After seeing a Discountoid awhile back in which they were selling 13 month gold subscriptions on Amazon for 20 bucks less, I figured it'd be as good a time then to get one as any...what with everyone who is not me talking about how great Left 4 Dead is, and with me wanting to get in on the action. Lacking both at the time, I was a sad panda.
Despite some nasty ailing sickness recently, I was able to acquire Left 4 Dead and setup my Gold membership (with awesome discount)...but I decided to go a different route for Live and work my way into dealing with the online masses. So I settled for playing some non-Left 4 Dead games instead to see how the other online players (or lack thereof) operate, and to gauge whether every other person is really a dick/12 year old, or if this only seems to happen in FPS games. Yes, I'm sure this has been done before. No, I do not care. I found that my research has taught me many important things, all of which I will share with you now.
1. Project Gotham Racing 3
First things first. I suck at PGR3. This is because I can't drive Rear Wheel Drive cars (in games or real-life), as Gran Turismo 3 originally taught me. I beat the game on Easy and that was enough for me. But I figured I'd see how good the average person was at PGR3 online. Answer: Way better than me. Except at the Cone Collecting game, where I apparently destroy other players ruthlessly.
It seems that nobody really talks in the lobbies of this game. They just kinda idle there and wait on a game to fill up or get started...or they simply just leave after thirty seconds of not getting something going. I only played one street race, where I got utterly annihilated, although it was fun having two cars both P.I.T. manuever me from opposite sides, allowing me to pop up and ride a wall for about ten seconds and glitch the game into saying I was 38 seconds behind the next car. I only found one Cat & Mouse game the entire time, and I either got disconnected from the game or booted out, I'm not sure which. I kinda had my headset for Live around my neck because of the stories I've heard about kids screaming into the mic incessantly and was afraid for my eardrums. Someone was saying something and that's when I learned the art of WEARING the headset to hear people. I also learned the art of VOLUME. The lattermost of the two aforementioned abilities comes into play shortly, so I'm glad to have learned this now.
Having earned a couple of achivements and found that only about 40 collective people on Earth still play PGR3, I decided to swing on over to what I figured to be the safest game in terms of Live activity...
2. Virtua Tennis 3
I visited the VTTV channel to watch a game for about thirty seconds so I could grab a free achievement, then I headed off to the match areas and tried to setup and casual match. And tried. And tried. No luck. I wasn't sure how ranked matches worked, thinking maybe players have an associated score based on the number of online games played, like TruSkill on PGR3. Shortly after choosing Ranked Match, I was beset upon by this man:
...only he was French. Very, very French.
I don't know much French, but I have enough common sense to not try and have a conversation with someone in a language I'm unfamiliar with, so I decided to hang back and just listen while I tried to take this guy down with my fancy moves.
So, apparently I suck at Virtua Tennis 3 a lot. I didn't think I was too bad, until this guy destroyed me in every match 40-0. He made lots of random grunting sounds, said some things in a most condescending manner, and then started humming the National Anthem (American, not French!) as loudly as he could while I volleyed lots of fail at him. Then he went from humming to singing operatic-style, and I leapt for the volume control and yea and verily, it was my savior.
Fearing for my life and wanting nothing more of proving my lack of skill in VT3, I moved on to more familiar ground...
3. Rock Band 2
I thought about doing drums, but I already felt crappy playing two games and looking like a complete idiot, so I needed some genuine owning to make myself feel better. So I grabbed a microphone and headed for the Tug Of War/Score Duels. Score Dueling apparently does not exist in the land of vocalists, because there were no Quick Matches or Ranked Matches even after ten minutes of waiting.
So I jumped to Tug Of War mode and tried a Ranked Match first. Found one on Hard fairly quickly. I was fine with that, because there's some songs I'm not confident on...or simply hate to death. My viking-hat-wearing-warrior-of-the-world Zain faced off against some generic looking guy named josh (lowercase)...we were given Bodhisattva from Steely Dan. I hate the song on vocals, but apparently josh (lowercase) hated it more. About two minutes in, he jumps ship while I'm dragging the bar all the way to my end, so I get an easy walk on that. Tried some more Ranked Matches, but no one seemed to be showing up. So I jumped to Quick Matches and got two fairly easily.
First was a girl named Madison. She picked My Own Worst Enemy from Lit. She also picked Hard, so I jumped on Hard as well. It was a close match, but I 100ed versus her 98. She said something, but I couldn't understand it very well. Then I picked Spoonman from Soundgarden, and I heard her make a loud groaning sound. She jumped to Easy, so I stuck it out on Hard and took the match easily. Then she apparently decided that she had to show me up hardcore, because she jumped to Expert and chose That's What You Get from Paramore. Not one to shy away from a match (and eager to fail), I jumped to Expert and struggled through a song I absolutely hate as she 98ed it. I couldn't find a female song to exact revenge with, so I just jumped to Creep and Experted that (she went to Easy). I 100ed it without a problem and she took off, no words or animosity to be found.
Tried one more Quick Match and got another girl (maybe girls dig vocals more in general?) who I can't remember the name off the top of my head...some awkward combination of X's and KrisCross. She apparently liked semi-emoish stuff and didn't have a very large library unlocked. We went all over the board, doing Carry On My Wayward Son, Girl's Not Grey, Man In The Box, Down With The Sickness, Our Truth, and some other stuff. I brought the domination most of the time, save for when my bronchitis finally started getting the better of me and she picked Tangled Up In Blue...which is my most hated song in the RB2 groupings. She seemed fairly nice and I talked a bit with her, and she never got overly upset when I would nuke songs on Hard or Expert.
So I jumped ship and decided to report my findings here.
SUMMARY / TL;DR RESULTS
1. I suck at driving and tennis, and if you were to combine both, global warming would climb 120000000%.
2. French people are really good at being Virtual Tennis players, and really good at being Virtual Dicks.
3. Girls like vocals. I like vocals. I like girls. YES!
4. Live players who don't frequent popular games aren't usually dicks. Unless you suck at Tennis. Maybe I deserved that bad rendition of the National Anthem.
5. Now that I have Left 4 Dead and Live, I will be getting some gaming on (and probably get owned in the process) with some Destructoiders! This makes me a happy panda!
...minus the panda sex. I don't get any of that today. Maybe tomorrow.