Tuesday, 25 August 2015

BLACK OPS 3 BETA - Conclusion

Well the PS4 beta has finished and the Xbox One version will be up and running from Wednesday 26th August.

Overall it has been good fun and the gameplay has improved over the last six days.

I found the paintshop and tinkered with that and tried out as many weapons as I could and found a weapon in each category that I liked.

So over all there was a kind of comfort in knowing that the multiplayer game is ok. Over the week new perimeters were set enabling new specialists to be unveiled and those that I unlocked I tried out with varying results but only time will tell which will suit the players.

Problems that were encountered up to the last game - players missing from the final scorecard and there is still a maths problem.

The maps are much the same as I have played since Modern Warfare 3 and the gameplay on the Black Ops 3 maps was very much Advanced Warfare with added wall running and underwater combat. I can only compare it to 'comfort zone' gaming. The point is that again there will be criticism that 'Black Ops 3' is another 'Titanfall' clone - but it isn't. I do wonder if this sits at the back of developers minds because they do fall short of a kind of commitment. Yes, these maps and the gameplay should follow in the steps of 'Titanfall'. What is the point of wall running when you can't boost to a higher point? The maps should be opened out to embrace both height and depth. So, too, should the environment for if a player can boost jump onto the roof of a low building then why not onto the low rocks enabling them to climb higher.
The counter-argument is that it would encourage campers - but then they will always find a place to lie down and wait and, therefore, it doesn't really matter.

Detractors will always cry out that 'Call Of Duty' is dead but without a total re-structuring of multiplayer gameplay and maps only the diehards (like me) will be struggling to find a match.

Still there was no hanging around waiting 'for 7 more players' (as in Advanced Warfare) with Black Ops 3. Looks like fun.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

BLACK OPS 3 Multiplayer Beta

Black Ops 3 comes via Activision/Treyarch this time around on the Call Of Duty franchise.

Yesterday, 19th August was launch day and considering that the beta is only available for 5 days it was virtually a day lost as it took hours to download on the PS4 (Xbox One and PCs get the Beta next week). Variables gave approximate download times as between 11 and 8 hours. Sometimes switching off and switching back on made it speed up - better with the last 2000 GB which dropped from 5 hours to 57 minutes.

Other problems occurred with other users who experienced various error codes and server problems.

The game looks good and the maps had a realistic feel. The first map I encountered was 'Combine' which is like a farming college/research area. I played my favourite game type - hardpoint - on this map. The less said about that the better (2 kills and 21 deaths) yet I did manage to capture a hardpoint by a fluke of being in the right place at the right time. New maps and gameplay do take me a while to adjust.

Second up was another attempt at hardpoint on the 'Hunted' map - this is a hunting lodge and comes with a waterfall and a lake for a bit of underwater combat. Different weapon and a slight improvement in the score.

There is a third map 'Evac' set on a rooftop evacuation point but I did not see it.

The Beta comes with 7 game modes: Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, Domination, Capture The Flag, Demolition, and Search and Destroy. I have played the first four of these games and can say that by the end I was close to my average on other Call Of Duty games.

However, the Beta is not without problems. One game of 'Domination' had three (yes 3) halves. A game of 'Kill Confirmed' at the end both my name and score were missing - but both I and my gun leveled up just the same.
Maths is not a strong point in this game for example; 3 double kills, a triple kill and a bloodthirsty (5 kills in a row) do not add up to four kills (a minimum of 7 yes but not 4). And for me to finish in third place in another game is a rarity to savour - not bad when the scorecard said that I had 5 kills. I can only conclude that multiple kills confuses the computer.

Unlike previous 'Call Of Duty' games the opposition seem to have been miniturised and blend in with the scenery. A little more bulk to bring them into line with previous games would be handy.

I couldn't find the 'paint shop' although it doesn't bother me that much now it would have been good to see what was available.

There will be those quick to compare 'Black Ops 3' with 'Titanfall' or believe it to be a trailer for 'Titanfall 2' (such a trailer does exist on YouTube) but it doesn't. The wall running sections need improving and there is no real combined use for wall running and boost jumping. To make full use of the maps I think that this combination is needed and would produce limits that exo suits in 'Advanced Warfare' should have had.

Saying that - as long as I am ranking up and my weaponry is doing the same - I'm happy.

Sunday, 9 August 2015


Watched the briefing for Gamescon 2015 that took place on Cologne, Germany this weekend. Lost count of the number of times that the phrases 'We are excited', 'Microsoft' and 'Windows 10' were mentioned.

