The Online Shooting Mans

I’m not much of an online gamer. Considering I spent 8 years playing Everquest, that may be kind of an odd statement, but I don’t think it’s too odd to point out that MMOs are in a completely different category from, say, Counterstrike. They’re slow-paced, persistent affairs, and you spend an awful lot of time building up characters that actually grow to have identity, which is a bit different from games where you’re basically centering your crosshairs over the noggin of xXxDaKilla666xXx, pressing the trigger, and moving on to look for xXxDaKilla667xXx, repeating as necessary.

In truth, I did have an Xbox live membership for a year, mostly to play with a small group of friends, but I let that lapse when I realized that I was probably playing online for 3 hours or so every other week and spending 50 bucks for it.

In all honesty, if Activision would just start releasing $20 versions of the Call of Duty games with the multiplayer stripped out, I’d be the target market; the last one I paid for was CoD4 and subsequent ones simply haven’t been justifiable as full-price games.

But I digress.

Anyway, I’m not much of an online gamer is the point I’ve been trying to reach for the last couple of paragraphs, and by now you’re probably hoping that I’ll get ON with things or – more likely – you’ve simply stopped reading.

Anyway, I decided that I would make an honest effort, this year, to give online multiplayer a bit more of a fair shake, inasmuch as PC online is generally free of charge and I have an awful lot of games in my steam account with multiplayer modes.

The first thing I tried my hand at was Team Fortress 2, which I’d actually played a couple of hours of some years ago when I went to a LAN cafe with some friends, before they got tired of it and wanted to go back to Counterstrike. I had a memory of it as being a cartoony and not terribly serious shooting-mans game, and I’d heard that it had evolved into something more like an MMO, with item drops and crafting and trading and hats.

I gave it three or four hours across a few servers before deciding that it wasn’t for me – it’s much too late coming to this particular party. I did find a server where folks didn’t seem to mind holding my hand a bit, and I’ve favorited it in case I get an urge to go back, but in general…

Killing Floor, being the multiplayer cooperative game where you shoot zombies that isn’t Left 4 Dead, was a completely different experience. Being able to choose games by difficulty setting meant that I was pretty much able to find games with other newbies, and I never felt like I was completely outclassed as long as I was picking one of those.

It also has an offline mode where you can, should you choose, do some level grinding on all skills except the medic skill, which requires another person to get hurt and for you to heal them.

Put simply, Killing Floor had me coming back the next night for more, and I suspect I’ll be back again as soon as I’m done playing the story mode of Borderlands, which is another offline grind/online multiplayer game and the next candidate for trying online.

I don’t see myself becoming a hardcore hours-a-night player, but I’ve enjoyed the experiment so far and I’m looking forward to going through the rest of the titles in my library that have online support.

Interestingly enough, all three of these games are available on the Mac, which is quite a turnabout for the state of Mac gaming – I will admit, in the spirit of full disclosure, that I’m playing the PC versions because my gaming PC can push out a heckuvalot better visuals than the 9400m in my MBP, but the OPTION is there.

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