E-League

Okay, so, I know I already wrote about Counterstrike before.  You can see the post here.  But I’m going to write about it again.  Sort of.

The E League is a league for one of the greatest and most enduring video games of all time, Counterstrike. There are other leagues for games like Starcraft and Call of Duty, but from what I’ve seen E League is by far the most impressive.

The reason, I suspect, that E League is so entertaining (besides production and money) is that Counterstrike is a game that truly has a ridiculously high ceiling for how good players can be.  And while some of this has to do with the map design and nuances of gameplay (such as earning money with which to buy your weapons and items) I think the answer is much more simple: Counterstrike is really hard.

Watching the pros play certainly does nothing to communicate how hard it actually is to kill someone.  I guarantee that a first time player, even with gaming experience in a game like Call of Duty, would struggle to kill a player who was standing still on their first attempt.

The difference between Counterstrike and most other first person shooters is that it is, in its own way, so realistic.  The slightest loss of control when shooting a weapon results in an errant bullet.  Grab any semi-automatic weapon and get even slightly too trigger happy and you’ll miss.  Guaranteed.  This may seem misleading when you watch the pros because they can be very aggressive and even spray on occasion and get kills, even head shots.  And while they certainly do get lucky like anyone else, don’t be too quick to assume they’re just lucky.

Those guys know what they’re doing, even when they spray.  And know that their sprays and your sprays are not the same.

Adding to the awesomeness of watching these guys handle their weapons with such expertise was the exciting narrative of the tournament.  There was only one North American team represented (apparently North Americans suck at Counterstrike?) and the analysts were saying many people didn’t even think they would make it in to the tournament in the first place!  Not only did the North Americans get in, but they went toe-to-toe with the team favored to win the whole thing in the semifinal round.

In the first round of the best of three match up the Swedish team (heavily favored) came out guns blazing.  Their best player had four head shots in the opening pistol round with absolutely stunning reaction ability on display.  That first round cemented what everyone thought would happen, the more talented Swedish team blowing out the plucky North Americans (there were Americans as well as Canadians on their team).  But the North Americans hung in there and actually ended up dominating that first map!  They hammered the Swedes the rest of the match up and rode that momentum into the second map.

The analysts and live audience were blown away of course.  The North Americans actually won the next map as well, sweeping the Swedes.  It was bedlam in the studio to say the least.  The sweep took them to the championship round where they would square off against another, more talented team.  This new foe was from Belgium.  Again the live audience was heavily in favor of the plucky North Americans even though they were a huge underdog even with their sweep of the Swedes.

The Belgians took the first map, the North Americans the second!  They had no respect for the Belgians and played with swagger and confidence that helped them get the job done.

Going into the third map, winner-take-all, the stakes couldn’t be higher.  This third map was closest of them all and the North Americans just edged out the Belgians, winning by only a few rounds!  It was mayhem in the studio as the North Americans were absolutely ecstatic, along with their adoring crowd.

It was a tremendous feat that absolutely hooked me in to the E League.  The best part about all this is that it was on a Saturday, a day I typically lay around in sweatpants and watch college football like a good American.  But my heart was won over to this obscure, up-and-coming E League that absolutely delivered on its promises of excitement and awe.

The best part of all this?  I’m going to start playing Counterstrike again 🙂

Cheers!

Pokemon Go

I’m surprised I haven’t written about Pokemon, or Pokemon Go.

While SOCOM was the video game genesis for me in many ways I’d be lying if I said Pokemon didn’t play a role in profoundly shaping my imagination.

I didn’t have a Gameboy when I was a kid.  My first gaming system didn’t come until about junior high, if I remember correctly, and it was a first generation Playstation.

But what I did have were Pokemon trading cards.  Sure, I watched the television show here and there on the occasional Saturday morning.  But the cards grabbed my interested and imagination in a totally different way.

The cards were almost living things, symbols of these creatures that varied by typing, power, style and- perhaps the most intriguing- rarity.

Hunting, collecting and trading Pokemon cards was like searching for buried treasure.  I didn’t know how many of these monsters there were and I was constantly trying to find newer, cooler, more powerful ones.

Some were even holographic.   Those were the coolest.

Funny thing is, I didn’t get in to the Pokemon video games until college.  My buddies and I used something called an emulator to play old Nintendo games on our computers, and at the top of most everyone’s list was the original Pokemon games.

It  was awesome.

But after college Pokemon retreated to the recesses of my mind.  I never really thought about it again for quite awhile.  And then one day, whilst mindlessly browsing through the world of Facebook, I noticed a friend of mine shared something very cool.  It was  a gallery of art depicting “realistic” Pokemon.

After some 30 or 40 images I realized how in to it I still was, how appealing the idea of training up your own monster-companion and taking on the world still seemed.

I immediately whipped out the old emulator on my computer and started playing.

Shortly later my friend who shared the gallery texted me, saying he had some old Gameboy’s in his garage and suggest me and another buddy replay the original games and battle each other.  You could battle by connecting your Gameboys via a cord.

