Sunday, 7 July 2013

A brief FPS chat!

Hello...There! My faceless chums...

I've not posted for a few weekends due to THINGS happening, which have left me either too tired to contribute to the endless amounts of pointless crapola on the internet, or too busy to find a couple of hours to construct my usual blah blah.

So I thought you deserved something brilliant, something so extraordinarily entertaining it will live on in your brains forever, something moving, emotive, something that strikes a chord with your very soul. Something truly wonderful.

But I'm too thick, so you can have this instead.

FPS. First Person Shooter. Shooting games. Shoot 'em ups. Gunny Bang Bang Do.

I have played around 4 different shooters across my gaming life so far, and enjoyed some more than others. Basically, an FPS involves you being in control of a pair of hands/arms brandishing a weapon of some description, mowing down enemies for some reason or other, and being in possession of various superhuman strengths necessary for surviving multiple bullet wounds and carrying tonnes of military handbags full of grenades.

The first one I recall with any sort of clarity is Operation Wolf, an arcade conversion which I ran on my dear old Amstrad CPC 464 (with colour monitor, yo). Look below and understand:

Look at those glistening arms, shuddering with exertion as he aims his huge cannon at....STOP.

 Like all FPS games, Operation Wolf was comically macho, as the pic above demonstrates. No metrosexual, hair-product using, pierced-face animé collectors here, just monumentally angry, tanned bodybuilders desperate to destroy you and everything you stood for! And why not?

OK, so the point of the game was to rescue some bumbling POWs that couldn't be arsed doing their jobs properly as usual. In order to do this you had to shoot through waves of fellow human beings, men with wives & children, pets & hobbies. It was a moral dilemma, but goddamit those POWs had families too, AMERICAN families, so leave your morality in the goddamn locker room. Etc.

As the waves intensified, tanks rolled on, helicopters flew on, chaps fired Bazookas at me, and the screen was basically awash with bullets and explosions. You could acquire grenade power-ups, I think, but the most clear memory I have is that in order to acquire health you had to SHOOT an OIL DRUM, which revealed a fully cooked ROAST CHICKEN. Which you then SHOT to consume!

Some valuable lessons in life to be found there, Son.

Anyway, as the ever-present AC-130 containing the stupid hostages sped away to safety, leaving me behind swamped in fanatical bodybuilders, the most gratitude the ungrateful sods could show me was a feeble 'Thank you'...Oh, and they made sure they said this as the plane was taking off, that lot couldn't get the cargo bay door shut quick enough! 'Thanks, but no thanks' they clearly meant.

Oh, I should mention that you didn't control some hands/arms in Op Wolf, you dealt death via a ghostly reticle that lurched about on the screen. It was like being there!

Next, DOOM. Look, it's here:

I used to play with lights out, trying not to do a fear-poo.

Doom was savoured (for me at least) via the PlayStation. It was properly atmospheric, creepy and Gothic with lots of charming Devil-worshipping* touches. I can't remember what the point of all this pixellated Satanism was, something like find your way out of hell I think, which had the odd starting point of the planet Mars. Is that right? Dunno.

Anywhich, you shot stuff, chainsawed stuff, BFG 9000'ed stuff, and generally knocked loads of blood out of lots of spiky demons, all over the place over and over forever. A bit rubbish really. For those interested, you controlled hands AND arms.

Somehow, I have no idea why, this game has become a bit like a nerd version of the Turin Shroud, a relic so holy that to criticise it is to be damned forever by your peers. Well, get ready for this, I didn't even bother finishing this game and there is nothing you can do about it. So go away.

How about Star Wars: Battlefront I & II? Both great, both lovely, and both written about previously in a post I made in May, entitled 'Let's punch a Wookie!', which is available for your consideration in the 'archive' section of my electronic internet word area, or 'blog'. Go and rejoice in my talent!

