So I made some lame Chuck Norris joke the other day when commenting on a story about Street Fighter...because no-one's ever done that before, right? Anyway, that's not what this blog's about, it just triggered a memory that I thought I would share with you all should you be so inclined to listen.
It's really all about Red Dead Redemption - a game that I put a ridiculous amount of hours into for well over a year after it's initial release. I even achieved 100% completion in the single-player aspect of the game, something that I very rarely do because:
a) I'm usually not good enough and
b) I usually get bored very quickly with open-world games and end up blasting through the main story and moving on to something less life-consuming.
Red Dead was different. Being the huge fan of spaghetti westerns that I am, this game got under my skin and into my heart and it hasn't really let go since. Needless to say, I love pretty much everything about it. Especially the multiplayer.
Now, I'm not the kind of gamer who usually enjoys multiplayer. I much prefer to move through games at my own pace, soaking in the atmosphere and pausing occasionally to just observe the world I am in and appreciate the fine work of the designers (as I am happily doing now in Far Cry 3). I never feel truly comfortable in the hectic environment of fast-paced mp because for me, games are a way to wind down and chill and I can't really do that with some psychotic cocklord screaming into my ear holes. In a real life war situation I would be the one hiding behind something, rocking back and forth while everyone else was getting their kill on.
Anyway, the point is I found myself tentatively testing the waters in Red Dead mp (and this was before 'Friendly Free-Roam' which should really be called 'If I Can't Shoot You I'm Damn Sure Gonna Shoot Your Fucking Horse') and despite the chaos and constant death I found myself completely addicted. So addicted that I even got pretty good at the whole chaos thing, filling fools with lead left, right and center or teaming up with whoever felt like it for that good old Red Dead pastime of galloping round in circles and constantly trampling some poor bastard until they rage quit the session. Ah, the memories. The thing is, I was never as good as I thought I was because I always used auto aiming. While I blazed my way through mp there was one thing I never even bothered to try - the advanced co-op missions. Give me manual aiming and reasonably fast moving enemies and I will literally shoot bullets everywhere but where they are. I understand the concept of pre-empting movement and lining up a shot quickly and correctly but when I try to put this into practice my brain responds with a curt 'Fuck You'. So you get the message - I was good in my comfort zone and basically left the rest to the big boys.
That all changed a good while later, when a friend of mine who is distinctly more 'hardcore' than myself decided to start playing the game and roped me in to help with mp achievements. I was cool with this - any excuse to get back into one of my favourite games of all time, right? Thing is, he's the kind of gamer who jumps straight to the hardest difficulty no matter what he's playing, seemingly incapable of enjoying a game unless it's giving him a hernia and an embolism at the same time. And that's fine, if that's what you're into....it's just not me, what with my 'stop and smell the flowers' sensibility. Anyway, he insisted on playing free-roam only on hardcore and one of the first achievements he wanted to get was the one for earning gold medals in all the advanced co-op missions. So after informing him that I would probably be spending more time shouting encouragement to him as yet another volley of my poorly aimed bullets sailed over and around the heads of whatever varmints we were up against, we got to it.
Things did not start well.
There was a seriousness in the advanced missions that I had not yet encountered in Red Dead. We got into various games with a whole bunch of random players to make up our desperado quartet, and it became clear pretty quick that these sharp-shooters had little patience with my shooting 'skills' as I ran around like a headless chicken while they took care of business. Even my supposedly hardcore friend had trouble keeping up with this bunch of total Clints. We were called offensive names. We were screamed at. We were shot down by our so called allies so many times that I lost count. We were ready to give up, hang our heads in shame and gallop off into the sunset.
Then a saviour emerged.
We were hanging around in a lobby, just the two of us. A half-arsed 'one more go' before giving up our guns, fully aware that the two of us had no chance of achieving on our own what we couldn't with others who were far more skillful. When in sauntered Chuck. Or to be more precise, ChuckNorris666. He had the avatar right, the US military one where the guy has the little beard and looks a lot like, well, Chuck Norris. My friend laughed, "Here comes Chuck to save us". I laughed too. It was pretty funny. No one else joined the game, so in we went, the two of us and Chuck, determined to go down in a blaze of glory.
It was at this point we realised what a beast ChuckNorris666 really was. I'm not joking. This guy could have shot the crabs off a pair of dirty balls from a mile away. Favouring a rifle as his weapon of choice, he proceeded to masterfully lay waste to any and all who got in his way. He rolled left, he rolled right, seemingly impossible to hit as he rattled off headshot after headshot after headshot. It was a glorious thing to witness. We became little more than spectators, grabbing the odd token kill just so he didn't forget we were actually there as he virtually murdered the entire world all on his own. It was like a bizarre wild west safari and we didn't even need a jeep to feel safe. Chuck kept us safe. I swear, if it was possible he'd have been shooting the enemies bullets out of the air before they even came close.
And so it went for each of the missions. He basically solo'd his way through while we watched and gladly took the gold medals which he'd so generously gained for us. "Just follow Chuck" became our personal mantra for the duration, and it worked beautifully. Those missions that had caused us so much grief over and over again were completed in one fell swoop which took only minutes. The achievements were unlocked and ChuckNorris666 disappeared into the ether from whence he came, never to be seen again. We showered him with messages of gratitude and ended the session with joy in our hearts. So wherever you are now, Chuck, thanks again for what is one of my favourite gaming memories!
Adios to all, and thanks for taking the time to read this. Happy gaming, doods!