Welcome to Milgeek.co.uk, my blog about my obsession with things military, including my airsoft hobby, family history in World War 2, military gaming, defence news and much more.
Playing CoD:BOII last night I decided in my head that although it was fun it definately wasn't 'the perfect game'. So far in my experience the closest we have come to the holy grail of computer games was Battlefield 2 (others will disagree).
However, this did get me to thinking - just what would my 'prefect' game be like?
Above: The obligatory 'Saving Private Ryan' moment from CoD: World at War (although this is the Pacific rather than Normandy). This was from the co-op element of the game which I enjoyed hugely, here you can see my clan mate BIG-Magnus getting ready to hit the beach with me. An excellent example of cinematic mission, you could imagine this being from a film like the 'Wind Talkers'!
Call of Duty: Hollywood
What I would really like to play is a Call of Duty type game but each single player scenario or multiplayer map would be based on a famous war movie set piece...For example...
I would love to play Clint Eastwood in the assault on the castle sequence from 'Where Eagles Dare' or Mel Gibson in the Battle of La Drang sequence from 'We Were Soldiers' or (my personal favourite) Ian Yule in the running battle during teh escape sequence in 'Wild Geese'.
I am sure you have your own list of great movie warfare sequences.
Above: When CoD get's it right it gets it very very right - this scene from CoD:BO was so evocative of a Hollywood war movie that it was one of those rare 'omg' moments when it was worth it to actually watch the cut-scene! Pity the rest of the game was mostly pants!
How cool would it be to be able to step into the shoes of any number of screen heroes to see if you could emulate their performances?
Of course, people might argue that that is exactly what the Call of Duty franchise has been trying to do all along - just changing the names for copyright reasons. And to a certain extent I would agree - as I have said before CoD: World of War was hugely cinematic and put you in mind of movies like 'The Thin Red Line' and 'Enemy at the Gates'. But to actually play the characters that you know and love from your favourite movie would just be the pinnacle of gaming experiences to my mind.
Of course it would also be a licensing nightmare!
Top 10 characters I would like to play (or play along side) in 'my perfect game'...
1. Sgt. 'Odd Ball' (Donald Sutherland) from 'Kelly's Heroes'
2. Colonel Steiner (Michael Caine) from 'The Eagle Has Landed'
3. Major Reisman (Lee Marvin) from 'The Dirty Dozen'
4. Maj. John Howard (Richard Todd) from 'The Longest Day'
5. 'DC' (Ray Stevenson) from the 'Outpost'
6. Capt. Peter Skellen (Lewis Collins) from 'Who Dare Wins'.
7. Sgt. Rolf Steiner (James Coburn) from 'Cross of Iron'.
8. Tosh Donaldson (Ian Yule) from 'Wild Geese'.
9. Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) from 'Enemy at the Gates'.
10. Jamie Shannon (Christopher Walken) from 'Dog Soldiers'.
Above: One of the most enjoyable CoD characters to play along with - Sergeant Viktor Reznov (voiced by Gary Oldman). This excellent character really drew the player into the game, but characters of this calibre are few and far between in games - there are, however, dozens of Hollywood characters that gamers would love to join in missions.
Not being a bit AR fan - though I do like what H&K have been doing with their 416 & 417 models - 'new' variations of the Armalite format tend to just leave me cold. But this morning a weird version did actually put a smile on my face...
This is the FRS-15 California “Featureless” AR-15 - basically it is a very strange stock arrangement that is designed to appease the strict Californian gun laws regarding what constitutes a 'assault rifle' as opposed to a (legal) hunting rifle.
Believe it or not the change in the angle of the pistol grip and the absence of an AR style adjustable stock makes this format of AR legal under that state's strange gun laws. As you might have guessed the sweeping angle of the pistol grip conforms to the more traditional arrangement you might see on a wood stocked hunting rifle...In theory!
I know, crazy eh?
