SHOOTERS: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE…AND INDIA

As our team was discussing the poor performance of Syndicate and Ghost Recon in India (decent sales on Xbox, poor on PS3 for the latter) compared to ROW (Ghost Recon is currently the top selling game in the UK for example).  I ventured that I preferred Ghost Recon to both Modern Warfare 3 & Battlefield 3.  And there it was, the whole GamesINC office turned around towards me with a look of shock and horror.  Before my open minded colleagues could confiscate my PS3, I ran out of the office and to the safety of the Delhi streets (well…).

What is it about shooters that divide everyone’s opinion so much?  And why, in India, are some games such as Battlefield 3 nearly impossible to find whereas others such as Ghost Recon suffered in sales.  Let’s start with a walk down memory lane…

The First Shooters:  One Choice Only But What a Choice

Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.  These defined the shooter genre. Playing Wolfenstein for the first time was eye opening– you’d never seen or experienced this before.  Tearing through Nazi officers with an unseen array of weapons and finishing off by taking on Hitler!  Beat that!

Chainsaw, Room Full of Ammo, Big Taurus Thingy Monster – Three Reasons Doom Revolutionized Shooters

And then Doom arrived and did that the very next year.  Adding diversity to the levels which was limited in Wolfenstein, a much longer single player mode, much better visuals, mutant aliens and deathmatches (where do you think the term comes from?).

At the time – the choice was limited to these two games for the vast majority of gamers, but it really didn’t matter – these games were so good and revolutionnary.  Doom & Wolfenstein created the shooter genre & even industry (most shooters afterwards were called Doom clones).

The Diversification of Shooters:  The Following Waves

It’s impossible to cover shooters from the mid-90s to mid-2010s without writing a dissertation – so let’s keep it high level.  Once Doom had engrained the genre into video gaming – shooters started slowly branching in different directions.  Quake took on the multiplayer mode, Half-Life took it to the next level and had an actual story line (a darn good one at that), Golden Eye wrapped them both into one awesome pack.  Half-Life and Golden Eye helped popularize the genre on consoles.

Someone Is About To Die – Getting Your Hand On The Rocket Launcher Was Always Satisfying

As the industry evolved, games such as Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Syndicate, Deus Ex (to name a few) started taking shooters into different directions offering a variety of games reflecting the varied demands of gamers (as well as the diversity in creative juices among development houses).  The diversification has even lead to different sub genres:  First Person and Third Person.  Some would argue that the games above, especially Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid are not really shooters.  You do shoot in them, no?  And this leads us to today…

Today:  A World of Choices

There are two uncontested big hitters today:  Modern Warfare 3 & Battlefield 3.  They keep the same fundamental as the originals – unadulterated action.  Sure – there’s a story thrown in there for good measure, but it’s all about blasting your way through levels or through online opponents. And boy does the formula work:  Modern Warfare 3 hit $1 Billion in sales in 16 days, more than any other release across all digital entertainment genres (it reached $1 Billion before Avatar and Harry Potter:  The Deathly Hallows – Part 2).  There have been a number of similar style games over the last twelve months which haven’t quite hit the same standard this year such as Homefront and Bodycount to name a couple.

Battlefield 3 Multiplayer – It’s Beautiful, It’s Chaotic, And It’s Hours of Endless Fun

For those not so much into the spray and pray – there’s a myriad of additional choices, some different by degrees (Max Payne 3, Black Ops, Crysis), some offering completely different experiences (Deux Ex, Ghost Recon, Uncharted).  There’s also been a merging with RPG which has given us some absolute classics such as Red Dead and the GTA series.

The multiplayer has also really taken to the fore – even games such Max Payne & Uncharted 3 offer multiplayer modes.  Development houses have kept gamers hooked for tens if not hundreds of hours of gameplay with awesome multiplayer modes.  For example, one of our regular customers wanted to trade in Max Payne 3 – we called him up and suggested he try the multiplayer before he made his decision.  He hasn’t traded it in, he likes the multiplayer too much – not a good business decision, but we’re gamers and we want people to get the maximum enjoyment.  In addition to the multiplayer, new DLCs appearing all the time mean that there’s no need to get a new game – as developers are constantly adding new maps, challenges, weapons to your game.

The Future:  What does it look like?

Developers will keep trying to keep gamers hooked into their games for as long as possible.  This year does not see such a heavy hitting line up as the end of last year (2012 actually might be a lighter year between big line ups in 2011 and 2013).  Modern Warfare fans might make the jump into Black Ops 2 in the winter when it releases, whereas Battlefield 3 fan boys seem a loyal bunch, and might stay away from a Call of Duty game – from observation, they could be playing Battlefield 3 for a while (I nearly got lynched on Facebook too for suggesting Ghost Recon is better than BF3).  Medal of Honor: Warfighter might be the big surprise as they are timing their release to perfection – jut when the market might be looking for a new traditional shooter.

