Alliance of Valiant Arms: A Game of The Future

Developer: REDDUCK

Distributer: NHN USA

Publisher: IJJI

Pros:

Weapon Customisation
Distinctive in-game class changes
Unique Achievements

Cons:

Similar to other modern FPS MMOs

Alliance of Valiant Arms (AVA) is a modern FPS game like many others apart from the fact that the game has included top-notch graphics along with an in-depth story and varied gameplay. AVA is based on a fictitious war between the European Union (EU) and the Neo-Russian Federation (NRF).

Even though many other game companies have brought their own FPS games, even though these other games are similar to AVA and that the game does not exactly break away from the modern FPS mould, the refined graphics and smooth gameplay makes it a first class F2P game.

In-game

After character creation, which does not offer much, the player is asked whether they wish to do the tutorial anyone who has played a MMOFPS before would find that they do not need to do this, I would recommend that people do complete this as at the end it gives some money, in this game Euros are the currency. During a game it is easy to notice how graphically beautiful the surroundings are including the detail on the guns.

The overall gameplay of AVA is different when playing compared to games like Combat Arms or WolfTeam as these run off a game engine called Lithtech, while AVA uses the same as Unreal Tournament 3 and Gears of War, the more powerful and contemporary Unreal Engine 3, this means that even though AVA is similar to other games it has noticeably different and slicker gameplay.

Customisation

The game has three classes that can be changed at any point during a game and in the lobby; Pointman, Sniper, Rifleman. Obviously the names say what weapons they can use, Pointmen are close-quarters, Snipers long range, and Riflemen are effective at either. Each class has their own individual weapons that can be purchased from the shop and equipped before being used in the shop.

Quite possibly the best thing about AVA is the weapon customisation available, while only a few weapons are available at the moment, the customisation of those accessible is major, the front, mount, barrel, grip, trigger, stock and even the colour can be changed.

Achievements

Another feature that you would be hard-pressed to find in another game is the achievements, the player can earn medals and badges from doing a variety of things, such as killing a person with a grenade to playing and winning on a certain map. There are also harder achievements to obtain such as getting 1,000 kills or playing 1,000 hours, these achievements add a little extra to enhance the game, things like equipment or money can be acquired by getting these achievements.

Look, Listen

Everything from the game interface to the sounds just screams quality at the user. Small things that some people may not notice like the map is nicely integrated into the game, the games map is highly detailed, not just showing where your teammates are but where the last known position of the enemy were and where people have recently being killed. Even the sounds are nicely incorporated into the game, the voice-overs are well timed and don’t sound ridiculous, these small hardly noticeable things just adds to the overall quality of the game.

Game Modes

There are a few differences in some of the game modes available compared to other Tactical MMOFPS;

Escort – where the EU team has to escort a tank to the other side of a map while the NRF team uses RPGs to immobilise the tank. The sides swap when either the time runs out or the one team manages to get the tank to the end.

Demolition – The name speaks for itself as in many other games, the EU must plant a C4 charge in a specified area while the NRF have to defuse it. Eliminating the other team is another way to win the round. In each round if you die you have to wait until the round is over before you respawn.

Annihilation – This is basically a team deathmatch mode, where one team has to reach either 80 or 180 kills before the other.

Convoy – The EU team must retrieve a nuclear suitcase while the NRF have to stop them. In each round if you die you have to wait until the round is over before you respawn.

Prison Break – A Team of 4 people must find and kill a set amount of prisoners then battle their way out of the prison area. In Prison Break there are two separate missions, the first is Survival – Where the goal is to survive as long as possible against AI opponents. Players have a chance to acquire additional ammunition or health packs from enemy kills Using explosive drums to help kill a number of enemy.

Escape – Where players must reach the exit point before the mission timer runs out. The mission can fail when the timer runs out before reaching the exit point or the player team is annihilated. There are 3 rounds in Escape; Round 1 is to kill as many AI enemy as possible, Round 2 is to activate 4 different controller that open gates that are needed to pass onto the next round and finally Round 3 is to destroy the controllers with C4 to open the final gate to the helipad. This all has to be done while the enemy AI continually respawn.

Quit Coffee, Improve Your Health and Travel the World

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on alcohol, which stirred a few emotions amongst some friends. Alcohol is something I can quite happily give a miss, as it really isn’t that close to my heart. So I thought I’d face up to something that is a little closer to home.

COFFEE. Mmmmmmm. I only have to walk past a coffee shop and the aroma wafting out past my nostrils gets me practically drooling like Homer Simpson over ch-o-c-o-late.

It’s fair to say the latte lifestyle is ingrained in me. Sitting around and catching up with your mates, whilst sipping away on your favorite beverage (mine’s flat white, extra hot, made with love). What a great way to spend half hour. And judging by the five coffee shops within a 100m of me (I’m in one writing this), understandably it’s ingrained in many others too.

I’ve just had the barista tell me that they sell on average about 800-1200 cups a day! So it’s easy to say I’m not the only coffee lover around here. What amazes me more is that, I contribute on average, about two of those cups. At $3.50 a pop that’s $49 a week, and $2,548 a year! There’s a return flight to the other side of the world right there. Ouch.

We always recognise coffee, or even more so caffeine, as a bit of a pick me up. It clears the foggy cloud hanging above your head first thing in the morning, and then a mid afternoon fix to get you over the finish line for the day. Interestingly too, caffeine is often touted as a weight loss stimulant.

Firstly, I think we can all agree that if you keep things in perspective, the body copes well. Ie. You eat wholesome and natural most meals, but throw in a pizza once in a while, no problem. But it’s when the scales start to tip the other way the body starts to give out.