BUT - I kinda like it! Though I would have prefered to see it carved out of some nice piece of wood.
Some times there is no rational explaination as to why we like somethings.
Read more over at The Firearms Blog
Last night I had my first go with the latest CoD (PC version) in multiplayer mode...Oh, and 'yes', I died A LOT!
Nobody likes it when Armalite style furniture - especially crane stocks - are bolted onto an AK to make it 'tacticool'. from my point of view as a designer the two distinctly opposing aesthetics of the AK and AR do not 'meld' well. In my opinion the likes of the Israeli Galil and Finnish Valmet are the closest an AK should ever get to a 'Westernized' design and their modifications are wholly sympathetic to the original Kalashnikov design philosophy.
That said, I have just come across what I think is one of the most suitable designs for some furniture for an AK that I have seen out of the USA. What particularly grabs me is the attention to detail and the excellent incorporation of 'AK-esque' design motifs into the new furniture that are wholly in keeping with the AK 'look'.
Take a look at the fore grip - tacticool AK fore-grips are usually hideous lumps of polymer with rails added on top placate the Western user. But Archangel Manufacturing have designed a very subtle moulding which combines both the traditional and the modern, additionally what they have done is very practical.
Likewise the folding stock looks very 'Russian' and isn't too jarring by being too 'futuristic'. And even the flash hider has a very workmanlike and minimalist look to it that I like.
I really hope these designs come out for airsoft.
OK, I gave in and bought CoD:BOII for the PC (still not confident enough with FPSs on the Xbox yet, but I am getting better). I'm at that dreadful 'have to do the single player campaign to learn the keys but don't really want to play it' stage!
Funnily enough, despite the - much hyped - amount of money spent on doing the single player element I don't find it anywhere near as engaging as CoD: World at War where the two main characters were voiced (beautifully) by Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman. The 'future wars' silliness is really getting in the way, and the 'plot' (alleged) is so moronic that it tells you more about US paranoia than it does about the state of conflicts in the future.
I did like the openings set-scenes in Africa however - or at least would have if they hadn't been so restrictively scripted - and would have liked to have seen a scenario based on a conflict in that continent for a change...
Believability aside, we all know why we buy CoD - multiplayer. I am sure I will be happier when I get down to this nitty-gritty run and gun action with my friends.
However, I am starting to find myself feeling sorry for UBISOFT and the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier team as they brought out a reasonably good game which did all this (with a better plot) a while ago - but being 'Ghost Recon' (a tainted franchise now) everyone chose to ignore it.
Final note, graphic wise so-so really (I still think Battlefield 3 has the better graphics), they are starting to look a bit aged. I don't know if they have updated the system since CoD:MW but it certainly doesn't look like they have (I may have to play with the settings).
So we shall see - I should be ready to dip my toe in the online multiplayer mode by Friday (having set
Now, I love FN. I think I have made that clear in the past - in fact, if I hadn't been overtaken by my obsession with AKs my armoury would be all FNs (I just have one FN based design, my DSA SA58). Anyhoo...
I saw this today and I have to say that I did throw up in the back of my throat a little bit...This is hideous. To give you an idea how I feel about it, to me this looks how a 'tacticool' AK looks to an AK purist. It is just not right.
Obviously what G&G have done is realise that their FNC replica GF-85 - which joined their range this year - is a pretty ugly duckling and defiantly an acquired taste. So in an attempt to ship some more units it has dressed it up with these 'cool' looking accessories...Along with the stinkiest green paint job (I wonder if it actually qualifies as a non-RIF now)!
As you can tell, I am not impressed. But then I wasn't impressed with their take on the FNC as they decided to dump the 3-round burst feature which must be one of it's main attractions in the first place.
Actually, I have to add that I feel a bit bad writing such a negative response to this new AEG as normally I would applaud an airsoft manufacturer taking a chance and making something that's a bit different...
But really, there's different and then off the bleeding scale!
