Tag Archives: fps

FGC #416 Bioshock Infinite

Note: This article does contain spoilers for Bioshock Infinite. You have been warned!

BIOSHOCKIN'Bioshock Infinite is god damn terrifying videogame. And it’s even more terrifying that no one identifies it as such.

Let’s hit the basics before we get into the abject horror. Bioshock Infinite is a story-based first person shooter from the creators of Bio/System Shock. As such, it is a ludicrously complicated videogame from multiple perspectives. Combat is conceptually simple (shoot man in head, move on, shoot other man in head) but multiple weapons of a mundane (all of the guns, forever) and magical (“Look, pa, I can shoot lightning”) nature allow for an amazing number of options. Is there water on the ground for conducting electricity? How about some nice, flammable oil? And is this a situation that would better warrant a sniper scope, or a shotgun? Or screw all those options to the sticking place, and ride some sky rails to channel death-from-above action. In a genre that often panders to the lowest common denominator with boring hallways and tedious, linearly graduating weaponry, Bioshock Infinite’s wide open Columbia and all the options it affords are a godsend.

But, as great as the gameplay is in Bioshock Infinite, memories of BI are not of battling crow cultists or the occasional ghost mom; no, Bioshock Infinite, like its Bioshock brothers before it, is all about the story. In this case, we have the tale of Booker DeWitt…

FGC #281 Doom (32X)

Starring DoomguyI remember being cool in high school. … Wait, no, that’s a lie. I was never cool in school. I’m sure you don’t remember me. However, I know I was cooler than a lot of other losers. I was, like, the coolest kid in the computer club, bar none. I dated actual, real-live women. I went to two proms with three dates. I’m moderately certain I was the envy of at least seven freshmen. And, when I graduated high school, I easily cruised right into college, and wasn’t some lame, always-stuck-in-his-hometown dropout of society. I might not have been the coolest kid in the class, but in high school, I was at least… cool enough?

But a funny thing has happened in the intervening million, billion years since high school. I look at pictures from my old yearbook, or albums from cherished field trips, or even some random pic that gets posted on Facebook, and I see… a nerd? Okay, I’ve always been a nerd, but I at least always had an idea of what was stylish, right? What the hell am I wearing in that picture? And why is my hair… doing that thing? Wait… why in God’s name am I wearing nail polish? I wasn’t goth! Wait… I was dating that one girl for…. But that was just a gag! Like, I didn’t look like that for… where did this picture come from again? Can it be burned? Can we destroy the entire internet and any record of human life from before about 2010? That’d be great!

It's a party!Of course, the only thing keeping me going is that I’m not alone in this phenomenon. My best friend looks like just as much of a nerd as me, thank God. That girl I had a crush on for a solid ten years has hair that looks like it lost a fight with a stylist from Full House. And back to that terrible yearbook, even the cool teacher that was literally voted “Coolest Teacher” looks like something out of a particularly poorly cast 90’s after-school special (maybe something hosted by Garfield?). In short, it is horrifying to gaze upon your own past, as it turns out it’s not just the kids these days that have rotten trends and fashion, it’s everybody.

So what else was popular when I was rocking an ill-fitting Final Fantasy t-shirt and thinking I was the coolest thing since Coolio? Doom.

Doom is a classic videogame. Like Super Mario Bros, Doom basically invented a genre that is still going strong today, and, also like SMB, Doom established that genre by just plain being a good experience. … Except, as has been mentioned once or twice, I’m not a big fan of that genre. And there’s probably a reason for that! I was a console gamer. I’ve never been a fan of using computers for gaming because, basically, I rationalize computers as “work” devices, and have since sixth grade. Couple this with years (years!) of learning that keeping your computer “up to date” is a fool’s errand (I realize this has gotten better in recent years, but the mere mention of “video cards” still makes me indirectly nauseous), and it all adds up to Goggle Bob generally avoiding “computer games”. Sadly, this has continued into the modern age, and I still haven’t played Undertale (I’ll get to it!). Whatever the reason, Doom: The Game To Play wound up not being my thing, so I missed that particular trend, and any fond memories of a Doom-based childhood.

Except… that isn’t completely accurate.

Word!I may not have had a gaming PC, but I did have a whole pile of videogame consoles, and a serious drive to be one of the cool kids playing the cool videogames. This eventually led to purchasing Doom on the 32X, obviously the most superior Doom. It’s got all the Doom you love, and hasn’t been reduced to 16-bit low-fi. It’s got a six button controller, so you’re not limited by a keyboard or a mere four buttons! And it’s a cartridge, so no load times! Eat it, Playstation. This is the game of games on the system of systems! This is the best thing ever! … Or at least that’s what my friends seemed to believe.

