About 10 years ago I used to play Team Fortress online. Not a huge amount, but I’d join the odd random game and run around building mounted guns as an engineer or sniping from the rooftops. I was pretty bad, but the structure of the game meant I could at least help out a little bit. I didn’t use TeamSpeak or whatever the equivalent was at the time and I didn’t know any of the other players. But it was fun, mostly. A few folk from work ran a shared server for a little while for another multiplayer FPS, can’t even remember which one1, and that was more fun, we knew all the players, and it was a blast, but inevitably there’s going to be someone who’s better than everyone else in a complete person vs. person game, and over time dying all the time (as I did) got frustrating.
That sinking feeling as someone bounced into the room and jumped around like a grasshopper while shooting you to death was all too familiar. Eventually I realised I was a mediocre FPS player and I probably shouldn’t drag down the other folk by getting in their way.
What followed was several years of playing MMO’s, which provide that shared online experience but don’t require the twitchy gameplay of the shooters at the time. Taking part in 20, 30, 70 and even 120 person raids in EverQuest was pretty impressive.
When I got the PS3, I dabbled a little with some online play but not really knowing any other PS3 owners who had the same games I did meant I didn’t really get much of a feel for it. And I never owned a headset, so still no voice.
Now that I’ve got the Xbox 360 I feel a little more compelled to give online gaming a try – specifically Left4Dead 2. Some of the folk who read uk.games.video.misc were kind enough to invite me to a game last night – which was the first time I’d used the Xbox headset in anger. I’m still a mediocre FPS player, so I was pleased to give the co-op campaign a go at first. It’s a lot easier to help 3 other players against a hoard of mindless undead than it is to outwit 3 other real people in PvP style gameplay.
Other than some technical issues, the co-op campaign was good fun, it’s much more satisfying helping someone up off the ground when you know somewhere there’s a real person shouting ‘hey, I’m down, I’m down!’ rather than just the game AI. We then tried an 8 player vs. game (4 survivors vs. infected + 4 specialist infected). We got slaughtered over and over no matter which side we were on. As survivors the enemy infected just nailed us, and as infected it took us too long to work out how to control the different types and use their special attacks. We were getting better towards the end …
Anyway, I don’t think I hindered the guys too much in the campaign, I did die at the end, only one of our 4-man team made it to the boat alive – but that’s just like in the movies isn’t it?
Me? I was left for dead.
- Aha, Andy reminded me it was Unreal Tournament [↩]