PC Gaming Is All Orky Again

26 Jan

vgd_orky

The last time I felt like this — I’m trying to think of an age — I must have been about ten years old.  I was building town centers and foraging for berries, or building photon cannons and in need of more minerals.  My gut would tense, as if every muscle fibre in my body was contracting.  My hands would start to shake ever so slightly as I stared wide-eyed and awaited an army to form out of the fog of war.

But that ended.  Yeah; it just ended.  I didn’t grow up — well I did, but I mean I didn’t grow out of it, that’s not why it stopped.  It stopped because the gap between PC and console gamers was closing and coalescing.  All of a sudden RTS games got worse, and people paid less attention.  And because people paid less attention, they got worse.

Age of Empires III wasn’t what I wanted it to be (after the Total War series, who wants to control one dude on a horse?), and Rise of Nations turned into Rise of Legends and died.  Supreme Commander came out and the demo destroyed my computer, not to mention brought into question my ability to command huge legions of lego robots.  

Then Dawn of War came out and I gave it a go and I hated it.  The first time I went online there was an exploit that allowed players to fill their population cap with close combat/anti-vehicle jump troops.  Huge legions of flying men with chainsaws literally raped my play sessions.  

Fast forward a bit to Company of Heroes and I still can’t get into it.  It’s great and all — I actually agree it’s one of the best RTS’s…ever — but I just don’t feel the need to play it online, which to me is the essence of an RTS.  It’s sociable; it’s virtual chess.  I was down in the RTS dumps, for a long time.

Cue Dawn of War II.  I started out happy as a greased pig (which is really quite happy), then my smile changed into a sneer as I got used to pressing lots of tiny unit specific buttons.  Then the sneer turned back into a smile.  It’s been back and forth since I’ve started playing the beta.  My latest quagmire was this: I love Orks and the massive Ork Warboss, but goddamnit I keep getting my clock cleaned by supressing fire from good shooting armies.  What’s an Ork to do?  After some experimentation I started up a new Head to Head match against a Space Marine player.  This time I wouldn’t try to juggle grabbing points and fighting, I’d do what Orks do best: Kill, kill, and kill some more — then steal everything.  

I gathered up my Warboss and a few groups of angry greenskins.  Ding: a resource point turned red on my minimap.  Gotcha.  So my opponent does what anyone in power armour would do when confronted with a wave of snarling Orks.  He pointed all his big guns at me and tried to shoot me into green bits.  This is where I had my epiphany — this is what Orks do.  Just keep running.  Don’t turn and run; Orks don’t turn and run.  And so my little warband ducked their heads and trudged forward through a mountain of lead.  Those poor Space Marines were shredded by a dogpiling of Orks with axes and guns.  I lost a lot of units, but his loss was greater — all of my units ragtagged it back to base, picking up resource points on the way back to heal and reinforce.  Then they came back to help my Warboss bash some more heads in.

I was never much for math, but figuring out the right formula needed to win a game is like figuring out the circumference of the Earth.  I am a goddamned genius, I am.  And then I fight a new opponent, and he’s been trying to figure out his own problem, and the solution throws my plan off.  I can discover these formulas over and over again.

It was so long ago for me it’s hard to tell, but I think this is how I felt when I was ten.  I was a much worse player (gimme a break, I was ten), but I had the same competitive lust for moving little army men around a screen and outmsarting someone else moving little army men around on a screen.

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5 Responses to “PC Gaming Is All Orky Again”

  1. dreamhunk January 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    if you love rts I would say try sins of the solar empire, wait for demi god,empire total war, and starcraft.

  2. nickhalme January 26, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    I have Sins, but it was just so slow paced. Saw Demigod at PAX and it looks good (although I might need a new machine…).

    Starcraft is a must, played that at PAX last year and it was delightful; I just know I’ll get destroyed by Koreans. Empire Total War will no doubt be my singleplayer RTS of the year.

    As others have said, this really is the year of the RTS — they’re making a comeback!

  3. Miko Wilson February 8, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    Why would you wait for a game (Starcraft) that doesn’t even have a release date yet? LOL. Why not just play an RTS that is available instead of waiting for an invisible albatross?
    I’ll be buying it, but it’s not as if I’m going to glue my credit card to the floor until the damn thing decides to walk its fat ass through the gates.

  4. Mike February 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    After Homeworld 2 and Impossible Creatures, Dawn of War felt a little
    old-school. The only innovation Relic brought to the game was
    the concept of “Resource Points”. But it never conjured my 10-year old
    within at all. I particularly couldn’t stand the single-player campaigns – I only made it through the first 3 or 4 space marine missions, and quit, due to its monotony.
    But evaluating a game by its single-player missions is becoming old-school itself, I guess I should’ve tried the multiplayer.

  5. nickhalme March 1, 2009 at 2:02 am #

    I completely agree! Dawn of War 1 was a platform for Company of Heroes to evolve from; but Dawn of War II is something else entirely — more like a Ground Control game if nothing else.

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