And I play it now, and… huh. This is embarrassing.

First and foremost, that precious six-button Genesis controller is not meant for a FPS. In Doom’s defense, for exclusively working with a crosspad, Doomguy controls pretty alright, but little things like, ya know, aiming are impossible. Are the legions of Hell slightly above you? Sorry, you’re going to die. And, as far as I can tell, there’s no jump or climb button, so there are these awful pits that just leave you there to die… but not nearly fast enough (side note: I have no idea how body armor is impacted by standing in a puddle of acid). So, right off the bat, steering Doomguy is about as fun as navigating a hallway full of iron maidens in the dark.

But that kind of thing is understandable. You can start a genre, but it’s unusual to start a genre and perfect it, so a few hiccups are to be expected. And, hey, this was designed for the computer in the first place, of course the ol’ joypad is going to have a problem or two. Nobody ever chastises a teenager just for being young, and nobody chastises a port for not perfectly emulating the source material (this entire sentence is a lie).

No, what is most embarrassing about Doom is… Doom. Or, more appropriately, what Doom used to be.

BLAMMOMy social circle was convinced that Doom was the most mature game in history. There aren’t silly yo-yos or swords here; this is wall to wall guns. You’re not fighting daffy robots or whacky Universal monsters, you’re up against hellspawn and spikey eyeballs. There’s no puerile plumber bounding fifty feet in the air, Doomguy is a real person, he can’t jump or shrink or turn into a raccoon; it’s just him and his bare(ish) fists against the world. Monsters bleed. Doomguy grunts. This is real videogames for real adults, not those childish antics you see on your ‘intendo.

And revisiting that attitude as an actual adult? It doesn’t exactly do the game any favors. Have you been looking at these screenshots? Doom looks about as realistic as something you’d hang on your fridge after Timmy has been a good boy. Hell, some of those “scary” demons look downright cuddly. Cuddly isn’t cool. Cuddly isn’t cool at all!

Doom is a great game. Doom is responsible for much of where gaming “is” today, and nothing will ever change that. However, I opened up Doomguy’s yearbook last night and… uh… Bad news, Doomguy, I think…. I think you might have been a nerd.

Please don’t hit me.

FGC #281 Doom (32X)

  • System: Doom got around, bro. It was on the computer. It was on the Super Nintendo. It was on the 32X. It was on the Jaguar. It was on the Playstation, Saturn, and 3DO. It eventually wound up on the Gameboy Advance. It was released on something called “The Acorn”, which sounds pretty nutty.
  • Number of players: I think we’re stuck with one on the 32X. Was there a deathmatch version here? I’m not going to go back and check.
  • Really?Hot Takes from 1993: Why is Doomguy wearing ab-bearing armor? He’s wearing gloves on the title screen, but his fists are bare when punching demons. John Romero has silly hair! Ha-cha-cha-cha.
  • Favorite Weapon: I am partial to chain guns. Chainsaws are a second runner-up. Maybe I just like chains?
  • Did you know? A lot of people seem to forget that Doom claimed a lot of notoriety by being partially released as share-ware at its release. Trying to make your franchise the hottest thing since sliced bread? Give it away! That always works!
  • Would I play again: I feel like I should… but nope. This is another one that isn’t nostalgic enough for me to hold my attention, and has been improved in every conceivable way by later editions. Sorry, yearbook, you’re going back on the shelf.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Breath of Fire 3 for the Playstation! Now it’s time to see Ryu’s baby photos. Please look forward to it!

FGC #188 GoldenEye 007

DUH DUH DUHHHHHThe Eye of the Beholder is a Twilight Zone episode you have likely seen before (or at least seen parodied). The basic plot is remarkably straightforward: Janet is undergoing surgery because she wants to “look normal”. Unfortunately, the procedure fails, and she is revealed to be… beautiful. But the twist is that everyone else in her society looks like some kind of puffy pig man, and her conventional beauty is regarded as a threat to the state. In the end, she is taken away by a handsome man, so she can flourish and frolic with her own kind. And we all learn a valuable lesson about how “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and what some consider attractive could be ugly to others. Then you watch that episode about the dude with the glasses.

GoldenEye 007 is my The Eye of the Beholder. Everybody is talking about how great it is to be normal, and I’m off in the corner, wondering when we’re going to get back to Street Fighter. Somewhere, one of my friends is cleaning his snout.

