Saturday, January 26, 2008

Call of Duty Boot Camp

While I did not choose to do this, my gaming style has changed yet again. I hope that this won't ruin the run I have in World in Conflict to the rank of Brigadier General.

So what title has pulled me away? Call of Duty 4. I was given a copy of this as an additional push to get me to trying out the game. I've been on the fence about getting this for a while and I still was during that time. Usually I'll try any game that I can get my hands on. But it was unexpected that I would be given this. Many of the clanmates have already shifted over to playing this game and it seems that I'll be joining them too.

Call of Duty 4 is a team-based tactical first person shooter game. People who have played other Call of Duty games or the Battlefield series would know how this is played. While both franchises have their own way of playing, CoD4 is different in a few more ways than what BF2 presented. Instead of being shot and having a medic to come over to revive you in BF2, you are simply shot. You get shot and you respawn. So the pace of playing the game is a lot faster.

From what I can gather, the 3D engine for CoD4 is nothing new. It's been said that it uses the same engine as CoD2 but enhanced graphically to give us more details. Perhaps this is why the game loads so quickly. I am not one to criticize how developers utilize their 3D engines... but at least I am able to play the game in widescreen, which is always a great bonus since I use a couple of Dell 2007FPW monitors.

Like any games, it's not without flaws. As of time of posting, the latest game version is 1.4. The game's server browser is a complete mess, with no easy way to simply search for a name or to easily add favorites. There is no "buddy" system, which probably would half-work anyway if there was one. Server favorites are saved to the same file as the file used for caching server list. If something ever happens to that file, the favorites are likely to be wiped out too. Profiles are done in the most incorrect way possible -- stored locally. Meaning, all of your effort, unlocks, and other personal features of your multi-player profile is stored in a single file. And if that file becomes corrupt, all that disappears. You start again from scratch. As if it doesn't get any worse, storing the profile locally opens up the possibility for abuse: having everything unlocked and available for use without having to play a single game online.

In other games such as BF2 or World in Conflict, player performance and data are stored on a statistic server and a person's player name is static once registered. That is not the case for CoD4, where anyone can potentially connect and impersonate another individual online. The only way to check is to memorize the player's GUID which is used by the anti-cheating system called PunkBuster. Sadly, it's not easy to recognize one GUID from the next, so that's also out of the question.

Because of these flaws, I question whether or not the developers, Infinity Ward, spent all of their time ensuring a good gameplay while forgetting or ignoring how to protect a player's identity and implementing a proper server browser. Granted, they did well in making the game play well. But you'd think in today's world of online gaming and GUI for joining a game that they'd consider more thoroughly in how to properly implement a browser. Perhaps that is why the interface in World in Conflict is so well designed that it's hard to find a fault with that. It is, what I believed, to be a gamer's interface done right, in virtually every possible way.

Well, as time progresses, I'll see how my playing performance turn out as I play the game more. Hopefully Infinity Ward will properly implement a server browser that people can comfortably use without pulling their hair out.

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