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Call of Duty Mobile is My New Trash Game

Call of Duty Mobile

Call of Duty Mobile was something I thought I’d never care about, but ended up becoming a current mainstay in my daily routine. Since I don’t feel like playing StarCraft II these days due to the whole Blitzchung thing, I wanted to move on to something else. I played The Outer Worlds for two weeks, clocking in 120+ hours before feeling like I’ve seen everything I care to see. Then this game came about, and it has been a nice break.

Despite having the reflexes of a three-toed sloth, I really like playing straight-up first-person shooters. No objectives, no need for complex teamwork, no wacky abilities, no overly large maps, no YOLO crap. Just a gun in a map with a time or kill limit and the only goal is to kill as much as possible.

Anything more complex than that, and my brain can’t be bothered to handle it. At the very least, Call of Duty Mobile has game modes that satisfy that unevolved side of mine. However, since I have an irrational hatred towards mobile games and playing on a smartphone in general, I had to play this game another way.

My Brief Thoughts on Mobile Gaming in General

I really don’t play mobile games. I dislike the pain in my neck that crops up when I’m looking down at my phone, tapping the screen furiously to get that next ding that sounds different from the other dings, which signifies that I’ve acquired the virtual item I need to progress to the next whatever in the game.

Have you seen mobile game tournaments? It’s a bunch of people lined up in two rows on a stage, hunched down on their phones. It’s something I’ve shown and talked about in some of my convention vlogs, and I still find it weird. I understand what all the fuss is about, but I started gaming in the late 90s, so I’m basically being an old man like I should.

Mobile games I’ve played in the past are strategy and puzzle games I’ve reviewed on this blog, and that’s about it. Two worth mentioning are Rymdkapsel, Puzzle Forge 2, and Atomas. They don’t need high-end specs, are designed specifically for mobile platforms, and can be played in short bursts. Those are the types of mobile games I prefer.

If it’s a game that requires you to hunch down on your phone for at least half an hour at a time, I don’t think my neck can take it. I’d rather play those on an emulator.

Call of Duty Mobile Initial Release

So, I’m not that excited about a mobile version of a game I enjoyed a decade ago. Sure, I always wanted a new online action FPS that I can sink my teeth into enough to get me stimulated, but not enough that it causes me frustration. It’s that frustration that keeps me from playing Rainbow Six Siege on the regular.

When Call of Duty Mobile first came out and I got word of it, I tried following instructions to play it. The version that was out at that time was only for certain markets, mainly China, so a VPN was needed to bypass region locking.

The instructions I tried to follow stated I had to download the APK from a third-party app market, then get a VPN that would let me connect to an Indian server since most of them don’t have connections to a Chinese server. I did all those steps, but couldn’t find an Indian server in the VPN I was told to install, so I just stopped there.

There are people out there who are more used to online gaming with VPNs to play region-locked titles, but I’m not one of them. I barely play online games these days, and I only get to touch my preferred singleplayer titles every now and then. If it wasn’t going to be a no-brainer, I’m not touching it.

Garena Release of Call of Duty Mobile for Southeast Asia

A month later, a friend asked me on Messenger whether I played Call of Duty Mobile. I told him about my experience of not being able to play the Chinese one, but then got word the day after that Garena had published it for the Southeast Asian market.

It turned out that it was available on Google Play by then, so I installed it and actually got to make an account, log in, and connect to the game. It has been a week since, and I’ve been playing it during my work breaks.

Playing Call of Duty Mobile for the First Time

Of course, I’m not playing this on my phone. Also, I’m not playing a first-person shooter with my thumbs, no matter how much Halo fanboys whine about how aim assist is a legitimate way to play it. I’m playing this game with keyboard and mouse, even if people may think that’s cheating.

I use Nox Player as my Android emulator as it runs better for me. Maybe I’ll give BlueStacks another chance when I have time, but I switched to Nox when my previous BlueStacks installation somehow went sour for some reason.

To make it run better, I put the graphics on low, so it looked like Special Force and CrossFire in visual quality. That did make the experience more nostalgic, so it somehow helped me get more into playing team deathmatch in it.

It wasn’t like I was actively searching for a turn-my-brain-off shooter, but having one is good for me as it gives me a way to stay awake and stimulated so I don’t have to keep feeling bogged down by work and the usual drudgeries of everyday life.

Call of Duty Mobile is like an even shittier version of Blacklight Retribution and Dirty Bomb. I may be licking Bobby Kotick’s scrotum by playing this game, but I can give myself a pass for it since it’s free-to-play and I don’t intend to engage with the microtransactions.

