Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dawn of War II: Retribution Beta (Full Rant)

(Consolidated each day's update into one post. As always, if you can, enjoy...)

* Still my favorite RTS going. As much as I enjoyed Starcraft II, I still prefer Dawn of War II's pace, visceral punch, and emphasis on controlling the battlefield.

Also, swords that are also chainsaws. Enough said.

* Glad Relic got rid of the Games for Windows client. I'll miss the achievements -- but it was asinine to have both Steam and Windows Live running in the background, especially on such a graphically intensive game.

With the exception of having to write a "Dear John" letter to Microsoft, I'm sure this was an easy decision for Relic. Steam sells the game, keeps it up to date, provides a solid and unobtrusive form of DRM, and has most if not all of Live's social features. All Live brought to the table was a second way to tell the time, another Friends list to annoy easily distracted gamers with constant messages and pop-ups, and, of course, those damnable achievements.

* Ran through a few matches with the Imperial Guard, Retribution's new faction.

In short, I got my ass handed to me.

I played a couple of matches against the computer first, so I could get a handle on playing the Guard. After several brutal, humiliating defeats from the computer, I decided to play against my fellow nerd online...where I could learn the true meaning of defeat. 'Cause here's the thing: I suck against the computer, but I really suck against a human opponent.

Some of you might recall the first time your dad or girlfriend tried to play Call of Duty online, and that look of confusion, horror, and soul-crushing defeat that came over their face after their first match, when they led the leaderboard in deaths without getting a single kill. I have played Dawn of War II for over a hundred hours, and that look has never left my face.


Now, this wouldn't be so bad, except I play two on two matches online -- which means I'm constantly letting some stranger down. I've contributed to only a few victories out of God knows how many matches, and when I say contributed, I mean that my dwindling, shell-shocked Space Marines were focused on a comrade faking an injury like a professional soccer player while the other player successfully stormed not one but two enemy bases.

The end battle report is the worst, with all those stat blocks, point scores, and graphs to show me precisely how bad I sucked (this goes for any RTS). Still, it's hard to stay focused on that: my eyes invariably drift to the chat window at the bottom of the screen. During that minute before everyone logs off, I feel like a child bringing home his first "F", waiting for my latest ally to accost me with things like, "What the hell was that?" or "Have you ever played this game before?" or "Did seriously try to tell me that one of your Devastator Marines pulled a hamstring?"

When this happens, I can take the heat. I deserve it. It's the silences -- when the chat window remains empty -- that truly eat away at my soul. When this happens, it takes everything in my power to keep my fingers off the keyboard, to stop myself from vomiting out all manner of excuses or platitudes. Things like:

THE WICK: This has never happened to me before. I swear.

THE WICK: Sorry, I've got a lot on my mind. Work's been so stressful lately, and I...

THE WICK: Give me fifteen minutes and a White Dwarf, and I'll be ready to go again.

* I think that's more than enough 40K rambling for now. Don't you?

End of line.

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