IGN: This is a Bad Time to be an FPS Fan

defiant007

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http://au.pc.ign.com/articles/121/1212393p1.html

A lament for the death of innovation and ambition in the single-player FPS.

Is this a bad time to be an FPS fan? If you take the recent merciless public Metacritic mauling of Modern Warfare 3 as any kind of reliable barometer of the current public feeling, then the answer would appear to be a resounding yes.

The natives are restless. They're bored of more the same formula being wheeled out year after year. They've had enough of over-hyped blockbuster games with iterative multiplayer, a by-the-numbers campaign mode, and eye-rolling Michael Bay-esque storylines. The tech looks tired, they've seen it all before, and yet the review scores remain high, and the sales are even higher. What the hell's going on? Is the FPS scene really stuck in an interminable rut right now, or is it just a case of over-familiarity?

In fairness, it's a bit of both, but the thing that's increasingly obvious is how much the single player offering has become something of a lost art, and a sideshow to the main multiplayer event. Many times recently, friends have dismissed my concerns with a curt 'who cares about single player anyway?' Well, I do, and I'm fairly sure an awful lot of people agree with that point of view.

The strange thing is, it used to be the other way around. Go back a few years to the PS2 and Xbox era, and multiplayer was barely worth wasting time on - with Halo being the rare exception. For most shooter fans schooled in the classics, the campaign modes in the likes of Half-Life, GoldenEye, Unreal, Quake II and Duke Nukem 3D were something to savour.

This 'anything goes' approach lead to some outstanding and varied single player experiences, with System Shock 2, Deus Ex, No-One Lives Forever, TimeSplitters, Rainbow Six and Halo just the tip of the iceberg in a creatively fertile period around the turn of the century.

All of these titles brought something new, distinctive and intelligent to the scene, and they weren't afraid to test players in ways that would bloody the noses of modern audiences. It's a trend that continued long after the console multiplayer gained traction, and you only have to look at landmark games like Metroid Prime, Half-Life 2, Doom III, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, F.E.A.R., Bioshock, and the unforgettable Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for further evidence of the scene's former creative zenith.

But numerous recent FPS blockbusters have largely been remarkable for how reluctant developers appear to be to stray outside of their (and perhaps the mass audience's) comfort zone. In the last few months alone, Battlefield 3 provided perhaps the single most vapid, vacuous example of a single player campaign in recent memory.

After Bad Company 2, the expectation was that DICE would do something special. But rather than prepare you for its expansive multiplayer, it was content to funnel players along, and reduce your role to that of a wide-eyed spectator for significant chunks of the experience. It might have given players an opportunity to admire the wonderful Frostbite 2 engine, but also rather too much time to reflect on how little meaningful interaction you have with the game.

It's this continual insistence on removing almost all responsibility from players from many modern shooters that feels most irritating. Nothing is ever left to chance. There's rarely any opportunity to explore, or approach via another route, and therefore absolutely no means to experiment with different strategies in the way that you routinely have to in multiplayer. Just walk towards the objective marker, kill everything in your way, and remember to get behind cover to recharge your health.

Everything from recharging health to constant checkpointing, predictable AI and linear level design comes from an unhealthy obsession to remove anything that may be considered frustrating. But in doing so, much of the sense of satisfaction of actually conquering a level goes with it, and you end up racing through the game at such speed that you may barely recall what actually happened.

Part of the blame also goes to some lamentable attempts at storytelling. More often than not you're thrown into situations without a shred of context, alongside characters who you have no attachment to, and tasked with shooting a procession of bad guys right in the face for no other reason than "they're bad, mmmkay?"

And even then, it wouldn't be so bad if the moment-to-moment combat encounters had any credibility or substance at all. More often than not, the AI routines in FPS games still default to the tired whack-a-mole system that most of us were sick of a decade ago, where enemies run to a prescribed spot, and periodically pop their heads up obligingly for us to pick off at our leisure. Imagine my delight upon discovering that Modern Warfare 3 not only continues to employ this utterly pathetic system, but also respawns enemies unless you move beyond invisible checkpoints.

