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The Mega Ultra Epic Tutorial for Black Ops 2 Load-outs

Sun, 01/13/2013 - 21:46 — Fetal

O.K. boys and girls, this is the second of three installments in the CoD: BlOps tutorials. This time we’ll be focusing on the Perks, Wildcards, Equipment and various set-ups for certain play-style guaranteed to improve your Kill/Death ratios subsequently increasing your Win/Loss ratios.

I’d first like to make a correction about something I said in the first tutorial. A bit of the information on the SMGs is incorrect. I said the PDW and the MSMC had high rates of fire, and the MP7 and the Chicom didn't. This is actually in reverse. The PDW has the slowest rate of fire for the SMGs with the MSMC right behind it. Surprisingly the Chicom has one of the faster rates of fire. What I meant to say though, was Damage per Second. Given the same amount of time when pulling the trigger the PDW and the MSMC, compared to all other SMGs, have the highest ratio for this stat. This is good, and means these weapons are the best for their niche.

O.K. I’m done apologizing and it’s time for us to get onto the nitty-gritty of this article. Let’s begin with the Perks.

Perk 1’s

These are the things everyone uses to specialize their FPS gaming avatar. Some combinations of perks work better than others, and we’ll get to that at the end, but I think we’ll begin just by explaining and rating the various perks.

Lightweight: This is one of the more useful perks, and is essential for many specialized classes. I’d say it’s one of the top two perks in the “Perk 1” category. This essentially gives you an extra movement point, allowing you to shave off some of that weight for longer, and quicker runs. The best part of this perk is the lack of fall damage. You could drop from the highest spot on the map, Yemen, and take no damage. That’s pretty handy.

Hardline:This is a middle of the road perk. If you’re having a hard time getting to your 2nd and 3rd level kill-streaks consistently, this might be your ticket, but the lowering of the points required of kill-streaks is kind of low. You’d do better off with something else. I tend to only use this with low-kill classes (at least for me) like a sniper.

Blind Eye: Blind Eye makes you undetectable by things like Choppers, Escort Drones, and the Warthog. If you like to shoot things down out of the sky, then you should probably run this perk. This is a useful perk to have only if the team you play with isn't as cohesive as some of the players who've been running together for years now. Generally this perk is a waste when I play with some of my regular groups of guys because we have a tendency to not allow a lot of kill-streaks by the other team. This isn't because we’re really good individually, but because we talk to each other, and if we’re killed by one person, we can be reasonably sure someone else will clean up our mess. If your team can pull this off, there is no reason you should run a class with this perk all the time. It might be a good idea to have one set-up on the side though just in case someone gets one of those monster kill-streaks out. Just switch classes after you die and you’re immune to the fire from the sky.

Flak Jacket: Tied for the best 1st perk with Lightweight, this perk is incredibly useful. Unless you’re stuck with a crossbow bolt, a sticky grenade, or standing on top of C4, explosives won’t affect you. Since almost everyone uses grenades in this game, and often, you’ll find yourself living a lot longer if you run with this perk. This goes great with Tactical Mask, a perk we’ll talk about later.

Ghost: I’m not a fan of how Treyarch nerfed ghost, but it still has its uses. Ghost essentially makes you invisible to UAVs as long as you’re moving, planting a bomb, or manually using a kill-streak. It shines for run and gunners, but not against any team that has a decent amount of skill and calls out enemy positions. It is extremely useful in Free-for-All games where you’ll see tons of UAVs being spammed into the sky.

Perk 2’s

Toughness: This is by far the best perk in my opinion. You’re going to get shot at a lot in this game, and unless you’re Casper the Ghost those bullets are going to hit you. When you get hit, your aim is always put off by making your HUD flinch up dramatically. Toughness doesn't stop the flinching, but it does still give you a chance to pull your reticle back to your target. This perk is essential for every class but snipers.

Cold Blooded:This perk takes your name off of your character making it harder for the enemy to spot you. Anything that focuses on locking onto your body now doesn't have the ability to do so. I use this perk a lot in public games. If I were playing against a really good team I wouldn't use it because, like Ghost, they’d know where I was anyway. But against the random rabble in match-making, cold blooded is extremely useful. This goes well with a “Ghosty” SMG class, and is absolutely essential for snipers.

Fast Hands: This perk is fun to use in conjunction with Flak Jacket and Tac Mask. It allows you to pick up grenades thrown at you and reset their timer and throw it back at the other team. It also allows you to switch weapons, and use your equipment faster. Very useful perk, but it’s misunderstood because of how it’s been in previous iterations of CoD. This perk no longer has anything to do with how long it takes you to ADS on a weapon. Typically you’ll see this on sniper classes or classes with the Overkill Wildcard.

Hardwired: This is probably the second worse perk, and is almost totally useless. It makes you, not your kill-streaks, not your teammates, but you only, immune of the effects of Counter-UAVs, and EMPs. If you need the radar on your HUD in order to play, you might consider using this, but if you play with a group of people who know the maps well and make call-outs, there shouldn't be much use for the radar. It’s only a useful crutch.

Scavenger: This is a specialized perk. This allows you to replenish your load-outs by picking up packages from dead enemies who haven’t been killed by explosives. I’ve not had the opportunity to use this very much, but when I did it really only made sense to use it on a class where I had no secondary weapon selected. By doing this I don’t have to worry about running out of ammo. This is a middle of the pack kind of perk.

Perk 3’s

This is the best collection of useful perks. Only one of these is crap, and we’ll get to it…

Dexterity: This perk allows you to aim faster after sprinting and climb faster. This is essential for “speedy” classes. Top 3 perk in all of the game.

Extreme Conditioning: This makes you run farther. This is also essential for those speedy classes like SMGs and Shotguns. You can do without it because most of the maps are relatively small. Long runs aren't ever really an issue. It’s still very useful all-around.

Engineer: This perk allows you to see enemy equipment on the maps, delay triggering explosives and reroll care packages. Attention all shot-gunners! You need this perk. As a shot gunner, you’re going to be running all over God’s green earth trying to chase down enemies to pop ‘em in the face. Don’t allow those things like shock charges, Betties and claymores get you down. Run with engineer and all will be O.K. You’ll be astonished at how many times you can surprise some sniper who has set-up myriad traps around his location to protect his flanks. You can also call out spots of enemy equipment to your team helping them avoid those trapped areas. You could also run a care package kill-streak and engineer would help tremendously, but I don’t recommend it to shot-gunners because they shouldn't be stopping anywhere to toss and wait for packages.

Tactical Mask: This perk reduces the effects of tactical equipment like concussions and the like. Combined with Flak Jacket and Engineer, you effectively become a tank impervious to all equipment and a few kill-streaks as well. This works well for people who like to hold down rooms or hallways. Eventually someone on the other team will toss in a flash grenade and come charging after it only to find you ready and waiting. This is the camper’s perk of choice, and it isn’t a bad one.

Dead Silence: Limited in scope, all dead silence does is silence your footsteps. This would probably be a more useful perk if everyone on XBOX Live used Headsets. As it is, I like using it on my Shotgun classes with Engineer, but you could get by with never using it.

Awareness: Say hello! This is the worst perk in BlOps II. Awareness allows the other team’s footsteps to become louder so presumably you can tell from where they’re coming. That’s nice in theory, but this perk is dominated by Dead Silence. Someone using Dead Silence is immune to your Awareness perk. Add to the fact that Awareness isn’t totally reliable (I’ve noticed that when I’m ADS on a gun, sounds seem to come from totally different directions than when I’m out of ADS mode), and you’re left with a bunk perk.

Wildcards: These can be fun, and I routinely use at least one wildcard on every class I have, but you must be aware of their most glaring deficiency; they take up a slot on their own. I’ll just assume everyone’s familiar with the various Perk Wildcards which just give you an extra perk from each individual slot. They are the most useful of the wildcards.

There are some rules I have for equipping them. Remember, you are losing a slot when you use one, so you need to prioritize what you’re going to get rid of to make room for that slot, especially if you plan on using more than one of them. I’ve run with 3 before, just for kicks. You have to ditch all attachments to do so, but it can be done.

The first to go should always be any attachment your secondary weapon has. Then you should consider losing one tactical grenade, and then the next. Your secondary weapon should follow (you can always pick one up later) and in turn you should lose the lethal, and then all attachments on your primary weapon.

Overkill: This is the only one besides one of the greed wildcards that I’ll occasionally use. I like to put it on my sniper or shield class; two classes which could use a little help from an extra primary weapon.

The “Gunfighters”- These both give you an extra attachment for your weapons. They’re absolutely useless and doubly a waste of a wildcard. Not Only do you lose a slot, you only get a weapon attachment. Not a good trade off.

Tactician: This is a pointless wildcard. Not only are you wasting a slot by using a wild card, you’re taking away your lethal equipment. No equipment is as important as your lethal. A concussion is nice, but you still have to shoot the guy you hit. With a lethal, you get a kill in exchange for an equipment; not 1 equipment and some bullets! Leave this alone.

Danger Close: Not bad, but you’d be better off just leaving it alone. 2 tactical grenades are better than 2 lethals and the loss of a slot.

Equipment

No class is complete without some form of equipment. I tend to run with lethals only, preferring to use my slots for wildcard perks, but all equipment has its place in the pantheon of CoD. None of these are particularly bad, but some are better than others. Only one of them strikes me as being weak, but it still has some value.

Lethals

Frags: These are my lethal of choice. The ability to time, or “cook,” the grenade, and its range, make this the most versatile of all the equipment. You can also bank these around corners or cook them long enough, throw them over some obstacle, and have them explode in mid-air above your target. Talk about a surprise.

Semtex, or Sticky Grenades: Some people like these because they’re throw and forget weapons. They land where you throw them and blow up 2 seconds after they stick to whatever surface you throw at. The problem with this is 2 seconds is enough time for people to move away from them, lessening their effective kill power. Frags are much better because you can cook them, throw them, and have them detonate immediately when they land.

Combat Axe: Some people like this because it’s silent and reusable. It is also extremely difficult to use. It does bounce off of hard objects and has some leeway when aiming vertically, but when your target moves left to right, you’re often just guessing when you throw it.

Bouncing Betty: Besides the grenades, this is probably the most used lethal in the game. It has its weaknesses though. It “bounces” up before it explodes, so better players will always be able to avoid it. It is also hackable by people who run Blackhat equipment, which makes it a threat to your own team as well.

C4: This is the most powerful explosive in the game. In the right hands this can destroy defensive positions. Its range is limited to about 1/3 the throw distance of the regular grenades, but the trade off in power is worth it. It can be planted in place in games like Search and Destroy and Demolition where it would be most useful, or it can be thrown around the map willy-nilly in TDM games.

Claymores If I was to use a planted explosive this would be my choice. If a person with the Engineer perk runs straight at a claymore, they’ll still die. The explosion won’t delay long enough for them to pass it.

Tactical

Concussion: This slows enemies down when it explodes near them. They have no timer on them and explode whenever they hit the ground. They are probably the most useful tactical grenades in the game. They always have been, and I see no reason why this hasn't changed.

Smoke: Useful for objective games, especially if you have guys running cold-blooded and someone on your team is running with the MMS scope. It does what it says, smokes the joint up…it also lasts a bit longer than previous CoD titles and is quite thicker than those titles.

Sensor Grenades: This is probably the weakest equipment. It only lasts for a few seconds and is limited in scope. You need to throw it into the most open area available, but when you do, it’s quite obvious where, and what it is. I generally just shoot them so they die off even quicker.