(I do note, however, that this may be a worrying trend towards completely fictional 'replicas' simply for the sake of being different. ISC have come out with it's fictional 'G33' range, again attempting to cool-up a familiar design. This has one advantage over actually coming out with a brand new design - they can use the same parts from existing models in their range and so cut costs.)
I still enjoy tootling around with WoT, I like the fact that it's an easy to get into, no-brainer game you can just arse around in. But of course, there lies at least one of the problems with it, it can be somewhat repetitive (in the same way as Counter Strike was).
However, the other major problem with WoT is that a great many people deplore it's 'Pay2Play' philosophy (or as some people prefer it 'Pay2Win') and one of my gaming friends now refuses to even talk about the game as he hates it so much (his own fault really as he was fully sucked in to the gold trail arms race).
Well, I decided to have a bit of an experiment and see if it was possible to have as much fun with World of Tanks without spending any money at all!
First of all a confession. As you know I have steadfastly refused to play the German tanks in this game, however to make my little experiment work I wanted to start from scratch with a tech line I hadn't used to see just how long it takes me to get to a decent fun tank from scratch. As I have begun all the other tech lines the only option left to me was the German tech tree. I feel dirty!
Above: My first ever kill when I started playing World of Tanks - this is usually how I like my German tanks, nice and crispy!
The three ways - free, pay a bit and pay a lot!
So what are the disadvantages of the free account as compared to a Premium membership? Well, with a premium account (2500 Gold credits for a month, which is £8.45) you get one and half times more experience and credits. This means you can research and purchase items far quicker.
But to dispel a myth, buying a Premium membership is not the same as buying your way through the tech tree. It just means you get the XP/credit bonus (and a prettier garage), and the joy of supporting further development of the game. If you do want to buy your way through the game - or add premium items like advanced ammo or modules or add special camo or buy special premium only tanks - then you still have to purchase additional gold to do so.
So there are three ways to play the game - free, membership (to support the game and get a XP/credit bonus) and 'Pay2Win' by spending lost of cash on gold.
Free and easy?
But I am interested in the free game. How easy is it to actually have some fun in World of Tanks when all the very 'best' tanks (allegedly) are expensive to buy and run?
Well, technically it should be just as much fun, the majority of the tanks are the same (discounting the premium gold tanks) and you have to go through exactly the same procedure to progress through the various tech trees. The maps are the same and you play the game in just the same way as you would with a either a membership account or a 'P2W' tank. It's just that progress is a lot slower.
My German experiment started with the comical Liechttractor (or LOL-tractor as it is known), a sort of Steampunk Darlek of a vehicle with a 2-stroke engine, paper armour and a pop-gun as main armament. I determined that the first three tiers of WoT are always a bit pants - these tanks neither having the view range or gun power to really make for classic tank on tank duels. To me Tier IV is where things start to get interesting, and at Tier V you really have something you can work with - Tier VI is the turning point, and is where you really have something that can at least dent the big boys.
But what I found is that because I had to buckle down and spend longer in the lower tiers I really began to appreciate what those lowly tanks had to offer. The biggest surprise of all came with the LOL-tractor at Tier I as I absolutely loved it. It's was a comical cross between airsoft and dodgems as you putt-putted your way across a map with other likewise feeble tanks and sprayed them with your teeny-tiny shells until the enemy died of embracement (or just fell over)!. Actually, it was a real hoot and there are a couple of maps which work especially well with these little tin cans.
Of course, it's not so much fun when you get dragged into a higher tier battle! A LOL-Tractor versus a KV-1 is a bit like Joe Pasquale boxing Wladimir Klitschko!