Would it really be too much to ask to have more proactive and reactive enemies in games? Bungie managed it a decade ago in Halo, and it's now six years since F.E.A.R. appeared. Such ambition to push the FPS in a bolder, more expansive direction has largely stalled, as most developers focus on bombastic cinematics and impressive set pieces at the expense of anything of true substance. As much as I admired the immersive jet plane sequence in Battlefield 3, and the sub sabotage level in Modern Warfare 3, they may as well have been non-interactive cut scenes for the actual input required on the part of the player. And what's with the continuing obsession with Quick Time Events in shooters? Did we not realise this was a blind alley about seven years ago?

Assuming you don't care about the poorly acted, nonsensical storylines, predictable AI, done-to-death use of military scenarios, corridor focused levels, and complete absence of challenge and ambition that infects the campaign modes of most of the current crop of blockbusters, then yeah - it's a great time to be an FPS fan. Just make sure that you only care about multiplayer, and you'll be fine.

The rest of us, though, should continue to make our feelings known. Maybe someone will sit up and take notice.

Holy shit, that's the most intelligent and constructive thing I have read on IGN in almost a decade (as opposed to the self serving and unreserved praise normally spouted), except I would go so far as to say that even FPS MP is becoming formulaic and monotonous with developers all trying to ape the CoD formula!
 

NukeDukem

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And yet isn't Modern Warfare 3 one of the best selling games ever? :rolleyes:

For pubs and to a lesser extent devs, it's not about making quality games, it's about making games that make the most profit.
 

sirmonkey1985

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tried reading it.. beginning sounded good then it got into single player banter and i lost interest. i don't care about single player. never played BF2, BC1, BC2, BF3 single player and have no plans of ever playing it because i know its going to suck since thats not what DICE or the battlefield series are known for. even out of the COD series the only single player i played was MW2 and quite frankly while it was decent it still was horrible. the honest truth is that on the FPS side single player is the most worthless thing ever. who the hell really wants to go around shooting AI when you can play a bad ass multiplier and own the shit out of real people(excluding any of the COD4 based games since the MP is worthless).

i just don't know how people actually find FPS based single players fun. hell even borderlands single player sucked and that game actually had a good story line, but after killing 50 or so of the AI what the hecks the point? only saving grace for that game for me was the online co-op otherwise i would of quit after beating the main story line in the first 5 hours.
 

NukeDukem

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I don't think FPS and RPG single player games need to be mutually exclusive. For instance, a game like Far Cry 2 could have been so much more than it was. The shooting mechanics were great... it was just everything else that was terrible.

I envision a game that combines the FPS qualities of a Far Cry 2 with the story and RPG elements of an Elder Scrolls game.

A pipe dream I know, the possibility of which is made more remote by the prevalence of piracy and the production costs associated with creating such a game.
 

Cajunheat

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The part about single-player was right on the mark. It has became an afterthought. I don't do multiplayer! Why you ask, because I don't like dealing the psychotic behavior you run into online. For those of you that won't do anything but multi more power to you but, while you are dealing with cheaters, profanities and insults, teamkillers, rage quitters, griefers and smart mouthed children, I'll be sitting enjoying what ever I do alone.
 

MMAOmegaRED

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Bad article title but he's right that FPS games are all about style and keeping the action going rather than actually letting you make some sort of decisions along the way (such as who to follow and when!). I absolutely abhor respawning enemies in FPS it's probably my main gripe with CoD games.
 

defiant007

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tried reading it.. beginning sounded good then it got into single player banter and i lost interest. i don't care about single player. never played BF2, BC1, BC2, BF3 single player and have no plans of ever playing it because i know its going to suck since thats not what DICE or the battlefield series are known for. even out of the COD series the only single player i played was MW2 and quite frankly while it was decent it still was horrible. the honest truth is that on the FPS side single player is the most worthless thing ever. who the hell really wants to go around shooting AI when you can play a bad ass multiplier and own the shit out of real people(excluding any of the COD4 based games since the MP is worthless).

i just don't know how people actually find FPS based single players fun. hell even borderlands single player sucked and that game actually had a good story line, but after killing 50 or so of the AI what the hecks the point? only saving grace for that game for me was the online co-op otherwise i would of quit after beating the main story line in the first 5 hours.

