Out Of Reach

Gerrof moi server...

So, I quite enjoy a bit of FPS… as I’ve mentioned before, one of my long term favourite games has been Counter Strike: Source because of its fast paced action and the fact that you’re playing against real people rather than bots or AI. Now, I understand a lot of people balk at the idea of playing with online randoms and, to be honest, I can understand why, but really, with the option of mute buttons and even block options it’s no big deal these days. In the world of CS:S the most annoying people were indeed about 12 years old and all they wanted to do was sing or swear to make themselves look big and clever – without realising the opposite was usually the case. Besides which, nearly all my play on the game was done on a server where I had full admin powers, so the options to warn, mute, kick, or ban were always available and, inevitably, because of the server policies and the decent admin team enforcing them (without becoming overbearing), it became a great place to play and had a real community buzz about it.

During that time though one of the things that always got me was the apparent skill of some players! Hacks and cheaters aside (they were usually quite easy to spot), there were some folk out there on the interwebs whose hand/eye/mouse click coordination, coupled – I think – with superfast connection speeds, gave them godlike powers and the ability to headshot from a virtual mile off, using nothing but a tiny pistol. More than a few times in a session I was left looking bewildered (and cursing at the screen – no pressing the mic key) as to how I could have possibly died when I couldn’t see anyone, let alone fix them in my crosshairs.

Over the last 18 months or so I’ve been doing far more Xbox 360 gaming and have kinda missed the whole FPS type of game. I tried Call of Duty 3 (and, more recently, World At War) and, whilst it was ok, it didn’t really grab me by the balls enough to make me want to play online with randoms, apart from a brief foray into Nazi Zombies (we won’t go into Gears Of War and its hideous controls).

Borderlands wasn’t quite the same either, and as much as I adore the game and the RPG element, along with the awesome array of weapons available, whether they be spawned in the game itself (still holding out for pearlies!) or made by people in Willow Tree, the multiplayer side was vastly different to other FPS style games in that it was co-op. Bloody good fun all round, but not a replacement for CS:S really, yet I put in many, many hours with Markuz and it actually became my first ever full on 1000 cheevie max. Alas, I’ve not quite maxed the DLC yet, as Claptrap’s Robot Revolution DLC was a little glitched and we’ve kinda moved away from it in recent months, still, I hope to get back and find all the pizzas and bobbleheads at some point.

Enter HALO: Reach. Now, I’d never in my life played a HALO game (sue me!) and wasn’t really sure what to expect, but Kat was doing a 24 hour marathon in the multiplayer side of things and I wanted to help out and support her, so bought the game a few days ahead of the charity event and got stuck in.  The day of the marathon soon came and oh my effing god how much fun was that? It was like CS:S all over again with the frantic pace, the range of maps, the verbal abuse from friends in party chat, running around trying to find a better weapon and… yep, you’ve guessed it, the bloody ninja skills of faceless l33t players killing me time and time again, despite my best efforts at unloading a full magazine at their heads. Well, I thought I was unloading a magazine at their heads, but the fact that I died and they didn’t probably meant I was only aiming at the vicinity and not actually hitting them all that much.

How the hell do these people do it? I mean seriously! I’m not that shabby when it comes to these things (except in Borderlands multiplayer when I sometimes become distracted by a pick up/crate and apparently become a liability).  After a couple of weeks of playing I was getting decent scores and even winning an occasional round but, even then, I was (and still am) getting taken out in various ways by shots and grenades (we don’t talk about stickies) that come from nowhere and do maximum damage, despite my best efforts to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and… dodge. Then there are the ones who can sneak behind you without you even registering they’re there until they stick a knife in your back or snap your neck as you splutter more than a few expletives.

There are some very scarily talented folk out there, and I assume there are no easy ways of hacking a 360 and patching the game with dodgy bot skills. Even tinkering with my controller settings to make my crosshair move faster and centre automatically didn’t help much. Where on earth does one learn the precision and control that these folk out there achieve? How does one maintain a fix on an opponent that dashes around behind you in a blur that you can’t possibly match or follow? I for one am at a loss to get anywhere close to matching it.  Could someone find out, then bottle it and sell it to us mere mortals so we can elevate our game to those levels and possibly get a little more satisfaction and enjoyment from it?

Anyone got connections to Dragons’ Den because I’d buy that for a dollar.  Or two…

Last five articles by Pete



  1. Ste says:

    It’s called youth mate! I remember my Counterstrike days way back when. Man I was a lean mean AK47 toting machine! As I got gradually older my l33t skillz began to fade and fade. I recently installed CS for old times sake a few weeks ago. I played for about an hour and only managed to pick up a handful of kills compared to countless deaths. Those kids were just too fast I couldn’t keep up. :-/ I suppose you can argue that being good at FPS games requires plenty of practice, which is true, however you definately need those reflexes too!

  2. Adam Adam says:

    I find this with most FPS games these days. I use to be fairly proficient at games like CS and UT but once you dip out for too long, it’s not that you lose it, it’s that everyone else gets better.

    People that are still playing 1.6 CS scare the hell out me. THEY KNOW EVERYTHING! You can’t hope to beat these guys as they’ve seen it all. It’s a similiar thing that kept me out of MW/2. I didn’t know the maps well enough and never lived long enough because everyone else did. Reach manages to keep fairly open for me as I’m an Armour Lock noob, worst case scenario, I lock and wait for the guy behind me to arrive.