I mentioned it in the Splatoon article, but I do not get along with FPSs. I’m not going to go through the reasons again (I trust you remember everything I have ever written), but know that this has been an affliction as long as the genre has existed. When my friends all got into Quake and Doom, I was advocating Bomberman and Mortal Kombat. It wasn’t because I was somehow worse at FPS games than any other genre, I just had about as much fun with even the best FPS games as I did with other “that’s nice, let’s play something else” games like, I don’t know, anything that involved going outside.

My distaste for FPS games may have elevated my position with the faculty of my high school. I was a member of the computer club (shocking, I know). I could maybe believe that there was a time when the computer club didn’t just sit around having LAN parties, but that was apparently long ago, because when I joined, PC FPS games ruled every meeting. I had a tendency to hang out during these events, but it was primarily for the “meeting” portion of the meeting, and not the death matches. This apparently did not go unnoticed, and I was approached by the advisor of the club, who informed me that I was, “the real future of the SAFEcomputer club, not like these kids that just joined to play videogames.” I joined to play videogames! Just other videogames! But I don’t think it was a coincidence when, shortly thereafter, I wound up with random teachers asking me for help with their various devices and computer problems.

So what I’m trying to say is that I’m apparently a nerd even among nerds. Hooray.

Wait… what was I talking about again?

Oh, right. GoldenEye sucks.

Alright, sorry, I know that’s not true. GoldenEye 007 is, from a purely objective perspective, a great game. It’s got interesting levels when most FPSs were simply gray corridors. It had stealth mechanics when that was still new and novel. It’s got a movie license and isn’t a complete pile of crap, which is still a rarity today. And it even has that “interactive cut scene” thing going on that has become so popular with the FPSs of today. Couple this all with the fact that Goldeneye practically singlehandedly revived any and all interest in the N64, and I really shouldn’t be complaining about such a revolutionary game.

But it’s that revolution that has caused me so much turmoil.

Back to the computer club: Do you know why LAN parties were so popular? It was because FPSs were pretty much only on computers (specifically PCs), and, while they tried, Doom and alike ports on the home consoles were pretty much always crap. Even if the graphics translated properly, you were still hampered by a gimped controller more meant for Mario than Heretic, and a complete lack of that all-important death match mode. So, go where the fun is, if FPSs were bad on consoles, it’s time to hit that PC market, and enjoy the Wolfensteins of the keyboard.

Sorry!But, and this may shock some of you younger readers, PC gaming was stupidly expensive at the time. The old adage of “it’s out of date before you get it out of the box” was in full swing during this period, and, even if you could afford a top of the line PC, you also had to have three friends who could all afford their own top of the line PCs, and those three friends all had to live in your house, because a 56K modem could barely load a proper JPEG, left alone support a full online experience. This was the appeal of the computer club: one could exploit the school’s endless resources (man, it’s weird being a kid), and get those super fun LAN parties a-goin’. Later we’ll burn some music on the school’s 2x CD burner!

But Goldeneye changed all that. Suddenly, there was a viable console FPS experience. And it didn’t hurt that it stared the iconic pinnacle of masculinity, James Bond, either. Now even your dad could understand the appeal of running around an ocean liner with a golden gun, so certainly the other kids from homeroom would comprehend. It’s predominantly because the game was so good to begin with, but Goldeneye was practically always going to make the FPS the hottest new genre on consoles. Halo (2) would one day perfect the stranglehold, but Goldeneye made it all possible.

And I can’t stand it.

Everyone started playing Goldeneye 007. I got Goldeneye for… I want to say Christmas? I didn’t buy it with my own money. I still own that same copy of Goldeneye 007, and it somehow has four completed game saves on it. I’ve never beaten the game myself once. Where did these save files come from? Simple, I had friends that were so obsessed with the game, they save the day, repeatedly, on my copy, just to unlock new Oogacheats / characters / stages. Such was the universal adoration for Goldeneye; that it somehow compelled people not only to play death match after death match, but also play through the single player campaign multiple times on (apparently) multiple carts. I can probably count the number of games released in the last three decades that can match that fervor on one hand.

And… I never got it. I never understood the adoration. I played it with my friends, because that’s what they were playing, but… it wasn’t fun for me. I… participated, and that’s the most I can say about it.

Bah, maybe I need to go off to the island of handsome people that play Secret of Mana. I should fit in there just fine.

