Posts Tagged ‘Gray Matter’

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and the history of CoD in pictures



Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is set to be another hit in the soldier-simulating game series. The Cold War and future-set special forces shooter is the latest CoD game to let you blow foreigners’ heads off in increasing levels of detail, so we don our dress uniform, salute the regimental colours and think of fallen comrades as we look back over the history of Call of Duty and its junior officer Modern Warfare.


The Call of Duty franchise was born from EA’s Medal of Honour series, which had its origins in the resources and development of Steven Spielberg’s epic film Saving Private Ryan. The team that had developed Medal of Honour: Allied Assault formed Infinity Ward, and was recruited by publishers Activision.

In 2003 the first Call of Duty tapped a full magazine on its helmet, cocked its rifle, and planted its combat boots onto the battlefield for the first time.




Call of Duty (2003)

PCThe first Call of Duty looked similar to the Medal of Honour games, as a first-person shooter set during World War 2. You play as an American, British and Russian soldier, following the three men on different missions throughout the war from the Normany landings to the Battle of the Bulge, commando combat, and fighting from Stalingrad to Berlin. Throughout the game, you play alongside a squad of computer-controlled comrades.




Call of Duty: United Offensive (2004)


PC

An expansion pack, developed by Gray Matter Studios, added the ability to sprint, and ‘cook’ grenades. New multiplayer modes included Capture the Flag and a ranking system that gave better characters to higher-scoring players.




Call of Duty: Finest Hour (2004)


Xbox, PlayStation 2, Gamecube

Ironically, Finest Hour proved to be anything but. The first console version of the game was something of a disappointment, even if it did feature AC/DC singer Brian Johnson as one of the voices.




Call of Duty: The Big Red One (2005)


Xbox, PS2, GamecubeCoD:BR1 was again developed by Gray Matter Studios, which was renamed Treyarch before the game came out. The game saw you sign up for the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division, also known as the Big Red One because of their distinctive insignia. Cutscenes were intercut with documentary footage. It was voiced by Mark Hamill, who had starred alongside Lee Marvin in the 1980 film of the same name, as well as several members of the cast of the BBC and HBO WW2 drama Band of Brothers.



Call of Duty 2 (2005)


PC, Xbox 360
In 2005 it was Infinity Ward’s turn again, as Activision decided the series would continue with the two sets of developers releasing a game in alternate years. In a dramatic upgrade to the gameplay, CoD 2 introduced a proprietary engine replacing the previous games’ Quake III engine. Smoke and fog became an integral part of gameplay, while your squadmates could now react more realistically to the battle. A new health system was also introduced, in which you healed gradually rather than searching for health packs.




Call of Duty 3 (2006)


PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Treyarch developed the first game that was designed for next-generation consoles and not PC. The story follows American, Canadian, British and Polish troops breaking out of the Falaise Pocket after the Normandy landings.




Call of Duty: Roads to Victory (2007)


PSP
The PSP version took the war mobile, following the Americans, Canadians and British from Arnhem to Salerno and Belgium.



Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)


Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii
For Infinity Ward’s next entry, the developers decided it was time to drag the franchise into the modern era. The game follows SAS and US Marine Corps special forces soldiers in a geopolitical story of espionage and combat in an unnamed Middle Eastern country and across Russia, but it was the online multiplayer game that really got the blood pumping. Modern Warfare went on to sell over 13 million copies.




Call Of Duty: World At War (2008)



Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS
Treyarch took it back to the old school, setting the fifth instalment of the series in the Pacific theatre and on the Eastern Front. A tweaked physics engine meant you could lay waste to your surroundings with impunity. The game was made, however, by the inclusion of a Nazi zombie multiplayer mode. Nazi zombies: we hate those guys.




Call of Duty: World at War – Final Fronts (2008)



PlayStation 2
The PS2 version added a British campaign advancing on the River Rhine. It was developed by Rebellion, the studio which also owns long-running British comic 2000AD.


Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)


PS3, Xbox 360, PC


The multiplayer game featured bonus killstreak options if a player achieved a set number of consecutive kills in a row, from a supply drop or an airstrike all the way up to a tactical nuke after 25 kills. The game also kicked off a storm of protest over a level that allowed the player, embedded undercover with terrorists, to massacre civilians in an airport.

Despite the controversy, it had sold over 10 million copies in the US alone by March 2010, and earned Activision well over $1bn dollars. Things weren’t so rosy behind the scenes, however, as the bosses of Infinity Ward were unceremoniously booted out by Activision.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilised (2009)



Nintendo DS

A spin-off to the story of Modern Warfare 2 for the DS, Mobilised boasted new kit to play with such as UAV drones and Lockheed AC-130 shootyplanes.