Medal of Honor – Real World Conflicts, Tight Graphics, Chaotic, and Perfect Timing. Could Be A Big Hit

Does that mean the end of diversity in the gaming industry? By no means – sales of Max Payne 3 have been good, and gamers are always looking to get into new games – so while the multiplayers will keep fans occupied, it won’t stop them buying the latest games on release.  Over the last twelve months, games like Uncharted, Deus Ex, Saints Row The Third and L.A. Noire have entertained even the biggest BF3 or MW3 fan.

And this year, well next year actually – there’s a lot of interesting games in proposition which could take a lot of genres to the next level. Crysis 3 in particular looks stunning, and seems to be bringing a lot more options to players. Tomb Raider seems to have reinvented itself into a grittier more real game.  The Last of Us just looks like something we haven’t before.  And finally we can’t wait to get our hands on WatchDogs, which looks like a Deus Ex on steroids.  The last 3 in particular promise so much in terms of the evolution of shooters. Check out our preview of what’s coming in our E3 round up.

Will it look any different in India?

In India, the reason that games such as Ghost Recon and Syndicate struggled even more than internationally is that they were not hitting the spray and pray demand of the market – as well as not having the multiplayer following that will allow you to play against your friends.  The stealth and cooperative modes that these games offered do not appeal as much.  If you can shoot a thousand enemies per minute, why settle for ten?  Especially if those enemies are not your friends…

Watch Dogs – Cyberpunk, Strong Story, Intense Action, Good Looking, Everyone Is Hackable. Hits All Our Buttons

And in the case of Syndicate – the Indian market’s dynamics, a younger average age of gamers meant that the emotional attachment that us old timers had with the title did not push them to buy it. If anything – the Indian market is going to heavily go for the heavy hitters and less likely to go for the offshoots in the shooter genre.  With time – as the market keeps growing and ageing – things might change…but for the moment, we expect Black Ops 2 to perform well.  Medal of Honour is a bit of an unknown quantity for the Indian market, it could do very well as gamers look for a new shooter and it’s timing is perfect…or it could suffer the same fate as Ghost Recon and Syndicate.  We’re not expecting too much from Halo 4…but you never know, Halo fan boys might come out of the closet for the latest one.

2013 should be interesting – the popularity of such the reinvented Tomb Raider, the widely expected Last of Us and Watch Dogs will tell us a lot about the preferences of gamers in India.

What are your thoughts?  Did you choose Max Payne 3 or Ghost Recon: Future Soldier?  Why?

As always – keep up to date with our latest news, offers, and releases on Facebook and Twitter.  For all your gaming needs in India – shop @ GamesINC.  www.gamesinc.in

We offer all the latest and greatest shooters on our Web site.  If you wanna pick up some shooters at unbeatable prices, check out our high quality used games for Xbox here (includes Mass Effect 3, MW3, Black Ops & many more) or our PS3 collection (includes MW3, Syndicate, Deus Ex & many more).

Disclaimer:  Some people will have objections to the classifications of shooter, especially for games such as Tomb Raider, GTA, and Deus Ex. I’ve taken the “if you shoot something, it’s a shooter” perspective.  Controversial, I know…

And apologies to PC fan boys for not covering your platform in a lot of depth (except for the early days). You’ve accused us of being too console oriented, and that’s true – we write on what we know. We’re actually looking for PC bloggers if you’re interested…

 

THE CALM AFTER THE STORM: A RATIONAL GUIDE TO BATTLEFIELD 3 AND MODERN WARFARE 3

This article comes to us from our guest writer, Anish Kataria. Anish is a passionate gamer, a car and bike enthusiast, and a generally happy guy. He can be reached on twitter @AnishKataria.

The gaming world’s ultimate showdown took place in the latter half of 2011, when Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 were launched within a month of each other.  Most gamers (including this particular MW fan-boy) were blown over and confused by the blitzkrieg of marketing offenses and pre-launch videos offered by Electronic Arts and Activision.  Most gamers reading this article might have already purchased a copy of one of these games.  That said, for the few who are still undecided/waiting for prices to reduce/thinking about getting a multiplayer pass, this review might help you make an informed decision.

For the uninitiated, MW3 builds on the success of the original MW, MW2, and related title Black Ops which dominated the gaming industry with unmatched gamer experience (both visually and game design).  BF3 comes from a slightly different genealogy that started in 2002 with Battlefield 1942 and primarily aimed at the PC gamer.  Its last iteration, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was critically acclaimed—but a moderate success commercially when compared to the Modern Warfare titles.

So how do these games stack up against each other?  Modern Warfare 3 (to a large extent the series) makes you feel like Superman.  It’s relatively simple, unabashed arcade shooting style which focuses on the ability of one man to change the world provides the gamer a fast-paced ego rush that in itself is a highly-entertaining gaming experience.  Battlefield 3, on the other hand, makes you feel like Batman.  The learning curve is steep—some parts of the game almost force you to give up the controller, while others require you need to change the way you play—and you don’t have any superpowers that make you invincible.  Working effectively with your squad, selecting the right weapons, mastering key tactics, and being nimble on your feet are some of the aspects of the game that any gamer needs to master.

Let’s see how these games compare across categories.

Graphics

Frostbite 2: Sometimes you just want to take a break and enjoy the surroundings

Battlefield 3 leverages the brutal computing power of the Frostbite 2 engine (Link).  This translates into smooth animations, immersive yet destructible environments, dynamic lighting and real-world visual effects (e.g., shadows, water droplets, smoke, and other textures).  The wide range and high quality of visuals present in all different game modes are astonishing but they can overwhelm the gamer at times.  Sometimes finding that critical piece in the jigsaw puzzle can be taxing due to overwhelming visual input.

Modern Warfare 3 is based on an evolved/tweaked version of the I-Ward/MW2 engine.  The lack of innovation/investment results in the graphics in MW3 feeling a little dated when compared to BF3.  The lighting and animations seem to have been enhanced in comparison to MW2 but is nowhere near the realism of BF3.  That said, the speed and build quality will keep gamers engaged.

Advantage:  Battlefield 3

Single Player Campaign

Makarov is back.

Captain Soap MacTavish, Captain John Price, and their evil nemesis Makarov return to light the world on fire in Modern Warfare 3.  MW3 continues from where MW2 left off.  It feels like a high on adrenaline, big budget Hollywood movie but sadly backed by a flat storyline.  It does have ‘scripted’ plot twists but I bet those of us used to the franchise see most of them coming.  I still love the characters, the transitions between missions, and the amazing superhero type quests in exotics locales.  It gets you high on the familiar, keeps you away from everything that you hold dear, and makes you beg for more.  That said, I would have preferred if the storyline hadn’t been carried over from MW2.

I had high expectations of the campaign mode in Battlefield 3 as a result of the incredible storyline of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and the pre-launch teaser videos provided by EA.  BF3 puts you in the shoes of Staff Sergeant Henry Blackburn fighting the evil PLR held together by the main antagonist, Solomon.  The single player mode is based on a storyline that has been seen before, boring scripting, an AI that knows all and kills all.  It does have a couple of over-the-top moments where it feels awesome (but these are limited to the cut scenes between missions/introductions to mission).  The campaign seems like a bunch of cool ideas which were over cooked and poorly executed.  Further, sometimes it seems that the developers consciously designed the single player mode to be frustrating and painful.

Advantage:  Modern Warfare 3.  It’s moronic but I still associate with the characters.

Multi Player Modes

Aerial dogfights on BF3: You should play the multiplayer just for that!

Realism, different abilities for different solider classes, huge maps, insane graphics, vast magnitude of weapons… phew!  Multiplayer is what Battlefield 3 was designed for.  24 console players (or 64 PC players) can collaborate and overrun/capture/annihilate enemy positions in the immersive multiplayer maps.  The author of this article wasn’t a big multiplayer fan (apart from the customary FIFA sessions online) until he came across this game.  The multiplayer of this game is addictive beyond comparison and will turn you into ‘Level-Up’ junkie who only cares about when he can fire a Stinger missile, drive an Abrams Tank, or fly a Sukhoi-25 Frogfoot.  The most critical differentiator here is that the maps turn into huge battlefields with different types of gamers (infantry soldiers, tank commanders, and combat aircraft pilots) fighting against each other at the same time.

Modern Warfare 3 builds on and enhances the multiplayer experience from MW2.  It’s fast, addictive, and you will not get bored playing it over and over again.  Infinity Ward has added the ability to set up streak rewards for support play rather than the aggressive over-the-top one man army style antics (gamers who focus on maintaining a high kill-to-death ratio over supporting the team).  Overall, it’s a great package that’ll make you log on and play because of the large number/experience/quality of gamers using the multiplayer functionality.  That said, I’m disappointed that Infinity Ward hasn’t pushed the envelope over here.  They seem to be happy with just sticking with what has worked in the past.

Advantage:  Battlefield 3

My Choice

It comes down to choosing between a glamorous supermodel for a single encounter vs. the girl who you truly love (is that even possible?) for the rest of your life.  I choose Battlefield 3.  What do you choose?

Where to Pick One Up?

Why, at GamesINC of course.  At the time of writing, we have copies of Battlefield 3 pre-owned and Modern Warfare 3 both new and pre-owned on PS3.  If Xbox is your platform, then we only have Modern Warfare 3 new – but we should getting BF3 new, as well as pre-owned versions of both in the near future.

Looking Forward To

The Last of Us