EMP Grenades:These have the shortest range of the “thrown” tactical as they explode in less than 2 seconds. They’re good at getting rid of those pesky ground dwelling kill streaks.

Shock Charges: You see these in every game. EVERY GAME!! They’re overused and overvalued. In order for it to be useful at all, you have to watch them. Unfortunately as soon as you stop paying attention, or you’ve lost them as flank cover, you’re vulnerable. Where these do shine is as slow tempo equipment. Use yours to protect not you, but the guy on your flank. If he dies, (hopefully he’ll tell you about it) the shock charge will slow the guy down who killed him and give you time to cover his position until he, or someone else, comes to take that position back over.

Black Hat: I’ll be honest, I don’t use this. I don’t like sitting still in the same position for too long, and any equipment that forces me to stop completely for a few seconds is not my cup of tea. Plus, what need have I of a Black Hat if I’m running Engineer or Flak Jacket? Some people dig it though, and I’m not knocking it. I’m just not fond of it.

Flash Bang: These are kind of like the Concussion Grenades, but are quite limited in scope and range. They do exactly what they say, they “flash,” or blind the person for a couple of seconds making them almost harmless. Notice I said “almost.” When I get flashed I do one of 2 things; If I’m in an enclosed area, I just start wildly firing, and have killed many people who think I’m an easy mark, I also try to remember where I am on the map and try to feel my way to a safer area. Since I know the maps pretty well, this works a lot, and the flash they just used on me becomes a waste. You can still get kills using it, but just recognize your kill percentage drops from the higher plateau of the Concussion Grenade. This tactical also has a severe drawback. It’s on a timer. As soon as it leaves your hand it’s on a timer of about 1.5 to 2 seconds. I’m too lazy to time it exactly, but it’s about that. The concussions can travel as far as you throw them, flashes have limited range.

Trophy System: These are invaluable in Domination, Headquarters, and Demolition games. They stop lethal and tactical grenades from exploding on your position and give you those extra minutes to cap a point or plant a bomb. They are very useful for team play and at least one person on your team should use it. They tend to be useless in TDM and FFA games, so they are game-type specific.

Tactical Insertions: These are probably my favorite. They work well in any game-type effectively allowing you to hold a position longer. They have an element of surprise to them because they allow you to spawn in an area that isn’t a spawn. The draw back to them is an Engineer runner knows where you put them and sometimes you’ll die twice really quickly. Generally people camp out the place where you put the insert and wait for your death, scoring a cheap kill for themselves. This is probably the second most useful Tactical equipment in the game.

USEFUL SET-UPS

This is the part of the article I know you’re all anxious to see. What are some useful load-outs to run, and why would you run them? Do they fit your play-style? I’ll post three different classes for three different kinds of players.

The Run-and-Gun Type

This is the class I use. I’m too impatient to sit still in BlOps 2. In the past I used to be a “hold-line- type of player, but I’ve found that this game needs a different style of play for players to be effective. Generally I run an SMG with this type of class.

I’m partial, as you know, to the MSMC with long barrel and fast-mags. I use the Tac-45 as my secondary weapon. My first perk is Lightweight and the second is Toughness. I use a wildcard for an extra perk #3, and add Dexterity and Extreme Conditioning. For my last slot I use the Frag grenade, or C4 as my lethal, generally the latter.

The Hold-the-Line Type

Generally these guys don’t run around as much. They like to be as versatile as possible, so they won’t sit still, but they like to keep the spawns as static as they can. They’ll use assault rifles and here is one of the easier classes to use.

Use the M27 Assault rifle with Quickdraw and a scope of some kind (red dot for this weapon, it doesn’t have the greatest range). Use any easy to use, up close pistol as a secondary. The KAP-40 is probably the best choice. You’re going to want Flak Jacket as your first perk, so you can keep holing your position if you need to. You’ll want to use a wildcard for your second perk giving you toughness and cold-blooded. You need the Toughness for those medium range battles and the Cold-Blooded to help not be an obvious target for snipers at longer ranges. Dexterity should be your third perk allowing you the ability to aim even quicker on the run from one position to the next. As a lethal you’ll need a Frag or Sticky Grenade, or maybe even a Tac-Insert, depending on how important it is for your team to hold that position.

The I-Own-This-Section-of-the-Map-Come-Hell-or-High-Water type

Generally these guys, and there’s no shame if you’re this type of player, camp the hell out of a position. Every team needs one of these guys who make sure a flank is protected properly and allows his team to focus elsewhere. Generally these guys are machine-gunners who either lie prone a lot in a semi-open position, or choke-point. Here’s the easiest set-up.

You’ll want to run with an MK-48 with a sight of some sort or FMJ. No other attachment is needed. Your first perk absolutely must be Flak Jacket. You have no choice in the matter. The second perk has to be Toughness as well. No choice. You want to rule an area; you need to be able to shoot well when being shot at. As a third perk you must have Tactical Mask. You need to limit the effect tactical grenades will have on you. Semtex is the lethal to use. The two seconds it gives you when you throw it to close off an area is priceless when on the reload. That grenade acts as a barrier and keeps the other team from rushing you. You now only have 7 slots chosen. You could go any number of ways with the final 3, but instead of loading up on attachments, I’m going to show you another way to go. One way is to address how slow this class is. It’ll take you FOREVER to get where you’re going as is. So fix it. Use a perk 1 Wildcard and give yourself Lightweight. Then use the Overkill Wildcard and give yourself a secondary LMG like the LSAT.

Congratulations, you’re now a powerhouse tank with some mobility. You have the ability to use a grenade to reload if you have to, and if you don’t have the time, you can switch weapons and keep up 200 rounds of uninterrupted fire. Just NASTY

I’ve been doing some research on the Web, specifically YouTube, and I found a couple of videos saying the Fore-grip attachment is essentially useless and only has a placebo effect. I decided I’d do as some of the videos suggested and try this out on my own. I found this is true for a few weapons, but it does have some uses for other guns. The Fore-grip doesn't really improve un-aimed accuracy. You can fire against a wall with unassisted aim (not trying to keep your weapon on target) and there generally seems to be no difference in the spread of the weapon. But if you look at the videos, you’ll notice something I don’t think they noticed with quite a few of the weapons. The grip didn’t change the accuracy, but it did change the action of the weapon. A weapon like the PDW always kicked up and to the right or left. The spread was always the same, a generally straight line either way. But when you add the fore-grip, the gun reliably keeps the same spread but goes more vertical, effectively making adjusting the aim easier. The reason this makes it easier to aim is because now all you have to do is pull down on your right thumb-stick (up for me because I play inverted). Just pulling down to adjust aim is much easier than holding left or right. This is because the shape of a body is vertical. Generally vertical shots have a greater chance of hitting their target than horizontal shots. With horizontal fire you’re going to miss a significant amount of shots trying to get that kill. This isn’t true with all of the weapons, but with some it has a significant improvement, much like the laser sight.

O.K. We’re done with another installment of my tutorial on CoD: BlOps. Next week will be the final installment and it will deal with various ways to play the game and win, with, or without a team. Others have done this with various games (our own F1R3 has done this for Halo. Excellent article, I highly recommend people read it), and the same rules generally apply but I think it needs to be said again. I’ll also answer any questions you might have. So until next week, Too-da-loo, M#th$f&ck*rs!

In case you missed Part 1, don't forget to check it out! Stay tuned for Part 3

The Mega Ultra Epic Tutorial for Black Ops 2 Weapons

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 11:54 — Fetal

Take a look at our insanely in depth overview of all guns from Modern Warfare: Black Ops 2 from our own community members of the 2old2shoot clan.  Fetal goes over everything you'll need to know to make on the battlefield.  

Every year I do one of these informational guides for a Call of Duty page. This year’s going to be different. I’m going to focus on 3 sections of Call of Duty gameplay in three different articles; one a week. I’d like to add a precursor that the comment section of this article is not meant to flame Activision for their faulty connection issues. It’s true most people are having a harder time maintaining the kill/death ratios they enjoyed in Modern Warfare 3 and earlier versions of the CoD franchise. What I’ve noticed though, by looking at friend’s ratios is that generally everyone has maintained the same stats relative to others. I had a 2.32 in MW3, and a 2.5 in BlOps. I maintain a 1.8 which is steadily improving as I learn the spawns. Almost everyone I know has lost .4-.5 of their K/D, so when compared to others, we’re still all relatively equal.

The first installment of this guide will attempt to improve your K/D’s and your Win/Loss ratios by better informing you of weapon benefits and weaknesses, and what attachments have the most impact on weapon improvement. We’ll begin with SMGs, and move to LMGs, Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Snipers, Pistols and Launchers and Specials. So let’s not waste time and begin.

A few quick tips —reloading (don’t let your weapon run out of ammo…ever!) The reload time for a gun with an empty clip is about 1 second longer than is you reloaded with 1 bullet in the clip. Don’t get caught with your pants down in a fire fight, reload as often as you safely can. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but try to do so if you can help it.

            --- Aiming Down Sights will be referred to as ADS.

            --- Heads up display will be referred to as HUD.

 

SMGs

All SMG’s are designed for short to medium range kills. They tend to be easy to use and versatile. Some are better than others in different situations and some do better with certain attachments than others. My philosophy is to play to the strengths of each weapon, not make up for their deficiencies.

 

MP7- This weapon is the most accurate SMG available, but the trade-off for having this distinction is losing a bit in the rate of fire, and a lot in the damage department. Most SMGs are effective spray and pray weapons and as such they are easy to use. This one is a bit different. It is the second worse up close SMG mainly because of this lack of power and rate of fire. It does do well in those medium range encounters, but over all, this weapon is merely average. You can do better with almost any weapon in this category. The kick when hip firing is up and to the left. Adding a laser sight helps this, but because the weapon is weak up close, you’d be better served by adding a red dot sight for better accuracy in ADS and using a stock as well for faster strafing.

PDW-57- This SMG is one of my favorites. It has a really fast firing rate and a 50 round clip. I usually average 3 kills with this weapon because of the clip size. It suffers at medium range though because of the lack of accuracy. The kick is a severe up and to the left which is way more noticeable when ADS. This is the ultimate “n00b” gun. You don’t have to ADS at all if you run with the laser sight. The laser sight on this weapon makes it more accurate at 20 yards than an MP7 aiming down the sights. It’s absolutely ridiculous how good this second weapon you earn is. It is the second best SMG as long as you run with a laser sight. I often don’t run with a second attachment because this weapon doesn’t need one and you can use the extra slot for something else. If I were to use the second attachment I’d probably go with the fast mags for maximum kill potential in the shortest amount of time.

Vector K10- This weapon has the highest rate of fire of all the SMGs. It is meant solely for up close battles. This is, in my opinion, the worst SMG of the lot. It is really specialized as an up close weapon and doesn’t even do that as well as some other guns because of the power their bullets have. Did I mention the Vector has a weak bullet power rating? It does, and suffers for it. The gun kicks directly up and the laser sight improves the spread dramatically. The clip size is so small for such a weak weapon that you’re almost forced to run with quick mags, so both attachments are necessary to make this weapon useful. Stay away from this gun. It’s pointless.

