Tag Archives: online

Cracking skulls and standing still in Halo 3

I was feeling rather aimless last night after getting some good work done on the latest Sekrit Projekt, and I figured I’d give Halo 3: ODST another go even though I have no clue what’s going on in the game and can’t really kill more than three alien enemies before having my armored ass tossed aside. Only I ended up putting in the second multiplayer disk instead and found myself playing…Halo 3. Well, not the main campaign, but all of its online maps and modes. Weird. Even weirder was that running this CD also tricks my Xbox 360 into thinking I’m playing all of Halo 3, and thus I now have a new list of Achievements separate from Halo 3: ODST to get. Except I can’t get them; I only have the multiplayer aspect of that game, and while meaningless in the longrun, I do find it a bit annoying now that there’s going to be a slew of unlocked Achievements on my system that I didn’t ask to be placed there.

But yeah, Halo 3 multiplayer. I played a round of Oddball and a round of King of the Hill before moving on to fiddle about in the forge mode by my lonesome. In each game mode, I made a single kill and was summarily destroyed every time I pushed forward on the analog stick. My best defense was standing still and hiding from other players. Don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be played, but whatever. I’m at peace with the fact that I lack significant sniping and sticky grenade skills. And now I’m definitely spoiled by Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, which rewards players with losing streak perks if they’re having a hard time keeping up.

A quick scan of Halo 3‘s Achievement list–quick because, well, there’s 79 Achievements to look at, and most of them don’t apply to the multiplayer–mentioned finding hidden skulls on specific levels. I tried to do this on my own, just running around and flying around in Forge with the floaty camera, but alas, these hidden skulls are seriously hidden. I had to look up a guide to find two of them:

Orbital Skull (25G): On Orbital, found the hidden skull.

Assembly Skull (25G): On Assembly, found the hidden skull.

I’m not sure what’s more creative there. The Achievement name or the flavor text. I’m just kidding. They both suck. I might look up a few more guides for the others though some seem really complicated, such as the hidden skull on Sandbox. These might very well be the only Achievements I’ll be able to unlock here. Le sigh.

Unfortunately, I still don’t get Halo. The multiplayer felt so quiet and repetitive, and the graphics were spotty. I dislike having to hold down a trigger button to pick up a weapon, and I don’t know if there’s a sprint button, but I hope so. It feels like an uphill climb no matter what the elevation. I just can’t see what I’m supposedly missing here, that’s all.

So much brotherly love for Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer

I didn’t expect to love the multiplayer aspect of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, but I do. Oh so much. The quick sessions (five- to ten-minute matches), the cat-and-mouse gameplay, the thrill of assassinating your target completely undetected or chasing them down and landing an aerial kill, the constant upgrades your persona gets with each level increase…it’s all pretty amazing. I prefer some game modes over others, as being teamed up in Alliance with a whiny, high-pitched teenager who kept telling me I sucked was not my idea of a good time. Wanted is probably the best way to go, as the hunt and be hunted aspect will always keep you on your toes.

My favorite persona to play as is The Nobleman, and I will be sad for an entire session if I have to play as anybody else. It pretty much doesn’t matter as all personas are merely skins with different kill animations, but I’ve grown attached to the way he walks, to the way he stalks, to the way he balks when spotting an incoming Templar. Plus, y’know, he’s got a clawhand:

The claaaaaaaaaaw!

Someone else seems to really like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood‘s multiplayer, and she doesn’t even play the game. That’s right. My darling wife Tara will literally stop whatever she is doing if she walks past the TV and sees me stalking a target. From there, she’ll be a second pair of eyes helping me out. I love it. We both also share a distaste for the crazies that like to run around on rooftops, screaming to all, “Here I am! Come stab me! Badger badger badger!”

If there’s one aspect that’s a little daunting and less loved, it’s the online multiplayer Achievements. A lot of them seem very tricky to pop, most relying either on boosting or an extreme downpour of luck. Here are three that I’m extremely proud of earning legitimately:

Needle in a Haystack (5G): Kill your target while hidden in a hay bale (Multiplayer Only).

Fast Learner (25G): Kill your target and escape your pursuer in less than 10 seconds (Multiplayer Only).

Ahead of the Curve (20G): Perform a double or triple escape (Multiplayer Only).

