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Thursday, December 02, 2010

What Sucks In Black Ops (And Most Online Shooters)

I had been playing with "tips & tricks", or "notes" or "thoughts" on Black Ops, but honestly nothing will really sum it all quite like of stuff that sucks about the game.

Conditional: It's a pretty great game, and honestly these are complaints not really aimed at it specifically. It's not like the game crashes repeatedly at a crucial moment unless you wore the right in-game hat or anything (because that would just be insane). No, some of these things have been true since I was an admin on a Counter Strike server so, so, so many years ago.

Second conditional: Many of these things are resolved by having a solid set of people (or even a clan) to play with. But most aren't completely.

But that doesn't change the fact that they suck.

Lobbies Suck
Once, there were dedicated servers - and they were good. Well, mostly good - but the nice thing about dedicated servers is that once you found one you liked you could stick with the same crowd every time you wanted to play - day or night. Our Counter Strike server was a full blown community where you could easily find people you were comfortable playing with and then chat with them on forums after the game.

Lobbies, on the other hand, are nothing more than random groups of people. The connections suck and honestly the whole system rewards you for jumping from one lobby to another lobby often during a game session to get into existing games quickly - and before the you get the dreaded dropped connection.

Oh, right ... speaking of:

Server Disconnects Suck
With dedicated servers, it was very rare that the game dropped you. You may have dropped from the game, or your cat might have kicked out your cable or whatnot ... but the servers were usually up and running. With the peer to peer lobby system, all it takes is a drop between you and random user 22, or maybe random user 22 decides they doesn't want to be on the losing team anymore and drops out - taking the ball, the game and the whole enchilda with them.

It's double annoying since games like Black Ops make tracking experience and stats a big portion of the game - and you may play through 90% of a match only to have the connection pulled out from under you. Ironically in what is probably an effort to punish players who drop out early because they're losing, nobody keeps their score in this case.

VOIP Sucks
I know I've harped on this before, but dear god almighty is VOIP the most wasted technology on the planet. At it's best I occasionally hear useful tips from someone on my team. There's a chance of like 1:1000000 that might happen. There's nearly a 1:1 chance that I will hear random music, someone's kids, their dog, their significant other yelling at them, heavy breathing, or whatnot. Also common is just idle chatter between two players who know each other ... which is usually not rude as much as it's just completely unnecessary background noise.

At it's worse? You might get berated by a player who got killed in the first two seconds of the game. Or sexually harassed by another player. Or threatened, or called any number of pretty impressive insults. And if you aren't the target of all this - you still get to hear it.

I've actually started syncing my bluetooth mic, muting it ... and then setting aside on the floor. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - every online game should have a fast "mute all" option.

And actually, Sony and/or Microsoft should offer teamspeak options at the OS level. Every game should have "talk only to people on your friend list" as a possibility. That way I only talk to people I care about, and nobody has to listen to me do so...

Campers Suck
And I'm going to do everyone a favor here and define a camper as:

A person more concerned with their kill to death ration than actually playing the game.

Honestly, I'm not even going to get into the argument about whether it's bad pool to hide in a fern for five minutes during team deathmatch. However, when I run pass someone hiding in a fern for five minutes while trying to cap a domination point, the urge to TK rises. "Hiding in a fern", mind you, is different from "sniping in a fern" - the distinction is that a sniper will take out opponents in my way. Hiding just makes you decoration.

Matchmaking Sucks
Honestly, Black Ops handles it better than most. However, sometimes when three people drop out right before a match begins and you're stuck with 3:6 for the first ten minutes, or when all the other team is on the same prestige clan, etc. - it sucks the fun out of the game.

Worse, I used to consider it a cardinal sin to drop out of a game which I knew was doomed. Honestly, if I'm in a lobby with a bunch of people yelling into their mics, hiding in ferns and probably ready to drop their own connection ... I'm pretty willing to bail and find a real game.

Knife Fights Suck
Knife attacks have somewhat annoyed me since Counter Strike, and they occasionally still annoy me today. For one thing, in a semi-realistic military shooter - killing someone with a quick swipe of a knife is pretty unrealistic. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that people dying in a modern gunfight from knife attacks are probably statistically low.

But worse is that the mechanic is flawed. OK, if you sneak up behind me and stab me in the back ... you win. If you rush me and I miss you you completely and you stab me ... you win. But there's just no way in hell someone should take three bullets and still get to stab someone and get an instakill from point blank range. At the core, these games are gunfights - and guns should trump knives.