My Ongoing Gameplay Experience

As of this writing, I’m at level 31. I’ve just stuck to the AK47 with a tactical scope, foregrip, laser sight, and FMJ rounds as my primary weapon. I use War Machine as my operator skill as it’s the closest thing to the “noob tube” from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

I kinda like pissing people off with the noob tube, to the point that I almost got into a fist fight with someone in the net cafe because he hated getting bonked with it so much. That just means it’s really good.

When I played my first few games here, I was getting way more kills than everyone else to the point that it felt like cheating. But that was at around 4AM, so perhaps those are purely mobile players. Later on, I went up against much better players who are most likely playing on keyboard and mouse like I am.

As I played more games, I realized my limits when I would perform badly in certain game modes. I do best in Frontline, but also knew what to do in Capture as far as defense goes. But at least with Frontline and Team Deathmatch, they’re not as dependent on team performance as Capture or Search and Destroy.

Maps I do worst in is Crossfire due to my lack of skill in sniping. Perhaps I should snipe more because of that, but I would always gravitate to going back to an assault rifle as I value mobility a bit more than camping. I do camp every now and then when I find a good spot, but I prefer being able to move while shooting.

It’s fine that I’ve seen where I suck in the game as I get chances to be challenged in terms of skill and not just piling on gameplay time. However, I haven’t tried Battle Royale yet. I suck in that genre due to being a momentum player. I play best when maps are more dense with enemies. I don’t do as well in large maps where enemies are sparse.

Perhaps that’s how I’ll finally be forced to get good at sniping. I didn’t do that well in CounterStrike because of that self-imposed limitation, and I’ve had enough of that. I tried in other games like Overwatch, but I couldn’t bring myself to stick to sniping since other options are readily available.

But in a genre like battle royale, you can’t just choose how you play. You have to play with whatever you get, so it’s imperative to survival that you know how to do pretty much everything to adapt to all scenarios. I’ll still have to warm up to the genre, but at least the option is there.

Conclusion

My need for a staple action FPS is due to my disappointment with Quake Champions. I do like that game and it’s the right speed for me, but its lack of a sizeable player base makes it not viable for me.

But having an online action FPS as a “trash game”—a game I can play whenever I need a pick-me-up—is good for me as it can help me keep my dwindling reflexes sharp for as long as possible.

Mind you, I still prefer having a full PC game for that, not just an emulated mobile game.

Got Feedback?

Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.

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Prey is an Almost Perfect Game for Me

Prey (2017)

There are two games named Prey. There’s one from 2006 that had gravity walkways and astral projection as a gameplay mechanic. Then, there’s the new one in 2017 that had people jamming surgical devices into their eyes to learn new skills, which turned out to be made from aliens. I got to play the new Prey recently, and it gave me the same feeling I get from Deus Ex, the Resident Evil 2 remake, and BioShock combined.

I’ve had more free time lately, especially with my mother getting back to (mostly) normal after a month of illness, so I’ve been playing more video games. While I can do more work, the added stress had me at the edge of a breakdown, so I needed something therapeutic. That got me digging into all the games I’ve not played yet, and it’s a big backlog.

Prey has a lot of things I like in a singleplayer game—exploration in a fleshed-out setting, survival horror, stealth, cool weapons, and an interesting premise. While I’d like it better if most of the NPCs weren’t dead, the only thing I don’t like about Prey is I didn’t play it sooner.

NOTE: There may be some spoilers. You’ve been warned.

This is a first impression post with initial observations and analysis.

It may lead to a full written review of the game once I’m done with it.

Premise and Story of Prey

It’s March 15, 2032, Morgan Yu’s first day at work in the TranStar Industries testing facilities. He does his morning routine, puts on his research suit, and boards the helicopter that takes him to his new workplace. He is then gets by the man who brought him into TranStar—his older brother, Alex Yu.

He then goes through some tests that looks more like a tutorial for babies, but something weird then jumps at the man conducting the tests, Dr. Sylvain Bellamy. A gas then envelops the final testing room and Morgan is sedated. He wakes up back in his apartment and the date is still March 15. What follows is Morgan realizing that everything is not as it seems.

TranStar Industries is a Chinese technology megacorporation founded in 2025 by William Yu, Morgan and Alex’s father. The family business dabbles in a lot of things, but their most notable tech is the Neuromod, or Neural Modifier, which is a tool that lets people learn new skills and abilities by injecting a serum through the eye to reprogram the brain.

