A Special Time Of The Year

Every year on the 25th of December comes a day that we like to call Christmas, or maybe you call it “Xmas.” Though every year around this time I ask myself, “What is Christmas?”

Seriously, what is Christmas, what are we celebrating, and why? You have to ask yourself these question. Do you celebrate Christmas to exchange gifts, to spend time with friends and family, or is it to celebrate Jesus’ birthday?

Personally, in my family we try to do all of these, we exchange gifts, get together with friends and family and even celebrate Jesus’ birthday, but that seems to be a lower priority when I think about it.

This Christmas I want to haveĀ  more focus on celebrating the birthday of Jesus. Though, how can I do it?

1) Go to Church

Most churches have a Christmas service and there you will be worshiping Him, learning about Him, and celebrating Him! Church is a perfect way to start off your Christmas. Seriously, its only an hour or two of your morning. Do not debate whether or not to go, just go!

2) Read from the Bible

Get together with your family and friends for 10 minutes and read some bible verses and do a devotion in relation to Jesus’ birth. This way you will learn the true meaning of Christmas!

3) Have Christmas Spirit

Simple, decorate your house, do some Christmas baking, put up a Christmas tree and be happy. Just participate in the celebration of Jesus’ birthday!

On your birthday people celebrate, they give you gifts, they focus more on you. Why not do the same for Jesus, include Him in your day as I am on His birthday!

Here is my Christmas tree!

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Modern Warfare 3: Review

Developer: Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer games
Publisher: Activision

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Canada:

Xbox 360: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

PS3: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

PC:Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

US:

Xbox 360: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

PS3: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

PC: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Overview
Another great release by Activision. Each new Call of Duty breaks records for games sold and pre-orders year after year. It’s clear that there’s a massive fanbase behind this amazing franchise, so does this years game live up to the high expectations?

Gameplay
From the start, this is just typical Call of Duty. The same feel, the same look, and one I can only tell to be the same engine. It works, it’s that ‘CoD Style’ that they’ve kept recurring. It’s a tried and tested formula that does the job, but the lack of innovation is a disappointment.
Tweaks have been made to sections, but if you were to blindfold someone, load up modern warfare 3, enter a multiplayer game, remove their blind fold and let them play. I can guarantee that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to tell which game they were playing (Other than the changes in the navigation system etc). I really don’t like seeing companies stay within the safety zone just for the sake of selling games. The game has been in development for nearly two years, but there hasn’t been two years worth of development made.

But despite these negatives, I’ve still enjoyed the game, I’ve never been sat thinking that this is a flawed game. A lot of time has obviously been put in designing new guns and levels. The guns feel more balanced and there is a big selection to choose from, a lot of time has obviously been put into creating realistic feeling weaponry. Character movements feel as slick as ever, but not too different to what we’ve saw from the other Call of Duty games. Nothing is flawed, everything that’s there is good, but it was great two years ago. By this I mean that the improvements that were made towards modern warfare 2, have not been replicated again here.
Singleplayer
I like to view Call of Duty campaigns as a high budget, over the top action movie. That way you know what you’re going to get, you know what to expect and nothing should really disappoint you. Because that’s all it really is, over the top sequence after over the top sequence creating an equally over the top plot. It works if you’re into that kind of thing, which I thankfully am. Anybody buying this shouldn’t expect a realistic reenactment of modern war. Instead you have a fast paced action paced 5-6 hours that follows a plot set in the not too distant future. It gets you connecting to what’s going on around you fairly well, due to it being set in familiar surroundings. In one mission you’ll be in the streets of New York city, surrounded by a war. Later you’ll be in the streets of London, this connection to what’s happening due to it being so familiar helps you connect to the story much more. At one point there’s a shocking terrorist attack involving pedestrians in London, I’ll not say any more, but it’s a testament to how far they’ll go for shock value, thankfully they pull it off and it fits in well.

From the start it’s clear that a lot of time has been put into the level design of the singleplayer missions. The cities you fight through look incredibly detailed, and they’ve really tried to capture the essence of the country you’re fighting in. Unfortunately at times the cities look a little too cliche, sections of London look like you’re fighting in Medieval times in the most extreme circumstances. Other than that, your surrounding areas are terrific, there are little shortcuts where you can try to flank your enemies and the level layout really fits hand in hand with the overall feel of the game.

