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I know it's REALLY early since Shadow Company (I suppose I'll refer to Shadow Company as SC from now on even though that abbreviation also means StarCraft) and Doobic has decided to design SC around Combat Arms (which I will refer to as CA) while it was in it's beta stage and a LOT has changed since then I'd like to share my thoughts on the two and how SC improves/falls short of CA.

I know a lot of players are going to be asking about the GP/NX gun imbalance and if that has already plagued Shadow Company. The answer is obviously not yet. Right now and until after the game is out of alpha gun balance is probably one of the last things on the Developers' minds and isn't a problem since there are only a few guns anway. Their main focus should be on getting rid of all the bugs that are causing lag or are making the game unplayable (such as the map initialization bug), making sure there aren't any sort of conflicts with other programs or operating systems (32 bit and 64 bit) and overall making sure the game has a strong foundation for future patches. To be honest I don't think there is much of a gun imbalance in CA since a lot of the fairly good, low rank guns are now customizable and comparable to NX rares. For example a fully customized M416 (assuming that each "+" is equal to one point in each stat) has 1 point less damage, 20 less bullets and 8 points less portability than the Baron's M416 CQB in exchange for the ability to have an ACOG scope, 3 points less recoil and 3 points higher accuracy and fire rate. Nexon has leaked even more customization levels so potentially you could have an M416 that has even less recoil and more damage than the M416's counterpart. I have almost no doubt that there will be some sort of imbalance in SC (I'm even more certain that the community will embellish the problem and make it seem worse than what it is too) but aside from shotties being considered secondary weapons the guns are fairly balanced at the moment.

Something that may come as a surprise to a lot of people but Doobic has decided that shot guns are secondary weapons like pistols (CA was like this during beta). To make shotties more unique Doobic decided to make shotties have terrible range compared to most other games and in real life and they either decided that they had such terrible range that they must be made into secondary weapons since no one would be able to use such a low range weapon as their primary gun or the Devs decided to cater to the close range players by giving them more fire power if they ran out of ammo during a gun fight. There is only two shotguns at the moment and to put it in perspective for all of the CA players they are fairly similar to the M3 Super 90 (except with even shorter range and a bit more damage) so the game is by no means unplayable as most people don't even have this shotgun but shotguns still have a huge advantage in pistol only matches. Overall this is still a little game breaking but luckily Nexon will probably put shotguns into the primary gun section like they have in CA.

One of the greatest strengths of CA is the backpack system.  In CA you are allowed to take a backpack and you can stuff it with pretty much any weapon(s) you want (for some reason you can't have more than 1 knife though).  From a company perspective this is good since it encourages players to buy a lot of guns so they can be ridiculously armed to the teeth.  However a lot of people see this as a problem since some people with no skill stuff their backpack full of explosives and let them fly in hopes of getting a lucky kill but for more skilled players this allowed players to have multiple weapons with varying weapon ranges at the same time.  A big problem with FPS games in general is weapon types since maps with only one weapon type in mind make other weapon types useless and makes the map boring since you know what your opponents are using and snipers will only be used for their 1 hit kill capabilities.  Likewise a map can accommodate several weapons in different areas such as having an area with a lot of CQC or a lot of good sniping spots but then snipers are locked into only a few places and if you have a sub-machine gun and the only competent player on your opponent's side is a sniper you won't stand much of a chance unless you exit the game room to get a sniper or die so you can respawn with a different weapon.  This is so problematic in many FPS games that they feel like giant games of Rock, Paper, Scissors since your chances of winning a firefight are largely determined by if you happened to be using a weapon at its intended range and if your opponent isn't.  CA's backpack system allows players to have an assortment of weapons so you won't be hindered by effective range.  For example, if your getting a lot of kills with a submachine gun and your opponents decide to counter you by shooting you at a distance you can put a long range Assault rifle in you backpack beforehand and take them out without having to duck behind cover and trying to get to a range where your weapon is effective.  In SC they decided to remove this feature and replace it with a loadout system where you can switch between loadouts every spawn. To compensate they decided to make big maps where snipers can have a range advantage in parts of the map while enough cover for CQC players or small with sniper perches. This has all been done before (it isn't particularly bad compared to a lot of games either) but I still think there should be more diversity. If the Devs add in one more multi-purpose slot like in CA (without the option of getting a 4 slot backpack like in CA) it will add in a lot more diversity in tactics and will give players a lot more options with one life. Since there are 5 slots total (2 when you start the game. I am unsure if the other 3 slots are unlocked by rank or real money) there is a strong possibility that most players won't even have to change their equipment around before game like in CA and a lot of other games. You could have a sort of multipurpose 1st slot when you enter the room so you can scout out how the game is going to work out. If a lot of people are camping and are vulnerable to ambush you could swap to a quick CQC loadout or if there area lot of people camping corners with 1 shot kill snipers you could have a slot with another nade. Looking at the shop (which is also called the black market) Nexon's main source of revenue is going to be in guns and since Nexon actually knows how to earn money there is a huge possibility that they are going to add in some sort of backpack option at some point.