MSMC- This is the best gun in the game. Each CoD game has an overpowered weapon. This is it for BlOps. It suffers from a small clip size (30) but makes up for it by being well-rounded and powerful. The weapon tends to kick up, and left and right, but it is so predictable and easy to control it almost matches the MP7 for accuracy. There is no need for laser sight on this weapon. I repeat, no need for laser sight. I see a lot of people running with one on this gun and it is a waste of an attachment. If you watch the video you’ll see the spread is hardly better with, than without. This is the only gun I use attachments to make up for deficiencies rather than exploiting strengths. It’s so powerful anyway it doesn’t need enhancing; only improving. I run two different set-ups with this gun. Both need fast mags because of the small clip size. One class is with silencer and fast mags, and the other is an all-around set up with long barrel and fast mags. The silencer is for my ghost class, and really improves my sneakiness. I run this only when the sky is spammed with UAVs. The other is perfect for everything else. You get great range with the long barrel. It helps make this gun as good as the Chicom for distances.

Chicom CQB- This is the only burst fire SMG, and as such it tends to suffer up close. If you’re hip firing it can take as many as three burst to down someone. Also, as a three burst weapon, it’s hard to gauge when this gun will run out of ammo. It works well for medium range though, and is devastating at that distance. There’s no reason to add switch fire for this weapon. You can spam the trigger almost as fast as you could if you had it, and it is more accurate this way. If you did want to run it up close, a laser sight would dramatically help the spam function, but I wouldn’t bother with it. This weapon is as specialized as the vector, but it does OK up close. Play to the strengths of this gun and put a red dot on it with long barrel. As an SMG it does great at medium distance, but you can do better with an assault rifle. The only real plus to having the Chicom is the movement speed you gain as an SMG class.

Scorpion Evo- Aside from the PDW, this is the most uncontrollable SMG. The problem with this is the laser sight doesn’t help. Even when in ADS, the gun is wildly inaccurate and it forces you to burst fire at distance. It’s the most powerful of the SMGs, but the MSMC is right behind it and is way more controllable. The only advantage the Scorpion has over the MSMC is 2 more bullets in the clip. 2. Pointless. If you were to add attachments, I’d add the fore grip. It is the only thing that makes this gun more stable.

 

Light Machine Guns

You are slow as all get out with these guns. The best thing to do is hold an area with them. The only problem is getting to that area. The spawns move so fast in this game, you might be headed to an area to hold it, and find yourself all alone because that place had already been taken by the enemy. If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of LMGs, but I have used them on occasion. I do alright if the map stays static, but as soon as things fall apart this class is at a distinct disadvantage. Almost all of these guns work well with the stock for faster strafing and almost all of them need the fore grip to control their fire. You will always been in ADS mode when using these guns, so some of them work well with scopes like the target finder and the red dot. I’d actually consider running the primary gunfighter and get that third attachment and add that sight with a couple of them. I’ll only mention when these attachments are pointless for the weapon. Most of them need to be run exactly the same.

Mk 48- OK, of course the first gun has no need for a fore grip. Being so accurate it also has no need for a sight. The iron sights are good enough. It is super accurate when ADS. Use a stock for quick strafing and maybe quick draw for the ability to ADS faster when you need it. It also has a clip size of 100, which is a good trade-off for the slight lack of power the gun has. You could also run this gun with no attachments and save some slots for some other perks.

 DBB LSW- This weapon fires fast. It also is super inaccurate. It needs that fore grip, and the iron sights are crap. The kick goes straight up and really fast. It’s uncontrollable without attachments. It also suffers from a small 75 round clip and a longer than average reload time.

LSAT- has good accuracy at medium range, tends to spray lower right and upper left in ADS, but isn’t totally uncontrollable. The regular attachments mentioned above are all improvements. You could lose the fore grip and substitute a sight of some sort or add a quick draw handle instead. The iron sight’s not bad, but isn’t great either. It has 100 round clip.

HAMR- a lot of people swear by this LMG, but I’m not buying it. It does have great power, and can put people down pretty quickly, but the 75 round clip and the initial kick of the weapon does nothing to help it. The gun jumps straight up and down a lot, but always returns every fourth or fifth bullet to your initial aim spot. This would be fine if it killed in one shot, but it doesn’t. The time it takes for the gun to re-sight on target means almost everyone, especially guys with ARs, will kill you in between. The same attachments apply here.

 

Assault Rifles

These are the work-horses of CoD. Almost everyone uses them because they’re balanced at all ranges. They shine at medium distance, and tend to do decent in short and long-range encounters. You’re not going to win up close against an SMG very often with an AR, but at least you have a chance. Some of the single shot and burst ARs also have the ability to beat snipers at their own game. The attachment options are always open with these, and some do better with others.

MTAR- This is about as average an AR gets. It has decent power, decent accuracy and decent range. The kick is weird in that it’s circular and goes counter-clockwise. The circle isn’t large, but it does make for some interesting shots. Because this gun doesn’t do long range shots well, I’d focus on making it a better medium range weapon.

TYPE 25- The iron sights are bad and it suffers at medium range for two reasons.

1.)    The iron sights are bad

2.)    It has a lack of power for an AR.

I know people love this gun. They swear by it. It’s popular and has been likened to the famas of the first BlOps. It kills quickly up close because of its high rate of fire, but for its range and inaccuracy, SMGs are the way to go. There’s no point in running an SMG type weapon that suffers from a movement penalty like the ARs do. Some people believe the kick isn’t too bad, but when a weapon that is so underpowered for medium distance suffers any sort of inaccuracy, you’re at a disadvantage. If it was dead on balls accurate, I’d say it was the best gun in the game. As it is, it isn’t. The weapon needs attachments to specialize it for whatever scenario you have planned for it. To make up for the lack of inaccuracy, you need a sight. To make up for up close encounters, you need a laser-sight. To help in medium distance you need a quick-draw grip. Some people might say you can use FMJ to improve the power of the gun, but they really don’t understand how FMJ works. FMJ doesn’t add power to your bullets; it only allows your bullets to not lose power when shooting through objects. I’d choose a different gun. No matter how you customize this weapon, you’re making up for deficiencies and leaving other issues unaddressed.

SWAT-556- This is the M-16 of BLOPs 2. It has no real power but is accurate when fired. It is a burst weapon, so you might think three bullets should be enough to put someone down. It isn’t. It generally takes two trigger squeezes to accomplish its goal. This is because this gun is meant to be used at medium to long ranges; it suffers a bit at medium range though. I’d say this is the weakest AR. The select fire option does nothing to help it. It makes it wildly inaccurate, and with a 30 round clip inaccurate ain’t good. You need a sight to help make it as accurate as possible, but whatever else you add is up to you. Just say away from select fire (it’s worthless) and a laser sight (also pointless with this gun). This might be the weakest gun in the game because it does absolutely nothing well. At least the Vector is good up close.

FAL DSW- I love this gun, and use it almost exclusively when I choose an AR. It is devastating at a medium and long range, and you can spam the trigger fast enough to have a shot (albeit a small one) at winning up close. It is super accurate. So accurate it has ZERO kick! The iron sights aren’t the best, but they are workable, so there is no reason to have a sight, unless you’re playing hardcore when an acog might be a valid option. Select fire makes this gun a beast. There is a bit of a kick, but it is easily controlled as the kick is totally reliable and always moves up. If you’re in a spot where you have to unload a full clip on someone, you’d have probably lost the gun fight with any other weapon anyway. This weapon has power. It isn’t the most powerful weapon, the SMR has that distinction, but it is the best option for controllable, powerful firepower. The only drawback I can really see with this weapon is it can be hard for newer players to control. You have to be quick on the trigger when it’s single shot. There is a learning curve, but once you master it, you’ll see this gun trumps all other ARs, and is probably the second best in the game. The weak spot is the clip size. It has 25 bullets. This makes you HAVE to be accurate. You miss too many times and it’s over. The best attachments for this weapon are quickdraw (most important), extended mag and select fire. You can add a sight if you want, but in my opinion that’s just a waste.

M27- I see a lot of people running this as well. It is worth it and I’ll tell you why. This AR allows you to move faster and farther than the rest of the ARs. Test it out. You’ll see. It is basically a hybrid of an AR and an SMG. Fast movement, decent in up close encounters, and the range of an AR make it perfect for medium sized maps. It does suffer from a lack of bullet power, but it is more accurate than the TYPE 25 and moves faster too. Not a bad trade off in my opinion. The kick is manageable and a sight of any kind would improve it enough. I might run fast mags on this because the clip size is pretty poor for such an under powered weapon. Other options are available and you really can’t go wrong as long as you stay away from FMJ. The bullet power is weak enough for shooting through walls to not have much effect anyway. This is the only AR I’d consider using a laser sight on. It helps it out tremendously up close. In fact, the best combination I can think of is running laser sight for up close battles and adding the stock for faster strafing. This gun is faster anyway; why not improve it even more so by making it a great strafe weapon!

SCAR-H- I’m not a fan of this gun either. I like accurate weapons, and this isn’t one of them. The kick is so overpowered you are forced to add a control attachment of some kind, preferably the fore grip. The gun has good power though. If you can control it, you can easily kill in 2 or 3 bullets. The iron sight is bunk though, so I’d also recommend a red dot, and a red dot only. The weapon is a medium range powerhouse, but its inaccuracy makes it suffer at longer ranges. Don’t lose visibility by using a holographic. The magnification it gives you is negligible and it blinds your periphery. It isn’t completely bad though. You can be successful with it. I’ve played with a couple of people who like it, but it isn’t real popular.

SMR- I like this gun, but I’m not in love with it like I am the FAL. It is extremely powerful, and gives sniper rifles a run for their money. 2 shots at distance and you’re dead. You could hit a guy in the hand twice and it’s all over for him. It suffers at short range, even more so than the FAL, and it also has more trouble at medium to long distances than the FAL because of the slight accuracy problem. Don’t get me wrong, this gun is still super accurate for a 1 shot AR, but you can’t spam the trigger as fast as you can the FAL and expect to hit every time. It has a small kick up and to the right which is totally unpredictable. Select fire is not an option for this gun. It does OK with it, but the accuracy issues are even more apparent when you use that attachment. Quickdraw is a must and so is a sight. The iron sights on this gun blow, but if you can manage them, you might want to choose extended mags instead. This is to make up for the small clip size of 20 bullets. Once again, this single shot gun has a high learning curve. You get good with the FAL first, and this gun will some second nature and you’ll find yourself controlling it no problem. The deficiencies will become noticeable once this happens, and eventually you’ll find yourself sticking with the FAL.

M8A1- This is the Type-95 of BLOPs2. It’s really good, and really accurate. It doesn’t have as much power as the FAL or SMR. Since it is a burst fire weapon, spamming the trigger is limited, but it is a good weapon none-the-less. I’ve seen people use it, and I’ve grabbed it off a few dead bodies. Most people run quickdraw or a scope of some sort. It is a really good medium range weapon as long as you get the first shot off. When you’re hit with bullets first, it has a tendency to jump higher than other guns making it harder for you to get back on target. Not a bad weapon, just not my first choice.

AN-94- This is the reincarnation of the AK-47. It is wildly inaccurate and jumps left and right as it moves higher and higher when you ADS and hold down the trigger. It does OK as long as you can fire it in bursts, but it suffers at short range and long range, and isn’t the best gun at medium ranges. You can do better and should. If you use this, forget about a sight. The iron sights are essentially a red dot anyway, so no need for that. Use your attachments to improve the clip size or have it reload faster. You’ll also need one to help control it. The fore grip is perfect. Some people love adding a silencer to this gun thinking it improves accuracy. That’s a myth. All it does is suppress the flash of the weapon so you can better see where you’re shots are going. This is another bust of a weapon, but I know eventually I’ll be using it a lot because I’ve always had a thing for AK-47s in CoD games, and this is as close as it gets.