I’m the first to defend coffee, as I love the taste and the whole culture that goes with it, so I feel I can justify the odd cup, but I know those scales have started to tip, which has now led me to start digging a little further and finding out what the effects are of a regular caffeine hit are, and this is what I came up with.

When you have a cup of coffee, it initiates uncontrolled neurons firing in the brain, which triggers the pituitary gland to secrete a hormone that tells your adrenal gland to wake up and release adrenalin.

So this response now puts you in ‘fight or flight‘ mode, which I’m sure you’re all aware of, and of course you can see the great benefits of this ‘fight or flight’ safety mechanism that’s embedded in each and every one of us like a loaded gun, ready to go off at the slightest sniff of threat or danger, while we sit in our office chair or the cafe checking our emails first thing in the morning.

With this in mind, your body has just been put on red alert, with the biggest danger you’ll probably have is spilling your cuppa or writing a typo.

So you may get a bit of a lift from this, (as it generally raises blood sugar too, which is counter productive for weight loss), but of course, you come down with a crash later on in the day. Consistently doing this day in day out will put undue stress on your adrenal glands, forcing your glands to secrete when there’s not much there to give, which exhausts them over time, and can contribute to mood swings, depression, fatigue etc.

And just to lay some icing on the cake, caffeine inhibits Iron and Zinc absorption by up to 50%, especially if consumed near meal times. Just type it into Google, there’s plenty of thoughts on it.

Now, after re-reading what I’ve just wrote, I’m trying to put logic and meaning to every coffee I’ve had to date:-

Pros

– Tastes amazing (to me)

– Social aspect (good excuse to hang out and chat)

– Heightened awareness for short period of time, in case of any lightning speed reactions needed while I’m sitting on my butt.

– And it’s cheap at $3.50. Just for a little daily treat.

Cons

– At $3.50 a mug twice a day, you’ve got a round the world ticket. If you halved that to one cup, I’ve still got a surf trip to Bali (from Sydney) once a year.

– There’s an art to living stress free with out the daily curve balls thrown at us. Do we need to compound this more by putting our endocrine system under stress, which can contribute to mood swings, depression, fatigue etc.

– Food here in the city these days lacks enough nutrients as it is, especially through processing. So do we want to effect that any more than we need to?

Conclusion?

My favourite beverage has just taken on a whole new look. If I bury my head in the sand a little longer, surely no one would want to come up behind me and kick me up the arse!

Foursquare Holds the Aces in Social Networking

I remember a famous line from a blockbuster Hollywood movie of the 90’s. If someone asks you for a help or a favor, always ask that person, “What is in it for me?” We have always been the barter society, working on the lines of give and take since God known when! Quid-pro-quo has been the way the world works, materialistically or emotionally. What has changed though is the way in which this crudeness is presented by the marketers and businessmen in-front of the people. The business strategies have become more and more subtle in the ways they approach people with their offerings. But this always has a consistent fake undertone that says – There isn’t anything for me in it! But that still is the basic philosophy of business. To give and Take.

Stepping into the 21st century, a mind boggling number of ways exist in which brands are marketing and selling themselves. Social networking websites are slowly but surely becoming the alpha male, something which Televsion was for radio at one time. Mainstream advertising, though still a huge industry, is surely feeling the heat of the unlimited opportunities that the web provides for marketing and advertising. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have already been talked about at length at almost every available web space. According to a survey by Regus, more than half of companies worldwide now use various social networks and about 40 percent of companies say they’ve had success in finding new customers using social networks.

Another Player

Innovation has always been the key to online success. Following the same footsteps, FourSquare, a location-based mobile application is breaking new grounds in innovative business activity. The social-networking tool encourages people to check in at places they visit all around their vicinity, whether it’s a local grocery store or bar. This tool also facilitates keeping one’s friends updated about where one is or where one is spending most of his/her time as every time a person checks in at a location a message goes out to their friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook telling them of the person’s location.

What’s the Hype?

Apart from being a great way to explore the city, this social networking tool also rewards you for visiting a new place or revisiting an old place. In-case the place you visit happens to be a business center or a shop then the perks are a little more materialistic!

A boon for small businesses you can say. These small businesses are encouraged to give special discounts and offers for people who become repeat visitors. The person who checks in the most is named “The Mayor” of that place and gets even better perks or offers from the same place. Such repeat visiting behavior is reverberated to all the friends of the individual through the mobile application or the website. This obviously leads to an increase in the number of customer visits for the shop or the business center and adds to the overall popularity of the place. A great example would be Starbucks. The coffee giant has seen the number of Foursquare check-ins at its US outlets jump by 50% since launching a promotion recently to give Mayors $1 off Frappuccinos. A win-win situation for the website, the companies and the consumers!

The perks

The website is a great way to promote one’s brand or shop. But that’s not all. This tool provides a lot more to the companies in the form of analytical information about who is using the site, such as when people check in, whether they make a return visit and the demographics of who is checking in.

Another success story comes in the form of Dominos. The Pizza giant recently posted a surge of 29% in pre-tax profits to £17.5 million and all this owing to a super-fans programs and the development of a link up with Foursquare.

Jumping the Gun?

FourSquare has limitless potential in the real world business activities. But when it comes to an Internet-based business though, the opportunities can be harder to envision as location isn’t a useful piece of information for an e-commerce website. Considering that Foursquare’s still very young, therefore it would not be a smart move to start planning a full budget blowout on this tool. It still has a long way to go before breaking a considerable ground in the online marketing space.