Welcome to jdrgaming.com Wednesday, February 28 2024 @ 07:09 AM PST

Points formula revised

The formula for calculating player points on the TPU stats site has been revised. The new formula is a better indication of the contribution of a player. Also, heals and repairs have been removed from the formula since those numbers seem to be somewhat misleading.

Clan ranking works!

Clan stats tracking on the TPU stats site is now working.

Send your clan tag to the site admin (jrivett) to have your clan's stats tracked.

TPU stats site is now live

The new stats system for Tanks 'n Planes Unlimited is up and running. It's at tpu.jdrgaming.com. There's also a link to it at the top of the left side column on this site.

Check out the new stats and let me know what you think!

Welcome to jdrgaming!

I created this site to house all my gaming-related resources, including game server statistics and announcements, as well as gaming-related discussions, polls and a few downloads.

Battlefield 2 for XBox 360: demo notes

My roomie and I are playing a lot of BF2 lately - on PCs. If you read my earlier BF2 posts, you know how much of a struggle it was to get co-op working for this game. EA/DICE have issued several patches for the game, but none of them has added co-op features. Hard to understand, given the many petitions out there and the fact that co-op gaming is practically there already in the original game.

I now have an XBox 360. When the BF2 demo for XBox 360 became available recently, I was curious, so I downloaded it. The main menu for the demo includes four options: play, options, view controller setup and something else I can't recall right now. Choosing any of these options caused a message to appear (paraphrased): "You can't do this due to a subscription limitation." Forget how silly it is to prevent people from seeing the controller setup because of a subscription limitation - the real problem here is that the message is too vague. I eventually worked out that since the demo is online multiplayer only you need an XBox 360 subscription that allows online play. I've given Microsoft plenty of cash already and, coincidentally, never play online, so I've been fine with the free Silver subscription. But apparently Gold is needed to play online.

Here serendipity stepped in. A co-worker had - just the day before - plopped a 48 hour free Gold subscription card on my desk. I searched the opaque 360 interface for a way to use this card and eventually found one - or so I thought. I entered the code - a painful process without a keyboard or mouse - and was told that this code wouldn't work in this context. Well, RTFM, right? The card described how to find the appropriate place in the UI to enter this particular code. Once entered, I was able to play. And view the controller setup, of course.

No split-screen options were apparent. But is this only a limitation of the demo? Who knows. So I told the game to connect me to a BF2 server and got into a game. Of course, the game was populated by only two types of user: experienced console shooter players and total newbies trying desperately to learn how to aim their weapon with a little thumbstick. Score: experienced console gamers: infinity, newbies: zero. Include me in the newbie category, by the way.

After half an hour of dying over and over and never even hitting anyone, I handed the controls to my roomie. Suffice to say that his experience was the same. Why didn't they set things up so that the default game servers are all newbie zones? Remember, a demo is supposed to encourage players to buy the full game, not scream at their TV in frustration and vow to never buy the game.

I tried again, this time with the headset. Hey, it works! I can hear voices. What language is that? Chinese? That's not too helpful: Chinese people screaming at me. Oh wait, there's an English voice. He asks me how I'm doing. I press the talk button and say "Okay, I guess." He says "Great, now listen: there are a couple of dudes spawn camping. When you spawn, do a quick 180 and start firing. We have to kill those guys." All his remaining communications were about how to kill these spawn campers. I thought: Why am I playing this? So I stopped.

Amazing. On the PC, this game (with, admittedly, a lot of tweaks to enable co-op play) is one of the best co-op experiences I've ever had. One of the best gaming experiences ever, in fact. But on the 360, you couldn't pay me enough to try it again, for two reasons: gamepads don't work for first-person shooters, and no co-op play. Way to go EA.

Serious Sam 2

I loved Serious Sam 1 and its add-on. Sure, the monsters were not particularly smart, but there sure were a LOT of them. The game was funny and inventive and the combat was intense.

In terms of co-op gaming, I consider SS1 to be the benchmark against which all other first-person shooters should be measured. Playing through SS1 cooperatively was so easy it was utterly painless:

* no CD swapping required
* only one serial/key required for LAN play
* very simple game setup
* comprehensive options, including friendly fire, infinite ammo, starting point, player appearance, difficulty level, monster difficulty geared to number of players, pickups stay
* save and restore games (that's right, you can save your co-op game at any time and pick it up later with the same or different co-op partners)

That last one, the ability to save and load co-op games, is almost unprecedented in the world of FPS games. The only other game with that feature I can think of is Quake II. That game had a few problems with its co-op mode, though: pickups were not shared ("Do you need shotgun shells? I have 20.") and friendly fire could not be disabled.

So it was with a mixture of dread and anticipation that I bought and brought home Serious Sam 2. Would it have some nasty copy protection that required a CD and/or key for each player, even on a LAN? Would it even support co-op play? The manual provided the answer: YES. What a relief!

One of the best things about SS1 was that even a fairly old system could run it. Checking the minimum specs in the manual (something I normally do BEFORE buying), I was dismayed to find that a 2.0 GHz Pentium 4 was required. What? Even Battlefield 2 only needs a 1.8. My second game machine is only a 1.8 (upgraded for BF2, in fact), so at this point I was starting to doubt whether co-op SS2 play was in the cards, at least for a while.

Installation on my main game machine was painless. Four CDs, as opposed to the original game's single CD, pointed to the likelihood of richer visual content. Apparently a DVD version is available. Unfortunately, you need the "play" CD in the drive to start SS2, unlike SS1. On the plus side, the CD required is the fourth and last one, so there's one less CD swap involved in getting up and running.

SS2 has all the depth of the original game. Settings abound and are appropriately associated with player profiles. Yay! Lots of ways to configure controllers.

I started installing SS2 on the second machine, thinking the worst: that the installer would refuse to continue because the minimum specs were not met. Surprisingly, the installation completed, and guess what? The game plays fine on that machine! I'm not sure what's going on with the minimum specs in the manual and on the game box, but they don't seem to be correct.

I started SS2 on my main machine, created a LAN game, moved the CD from that machine to the second machine, started SS2 there and joined the LAN game. No problem! A friend and I played through several levels cooperatively and had a blast!

A few other things I should report:

* You can configure pickups to stay if you are already maxed out on related items.
* There seems to be a maximum limit on lives. The default is three, but you can set it to ten. Also, you can acquire more lives through in-game actions. In our testing, this was never an issue as we didn't die. But at some point we'll increase the difficulty and then this may be a big problem.
* There is already a patch. The patch fixes several annoyances with the user interface and a few other glitches.
* It doesn't look like you can save games at arbitrary locations. Instead, a system of checkpoints is used. I may have overlooked something here, so I'll keep looking.

Gameplay is similar to SS1, but improved in every conceivable way. Ditto for the graphics, sound and music. The weapons and monsters are very cool and once again very creative. Monsters still come at you in enormous waves, but this time you're fighting FOR something, not just to stay alive: often you are fighting to protect an NPC or a village. This enhances the already very involving gameplay.

Rating: 9/10 overall; 9.5/10 co-op gaming.

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