The corporation owns two space research facilities—Talos I, a space station that orbits the moon, and Pytheas, a moon base which serves as the setting for the expansion pack Mooncrash. The disaster that occurs aboard Talos I serves as the catalyst of everything the player goes through and have to solve in one way or another.

At the center of it all is the Typhon, an alien species that became the source of the Neuromod technology, as well as what can potentially cause humanity’s extinction.

Presentation and Gameplay of Prey

Much of new Prey’s presentation and gameplay is right up my alley. I remember gushing over the screenshots back in 2017 when it was first released, but I couldn’t get to it due to life and work. I’m glad I finally got to it, even if it’s over two years too late.

Here are a few notes I have on some things I’ve seen thus far.

Prey (2017) Emails

I like how you can interact with touchscreens. Also, this particular substory gets a bit interesting.

Graphic Design

Much of the graphic design is similar to that of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with its cleanness, but with a bit more neo-art deco typography like BioShock. It does its best in being as uncluttered as possible, which is not easy in a game that has a lot of text and lore.

But perhaps it doesn’t have as much of that distinctness that makes me latch on like Deus Ex: Human Revolution (as you can see from this web design). In fact, I’m watching a let’s play video series of Astral Chain for the Nintendo Switch (Woolie VS), and I actually like how it looks more than new Prey (I’m not calling it Prey 2).

Inventory Management

The inventory looks and feels pretty good, although the mechanic for moving items around could have been better. It’s likely a compromise Arkane took to accommodate console players, but I would’ve liked it more if items could be moved around with the mouse instead of the arrow keys, which forces me to move either my left or right hand away from its usual position.

Yes, I can do that easily enough, but it’s slower and slightly less convenient. Pardon me for being pedantic.

Prey (2017) Inventory

Inventory management in this game is a notch below old school Resident Evil in difficulty.

Character Models

You see enough NPC models in this game and realize their faces were most likely made from a common template. They look different enough in their character portraits (seen on screen when playing audio logs), but they then have the same wrinkled face with different hair and skin color. Maybe that’s because most of them are dead.

The only ones that look the most different are the people like Alex Yu and the guy serving as the chef in the kitchen. However, the stories you dig up during your exploration from emails, notes, journal entries, and audio logs make up for that physical sameness.

Skills and Abilities

One of the main challenges in the game is acquiring Neuromods to gain skills and abilities that make gameplay easier. Take note that while you may eventually get them all of you put all your resources into crafting Neuromods (and scanning all the Typhons to unlock all the alien powers), Morgan is still a squishy human being who can get smeared into paste by even mimics if you’re not careful.

Prey (2017) Combat

These guys are like vortigaunts in Half-Life, but way more dangerous.

Even on its easiest difficulty, the enemies can kill you easily if you’re not careful, even with all the ammunition and healing items you’d ever want. You can spam medkits, suit repair kits, food, and psi hypos all you want, but it only works to your detriment later on if you don’t conserve your resources.

Prey 2017 is a survival horror game with RPG elements, but you don’t ever become a god. Even if you can do everything, you’ll find it hard to fight the bigger enemies, incredibly difficult to kill a Typhon nightmare, and impossible to kill the really big Typhon at the end of the game.

Prey (2017) Neuromods

This gets even harder to decide on in Survival mode and higher difficulties.

Prey (2017) Hacking

Fuck this hacking minigame. Perhaps the hardest one I’ve ever experienced in any game.

Comparison with Old Prey from 2006

The trailer for this remake raised a lot of eyebrows as the shift of premise from contemporary Native Americans being abducted by aliens to fighting aliens in a space station. It was quite the tonal shift, but there being 11 years between the two games made it forgivable.

Prey 2006

Oh man, this aspect ratio. I played this back in the day on a 5:4 CRT monitor.

But the old Prey was more like a corridor shooter like Doom 3, all the way to the dark lighting. The new Prey is more like a metroidvania BioShock with plenty of side objectives in an indoor setting with much better lighting and interior design. There are still dark places in new Prey, but they’re a lot more sporadic.

Also, this space station is not dreary to look at for a change.

The addition of stealth mechanics, however rudimentary, makes gameplay in new Prey mode varied. Since ammunition and healing items are scarce, you’d want to be able to sneak past encounters if necessary. 

The one thing old Prey has over new Prey is having mirrors that actually show reflections. The trailer for new Prey showed Morgan looking at his bloodshot eye, but the actual game doesn’t look like it has mirrors at all. That’s a bit disappointing, but not a total deal breaker.

Conclusion

It’s not a perfect 10, but it makes a very good case as an 8 or 9. Perhaps what will make me score it a 9 out of 10 is if my next playthrough in Survival mode will actually make every major thing click for me.

