Cake, footshots and a disappearing wall.
Up until a few months ago first person shooters were a game genre that I would play occasionally when something peaked my interest and mostly those were sci-fi based shooters, The Resistance games on PS3 and Star wars Battlefront on the PC being the ones that spring to mind. But since Modern Warfare hit consoles, I have become more and more a fan of these games, even more so over the last few months, and a huge part of this draw is down to the multiplayer matches. Not only are they a lot of fun, but I have made a small group of friends with whom I regularly play with in games such as Modern Warfare 2, MAG and, more recently, Battlefield Bad Company 2. This small collection of five or six players has evolved from a group of players hooking up occasionally online to play together, through to a close knit, well oiled squad of FPS killers. But the fact that we have become used to playing alongside each other and improving our gaming skills due to teamwork is only part of the reason I enjoy playing with these people.
It has to do a lot with the camaraderie of the group, through a similar sense of humour and interests which, amongst other things, included cake. This being among the top of many an in game conversation, ranging from favourite cakes, is there such a thing as a bad cake? and, of course, the legendary “how long do you put a festive mince pie in the microwave for so that it can reach the perfect eating temperature, heated all the way through but not overly so to cause tongue or lip burning”. For those interested in knowing, twenty three seconds was the general consensus after much trial and error. Floating in a bowl of custard was an optional extra.
Another in game pastime amongst this little group is singing over our headsets. In one particular MAG match another player was heard to say “not you guys again, I hope you are not singing today”, which of course led to a resounding rendition of one of our favourites, Stand By Me. Thus song made our official top three songs to sing while fighting in a virtual war, along with The Divinyls – I Touch Myself, and Convoy – the theme to the movie of the same name. This movie was also the source of our clan name, Hammer Down Duckyâ€™s or HDD, which also leads to us constantly telling each other to bring the hammer down when we are slacking a little.
But what this piece is really about is a worrying trend amongst this group of players of which I am part. It all started innocently enough as a little bit of playful fun in our Modern warfare 2 matches. If we saw a team mate in cover, we would fire a shot or two into whatever wall, vehicle or object they were using, without them seeing that it was you doing the shooting. We could then sit with a smile on our faces, as they panicked and left the safety of their cover under the assumption they were taking enemy fire. This would then be followed by a laugh or chuckle from the perpetrator, followed by a tirade of expletives from the victimâ€¦ sorry, team mate, as he realized what had just happened, which of course led to much merriment throughout the whole team.
It was not long before it moved onto hitting the actual team mate with a well placed shot or two in the foot, making them panic even more. Keep in mind, when we played Modern Warfare 2, we generally played on hardcore mode. This meant that it did not take much to kill another player and friendly fire was on. So, in playing this little game, we had to be pretty careful and, in general, we remained accident free. There was, of course, the occasional slip up, but being friends, we were always forgiven or forgave, depending on what side of the little prank we were on. When we moved onto MAG, this little game only got worse when the realization hit that we could heal and even resurrect downed team mates. So we found ourselves not only receiving one or two shots from a friend, but full bursts of automatic fire. As you can imagine, this increased the panic even more so, only to have your team mate run up to you, laughing manically and then healing you, or in some severe cases, resurrecting you. Please understand that we did not spend the whole game doing this, as it would surely have displeased our fellow team mates who were not in on the joke. So it was reserved for quiet moments or when we had spawned together and were running back into the fray. At one point this led to a five person pistol death match between the team, as the battle raged on around us. We even had random team mates joining in with the madness, much to our amusement. The insanity was spreading.
Recently our group has moved onto another first person shooter, Battlefield Bad Company 2. Although the usual fun continues, we recently found a new way of panicking and bugging each other. Unfortunately for me, I was the test subject for this new form of evil, as I have taken to sniping in Bad Company 2. I make the most of any and all cover I can find. What I have found works best is creating your own fire positions by using some explosives to take a chunk out of a wall, in a spot that an enemy would not be expecting to find an enemy shooter.
So there I was with another member of our clan, playing in a game of capture the flag and chatting away about nothing in general. I sat behind a half destroyed wall in a dark corner of a warehouse building, defending one flag and firing my sniper rifle across the map at another flag position held by the enemy. I was scoring some pretty impressive headshot kills, while my clan mate had found himself a tank and was running riot with the big gun, blasting holes in anything that may cause him or his precious vehicle of destruction, as he was now referring to it, any harm. We had been talking away about this and that for the duration of the match up until this point and, in hindsight, I should have guessed that he was up to something from the silence leading up to and immediately proceeding the events that were about to occur.
while lining up my next carefully placed shot there was a huge boom. My vision through my rifle scope was obscured and my screen was shaking violently. I abandoned my shot and realized that the wall I was using as cover had just disintegrated in a cloud of dust and rubble. Before I could react, there was a second explosion and the rest of the wall disappeared in front of me and, through a string of expletives that would have had my mother disown me, I made a hasty retreat. Again, with my team mate saying nothing, I should have really known what was going on but it did not really dawn on me until he asked ten seconds or so later what happened, while trying desperately to contain his laughter. This told me everything I needed to know and my shocking language was then directed towards him as he howled with laughter. Of course, seconds later I saw the funny side, whilst simultaneously plotting my revenge. So began the game of destroying each others cover, thanks to Bad company 2â€™s amazing destructible scenery. I must reiterate for those people who are now hoping and praying they do not end up in a game with us, worry not, this behaviour is kept too a minimum so as not to risk us losing the match due to our idiocy. Now I am off to have a cup of tea and a nice custard slice, my cake of choice for the moment.