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In Search for the Next Best Online FPS!

PC gamers unite, as it is time to find out which of the newer FPS games is what you might be looking for. We have narrowed it down to three of the most popular out there and the winner is…

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FACING THE HARD TRUTH

If you are like me as well as many other gamers out there, you are constantly looking for the next best thing in gaming. This is especially true for online FPS games as we are always on the look out for what’s coming. 

Well the truth is no one can deny how big of a hit the Battlefield series was, the many hours spent in front of my monitor getting an LCD tan can attest for that. However like all good things, nothing lasts forever and while I did enjoy Battlefield I am over due for something different.

So today we take a look at what is out there in regards to tactical FPS games for the PC. Where can an FPS junkie turn for their next fix? We are going to put quite possibly the most popular three online FPS games to the test; Frontlines Fuel of War, Call of Duty 4 and Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Where are the masses headed and what game will peek our interest for the time being…lets find out.

THE CONTESTANTS

Keep in mind as this review is geared towards online play we will not go in depth in regards to the story line unless it specifically impacts online play. I am sure there are a few people out there like myself as I have all three of these games but have not touched single player mode on any of them. My passion, to get online and reek havoc against not bots, but actual players (actual players get pissed much easier then a bot).

 

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Activision’s forth installment of the this very successful series, Call of Duty steers away from WWII combat and makes its debut into modern warfare.
 

Frontlines: Fuel of War

Frontlines: Fuel of War is bestowed upon us by THQ a very well known entity in the gaming world. FFOW is set in the near future as war breaks out over the control of a diminishing supply of oil.
 

Rainbow Six Vegas 2

This is Ubi Soft’s follow up shooter to Rainbow Six Vegas. Those nasty terrorists are back in Sin City and it’s your job to wipe them out. Truly what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (I apologize but I didn’t feel right not tossing that joke in somewhere).
 
 

Test System

Our test system is what should be an average if not slightly above average gaming system used today:
 
Motherboard: XFX 590 SLI
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
RAM: 2GB Corsair 800MHz
Video Card: XFX 7950GX2
PSU: Antec 650Watt
OS: Windows XP SP2
Resolution Used: 1680×1050

CALL OF DUTY 4

I was very intrigued by the change of pace COD4 had made. I will be among the first to admit I am done with WWII FPS games for a while so when I found out the newest COD will be.. well for lack of a better word, modern, I knew I had to give it a try.

Right off the bat I was happy to find that servers were in no shortage. Ranging from 9k-12k depending on when you log in you should be able to find something that pings well. Another plus was the ability to save servers as your “favorite”. This comes in very handy especially with such a large amount of severs listed. 
 

One hitch, I was a little disappointed with the lack of a buddy or friends list. I have always felt a key point to the success of Battlefield 2142 was the buddy list. Knowing which friends were on and what server they were playing in. I did not think this a big issue as I would just jump on Ventrillo and find out what server my teammates were on. This only added to my confusion as my list of servers was a little different then others. At times you may be able to see servers others can not and vise versa, even with the same exact filters set.

Once we found a server it was time to jump in and see what we had gotten ourselves into. Adjusting to the quick paced action is not a problem as with many FPS games COD4 uses standard controls. It usually is not much fun to push every button on the left side of your keyboard in hopes to turning off that night vision you some how enabled. With almost no learning curve I was able to quickly send mountainous amounts of lead at my opponents right away.

CALL OF DUTY 4 CONT.

I was impressed with the gameplay of COD4 as well. Extremely smooth and ironed out providing virtually no lag which is the enemy of all online gamers. The graphics and sound were well perfected allowing gamers to take advantage of those high end video cards and sound setups. COD4 even provides a vast array of different gaming modes from old favorites like Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch to modes that mix up the game play by having you plant bombs or take control points.

Customization and ranking were not forgotten. As you play you build up experience points based on performance.   With enough XP you are promoted to the next rank unlocking weapons and perks. You can then decide on not only the weapon but the color as different patterns are obtained. To add to the ranking you are also given challenges to achieve as well. The assortment of challenges range from; getting so many head shots with each weapon to more difficult tasks like shooting opponents while you fall. Fulfilled challenges add XP and unlocks to your character.

Overall COD4 is a fantastic game with little drawbacks. Online play quickly becomes addicting and if you are not careful it can take up majority of your free time. With the exception of a missing buddy list and at times mismatching server lists you would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with it. It’s clear that COD4 sets the bar awfully high for the others.

FRONTLINES: FUEL OF WAR

FFOW brags about takes an interesting approach to the FPS genre that could prove to be refreshing. Excited to get this game up and running I rushed home and inserted the install disk. Excitement quickly turned to frustration as an error popped up regarding my .net framework. WTH….? Well a quick trip to my friend Google and I found I was not alone. Many gamers had this problem and the resolution was a visit to Microsoft.com. Updating my .net framework was easy and believe it or not Windows validation was not necessary (Bill, you are slipping in your old age!) All things considered I didn’t count this as an issue with the game but rather my system not being updated.