FGC #188 GoldenEye 007

  • System: N64. Remakes do not count.
  • Number of players: Four. This is the primary way I experienced this game. For hours.
  • Favorite Crony: I don’t like playing this game, I want to be playing someone else. I’m choosing Oddjob, and you can’t stop me.
  • This guy are sic: Oddly, Microsoft Word is okay with “goldeneye” but not “GoldenEye”. So many red underlines…
  • Filthy Cheater: The “cheats” for this game are more like unlockable bonus options, and not really “cheats” at all. You would not believe how much this annoys me. I AM SO ANGRY AT THIS GAME! Eh, at least we got DK Mode.
  • Nice watchFurther Computer Club Stories: There were no girls in the computer club. None. One day, a girl who was a friend of mine asked me if she could join the computer club and hang out. I explained to her that she probably wouldn’t like it, because all anyone ever did was sit around and play FPSs. She didn’t join. It took me years to realize she was maybe interested in something else (which would be sometime around our first date).
  • Did you know? I could probably fill an entire article with all the cool little details in this game. Perfect for James Bond fans!… Except, screw it, I got better things to do.
  • Would I play again: Inevitably, because someone is going to notice that N64 sitting under my TV, and suddenly there will be the question, “You know what we should play?”

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Sonic the Hedgehog 3! Please look forward to it! And Knuckles!

FGC #181 Splatoon

Dance the night awayI dislike anything that looks like a FPS. I’m almost pathologically noncompetitive, not a big fan of guns ‘n ammo, and find the idea of “ranking up” to be tedious.

So why do I like Splatoon?

In fact, why do I really like Splatoon?

Alright, first and most obvious answer is the colors, Duke, the colors. We all know that the FPS genre long ago adopted the gritty, realistic aesthetic and never looked back. My response to this choice has always been some mixture of shock and revulsion. Brown? Bad news, guys, that’s the color of poop. With the possible exception of an emoji or two, “like poop” has never been a desirable trait in any context (see also: UPS). I suppose I understand how some people want realism in their games that involve repeatedly dying and then instantly being reborn exactly the same, but it’s not for me. I’m someone that, for better or worse, painted every room in his house in honor of the great Roy G. Biv. I wore red sneakers to my grandparents’ funeral. I like color, dammit.

Splatoon presses all the right color buttons, and, what’s more, it’s Nintendo-ified up and down. Like Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong, the squidlings are pretty rigidly defined and a bunch of nebulous ciphers. There’s no way you’d mistake a squid girl’s silhouette for anything else, but you’re also free to write a ten thousand page fanfic about the adventures of Mary, Best Squidling Ever (who also might have a tragic past). SwooshThe Splatoon world is typical Nintendo sunny and happy (and maybe post-apocalyptic), and the plot of the single player mode is simultaneously goofy and epic. I doubt the next Marvel Cinematic Feature will involve a malevolent DJ attempting to conquer an old man and two pop stars with the power of octo-beats, but it certainly makes a good capper to some Splatoon times.

Color, engrossing characters, and a fun story? Is that what does it? No. If that were so, I’d be playing Overwatch, which, like many FPSs, I can identify as a good game, but seem to be completely incapable of enjoying the dang thing. So it’s not just the Splatoon universe that gets my ink squirting…

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not really a FPS. FPS stands for “first person shooter”, and I’ve only really been applying the term here because it “works” so much like other FPS games. This isn’t a first person play experience, the camera is distinctly behind the squidlings, so it’s third person, and thus more… what? 3-D Contra? Maybe something more like Metroid: Other M? Wait, no, I just realized those two games are terrible, it can’t be because I like that perspective if those are the first examples I can recall.

Maybe I just like to jump? I mean, most games that involve jumping I absolutely love (see Mega Man, Mario, and let’s say… Rampage?), and the camera and arenas of Splatoon virtually encourage leaping all over the place. There are moving platforms! And changing water levels! And the fact that it’s not a “true” FPS really helps, because, as the Metroid Prime games confirmed, jumping when you can’t see your feet is maybe not the most fun thing in the world. Not to say it’s impossible in a FPS (I do want to point out that I happily cleared two out of four Metroid Primes), it’s just a tweak more frustrating.

But… there are a number of “FPS games” that aren’t true FPSs. I’ve said before that I’m terrible with “real” genre designations, but is this where the term “Arena Shooter” applies? Or “Twitch Shooter”? Whatever the case, there are plenty of games that share Splatoon’s perspective and general “feel”, and none of them have held my interest longer than a month, left alone a year’s worth of Splatfests.

And it’s not Callie and Marie, because admitting that would be revolting.