As I’ve mentioned, the campaign only takes around 5-6 hours, and this was playing on veteran. While it’s no surprise to see a shooter with such a short campaign, it makes the story feel rushed towards the end. Whilst they build up the story and get you connected to the likes of Captain Price fairly well (Keeping recurring characters from older games worked well) the ending feels rushed, considering how well they build it up. They try hard to keep variating the gameplay style, you’ll often be prompted with sections where you breach into a room, often to save a hostage of some sort. There’s some stealth sections, you’ll be in the gunner seat of an AC130 at times, at times you’ll be in a jeep using your primary weapon to try and gun down enemies and you’ll find yourself rappelling quite often. This kept the game feeling enjoyable for me, rather than just being given a corridor to shoot down they atleast try to mix things up a bit.
Multiplayer
When I got home with my copy of Modern Warfare 3, the first thing I tried out was the online. I got into a lobby right away, I selected my class, got into the game and started looking around. It honestly didn’t seem to different from all of the other Call of Duty franchise. This was until I quickly came into contact with my first enemy, and I soon noticed how wrong I was to judge it like that. They’ve turned the multiplayer into a much harsher environment in my eyes, the damage given from guns and in conjunction the time taken to kill an enemy has changed quite dramatically. Whereas before, honest players who would move from room to room, using standard guns would feel at a disadvantage to those using the overpowered weapons that we’re all familiar with, the game feels like anyone can kill anyone else regardless of weapon. Of course your shotgun isn’t going to win a long range battle against a sniper. But whereas before, close range battles could be won using unrealistic tactics with snipers or shotguns, any player with their wits about them can take them out with any gun. Suddenly the game feels much more influenced by your level of skill, not the class you have equipped.

After a few more games it became clear that I was really satisfied with what I was seeing and playing. Compared to before where you’d see games dominated by those using cheaper tactics, it felt like a completely level playing field in a way. There’s the standard large selection of guns, attachments, camo’s, perks and explosives to keep you busy for a long time. Each weapon is going to suit a different style of play differently rather than having one or two ‘super weapons’ being used by everyone. A big addition is ‘strike packages’ rather than killstreaks. Before, players would be rewarded with killstreak rewards such as choppers and airstrikes for getting kills without dying, but of-course this would motivate players to play selfishly and not help out the team. Straight away this is being combated. There are three different strike packages, assault support and specialist. Assault is in the classic style, your killstreak ends when you die but the rewards are much more satisfying. Support caters for the more teamwork orientated player, instead of being gifted with massive choppers, you gain rewards that help your team. Such as advanced UAV, extra body armor etc. But what’s different here is that your streak doesn’t reset when you die, which stops you from focusing on not dying, and more on helping out your team complete your objective. The specialist package rewards the player with more perks, turning them into a super-solider so to say by the end. A new feature that again tries to point players in the direction of team play, is that you’re gifted the equivalent of a kill on your killstreak for capturing objectives. All of these bring in their own unique dimension to playing the game, and stop the game from feeling a bit stale when you’re gaining the same killstreak rewards over and over again.
The maps are varied between size and are all from locations from the singleplayer mode, but in what feels like a new fault for a Call of Duty game, they feel very tied down. By tied down I mean that you aren’t so free to climb over everything, climb onto sections of the map or take shortcuts. Instead there are a lot of invisible walls blocking you off, and this felt like a quick way of blocking glitches where the player would have an unfair advantage over others due to the spot they’ve gotten into. The only other real flaw I found was week one teething issues with the servers. At times it would take five minutes to get into a game due to disconnection to the host in the lobby and a few other problems. This only got worse when playing with a party. There is also the problem of ‘lag compensation’, where the host feels more lag than others to compensate the difference in connection quality. Again, these only currently feel like teething problems and I’m sure they’ll get patched up with time, but I wish they weren’t there from the start.

Ontop of all of the replayability within the competitive multiplayer, there’s also spec-ops mode, which features survival and mission mode. Spec-ops is only playable with two players which I found disappointing, it could’ve been fantastic to organize your way through missions as a four player squad, or to try and survive with four players but still. The mission mode is the same as the one featured in Modern Warfare 2, the player has a set amount of missions, often in similar locations to those found in the campaign to go through with a partner, with varied levels of difficulty. Spec-ops survival is the new mode, you can choose through any of the multiplayer maps, but instead of reaching an objective or facing off against other players, you need to survive against incoming enemies. Sounds like a simple concept, but they’ve bought in the same leveling system from the competitive multiplayer, meaning that to reach the higher levels you’ll want to keep playing and leveling up and unlocking more guns. You’ll be fighting against normal ground troops, dogs, enemies covered in C4, helicopters, Juggernauts and other enemies. It gets busy in the later rounds and it’s fun to try and navigate it with a partner, using teamwork and communication to help eachother stay alive. Spec-ops is a great addition and brings in even more replayability to the game, but again it’s disappointing to have just two player co-op.