Instead of getting GP (Gear Points) in SC you get Cr (credits) which are essentially the same thing but in SC it is very obvious on how you get them. While in game it shows you your score and every time you get a kill it adds some points and if you get an assist it gives you less points. It is nice to see how you are rewarded (and it's nice to know that the points you get are based off of your kills so bad players will get almost no points. This way baddies with terrible scores will get no points for being on the winning team like in CA) but like with a lot of other games I'm not sure it's a good idea to tell players how many points they are getting. If you make it too easy for players to tell how much rewards they are going to get for what they do players will try to break even in points and some of the casual atmosphere is lost because a lot of players will be busy trying to get the necessary points to repair their guns and buy new ones. Luckily guns are permanent (the guns bought with Cr are anyway) and the default gun in SC isn't as bad as the default gun in CA but SC still keeps the mentality of CA where you have to make sure you have enough points for your equipment but in a different way. Doobic said that they are still looking into how transactions are going to be made so eventually the system may be changed in such a way that getting Cr doesn't feel like such a looming problem.

Something that a lot of people won't really think about is the game engine. If you have played a lot of other games you might notice that despite CA's bland graphics (compared to games released in the last few months) it takes up a lot of system resources while some other games like in the CoD:MW series have MUCH better graphics but takes similar resources (depending on your graphics settings). This is because the game engines used in more recent games are better and according to Wikipedia (yes I know that the phrase "according to Wikipedia" makes my argument sound weak) the previous version of the Jupiter engine used on CA was so terrible that it was unusable for multiplayer games. What makes it worse is that the Jupiter engine needs to run on Windows XP to utilize 3d sound so everyone using Windows 7 and Vista will only be able to tell how far a sound is and if the sound is closer to your right or left but not front, back, up or down (I think this has been fixed in Windows 8). Normally you would think if your making a game you should have the best game engine possible but there is a downside to having too good of a game engine. If you go on youtube and look up games in general you will find a lot of games with awesome graphics and you might be inclined to play those games. The problem with too good of a game engine is that you will get really hyped up about a game and then figure out that your computer might not be able to run the game at a reasonable frame rate if you use high graphics settings. A lot of companies put a lot of time and effort getting the latest engine without realizing that the video cards that are capable of making full use of the engine are really new and only a small portion of their player base will be able to utilize them. A lot of players in general are idiots who are trying to play a game while just barely meeting the minimum requirements and even if your computer is average if the game engine is too advanced even the average players won't be able to play the game unless they cut back on the graphics settings and often times they find that the graphics in the game on these lower settings are similar to the graphics on CA. This will hurt a game a lot since only a few people will actually be able to play the game with graphics comparable to the gameplay footage. This wouldn't be a problem in the long run since the player base will upgrade their computers over time but since the business models of most fail companies is to kill the game in less than 3 years all they will just end up doing is creating a lot of hype. In this sense I think it is acceptable that Doobic has decided to make SC using the Unreal 3 engine when the Unreal 4 engine is well on it's way.

Overall I'd suggest CA players to try out Shadow Company after it has finished beta in North America and possibly before if you really want to see how the game improves and takes shape. SC is fairly similar to CA in a lot of ways and improves on a lot of CA's shortcomings. The only problem with the game right now (except the bugs which I assume will be fixed before beta) is the loadout system but I'm fairly certain that Nexon will add in backpack slots in the near future.

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