    More of Borderlands though :) Co-Op FPS is my own personal future and so long as I have good friends for it, I’m in.

  3. Pete Pete says:

    @Ste – I only started playing CSS about 5 years back so it’s not really an age thing lol Just a lack of definite skillz ;)

    @Adam – anytime you want to Borderlands Co-op just shout :D may need to add me on XBL first though lol

  4. Adam Adam says:

    I’m a PC Borerlands-er :p

    Not long completed my first playthrough, re-started my 2nd with the Siren and thought I’d make a start on the DLC. Went straight onto Ned’s island at level 37 with everything being level 42. I think it was a bad idea :p My awesome handcannon of 800+ damage per shot turned out to be quite useless and I was torn to shreds (for the first time in the whole game).

  5. Pete Pete says:

    ooh… you need some of the weapons Mr Uzr created :D

    I remember you saying you’re a PC Borderlans-er… that’s a bugger! Think Chief is planning on giving it a go though :D

  6. Ste says:

    @Adam – I’m a PC Borderlands..er too. Still on my 1st playthrough. I ususally play with my brother but got my Dad a copy recently and we all rolled new characters together. Its fun, it’s just finding the time to all play together

    @Pete – If I’m honest mate Source is shit anyway. 1.6 is where it’s at. Old skool and all that crap

  7. FC360 says:

    I suck and always will suck at online games sometimes I’ll get really lucky and win or come very close to winning, at times I feel like a ragdoll or a target the gamers use for target practise I just suck at all games I play on and I don’t seem to be able to do anything about it, well apart from playing the game constantly 24/7. A mate comes over every few weeks and we spend the whole day playing halo I have yet to defeat him and he doesn’t game that often.

  8. Edward Edward says:

    See, the thing I’ve had is that I was never really that good at FPS games, and was only as good as the people I used to play with. Due to my lack of PC gaming and my preference to playing with friends over randoms, I’ve never felt much compulsion to practice, and with the influx of games I need to play that’s really unlikely to change soon, sadly.
    However, I can completely empathise with the moment when you take the dive and everyone is so good you swear they’re glitching or cheating, the bastards.

    Great stuff, Pete :D

  9. Lee says:

    I suck ass at online fps’s although halos match making system is certainly the most balanced so I never feel like I’m getting totally spanked. Much prefer playing with friends now but I’m always the heavy weapons / wheelman

  10. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Screw FPS games… I want to know how the guys on Command And Conquer are able to defeat me so quickly when I see myself as something of a veteran player! I remember one particular evening when my planned co-op didn’t work out despite hours of pissing around with routers to try and get the connection working, and so I ended up playing a handful of randoms. I say “playing a handful” but what I really mean is “having my arse handed to me”.


    You know how C&C works, right? You start off, you build your first building in order to unlock another building, which then unlocks perhaps three or four others… and this continues until you’re able to actually bulid a decent base where aircraft and tanks are being churned out to allow you to kill the swine. Not what happened. Instead, I finish the first building (the obligatory power station) and just as I’m about 80% of the way through the next building (the barracks, so I can then build the airfield), I get attacked by two bombers. Not one, but two.

    SO before I can even build a barracks, this guy has moved on to an airfield AND two bombers (which aren’t quick to build) and was able to destroy my entire base before I could even get started. That’s not fair play as far as I’m concerned, because I want to actually PLAY a game. It’s not all about the win for me, it’s about the fun I have leading up to the win or the defeat. It’s about tactics, strategising, building. To the guys I played with online that night, however, it was about destroying as quickly as possible and moving on to the next idiot.

    It was the last time I played C&C online.

  11. Lorna Lorna says:

    I’m just glad that I tend to avoid gaming online unless I have to or actually really feel like it. No matter what the game, there is always some bastard who, within hours of the release, will be an expert and destroy all in their path. Some folk play nothing but a tiny core of games, day in, day out, so have honed stupid levels of skill to the point that they are untouchable.

  12. Samuel Samuel says:

    Pete, you’re doing yourself a disservice here mate. I’ve played with you on Reach enough times, and you’re not that bad. You’re probably better than I am, actually. Yeah you can die without ever seeing who got you, but so can everyone. It happens to me more times than I care to count. And not just on consoles, even on the PC where my ability at FPS games increases by a factor of maybe a hundred (mouse and keyboard are superior, always) you’ll always find someone who can stab you in the back or blow your head off from a mile away. It’s just one of those things.

    Actually, sniping headshots is kind of my speciality, as you know. It’s about the only way I score on Reach these days. So expect at least a few more mysterious deaths without ever seeing who fired the shot, heh heh.

  13. Chris Toffer says:

    Great article mate. I know exactly what you mean. When I was planning in a clan I generally wasn’t too bad at all, but there’s always someone better then you and these day’s I can’t touch half the guys out there. It’s all about how much your willing to committ!

  14. Adam R Adam R says:

    I feel I’m fairly decent at FPS’s and i chalk that up to misspent youth. Instead of doing homework or studying a group of us would just spend hours on end playing halo.

    Still, I always take more enjoyment playing with friends than randoms, despite skill level.

  15. Kat says:

    I actually started to get quite good at Halo this January. Not quite l33t but coming top of leaderboards with randoms. That was only because I was playing everyday and learning the maps well. I think some people are actually part-cyborg. My friend Ste (MacD) is something else when it comes to games. There must be a race of super-gamers with amazing hand-eye coordination and reaction speeds.

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