That’s what started it all.  We played and beat Fire Red and Leaf Green, then Ruby and Sapphire, and worked our way up over the next couple years,  buying the next hand-held Nintendo consoles and beating/battling the games.

I had mostly slowed down after about 100 hours racked up on Pokemon X (and getting fairly good at battling) when Pokemon Go was released.

The timing couldn’t have been better.

I was entering a point in my life where I just didn’t have the same amount of time to play such a consuming game like  Pokemon X.  Pokemon Go was nice because it required way less time and could be easily throughout the day,  in between appointments and errands.

After about 5 or 6 months, here’s a look at my team:

pokemon

In case you were wondering, I’m level 27 and those are my strongest Pokemon.

For someone who has so much experience with generations of Pokemon games Pokemon Go in many ways is a let down.  The battling is laughably simplistic and uninteresting compared to the Gameboy games and it’s a huge bummer that you can’t trade Pokemon with your friends, at least as of this writing.

The game makes up for all these shortcomings with sheer novelty.

It’s so cool to catch Pokemon out and about via roaming parks and malls, and to take over coveted gym locations.

While it has its downsides I like that there are three “teams”- Red, Blue and Yellow- to make it feel like you’re fighting for a side (sort of).

I won’t go into all my frustrations with the game or hopes for it in this post.  But I do want to say I am thankful for it and really do enjoy playing.

Hopefully when you read this much of the games issues have been addressed and we’re catching legendaries and trading with each other.

Until next time, catch em’ all!

[This post is brought to you by one of our biggest sponsors, a landscaping company in Bend, Oregon.  They’re hard-working guys who happen to love video games as much as I do!  Find them at Landscaping Bend Oregon if you’re in their area and need some work done!]

Duck Hunt

Come on.  You know what Duck Hunt is.  Don’t act like you don’t.

Even if you never personally played it chances are you’ve been around it. Maybe a friend had it or you saw it at an arcade somewhere.

The thing is if you’ve seen it you remember it.  Duck Hunt is that awesome.  The neon orange handgun remote, the ducks flying across the screen, it was magic.

Sure there were bigger, flashier shooting games at the arcade, but there was nothing like bringing that virtual arcade experience back into your own home.

That’s what made Duck Hunt so amazing.

Fortunately for me my cousin had Duck Hunt.  Unfortunately for me he lived a state south of us, down in California.  We would take road trips up there every year, sometimes in the winter, sometimes in the summer.  Either way, it was an occasion for some good old fashioned duck hunting.

While my cousins family did actually hunt in real life we still loved duck hunt. I probably couldn’t kill a real duck if I had to but in Duck Hunt I was a ruthless, cold blooded killer and I loved every minute of it.

It’s now been years since I’ve played Duck Hunt.  I’m a grownup (mostly) and my cousin is definitely a grown up.  He even runs his own business.  It’s a plumbing business, the best plumber Costa Mesa has to offer.

How much did Duck Hunt contribute to his success?  Did it develop that competitive drive it takes to succeed in small business?  Did it strengthen his confidence in his own talents and abilities?  Honestly, probably not.

Duck Hunt was just an awesome game from an awesome time.

Thankfully you can look up just about any game on the internet and play it straight from your computer.  Although nothing can replace that neon orange handgun.  Oh, boy.

Stealth

I’ve always loved the idea of stealth.  Stealthiness has always captured my imagination.

There are many examples of my love of stealth playing out in video games.  Splinter Cell was always amazing of course.  It may in fact be one of the greatest stealth game series of all time.  I also LOVED Socom: U.S. Navy Seals.  That game was truly amazing and is one of the most underrated games ever. Specifically the second one.

While I’ll have to write about my love affair with SOCOM, this post is about a game called Metal Gear Solid. MGS is a sage of games spanning decades.  And while I didn’t play the original one or two games and therefore do not claim to be a hardcore fan of the series, Snake Eater did change my life.  Pretty much.  Sons of the Patriots was even better, but there’s one specific boss battle in Snake Eater that felt like the ultimate expression of my love of stealthiness.

Of course it was a sniper battle.  In any game, whether it was Timesplitters 2, Counterstrike, SOCOM or Call of Duty, sniping was always tons of fun.  And no game captured the excitement of sniping like the boss battle in Snake Eater.  I believe the boss was called The End, a legendary and ancient sniper guy.  Turns out he lives off of photosynthesis so he doesn’t need to move to eat or anything to stay alive, making him super hard to find.

In the game it’s you vs The End in this jungly/mountainous landscape.  Awesome.  And the only way you can find The End is if you happen to see the reflection of the sun off his sniper scope.  Of course you could die any second as he could strike before you find him.  It was fantastic!  The ultimate  sniper battle where raging and chaos got you killed.

I recently found out (years after completing the game of course) that if you turned off the game in the middle of the sniper battle and didn’t play again for a certain amount of time like days or weeks) it would tell you the battle was over because The End died!  Haha classic.  And one hell of a memory.

Genesis

This post isn’t about the car or the Bible or any movie.  It’s about the beginning, the game that really kicked everything off for me, that truly lit the spark.

SOCOM 2: U.S. Navy Seals.

