Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Have No Skill (Left)

There's a time for writing, and this might not be it. I've been itching to tell you about how I suck at Call of Duty 4, but the words just don't seem to come together.
...and, however atrocious it may be, I'm doing it anyway :)

For anyone familiar with my record with shooters (after all, the longest post(s) on this blog are about that genre), the statement before must be somewhat shocking. In fact, I myself wouldn't have given that much thought to the issue (after all, I did finish the game) if it wasn't for this little phrase I found in a CoD4 walkthrough while looking for something else:

"I can't for the life of me understand why someone would need cheat codes on this game[...]"

It was a total eye-opener, because I had been in situations where I would've just popped god mode and be done with it rather than die for the 100th time (the reason I didn't ? Out of pure silliness, I wasn't aware of the existence of the aforementioned cheat codes. I thought they had something to do with the "cheats" option you can find under the game menu, but those are actually just unlockables, and many of them aren't cheats at all. For godmode & co, the good ol' console does the trick, as usual. Silly me... I know).

By the way, the game is very good. Yes, it's 99% scripted, but this time they've actually done a good job (think CoD 1), to such an extent that even the fact that, in many places, enemies seem to spawn continuously until you push forward (yeah, yucky spawning) is much less of a nuisance than it could've been. It definitely has something to do with the absolutely great way they implemented weapons (except for the shotguns, which are powerful but... weird), so they actually feel real for a change and will usually drop enemies with one or two bullets, not to mention the absolutely CRAZY selection you have at your disposal, with probably every single gun in use today, with various mods, appearing in the game at one point or another. Grenades are also nicely effective even though they have a laughably short range (and equally bad loooooooong fuses), but that's probably good since they kill you just as easily. Also, many people complained about the game being too short, but it seemed on par with most recent titles in that regard (which is not to say it isn't short, just not shorter than usual. Sigh. Yes, I've gotten to THAT point of no return). It is indeed a pity that it didn't last longer, but I suppose that, given the heavy level of scripting, putting together even one level would take a long time (but I'm definitely playing it again with god mode :). Oh, and for anyone who's played STALKER, there's a nice (and quite familiar) surprise, towards the middle of the game.

That aside, back to the issue at hand. I played the game on the "Regular" setting (difficulty 2/4), definitely a bad move on my part (and something to remember for later). The game DID seem rather forgiving when it came to bullet damage (on this setting, you take some 10+ assault rifle shots before you die, sniper rifles and grenades notwithstanding), and you recover full health if you stay out of harm's way for a while, so it should've been pretty easy, right ? Sadly, in practice, some simple things like getting your aim thrown off when hit by bullets (a thing I pretty much hate whenever I encounter it), or the enemies' habit of flushing you out of cover with grenades (actually not a bad thing, if infuriating), often proved to be too much for me. If I got caught in the line of fire while out in the open, more often than not I'd be dead before reaching cover, and on occasion I've even been killed by dogs repeatedly (not exactly helping with my real-life hatred of dogs, either). It's actually funny, because I can shoot, run and hide with some degree of skill, it's just that I can't seem to integrate these actions together effectively.

I guess I'm just too used to playing all the games like they were Doom (incidentally, I had no problems with the equally new Unreal Tournament 3), and it's probably too late for me to change that. Looking back, I do seem to remember facing similar issues with pretty much every tactical shooter I've played: Soldier of Fortune, Max Payne, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor (although I actually dislike that series and only finished one of them - don't remember which), Far Cry, and even STALKER (and the list could go on, if only I'd recall them all...). A recent example would be Crysis, where on occasion I couldn't even hit anything with my rifle past short range (I could swear the enemies' movement pattern was SPECIFICALLY designed to frustrate ME), and many many times the only thing that saved me was the suit invisibility. Conversely, I have no problem playing something like Painkiller on max difficulty, and I'm actually having fun while doing so! I'm leaving Operation Flashpoint out of this altogether, because that game is in a category of its own, and I'm still waiting for something like it to happen again.

I should write something appropriate here to end this post, but... see the intro.
Oh wait! I found something: when blogging, dictionary.com is your friend. Not exactly related, but helpful :)

-Chiller (written while listening to Monoral)