Call Of Duty: World at War – Zombies (2009)

iOS

It was only a matter of time before CoD came to the iPhone 5 and iPad, and took the form of the popular zombies mode from World at War. Play with your oppos nearby over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or go online and find recruits to continue the Nazi zombie-blasting.







Call Of Duty: Black Ops (2010)



PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS
Treyarch’s next entry to the series fills in the time between the wars depicted in the series, putting you in the balaclava and tiger-stripe camo of Cold War special forces troops in Cuba, Laos and Vietnam, and Soviet-era Russia. If you weren’t there, you don’t know what it was like.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)

PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii

Developed by Sledgehammer Games and written by Million Dollar Baby and Casino Royale scribe Paul Haggis, the third Modern Warfare outing sees you play, among others, a Delta Force operator attempting to drive a Russian invasion out of New York. It featured a new mode, Survival, which sees you beset by increasingly tough waves of bad guys. Oh, and it grossed $1bn in 16 days.


Call Of Duty: Black Ops – Zombies (2011)

iOS

More iPhone and iPad zombie-zapping.


Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012)



PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U

Treyarch’s Black Ops 2 continues the Cold War adventures before skipping forward to 2025 to control unmanned drones and robots in a new cold war with China. It’s the first time the Black Ops series has put boots on the ground in the future, and it’s also the first to include branching storylines. Known as Strike Force missions, these branching stories change the outcome of the game based on your choices. Wager matches have gone, but Kill Streaks have been replaced with Score Streaks that reward you when you complete different actions.





Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified (2012)



PlayStation Vita

A twin-stick-twiddling spin-off from Nihilistic includes Vita features such as holding your breath using the rear touchpad.



Fall out, soldier! Our brothers-in-arms over at GameSpot UK keep the flag flying for CoD, Modern Warfare and all your favourite games. Is CoD still the top brass of gaming or is it time to be dishonorably discharged? Will you be signing up for another tour, and which was your favourite in the series? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.



Pictures: GameSpot UK











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Posted on November 13th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

Gray Matter – review – Console news

Latest games news:

Xbox 360/PC; £29.99; cert 12+; DTP Entertainment

Twenty-odd years ago point and click adventure games offered some of the most enthralling cerebral gaming experiences you could get on the PC (or Amiga). Monkey Island, Beneath a Steel Sky and the rest offered a compelling mix of puzzles, narrative and, in some cases, humour. The late nineties saw the genre submerged as 3D hit the PC and the consoles. Helped by touch screen devices and a growing download market – ie less financially risky for publishers – the genre has seen a resurgence in recent years. Full-price console releases remain a rarity though so Gray Matter certainly has a clear run. The involvement of Jane Jensen – creator of vintage adventure series Gabriel Knight – is another plus point for fans of the genre.

Unfortunately much of this goodwill is lost when you get to play – at least on the 360 version. Things start off promising. The plot is entertaining enough – mysterious house, magic and the like — though it lacks the humorous touch found in the likes of Monkey Island. Players get to control both the main character leads, Dr David Styles and Samantha Everett. Despite Jensen’s involvement the latter still retains the busty design prominence often seen on female gaming characters.

The main problem though is the controls. The lack of a mouse or touchscreen means the interface is clunky. For example you need to hold down a trigger before using the joypad stick to flick through available interactive items. This list varies depending on where you are standing but the controls are a long way from the simplicity of point and click. They do, however, reduce the age-old frustration of scanning the screen for hotspots.

Simplifying some of the genres conventions is a running theme of Gray Matter, with puzzles generally straightforward. There is very little of the “stick pen in pineapple to create a hovercraft” here. Some puzzles can be solved by simply using an object from your inventory with an item. More interestingly there is the chance to flex your magical muscle and use tricks you have learned.

There are other issues too with the 360 version displaying its PC heritage. For example the font is small and would likely be unreadable on a standard definition TV.

Generally though compared to something like Sony’s Heavy Rain – in many ways the natural progression for the genre – Gray Matter feels clunky and dated. However, despite all this there is something warmly nostalgic about Gray Matter. Once you get used to the controls and start working through the story you do start to get intrigued – if not gripped – about what may happen next.

Predicting how your average Call of Duty fan will react to the languid pace and dated visuals on offer here is easy enough. But the 360 needs the change of pace offered by games like Gray Matter and if you can ignore the flaws you may well appreciate it too.

• Game reviewed on Xbox 360

Rating: 3/5

Games

Xbox

PC

Greg Howson

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Posted on February 25th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »