Going nuts for online gaming

2007-09-09
The Good

Online play is staggeringly good fun, though I should point out that, for me at least, this is only so if there are good friends online at the same time. I created a clan (something I'd not done before Resistance) and invited a few good friends to join. There are six members, making it a reasonably small clan, but we play regularly together, not just in Resistance, but now other online games too.

Resistance: Fall of Man is what really got us started. The online play is incredible. At the start, you can form a party in the lobby and get all your friends involved. You then ask the game to find a game, either ranked or custom, for you all to play (you can also create your own if you wish). Your whole party is then placed in a game together to fight alongside eachother. Communication and teamwork is made easy by the fact that, if you have a headset, you can easily join a squad with your party and chat freely. This key feature has kept us interested in the game for a full five months now, playing as much as six or even seven times a week sometimes, with sessions lasting several hours. Playing online games has become a social thing as well as a gaming experience since the people in my clan are not just people who I play games with, they are also good friends that I enjoy chatting to.

Resistance: Fall of Man

Some have argued that Resistance isn't perfect and perhaps they are right - weapons such as the infamous LAARK, a rocket launcher with broad-side-of-the-barn-will-do accuracy requirements, do cause problems - but the game is terrifically well balanced with some really interesting weapons and great online features. With a new found addiction for online gaming, myself, and others in my clan, have been looking forward to other online adventures to appear on PS3. There are many on the way, with games like Killzone 2, Haze and Unreal Tournament 3 likely to deliver online fun in spades, but recent months have seen the arrival of three other online games of note.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, Rainbow Six Vegas and Warhawk have added great depth to the online world of PS3 and, with Home due in the not too distant future, things look good for Sony's network. However, have recent online games had the same level of success as Resistance? The Bad

Last Thursday saw the release of the hotly anticipated flight action, shoot everything, online battle 'em up, Warhawk. This superb game (available in the Playstation Store now and general retail this September) offers exceptional online play in the form of thoroughly enjoyable battles with up to 32 players. With this game, entertainment and arcade-style fun is what it's all about. Planes, tanks, jeeps and a massive array of weapons sit around ready for the player to pick up and use, creating a toybox of fun things to do, but why is the game currently not meeting the high standards set by Resistance?

The Bad

Socialization is the key to online gaming. Having fun comes not just from playing the game but by having a laugh with mates. Given how long Resistance has been available, surely developers should see that the brilliant party system and chat features are part of what makes Resistance the massive success it is? Warhawk may have all the in-game tools in the world, but the poor chat features (forcing you to press L3 every single time you want to speak) and total lack of a party system are massive blunders. Players can join friends and clanmates in games currently being played, but there is little guarantee that you'll arrive on the same team. Our first online Warhawk game played together resulted in one of our clan being on the opposing team, unable to change due to round-balancing restrictions. As a result, we were unable to communicate and forced to shoot at eachother. The same thing almost never happens in Resistance and, at least in that game, you have a chance to avoid conflict.

Warhawk has massive potential, but unless the chat features are improved (so that you can chat freely in a squad of some sort or via the XMB after a future firmware update) and some sort of party system is introduced, Warhawk will never meet my expectations. These features are basic and should be included as standard. GRAW 2 and Rainbow Six both have similar flaws, with online meetings confusingly tricky. Since these latter two games are ports of XB360 titles, surely some decent online gaming ideas must be in place? It seems not and both suffer from online modes that make it extremely difficult to form clans, meet up and join parties together. Hopefully, in future releases, this will not be the case but, for now at least, Resistance continues to rule the roost in PS3 online gaming.

Warhawk
The Ugly

Putting other new games aside for a moment, there is one downside that no game, it seems, can avoid. No matter how good the game is and no matter how friendly your clanmates are, there will always be somebody online that does something disgusting or low, decides to shout at you for no apparent reason or sends you messages dictating what you can and can't do online.

In Resistance, we've met a large number of spawn killers (players who use a numbers, weapons or species advantage in-game to push back the other team to the spawn base and then proceed to "pad their stats" as the opposition continually respawn only to get shot in the face), quitters, abusive players, elitist idiots who think only two or three weapons are permitted and other very strange people. Some of the bahaviour of players online is pretty disgusting but, thankfully, it certainly doesn't happen in every game played and, I'm told, is far worse on XB Live apparently, though that, in itself, is pretty shocking.

Going nuts for online gaming

One thing's for sure, online gaming is, unfortunately, an accurate representation of real life in that respect. It won't stop us going out and playing games, but there are always going to be people out there with different standards to your own. Thankfully, with ignore lists ready to ensure you never meet the worst offenders ever again and built-in report functions becoming increasingly popular, problems with other players are under control, leaving gamers to enjoy online gaming the way they want to. There are things wrong with online games, but overall, I'm having a blast with it and really enjoy playing with my clanmates (check out the Yuuzhan Vong clan section). I'm gradually becoming more and more involved in online games and would recommend them to everyone... just as long as you can tolerate a few idiots along the line.

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