No, it’s none of these things that keep me coming back to Splatoon. It’s not the transparently shallow “level up” mechanics, it’s not the easy Miiverse communication in the hub town, and it’s not the flood of puns that threaten to drag Spike the Street Urchin out to sea. No, what keeps me playing Splatoon is one simple thing…

SPLAT

I can shoot the floor. And I’m helping!

I can try to take an objective tone to this problem all I want, but the simple truth is that I’m terrible at FPS games. I have awful aim. My depth perception has always been crap (and it’s a chicken/egg debate as to whether that was impacted by early [continuous] videogame playing, or I naturally gravitated toward videogames because “defined” pixel distances in 2-D games made more sense to my child-brain), and, frankly, I have difficulties with everything from sniping to Pokémon Go (“Yes, keep throwing that pokéball over that Rapidash’s head, good.”). In fact, the idea of a “sniping” based videogame where you sit around and wait to pick off some poor malcontent is right up there with a toenail clipping simulator on the list of games I absolutely never want to play. One of my good friends adores anything that involves a scope, but… ugh, not for me.

And, frankly, I have terrible spatial relations in FPS games. Maybe it’s something about the layout, feedback, or something, but, despite liking SPLATBioshock, my most immediate memory of that game was watching my character’s health drain in a bathroom stall as a splicer repeatedly stabbed me in the back. I know my health is draining for some reason… oh… there you are! Please stop that! I’ve never missed a boo or goomba sneaking up on Mario, but put me in a first person (or similar) environment, and suddenly I have the awareness of a deaf sloth. Splatoon is no different, and the raw number of times I’ve been “splatted” is a testament to that.

And, to top it all off, my brain can’t deal with ammo. I have two mental settings: hoard and berserker. At all times, I am either carefully preserving each bullet like they are precious children, or I’m unloading every last shot into the darkness with the hope that maybe I’ll hit something or other. There is no middle ground. I blame JRPGs and their imaginary insistence that I save that megalixer for some unforeseen threat, but I literally cannot properly ration ammo in a FPS. I’m either going to die clutching that dear rocket launcher ammo, or blow up the entire surrounding area (and myself) inside of three seconds.

This is who I am. And Splatoon helps that person.

Ammo is no big deal, because, while I’m likely to run out, I can quickly refuel in any nearby puddle. I’m going to get splatted, and often, but respawn is quick, easy, and virtually without consequence. And, finally, I need not worry about aiming, because I am WEEEEEEwinning simply by shooting the floor. Heck, I technically don’t have to interact with a single other player if I wander off into some alley and aim down to my heart’s content. Splatoon seems made for me and various neuroses.

Splatoon is an amazing FPS game for people that are bad at identifying/playing FPSs. I’d love to discuss it further, but I’ve got to get back to Inkopolis now. There are some floors that need splatting.

FGC #181 Splatoon

  • System: WiiU, and I hope Nintendo’s next offering involves a similar controller, because Splatoon wouldn’t be as fun without that controller map.
  • Number of players: I guess… eight? I’m going to mark it down as four for the tags, though. Fear of new tags, you understand.
  • What’s in a name? I’ve had the Goggle Bob moniker since high school, so there are a number of people who have been calling me that name for years. This has led to an amusing quirk as my friends started breeding, as now there’s an entire generation of young’uns who only know me as Goggle Bob, as if “goggle” were a title like “mister” or “uncle”. So I was talking to my buddy’s son, an eight year old, about Splatoon. At one point, he asked for my “Wii name”, and I told him it was “Goggle Bob”. He made that Look away“oooooooooh” sound that many kids reserve for when someone says a swear, and he quickly chastised me with, “Goggle Bob, you know you’re not supposed to use your real name online!” I think this generation is going to be alright.
  • Splatfest: I’m going to miss scheduling my weekend around playing Splatoon. It wasn’t about the wins for my team or collecting the shells afterwards, I just liked the idea of people from all over the country coming together to fight for the glory of… Fancy parties? I must have missed that one.
  • Favorite Squid Sister: Callie, you were robbed. Purple and peppy beats green and sullen any day.
  • Did you know? We never received mods/outfits to officially play as Octolings, and that’s terrible.
  • Would I play again: This is one of the few FGC choices that I was basically already playing when it was chosen, and will go back to playing once again after the article is complete. I’m not, like, playing it all the time, but I probably pick it up at least once a month. If you need further explanation of that, please read the article again.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier for the DS! Phew, that’s a mouthful. At least there’s guaranteed to be robots… right? Please look forward to it!

Me too