I enjoyed Halo, I think. I remember playing loads of co-op with my mate Mick, and he was properly immersed in the whole thing, giving clipped military commands and telling me to 'secure' things. I love it when games make non-gamers forget that they have accidentally slipped into our world, it's priceless, so I'll always have good memories of Halo. I bought the Xbox for it, you know!

Right. RIGHT. I want to do this next bit justice, because it's actually properly important to me. This game defined how I would play games from that point on, it made a change so deep in me that it left me a different person. It remains the only game, ever, that made me bark at my wife.

I loved this game like no other, it's called Half-Life 2 Deathmatch. Look and nod:

Too excited to get a decent pic, were we?
Everybody that ever even stood near a PC gamer knows how good Half-Life 2 is, no need to bother cooking that particular meal again. It's awesome, we all know this. So blah. But I have to mention it a little bit, to get the tale going. Think of the next bit as being narrated by either Morgan Freeman, or Sir Ian McKellen, all those two seem to do is narrate movie openings in that benevolent, patronising protective old know-it-all voice. I hate them for this to be honest, but that's not your problem!

When I fell into PC gaming I was clueless as to what Half-Life was. I was in the pub with a guy called Bob, who happened to be a PC gamer at that point. He was asking about my new comp, how was I getting on and all that, and which games had I bought. I told him I'd picked up Half-Life 2 Game Of The Year edition, and he was universal in his praise for it. I explained how I was struggling adapting to WASD + mouse, and was more than a bit unwilling to learn.

I had the following monday off, so I thought to myself 'OK Lee, let's give this a proper stab'. So I did. I was unhappy for a while, but then I got better. And better. And then I found HL2 DM.

My memories of the first few weeks are crystal clear. I was whipped everywhere I went, smashed to pieces relentlessly by toilets, saw blades and projectile bidets. Not finishing last was my target...

Anecdote Fast Forward Engaged >>>>>>

...So I ended up really really good at it. I was one of those players that won every round, an annoying show-off that could not be killed. It was all I played, and I played A LOT. Hours and hours, everyday without fail. I couldn't ignore the call of the leaderboards. I loved it, man.

One evening, just as I was engaged in a high-stress duel with an equally fantastic player (I know, I know) the wife came home from work and insisted on saying hello to me. Can you believe it??

I roared "F***ING HELL WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT THEN?!?" Being the ultra-cool, balanced woman she is, she just walked out of the room. I sat burning with despair, as I slipped behind the lead player, never to recover those precious few kills that made a huge difference at a high level. God, it was pathetic AND ridiculous, like Mr. Pathetic and Ms.Ridiculous had a kid and named it ME RIGHT NOW. What a laughable scenario!

Anyway, the point in revealing this trash to you is that I had never been, nor will I ever be so totally consumed by a video game. How many hours did I put in? I could have built a bomb shelter!

So, from HL2 DM onwards I tended to eschew single player stuff, in favour of multiplayer gaming. I wasn't interested unless there was a scoreboard and an online leaderboard somewhere to climb.

I have a pal that insists this attitude is damaging, and I agree with him to be honest. So of late I've bought some single player 'story' titles, which I've been having a go at. They're alright, but they don't have that magnetic hypno-signal that HL2 DM had. I don't play it at all now, and when I do bother to try, I find it to be utterly empty apart from horrible 'Team' servers full of hackers teleporting about, and generally being a dashed nuisance. Confound it! But I had my fun, so I can't moan too much.

Also, you had power over a pair of hands, no arms this time. I know this detail is important to you.

FPS is a nice genre, with lots of choice. Of the same thing, mostly. But it's still choice! Hurray!

I have played Quake, Call Of Duty, Counterstrike, Stalker, Crysis, Bioshock, Unreal, Planetside 2, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Wolfenstein, Battlefield, Team Fortress 2.....and loads more, obviously. None of them were awful, surprisingly. Most were pretty interesting, for a while or two.

So yeah, there you go. The conclusion is: some FPS is alright, mostly.

...Erm. See you next week?

GL & HF!

*DOOM was accused by some passing Priests of being an introduction to Satanism, have a Google if that sounds up your street.

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