May 26, 2004


So, I went and bought Unreal Tournament 2004 last weekend. It's your typical first person shooter, one of those games that would have Maude Flanders dropping to her knees and screaming "Would somebody please think of the children!!" (or is that Lovejoy's wife who always does that? I simply MUST brush up on my Simpsons).

Basically, Unreal Tournament is like this: you run around, you pick up an arsenal of totally foolish but super-cool weapons, you shoot at people, you die, you respawn. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

It's astounding to realize how far computer games have come in just about six years. My first PC that wan't a Mac was a Compaq Presario, which featured a massive (for its time) 4.3 GB hard drive and a screaming fast (for its time) 200 MHz processor. That computer was top o' the line back in 1997.

Unreal Tournament 2004, by comparison, requires a 1.4 GHz processor, and takes up 5.5 GB of hard drive space. My old Compaq couldn't even consider thinking about possibly even installing UT 2004.

Like I said, there are no doubt foks out in the world today who would hear the premise behind UT 2004 (basically, kill everyone) and they'd rant and rave that it's games like UT 2004 that are behind school shootings, a decline in moral values, the Iraq war, big tobacco, and bad breath.

Phooey on those people. Phooey, I say.

Look. I mean, just look at the time-honored board games like Monopoly (premise: make everyone go bankrupt and stand triumphantly on the backs of the poor), or Risk (premise: pretty much like Monopoly, except with a war theme), or Stratego (premise: checkers, except with a war theme).

But, even beyond that, I'm convinced that those people who decry video games like UT 2004 have never actually played the games and experienced the absolute ridiculousness of the experience.

In UT 2004, the most wimpy weapon you can have is pretty much an M-16 with a grenade launcher. That's the most WIMPY gun you can have. It's the gun they start you out with, and it has about as much effect on enemy players as a mosquito with a dull proboscis. The weapons increase in size and craziness, all the way up to gigantic rocket launchers that are innacurate as all hell, but if you hit the target, there's a 20 percent chance they'll atomize (provided their health level is low enough). Yep, in UT 2004, you can get hit with a salvo of exploding rockets, and there's a very real possibility you'll live through the experience, at the expense of most of your health, of course.

My point, of course, is that first person shooters are so ridiculous and fanciful, and so removed from reality, it's virtually impossible for them to be taken seriously.

Imagine, if you will, the following boot camp scenario:

DRILL SERGEANT: Listen up you maggots! You will now learn to fire your standard issue M-16 assault rifle. Learn to love this rifle, men, for it will be your life protector!

RECRUIT: Excuse me, sir. . .

DRILL SERGEANT: What is it, dog-breath!?

RECRUIT: Well, sir, it's just that, I don't know, doesn't this gun seem a little bit wimpy to you?

DRILL SERGEANT: That, you little puke, is a rifle! It is not a GUN!

RECRUIT: Whatever. Listen, I'm just a little concerned that you're equipping us with less-than-effective weaponry here.

DRILL SERGEANT: What in the hell are you talking about, Alpo brains!? The M-16 assault rifle is lethal to a range exceeding 100 yards! It has been proudly carried into battle spanning the last four decades! How in the name of holy hell can you call it wimpy!?

RECRUIT: Well, jeez, man, couldn't you at least start us out with a bio-rifle, or maybe a chain gun?

DRILL SERGEANT: *blank stare*

RECRUIT: I mean, this gun, sorry, RIFLE, here would only really do any significant damage if it had a grenade launcher attached, which this clearly doesn't. I think we should at least have the option of selecting a link gun or even a sniper rifle so I can try for a head shot. I didn't even see a translocator in the gear I was issued.

DRILL SERGEANT: Drop and give me as many push-ups as it takes for you to start making sense, you pathetic hermaphroditic tree frog!!

When I step away from a bout of UT 2004, I don't have some urge to load up my SKS and pick off people walking by, just as when I was 12 years old, playing Ninja Gaiden on my Nintendo I didn't come away from the experience wanting to go all samurai sword on my brother, just as, many year priors to that, playing Combat on my Atari, I didn't feel the need afterwards to crawl into a tank and shoot things.

If anything, I find myself envying some of the kids today. Last night, while playing UT 2004, I was basically annihilated by a bunch of kids ranging in age from nine to 18. I mean, they wiped me out over and over and over again, the damned whipper-snappers, and yet I found myself wishing I could be that quick and accurate.

And, after each frag-fest, most of the kids would right "gg" on the screen, meaning "Good Game." It's a game. They know it's a game.

Are there kids out there who may take silly games like UT 2004 too seriously, and it alters their sense of reality? Perhaps. But, there's more than likely some sort of psychological disorder operating under the radar to make that possible.

That being said, I have to say, head shots are really freakin' cool!

Posted by Ryan at May 26, 2004 11:24 AM

Maude Flanders has been dead for years, Ryan. Sorry to shock you like that.

Posted by: Jim at May 26, 2004 11:50 AM

Not in the reruns she ain't.

And, yes, I know she's dead NOW. I mean, I watched the whole tee-shirt to the chest episode and all. Jeez, man, I'm pathetic, but I'm not THAT pathetic.

Posted by: Ryan at May 26, 2004 11:55 AM

I thought that was a pretty unimaginative way to get rid of her. I was hoping that she'd flip out from the ultra religious lifestyle and go on a bender. Wake up a couple weeks later in comic book guy's apartment wearing Otto's underwear and then slink off to a convent.

Posted by: Jim at May 26, 2004 12:28 PM

When you snipe someone do they still sometimes stand there reaching for their head that's no longer there before keeling over?

That was the funniest kill of all in the last UT.

Man, I need a faster machine so I can get in on the kill fest!

We should get Layne, you, me and whoever else wants in to get a Blog Frag going on sometime!

I wonder how powerful a Mac I'll have to have to hang with the new speedy PCs?

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at May 26, 2004 01:02 PM

ohh. oohhh.
i'm in for a UT deathmatch. though, it has to be the old version—ahhh '2000, i think. my TI powerbook is over two years old now.

a group of us from work go, once a week, to a gaming place during lunch. sometimes there's about eight of us. usually, we play call of duty (WWII—band of brothers scene). but the place recently installed UT 2003. man, that game really changes the atmosphere quite a bit. usually, call of duty is a sniper type game, lots of strategery, etc. UT 2003 is like cat-nip. nobody has anything to say to each other after an hour of mayhem of that order.

Posted by: seed at May 26, 2004 03:17 PM

This is my personal homepage.

Eric Wright o

Posted by: Eric Wright at June 30, 2004 06:20 PM
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