Tag Archives: Beta tests

Call of Duty: World at War Beta Impressions

Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4. For some reason, Infinity Ward must have decided to be all postmodern and skip a number in its Call of Duty series. I like to pretend that it’s because COD4 was so awesome that it warranted two increments on the sequel scale, but we of course know that it’s because the third was farmed out by Activision to Treyarch in a pretty average attempt to match IW’s faultless FPS credentials.

Call of Duty: World at War

So it was with trepidation that I once again braved another Eurogamer 403 error beta giveaway to see whether it was third time lucky for Treyarch (the first time being Call of Duty: Big Red One), freed from the pressure of being Call of Duty 5.

So far, probably not. Continue reading Call of Duty: World at War Beta Impressions

LittleBigPlanet Beta Impressions


I have a feeling that the work that goes into the best user-created levels in LittleBigPlanet will pale in comparison to the sheer force of will required to get a beta key out of Eurogamer as its servers melt. Having done it twice (the disappointing SOCOM and now this), I’m convinced that I’ll be able to build the Sistine Chapel of LBP levels with a few hours of messing around.

Okay, that’s probably optimistic, but I have spent a good amount of time playing with this beta/demo – the lines between those two things are now so blurred that even the executable doesn’t know which it is – and want to weigh in with some impressions.

First off, for all the user-generated stuff in this game, the beta comes with the first handful of levels from the game’s somewhat orthodox ‘campaign’. The levels have all been put together by developers and, as such, are more professional than the giant penis levels that are likely to turn up soon – I’m shocked and strangely disappointed that I haven’t seen any yet – but it’s all done with the same objects and toolsets that you and I will have. Playing through brings unlock after unlock as pretty much anything you come across will shortly be given to you to use in your own creations. And that’s pretty much the point of this mode: to provide ideas and the raw materials for you to run wild. Continue reading LittleBigPlanet Beta Impressions

So This is What Beta Means…

I trust that everyone’s enjoying their first taste of Metal Gear Solid 4, with the online beta available for download now. Stunning menus…

…and not much else, because it’s still not working. Having been released for download over a week ago and taking an inordinate amount of time to download (I was at 17% of a 741MB file after three hours), it required the immediate download of the 1.01 patch, which would either time out on the HTTP download or, on the BitTorrent option, max out at about 16kbps while uploading at over 40. And now there’s a second patch, which you have to download after 1.01, because they’re incremental. And I’m having the same download problems after eight days.

Not to mention that when it does work, you need a Konami ID (lower-case alphanumeric), a password for that, a game ID (lower-case alphanumeric; must be different to the Konami ID), and a second password (this time only numerical). Given the fact that every online PS3 user will already have a unique ID… why!?

Epic fail, in other words.

Xbox Live gets a lot of stick for costing £40 a year, but I’d be more than happy to pay that for PSN if the damn thing worked half the time. I’ve never spent more than 30 seconds downloading a Live patch (unlike Super Stardust HD, a twin-stick shooter that inexplicably gets a 153MB patch) or dashboard update, and because it’s a closed system I know that my one account will work on all games. On Live I’ve participated in three betas – Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, and currently Battlefield: Bad Company – and all worked just as transparently as any demo or downloadable game.

That’s worth £40 to me. I’d rather pay for a nice steak than get a free grease burger and I’d rather have something that works to something that doesn’t. I’m not even demanding feature parity with Live on the original Xbox (universal friends list, cross-game invites, etc), though that would be nice; just a system that works. Yes, it’s free, but so is Steam, and that’s arguably better than Live at the moment.

A Few Hours with Halo 3

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find an email from Bungie in my inbox, complete with the Halo 3 beta code that I won months ago and which meant several things. Firstly I could get downloading early, and secondly I’ll actually be able to get playing today. Ha!

Very brief impressions is that it looks nice in HD – colourful and sharp, but still needing a bit of work on the occasional hiccups in the framerate – and plays like Halo. Going online, especially against a group who’ve been playing for a while now, is always something of a trial by fire, and inevitably I spent a couple of games running around like a headless chicken and being sniped from who-knows-where. I’d be lying if I said I still wasn’t getting killed fairly frequently, in fact.