So, you move on - Tier II saw me get something that at least looked a bit like a tank - the Panzer II - and I got a bit of a spurt on and the next upgrade came quite quickly and I got me the famous Panzer IIIA. But here's where things started to feel like my tracks were stuck in treacle. Tier III was a real drag as I tried to upgrade my PzIIIA to at least a passable offensive fighting vehicle - perhaps that was my mistake, but to earn the XP to rise to the next level I really felt I needed to reap some kills. But with the little tank's best gun being just a short barreled 5 cm KwK 38 L/42 (Damage: 70/70/90 - Penetration: 60/96/25!) and a view range of just 320m I was feeling a bit exposed all the time.
PROGRESS: PANZER II - 18 BATTLES>
PROGRESS: PANZER IIIA - 61 BATTLES>
Of course at these levels it's more or less all about manoeuvrability - scouting plays a big part and you can earn a fair amount by spotting for the big guys. Get in and take a peek and then scoot out of there is your best bet, and only get embroiled in a actual duel if you know you are up against an inferior tank or you have an unassailable tactical advantage (ambush).
Tier IV-V - things get interesting
Well, by now my slow progress had taken a couple of months! I wasn't a obsessive player, but I found teh allure of these lower levels didn't exactly have me falling over myself to spark the game up as I felt the rewards were so miniscule. But I stuck at it and eventually I earned myself a nice Tier IV tank - the fully fledged Panzer III with the chance to upgrade to a 75mm gun and you actually quality as a 'medium tank' now.
PROGRESS: PANZER III - 63 BATTLES>
At this point there is some hunting to be had, particularly if the tank mix goes your way (the tank balancing gods have to smile kindly on you). At this point you are up against the likes of the Russian T-28, the American M3 Lee and the British Matilda - so historically very apt and I would say you do have one of the better 75mm guns in this line-up.
Things start to progress a wee bit faster as you upgrade to the better equipment, one piece at a time, but it's still pedestrian stuff (there's a lot of upgrades to research through). On and on you trudge, but you get some good kills and once in a while you even get excited! Goodness me, was that a smile on my face when I dusted off that M3?
But then I did it, I got to Tier V. Phew! And boom, you hit the wall. Your PzIIIA cost just 35,000 'silver' and you thought you were hard done by when your PzIII came in at a eye watering 138,000 silver, but oh my lord - the Panzer III/IV is 315,000 silver to buy. And that doesn't count the amount of research XP you have to spend. And this jump in the price of things means a lot more battles to fight to progress...
PROGRESS: PANZER III/IV - 184 BATTLES*>
Above: This sleek machine is my fully upgraded Panzer III/IV. FAst and with a bite, the 75mm gun has decent range and accuracy with which you can really annoy those big tanks by chipping away at them...But don't stay around too long!
You have your lovely Tier V Panzer III/IV - the classic WW2 German medium tank - a tank that historians say that Germany should have stuck with instead of playing about with far more complex tanks like the Panther. It has a excellent 7.5cm KwK 40 L/48 (Damage: 110/110/175 - Penetration: 110/158/38) and a very nippy 55km/h. It floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.
I actually attained by best kill ratio for my German tanks with the Panzer III/IV, despatching 7 enemy tanks in one game (it would have been 8 - he was on 1% - but I got too cocky).
Quite why I got stuck in this tier so very long is something you should understand - when you reach Tier V you are at a very interesting cross-roads when it comes to the tank balancing, you find you face a lot more very dangerous Heavy tanks with very, very big guns. In my case it was those bloody Soviet IS tanks with their 122mm guns and rock hard armour that were the bane of my life.
But also note the '*' after my total of 184 battles - the majority of these battles took place AFTER I earned access to the next tier, that should tell you something about both the tank and my developing attitude to playing the game for free.
But I have to say - I LOVED the Panzer III/IV. It really was the delicate balance between the lower and higher tiers. If you were at the top end of the match tank you were the deadly hunter and if you were at the low end of a match with the 'big boys' your were the nippy scout, but one that could still pop an annoying cap in the ass of a careless KV.
