Out Of Reach
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
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- Borderlands 2: Interview with Gearbox VP Steve Gibson