Nonetheless, I like what I’m seeing. Some early thoughts:

  • It looks better in motion than in shots. Certain things are still clearly not final (water effects, for example) but things are already nice and solid. Halo 2 seems almost unplayable now.
  • Brilliant sound. You can really hear distant battles going on (the mounted guns sound weirdly like trains, though) and you’ll often be hit before you hear the report.
  • Valhalla will be a more than competent replacement for Blood Gulch/Coagulation. It’s a great map.
  • The new/old assault rifle is a much better all-round starting weapon than the SMG. You’re still at a disadvantage against someone with a better gun obviously, but you’re far less emasculated.
  • RB replacing X takes a bit of getting used to for performing actions. Once you’ve got it, though, it makes things more flexible.
  • The equipment is definitely cool. Bubble shield has its uses, the power drainer – drains shields and disables vehicles in its blast radius – is invaluable for attacking a flag/hill/VIP, and a mine placed at the landing point for the man cannon is guaranteed hilarity. The portable jump pad is only used in one situation in the beta and seems the least flexible, but we’ll see.
  • The new weapons are all quite good. I’m still a bit worried that the laser will be overpowered once people work it out but they all have their caveats. The spike grenade is awesome in tight corridors. The needler might as well be new: it’s a monster that can take someone down with one ‘clip’, and thankfully can’t be dual-wielded now.
  • I’ve had quite a lot of lag, which I’m willing to put down to it not having worked out who makes the best host yet, as in Halo 2. This has the same painful quirk in which you’ll mysteriously warp back a few steps over and over again when you’re lagging, which drives me mad.

By far the best part, though, is deliberately sending invites to people who don’t have the beta. They think it’s just as hilarious as I do!

Above all, the game just feels right. It feels like Halo, in other words. This thing is going to make the wait until 26th September even harder.

I Am Win!

Halo 3

I can’t remember the last time I won anything, but I’m thoroughly chuffed with this (clue: it’s under ‘N’). Saves me spending £40 on Crackdown for a while, at least. Unless it turns out to be good, in which case I’ll buy it anyway and have two beta keys.

I used to win stuff all the time, and now maybe it’s only because I enter competitions for stuff that I can’t really buy without a massive overdraft (Premiership tickets and wall-sized televisions, for example) but as far as I can remember the last time I won anything was an advance copy of Batman Forever on VHS in 1995. Maybe that was why I stopped entering competitions…

Regardless, I don’t have to buy a game that I don’t really want, and I’m guaranteed to be playing lots and lots of Halo 3 multiplayer (surely the only game that will ever prise us away from COD2 multi?) in a couple of months. Right when my dissertation is due…


The FFXI Beta…

…gets a big “meh” from me.

Though presumably necessary, making a player sit there for the best part of two hours while PlayOnline installs itself and then downloads updates, then while FFXI installs itself (an hour) and downloads even more updates (took me 40 minutes, but I know someone who was there for 90), and then letting them go through a convoluted registration process which requires a USB keyboard before you let them even create a character isn’t particularly endearing. Neither is sucking up 6GB of the hard drive but still requiring the disc to play.

When I finally got into Vana’diel I still wasn’t very impressed. The game is over two years old and looks it, really not showing off the 360. That’s not unforgiveable in itself, but what is is that there’s slowdown in it when it looks as drab and generic as it does. In the introductory flyby I noticed quite a lot of juddering. The interface is clunky and I had to find and download the PDF manual to work out how to log out since the searchable support database in the game is for the PC version. I know it’s a beta but still, it’s not exactly polished.

I’ll make sure to give it another try while I can play it for nothing but if Microsoft really want a great MMO to show off Live they need to flash the cash and get Blizzard on board, even if having the Final Fantasy name in the roster must be nice. Five million players can’t be wrong.

On a more positive note, my HDTV shipped! Yay!