Call of Duty

Video Games, Bicycles and Nostalgia

Mother Brain from Metroid Series via Metroid Database

When you replay an old video game, it is just like riding a bike. Somehow, your mind goes back in time when you first picked up the nostalgically-ridden controller and remember every instance, controller scheme and story about the old video game. How is it possible to play a video game that came out 13 years ago, and remember bits and pieces like you were playing it yesterday?

Our mind and body work in mysterious ways. There are two different types of theories that may explain the phenomena of nostalgia gaming. I will break down each theory to its basics and give examples of how each pertains to my video game experiences. The two theories I will expand on is muscle memory and episodic memory.

Muscle Memory

You develop your muscle memory every time you pick up your video game controller. Whenever your video game character dies, you usually try again. This repetition fine-tunes your motor skills, and your subconscious acts without hesitation. It is said that, “practice makes perfect,” which is essentially a reference to muscle memory.

There are many fighting video game championships around the world. One of the most recognized events in this genre is Evolution Championship Series (EVO). This annual eSports tournament focuses on fighting games and their communities. EVO is very intense and requires skills from a player that obviously knows his or her way around a joystick. Normally, you never see gamers use a standard controller that you use with most console games. Most competitors prefer an arcade stick. Arcade sticks are still used in many arcade cabinets and work best for fighting games. Players can develop a better sense of direction, inputs and speed compared to a regular controller.

Cute Dog and Fight Stick via reBloggy

Many fighting game players practice for hundreds, if not thousands, of hours before reaching the upper ranks in the fighting game communities. One of the most memorable EVO moments happened in 2004 between Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong during the Loser Bracket Finals for Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Dagio was playing as Ken while Justin was Chun-Li. What happened next was one of the greatest comebacks in EVO history. Watch below:

As you can see, Diago had to pull off things on his controller that no one thought was possible. His timing was perfect with each counter and it made for a memorable moment in fighting video game history. This next clip shows you how hard it is to recreate it in the new Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online edition.

When developing your muscle memory, remember that your technique and movements will be more precise. Everyone uses this in their everyday life, just like with video games. I use muscle memory most often when I play first-person shooters. However, Halo is one of those games that I am still not amazing at even after hours of gameplay.

I am not sure why, but Halo has always eluded me when it comes to online first-person shooters. I can pick up any Call of Duty game, or even Titanfall, and notice big improvements after playing for only a few hours. I am much better at these fast paced games compared to slower games, but Halo is not one that I ever figured out. Part of the reason could be that I played with friends who were great at the game, while I never could catch up. If you give me the sniper in Halo, I will only pull off one headshot out of ten, on a good day. Give me a sniper in Call of Duty, and I will go on a killing streak.

First-person shooters are different for everyone, but muscle memory is always in play. The more you practice with any type of game, the more you will develop skills that will increase after every gaming session, resulting in a skill level greater than the first time you played the video game.

When I Snipe in Halo via Cheezburger

When I Snipe in Halo via Cheezburger

Episodic Memory

Episodic memory happens when you clearly remember factual events about yourself. Clear memories of your past experience can be triggered by specific places, times or even objects. For example, whenever you play an old video game that you have not played in years, you may remember certain events pertaining to the story.

You can recollect many video games from your pasts if they had some sort of personal meaning to you. I started playing Mega Man Battle Network last week. This video game came out in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance. During that same time, my main gaming device was my Game Boy Advance, and somehow, I can still recount much of the story, nearly all of the gameplay and even the battlechips (which are used to attack opponents on a 9×9 grid).

Mega Man Battle Network Cover via Wikipedia

This game is over thirteen years old, and I still remember it. It occurred to me that playing video games is like riding a bike. No matter the story, if the video game had meaningful moments, you will remember parts of the video game. The only conclusion I can come to is that Mega Man Battle Network was my first Mega Man game since renting them on the Super Nintendo.

I remember that I always rented video games from a local shop called Video Hits. It had a wide selection of VHS tapes and a large assortment of video games. The only way I was able to play any video games back then was to rent them. I usually rented one of the Mega Man games every month or so. I was never really good at any of the Mega Man games as a child, but they were still fun to play. The reason behind renting video games during my childhood was because my family and I could not afford a brand new game every month. The only time I received a new video game was for Christmas and sometimes for my Birthday. We were not poor, but video games were prioritized after more important expenses like a house payment and education.