The only thing that keeps it from achieving absolute perfection in my eyes is my yearning for more attachment to the non-player characters (like Danielle Sho). If it had even more dialogue options and other ways to interact, it would’ve been even better for me.

However, that would’ve added even more development time, which wasn’t possible with this game beyond what it got. Maybe the Prey: Mooncrash DLC will satisfy that craving. But for now, I’ll leave it here or this will turn into a 5,000-word post.

Got Feedback?

Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.

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RetroCon 2019 in Lucky Chinatown Mall — Vintage AF

RetroCon 2019 in Lucky Chinatown Mall

Back in August 4, I had nothing else to do and I needed to test my DSLR as a vlogging rig. So, I just swung by Lucky Chinatown Mall, which is a 10-minute walk from my place, and filmed whatever I could in RetroCon 2019 at the lobby for just over an hour. The resulting vlog was interesting in a number of ways, and I’d like to talk about it here. (more…)

Role Queue is an Interesting Way to Balance Overwatch

Overwatch Role Queue

Overwatch is still a fairly important game to me, even if I tend to hurl verbal trash at it these days. I still play it with my friends whenever I can. Competitive play doesn’t really make me as salty as it does other people, but all the big changes it goes through over the years did make me uncomfortable. This planned change is perhaps the biggest one to date and it can change how the game is played, for better and for worse. (more…)

Apparently, I Wasted Time Having Played Mirror’s Edge

Mirror's Edge Time Trial

This is a personal gaming story from a long time ago, back in simpler times when Electronic Arts was slightly less deplorable than it is now. It was from the late 2000s to the early 2010s when EA actually started putting out original IPs and made gamers believe again, and one of those titles was Mirror’s Edge. (more…)

A Brief Look at Etika and the Venus Project (Not That One)

Etika and Venus Project Founder Jacque Fresco

The suicide of Daniel Desmond Amofah, better known as Etika, has become a hot topic a few weeks ago. As his personal belongings, and then his body, were found along the East River, more information on his mental state and prior activities were brought to light, including his membership in an organization I first heard of in an infamous series of documentaries. (more…)

Canelo Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs — Red-Headed Problem

Canelo Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs

It took me a while to find a way to watch Canelo Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs, but my patience was rewarded as I got to watch a pretty high level fight with two world champions vying for middleweight supremacy. The story was mostly Daniel Jacobs trying to find a way to get through this brick wall known as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The solutions he tried to employ to do that were interesting, but to no avail. (more…)

Mulling Over Changing Review Scores

Reviews: Good or Bad?

Reviews on this blog seem like a farce now, or at least I think so. I try to make them as comprehensive and systematic as possible, but I also get lazy with writing each one and don’t do enough of them. When I think about a lot of the old reviews, I feel regret. In this blog post, I talk about rethinking my review process, wanting to change scores of past reviews, and coming to terms with being bad at this critique thing. (more…)

Avengers: Endgame Review — The End of a Beginning

Avengers: Endgame

One of the most unique experiences I’ve had in a cinema was the end of Avengers: Infinity War. The palpable silence that followed, with everyone in the theater wondering if the movie was really over and the Avengers really lost was quite something. Unlike what I feel about whatever follows Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I was actually excited about this one. I had not been able to write a review on Avengers: Infinity War, so I’ll make up for it by doing this one. (more…)

Theorycrafting on DIY Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray

This took me time to write, but I thought I had to say something about do-it-yourself self-defense solutions like this. Commercial solutions tend to be expensive and specialized, so it’s more of a chore to carry them around and replacing them when they’re no longer fresh, whether it’s stun guns or pepper spray. In this post, let’s talk about the latter, specifically a DIY version of it. (more…)

MIAS 2019 — I Test Cars by Pretending to Be a Dead Body

MIAS 2019

Having been enjoying making vlogs so far this year, I decided to look up every single event I could possibly attend. The first non-geek thing I saw was the Manila International Auto Show, which I last went to back in 2013. I went with my friend Jilbert, who’s more of a car guy, and stayed there for over 3 hours or so, then went home. What followed was two weeks of editing hell I put myself through. (more…)

GameCon PH 2019 — Late Post is Late

GameCon PH 2019

For the third year in a row, I was able to attend GameCon PH. While I wasn’t able to post the vlog on last year’s event, I still got invited as media somehow. I’m quite thankful that this winky dinky blog somehow gets taken a bit seriously in that regard, even as the event continues to grow. It’s now definitely one of the premier gaming conventions in the country, and I hope they grow even larger. (more…)