Archive for the 'Richard Robertson' Category

Black Box Flight Recorder

Do you remember a heavy duty black box that used to sit below your TV? It was a games console like any other, without much hope of toppling the mighty PlayStation franchise.

There was nothing special about the Xbox, until one day those beautiful games were released with Xbox Live monicered across the top. Suddenly the Xbox was connected to the entire world, and everyone loved it.

Ah yes, Xbox Live breathed into that ridged dark brick and gave it life. Whole communities appeared as the people threw on headsets and talked to new friends from Sydney to New Orleans. Games became a place to be in their own right.

With Halo 2 a fully functional gaming community blossomed into groups of dedicated gamers, school kids, parents, husbands and wives. The community was full and I loved it. It was like what gaming should always have been, robust and full of real people. Hell yeah – this was good!

Then the new baby arrived. Pristine, white and curved; the 360. Surely this is the machine to set this new community on fire. With it came a new level of games. The community hunted as a pack from one release to the next, buying each title they could afford. My community became spread ever more thinly, and our cohesion of the past became fractured.

So we pinned our hopes on old faith-full, Halo 2. Now emulated, this surely would keep the community backbone strong. But 360 Halo2 still lacked any new ‘player matches’ and with failed loads and map problems, it was soon getting dusty back on the shelf.

The bottom line, my Live experience was watered down. No longer was it a place to find friends evey night, but simply somewhere to see what the next big game had become, and wonder if I could save up in time before the next title hit.

Are we ready for Halo3 in my clan? Damn right, we are shouting for it. We’re hoping that Live can again be somewhere to hang out. That a body of players can grow around a game that keeps them coming back for years not just months, games that last and evoke an ongong following.

We miss what has been lost and yearn for its return; TrUe GaMiNg CoMmUnItY.

Richard Robertson

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A New Heaven and Earth

card_rick_small.gifWith gamers pricking up their ears over Halo, Microsoft looked to fully dazzle them as they continued the story in the second edition. Oh yes, and that little bit of spice they call Xbox Live.

You’ll have to forgive me but I can honestly say Halo didn’t do it for me. The Xbox was interesting, but before people across the world discovered Xbox Live it didn’t really draw attention from Sony’s consoles. No, Halo looked very nice and had a great story but I wanted more, the thrill of looking a real opponent in the eye, of judging my skill on a world stage, and of connecting to friends across the globe.

Ironically, when Halo 2 was released on my birthday I did not really give it much of a look. As I said, the original nevber really clicked with me, so I could not see the sequel doing it either. And Top Spin was keeping me busy when-ever the kids slept!

halo3.gifThankfully, some spare birthday money and a slow games month led to a compulsive Halo 2 purchase along with some beers and ice cream. I took it home and popped it in, expecting to be back on TopSpin with an hour. Surfice to say, Topspin didn’t get played that night and not for quite a while after.

So what was it about Halo 2 that took me away from tennis court heaven. As I have already alluded, it was the online play. From the off you could tell it was a product of breeding, which led to a rapidly growing Halo 2 community that I had never see before on such a global scale.

The robustness of lag free online play, seamless matches and ingenious ranking systems soon meant I was playing every night with my family and friends. And every so often we would clan-up and gird ourselves against screaming american teenagers, and win (sometimes).

Then there was the gameplay itself. Balanced weapons, amazingly designed maps and perfectly crafted game types. Graphically it stood head and shoulders above anything else out there, and its sound effects and voice-work were tight and crisp. I still get a shiver when I hear those monks singing the Halo 2 welcome. Everything went together just right.

Now we wait for Halo 3. No longer happy to limp on with poor 360 emulation support of Halo 2. So we are being fed by the bright light of the next-gen games, we flutter from game to game with one question only; will this game fill the void that Halo left empty.digg.gif The only answer can be to hold up and wait for 2007…lets go for a wii.

Counter Strike

cs1.gifMaybe because it was a community sponsored mod that Counter Strike had the stones to enter the controversial terrorism arena.

The purity of the game was simple. A first person shooter with two sides: terrorists and counter-terrorists. Each side had their own tactical advantages. But more importantly each had their own particular thrilling and tantalising experience.

Let me set the scene; ! stand with five men in pre-game, our objectives clear and familiar, we choose our weapons from the available arsenal, we grab some body armour, ammo, grenades or flashbangs and we’re set.

This is no random match making but a long standing clan, We all know our purpose and we all have a role. Some hang back for covering fire, some push forward with the heavier weapons. Once we have our positions, we wait. Wait for the other team to make their move, to give away their position or blindly run past. Without headsets the preset voice commands somehow added to the tension, ‘stick together team’ “enemy spotted”.

Whether freeing hostages or diffusing bombs, the whole experience is heightened by how easy it is to die. Body armour can help but still a death in counter strike is a quick one without respawns.

The longer you survive the more of the mission falls in your lap alone. You fight on with the rest of your dead team silently egging you on. The sweetness of a miracle victory is never sweet than when you are watched by five of your fallen team mates.

These are the moments that give counter strike a soul. Pouring time into this game never felt like anything but pure value. I still look back with honour that I was part of the Counter Strike world.