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A Tentative Foray Into Multiplayer Shooters, and Eating Lead

Maybe I havn't made as big a deal of it around here as I normally do, but in most circles I tend to inhabit I am well known for being a strictly single player kinda guy, with Street Fighter being the exception that proves the rule. So while it may come as no surprise that others are playing Battlefield 1943 religiously, it should in fact be a surprise that I spent a decent amount of time getting to grips with my fear and/or loathing of multiplayer shooters.

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So I cranked up the Xbox 360 version, cursing the fact I only bought it because Eat Lead: the Return of Matt Hazard and The Simpsons Game had not arrived in the mail that morning, expecting the worst. I had been briefly inducted into the world of Battlefield 1942 way back when, by a group of friends who were avid cyber-cafe types and suffice it to say I played for over an hour, didn't get a single kill, got pissed off and never ever returned to multiplayer shooting. Ever. I mean it, I own CoD 2, 4, Halo 3, Counter Strike Source, etc etc, and the only one of those i've even played is Halo 3, purely for the achievements then I ditched it. Multiplayer scares the shit outta me and bar a few rounds of CSS or class UT with friends I avoid at all costs.

So it's no surprise I was apprehensive while the first map was loading (I was late to the party, so no connection problems for me, woot!) and initially all those fears came flooding back along with frustration, I spent a large portion of time in my first game simply spawning, walking outside of a building and being shot in the head. It wasn't until I decided to pick the Scout, and literally run for my life until I could no longer hear gunfire that I began to enjoy myself. I found that picking off targets with the scope was relatively easy, and the ensuing game of cat and mouse once you are discovered can be a lot of fun. So I spent several hours doing this before deciding that A) If I was going to get those achievements, and B) a decent taste for all aspects of the game, I had to switch classes.

Again, initially I was frustrated, inadequate, quick to die, etc etc, but once you realise how vastly different human players are from computer AI you begin to adapt rather quickly, so I set about aiming solely for the face, abusing decent weapons, and generally blasting my way to achievements. I spent a little bit of time with each vehicle, but quickly decided that aside from the plane, they were not for me, and that I would wait until Coral Sea unlocked before trying out the plane extensively. After a while I really began to enjoy the experience, something I genuinely never thought I would be able to do, not because I was suddenly owning everyone, in fact quite the opposite I was coming bottome 5 or so most maps, very rarely did I place in the top squad. I think the main reason I began to enjoy it is because I was able to let go of my fears of multiplayer shooters, sure I get owned by people who are awesome, and in a match where the entire opposing team are legacy players that can be frustrating as all hell, but equally there are players worse than me, and overall it balances quite well and I can actually enjoy myself.

That was boosted tenfold once Coral Sea unlocked (Holy shit, I an Xbox 360 fan but even I didnt expect it to happen as quickly as it did, like 4 days or something, 43 million
kills) and I discovered just how much epic fun can be had flying around like a maniac. Now i've got all the achievements out of the way (Only one left is to play 100 matches) I can happily reduce my activity to simply sniper battles and flying around like a complete loonatic, while I decided the other character classes were not for me, I did however decide the the game was. So watch out multiplayer shooter world, i'm here to stay. Well, until the achievements dry up at least.

Also this week, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard. Or rather, today, the game is pretty damned short, 8 levels to be exact at maybe 30 minutes a piece on normal difficulties. However, like a fucking moron, and an achievement whore, I decided cheating to unlock the highest difficulty and immidietely playing that would be the sane thing to do. Boy was I wrong. For the most part it's smooth sailing, but at a few key points the difficulty spikes to such a high level that it's a miracle I didn't gouge my own eyes out in despair. For those wondering, it wasn't even the final boss who was difficult, the way regular enemies gang up on you is what gets you killed, and the amount of cover you have. You are entirely dependant on the level design and checkpoint feature in order to stay alive, so when you have to go a long time without a checkpoint, through an area with very little or no cover, or oddly shaped cover so you can still be hit, you'll want to throw your controller through your television (although not being a psycopath, I did not do that, but I definately wanted to)

It's lame catchphrase time!
It's lame catchphrase time!
But hey, that was my own fault and I got through it eventually, all I have to do now is turn down the difficulty and mop up the achievements. Overall, I wasnt expecting much, as I tend to when I pick up cheap games, but I found that most of the humor a lot of the general populace wouldn't have 'got', I did because of my knowledge of other parts of the industry, not just game cliches, so my advice is that anyone remotely attached to this industry, whether your an artist, a programmer, or student, heck even if you test games, play this game. It's definately got a lot of great (if goofy sometimes, but by design it seems) humor and most of it is well meaning although theres a few seemingly bitter jabs at GameStop, and a few select companies in there but you have to pick up on most of them yourself. It also helps that the game is self aware, very often I would find myself close to quitting, only to give the game one more try because the main character said exactly what I was thinking at the time "God I wish this game had a god mode" or "What? How did that hit me?", or similar things, it also makes a lot of references to mechanics it is missing. The one I found rather funny, as i've always said single player games should never have multiplayer components tacked on, was the "Multiplayer Master" achievement you get during the end credits "What do you mean there's no multiplayer? Oh well, have the achievement anyway"

As a third person shooter, the game is pretty good, it's a bit of a shame though as another 6 months of polish and the game could have turned out awesome, instead it's pretty mediocre with some unique enemies and humor, but way too frustrating, way too many poorly designed level sections, and had a lot of subpar mechanics such as melee. However, the ability to have the character automatically jump over cover and move up a section, or run to a nearby cover as yours is shot to pieces was pretty refreshing, although it would have been better if he sprinted instead of ran, so it turns out its quicker to do it yourself. Ho-hum. The JRPG pisstake poss was particularly lolworthy for me at least, I love JRPGs but those fuckers talk for hours.

 Overall the bad holds it back enough that if I was going to give it a rating, it would be the lover end of somewhere between 2 and 3 stars unfortunately.

Oh well, i'm off to try the new XBLA release of Secret of Monkey Island now, having never played that before either, wish me luck!