 

Shotguns

These are some of the most misunderstood weapons in the game, and I know a lot of people are scared to use them. Use them please. They’re fun and once you get the hang of how to run maps to your advantage you’ll be blasting guys away and having a ball. Shotgun classes have the same movement speed as SMG classes. The basic premise of a shotgun is to get an easy one-hit-kill. One of the shottys isn’t designed for this, but the others are perfectly suited to do it easily. All of the shotguns need long-barrel. You need the extra range for a gun that’s as limited as they are. Shotguns are the only guns whose bullets magically disappear after 15 yards or so. Long-barrel gives you an extra 5 yards. That’s totally worth it. You also have to have toughness. You can’t miss that first shot or you’re done. You can afford to take a couple of bullets as long as get the shot off, but when your reticle goes so high you miss, you’re dead. A laser sight on all of these weapons helps too. I’d go so far as to say all of these shotguns except one must have a laser sight. We’ll talk about that one in a sec.

Remington 870 MCS- This is the first shotgun you get in the game, and it is probably the easiest to use. It is pump action with a narrow bullet spread so one-hit-kills are relatively easy to come by. It reloads fast enough, and you can stop the reload animation whenever you want by pulling the trigger. It is more accurate and has a tad longer range if you ADS, but it isn’t necessary for you to do so.

S12- This is a semi-auto shotgun. It doesn’t really have the power for those one hit kills, but it makes up for it by spamming the trigger for 2 and 3 hit kills. It’s not hard to use, but it has one really glaring problem. It runs out of ammo…fast. You have 40 bullets to play with in total, but when it takes 3 shots to kill someone (and we’re assuming you get a hit with every shot fired) you can run out of ammo real fast. I ran this gun for a week thinking it was great. What I didn’t realize it that I was running out of ammo about 1 in every 4 lives (when I lived long enough to go through it). There are better options. Save your unlock token for that better option.

KSG- I’m a believer in this gun. This is the only shotty that doesn’t need, or want, a laser sight. This is because in order for it to be effective, you need to ADS on it. You have to have quickdraw, for that fast aiming, and long barrel. This shotgun fires a slug extremely accurately, and has the longest one-hit-kill range of any of the shotguns. You MUST run toughness. You’re only going to get one shot at the kill. You have to make sure you can hit them. This gun has the highest learning curve of the shotguns, but when you get it right, you’re a monster to the other team. I’ve been abused by the other team calling me unflattering names so many times for using this gun it isn’t funny. Teams can’t stand a guy who runs around fast and just pops people like candy.

M1216- This is an auto-shotgun, and it’s pretty ridiculous. The Remington is better and does what this thing does just as well with less bullets. Where this gun shines is in clearing out rooms. Just run into a room and hold down the trigger, never letting up, and sweep right to left or left to right. The other team won’t stand a chance. Where this gun falters though is the reload time. Each clip has 16 bullets, and there is a split second pause when cycling through barrels. The reload time is atrocious, and takes absolutely forever. This is a specialized shotgun for room clearing. I’ve used it just running around the map, and I’ve done OK, but the other three shotguns are better options for that.

 

Snipers

Snipers have their own circle in hell. I can’t stand them even thought I know it’s a legitimate aspect of the game. Quick-scopers drive me nuts, especially since if they’re any good, a sniper rifle is the most dominate weapon in the game. Quick-scoping is an art, and takes a lot of practice. I know how to do it, and can manage a bit, but I’m not near as good as the guys who play on Live. The days of the camping sniper are over. People used to run Ghost with the sniper, but since they made ghost useless when you’re sitting still, the camping sniper has almost gone the way of the dodo. Still, I’ve tried ‘em out just so I could do this article, and I’ll give you my biased thoughts about them.

SVU-AS- This gun is total and complete crap. This is essentially a really powerful assault rifle with a scope. I hate scopes, generally because they limit your periphery. This is a 2 hit kill sniper at center mass, 3 hits anywhere else. People generally find someone and strafe while spamming the trigger. It’s quite effective to a certain point. These guys never live long because they have to run around the map to be effective, and as soon as they stand still to shoot, someone else inevitably sees them and blasts them away. You’d be better off using an FAL or an SMR instead of this gun. I’d add a silencer, just for kicks, or an acog because you’d be better off at short range with this thing than long. This does have some potential as a hardcore weapon.

DSR 50- This is essentially the Barrett 50 cal from previous iterations of CoD. It has tremendous power, but it is super inaccurate. Never fear boys and girls, it can be fixed. The Ballistics CPU was destined to be used on this gun. It makes the accuracy perfect for a bolt action and as a scoped weapon I see a lot of quick-scopers using it. It isn’t the most popular sniper, but it is pretty damn good.

Ballista- This is the weapon of the quick-scope snipers in CoD. I know a lot of you add the ballistics CPU to it, but that’s a waste. The gun is only slightly less accurate than perfection. Quick-scopers either use an acog scope or the iron sight. I see a lot of them use fast hands, but I don’t think they realize that has nothing to do with how fast they can scope in on people. The iron sight does make ADS quicker though, and you’ll see a lot of guys using it. Personally I hate it. Not because it isn’t any good. I hate it because of what it’s generally used for.

XPR-50- This is crap. I know it looks good on paper, but it just doesn’t work as well in the game. You can’t really spam the trigger like you can with the SVU-AS because it’s so inaccurate. Ballistic CPU helps, but it is still worthless unless you’re a god at doing head-shots. Yet another perfect Hardcore weapon, but it does leave some things to be desired in Core games. The scope crosshairs are kind of fugly too.

 

Handguns

Not a sexy subject, but they are useful. Some people have fallen in love with the 823R, but I’m going to tell you about 2 pistols that are better. There’s no need for you to waste slots on a second primary weapon if you can learn to use these puppies. These things are incredibly overpowered now, and are like mini- SMGs in a way, with faster knife times.

Five-Seven- This is probably the most useless pistol. There’s nothing special about it. It does nothing as well as the others, except fire a bit quicker. The power is miniscule, the range pathetic and the only thing it has going for it is it’s pretty accurate. Accuracy with a crap gun doesn’t help. Avoid it.

Tac-45- This is my favorite one. It’s a 2 shot kill with a 10 bullet clip. Extended mag works well with it. With 10 bullets already in the clip, you theoretically could get 5 kills with it at range, which is better than all of the others.

823R- This is a 3 shot burst weapon. People like it, but if you look at the video you’ll see you have to waste 2 bursts to kill someone at range, almost halving your clip and limiting your potential average kill power to 2 people. It is easy to use, and it hip fires well. Newer inexperienced players will gravitate to it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If it works better for you than the Tac-45 use it, but realize that if you master the 45, it is a better weapon.

Executioner- This is the pistol that isn’t a pistol. It’s essentially a mini-shotgun. Up close, about 5 feet away, it’s a one-shot-kill; 10 feet away, 2 shots. Any farther away and it loses its effectiveness because it only has 5 shots, and it reloads slowly. It is perfect for people who use ARs and need to run into close quarters to reach an objective.

KAP-40 This sucker kills quickly if you can keep it on target. It has the same power as the Tac-45, but is fully automatic. Run with extended mags and dual wield and it’s essentially the FMGs all over again with less ammo. This is perfect for getting into close quarter fights with SMG dudes, and evens the playing field nicely in that direction. It suffers at range though because it so unwieldy. Powerful gun though

 

Specials

I’m not a big fan of using these. They’re too clumsy to be effective. You’ve probably seen the guys running around the map with the ballistic knives out, but when you look at their stats and who won the game, they’re not helping their team. I want to win, not be a nuisance.

Shield- Of all the specials, I like this the best. The ability to plant this sucker, ala Gears of War (did someone steal this idea maybe?) makes it really useful. As cover it’s perfect for head-glitchers to sit behind. You’re almost forced to run with overkill though. I’ve found the most successful way to use it is to run overkill with fast hands, flak jacket, and an LMG. Guys like to plant it down in a high traffic area in the corner of the map somewhere and hold down that section of the map. The fast-hands is to switch weapons from the shield to the LMG quickly. The Flak Jacket is to stop the endless grenades people will throw at these guys to get rid of them. I don’t run this class, but I’ve seen some people do it with great effect.

Ballistic Knife- This is a bragging rights weapon. It’s sort of an in-your-face way of embarrassing a player. If you can shoot the knife at the other team with regularity and help your team, than you’re a better player than me. They’re fun to use if nothing’s at stake, like in a private match, but pointless otherwise. Bullets work better and more reliably.

Crossbow- This is worse than the ballistic knife in my opinion. You can kind of sweep the reticle across a guy and have a better chance of getting a hit, but that’s unlikely. It also doesn’t kill people unless it sticks. Players without flak jacket can have a bolt land right beside them and not kill them. It takes so long to reload, by the time you’ve shot another one, the guy’s health has recharged and another bolt won’t kill him either. Not a good option unless you’re in a private match or a sticks and stones game and just want to have fun.

Well, that’s all for now. Next week I’ll go over the perks, lethal and tactical grenades along with the kill-streaks. The week after, I’ll answer any questions you guys post in the comment section.

Have a good time playing and I’ll see you online!

See video

SWTOR with an Xbox Controller! Wait what?

Wed, 01/18/2012 - 02:55 — Grex

Many veteran MMO players hang their heads in shame when someone mentions using a game pad with MMOs. But what about us console gamers with no experience in PC MMO's? Avert your eyes PC gamers, here is a tutorial for playing SWTOR with a game pad.

Noob isn't even a word that would describe the knowledge I have as an MMO player. I've played video games on all types of consoles and PC's for most of my life, but I was at a complete loss when it came to the massive amount of key combinations needed to be successful in the MMO world. When Star Wars: The Old Republic (SW:TOR) showed up on the horizon I jumped in line and registered for the beta, got my code and began my journey through the SW:TOR Universe. To say the least I was struggling until I stumbled upon a post on the SW:TOR forums that talked about using a controller / gamepad with an MMO.

Up until recently my gaming background has been mostly FPS (first person shooter). I really didn't need anything more than the keyboard keys W,A,S, and D with the mouse for those games.  Enter Star Wars with about 50 or so necessary key combinations and I am mouse clicking like mad. I didn’t like that at all and that is why I went searching for a solution which lead me to the discovery that using a controller is definitely possible.

After multiple bouts with carpal tunnel, getting pwned by noobs, and complete frustatrion in general I began my search for alternatives. I scoured the web to find the answer. What people are using, how well does it work, and how easy is it to learn? These are the questions for which I wanted answers. Thankfully my search was not in vain. Read on for the awesomeness that I’ve discovered.

First thing, you need a controller / gamepad that works with windows.  I am using a power Xbox 360 controller although any gamepad will work. Next you’ll need a program that will allow you to map keys to the buttons on the gamepad as SW:TOR does not support the use of gamepads.

 

There are three programs out there that I researched:

I ended up going with xpadder as it seemd to be the best for my needs. It still costs money but allowed for advanced customizations which SW:TOR needs, supports virtually any controller out there, and also can kick a pirates ass. Any veteran of the MMO Universe is reading this red faced, smoke coming out of their ears and screaming blasphemy at my use of a controller in their precious game world. They’re calling me a noob, and all sorts of other names that aren’t very nice, but why? Well, the main reason is because you can’t possibly fit enough key combinations onto a gamepad. Right? Wrong, you can and I do fit everything I need onto a gamepad. Get your panties out of a twist and hold a second so I can explain myself before I get chased down by these villagers and their pitch forks.

