Saturday, February 9, 2008

This week's column

The great communicators

There's something to be said for communication, and I don't mean the idle watercooler chat, the meaningless weather observations. Those tell us nothing except what we already know.

I'm talking about such useful tidbits as: "There's a sniper in that window to your left."

On Thursday, I was playing "Call of Duty 4" online with my friend Kevin and doing some capture-the-flag missions. Not wanting to run all over the map, I waited patiently by the "B" flag. One-by-one, I picked off seven enemies with my Mini-Uzi with the red-dot sight. After I got seven kills, I got to call in my chopper.

After many refrains of "How do you like my chopper?!" I finally got into the fray. About 17 kills later, the match was over and the guys on the other teams (which we couldn't hear until then) came on cursing like Al Pacino in Scarface.

Apparently, no one on the other team had, or knew how to use, a headset.

When you're playing a high- tech shooter such as "COD 4" or "Halo 3," your success depends on communication. Frankly, I don't know how people who don't have headsets cope.

Best $20 dollars I ever spent.

Nintendo says 'No'

If what I'm hearing is true, Nintendo has no plans to release a Massively Multiplayer online game anytime soon.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said in a recent interview with that he wasn't interested in going the direction of games such as "World of Warcraft." I can respect that. Bucking conventional wisdom, pouring the Kool-Aid down the drain if you will, has always worked for Nintendo.

But Nintendo can't escape the pull of MMOs forever. The money is just too good. Consider "WoW." Nine million people pay this worldwide, paying Activision Blizzard more than $15 bucks a month. Even if you subtract what it takes them to run the thing, making $100 million a month from anything is insane. As long as MMOs can ring the cash register like that, games such as "Everquest" and "Everquest 2" can go on indefinitely.

The Wii has had a problem embracing the Internet. But if Nintendo can ever find some common ground with it, we should see some truly amazing games.

'Soldier of Fortune Payback'

If you ever wanted to sit back and play a poor man's "Call of Duty," here's your chance. "Soldier of Fortune Payback" for Sony's PlayStation 3 has all of the explosions and gore you'd expect from a shooter, but none of the fun.

Blowing someone's head off with a shotgun (particularly a zombie's) is neat and all. But is that it?

The plot, as best I can piece together, is you're a mercenary and people are trying to kill you for some reason. I imagine it goes with the job. But I've seen better storylines in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie.

This one gets 21/2 buttons.

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