Tier VI - Evil, thy name is '88mm'
OK, so playing free takes a certain patience and the ability to see the positive things in some quite vulnerable tanks. You've dragged yourself along - with some fun moments - through those lower tiers and a painfully slow rate, but all the while you feel like the kid who gets sand kicked in his face at the beach. Tier V starts to give you a glimpse into the world of the true hunter, particularly if you are lucky with the match balancing, but you do still tremble when you get one of those 'whoosh, BANG!' clattering hits from the likes of a Tiger or larger...You want pay back!
One thing though - if you have never played through at premium and have not already reach the loft ranks of a Tier X tank in all likelihood you only have a slight inkling at what you are missing. For me, a guy who has several Tier X bad boys in his premium garage I measured my slow progress by continually comparing the 'pop' I got with 50mm or 75mm guns with the huge bass thunder of my BL10 152mm gun on my beloved Object 704. I had to stop myself and look at the other low tier tanks around me and consider, power is relative - in my Tier III Panzer II I was a god to someone in a LOL-Tractor.
But come on - we all know we guys like BIG GUNS! That's where it's at, right? So I could get all hippy-dippy about the positives attributes of a low tier, but we all know we want to be the King of the Battlefield...
At Tier VI I got me the VK 3001(H) and at first I thought it was a case of the urban myth in WoT that progress is marked by one good tank followed by one clunker, followed by a good one, etc. To begin with the VK 3001 (H) looked like it was a clunker and was even worse stock than my lovely upgraded Panzer III/IV!
Above: My stock VK 3001 (H) - bit of a disappointment...At first...
But here's the thing: AT Tier VI you've sort of made your choice regarding while line of tanks - medium, heavy or tank destroyer - that you want to proceed with. remember I said Tier V was a watershed? Well, by stepping over the threshold between V and VI you have probably made a commitment to where you are heading as far of tank types are concerned. With the Tier VI German tech tree I decided that I am looking at continuing with the Medium tanks - I like the mix of speed and reasonable hitting power. But I can still cross over to heavy if I wish.
The real VK 3001 (H) tank was a prototype designed to test out early (1942) ideas for the next generation of heavier tanks which the regime wanted to replace the Panzer III & IV lines. The VK 3001 series was the blueprint for the later Panther and Tiger tanks and so it's place in World of Tanks is very intelligently chosen by the makers. Both historically and in the game the VK 3001 is the doorway to two very different lines of German tanks.
But here's the thing - choosing where to go next is not the main feature of the Tier VI German tank, it the gun. After upgrading through a series of OK guns, from 75mm upwards, you can finally earn yourself the legendary 8.8cm Kwk36 L/56 - the much feared '88' that armed the infamous Tiger I tank.
Above: The intimidating shape that is the 88mm armed VK 3001 (H) when fully upgraded. This is really a strange hint at what you can expect if you chose either the advanced medium or heave route next. It's part Panther and part Tiger - but not really as good as either. But for it's Tier it's a bit of a hellcat.
What difference this made was immediately apparent as heavy opponents that were my nemesis in my Tier V Panzer III/IV - such as the Soviet KVs and ISs - suddenly started to feel my wrath! My very first encounter with a IS in my upgraded VK resulted in him starting to retreat when my first shot took 25% off his health and then I continued to demolish him with another three snap shots (I could have probably done the job with fewer if I hadn't been so excited)!
Up until this point KVs, ISs and other heavily armoured heavies had one tactic when facing lower tier mediums - run at them! Their frontal armour was near impenetrable to anything up to low velocity 75mms. But now they backed off - at last I could be the king of the mediums AND scare some of the big boys too - plus, as I was still a medium and once I had upgraded my engine, I could still pull a pretty good speed.
Above: The result of my very first game with my upgraded VK 3001 (H), oh baby feel my wrath! Grrrr!
