A Return to the Trenches

Long ago, before the dawn of Everquest, in Quakeworld, in a land of two forts, a soldier stood. Logan5. His rockets fired true, his grenades landed squarely, his shotgun shells littered the ground, and his enemies laid dying at his feet. First of the proud Disciples of Syrinx, later of nobody’s heroes, and finally fading away to nothing…

Three nights ago, he returned.

I bought a video card a while back, and in the box was a coupon for a free copy of Half-Life 2. The coupon shuffled in with the other papers on the computer desk, and was almost lost. The release delays of HL2 seemed endless, but finally the game is here… and… Wow.

When I first played the original Half-Life, I’d been gaming for years. I’d battled my way through Doom 1 and 2, Quake 1 and 2, and dozens of other first person shooters. They all had one thing in common… sucky AI. In every game, you could exploit the AI flaws to trivialize the game. All the monsters reacted in certain ways, and you could predict their movement to the point of boredom. That’s why on-line play, the Quakeworld servers, were such a wonderful draw. It was on those servers that I found what would be the longest running game of my life (yes, it even beats EQ, which lasted 5 years)… Team Fortress for Quake.

Playing through the early versions, I saw John, Robin and Ian’s vision of the game develop. And when it solidified, it was awesome. The maps they made, and the ones players made, lead to a level of clan and tournament play that simple deathmatch just never got me excited enough for. I’d come home from work and play TF for hours, hopping server to server, hanging out with teammates and rivals. And in a game that ultimately lacked ‘tangible’ goals, any animosity was fleeting, friends were friends, enemies were friends, and for 30 minutes at a time, from map to map, the adreneline flowed.

When Team Fortress Software was purchased by Valve, I knew I needed to keep an eye on them. And when I met Robin and some of the Valve guys at E3 and they showed me Half-Life and the Team Fortress Classic mod for it, I was hooked. I bought the game when it came out, and something odd happened… I played the single player game, and I sucked… or rather, the AI didn’t. Soldiers flanked, drew fire, fled and laid traps. The tried and true methods of getting monsters stuck on corners or behind halfwalls didn’t work any more. Even Deathmatch for HL was fun and not like the rocketfest that Quake DM was.

TFC came out, and I played it for a while. But as much as I loved HL and TFC, I stopped playing after a while… EQ had come into my life, and that was it.

Now, EQ is done. I don’t think I will, ever again, play a game that requires that level of investment, or requires you to play a certain way to avoid that investment (when only some classes can solo, you have to play them to avoid getting stuck looking for a group). I play City of Heroes, and I love it… its very low key, I can solo as any character, groups are fun and easy to find, and while it does take some planning and game knowledge to pick powers and place slots, there is no gear hunting to keep up with the Joneses and the ever expanding difficulty of the game. I also play Eve Online, which is another low key game… I train my skills while I’m offline, and I hop on now and then to fly missions or kill pirates. I’m looking into World of Warcraft… still not totally sold on it, but my time in beta did show me that it could be played solo or duo without much difficulty, and that my game could remain fun even if I didn’t “raid” the “high end”, it holds promise for the low key gamer.

When I redeemed my coupon online for Half-Life 2, it came with a bundle… HL, TFC, Day of Defeat, Counter Strike, Counter Strike: Source (CS using the new HL2 game engine), and more. So after I loaded up HL2 and was blown away by the graphics and how well they ran on my years old PC (Doom3 runs like shit, and this game looks better than Doom3), I loaded up TFC and hopped on a server… It took about 15 minutes before my fingers were finding the right keys again, before I stopped kicking my own ass in sacrifice and started putting some of my foes in the dirt, but then it all came flooding back… The reason I loved TF, and it wasn’t just the classes and team fighting, it was that a game was 30 minutes or so… you jump on a server, dive in, play, then when the map recycles you can leave and no one says anything bad about you… the map was done.

Logan5 is back, sort of… turns out while I’ve been gone from the FPS world, someone has been using the name, so I’ll use something else… I’ll think up something while I play the original Half-Life through again.

One comment

  1. […] tried TFC again not too long ago, okay it was nearly three years ago, and I just couldn’t get in to it. The game just didn’t play […]

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