Of the three games that were highlighted 'Quantum Break' and 'Crackdown 3' don't really appeal to me and the enthusiasm of the 'excited' developer/salesman did not really sell the product. As for 'Scalebound' this looked like a 'Devil May Cry' clone with added dragon and I did like the look of it.

The main thrust of the briefing was centred on the well plugged 'Windows 10'. Upshot and cut down to a rough single sentence means that you will need 'Windows 10' to use in conjunction with the Xbox One.
Well 'Windows 10' was on offer to download for free up to 29th July - though I believe that if you didn't pre-order then you will have to pay £99.99 for this upgrade (something that they didn't mention at the briefing).
My cousin had downloaded 'Windows 10' and his opinion is that it is a load of 'c..p'. Many others have decided not to take up the offer. We did try but we got an 'error' message so deleted everything and won't bother.

I have to admit that the one thing that really did get my interest was new 'Elite' controller. Being able to programme the controller to your needs and the way that you play games sounds almost perfect. Play 'Call Of Duty' multiplayer games with a hair trigger rather than having to depress that RT trigger all the way. With a normal controller you can only re-arrange buttons but to refine what that button does has to be a plus.

Other things that are coming to the Xbox One are free to view TV and later the ability to record one programme while watching another or playing a game. The people at Microsoft are 'excited' about this - but I have to wonder why. I have freeview and there are things like iPlayer - cable and satellite TV comes with a recording device - so why would having this sell an Xbox One to me?

The other thing that became repetitive on the next 'live' transmission was that a) fans were listened to and b) fans were enjoying this, that and the other. This latter with a sweeping gesture towards the hordes of gamers at the stands. Certainly, getting hands on to so many new games for free is a great thing - but once out of the hall and into the cold light of day that enthusiasm begins to go down. I always have a preference to play those games that I know and trust - anything new and I tend to watch in-store to see what gets an early trade-in. Then again I am always wary of the hype - if something sounds too good, then maybe it isn't.

Gamescon hasn't sold me on anything - not even the bald headed, middle aged bloke who tried to sound trendy by using words like 'stoked' - but there is always one or two things amongst the offerings. The Elite Controller and the first look at 'Rise Of The Tomb Raider' which has Lara Croft doing things (like using the landscape for cover) that should have been a part of the previous game. Will have to wait until next year for the PS4 version though.

The three programmes available via the Xbox are interesting if you can get past the 'big sell' for why you need 'Windows 10'.

Saturday, 8 August 2015


For the past six months I have tried to find a 'fix' for my Xbox One. Some games just crash with a server error - server timed out - and the next message is that I need an active Xbox Live connection. I do have that connection because my Xbox One says so - there are no problems with either internet or multiplayer connection.

As my main problem was with Call Of Duty games the customer services bloke at Xbox Live was quick to point the finger at the developers Activision. Activision's customer services were really helpful - we went through various steps but none of them worked. Until they took a look at my Call Of Duty account and discovered that Xbox Live had not uploaded my full profile.

Back to Xbox Live who took me through the same steps that I had gone through with Activision but ignored the part where I told them that there was a problem with my profile - and, because I shared the Xbox One with my wife, she was experiencing the same problem.

However, this problem is not confined to Activision games, but with Bungie (both Halo and Destiny had connectivity problems) Microsoft/The Coalition with intermittent server probs on the Gears Of War beta; Microsoft/Turn 10 Forza Horizon 2.

Nor was I alone.

Last night I removed my profile.
All my Xbox One pre-orders have been cancelled.
Not sure what to do next - maybe the new PS4 1tb - the PS4 plays so much better and there are no connectivity issues.
Would I recommend the Xbox One to anybody - the simple answer is 'no' - because the cons outweigh the pros.
And, of course, most of my friends and family have ditched their Xbox Ones for the PS4.

After a long chat with Xbox Live I discovered that the problems that I have encountered are far more common than Xbox owners will admit. It appears that the servers for both B.T. (British Telecom) and Virgin Media have not been updated to cope with the new generation of consoles.


GAME stores across the UK are looking for a national champion - up for grabs is a top prize of a £5000 gift card.

The object is to complete 6 challenges, in store, during the month of August.

Winning categories go to best in store; regional championship and the best of the best get to fight it out at Insomnia 56.

So what do you have to do?

Between the 3rd and 8th and between 16th and 22nd August:

FIFA 15: Score as many goals as you can playing Real Madrid against Barcelona.
FORZA 5: Take an Aston Martin Vanquish for a fast lap around the Top Gear full track.
SUPER SMASH BROS: Mario takes on Luigi, Pikachu and Bowser in a battle for max points.