I have rented all of these from Racket Boy forum via Photobucket

I believe the main reason to why I remember Mega Man Battle Network so clearly is because I relate it to the Mega Man games I rented from Video Hits. Those games have a special place in my heart and mind that Mega Man Battle Network must have unlocked. If I went back to play older Mega Man games, I am positive that I would remember much of the same things as I do with Mega Man Battle Network.

The last game I beat was Final Fantasy X. This game came out in 2001 on the PlayStation 2. At the time, I did not own a PlayStation 2, but my brother did. I remember watching him play Final Fantasy X all the time. I loved the music, and the graphics were stunning at the time of the game’s release. I remember thinking how bad I wanted to play it, but since my brother (and his PS2) was always away at college, I never had a chance to play very often. I eventually made it to the end of the game, but did not actually finish it, because the save file went missing. One of two things could have happened to cause this: Either my brother beat the final part of the game for me, or the save file was deleted.

Final Fantasy X logo via Final Fantasy Wiki

A few years later, I bought a PlayStation 2 for myself. I borrowed my brother’s copy of Final Fantasy X and loved playing it, but lost interest in it. I have no idea why, but once again, I did not finish it. Most recently, in 2014, I bought the re-mastered version of Final Fantasy X for the PlayStation 3. I decided from the moment I bought it that I would beat this game no matter what. It took me several months, but I finally beat the game last week. This game was so important for me because of my brother’s involvement. He is my hero and has acted like a father to me my entire life. The only reason I am interested in video games is because of him. I love the fact that I can play the video games he played in the past, then talk about it with him years later. I texted him the other day about the final boss from Final Fantasy X and he laughed. He told me he remembered beating the final boss, and was more surprised that I did not have any characters that could break the damage limit (all characters in Final Fantasy X have a specific limit of damage they can do and to break it requires certain rare items that take hours to obtain).

Besides my accomplishment, I was surprised how much of the story I still remembered. I remembered nearly every cut scene, I remembered every enemy I faced, and I even remembered where to find all the Aeons (these were characters I could summon to help fight for me). Again, it was like riding a bike when I played this incredible game. This is by far, one of my favorite games of all time.

As you can see, the mind and body work together with your video games. Whenever I play older games that meant something to me, I remember just about everything. Muscle memory and episodic memory play huge parts when gaming. The more you play, the more you remember.

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Time Is Money

Wario with Money while Ben Franklin sits idly by, from Minutebuzz

“Time is money.” Benjamin Franklin used this phrase in Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One. This phrase rings true for everyone with or without jobs. People who work full- and part-time positions truly know the meaning of this phrase. No matter our hourly wage, we are doing one thing: using our valuable time to earn money. However, this phrase can also relate to video games purchases. It sounds improbable, but our time spent playing a video game is worth a significant part of our money. I want to show everyone how it is possible to budget video games with my equation: “Playtime is Money.”

The Equation

Purchase Price ÷ Hours of Game Content = Hourly Cost of Game

When you purchase a video game, do you ever think about how many hours of playtime you accumulate? For example, one of your favorite video games comes out and you purchase it the day it is released. The video game is priced at $60. You realize that it is within your budget and decide to purchase it. But, if you play your favorite video game for only 4 hours, was it worth it? In reality, you spent $15 per hour of playtime which sounds like you wasted a lot of your money for no playtime.

If you are wondering where all of the hours compiled for each video game come from, you can visit HowLongToBeat.com to search for the average playtime for all of your favorite games.

How It Work by HowLongToBeat.com

How It Work by HowLongToBeat.com

What if you knew the game was only 4 hours, would you have rented it instead? There are many questions that warrant you to either buy a video game or rent one. In some cases, it may be more fiscally responsible to rent a video game, but your options are limited. There are only a few renters currently, which include Gamefly and Redbox. Instead of buying a $60 video game, you could use a subscription service like Gamefly and spend $16 a month and save $44 with how much time you spent playing your favorite video game in the scenario above. You need to know that not every video game warrants a purchase. I want to break down a few different types of video games to show you how to estimate a fair price for a video game.

Action/Adventure

The Action/Adventure video game genre is very popular today. You may find that the story in these games are unpredictable when it pertains to how many hours it takes to beat one. However, many Action/Adventure video games encourage you to explore and collect an absurd amount of items that can greatly extend your playtime.