The Xbox controller that I’m using has 10 buttons, two thumbsticks and a d-pad you can click. The thumbsticks which adds another 2 buttons to the controller for a total of 12 physical buttons.  That's pretty good but not nearly enough by itself. Here is where the Xpadder software comes into play.
Xpadder is a a program that simulates the keyboard presses on the gamepad.  It has full keyboard and mouse emulation.  Which means any button that you can hit on a keyboard or mouse can be duplicated on the gamepad.  Xpadder also allows for multiple keys to be bound to the same button click on the keypad as well as advanced functions as adding in delays or turbo.

Pictured below is my main layout in Xpadder.  I am currently using the default key binds from SW:TOR. I have my complete bind layout at the end of this article for anyone who cares.

Thumbsticks: You can see my left thumb-stick controls my movement and the right thumb-stick works the camera.  Xpadder has a nice feature allowing me to combine button presses on a single click.  So i combined the mouse movement and mouse button two at the same time which allows me to move the camera.  I can now move run and move the camera at the same time.

PVP Tip: Alternatively I have found swapping keys A and D for keys bound to strafe (Q and E for me) works well.  Changing to this layout allows for strafing around an opponent and using the right thumb-stick for turning (Mouse Look). In English this lets you move around your enemy without losing line of sight.

Buttons: For the buttons I have my first four abilities in slots 1-4.  These are my main rotation attacks once in battle.

Direction pad: These are my buffs or the alternate slots 1-4 on the bottom toolbar in the center.

Bumpers: Here is where I have targeting.  Left for enemies and right for friendlies.

Triggers: Here is where the magic happens.  Xpadder allows up to 8 profiles on the same gamepad.  As you see from the bottom of the screenshot numbers 1-8. I am only using three. When I hold down either the right or left trigger it brings up a different layout.  Here are my different layouts.

Left Trigger (Slot 2):

 

On Slot two the movement actions are the same but my abilities and alt abilities have changes to slots 5-8. 5-8 are my initial fight start abilities and stuns. While the alts are just the least used ones.

Right Trigger (slot 3):

On set up three I have tweaked the movements a bit in order to pick up loot a little easier. I gave the right thumb stick control of cursor movement with the center of the other joystick being mouse button 1.  This allows me to pick up loot and select menu options.

Bounty Hunter tip - I do have the use of the ability “Death from above” without too much complexity set at slot 9.  By having it on profile three i can select and use the right thumb-stick to target with the left thumb-stick set to fire.  As I am up in the air firing away I return the cursor back to me.

 I have become fairly comfortable with this layout and can perform in both PVE and PVP fairly well...for a noob.  I am however constantly tweaking things because I’m trying to constantly improve my gameplay.

 

Tips:

- If you are worried about slowness of camera movement, don’t be.  I actually have mine set all the way down for camera rotation speed and it’s still damn fast.
- Xpadder allows you to set the sensitivity of the thumb-sticks.  Right now I have it set in the middle for responsiveness.
- Movement - Center the cursor on the back of your character when not in use this will help you avoid the constant click of the second mouse button when moving the camera.
- Also I have the camera pulled out pretty far in order to get better awareness of my surroundings. This also allows for a little more flexibility so that you do not have to screw with the camera as much.  I have mine set at 50% max distance.
- You can make conversation choices with this layout as well.  The conversation choices are the same keybinds as slot 1-3.  “1” being the top choice and “3” being the bottom.

There are some good places to check for more information like SW:TOR forums and xpadder forums.  But more importantly the blog Peeps Plays with His Controller.  I have taken his layout for the most part and changed a few things. Lots of great info and more tips here.

Now I will say that this does not completely replace the need for a keyboard for me, even though it could. I still use mine for random things like navigating menus, skill trees, space battles and such.

I am currently running a Bounty Hunter: Powertech.  If you are running multiple characters I would highly suggest you make a profile for each.  Here is a screen shot of my UI layout in SW:TOR.

Ability Binds:

Layout 1: Main attack abilities
1 - Rapid Shot
2 - Rocket Punch
3 - Railshot
4 - Flame Burst
Layout 2: AOE attacks and stuns
5 - Explosive Dart
6 - Electro Dart
7 - Flame sweep
8 - Missle Blast (never use it)
Layout 3: Abilities an items on the side
9: Death from above
10: Sonic Dart

Alt Ability Binds:
Layout 1: Main buffs
1- Energy Shield
2 - Determination
3 - Vent heat (will become Heat Blast when i get it)
4 - Neural Dart
Layout 2: Handy but seldom used
5 - Kolto Overload
6 - Grapple
7 - Overload
8 - Quell
Layout 3:  Xtra space - sometime I will put mission items, med packs or stims here

To sum it all up I’m extremely pleased with the Xpadder and the options it has given me for using a controller as my main interface with SW:TOR. Sure there are a few things that could be tweaked here and there, but it beats the hell out of memorizing key combinations on a keyboard. I’ve grown so used to having a controller in my hands over the years that transitioning now doesn’t make much sense, and would make the game a little less enjoyable in my opinion. So if you’re like me and feel more comfortable with a controller in your hands than you do clicking away with a mouse and keyboard check out what Xpadder has to offer, or any of the other software out there for that matter. You might just surprise yourself with the ease of use and accessibility that these companies have brought to the MMO world.

Using ATT's 3g for Xbox Live

Tue, 04/21/2009 - 13:34 — killthrash

What do you do when your internet goes out and there is no other free wireless in sight? Use your phone of course.

I recently saw a post in the Halo forums regarding the possibility of using a cellular 3G network to connect to Xbox LIVE and play Halo 3. I decided to test this by tethering my Blackberry Bold to a laptop and enabling ICS (Internet Connection Sharing). In theory, you could set up a 360 in your car and pwn some noobs cruisin’ the 95 with some beetches in da back. Here are instructions on how to set this up alongside my results over Halo 3 matchmaking.

1. Install the Blackberry Desktop Manager software onto your PC.

2. Create a new standard modem under “Phone and Modem Options” in the Windows Control Panel. Plug in your Blackberry Bold, run the Desktop Manager software, under Phone and Modem Options, click on the Modems tab, and “Add….”. The Max Port speed should be 115200, under Diagnostics, you should see Hardware ID “mdmgen”. You should also be able to “Query Modem” to get a response. On the “Advanced” tab, enter the following string under “Extra initialization commands:”

AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","wap.cingular"


3. Create a new network connection. Call this “AT&T Blackberry”. Click on “Network Connections”, and enter the “New Connection Wizard”. You’re going to set this up Manually, the number you’re dialing is *99#. You’re going to leave the user name and password blank. Once you’ve built the dial-up connection, right-click and go to “Properties”. Under the advanced tab, enable ICS and you’re sharing the home networking connection with the “Local Area Connection”. Now click on “Settings”. You’re going to build all ports necessary to run Xbox LIVE per Microsoft. Under the name or IP, you can just type in your laptop or desktop’s network computer name.

4. Note: your Blackberry Desktop Manager MUST BE RUNNING to connect via dial-up to your Blackberry modem. Once your Desktop Manager is running, connect using your new Dial-Up connection. Your Blackberry should now say “Modem Mode Enabled” on the main screen. Open a web browser and try a website to make sure you’re connected to the internet.

5. Plug your Xbox 360 Ethernet cable into your Ethernet jack on your PC. You should now have two connections going on your PC – one for your Blackberry and one for your Xbox. Test your Xbox LIVE connection using your System Settings on your Xbox 360 dashboard. I’ve found that my NAT is always Moderate while tethering to the Blackberry. Once you’re connected to LIVE, good hunting!
 



Halo 3 Test Run

I found I was able to accept a game invite, voice chat and find a game in Matchmaking relatively quickly. It took a very long time to load the DLC map variant in matchmaking, so be patient! Once loaded and the game started, I (killthrash) was good to go. About 3 minutes in, I found some choppiness, but after 1 minute of chop, it started to run smoothly again. I put the game in my file share, it’s Team BRs on Ghost Town titled “AT&T 3G” in slot 1.

(editor's note:  We're fairly certain, after a brief consultation with our lawyers, that Killthrash's little software fix will void the warranty of you 360, your Blackberry and your PC, that it violates any number of standard lease and condo co-op agreements, that it allows trojan horses into your system that will stream cash to killthrash's offshore bank accounts and marks your address with a pheromone that will lead tribes of flesh eating zombies to your door during the impending apocalypse.  Please use at your own risk and don't sue us).

Using Your Mind to Quickly Improve Your Game

Tue, 01/27/2009 - 12:47 — Snuphy

2old2play is not a decaying European monarchy with age old roots in a savage system of repression of ideas. We're a ployglot, an amalgam, a glorious salad bowl of heterogeneity -- Like America.

Our communities span dozens of games and even two or three different consoles. In celebration of our diversity we offer the first in a series of columns that will highlight our communities and the games we play. In deference to our long history (at least by internet standards) the first offering is about Halo. Tr1styn has been kind enough to translate his not inconsiderable skill into pearls of wisdom. Read on MacDuff, and behold the way of the warrior. -- Ed.


Most people think that in order to be good, you have to spend inordinate amounts of time playing. But think about it this way: how quickly would you become the best in the world if you never made the same mistake twice? Chess master and Tai Chi champion Josh Waitzkin remarks, "I have long believed that if a student of virtually any discipline could avoid ever repeating the same mistake twice--both technical and psychological -- he or she would skyrocket to the top of their field."1

The key that separates good players from everyone else is the "program" their mind runs when they play the game. Think of your mind as having a piece of software it loads when you sit down to play. This includes everything from how confident you feel about your abilities to your in-game decision making, how you respond to certain situations. For example, what do you do when two people are attacking you at once? Or when someone throws a grenade at you?

The way to improve your gameplay is to alter or recode the "program" your brain runs when you play the game. It sounds obvious, but most people play on autopilot, running the same routes, doing the same things over and over without a whole lot of thought. They hope that if they put in enough hours, gradually over time they will improve in the execution of their playing (i.e. reflexes, aim, etc.). They get stuck in ruts.

So how do you break up these patterns and form new ones? Here are several ways:

1) Take a break. After a few days off (or even longer), you will have a fresh perspective when you come back to play. You won't be relying as much on your habits and instead will be more actively using your mind when deciding what to do, who to shoot, where to run and so on. You may see different options you hadn't thought of before, notice new patterns you hadn't seen. I've often found my biggest leaps in ability come after a week or two off (except for my aim, but that comes back quickly enough).

2) Watch really good players. A great way to modify your brain's "Halo program" is to watch the best-of-the-best running their "Halo programs." I guarantee 10 minutes spent watching a pro player would improve someone's skills more than 40 minutes of playing the game without much thought.

Major League Gaming has a great section on their site called Video onDemand, featuring tournament footage for Halo 3, Gears of War, and Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (free registration required). My favorite players to watch in Halo 3 are OGRE 2, Neighbor, Legit, ElamiteWarrior, Hysteria, iGotUrPisto1a, and Naded. You can also download clips from players' bungie.net file shares.

Neighbor
OGRE
Legit
Snip3down
Mackeo, aka Zerg
My personal file share has two Neighbor games worth watching.

You can also find games to watch on YouTube. For example, pro player Tsquared has several videos of him playing, some of which have very helpful in-game commentary. He narrates his thought processes on a 2v2 game on Guardian, gets an Untouchable Perfection and provides helpful feedback on someone else's game in a video made for Dr. Pepper. You can also find good videos from general matchmaking games, such as this 60-kill spree in a Banshee on Valhalla. Full-length games are more helpful than highlight clips because you can see how the player put themselves in position to be so effective.