Between 9th and 15th and between 23rd and 30th August:

TRIALS HD: Riding the Buggie Bike on the Dirt Derby Green Home's Rouge - go fast but no restarts.
MARIO KART 7: Race as Mario in the Mushroom Cup Toad Circuit in the B dasher car.
LEGO JURASSIC PARK; Collect as many studs as you can in 90 seconds in Raptor first level.

If you want to take part check out the GAME website for participating stores.
Or follow the action on #UKGAMEOff

Friday, 7 August 2015


Sometime back the BBC News brought us the story of an 86 year old lady who loved playing on her console. She admitted that she had no idea what she was doing but it was fun. It was just one of those 'human interest' stories - a bit of fun.

Just a couple of weeks ago game developers, publishers and analysts met up at the Develop Conference in Brighton. Among the topics discussed was the recognition that gameplay was not restricted to the young but to a new breed of gamer who were either carrying on gaming into retirement or taking it up for the first time in their sixties. A fact that I have known for sometime as I have encountered these players on occasion.

Fifteen years ago aged 55 I had a stroke and during rehab I was asked if I or my children had a games console. Well, there was a Playstation One and my psychologist thought that I should use it as it would aid my hand and eye co-ordination. So 'Tomb Raider' and 'WWF Attitude' were the first to feel movement via my fumbling fingers - forget racing games for there was far to much for me to handle.

Although these kinds of aids were not mentioned during the conference something else was brought into the mix. Essentially we are social animals and we like to interact with friends and families - so that gaming could be a useful tool to help those who live in isolation.

I live miles away from my children and grandchildren but nearly everyday there are three generations battling it out on the Advance Warfare maps. Yet, I can still play solo with other players without the need for social interaction. On the odd occasion I do get game invites but I tend not to respond for the following reasons a) it is usually from someone I don't know or haven't played against and b) in the past it has just been to stoke someone's ego - though on a couple of times (when I did respond) the one on one challenge went in my favour.

Still the social interaction is still important.

As cyberpsychologist Berni Good explained to the conference - "As psychologists we are beginning to understand 'the theory of being happy' can be realised with the engagement and immersion into video gameplay. Research on character identification suggest that audiences regularly imagine being the character and research around parasocial experiences suggest that people react to character as if they were real physical beings."

While I can go along with some of what she says - character identification has been ongoing for many years - there are those who think that characters in soaps like 'Coronation Street' and 'Eastenders' are real. The same can be said about characters in books - we would like to be James Bond - a bit of escapism but our brains are rooted in reality.

The suggestion is that developers may consider looking at games that reflect the lifestyles of the aging population. This immediately made me think of 'Gran Theft Auto'; 'Mobility Scooter Racing' and 'Zombie Care Home' and 'The Walking Sticks Dead'. I prefer the games that are available now nor can I imagine myself playing age related games As Berni Good stated: Aging gamers may find that they have an important role to play in shared co-op experiences with younger relatives. A statement that is very true.

The relevance of the opinions of the silver gamers is, I believe, of importance but it is not just game developers who need to take note but the people behind the Xbox and Sony Playstation. There is no point in sending out surveys to people who, as soon as they tick the over 65 age box are told that they are not what the survey were looking for - that is just plain ignorant and ageist.

The silver gamers are out there and I reckon that we can hold our own.

Thursday, 6 August 2015


My gamertag is Ryker Frost
If you play 'Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare' or 'Ghosts' then you will have encountered me. There are those who take things at face value and others who are sceptical when they discover my age. Well here I am approaching my 70th year and still playing strong.

 Why HMC? This stands for Heavy Metal Cowboy. It was the nickname given to me by the well respected landlady of a pub that had live heavy metal bands on a Saturday night.
But it is not just heavy metal music that I like - I have a love of that other heavy metal that comes with the V8 roar, gleaming chrome and black leather. I love Harleys but a Triumph Bonneville even better for that bike is symbolic of my youth.

As for the Cowboy part - well the past 65 years of my life have been dominated by my love of the western in films and books and, in regard to books, written a few myself. So don't expect me to trade in my copy of 'Red Dead Redemption' anytime soon.

An idea that I had in mind was to create a blog that encompasses what I like - and dislike - about gaming. Most of those on YouTube like Ali-A and Ashlee Mariee (hope I've got her name right) are young - and there is nothing wrong in that - and I love their enthusiasm. But there are some new 'kids' on the block and that will be the subject of my next blog.