So the point of your post is that you don't like SP, especially in games renowned for having shit SP campaigns? :)

Here's a cookie, the issue obviously isn't a concern for you as you clearly are only interested in one aspect offered by FPS games.

I have had just as much if not more fun playing absorbing FPS SP campaigns (e.g. Deus Ex, MoH AA, CoD 1, Chronicles of Riddick, Farcry, HL2, System Shock 2, FEAR, Thief, NOLF, SHOGO, etc) than I have with MP.
 

Q-BZ

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they just gave mw3 a 9/10 and editors choice......

Which is an amazing contradiction in terms of action vs a fairly decent article that the OP put up.


Another example of where you can hear and see a bunch of words but it's actions that count.
 

Kinsaras

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i just don't know how people actually find FPS based single players fun. hell even borderlands single player sucked and that game actually had a good story line, but after killing 50 or so of the AI what the hecks the point? only saving grace for that game for me was the online co-op otherwise i would of quit after beating the main story line in the first 5 hours.

Borderlands had a story? And a good one? After 40+ hours I didn't find it interesting, just fun to play with my wife lol.

Play some Half-life series, System Shock 1&2 or BioShock for some good FPS stories.
 

thesecond

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While i do agree with the frustration with FPS single player, taking BF3 into the argument was a bad choice.

We have to remember how these games started. COD when it first came out was one of the most dynamic and interesting (and hard as hell) single player war fps at its time. Super long campaign, lots of fun, a good change up from the foundation that Medal of Honor built. Fear, Half Life, Bioshock, all great single player games, all with a focus on single player. And look at the hours involved as well. Half life took me weeks to beat. Bioshock i bet i spent 30+ hours on per playthrough, and I've played it through many times. Fallout 3 i spent 200+ hours on. They are all single player focused games. And they all do well at being single player focused shooters.

Including BF3 into that article looks like either a quickly made decision, or an inexperienced one. Battlefield was never a single player focused game, and was never designed to be sold under that designation. Having high single player expectations in that game is completely unjustified.

Now I can understand disappointment in Call of Duty. COD 1 was a great single player game, and really changed how I saw single player FPS. 2 and 3 were rehashes more or less, but still offered tough gameplay. Then 4 rolled around, nobody knew what the hell happened in the campaign because it was too fast and scattered, and nothing was explained, and it just felt like gun training so you could get into multiplayer and get all of their achievements and unlocks.

The focus is not on Michael Bay-esque storylines. The focus has shifted to multiplayer, which has resulted in less focus on single player. The same goes for the majority of games. This is just a result of people getting cheap and fast playable internet connections, and the spread of online socialization.

Single Player FPS still exists, just not how we remember it in our nostalgia goggles with our crappy internet connections, and our 128MB graphics cards. I do believe that single player focused fps will become less common, but it wont die out. Just look at Bioshock and Hard Reset. People still want it, and it will still come. It just wont be the 99% like it used to be. <<--- hahaha see what i did there.
 

Q-BZ

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Deus Ex: HR recently gave me some hope on the subject as well but the overall trend has been pretty bad news for the single player FPS IMO.
 

Bigbacon

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I like this part
"This 'anything goes' approach lead to some outstanding and varied single player experiences, with System Shock 2, Deus Ex, No-One Lives Forever, TimeSplitters, Rainbow Six and Halo just the tip of the iceberg in a creatively fertile period around the turn of the century."

I wish devs would actually make games worth playing that are outstanding, varied, and memorable.

And sorry, BF3 falls into the same league as MW,COD,etc.
 

cukoodukoo

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Dont be sorry, IMO BF3 after all the hype was a dissapointment,certainly not a sequel to BF2.

They tried to change things [ i guess to be creative] and spoilt the better part of the gameplay.regardless seems to be a good honest talk after a long time
 

PrincessFrosty

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Agree with a lot of the article.

Anyone noticed the biggest titles are sequels in franchises? Games are NOT sold based on how good they are, they're sold based on what kind of advertising budget they have, nothing more strongly correlates with how well a game sells these days.