3) Play against people better than you. This is a great way to force your brain to find new, better solutions to old problems. What may have worked before on your brain's "autopilot" way of playing won't work against people better than you (if it did, those players by definition wouldn't be better than you). So your brain is forced to wake up and actively think about what you're doing, which breaks up your old habits and allows you to form new, better ones.

4) Have someone better than you critique your gameplay. Often times, the thing that is holding us back isn't what we think it is. You may think you're playing poorly because of your aim, but it could be something else like positioning. A good player can help us see our blind spots, those areas that need improvement that we aren't even aware of. Halo 3's Theater feature is excellent for this.

By using these ways to break up your current habits, you will be primed for large leaps in improvement in a relatively short amount of time as you find more effective approaches to the game.

1 Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning (Free Press, New York, 2007). p. 108

The Complete FPS Strategy Guide

Mon, 03/19/2007 - 13:33 — MoJoPokeyBlue
2old2play goes in depth with a full on guide to the world of FPS games. Buckle your seat belts...

Authors note: I originally wrote this strategy guide for Day of Defeat: Source, but these ideas can be used for almost all team-based FPS games. As an IT Manager, I've been developing strategic plans for many years as they relate to the business world. I've also been a big fan of playing in leagues on FPS games. This guide is an attempt to combine these two talents into one document.

Overview

In combat, the side that is better trained wins.

The only way any clan can hope to win a match is via a detailed tactical operation. The opposing clan will have the same number of soldiers and access to the exact same weapons. We can even assume that each clan will have comparable people behind the screens and keyboards. The factors that will give a clan an advantage is intelligence gathering, well-planned tactical maneuvers, and careful observation of where the enemy is or possibly could be.

All matches should be approached under the assumption that the opposing clan is as well trained and disciplined as you are. However, most clans have one basic strategy that they use throughout the entire scrim. By constantly changing tactics during the scrim, you can hopefully confuse and then overwhelm them.

As a clan gets more experience as a team in fighting scrims, the primary objective can switch to actually winning some matches. However to begin with, the emphasis should be on the planning process, the CO generating and issuing orders, intelligence gathering and the execution of any tactical plans.

The Day of Defeat: Source game (or most FPS games) are based entirely on non-linear warfare…and this is where you can gain an advantage. By analyzing the design of the games and how individuals react within these boundaries, certain patterns emerge from the vast majority of players. For instance, when an opponent kills a teammate the first they do is reload. By attacking at this precise moment, it’s easy to rack up another kill.

Every experienced clan member is going to have certain ideas about various maps. For example, you're going to have people say that the best strategy is to "get the bridge" right away. Another good player however, will say to ignore the bridge and go for the other flags first. The truth of the matter is, all of these ideas are valid at some point. A clan simply needs to determine when is the best time to utilize what strategy.

Definitions

CO – Commanding Officer
Every match/scrim will have a CO. This person will be responsible for deciding key tactical maneuvers.

Column or Side
A column or side is a generalized path to the opposing flag. Most maps have a “left”, “center” and “right” column/side.

Nade
Grenade.

TK – Team Kill
When a person kills a teammate.

First, Second, Middle
The flag number, from our perspective. This can also be used to describe an opponent’s flag: Their first.

Strategy

The best strategy begins with having a CO (Commanding Officer) for every practice and scrim. This individual will speak on behalf of and be responsible for the entire team. They will decide the general approach to the scrim and which tactics to employ. They may even decide to stay out of the match and communicate with the group on TeamSpeak or Vent only. (I’m currently not aware of any league that doesn't allow this.)

The primary reason to have a CO is to develop the ability to modify or change the tactical approach during the match. Instead of everyone running around and trying their best, the ability to work together as a team is going to give you a huge advantage over the opposing clan.

To develop this strategy, you have to break down a match into key phases. Not all matches have to include all phases, as this will be at the sole discretion of the CO. The key phases are Initial Assault, Intelligence Gathering, and Tactical Maneuvers. Each of these phases is discussed in detail in this document.

At the end of each scrim, the CO will conduct a “Lessons Learned” session, where each team member will be expected to detail any pertinent information that contributed to the victory or loss. This information will then be processed and analyzed to develop new strategies for the next scrim.

Phase I - Initial Assault

The group should initially be organized into small squads, to keep moving against expected light opposition. Depending on the map, the CO may also request certain individuals to stay on defense.

Generally with a six to eight man team, you can expect the opposing clan to equally divide up the team and send them out along all columns. For instance, two soldiers go up the left side, two handle the center and two cover the right side.

Low Profile
This tactic allows the team to get into position and then advance. This should generally be used against another clan that we know will be difficult to beat.

High Profile
This tactic means that you hit the opposing clan will full force, immediately upon the beginning of the match. The idea here is to catch them off guard and capture as many flags as possible during the first minute of the match. This will hopefully have a negative psychological effect on the opposing clan or at least warrant them to assign more soldiers on defense.

The CO should decide beforehand whether the team will engage in a “Low Profile” or “High Profile” initial assault. If we don’t know anything about the opposing team, generally the CO will want to proceed with a High Profile assault.

Phase II - Intelligence Gathering

The CO will need feedback within the first 3 minutes to assess the tactical prowess of the opposing clan. This will give him or her enough information to formulate a good strategy for that particular match, which almost always has to be a “fluid” decision. (The exception to this is when the opposing clan has no idea what they’re doing, at which point you can just have fun and easily win the match.)

Immediately into the match, everyone must begin thinking about how the other clan moves, how well they work together, how they react under intense fire, etc. Once we hit the 3-minute mark, the CO will take the next 60 seconds and ask certain individuals for feedback on the opposing clan. Everyone must be prepared to give an answer, which is on a scaling factor from 1 to 10, with 10 meaning that we’re probably going to get beat. Keep in mind that at this point in the match, you're simply gathering intelligence.

Based on the feedback, the CO will then ask for further data and recommendations on how to proceed. If you see a weak defense position, you’re probably going to rate the opposing clan as a “5”. This will signal to the CO that by simply fortifying that particular column, the clan has a better chance at capturing more flags. Another member may rate the defense as a “9”, which means that you’re probably not going to break through. In this case the CO can abandon the offense on that column and move the troops over to the weaker column. This means that their best player is now going to sit around doing nothing.

The CO will use this information to measure situational responses, which will enhance your ability to develop alternative courses of action. Remember, the opposing team will probably use the SAME STRATEGY for the entire 20 minutes of the match. The ability to assess and then MODIFY your military tactics will give you the advantage.

Phase III - Tactical Maneuvers

Communications
Everyone in the scrim must have TeamSpeak or Vent. No exceptions. Without the ability to communicate, you can’t gather intelligence, issue tactical commands or change strategy during a match.

Chatter must be kept to an absolute minimum. Any unnecessary chatter causes confusion and distracts the other players. It’s not the time to whine about how you got killed or if you think the other team is hacking their way to a victory. Also, if you team-kill (TK) a clan member, don’t worry about saying you’re sorry. Unfortunately TK’s are part of the game and you’ll have plenty of time after the scrim to explain how you panicked and thought that they were one of the bad guys.

Every time you get killed, you HAVE TO make an announcement, even if you’re the victim of a TK. When you get killed, simply announce that you’re down, how many opponents are advancing and their location or where you think they’re headed

MoJo: MoJo down. Two coming thru middle. I think one guy has an MG.

Nades
Nades are extremely useful and I've never seen a clan utilize them to their full extent. If you die and you have any nades left, you've probably under-utilized them. I've also seen players routinely throw nades hoping to get lucky. They have no specific target in mind. Sometimes it works and sometimes they end up with a team-kill. Most of the time they simply waste a nade.

Smoke nades are highly effective against a sniper or a group of soldiers. There are maps where keeping an area “smoked” is a good tactic. I also like the idea of smoking a flag right before it's captured or in the path of an MG or Sniper.

Sometimes a flurry of nades can confuse the enemy. This should be done at the discretion of the CO.

Position
There may be several times throughout the match, where it’s advantageous for everyone (or a particular squad) to get back into position. This tactic means that upon respawn, you simply take your original position and wait for the order to “engage”. This allows you to have all 6 or 8 soldiers fighting at the same time.

Having each soldier respawn and then jumping right back into the match, results in a clan only having 80% of their team actually engaged, as usually one or two soldiers are dead. Hopefully the opposing clan will follow this pattern.

The CO will generally order everyone to take “position”, immediately prior to issuing another tactic.

CO: All squads take position.

“Chain” or Linear Movement
When assigned to a two or three soldier team, the group should advance in a vertical linear fashion with anywhere from 10 to 30 feet between each person. If the soldier ahead of you is ambushed and engages enemy fire, in most cases the best strategy is to simply wait. Rushing forward and firing will only make you a better nade target. It’s more important to stay focused on your primary mission and the overall tactic issued by the CO.

Once the soldier ahead of you eliminates the threat or is killed, you can then continue to advance or wait until your team member has respawned. Any remaining enemy soldiers will be seriously damaged so that they are easily eliminated.

CO: Echo Squad; take position and then chain up the middle.

“Sweep” Movement

This is when two or more soldiers advance as a horizontal line with 10 to 30 feet between each person. This is highly effective during a mission, as the enemy is faced with multiple targets and generally can’t decide what to aim at.

CO: Alpha Squad; take position and then sweep up the right side.

Chained Thunder Run
This is where 100% of the team switches into “offense mode” and moves through the same column to completely bombard the opposing clan in an attempt to capture the flag. After each death and respawn, the soldiers will continue the chain and move through the same column until the objective has been achieved or until told otherwise by the CO.
At this point nades are probably the best weapon of choice, although this decision is left to each individual soldier. A smoke nade and then a regular nade should be thrown. Again, these nades should be thrown as the soldier is preparing to run into enemy territory. Good communication is important here, because there’s no point in two soldiers throwing a smoke nade at the same time.

Each soldier should be paced about 10 to 20 feet apart at all times. If you see the soldier in front of you stop (because of a fire-nade or a battle), you must stop as well. Do not advance, as this makes you an easy nade-target, although you can fire from where you stand to assist in the battle. The exception to this rule of course, is when the soldier in front of you tells you to move forward. In this case, you must trust that they are aware of special circumstances that call for this exception.

Upon respawn, each soldier is in “offense” mode and should ignore our flag. It is expected that the opposing clan will place all of their resources into “defense” mode.

This tactic is generally used when the opposing team is trapped in their spawn and you’re trying to capture the last flag. However, this maneuver can also be utilized at the very beginning of a match, in hopes of catching the opposing team off guard, or when you are severely behind in the match and need a small miracle.

The strategy behind this tactic is to simply out-number the opposing clan. By choosing only one column from which to attack, we’ve already “taken out” probably two or three soldiers that are defending the other columns. This is why this particular tactic can only be used for a short duration.

CO: All squads; chained thunder run up the left side and capture their first.

Strategic Strike
This is where the CO will order a specific enemy “position” taken out. Because the enemy can respawn fairly quickly however, this tactic will be rarely used, unless it is in conjunction with another tactic.

CO: Sniper; take out the MG on the right side.

Simultaneous Strategic Strike
This is where all offensive soldiers attack from two or more columns at the same time, with as many nades as possible. Because each soldier likes to outfit his slew of weapons beforehand, each of us must practice altering the type of nade we have during the course of a scrim.

Once all soldiers have respawned and are equipped with nades, the attack must be executed all at once and at the exact same time. The effect of “surprise” is the primary objective here, as it is most likely every soldier will be killed after they launch their nades. Any survivors of course are expected to continue fighting and possibly going for the flag. This tactic can be used immediately prior to the Chained Thunder Run or when the CO wishes to confuse the enemy.

