Gaming Reviews: Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim and Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim and a triple dose of Metal Gear
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Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim and a triple dose of Metal Gear
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3(Xbox, PS3, PC)

Price: $59.99

What’s it about?

The third game in the Modern Warfare series brings the close of a three game campaign plot arc, a bevy of new mutliplayer options and the return of beloved favorites. It’s not often that you’ll see fanaticism reach a fever pitch the way it does when a new CoD drops and MW3 is certainly no exception as the game has been on the road to record-breaking sales since its midnight launch earlier this week. The latest iteration of the MW’s also brings with it the most robust online statistic database with deep integration of the Elite online platform where you’ll be able to analyze your performance or perish in-game at the hands of people who do.

How’s it look?

The game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second throughout. Even though it runs on the same engine as previous CoDs, visual effects are stunning in an entirely new way. Environments are full of crumbling buildings and explosions that create a chaotic feel to the frenzied campaign gameplay whether they affect your path through a level or not. Infinity Ward has mastered the art of stage variety, delivering the hardcore FPS experience that fans have come to crave but also pepper in new dynamics like scuba infiltration or an on-rails variant through the London Tube. The graphical beauty extends over to multiplayer as well, so you can rest assured that shooting opponents in the face will give your eyes the same warm, fuzzy feeling that it does to your battle-hardened black heart.

Is it any good?

2011 has seen several FPS games that set an extremely high bar for the genre but, as good as Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3 are, Modern Warfare 3 trumps all the competitors. The storyline gets convoluted at times, forcing a feeling of detachment from the characters, but that hardly detracts from the immersion factor of the gameplay where infinite onslaughts of enemies and ingeniously designed levels inspired a visceral and frantic need to soldier on. While the campaign was an enjoyable romp through high profile cities, it ultimately boils down to target practice for the meat and potatoes of any CoD player’s dish: Multiplayer. Online deathmatches and co-op modes are back and have more depth than ever before with new dynamics like “Confirmed Kill” included to help level the playing field and give casual players a chance to contribute as much as hardcore mercenaries without dumbing the game down for anyone. New maps, modes and perks give MW3 staying power that’ll undoubtedly carry players through the next year and beyond.

Out of ten…

9.5. The confusing and sometimes un-engaging plot slightly dings the otherwise flawless game. A hard-hitting campaign, insanely addictive multiplayer, beefed up co-op and deeply integrated Elite web-presence all boil down to one sentiment; Infinity Ward loves us and MW3 is the proof. Suck on that, Jesus.

If I like this, what else will I like? 

Battlefield 3, Crysis 2, breaking up with MW2

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox, PS3, PC)

Price: $59.99

What’s it about?

Journeying to a dreamworld of magic...and dragons...and elves...and everything else you could want out of a massive (but not multiplayer) fantasy universe. Skyrim continues the tradition of the Elder Scrolls series but takes away some of the bloated systems that turned players off in Oblivion. What’s left is a staggeringly enormous world that is filled with purpose in every step and a streamlined leveling system that’s more focused on class than perk trees. Level 100 warriors, rejoice! Skyrim is everything you hoped for and little else.

How’s it look?

Beyond the breathtaking scope of Skyrim as a virtual universe, the game shines by paying attention to the personal details. Your home, your armory, your housecarl… Visually, the game’s graphics take a back seat to its scope but there’s a sense of childlike glee that grips you the first time a dragon touches down, though it’s quickly replaced with a sense of terror when you realize you have to fight the damn thing. Skyrim also implements slow motion during combat, specifically while blocking and during death animations, the latter lending a satisfying quench to the blood-thirstiest of players.

Is it any good?

Skryim is one of the tightest RPG’s out there, a nice change from often-pointless wanderings we endured during the Fallout series. The game has over 100 hours of play and keeping those hours full of worthwhile quests, whether you’re progressing the main storyline or opting for side missions, is a feat that many RPG’s aim to accomplish and seldom obtain. Though the combat is better than ever, aspects of it still leave something to be desired. (To be fair, that could just have been our choice of class and the path we chose to take in the game.) It was also a minor drawback to an overall great gaming experience and a forgivable offense when compared to the bulk of this herculean RPG.

Out of ten?

9.5, combat hiccups can’t stop this RPG juggernaut from enveloping you in a fantasy world that’s more engaging, rewarding and ultimately satisfying as Skyim. This is the kind of game that sucks you in and spits you out two weeks later, bearded, pale, jobless and totally content.

If I like this, what else will I like?

Fallout: New Vegas, Dragon Age 2, looking forward to Star Wars: The Old Republic.



Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection (Xbox, PS3)

Price: $49.99

What’s it about?

A trifecta of Solid Snake, the HD collection bundles Sons of Liberty, Snake Eater and Peace Walker and injects each of them with a dose of high definition so they shine like never before. Sadly, the bundle doesn’t include the original MGS from PSOne but we figure Konami has to keep some tricks up their sleeve for a future rainy day.

How’s it look?

Sons of Liberty, surprisingly, benefits less than the other two games in the bundle but we blame the game’s largely-interior setting for that and maybe because of our hatred of the bait-and-switch of Raiden as the main character. When the series returns to its bread and butter with Solid Snake at the helm and sweeping outdoor environments as the norm, the HD fully grips you and makes you thankful that re-releases like this exist. Cut scenes gain the most traction from the graphical boost and the Metal Gear Solid series basks in its glory when it comes to fleshing out plot in extended videos where setting aside your controller and immersing yourself in the story is a pleasure. Kojima is a storyteller at heart and his masterpiece’s translation into the high def realm is a coup for both the man and the franchise.

Is it any good?

If you’re a fan of the series, like any gamer should be, this bundle is a must have for your collection. Forget the fact that the entry fee is a relatively paltry $50, the hours you’ll spend playing through these classic games is time well spent no matter how you slice, snipe or ram a guided missile into it. Snake’s story is one of the most immersive and engaging in all of video gamedom; if you’re not interested in knowing it, you might as well take the batteries out of your controller and put them into something useful, like a vacuum to get the sand out of your vagina.

Out of ten?

8.5. Leaving the original Metal Gear Solid out of this bundle is a sore point for us because that will always be our favorite MGS game but having 2, 3 and Peace Walker on our consoles is going to be a great distraction from the upcoming post-holiday drought.

If I like this, what else will I like?

Metal Gear Solid 4, Batman: Arkham City, Otocon’s nagging