Marine: A Video Game Review

Marines: Modern Urban Combat

Let’s just get one thing out in the open: I pre-ordered this game. I half wonder if I was the only one in the world to do so.

I was on amazon ordering Modern Warfare 2 Mobilized when this game, called Marines, came up. The game, listed as Marines: Assault on Terror, had a box cover that looked like it was modeled after… well Call of Duty Modern Warfare.

I laughed, the game was obviously trying to sneak in under the Modern Warfare 2 radar and get picked up by some unsuspecting parents. Still, i was curious and looked it up and did some reading.

The game is not new. It is a port of an XBox game released in 2005 called Close Combat: First to Fight. The developers met with actual Marines, first it seems to make a training simulator, but then also to make this game.

So I looked up THAT game. Well, Gamespot gave it a 7.3, IGN gave it an 8.0 overall. Not too shabby for a FPS, I thought. The game was going for $30, and I thought what the hell. So I ordered it with MW: Mobilized.

That was back in November. The game was supposed to be out the week after Thanksgiving. Then the first week of December. Then the second. The release date changed at least five times before it finally shipped to me. It arrived today, 28 January, 2010.

So that is how I came in to possession of Marines: Modern Urban Combat, Assault on Terror, Close Combat: FIrst to Wii.

(The game is called Marines: Modern Urban Combat, which is what the box cover art said all along, but not the Amazon listing.)

Now on to the review.

Another confession: I really wanted to love this game.

Marines MUC takes place in an alternate reality (history?) Beirut. A rebel faction has started a civil war and we, the USA, are there to try and stop it. The plot is told through mock news reports from INN, the International News Network.

The game is a squad based game. You and three of your Marine friends travel together through each level. You start by clearing streets, then move to buildings and what not. As squad leader you can give commands to your group, but they are pretty basic.

The controls are pretty standard for Wii FPS. There is no jump, but you can kneel and lie prone. Reload has you move the Wii controller down, then back up. Being an FPS this is an awkward motion, as it takes the camera with it.

Remember this game is an XBox port, and it looks like it. The graphics have not been updated, which isn’t bad, but obviously last generation. But that isn’t the problem. The problem is the refresh / redraw rate. There were times as I turned that noticeable parts of the screen were not keeping up.

And load times. I mention this was an XBox port? I haven’t had load times like this in years. It makes you appreciate how Metriod and some other games will work past the loads as much as possible.

The AI of the game is more impressive than the graphics.The bad guys will hide behind things and even wait for you to move before they shoot. It is not a run and gun, which is admittedly my preferred tactic for these sort of situations. Your squad mates are actually useful, rather than being mobile targets you have to keep alive. The formations they will take are very realistic, and although they will kill baddies, I’ve noticed at times their aim is downright pitiful.

Not that I am one to talk.

The Wii added controls are just not as fluid as I am used to. You can adjust both the dead space and the controller sensitivity. I played with both through the time I was playing, but couldn’t find a good medium. Perhaps there is one and I haven’t found it yet. As for now, it is hard to aim with precision with any sort of urgency. Enemies that were fairly close to me could be hard to hit. Reaction time of the controls was slow and seemingly inconsistent. Using the scope helped some, but slowed down the motion even more.

The thing about this game is that I could see that 7.3 – 8.0 game in it as I was playing. There is a good game in this and it deserved more than a speedy port to cash in on Modern Warfare 2. Rather a slower polish, and applying the same attention to details that brought the original to this one would have resulted in a fairly strong title, even with the XBox graphics.

Instead it is a shadow. Playable, yes, but not what it could be. I’d drop this from an 8.0 to a 5. The game did not start off life as shovelware, it didn’t need to be reincarnated as it.

The New In This Moment Album

(oops! this was supposed to be posted a while ago. sorry!)

When I first found out about In This Moment I thought I had found a small slice of heaven here on this Earth. A metal band with a chick singer. And not just a chick singer, but an “I’M GONNA RIP YOUR FACE OFF” chick singer. I heard Daddy’s Fallen Angel on the radio and couldn’t get to the record store fast enough.

I got the album and was not disappointed (well, except for the fact it was short). Daddy’s Fallen Angel definatly woke up my neighborhood a few times, and Circles became my own ironic workout song.

So when The Dream came on Tuesday (30 September, 2008), I got it. No questions, no reviews, walked in and bought it without thinking about it. I put it in my car stereo and turn it up ready for it, waiting for it. The first song is an intro similar to what “Beautiful Tragedy” had. This was a bit more of an Indian/Middle Eastern sound, like something you’d hear on a Delerium album. I was ready for it.

And what I got was a bit different than what I expected. Rather than the deep crunch of the first album what came out took me by surprise. My first reaction was “what is this?” The album was slower, softer, and seemingly more radio friendly. This was not what I was expecting, not what I wanted. Don’t get my wrong, it is still metal, but more of a Metallica metal, rather than a Lamb of God one.

I didn’t just dismiss it, though. I left it in my disc payer and listened to it a few times more. I found a solid, well made metal album with a much more refined sound than its predecessor. The band that made “The Dream” had come into itself more than the one that made “Beautiful Tragedy”. I thought to check changes in writers or producers, but in the end it is what comes out of the speakers that is important. “The Dream” delivers, even if it is a different package than “Beautiful Tragedy”. I found myself turning it up loud, and perhaps even shifting for emphasis during several of the songs.

The verdict? Buy it. Really, it was great. Yes, I still put in “Beautiful Tragedy” and wish for its spiritual successor, for ITM to turn it up again, but “The Dream” delivered an album experience I can’t turn off.

May Day – A Recommendation

Phillis Levin is my Muse.

Many poets have issued that title on a woman. “She is my muse.” This woman they talk of is beautiful, elegant, they are no doubt in love with her, and equate inspiration to write poetry, happy or sad, about her, to ‘Muse’.

Phillis Levin is my Muse, in the purest sense.

When I starting down this path of creativity, of writing, poetry, of using word as art (ART?) it was a journey that started in the dark (yes, I mean high school). Writings were scribblings in the corners of notebooks, they were mimics of Latin poets, and ‘experimental’ things, which later turned out to be not that ‘experimental’. But this is a part of the poet’s journey, as it is a part of any journey. This part is the beginning.

Then came college, and writing courses, and this strange, but new idea of reading other poets. This idea is a strange one to understand why it is a NEW THING.

A book, Afterimage, was handed to me, by a Ms Phillis Levin.

I read the book twice that night. Three more times in the week that followed. Some where in there I found inspiration.

It was not that I wanted to write like her, or I wanted to follow her journey. Instead what she gave me was the light in the darkness, the direction to start my own journey. I wanted to be that good, and for the first time realized that a bit of work, of tears and cramped hands, that there was more to be done with myself, than simply writing what I had been.

This was her inspiration to me, to start my journey, to take my writing seriously, to turn it into a declaration: “I write.” She is my muse in the purest sense, for I saw her as art, as poetry, as the personification of this undefinable thing I had set off to find.

Her new book is out (alas, the older ones are harder to find, but if you can get them, please do). It is called “May Day” and worth every inch of your bookshelf it will take, of every moment of your life you will read it, of every word that is on the inside leaving the page and haunting you in those moments before you sleep.

Edit: Garrison Kellior’s Writer Almanac has May Day posted, 26 September, 2008