CO: Alpha left & Echo right; simultaneous strategic strike.

Defense
The tactic here is to actually avoid combat, stay alive for as long as possible, and do whatever is necessary to protect the flag. Each soldier assigned to defense should avoid open areas or areas with a lot of fighting. You should always be hiding and/or camping. Do not engage the enemy until they are on the flag.

Depending on how many people are allowed in the scrim, there will typically be one or two people assigned to defense. If only one enemy is attacking the flag, there’s no point into both defense people engaging combat. One person should engage the enemy. If they die, the other defense player is fresh and can defend the flag. If the second defense person is taken out, we can assume the enemy is low on health. Hopefully by this time the first defense player has respawned and can easily take out the opponent.

Everyone assigned to defense should try to stay as “healthy” as possible throughout the assignment. Remember—it’s more important to stay alive than it is to protect the flag. If you’re alone, low on health and see three enemy soldiers advancing, you’re better off calling for backup. You can’t protect the flag if you’re dead.

CO: All Squads; watch our second!

Snipers & Logistics
On an efficiency scale, snipers are the best weapons you have at your disposal. With an assault rifle, you sometimes have to fire several rounds into the enemy before they’re dead. A sniper on the other hand, can kill with one bullet.

The main tactics for a sniper is to choose a good shooting position, get to it unseen and remain unseen for as long as possible. To further confuse the enemy, the sniper may want to move to another hiding spot after 2 or 3 kills.

To further enhance the snipers ability, they need constant feedback from the field. By using better reconnaissance and observation on the battlefield, each soldier can provide the sniper will valuable data. There may even be cases where you can hide and let an enemy soldier run by you, knowing that the sniper will take care of them later.

Because the sniper can take out targets from a distance, even if they are killed they can generally respawn and get back into position before the enemy has a chance to advance to the flag.

In addition to efficient killing, the use of a sniper along a column has a psychological effect upon the enemy, in that after so many kills, they end up with a “hopeless” feeling of traveling along that column and may abandon it altogether.

Even the soldiers, who are classified as non-snipers, can utilize sniping tactics.

Defensive-Offensive Maneuver
This is an attempt to convince the opposing team that you are weak along a predetermined column, hoping they will advance further into your flag territory. By having the majority of your team assume defensive positions along this column, the opposing team will develop a false sense of security and push closer to the flag. Even those soldiers along the column should let the opposing team pass, under the assumption that the defense team will take care of them shortly.

Once the enemy has advanced into your territory, the defense team converts into offense mode and takes out the enemy. This tactic is especially useful when the flag is deep within your respawn area.

Scrim Strategy 1

Before you start a scrim, it’s important that you have a CO (Commanding Officer). This person will make all decisions regarding the match and assign positions to all players. The following is a general starting strategy:

Defense – 2 people
You best players should be on defense. If all scrim players are of equal ability, the two people with the worse (highest) ping should be assigned to defense. This is also a good position for new players or those not familiar with the map. Generally the CO will play defense, as he/she can better command the match from this position.

Offense – 2 people
These two people should have the best (lowest) ping. Their objective is to get as many flags as possible. Even if any of your flags are threatened, they must stay focused on their primary objective and ignore any defense positions. (When the other team has your flag or is about to, it’s usually a good time to get their flag.)

Defense/Offense – 2 people
These two soldiers have to be flexible enough to handle both offense and defense play. These two will spend most of their time attacking the opponent and occasionally help defense, should the need arise. When the CO shouts “DEFENSE” or “FLAG”, these two players will help protect the flag.

One person from Offense and one from Defense/Offense will form Strike Team Alpha. The remaining two will form Strike Team Echo. This is known as a Cross-Functional arrangement. The Offense will lead the strike, with the Defense/Offense staying about 20 paces behind.

It’s not necessary to engage every enemy you come across. You’re primary objective is decided by the CO. As already mentioned, there are many times when it’s advantageous to hide, let the enemy run by and then proceed to their flag. Of course, announce to Defense that they’re coming and have faith that they’ll be taken out.

Strike Team Alpha will attack along the left side and Strike Team Echo will attack along the right side. Both strike teams can also run up the middle. If you have an 8-man team, you may even want to divide everyone up into three squads: Alpha, Echo and Geek squads.

If anyone has specific ideas about specific maps, they should post these in the clan forums for discussion. This is how tactics are developed. If everyone puts their heads together, you can develop multiple tactics for each map.

"MoJo is a 43 year old IT Manager from Southern Michigan and plays online about 3 hours every day. For those interested, his personal blog can be found at www.MoJoPokeyBlue.com."

COD3 multiplayer issue work arounds

Fri, 10/13/2006 - 13:19 — TANK
Looks like Call of Duty is plagued with as many ranked match bugs as Gears of War. Infinity Ward hears your cries for help and is actively working on a fix. In the mean time, they encourage you to post the problems you are having over on xbox.com's forum for Call of Duty which will help them make a good patch that actually fixes the problems.

For now, here is Infinity Ward's PR forum poster, fourzerotwo's tips:

Ranked Match

Due to the extremely high volume of players attempting to join Ranked Matches simultaneously upon initial release of the game, the Quick Match option may have difficulty matching players together. As a workaround, it is recommended that players join Ranked Matches through the "Custom Match" option. Custom Match searches may take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes to find adequate matches for your game. It is recommended that all players give the Ranked Match search a minimum of 30 seconds to complete - continually searching, cancelling, and searching again within a matter of a few seconds causes the overall environment of Ranked Matches over Xbox Live less stable.

Player Match

When a player chooses Player Match, the game returns a session list of the first 50 games that match the search query. Each of those games has a quality rating of 1 - 5 stars. Players should always join games with 4 or 5 stars to ensure that they have a good connection with the host. If the game is still not joinable with 4 or 5 stars, it means that another player in that game does not have the ability to connect directly to you. This situation is typically caused when one player has a strict NAT on their router or has a very poor internet connection quality. In order to improve these conditions, all players should follow the instructions posted below to open up their Xbox 360 connection to the internet.

Modem & Router Configurations

It is recommended that players make use of a direct internet connection from their Xbox 360 to their modem without the use of a router to ensure the most open networking environment. If a router must be used, please refer to Microsoft's list of approved routers and follow their instructions for enabling DMZ or port forwarding. When you run your connectivity test on the Xbox 360, the end result that you want is that your “NAT” setting returns a value of “Open”.

Please have patience as we continue to work through any and all problems that are encountered. We assure you that we want the best possible gaming experience for our users, and we are working our hardest to improve the situation.

Tips via Xbox.com

NAT Routers and Xbox Live

Sat, 07/01/2006 - 11:00 — DrEsquire
Xbox Live and your home routers do not always think the same. Each serves a purpose and here is a tutorial to try to make them work as friends - not enemies.

Network Address Translation allows internet traffic into your network only if it was requested by a computer on your network. This is very useful, it keeps the various viruses, worms, hackers, etc. out of your system. Unfortunately, this is a problem when trying to connect to XBL games (or any peer-to-peer application like VOIP or file sharing.) NAT can be disabled in most routers but this is not preferable because it no longer provides any protection.

In the Xbox and 360 you can test your NAT settings. For gaming on XBL you want open. If it indicates moderate or strict, then you will have trouble connecting to game sessions.

To allow connection to XBL, there are a couple of options, Port Forwarding and the DMZ. The DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone) places your entire XBOX outside of the protection of the NAT router but allows the rest of your network to remain protected. This is relatively safe as most Xbox’s are only on when in use and there are currently not Xbox specific exploits on the web. Most routers have an option to designate one IP address as the DMZ. In the network connection setup of the Xbox, assign a Static IP address and then in the router’s setup, assign that IP as the DMZ. Router manufacturers vary but most router setup’s are accessed through your web browser by typing the default gateway IP address. [ RUN > cmd > ipconfig ] will show your gateway address.

The best and safest option is Port Forwarding. This exposes only the ports necessary to be exposed to the internet. For Xbox Live These are TCP and UDP ports 88 and 3074.

Again routers may vary but for Linksys WRT54G (by default) type into browser 192.168.1.1 then in login window, username {BLANK} password is admin. Then in applications and gaming select Port Range Forwarding. On the first line enter Xbox Live, enter 88 into the start AND end boxes, select both for protocols, enter the static IP that you assigned to your xbox, then click the enable box. On the next line, repeat using 3074 as start and end. Then click save settings and your NAT test should show open.

Just for fun, my new DSL modem also provides NAT and also needed to be port-forwarded. This is the first modem that I have seen that provided this feature, so check with your Internet Service Provider if in doubt.

Good luck and good gaming.

Skin your 360 With MyTego

Mon, 06/12/2006 - 12:25 — codemonkey
2old2play contacted MyTego to style our Xbox 360 to our gaming desire. Check out how the process went.

In the last ten years we’ve seen many case modifications for PC’s. This inspiration was most likely a result of Apple Computers ability to make “beautiful” equipment. The revolution of PC styling has migrated to the console, hand-held, and the mobile device market. Some phone manufacturers have exchangeable face-plates for their phones, and third party companies create containers, and leather like suites for your mobile devices to snuggle up against.

Not wanting to be left out of this fantastic fad I’ve decided to “skin” my Xbox 360 faceplate. I have two Xbox 360’s (call it a “his and hers” pair) and one of my Xbox 360’s wields the “generic” white faceplate, while the other has a custom faceplate from BestBuy. The custom plate cost $19.99 and the selection is limited to three or four unique designs. However, some special deals for certain games include “bonus” faceplates to match the game theme. Some game theme faceplates have, also, been seen on the Internet as “possibilities,” however I’ve not seen a method to get them without winning a contest.

For $16.00 you can head over to www.mytego.com and obtain a fully customized faceplate “skin” for the Xbox 360 along with a host of many other devices. I could have opted to skin a GameCube, GameBoy (all versions), Nintendo DS, original Xbox, all PlayStations, my mobile phone, and even my laptop. However, today my taste was in skinning that generic white Xbox 360 faceplate.

The MyTego site boasted:

“Your TEGO is made of a superior quality, extremely durable vinyl material, yet thin enough that will allow it to conform to the shape of your device. It's waterproof and won't rip, tear, or crack.”

“NO RISK! Our 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures that you get exactly what you want.”

A vinyl cover, in my mind, means less risk of “cheapness.” I was not looking for a sticker quality like that of my daughter’s Dora Sticker book. I wanted something of heavier weight, more similar to my daughters Dora color-forms. I wanted something strong, and well worth my money. Lastly, I wanted assurance that if the job was horribly done that I was not out $16.00. The mytego seemed to be just what I was looking for.

The trick to building a custom Xbox 360 image is having a handle on the art of design. The other option is to know a designer that has a few free hours to build you something real special. I opted for solution number two because I knew just the person to do it and since that person is also working on this magazine design it seemed like the right move. Luke Leidal (“BrokenDesign”) was slotted to work some magic and build me a Space Invaders theme for my Xbox 360 complete with the 2O2P logo.

Designing the skin is easiest if you have a template to work from, which MyTego is not able to supply due to some prior marketing projects with Microsoft. However, there are many areas on the Internet where you can obtain templates. The other option is to create a MyTego skin with no image and save it to disk so you have a base to work from. For those that simply want a generic design or something that does not require centered text or aligned images the template will not be necessary.