For example, The Legend of Zelda for the NES takes roughly 10 hours to complete. It is currently $5 on the Wii U eShop. If you were to play the game for 10 hours, you are paying $0.50 per hour of playtime. That is a great deal for this classic game. How about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? Ocarina of Time is priced at $10 on the Wii U and roughly $35 on the 3DS. Both games take around 30 hours to beat, but the difference in price is substantial. Would you rather spend $0.34 an hour for the Wii U version or $1.17 an hour for the 3DS version?

The Legend of Zelda Series by CT

Another video game we can  look at is the new Tomb Raider that was released for all platforms. The main game plus side missions takes roughly 15 hours to complete. If you want to do everything in this game, like find the collectibles and complete every side mission, then it can take nearly 20 hours. The PC version of Tomb Raider goes on sale all the time and is currently $7.50. The main game plus side missions would cost you $0.50 per hour while completing every task would cost you $0.38 per hour of playtime. Those are incredible deals when you look at it from the perspective of the “Playtime is Money” equation.

The last game under Action/Adventure video games that we should examine is Watch Dogs. Currently, the game costs around $50 for both the PS4 and Xbox One. Watch Dogs can take around 18 hours to complete without touching any of the side quests. However, if you played the main game and completed the side quests, it could take up to 32 hours to complete. For only the main game, you are spending $2.78 per hour while doing many of the side missions will cost you $1.56. This game leans more toward renting for me since I am not into free-roaming worlds as massive as this.

First-Person Shooters

The next type of video game, and personally one of my favorites, is the First-Person Shooter (FPS). Many of the single-player campaigns in FPS video games feel like blatant copies of each other with different stories painted over them; your missions is this, you must accept, go kill this person/alien/terrorist/zombie/gangster/Nazi, now escape, rinse and repeat. I realize some people enjoy playing the single-player campaign more than the online multiplayer, but I am not one of them. The “Playtime is Money” equation can illuminate a massive difference in the worth of a game if you only play the single-player campaign compared to someone playing the virtually endless competitive multiplayer.

The first game I want to review is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This was one of the last FPS video games that had a decent story. I believe this game helped start a trend of online competitive multiplayer video games that others have copied extensively (as well as copy itself with Call of Duty games releasing every year). Players could finish the single-player campaign in 7 hours. If you were to buy this game at launch, it would have cost you $60 which would set you back $8.57 per hour on gameplay; that sounds like a rentable title to me. However, this video game’s competitive multiplayer was very addicting, and many players put hundreds of hours into it. On average, some players played 30 hours online while other went upwards to 100 hours. Based on those numbers, if you put at least 37 hours into the game, it cost you $1.62 per hour of playtime while 100 hours cost you $0.60. I know I had over 100 hours in multiplayer alone, so this game was well worth the purchase.

Call of Duty 4 Sniper by Coolchaser

Titanfall is a new, online-only multiplayer game for the PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. If you do your research, you can buy this game for $40. Amazon has it listed for $39.96 and Xbox Gold digital deals had it listed for $39.99 last week. I have put over 80 hours into this game and I bought Titanfall for $60. In other words, I spent $1.34 per hour of playtime which has been worth every penny. I continue playing this game and will most likely not stop until the next big FPS video game comes out.

Role-Playing Games

Finally, the last type of video game that deserves mentioning is the infamous Role-Playing Game (RPG). RPGs are relentlessly long. They need to focus on their story and most of the gameplay takes time to master. Another reason for their length is that, oftentimes, there are RPGs that demand that you grind through character levels and go on ridiculous quests, while some have mini-games thrown in so you can earn special items and awards.

The first RPG I want to dive into is one of my favorites of all time, Final Fantasy VII. This game is massive and since the turn-based combat takes time, the game lasts for hours on end. The main story will take you roughly 39 to 40 hours to complete, but if you want to complete the entire game 100%, it could take upwards to nearly 100 hours. At the time of its release (1997), the game was around $40. If you bought the game at this price, completing only the main story would cost you around $1 per hour of playtime, while completing all the content it has to offer would cost you $0.40. In my opinion, this game is worth the expensive purchase. Luckily, you can go buy it on Steam for $12 or even less when they have it on sale.

The next RPG that deserves a mention is the entire Mass Effect franchise. There are three games within this expansive franchise. Each game was longer than the last and, in my opinion, better. The entire Mass Effect franchise can take you nearly 65 hours to beat. The good thing about these games were the side missions and multiplayer mode in Mass Effect 3 which could extend the playtime. If each game cost $60, you would shell out $180 for an entire franchise. Without the extra content, this franchise would cost you around $2.77 per hour of playtime. That seems like a reasonable deal to me.