As you can probably tell by how much I have rambled on, there was indeed a lot of fun to be had playing World of Tanks for free. I was surprised that I could have just as much fun with some surprisingly mediocre tanks as I could with my premium land battleships. In fact in two obvious ways the lower tier tanks were actually better - for a start they were cheap to own and repair, cost of shells and repairs did not make me flinch every time the bill came up in the after game debrief, and also for their price they reaped a good income.
The problem with my huge metal behemoths is that the cost a bomb (pun intended) every time you fire a shell, they are eye-wateringly expensive to repair, they rarely make all that much profit unless you get a multi-kill spree and some medals and if your tank is completely destroyed you can be nearly reduced to tears.
The low tier tanks can sometimes lead you into a bit of a casual approach to doing the suicidal - after all you aren't loosing much, but you soon start playing a little more craftily and really begin to enjoy out-witting the bigger tanks with your nippy play. My Panzer III/IV was not sold on when I up'd a tier, it remains a favourite in my garage because it's fun to play!
My VK maybe sold if I decide to progress to the ultimate WW2 medium, the Panther, but once you own a few good tanks you do really start to roll in the XP, especially useful if you can turn these tanks into 'Elite' by researching all the available upgrades. You then have the choice of contributing the spare XP to other purchases or pouring it all into training up your crew.
Yes, it has been a very long haul to get from Tier I to Tier VI, and I would have done that in about half the time or less if I had opted for a Premium membership (and even quicker if I had bought my way through the tech tree), but if I had I would have missed out on the benefits that this meandering progression offered me. I whizzed by some tanks with my premium membership, seeing them as no more than stepping stones to the next level and by doing this I missed out on some excellent little gems.
Playing WoT for free is a great way to really understand the tanks that have been offered to you, you have time to appreciate them properly and get to know their eccentricities and you actually fall in love with some of them. In other words you get to know them personally.
The biggest surprise of all is that I still have and play my LOL-Tractor! It's just ridiculous - and slightly - bizarre fun!
...And as for playing German tanks, well, know your enemy that's what I say! ;)
Milgeek rating for World of Tanks 'for free':
We all know teh legendery AK47 is built to take whatever you can throw at it - and I have seen it buried in sand, mud and snow to prove this, but this is taking things to extremes...
Neatorama reports: "Yes, the shoulder stock of this AK-47 is from a shovel. That's not the impressive part. The receiver--the housing for the action--is also from a shovel. Yes, really! Boris melted, reforged, reshaped, cut and welded the blade of a shovel into a completely functional receiver. The result is a beautiful piece of post-apocalyptic engineering."
Oh happy day! Finally, the very first operation squadron flying the new Lockheed Martin F-35B (Joint Strike Fighter) has been officially activated. The honour goes to the US Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the 'Green Knights'...(Bear with the slow start with the titles)...
If you have been one of this really nice people who has been following my blog for some time (thank you btw) you will know I have been a very keen follower of the new Royal Navy advanced aircraft carrier saga. The news that the F-35 has reached operational status is a mile stone towards the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers reaching fruition (though there is a while to go yet).
I am afraid I am one of these annoying people that believes we DO need to have the ability to project our military forces globally, particularly given recent belligerence from the Argentineans and our air operation over Libya. I have bemoaned the complete stupidity of the MoD giving up what fixed wing carrier ability we had before introducing it's replacement.
Despite the fact that this American design effectively ended the legendary British Harrier production I happen to think it's a superb design and we - the tax payer - put £200 million into it's creation and both Rolls Royce and BAE have a hand in the development of the aircraft.
Both the RAF and Royal Navy will eventually be equipped with F-35 variants, although just how many varies depending on how skint the government thinks we are!
...You know, when I grew up in the late 1960s we had thought we had seen the last single seat fighter - the BAE Lightening - and that the way to go was multi-role, multi-crewed aircraft like the MRCA (Tornado). It's great to see that both the air force and the navy will have world beating single-seat fighters well into the mid 21st century...When we will all be replaced by robots!