To get started on creating a skin, head over to www.mytego.com, click create new tego and select “Handheld Gaming Systems, Consoles, Laptops” to bring you to the console area. From the drop-down menu select Microsoft to fetch all the Microsoft skinnable hardware. Once there you can select “Xbox_360_front” to obtain the faceplate design toolbox. You will see that the “front” also includes the controller face. I was only interested in a console faceplate so I clicked the design button below the console image.

web-interface

The interface is slick, easy to use, and worked with both Internet Explorer and FireFox. By clicking the upload button you will be presented with a dialog box that allows you to select an image on your local computer. I used my custom Space Invaders image that I had built for me and placed it on the outlined 360 template on the screen so that I could make final adjustments.

web-interface

The Space Invaders photo appeared scaled down when it first loads, but you can use the scale and rotate options on the interface or simply drag the bottom right “handle” and hold down the SHIFT key to constrain proportions. I “bled” the edges over the template object on the screen so that I did not have any white space showing on the image.

Notice that position is important in my Space Invaders theme. I did not want the 2O2P logo to be part of the “ring of light” because I would lose most of the text, nor did I want my little invaders to be fully covered by the CDROM slot because they would be lost on the final skin. The Xbox 360 faceplate has a lot going on in terms of buttons and spaces so the goal was to lose as little art as possible. The memory slots and USB port cover would be preserved because they are folding doors that display the art when the doors are in the closed position.

preview
Any picture can be turned into a skin. Do you want to put an image of your kids on the console? Not a problem, just move the image around so that your children’s faces are not covering the remote sensor, CDROM, or “ring of light.” You can scale them up and down to fit to perfection. However, my kids fit best in a picture frame… Space Invaders is more my style.

Once I had it on the mark I clicked Buy and finished up the order as if I was purchasing anything else on the Internet.

The Process

The process of customizing the skin was easy. The most difficult part was getting the design I wanted because I can be picky. If I’m going to spend money on a custom design I want to feel a sense of perfection and completeness with the art and layout.

The designer tools on the MyTego website were easy to use and allowed for many features I did not need in my design. I could have overlaid text, and set background colors on the console face. I felt my Space Invader theme said it all so I left it as such.

There was a slight sense of fear clicking the buy button. I was thinking “what if the preview isn’t really like the final product?” and “is the art going to look the quality of the original jpeg I used?” When the product arrived I was relieved. The site lived up to the interface preview.

package

The package arrived slightly bent even though the package clearly states “WARNING: Do Not Bend.” However the product was preserved without an issue. The product came with clear instructions on how to apply the new skin.

directions
I had some difficulties getting the skin on the 360 faceplate due to the excessive spaces and the slight curve to the face. The process would definitely have been easier on a mobile phone, Sony PSP, or Nintendo GameCube, but that is not the fault of the skin itself.

The final product, skinned and ready to go, looked absolutely professional. No, it is not the wooden face-plate with that ugly red line through it… it is Space Invaders!

Prices

Designing the Xbox 360 faceplate and controller designs each cost $16.00, however if you design two controllers and the faceplate it will run you $30.00. Designing the entire theme is a cheaper solution and gives you a completely custom look and feel.

The cost of the product alone is only $4.00 less then the full faceplates you can buy at the store (add shipping costs and it’s about the same). The difference is the uniqueness factor and complete custom design. For home use you can show off your design creativity to others. For an established business you could design your box to fit the theme of your company or provide customers with designs that include your company logo so that they “remember” you when they’re gaming.

If you are looking to simply rid yourself of the generic white face-plate you can go to BestBuy to buy the same art as the guy next door, but if you want something to call your own head over to http://www.mytego.com.

installed01

If you want to design your own Space Invaders theme send an e-mail request to editor@2old2play.com and I will send you the image I used for my design.



Constructing a MAME Arcade Machine

Mon, 03/13/2006 - 12:10 — CureMode
I have been a rabid arcade game fan for over 25 years, and I have always wanted to recapture the experience of playing full sized arcade games at home. About a year ago I decided to construct a MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) (http://www.mame.net/) machine to play virtually every classic arcade game in one unit. MAME is a free emulator that can emulate thousands of classic arcade games authentically, using the original ROMS from the games. It can be run on virtually any PC and there is a vast community of programmers constantly working to improve it and add even more games. Obtaining the ROMS is easy and configuring MAME using a GUI front end like MAME32 is a snap. You can visit Mameworld.net for more information on front ends and other useful MAME resources. Once you have MAME and the ROMS, you can play the games using a keyboard and mouse, but who wants to do that. I wanted the real experience of a stand up arcade game, so I could play the games the way they were meant to be played. I am not an authority, but I would be happy to walk you through some of my experiences in attaining that goal.

Part I The Cabinet

There are basically three ways to get and configure a cabinet for a MAME machine.

1. Buy an old arcade machine at a local or online auction, or classic arcade retailer. Clean it, gut it, fix it up, and add your own PC, monitor, and joystick.

Advantages:
  • Inexpensive
  • Minimal technical setup
  • Minimal technical configuration
Disadvantages:
  • May run into space issues inside
  • Usually entails a major cleaning effort
  • May entail some additional construction on the interior to mount the monitor and PC.
Parts Required:
  • Arcade cabinet ($100 and up)
  • PC Monitor ($90 and up)
  • PC (1Ghz or faster) ($350 and up)
  • Sound System ($50 and up)
  • Joystick panel ($99 and up)
  • Cleaning and restoration materials (ie.. Paint, decals, marquee, monitor bezel, T-molding, etc..) ($100 and up)
  • Cost Estimate ($800+)

2. Buy an old JAMMA (common connector used in many classic arcade games) arcade machine. Clean it and use a variety of adapters and tools to allow you to connect a PC to the existing arcade monitor and joystick.

Advantages:
  • Inexpensive
  • Authentic joystick and monitor
  • Less interior configuration issues
Disadvantages:
  • May still run into space issues
  • Usually entails a major cleaning effort
  • Requires special additional adapters to connect the PC to existing parts.
  • Requires more technical expertise in configuring the adapters.
  • May limit you to MAME only games, due to a special non 3D Arcade VGA video card.
Parts Required:
  • Arcade cabinet with a good existing control panel and 15Khz Monitor. ($100 and up)
  • PC (1Ghz or faster) ($350 and up)
  • Ultimarc.com adapters – J-Pac, I-Pac, Opti-Pac, Arcade VGA Card, and cables ($250)
  • Cleaning and restoration materials (ie.. Paint, decals, marquee, monitor bezel, T-molding, etc..) ($100 and up)
  • Cost Estimate ($800+)

3. Buy a prefab new arcade cabinet from a variety of retailers ($500-1000) and add your own PC, monitor, and joystick. Or purchase a fully constructed kit that comes with the PC, monitor, and joystick ($2500 – $5000).

Advantages:
  • Clean unit
  • Space provided for PC and Monitor, and easy access hatches
Disadvantages:
  • Can be expensive
  • Usually requires assembly of the cabinet

Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages; I chose the first option because I already had an old arcade cabinet. It was JAMMA, but had some screen burn on the monitor and there was only one joystick with two buttons. I wanted at least 2 joysticks and 6-8 buttons for each player. If it had have had a good screen and a robust control panel, I may have opted to use the Ultimarc (http://www.ultimarc.com) adapters that let you connect a JAMMA connector to a PC. I did some research at Mameworld.net to see parts were available and I checked out Retroblast.com for reviews and tips about the parts. I gutted and cleaned the cabinet; you would be surprised just how grubby the inside of an old arcade cabinet can get. I fixed up the outside, painted it and got some great MAME decals for the side and the marquee. They sell a lot of this stuff on ebay.com, and there are a few arcade restoration websites that deal in custom artwork. I used an old 20-inch PC monitor that fit the cabinet pretty well, and I was able to reuse the existing monitor bezel. I also bought a new custom cut piece of Plexiglass for the screen for around $20. However because arcade monitors are usually bare inside I had to cut an area off the back of the cabinet for some of the monitor to poke through, and construct a shelf inside for the monitor to rest on. I would not recommend using an LCD monitor. Thought it is easier to fit it in and work with, they just don’t have the response time of a CRT. Furthermore, many of the MAME games run in their native resolution, which is usually pretty low. Since LCDs are locked into a resolution anywhere from 800x600 to 1280x1024, anything other than the LCD panel’s native resolution can look pretty crappy due to interpolation. I tried one at first, and after seeing some of the pixilation and choppy side scrolling, I went with the CRT. I also added some USB powered LEDs for the coin doors, and mounted an old TRON black light assembly on the front to match my TRON arcade game. I also added some aftermarket fold-up car cup holders to the sides of the cabinet for the massive amounts of Diet Coke I drink.

Sound is also an important part of the arcade experience; I was able to reuse the existing stereo speakers in the cabinet by adding a Creative Inspire 2.1 amplifier. This unit is great for stereo amplification, and comes with a subwoofer. I ended up leaving the subwoofer outside the cabinet for the full effect. The other huge advantage to the Creative Labs unit is its cheap (found it for $30) and has a separate volume control knob I mounted under the controller. It only involved minimum wiring for the speakers and it packs enough punch to make your chest vibrate. There was a full article about it at Retroblast.com (http://www.retroblast.com/articles/speakers.html), which also describes how to use it with car speakers, if your cabinet speakers stink.

I then started looking into Joystick options; there are a few companies that make arcade authentic joystick assemblies that you can just plug into your PC. After looking at the specs for a few including SlikStik (http://www.slikstik.com), HotRod (http://www.hanaho.com), and X-Arcade (http://www.x-arcade.com), I chose an X-Arcade for a variety of reasons. It was the right dimensions, it was programmable (you can set any button to be any key and its stored in non-volatile memory), it was well built, well reviewed, and had a number of adaptors available for other platforms including the PS2 and Xbox. It was around $130, which was more than the HotRod ($99) but much less than the SlikStick. SlikStiks can be made to order but they can run from $200-600. The HotRod is a solid unit and almost identical to the X-Arcade, but it’s purple, non-programmable, and has no adaptors for any other platforms. My only issue with the X-Arcade was that the buttons response time was initially pretty bad, and they would sometimes double tap. When I called there support it turned out the PS2 connector on the PC was not powerful enough for it, and I ended up having to purchase the optional USB adaptor for an additional $30. I got that mounted using some L brackets and moved on to the PC. You can also purchase the buttons, joysticks, and interface from X-Arcade.com or Ultimarc.com, if you are handy enough to construct your own custom controller panel.

I built a mid-range PC with a 2 Ghz processor, 512MB of RAM, 120GB HDs, an Nvidia 256MB graphic card, DVD drive, LED laser mouse, and wireless keyboard. You don’t need an incredibly powerful PC for MAME, 90% can run fine with a 1Ghz or higher PC. You should use a DVD-Rom and have a good-sized Hard Drive, the MAME ROMS usually come on DVDs and a full set is around 50GB. I used a full tower case that I was able to lay horizontally in the bottom of the cabinet. If space is an issue inside a cabinet, you can also look into spacewalker units and mini-tower cases. I hooked up the X-Arcade, configured the keys (the default is already set to the standard MAME keys, but I wanted a few changes), and got playing. I had to do some adjustments for individual games for my display and button preferences, but I will get into that in Part II : Configuring the PC and MAME.

Some other helpful resources and retailers…

http://www.mame.net/ http://www.mameworld.net/ http://www.retroblast.com/ http://www.ultimarc.com http://www.slikstik.com http://www.x-arcade.com http://www.hanaho.com http://www.arcadegames4u.com http://www.lunacade.com http://www.mameroom.com http://www.classicarcadegrafix.com
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