Friday, October 14, 2011

Just paint a target on my back ...

Earlier this week, I finally started spending some time in the early access multiplayer for Naughty Dog's latest globetrotting and relic hunting adventure, Uncharted 3.  Now, I could go on and on about how much I'm looking forward to the next chapter in Nathan Drake's story, and about how the game looks and plays so far ... which is something I'll probably do in a later post.  But this particular post isn't so much about Uncharted 3, as much as it's about the realization that I generally suck at competitive multiplayer ... and how I've finally decided that I'm okay with it.

Let me start off by saying I've never been a stranger to competitive multiplayer games.  I still remember long nights at the nearby internet cafe playing marathon sessions of Quake and WarCraft II with the owner and some friends until the wee hours of the morning.  Maybe it's just me looking through the veiled fog of fifteen years' worth of history, but I'd swear that back then I was more than capable of holding my own against any and all comers.  I won't say I was the best by a long shot, but I still think I was pretty damned good.  Now, a decade and a half later, I tend to get my ass handed to me, gift wrapped with a nice pretty bow attached, within seconds of logging into most multiplayer games.  Whereas I used to be in the top ranks when playing games, I'm now happy if I manage to fight my way into the middle of the pack.

What the hell happened?!?  Am I missing a step or getting rusty?  Have casual games robbed me of my competitive edge?  Worse yet ... *GASP* am I too OLD to be competitive anymore?  Actually, I've decided that while there might little bit to all of that ... there's a hell of a lot more to none of it.  Confused?  Allow me to elaborate.

There's a classic saying that goes something along the lines of "Old age and cunning will overcome youth and enthusiasm every time."  Unfortunately, in video games, that's not always the case.  See, over the years, I've come to realize that my play style has evolved into a more methodical style versus the more reflexive twitch-based style that seems to be the norm in most multiplayer shooters these days.  I was reminded of this when playing Uncharted 3 after finding a spot and just watching people through the scope of my Dragon Sniper rifle for a few rounds.  If the few moments I had before someone inevitably found me an emptied a clip or five into me, I saw a lot of the same ol' "tactics" I've seen time and time again.  Things like players running around each other in a close quarters do-si-do of death or players doing their best impersonation of a troop of kangaroos on pogo sticks.  That's when I started to realize that I'm just a little too grounded in my thinking ... no pun intended.

That's not to say there aren't games where being a little more sneaky isn't an advantage.  The first that comes to mind is Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.  That's a game where stealth and strategy is rewarded more than an itchy trigger ... and it's a game I still kick ass at too.  See, I play a game like Uncharted 3 or Halo or, hell, just about any other multiplayer shooter on the market, and I try to use too much in the way of real world thinking and cunning versus over the top tricks.  That being said, it doesn't mean I don't have a hell of a lot of fun with these games.  Hey, I may come in near the bottom of the pack, but there's something I find oddly rewarding about my score.  Because of how I'm wired to play, I feel like I really worked to earn my points ... and I don't let it get to me anymore when I'm taken out.

Maybe I do run around with a target on my back, and maybe I'll never get that big sponsorship deal with a major gaming league, but hell ... I have fun doing what I do and playing how I play.  As long as you're not there griefing and being a prick, you're more than welcome to shoot me as often as possible in a game.  It's all about having fun.

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