However, there’s probably not many left that I’ll be able to get. Level 50 is a long way off as I’m around Level 11 at  the moment, and you need more and more XP with each level increase. I actually came close to taking the lead with 10 seconds left once; I made an undetected assassination with 25 seconds left and went on to win. Arrrrgh. Why couldn’t I have waited 15 more seconds to murder the Doctor?! Still, I’m gonna keep playing as it’s fun, bite-size, and always rewarding. I do have to wonder if Ubisoft will carry any of this over to Assassin’s Creed III or if it was solely to tie into the assassin guild theme  here.

Hide in hay, sit on bench, get stabbed in the back

…rinse and repeat!

That’s how my three sessions with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer went last night, with me striking down the occasional foe and running across rooftops to freedom (and points for escaping!). I guess I did somewhat decent as I managed to progress from a weak level 1 Templar to a…still weak level 2 Templar. Only now I unlocked an ability called “disguise,” which I haven’t gotten to try out just yet. I’m assuming I get to change outfits at whim or something to that effect. Could help me on my latest quest: To Not Get Stabbed in the Back Anymore.

All the complaints about Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood‘s matchmaking prowess ring true. It takes a long time to get enough players to join up, and even when it does look like you’ve got 8/8 ready to play, you still have to wait. However, once you’re in a match, it’s pretty clear it’s worth it. This sort of multiplayer experience doesn’t come along a lot, and I absolutely love the idea of hiding in plain sight. Pretending to be part of a crowd, chatting with a merchant, taking a break on a bench–these are actual strategies to surviving. Running up a ladder is a sure-fire way to get noticed, get killed. I’m still not good at figuring out who my targets are, and the assassinate button likes to, uh, sometimes not work. Or maybe I’m not supposed to stab other Templars when they are stabbing their targets. Don’t really know. But yeah, it’s a fun time once you get a good group of people that like to click “rematch” right away.

Sadly, I’ll probably never get any of the multiplayer Achievements. Or, if I do, it’ll be just one. Like killing a target while hiding in a pile of hay. That’s probably the easiest of the bunch. The rest? Very specific, very skill-heavy. Oh well. Sometimes it’s not always about Achievements. Guess I will just do my best to unlock everything in the single player mode, which, by the way, is going good. I am, however, feeling extremely overwhelmed; the map is getting more and more littered with icons and things to see, and Etzio (i.e., me) just kind of wants to run around, climb buildings, and fill his secret hideout with awesome, authentic paintings. Mmm artwork…

No service for you!

EA is shutting down online servers for its older and less popular games, such as The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II, Sims Carnival, and a great number of sports titles for various systems. The full list and killswitch dates can be found over at Giant Bomb.

I don’t own or play any of these games; this all-consuming shutdown does not affect me.

And yet it does.

I’ve always been a single-player game kind of fella. Online gaming is something that I never thought I’d get into, and so I didn’t. A few times during college, after working out a lot of firewall kinks, I would play some Command & Conquer: Red Alert late at night with my best friend a few states away, but other than that…didn’t ever see the point. I also never had a gaming PC so-to-say or any consoles that thrived on online gaming, such as an Xbox at that time. Just a PlayStation 2, and I think you needed a special degree to get that hooked up to the Interwebz. There were, of course, a few games I would’ve loved to try playing online, namely Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal and Diablo II, but the stars were not meant to align.

So, how does server shutdowns for games I don’t even play affect me? It only makes me more bitter and cautious towards online gaming. I want games to last forever, and nowadays there’s a heavy focus on social gaming (hello, Facebook!)–and without actual people, there’s nothing to play. That kind of perspective is dangerous and insulting, especially for hardened RPG fanatics that have spent countless hours alone grinding characters to perfection. In fact, some games’ multiplayer trumps single-player campaigns in terms of length and content and love. Boo to that. I’ve dabbled in GTA IV‘s online activity and found it bland and annoying; so far, the only current online experience I’ve had that was pretty successful was in Borderlands. I purposely steer clear of online, multiplayer-heavy games, and with the constant threat of server shutdown, it seems, to me, a pointless thing to invest in.

Goodbye, EA Sports FIFA Manager 10. I hardly knew ya.