The reason advertising correlates so well with sales is because the biggest audience for gaming now is one which simply doesn't care about the quality of the game, they buy it because some magazine was paid to tell us that's amazing. The casual market is simply massive and has much lower standards and so to maximize profits you release a mediocre game and spend 50% of your budget advertising it.

I've been trying think of a catchy way of putting this...I guess..

"Gamers make up a very small percentage of gamers." -me
 

Climber

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I'm sorry, I'm pretty sure a few of us have been saying the exact same thing for the last year and pretty much the majority of people around the [H] forums have done nothing but beat the drums of how innovative and the MW series is.

Publishers, specifically activision, is known for grinding ip's and studios into the dust and gamers just keep gobbling up the horse shit they keep throwing out there. This is 100% the fault of gamers who don't mind paying for the same exact game year after year. Justify it all you want but the pc gaming has become less innovative an stagnant because of this and it will continue to be so until gamers start voting with their wallets. But with MW3 selling 400$ million on opening day I guess gamers have and it isn't the direction I hoped /shrug

P.s. with that said, there are still a lot of noteworthy games albeit not traditional fps and my backlog for games is huge. Pc gaming may be stagnant in some areas but there have been a lot of great games this last year and more to come in 2012
 

FrEaKy

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To those who read this article than see the 9/10 IGN score posted too, the reviewer for the game and the writer for the article is not the same person.

Most people dont share the same views and most who review for IGN now are soly in it for the MP campaigns or didnt even play enough of the SP campaign to care. Its a paycheck to most, and the reviewers get payed better for more reads, and what better way to get a read that to score high. If I see a 2/10 score, I dont even bother reading the article and stay COMPLETELY clear of the game that got such an abhorable review, whereas if I see a 9/10 I say, shoot, I wonder why, and I read it.

Reviewers get payed for the score, writers get paid for the opinions, which is why you can have one person say shit and another person give it rave reviews.

Welcome to corporate america where the rich are who flatter the most butt-holes!

I for one completely agree with the writers views and feel the same, hell I went through Half-Life 1 & 2 within the last 6 months for the godknows how many times mark, and its awesome. I always seem to find something I missed and can ALWAYS get my times worth from it.

MP games are fine and I enjoy them too, but I do enjoy a good immersive SP feeling once in a while, and I agree, it doesnt seem to exist anymore!
 

Shalafi

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That's why I haven't bought a CoD game since CoD4 and I'm boycotting BF3.

Both series are garbage and have been for a while.

Recycled gameplay and graphics might be good for some people, but not for me. I'd rather see some attempt at innovation and polishing a game than just see the same old rehashed shit over and over.
 

drako

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Borderlands had a story? And a good one? After 40+ hours I didn't find it interesting, just fun to play with my wife lol.
Agreed. Anybody who thinks Borderlands has a good story clearly has not played many SP campaigns. ;)

The article itself is good and depressing. I hope this trend of SP being an afterthought doesn't eventually kill the RPG genre as well. I'm looking at you Bioware.
 

DemonDiablo

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How hard is it to wrap your tiny lil ego's around the fact that the person who wrote the game review and the person who wrote the article are two different people. So what because everyone works at IGN they ALL have to have the same exact opinion on everything? Is it really to hard to imagine that there are differing opinions at IGN? Seriously people.
 

TheCowOfNow

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How hard is it to wrap your tiny lil ego's around the fact that the person who wrote the game review and the person who wrote the article are two different people. So what because everyone works at IGN they ALL have to have the same exact opinion on everything? Is it really to hard to imagine that there are differing opinions at IGN? Seriously people.

Welcome to the internets!
 

Q-BZ

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How hard is it to wrap your tiny lil ego's around the fact that the person who wrote the game review and the person who wrote the article are two different people. So what because everyone works at IGN they ALL have to have the same exact opinion on everything? Is it really to hard to imagine that there are differing opinions at IGN? Seriously people.

Because this article is such a stand out anamoly and exception to the norm from that outlet and others like it.
 

Bumrush

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Awesome article..

The map "Surface Tension" from the original HL kills every other single player experience I have had.. Even the oriignal HL enemy AI is better than the crap that is out today..

Single player used to be fun.. Games like No One Lives Forever and even Shogo rocked back in the day.. I'd take this a step further, even the multiplayer experience is equally horrific.

