Tis’ the Season…
It’s that time of year when all the biggest triple-A first-person shooters release within a week of each other, forcing gamers to make a choice between digital delight and possible poverty. There are certainly many shooters this holiday that are deserving of your hard-earned cash, but how do you choose between them all? Making this decision can be a painfully draining process, both on your mind and wallet. This pain can be minimized, however, if you arm yourself with information to help you make a decision you won’t regret. After all, it’s never fun to show up at your local retailer and fork over sixty bucks for your selection, only to reap disappointment from a lackluster game that doesn’t deliver. So here’s a little info to help ease your gaming woes and help you separate the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
The big boy on this list of gaming giants would have to be Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which (in terms of sales) will most likely eclipse all other shooter contenders on the market.
The second installation in Treyarch’s Black Ops series is definitely aimed at the games hardcore multiplayer fan base, which is, in a word, expansive. The game boasts its tried and true robust multiplayer system and branded gameplay, which COD fans flock to time and time again like dewey-eyed schoolgirls to a Justin Beiber concert.
The game does make some strides, though, with its trademarked Zombies (eight-player Zombie mode looks epic) and new multiplayer game options.
All of this is great, but where’s the campaign? Not since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 have I even given half a thought to COD’s single player mode, which, let’s face it, seems to be an afterthought to the games multiplayer functionality.
For this reason alone, even with its vast multiplayer, I cannot call COD:BO2 the best shooter this year. Sorry, Activision.
If you haven’t been living under a large rock for the past decade, you have probably heard of a little game called Halo. Since the Halo franchise has switched developers from Bungie to 343 Industries, there have been many skeptics (myself among them) that wondered if 343 would be able to pull off the revival of Master Chief and a new game trilogy worthy of the Halo name.
Thankfully, 343 delivered on this title, and playing as Master Chief again just feels right. The graphics on this game are amazing to say the least, with scenery and environments that may make you shed a tear because they’re just so damn beautiful. The single-player campaign is excellent, but it seems just a little too short for my taste.
Of course, Halo has a lot to offer on the multiplayer front, meeting and exceeding the standards of Halo: Reach’s multiplayer and adding more content via the new Spartan Ops game mode. This game has no shortage of features, but its abbreviated single player keeps me searching for the best shooter of the season.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter
EA threw its hat in the ring this year with Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Unfortunately, they probably should have kept it on their head.
On the surface, MOH:WF looks like a solid shooter, complete with multiplayer, single-player campaign, and Frostbite 2 technology. The visuals are definitely one of the game’s strong points, the Frostbite 2 engine delivering an eye-popping display of destructible environments, explosions, and detailed character models. Sadly, though, the campaign lacks depth and feels generic with a few exciting levels mixed into its linear story arc.
It did at least make an attempt at a different kind of multiplayer mechanic with its fire team system, which rewards you and your team member with bonuses for working together on the battlefield.
Still, while Medal of Honor: Warfighter showed some early promise, it never really found its own identity in the marketplace, and it’s definitely not the best shooter this season.
I have a confession to make: I love Borderlands 2. Out of all the shooters this year, it is the one that truly and definitively stands out. Rarely does a game compel me to complete multiple playthroughs, but this time I have found myself drawn back to this masterpiece of a game that (so far) just continues to get better.
Its drop-in, drop-out cooperative gameplay works almost flawlessly and makes finding other players to explore Pandora with a snap. The comedic satire that this game brings to the table is absolutely hilarious, and the characters are as memorable as they are hysterical. There is no shortage of things to do in Pandora, and while there is a linear campaign to complete, you can explore to your hearts’ content without penalty.
Gearbox has signed on for four expansion packs, the first of which has already dropped (Captain Scarlett and Her Pirates’ Booty), along with another character class (The Mechromancer) to expand the Borderlands world even more.
Probably one of my favorite things about this game is the attention paid to the smallest of details, like witty subtext on certain weapons, or the plethora of pop culture Easter eggs that are absolutely crammed into this game, referencing the likes of Minecraft, BioShock, Batman, and The Ninja Turtles—to name just a few.
There is one glaring deficiency though, no competitive multiplayer of any kind. Hopefully this is something that will be remedied in one of the upcoming expansions. Arenas perhaps?
In case you haven’t guessed by now, I believe the best shooter of this season is without a doubt Borderlands 2. Thank you, Gearbox. Thank you, Randy Pitchford. Thank you.
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*