I read this piece over on Gankalicious and felt compelled to respond…however, the response would’ve been too large for a comment, so here I am. The question was this:
“Has this ever happened to you? I had such a good battle the other night in World Of Tanks I decided to stop playing. Immediately. I knew nothing could beat it so I thought, the hell with this, I’m out!”
I can think of some instances (Karazhan) where I wish I’d quit after it instead of continuing, as nothing ever lived up to that level of fun again. But the only time I knew – as Gankalicious did – that it was time to bail was in Unreal Tournament 2004.
A tiny bit of back story is in order. When I was much younger, FPSs were my thing. Wolf3D, Doom (multiplayer over a null-modem cable, baby), and Quake. Quake was a huge step for me (and FPSs in general) as it allowed 3D mouse look and got people (like me) setting Q and E to strafe (while WASD were exactly like mmorpg movement controls are now) and using Tab and R for the grappling hook mod controls. Things really got fun (religious even) with Unreal (what a pretty game) and it’s follower, Unreal Tournament.
I played UT nightly, perhaps as much as (if not more) than the Blizzard games that otherwise ruled my youth (the Diablo games, StarCraft). I played constantly. And I was your typical twitchy, lightning reaction gamer. At the risk of sounding boastful, I was very, very good.
Years rolled by and I got into other games. I skipped two iterations of UT (and FPSs in general) and then found out that my friends were all excited for UT2004 and they said “Hey, Thade, come out of retirement!” So, I did. Or, I tried.
It was frustrating, getting back into it. I was both out of practice (with the genre entirely) and older (and thus my reaction time was lessened). I thought back on how good I’d been and had a bit of trouble getting into it. I stuck with it though, and steadily some of my skill returned.
UT2004 introduced two new things to the UT series: vehicles and a seize-ground mission type. The kind where you need to take points A and B before you can take point C (the opponent base), a reverse tug-of-war. Well, this one game (and the point of this article) my team had the opposing team pinned in their base. We couldn’t get into their base, try as we may, because the base was a small fortress where they would very quickly respawn (this is before VOIP and respawn timers, mind you). The little fortress had three ground-level entrances and a half dozen mounted guns that weren’t killing us fast enough for them to escape the fortress, but fast enough to keep us out.
My team decided that the best course of action would be to try the “fourth entrance”…the fort had an open ceiling, and several vehicles could fly. Four (or so) of us hopped in to flyers with the hope that they couldn’t shoot all of us down before we made it. On my way into the flyer, I grabbed a few guns near my spawn point…one of which was a Redeemer.
The Redeemer is (as the link explains) a super-powered missile launcher. One shot would kill many opponents (and likely yourself if you were remotely near the impact point). My plan was to crash into their base and suicide myself, destroying their generator (or whatever it was).
We flew high, hoping to escape notice. We did not. Their AA fire opened up on us and – as it goes with mice aiming and young kids – they were dead-eyes. We all went down fast and hard. Well, not all of us.
My ship started taking fire and I reflexively hit the eject button to try and jump clear. Of course, I was at a ridiculous height so there was no where to jump to. But I did land somewhere. Vehicles, when destroyed in UT2004, became smoldering wrecks…solid objects. My flyer was reduced to a flaming, smoking, hulk of metal. They continued to shoot at me but couldn’t hit me as my improvised surfboard soaked their incoming fire. I was riding to certain death, fast, and they were hosing me with shots to no effect. I readied the Redeemer. I took a deep breath. I waited. I hopped forward and fired.
When matches completed in UT2004, it would show the frozen last shot of whatever player had scored the last blow. There I was, frozen in space in some ballet-style leap, one knee up, one leg down and back, with the Redeemer on my shoulder, just above a flaming meteor that was once my ride, surrounded by massive explosion visuals.
And that was that. I typed “gg”, I exited, and I never played UT again.