Saturday, April 28, 2012

Call of Duty: Modern Warfware 3 - The Free Weekend and First Impressions (Feb and April 2012) Text-Only Version

[Currently this article is text-only, with no screenshots. They will be added in the near future (read: after the free weekend)]

Sometime around January/February, 2012:

Greetings all, TheTechnician here and I can honestly say that I have never played MW3 before in my life. This free weekend/demo of the game is my first time playing any other of the COD series besides the first, which I tried on a friend's PC back almost a decade ago, and even then, I only played a short while.

Three main things hit me right away after downloading the free/demo Steam version and starting it up. The first was the game/server matching system. I thought I was playing Left For Dead Joins The Army. Not that it is a bad thing, as most of the decisions were automated, but it was quite different than... oh let's pull a game out of the dark randomly here from hundreds of games... Battlefield3.

There was no huge server list to wade through, no filters to set, no options to play certain maps, no inviting friends to play on your maps with you (at least I didn't see these things at first, perhaps they were Unlockable, as most of the game seemed to be). Two comments about this: one, unlockables aren't bad. They are an attempt to keep people playing (their numbers are then high to submit to shareholders and industry press) and add a freshness to the game, as time goes on and there are 'new' things to find within playing the same game for a time; and two, simplicity isn't bad as well. I can see that this game was made more for Console players (let's try not to start THAT war now) from the beginning as the simplified matchmaking and server choices (no choices at all actually, that I saw at first) make for 'plug-it-in-and-get-a-drink-and-just-play' game starting, which isn't a bad thing either.

Coming from PC gaming (I have played consoles since PONG but only owned a couple such as the NES) it was quite a different feeling, not being able to set how many players I wanted to play with, what maps I wanted to try (if I wanted to limit it to one or two for a while to get used to them), and I can honestly say - as a PC Gamer remember - that I missed that. I felt my army-bootlaces were being tied together for me from the very start and to place a value judgement on it, I didn't really like that there were no lists of options that I could pick through to get the type of game exactly how I wanted. Perhaps I am 'spoiled' as part of The Master Race [according to Console vs PC wars] but to not have all those choices and be forced to play with a small group of people I didn't know in such an intimate (spatially and conceptually, not emotionally) way was.. uncomforting.

Small is the operative word now. Small as in a group of only 8 as in ONLY EIGHT people were present and the game started. That's it? Why didn't it wait longer (since it made me anyway, again no choice) and why only eight? Is that the minimum required to play? /gasp Is that the maximum?

The game started and I was thrust into warfare. I tried to switch weapons scrolling my mousewheel but couldn't. "Only one weapon?" I typed. Noone answered. I ran and sprinted but then I stopped sprinting for some reason. Is my keyboard dying? I'll have to troubleshoot that later... There must be more weapons as it definitely showed more than one thing on the screen at the start, what class did I pick again? I tried hitting some keys such as 'throw grenade' and "2" to switch weapons, ah there we are, feeling more comfortable now, things are getting learned. Wow, this game looks pretty good.

Yes, the game looked good. It was realistic. Nice shadows, detailed textures, this city map I was in looked great. I haven't watched any 'BF3 vs MW3' videos on YouChoob (I try not to watch much gameplay video before playing a game) but if they argure about detail and realism, I would say they are both very similar and both very good.

As I moved around, I felt a bit like I was 'floating' around, gliding on skates as opposed to ...oh I don't know ...some random game like.. Battlefield3. Don't get me wrong I am not complaining, it felt a lot smoother and I remembered right away how COD was based on the QuakeIII engine and when Medal of Honor and Battlefield1942 first came out, crossing over to those games [from Quake3] felt like I was running hip deep in water all the time. I don't know if MW3 is just a really-really-souped-up Quake3 engine, but the smoothness of movement reminded me of it, and it was nice.


That's where I stopped working on that post? Hmm.. well, from what I remember, it was a pretty fast-paced, action-packed couple of days. I only got to Rank 4 but was starting to learn the controls and the game. I even killed a few people. 

My biggest complaint (other than what seemed like the odd never-miss person, I don't like to throw 'that word' for them around) was the scope of the play areas. If the limited number of players gave me a taste I didn't like at the beginning, the limited play space by the end left a lingering, bad aftertaste. Perhaps I am spoiled (am I really using this phrase again?) by the sheer size and huge number of players in BF3 games, but to be put into a little kennel of an area, usually what felt like five rooms together and some open spots (read: small spots with no rooves) was just plain... small. Perhaps it is the limited hardware in consoles holding back programming for any larger scope of gameplay, but whatever it is, you either like it and love the close-quarters action - or you don't, and feel that you were just thrown into a kennel with other dogs, all just itching to fight. At least, that's what I remember...


Fast-forward to the April 2012 Free Weekend of MW3 and... I can't play it. Every time I start it through Steam, my computer reboots itself. Great, now what's the problem? 
"Steam, verify the integrity of your cache."
"Yessir. All files successfully validated, sir."
"Understood.. hmmm."
Well, let's look at some forii and see if anyone else is having "mw3 crashes" or "mw3 reboots computer" problems... "Update your ****" well, thank you very much, I actually have the latest drivers, blahblahwait.. my BIOS. I didn't update that since I upgraded to my sex-core FX with Gigabyte Mainboard! 

Ah, Gigabyte, the gimmick-laden utility-dropping wonder of a manufacturer. Although I will usually say "ASUS" when people ask what to get at the lunchtable, for dependability (Remember Kids, It's Pronounced 'ahh-suhs' As In 'Pegasus', Which The Company Is Named After (sounding more like us-us than ah-sus or the ear-tearing ay-soos)), I also heartily recommend Gigabyte. Feature-packing and ready-to-go, I easily find the Touch Bios utility at the website, which allows BIOS access within Windows and tell it to Automagically Update the BIOS with the latest version found over the internet at the manufacturer's website. Oh, it's done already? 


The game starts and I can begin to run around and die once more. What's this about Free Weekend = Hackers on the forum I saw? Bah.. too bad, but I'll still try to play some.. It looks like they are doing updates as the weekend goes even, updates are coming down the Steam pipe. [dude, steampipe, get it, dude]

So, for those having crashing issues with the April 2012 Free Weekend of MW3, after making sure all your drivers are up-to-date, update your BIOS through your manufacturer's instructions (will make a post on this in the future) and that should help.

See you in there!

[Screenshots and more to follow...]

Short versions of updating the motherboard bios from our Resident Techie:
  • For Gigabyte: install TouchBIOS, run it and update via the internet for the latest version straight from them.
  • For ASUS (and others): go to the company's website and find your mainboard through models/type/etc and in the Downloads section, download your board's BIOS, latest version. Install and run the manufacturer's update utility (usually on the disc, or dl it from the website) and tell it to update using the file that you downloaded from the company's website.
  • Reboot.

[Back in my day, we took up the phone line to put the handset on the cups and we put the bios updates onto floppies and booted to dos and ran a separate flash utility and prayed and gave scented offerings to the gods that nothing bad happened and we liked it, dagnabbit]

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