Mass Effect Trilogy by The Classic Gamer

Rent or Buy?

There are tons of games out there that would be worth renting, especially with the newer generation of games. For example, the main story for Ryse on the Xbox One can take you 6 hours to beat. Is it worth paying $60 though? You are paying $10 per hour of playtime. Instead, you could rent this game and save nearly $50.

Another game that comes to mind is Murdered: Soul Suspect. This game received mixed reviews and was released on every console imaginable. The worst part thing about this game is its length. It takes roughly 6 and a half hours to beat the main story. The game was released at $60 and has now dropped to $15 through the Humble Store promotion that Humble Bundle is running from July 28 – August 1 on different Square Enix video games. Instead of wasting the same amount as Ryse, $10 per hour of playtime and $60 total, it would only be feasible to rent Murdered: Soul Suspect, or at least wait and buy it at a greatly discounted rate.

Humble Bundle featuring Square Enix video games by GameZone

Wait For It

When using this equation, ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do I need to own this game right now?
  2. Should I consider renting this instead since everyone is saying how short it is?
  3. Will it go on sale in a few months?
  4. Does it have multiplayer?
  5. Is it worth it?

There are too many video games on the market. Unless all you do is sit in front of your television or computer screen and play every video game ever released, it is pointless to justify buying a multitude of games. Instead, budget accordingly and base it on the time you have available to spend on gaming. If you work 40 hours a week, is it worth buying every game that comes out in the next few months?

There are 8 games that I want to play by the end of this year that are releasing too closely together. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on games I do not have time to play, I asked myself the questions above to help save me money. I wanted to purchase Alien: Isolation for the Xbox One, but it sounds like it will A.) be too short, B.) go on sale within a month or two and C.) release too close to other games I find more important like Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Sunset Overdrive and Destiny.

Your time is a valuable commodity; do not take it for granted. When looking at the “Playtime is Money” equation, be careful when budgeting. You do not want to be overburdened with video games, unable to complete any of them, while exciting new games are scheduled to be released right around the corner. Instead, rent a video game every now and then, wait for that single player game you want so bad to go on sale, and consider how much money you are really spending on video games.

Stacks on Stacks on Stacks by Supernova125

Early Impressions: The Destiny Beta

The Destiny Beta by Destiny Wikia

Since its release for the Xbox One, I have played the new Destiny Beta at every opportunity because I am still unsure if it is worth buying. You would think that after Bungie created one of my favorite video game series of all time, Halo, that I would trust their creativity and upcoming video games, but that is not the case with Destiny. After over eight hours of playtime, I still harbor some doubts. I wanted to share my positive and negative opinions about Destiny. Again, this is only the beta.

Destiny functions like an Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) video game and gives nods to some of the great games that have come before it. Bungie can deny this all they want, but I intend to present evidence to prove this otherwise. Destiny is being compared to other video games, but that is not necessarily troublesome. Before I start, you need to know a little background about the Destiny beta. There are currently two places where you can explore: the Tower and Earth. The Tower is a wonderful “one-stop-shop” for all your needs, while all of your missions play out on Earth. Additionally, there was a special event that included one more mission available on the Moon for two hours on July 26 which added more gameplay.

Halo Easter Egg by Halo Wikia

The Halo Feeling

This game looks and acts like the Halo franchise that put Bungie on the map. The aesthetics are incredible. I love the environments and character visualizations. I do wish that we were able to see our face without a helmet when we travel to Earth, but that is not my primary concern. The problem is that I view Destiny as Halo, and I do not think I am supposed to do that. There are too many similarities that make it hard to differentiate the two. On one hand, Destiny has the potential to become as successful as the Halo franchise, but, in my opinion, this could be far out of its “Reach” (Halo pun intended). I understand that Bungie has said that this game is not Halo, but the striking resemblances imply otherwise. While playing the beta, I noticed one weapon that reminds me of Halo: the shotgun. (Not that it is a bad thing, since the shotgun in Halo was brilliant.)

Call of Duty and Borderlands Livelihood

Like it or not, Destiny gameplay reminds me of Call of Duty, while the exploration, loot and weaponry remind me of Borderlands. First, take a look at this clip that I captured from the beta:

See anything similar to Call of Duty? If I wanted to, I could literally play this game like the Call of Duty franchise where I aim down my sights too often, wait for enemies to appear and either hold down the trigger or shoot in bursts. Call of Duty did not invent this type of gameplay, but with the weapon sights in Destiny, it reminds me a lot like Call of Duty. Hopefully, this will not be the only way I play since the powers in Destiny are pretty great.