Playing COD: Black OPS on the PC is pathetically easy, all you have to do is spray and pray.. You have to try very hard to die..

Now go back and remember the first time a head crab jumped on you in Half Life (or when you were crawling through an air vent), or the first time a Zombie broke through a wall. Good old days..

Tentacle_pit.jpg
 

Blkout

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The part about single-player was right on the mark. It has became an afterthought. I don't do multiplayer! Why you ask, because I don't like dealing the psychotic behavior you run into online. For those of you that won't do anything but multi more power to you but, while you are dealing with cheaters, profanities and insults, teamkillers, rage quitters, griefers and smart mouthed children, I'll be sitting enjoying what ever I do alone.

I'm right there with you on that. Most people's online persona is that of immaturity. I don't care to play with people who can't act remotely mature and that applies to a very high number of multiplayer games, predominately first person shooters, because the immaturity really loves to come out and "pwn" the "noobs".
 

michael.pa2

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I've got nothing against multiplayer,it just doesn't appeal to me personally. But the effort put into most single player campaigns these days is pathetic. And the novelty of military shooters wore off for me long ago,I think the second Delta Force game was the last straight military shooter I enjoyed.
 

wiploc

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I'm sick of the generic military shooter clones as well. I think those that don't play great single player FPS and will only play these newer bland games because of some multiplayer superiority complex are missing out.

I love single player FPS and recently have played through some classics like the original Deux Ex & Half Life (indeed some great levels in there), Serious Sam HD FE/SE (obviously not the greatest example of story), and Escape from Butcher Bay. All fun as shit. I also go back and play the first Far Cry from time to time just because it rocks.

Hopefully we've still got some good single player FPS coming. Maybe someday we'll get a Half Life 3. :D
 

theNoid

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On the contrary I think its an awesome time to be a FPS fan! So many good games in the past several years and I'm loving BF3.
 

whitewarrior11

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I agree with the rant against inexistent single-player. I have played a lot of FPS in the last years and single-player stuff is my main interest. I don&#8217;t do multiplayer, for reasons already exposed (cheaters, servers and whatnot). I know a lot of people (casual gamers in massive numbers) play with their friends over the Net and love multiplayer. I was never that kind of guy.

Frankly, saying single-player in Battlefield 3 is bad is kinda obvious. I mean, the Battlefield series has always been advertised as a multiplayer game (mostly). It&#8217;s the other games that suck in single-player.

I am playing Crysis 2 right now. I liked the first Crysis with the nanosuit stuff but basically, it&#8217;s soldier VS alien with a supernatural twist somewhere but, think about it, and you can find already multiple games with the same theme. No F.E.A.R. or Half-Life creativity (can&#8217;t talk about Bioshock, still somewhere on my backlog :p I know, I&#8217;m late to the party).

I see this trend that looks a lot like the movie industry. Sales are driving what publishers and big studios will release. Sequels are raking in more money so publishers do more sequels until&#8230;well, it&#8217;s kind of infinite. BF3 and MW3, with amazing sales in little time are just signs of this. Just like we have now Scary Movie 1 to whatever, Epic Movie, Superhero Movie, Date Movie (I&#8217;m surprised Porn Movie or Sci-Fi Movie aren&#8217;t released yet :p). Basically, making &#8220;safe and conservative&#8221; sequels is still more profitable than trying &#8220;creative and new&#8221; creations.

(Example: the Scary Movie series had a total budget of 157 000 000 $, and had a worldwide profit of 818 000 000 $ (source: Wikipedia)). You can see why a Scary Movie 5 is planned&#8230;).
 

DemonDiablo

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Because this article is such a stand out anamoly and exception to the norm from that outlet and others like it.

I get that I do. But that doesnt have anything to do with IGN contradicting itself. Just because some other writer was like, "MW3 is hot shit yo!" doesnt mean another writer cant be like, "MW3 smells like dirty sweaty ass!"

To many people are getting all up in arms over a perfectly legit article. I can understand however if you think they article is wrong and arguing from that angle but saying IGN is contradicting itself is ridiculous.
 

quantum112

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I hardly game anymore. Last game I bought was...Frozen Synapse, I think.