 

Once up and running I began my multiplayer experience. The number of servers was far less then that found with COD4 and even more alarming is majority of them were empty. Again another game void of any buddy list and even worse FFOW did not have a place to keep track of your favorite servers. On the plus side server lists did match with my co players allowing us to quickly find a mutual server.

Much like COD4 and other shooters with the usual control layout you are able to hit the ground running, or staggering I should say. While my ping was great on many servers I still encountered lag. This makes it a bit difficult to mow down an opponent with your weapon of choice. Minus the lag this game seemed very similar in how it plays…BF 2142 is that you? That’s right in many aspects FFOW is modeled after BF2142, almost a copy in controls and other concepts. This is not entirely a bad thing but something to be pointed out.

 

FRONTLINES: FUEL OF WAR CONT.

Vehicles galore, pick your flavor be it a helicopter, tank, APC or your basic hummer they have all made it into FFOW. I was grateful for the vehicles as the maps are very large in scale, much like BF games if you spawn too far from the action it could take a while on foot. 

What differs from other games is how FFOW funnels all the action to a specific location. At any given time only three points located near each other are fought over. Capture all three points and your “Frontline” moves up to the next three, that much closer to the enemy base. Lose all three and that same frontline is moved closer to your base. While this does channel all the action into a predetermined area allowing you to know where to go to cause trouble, it does render much of the map useless.

Not much was done in regards to ranking up or character customization. You can select from pre-made specs including the usual Assault, Heavy Assault, Sniper (I hate you damn snipers), Anti-vehicle, Special Ops and Close Combat. However in addition you get to chose a role. Each role offers you a different set of sub equipment. For instance ground support allows the repair of vehicles and armor supply.   Air support believe it or not, provides strategic air strikes and the much talked about drone tech.  Drone tech allows the use of small remote controlled vehicles.  I found the remote controlled vehicles to be the most entertaining of all the selectable roles and so did many others as it seemed to be the role of choice on the battlefield.

All in all FFOW is nothing to get too excited about. The gameplay has much room for improvement and needs it. Graphically this is another game that looks great and nothing negative can be said about the graphics or sound. With the choppy gameplay and not enough gamers logged on you can not fully take advantage of what FFOW would have had to offer.

RAINBOW SIX VEGAS 2

A big fan of the first one I have been looking forward to the chance to play the sequel. It was rumored that Ubi Soft had made the sequel less system intensive then its older brother. This was the Achilles heal for Rainbow Six Vegas as the game was great but hard on PC’s so only those with high end systems could play.

RSV2 installed with no issues at all, very relieving after my FFOW problem. Relief transforms in to concern once I log onto the multiplayer server to find about the same amount of occupied servers then FFOW, if not less. I had decided to stay positive and push on to see what RSV2 really had to offer.

RSV2 has a much slower pace then other FPS games. This truly is a tactical FPS game and thus the button configuration is a bit different. While there are only a few differences in controls it is enough to throw you off a bit. Instead of the right mouse button used to zoom in, it is designed to allow your character to take cover. The middle mouse button is then used to zoom in your weapon view instead. Nothing extreme but it does provide a learning curve.

RAINBOW SIX VEGAS 2 CONT.

Graphically this game is great and your character models have an impressive amount of detail to them. The sound on the other hand is a completely different story as what the game makes up for in graphics it severely lacks in sound. To put it bluntly sound performance is sporadic at best.  Sometimes you can hear gunfire coming, other times you find out via the bullet hole in your skull. There are moments were you can get caught in what I call the “machine gun loop”. This is a pleasant experience that involves an extremely loud sounding machine gun to continually fire nonstop until the match is over.

RSV2 take customization and ranking to a whole different level. You are able modify every aspect of your character from armor to weaponry. It is all up to how you want your character to look and move. You can choose the heavy armor for more protection and less mobility or the reverse with light or even no armor. Masks, sunglasses and hats all can help give your character a custom look. Should that not be enough you can even use a web camera to help create a facial image close to your own. On top of earning XP for kills and winning matches you get A.C.E.S (Advanced Combat Enhancement and Specialization) points for how you kill; up close, long distance and head shots to name a few. These points help unlock different weapons and give additional XP.

I will say aside for the sound issues, gameplay is thrilling. Keep in mind it is at a slower pace but RSV2 is full of excitement and anticipation. The amount of players is far from the numbers in COD4 but with smaller maps and groups it is not as noticeable as it was in FFOW. While it would be better to have access to buddy lists and favorites servers list, RSV2 can deliver should your system allow it to. RSV2 does suffer from the same problem as Rainbow Six Vegas, not as severly, and that is it is too system intensive to allow the masses to play. Perhaps it will find a place amongst the various benchmarks like the original did, hopefully not system sound benchmarks.

CONCLUSION

Well with all said and done it becomes obvious which game comes out victorious. Call of Duty 4 is the here and now, in regards to FPS gaming. Between the ranking system going to level 55 and the crazy amount of challenges you will stay busy for a long time. While there are no vehicles to occupy, the maps are well thought out and just the right size.

Bottom line is that if you are PC gamer looking for an FPS to fill the void left by your previous FPS, then Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare is what you are looking for.  The other two games while fun in their own rights are overshadowed by the features and gameplay of COD4.

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