The Present State Of Online Shooters

Feb 20, 2011

Point, shoot, die.

[respawn]

Point, shoot, die.

[respawn]

Point, shoot, die…

In a nutshell, that has been my experience with Modern Warfare 2. The hottest online shooter in the world, ever. Granted, I am not very good, but I blame that on the odd match-making that pits low ranked players against the elite; as well as the cheaters out there. Could I play the campaign to sharpen my skills? To a certain degree, yes. But as my trainer used to say, “if you want to jump higher, practice jumping.” At first it’s fun to jump jump jump; but after a while you feel like you’re wasting time and you still can’t dunk.

Make no mistake, I am not new to multiplayer FPS by any means. I grew up on Quake III, Counter-Strike, and Golden Eye 64. Moreover, I am typically the team leader when I play current-gen games such as Left 4 Dead 2. If you think it’s the lack of a keyboard/mouse that has me looking all newb at MW2, you can stop reading. But if you can feel my pain, you may find value in the supplemental paragraphs. Let’s get to it.

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The operative question is: why is MW2 so stinking hot? The answer is accessibility and, frankly, it’s what your friends are playing. And like the recently diseased Guitar Hero franchise, a time will come when the market has been so flooded that sales cannot outrun costs. From release to release, minor steps have been made to strengthen the experience while the single-player campaign impresses few. Today, we have many options for online shooters. It requires some research to find them, but some developers are dedicating time and resources towards improving the genre. For example, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a sizable step forward in the series. I’ve spent roughly 12 hours with the multiplayer mode, and am drawn to the game types, and pacing of the matches. Unlike MW2, there is strategy involved that draws you to working strategically with your squad, which is a ton of fun. I would not have found this game if it weren’t for a friend who urged me to play it on his PS3. I willingly dropped $39.99 on the Ultimate Edition and it’s even gotten in the way of reviewing the newer games out there, such as Littlebig Planet 2. But the dollars spent to hours of enjoyment ratio has already exceeded the $59.99 I spent on MW2.

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Games are art and thus subjective; but the direction DICE and EA are taking Battlefield will create lasting effects on the genre and outlive the Call of Duty franchise. But if all you are about is the fast-food experience of MW2, then by all means continue to enjoy it. I do believe fans of online shooters need a more dedicated outlet than the franchise specific titles of Halo, Resistance, and Killzone. But look to these games for innovation that will shape the growing genre.

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