tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Shurikens and Lightning

I’ve been putting a fair amount of effort into tackling my gaming backlog recently, with the end goal of putting myself into a position where I can play something that came out within the last few months. Unfortunately, surprise sales by PC game download stores do not help in this regard. Since my last update I’ve added Call of Duty 4 ($15 on Steam at the time) and Painkiller ($6 from GoG.com) to my backlog. Fortunately I’ve also beaten one and the majority of the other in that time, so I can talk a bit about their differing approaches to FPS design.

One shot, one kill...ideally

CoD4 is of course more popular than Jesus (or so I’m told), and there’s still a significant contingent of people playing it on the PC (the less said about MW2 the better). CoD4 is very much made in the mould of the more recent generation of first-person shooters – regenerating health and all. That said, it’s not a pushover – great importance is placed on avoiding damage through taking cover or killing enemies before they have a chance to shoot you, since on Hardened and above you die in very few hits. Because of this there’s also a strong emphasis on being highly accurate with your shots, much like in, say, Counter-Strike. I’m not a huge fan of this type of FPS since my skill at getting consistent headshots is non-existent (spec me when I’m playing Sniper in TF2 and you’ll see what I mean), but I don’t mind it. That said it took some time for me to get used to since I don’t typically play games with tons of hitscan weapons and low player HP.

I haven’t tried the game online yet, but I might at some point. I don’t expect to do too well, though.

The first boss you fight in the game. Yes, that is his actual size.

On the other side of the coin, we have Painkiller, a game from a much older tradition – namely, the original Quake. There is no cover system, no headshot mechanic, and no realistic weapon damage. What there is are five well-crafted weapons, each with a unique primary and secondary fire mode (so it’s really more like ten weapons), a few million guys to kill and some gorgeous-looking levels to kill them in. That said, this isn’t Serious Sam where they just let you loose in a giant open field and throw enemies at you – the enemies are very well-designed, and taking them down while minimizing damage to yourself can often be rather challenging. To give an example there’s one level where you need to fight off tons of shotgun/bayonet wielding soldiers. There are literally tons of these guys, and they can actually outrun you, even if you bunnyhop. At the same time, though, there are bigger guys who have miniguns and are shooting at you from further away. And if you try to get into the fray and take out the little guys with your shotgun, look out for the giant guys with the flamethrowers. As a result, beating the level comes down to a frantic game of moving quickly and efficiently while firing shots and switching weapons like mad to thin the horde that’s bearing down on you and chipping away at your health. It really feels like a single-player version of Quake III Arena, which is why I’m loving the hell out of it. After you clear an entire horde by the skin of your teeth, the sense of accomplishment is palpable.

Also, there’s a gun that shoots shurikens and lightning.

Overall I’d say I prefer Painkiller over CoD4, although that’s largely a function of my time spent playing games like Doom and Quake while growing up. Your mileage will probably vary.

In other news, with Gintama finally being off the air I’m casting around for other shows to watch. I’m currently enjoying Crunchyroll’s simulcast of Durarara!!, and I’ve started pulling up older shows on Hulu, like Baccano! and Darker than Black. If you have any recommendations for stuff that I might be interested in (preferably over a streaming service of some kind), do let me know in the comments.

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