For my next clip, watch how easy it is to pick off some of these enemies:

This is me nitpicking, but it does still bother me. I remember when I played Borderlands and pulled off easy kills like this. It was not a major problem, but it did get boring after awhile. I could say the same thing about Halo, but that game was not based on the characters level. Destiny and Borderlands have the same mechanics that end up being mundane after hours of playing. In all honesty, Destiny is what I wanted Borderlands to become, but that did not happen. Instead of considering Destiny at face value, I feel the need to compare the two, which could make it difficult for me to purchase this game.

Loot, Loot and More Loot

The loot in Destiny reminds me of Borderlands, but instead, I would rather compare it to the Diablo franchise. I love loot. It is addicting and fun. When I was exploring in Destiny for fun and finding chests, I was fascinated. I never knew what I would find. Because this is the beta, most of the players are still a low level, so most of the weapons, armor and loot were unusable, but it was still fun. I like how the game will have normal, uncommon and rare items. Also, I had to identify some loot at the Tower before the stats for the loot were revealed to me, like how it is in Diablo, which makes the loot even more of a mystery. One thing that was upsetting about the Destiny beta was the fact I cannot trade loot with another player, but I read online they are working on making this a possibility.

A Loot Chest in Destiny by IGN

More Optimism

I absolutely love the Hover Bikes. Here is a clip of me driving one around “Earth”:

It is fast and very easy to control. Plus, I hated all the running I had to do in Borderlands. Once the “Moon” was open on the Destiny beta, I was able to try out the other Hover Bike that had weaponry. I really hope there are more types of bikes because it is really fun and useful to move around so easily. The Tower is another great area. Instead of doing everything in menus, I had a place where I set up shop to purchase new items and ships, identify loot, dye my armor, and more. It takes a little getting used to, but overall, I like this. Another thing I am excited about is some of the weapons. For instance, the Semi-Auto Rifle feels great and shoots incredibly well from a long distances, but my favorite weapon is the Fusion gun. This thing packs a punch and can disintegrate enemies. The first time I used it, I was amazed. Here is a clip of me using the Fusion gun:

Negativity for Nancy

This is not deal breaker, but I felt like the character customization was lacking. Compared to the insanely detailed customization available in Wildstar, I realize how limited I was when creating my Warlock in Destiny. I made a pretty cool cat (he looks just like Cable from the comics), but I wish I could have done more. Another troubling aspect of the Destiny beta was the incredibly slow loading time between missions and going to the Tower. Load times need to be fixed by launch. I am sure they will not be as long as they were in the beta, but really, waiting for a level to load usually took a few minutes which threw off the pacing. The troubles do not end here…

Character Customization in the Destiny beta by She Attack

Questing like World of Warcraft

One scary thought came to my mind: Destiny is just like World of Warcraft. The questing upon questing could easily overshadow any interest I have in my other games, which does not make this game very appealing to me. I am not a fan of MMOs and never have been keen on the endless questing. If I was to buy this game, I would lose interest quickly like I did with World of Warcraft. However, if MMOs are your favorite style of game, then the Destiny beta might be right for you.

Call Me Guardian

My biggest issue with this game is being a nobody in the wide world of Destiny. I was called a “Guardian.” Everyone in the entire game is called a “Guardian.” I want a name. At least in Halo, I was called Chief or Master Chief which made me feel like someone important. In Destiny, I feel so disconnected from my character that there is nothing to distinguish me from any of the other players. One of the best parts about playing an MMO is being an individual with a real connection to the character, and Non-Playing Characters (NPCs) call players by their screen name. I would be happy even if they made me choose from a list of names, but I feel like “Guardian” is just a title and my character is just a character. I have no attachment like I did in other games similar to Destiny.

My Warlock from Destiny Beta

My Warlock from Destiny Beta

Conclusions

I believe this game will be a big deal when it releases, but it may not be right for me. It has lots of positives, but I am still on the fence. There are some great things that this game hits, however it misses opportunities for me. I will say this, if you set up attacks, they make for some really amazing scenes and excellent gameplay. I will leave you with one more clip that made me really want to buy this game. When you get into firefights like the one I show below, the game feels refreshing and fun. Bungie is creating a Destiny that I might want to be a part of.