speedtest.net to find that out) and the distance of these other people to you. Well, what do you think is an acceptable ping? Roughly, <50 is great, but <100 is fine. Once you get to <150 you’ll notice the lag, but it’s still playable. Just. The ping notifier on MW2, that shows the quality of your connection (Bad sign already), tells you that your ping is good. However, visit here, and you discover that your ping is in the 200 region. Thats too high for a multiplayer game. Far too high. You are going to notice that.
Even worse, if you take the executable and open it in a hex editor (For those that either can’t be bothered or don’t have the game, visit here to download a text equivalent). Search through the file and look for dedicated, and you’ll find a line that is “00701580: ‘Show dedicated servers only’,0”. Yes. There was going to be an option for dedicated servers. They obviously changed their mind, or were told to. You decide.
I’m exhausting dedicated servers so I’ll move on. We come to about 1 week before release. Here’s the bit that everyone was expecting: The Airport level. Oh wow. Imagine the shitstorm this is creating in America. Imagine if they’d released it 2 months ago. Oh christ that would have been hell. I’m not in a position to talk about the actual level, being unable/unwilling to play it. But still, who decided a level where you get to shoot innocents was a good idea? I can’t defend it. I really can’t. I spent the last 2 hours trying to come up with a defense for them which didn’t just revolve around ‘Its a game, it’s not real’. I don’t know about the context of the level, I don’t know how well it works, but the footage I saw on YouTube made me feel numb. What made me feel worse was all the comments saying ‘Oh wow, this is an awesome level’. Is this what gamers have become? Then I’m not sure I want to be one.
I was listening to Radio 4 last Monday (As is my want) and the Today programme had a small debate on it. The program had the wonderful John Humpreys attacking the game, and two other gamers defended it. The gamers of course pointed out the context, and pointed out that you aren’t required to shoot anyone. I wish they’d talked about the end of the level (I’m not going to spoil it), but they did an admirable job. They also tried to get the point across that the level is skippable, and that Infinity Ward were aware that it was wrong. I’m still worried though. The BBFC have given it an 18, but I’m still concerned that small children are going to see it.
Infinity Ward shouldn’t have included the level. At all. Not because its wrong, and not because gamers are immature. It’s because it give the haters something to write about. It gives the outside world the wrong impression. I think its safe to say this though: Infinity Ward, I admire your courage, but not your execution. I’m proud to be a gamer, but I’m not proud of No Russian.
*If you feel that the fact I haven’t played it yet, plus the fact I can’t think of any reason why I should, hinders me in the process of talking about this, then kindly print out this page, and pop it up your bum. Call of Duty is in all likelihood an amazing game, but it’s not my style of play, and I have better things to do with my time than to force myself to buy/download a copy for the sake of an amateur blog. Return