Multiplayer is good with friends. Online? Great, I just headshotted a 12 year old kid from across the pond. Yawn.

I'd rather see proper LAN support, co-op campaigns, splitscreen. Games being developed like in the old days. Original games, with interesting singleplayer stories. Made for the PC. No "Press X to start", nonexistant graphics options and other artifacts of consolization.

Probably gonna get the next Serious Sam. My last hope in a proper "old-school" PC game.
But in the long run this is probably a hobby I'm going to have to put down. There just isn't anything in it anymore.

Hope the rest of you have fun with all the MW19 and BF7 and whatnots due in the next few years.
 

fps4ever

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Spot on...just like my username! :p

COD MW3, same rehash play, outdated graphics, money grabbing piece of shit trash game. God forbid AI mechanics ever get better, or they use the newer DX11 API. Consoles are the worst thing that ever happened to pc gaming....
 

michael.pa2

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It's not entirely hopeless,there's still STALKER 2 to look forward to. Can't wait to get back in the Zone!
 

sirmonkey1985

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The part about single-player was right on the mark. It has became an afterthought. I don't do multiplayer! Why you ask, because I don't like dealing the psychotic behavior you run into online. For those of you that won't do anything but multi more power to you but, while you are dealing with cheaters, profanities and insults, teamkillers, rage quitters, griefers and smart mouthed children, I'll be sitting enjoying what ever I do alone.

easiest way to get away from that when it comes to multiplayer is stay away from arcade style shooting games like CS/CSS, COD series. stick to team based games because you are more likely to find adult/mature players on line then you will in the other games i mentioned. kids can't handle the fact that their rambo tactics don't work in team based games. they hate the fact that they have to rely on teammates and help those same teammates to actually win a game. its the prime reason COD games sell so much to the 12-18 year old demographic of players.

a good example, go on BFBC2 and BF3. i'll bet you go at least a week before you ever see some one under the age of 18 playing either game that uses VOIP. its exactly why i don't play COD or CSS anymore with the stupid kids that act like they just learned how to swear from their parents. heck i swear a lot on VOIP and i probably yell at people to much but i'm a competitive person and its why i friggin play team based objective games and not that arcade crap. but i also play with people i've known for a long time that i know i won't offend when i do get pissed off.



Probably gonna get the next Serious Sam. My last hope in a proper "old-school" PC game.
.


serious sam FTW!!! though i'll be on co-op day one. since theres no way in hell i'm playing the single player by myself. mindless killing is fun but its a hell of a lot more fun when you have other people to talk to while you are mindlessly killing hordes of enemies.




I'm sick of the generic military shooter clones as well. I think those that don't play great single player FPS and will only play these newer bland games because of some multiplayer superiority complex are missing out.


in the 18 years of gaming that i can remember, i think i've played the single player campaign in any of the games(that had a multiplayer option) i've played maybe 4 times. serious sam and serious sam SE being 2 of them, COD MW2 single player(because it was the only thing worth playing on that game), and borderlands(which i gave up on and went to co-op after i finished the main story line after 5 or 6 hours). i've just never been a single player fan. its no fun playing by myself. its no fun not being able to bullshit with others while doing co-op or playing multiplayer. an AI can never replace the inconsistencies of a human opponent, they can't learn from their mistakes and try something different. quite frankly they are just to damn predictable.
 
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Plague_Injected

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I get that I do. But that doesnt have anything to do with IGN contradicting itself. Just because some other writer was like, "MW3 is hot shit yo!" doesnt mean another writer cant be like, "MW3 smells like dirty sweaty ass!"

To many people are getting all up in arms over a perfectly legit article. I can understand however if you think they article is wrong and arguing from that angle but saying IGN is contradicting itself is ridiculous.

It's wanting to save face due to the metacritic score of CODMW3. The article is written by a different writer because having the same guy reverse his rate-it-high-for-the-hits review score would be 100% laughable, as opposed to the 99% laughable that it is now.

If that isn't the instance, then it's IGN wanting to appease both camps to keep the views coming. IGN decides which articles it will run and how prominent they are on the main site.

IGN is a complete joke.
 
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