That might seem funny, right?  I mean, nobody talks about this game despite it being one of the first online multiplayer console games.  The first SOCOM game was good but the second did what you hope for all sequels to do.  It took everything good from the first game and improved it drastically.

There were a few things that made SOCOM unique at the time.  First, and maybe the most unique to this day, is that it was a third-person shooter.  FPS’s are all the rage nowadays with third person perspective being reserved largely for RPG’s.  SOCOM was a shooter to the core while utilizing the third person perspective.  This added some awesome elements to the game, like being able to see around corners and jump out at your enemies!

The second element was the use of camouflage.  In SOCOM you could actually sit in a bush or plant or tall grass and be virtually invisible.  While the camouflage wasn’t anything near what you can experience in games like Splinter Cell or the newer Metal Gear Solid games, the fact that you could actually pick a character who’s outfit blended in with certain surroundings was awesome.  You could wear a ghillie suit, a normal camouflage outfit (options of which would change depending on the map you were playing) or choose a random outfit that didn’t have camouflage but maybe happened to blend in with a random rock or corner of the map.

Most shooters nowadays completely lack this element (with the exception of serendipitous camouflaging).  If you see an enemy, even if he is 500 yards away, he’s fairly obvious and you can shoot him.  The exception to this might be Battlefield which is like a first-person version of SOCOM enhanced with all the technology available today.  The element of camouflage was extremely rewarding in SOCOM.  On one of the maps there was a random bush, so small and insignificant really.  But if you wore the right outfit and laid in the prone position at just the right angle your enemies would walk right past you, even literally sit or stand on you at times!  As silly as it is I’ll never forget that memory.  Nothing was more satisfying than finding the best bush or whatever to hide in.

And I’m not talking about shameless camping, mind you.  Any moron can sit behind a door or box for ten minutes until someone runs by.  I’m talking about sitting in the enemies war path in a risky position (often times in plain sight) that could potentially pay off big time.  And in SOCOM these few spots did over and over.

SOCOM, man.  So great.  Add to the fact that I was like 14 or 15 playing with 25+ year olds in a clan and all sorts of trouble and fun was inevitable.  Thanks for the memories, 2003.

Counterstrike

If there was ever a game that challenged SOCOM 2 for it’s supremacy in my life as chief online multiplayer shooter, it was Counterstrike.

I was in the middle of the SOCOM 2 glory days when I was  introduced to Counterstrike.  I was in a SOCOM clan with a bunch of guys who were way older than me, I was kicking ass and having a blast.

Then I found out some friends of mine had started going to a local internet cafe on Fridays after school and  playing Counterstrike together.  It sounded pretty cool and I went one day.

I costed $2 an hour to play.

My first experience was a mixed bag.  It was awesome competing against 20-30 other people I was in the same room with, with no lag and great graphics.  I loved hearing exclamations of joy or sorrow at an epic death or defeat.

The downside was it was super hard.  Counterstrike is proud of it’s extremely high ceiling of excellence and fairly high barrier to entry.  There’s a lot to learn when you first play (with the buying of weapons and stuff and learning maps) on top of the faster-than average gameplay.  The speed of the gameplay seems even faster when you have no experience with computer games.  Console games are just much slower by comparison.

Nevertheless I overcame and definitely became a competent player.  I never joined a clan or anything (wasn’t good enough) but could have some top performances in that particular internet cafe’s server which was saying something.

I don’t play anymore.  I don’t have a proper computer (laptops are not ideal) and currently don’t have sufficient free time to invest to actually become competent at Counterstrike once again.

Someday I hope to.  Maybe once I’ve amassed enough wealth that I can stay up late or spend a Tuesday afternoon doing something totally unproductive: playing video games.

Video games do serve a purpose of course.  They serve the same purpose as watching sports does, surfing, working out or shopping (as is popular amongst females).  And you could argue that video games are less expensive than those options.

Here’s to Counterstrike!

Never Stop

So- about me.

I love video games.  Always have, always will.  Most likely.

I’m a boy.  That’s probably part of it.  I have two sisters I grew up with and they liked video games, but I have always LIKED video games.  I think the three of us all enjoyed playing, competing and goofing off.  But I’m not sure that video games elicited the same effect in them as they did in me.

Games are entertaining to most people, but not everyone is transported emotionally andmaybe even spiritually into games as I am.  I get lost.  Time speeds up.   I forget about hunger, thirst and other fundamental human functions that need not be spoken.

It’s pretty sweet.

Sports are great.  I played sports all through high school and had success.  But nothings seems to compare to the feeling of locking in to a digital world, captivated by the lights and sounds and otherness of video games.

Because let’s face it.  The world as we know it is largely depressing.  Even if you aren’t a gamer you have your own little tricks and substances and things you turn to to numb you from everything.

Let us not digress.  Shame on me for getting negative or worse, preachy!

This blog is about my general video game exploits.  More posts to come, hope you’re entertained!

Sup!

My friends!  I’m very excited to start this virtual journey with you.  I look forward to sharing my memories and experiences with you concerning my love of video games and staying young (in spirit, that is).

While I work on my first few posts enjoy this video: