A little nostalgia

RueRue Join Date: 2002-10-21 Member: 1564Members Posts: 1,451 Advanced user
Hello all,

It's been a few years since I played NS but while cleaning out my Google drive I came across an article I wrote a few years ago but never published. Reading it now reminded me of all the amazing experiences I've had playing NS and NS2. For what it's worth, I thought I'd share it with you in case anyone else gets a kick out of it.

Four​ ​Space​ ​Marines​ ​Walk​ ​Into​ ​a​ ​Bar…

Does​ ​the​ ​title​ ​of​ ​this​ ​article​ ​sounds​ ​like​ ​the​ ​start​ ​of​ ​a​ ​sci-fi​ ​joke?​ ​Maybe​ ​they​ ​ask​ ​why​ ​the​ ​face​ ​of
the​ ​bartender,​ ​an​ ​Onos,​ ​is​ ​so​ ​long?​ ​If​ ​you​ ​thought​ ​it​ ​sounded​ ​like​ ​a​ ​joke​ ​you’d​ ​be​ ​wrong;​ ​tragically
wrong.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​in​ ​fact,​ ​only​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​of​ ​a​ ​tale​ ​so​ ​brimful​ ​of​ ​death,​ ​feeting​ ​heroism​ ​and​ ​pain​ ​that
it​ ​might​ ​just​ ​kill​ ​you​ ​to​ ​hear​ ​it.​ ​Oh,​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​hear​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​tale​ ​do​ ​you?​ ​Very​ ​well.​ ​Four
space​ ​marines​ ​walk​ ​into​ ​a​ ​bar...and​ ​get​ ​ripped​ ​to​ ​red​ ​shreds​ ​by​ ​savage​ ​tooth​ ​and​ ​hungry​ ​claw.
The​ ​end.

What?​ ​You​ ​expected​ ​more?​ ​The​ ​poor​ ​suckers​ ​didn’t​ ​stand​ ​a​ ​chance!​ ​I​ ​should​ ​know​ ​because​ ​this
is​ ​what​ ​happened​ ​to​ ​me​ ​and​ ​three​ ​other​ ​marines​ ​as​ ​we​ ​wandered​ ​the​ ​halls​ ​of​ ​Terminal​ ​5​ ​during
an​ ​early​ ​game​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Natural​ ​Selection​ ​2​ ​beta​ ​a​ ​little​ ​over​ ​a​ ​year​ ​ago.

For​ ​the​ ​uninitiated,​ ​Natural​ ​Selection​ ​2​ ​is​ ​a​ ​full​ ​release​ ​game​ ​based​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Half-Life​ ​1
modification​ ​of​ ​the​ ​same​ ​name.​ ​Like​ ​an​ ​atomic​ ​reaction​ ​the​ ​guys​ ​over​ ​at​ ​Unknown​ ​Worlds​ ​fused
together​ ​the​ ​action-packed​ ​FPS​ ​genre​ ​with​ ​a​ ​sci-fi​ ​RTS​ ​back​ ​in​ ​2002​ ​to​ ​create​ ​the​ ​original​ ​mod,
Natural​ ​Selection​ ​1,​ ​which​ ​pushed​ ​the​ ​Goldsource​ ​game​ ​engine​ ​further​ ​than​ ​I​ ​would​ ​have
thought​ ​possible.​ ​The​ ​basis​ ​of​ ​the​ ​game​ ​is​ ​that​ ​two​ ​asymmetrical​ ​teams​ ​known​ ​as​ ​the​ ​Kharaa
(aliens)​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Trans-System​ ​Authority​ ​(maries)​ ​fight​ ​over​ ​critical​ ​resource​ ​nodes​ ​located​ ​at
strategic​ ​locations​ ​across​ ​the​ ​map.​ ​Resources​ ​fuel​ ​an​ ​ever​ ​escalating​ ​arms​ ​race​ ​with​ ​the​ ​sole
purpose​ ​of​ ​wiping​ ​the​ ​other​ ​team​ ​off​ ​whichever​ ​space​ ​station​ ​or​ ​colony​ ​the​ ​battle​ ​is​ ​being
fought​ ​within.​ ​Players​ ​can​ ​chose​ ​to​ ​play​ ​as​ ​an​ ​individual​ ​marine,​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​different​ ​alien
species​ ​or​ ​as​ ​the​ ​team’s​ ​Commander​ ​who​ ​plays​ ​the​ ​game​ ​from​ ​a​ ​traditional​ ​RTS​ ​point​ ​of​ ​view.

Natural​ ​Selection​ ​2​ ​has​ ​evolved​ ​(pun​ ​intended)​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​since​ ​I​ ​first​ ​played​ ​the​ ​early​ ​beta​ ​version​ ​of
the​ ​game.​ ​When​ ​I​ ​had​ ​been​ ​so​ ​brutally​ ​slaughtered​ ​in​ ​the​ ​‘Onos’​ ​Bar​ ​the​ ​game​ ​was​ ​running​ ​at
about​ ​15​ ​frames​ ​per​ ​second​ ​at​ ​a​ ​painfully​ ​low​ ​resolution​ ​despite​ ​some​ ​fairly​ ​high​ ​end​ ​hardware
in​ ​the​ ​background​ ​chugging​ ​away.​ ​There​ ​was​ ​a​ ​twisted​ ​joy​ ​in​ ​watching​ ​an​ ​alien​ ​Skulk​ ​eat​ ​my
face​ ​at​ ​such​ ​a​ ​low​ ​frame​ ​rate;​ ​like​ ​watching​ ​an​ ​old​ ​monster​ ​movie​ ​stutter​ ​and​ ​jump​ ​as​ ​the
creature​ ​devoured​ ​its​ ​victims.​ ​I’ve​ ​played​ ​a​ ​few​ ​games​ ​since​ ​the​ ​official​ ​release​ ​and​ ​now​ ​that
the​ ​beta​ ​is​ ​over​ ​and​ ​the​ ​proprietary​ ​game​ ​engine​ ​is​ ​extremely​ ​well​ ​optimised​ ​I’m​ ​always
impressed​ ​by​ ​the​ ​smooth​ ​game​ ​play​ ​and​ ​the​ ​gorgeous,​ ​captivating​ ​environment​ ​such​ ​a​ ​small
team​ ​have​ ​managed​ ​to​ ​create.

I​ ​drifted​ ​away​ ​from​ ​NS2​ ​shortly​ ​after​ ​release​ ​but,​ ​like​ ​an​ ​elderly​ ​relative​ ​or​ ​out​ ​of​ ​date​ ​food​ ​left​ ​in
the​ ​fridge​ ​at​ ​work,​ ​I​ ​always​ ​feel​ ​obliged​ ​visit​ ​every​ ​now​ ​and​ ​again​ ​to​ ​check​ ​for​ ​signs​ ​of​ ​life.​ ​The
website​ ​and​ ​the​ ​game​ ​itself​ ​are​ ​updated​ ​regularly​ ​so​ ​my​ ​normal​ ​routine​ ​is​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​quick​ ​read
of​ ​the​ ​front​ ​page​ ​and​ ​then​ ​move​ ​on​ ​to​ ​other​ ​things.​ ​When​ ​I​ ​checked​ ​the​ ​site​ ​a​ ​few​ ​weeks​ ​ago​ ​I
noticed​ ​that​ ​in​ ​association​ ​with​ ​ENSL​ ​and​ ​Multiplay​ ​the​ ​development​ ​team​ ​were​ ​arranging​ ​a
eSports​ ​Tournament​ ​called​ ​the​ ​‘European​ ​Open​ ​2013’.​ ​This​ ​wasn’t​ ​the​ ​first​ ​NS2​ ​eSports​ ​event
but​ ​what​ ​caught​ ​my​ ​interest​ ​was​ ​that​ ​half​ ​of​ ​the​ ​prize​ ​pool​ ​was​ ​donated​ ​by​ ​the​ ​community.​ ​The
total​ ​prize​ ​pool​ ​for​ ​the​ ​event​ ​came​ ​in​ ​at​ ​just​ ​over​ ​$3000.​ ​Not​ ​exactly​ ​a​ ​break-the-bank​ ​sum​ ​of
money​ ​but​ ​in​ ​a​ ​world​ ​where​ ​we​ ​get​ ​more​ ​of​ ​what​ ​we​ ​are​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​pay​ ​for​ ​it​ ​was​ ​nice​ ​to​ ​see​ ​the
relatively​ ​small​ ​community​ ​part​ ​with​ ​their​ ​hard​ ​earned​ ​cash​ ​to​ ​support​ ​the​ ​competitive​ ​scene.

In​ ​preparation​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Final,​ ​which​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​watching​ ​live,​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​watching​ ​re-broadcasts​ ​of​ ​the
games​ ​played​ ​so​ ​far.​ ​The​ ​the​ ​production​ ​value​ ​of​ ​the​ ​official​ ​ENSL​ ​broadcasters,​ ​their
knowledge​ ​of​ ​the​ ​game​ ​and​ ​the​ ​conversations​ ​between​ ​sessions​ ​came​ ​together​ ​nicely​ ​to
increase​ ​my​ ​enjoyment​ ​of​ ​the​ ​overall​ ​experience​ ​so​ ​far.​ ​It’s​ ​clear​ ​that​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​effort​ ​has​ ​been​ ​put
into​ ​the​ ​spectator​ ​view​ ​which​ ​blends​ ​the​ ​game’s​ ​Commander​ ​interface​ ​with​ ​key​ ​information
such​ ​as​ ​how​ ​many​ ​resource​ ​nodes​ ​each​ ​team​ ​controls​ ​and​ ​what​ ​alien​ ​species​ ​or​ ​weapons​ ​the
teams​ ​are​ ​currently​ ​equipped​ ​with.​ ​The​ ​top-down​ ​spectator​ ​view​ ​is​ ​perfect​ ​for​ ​watching​ ​the
action;​ ​a​ ​lone​ ​marine​ ​wanders​ ​down​ ​a​ ​seemingly​ ​uninhabited​ ​corridor​ ​only​ ​to​ ​be​ ​ambushed​ ​by​ ​a
Skulk​ ​who​ ​had​ ​been​ ​cloaked​ ​in​ ​shadow​ ​just​ ​moments​ ​before​ ​or​ ​a​ ​swarm​ ​of​ ​aliens​ ​running
obliviously​ ​into​ ​a​ ​well​ ​set​ ​marine​ ​ambush.​ ​It​ ​would​ ​be​ ​nice​ ​to​ ​have​ ​been​ ​able​ ​to​ ​see​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the
gameplay​ ​from​ ​a​ ​first​ ​or​ ​third​ ​person​ ​point​ ​of​ ​view​ ​and​ ​share​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​tension​ ​with​ ​the​ ​player
but​ ​the​ ​highlights​ ​I’ve​ ​watched​ ​so​ ​far​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​exclusively​ ​use​ ​the​ ​top-down​ ​perspective.​ ​The
asymmetrical​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Aliens​ ​and​ ​Marines​ ​meant​ ​that​ ​each​ ​of​ ​the​ ​games​ ​took​ ​a​ ​different
and​ ​entertaining​ ​route​ ​and​ ​although​ ​some​ ​strategies​ ​were​ ​tried​ ​more​ ​than​ ​once​ ​the​ ​outcomes
were​ ​always​ ​different.

I’m​ ​really​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Open​ ​final​ ​and​ ​watching​ ​the​ ​game​ ​has​ ​rekindled​ ​something
inside​ ​of​ ​me​ ​which​ ​encouraged​ ​me​ ​to​ ​re-download​ ​the​ ​game​ ​after​ ​a​ ​long​ ​absence​ ​from​ ​my
harddrive.​ ​The​ ​game​ ​has​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​moving​ ​parts​ ​and​ ​the​ ​skill​ ​level​ ​required​ ​to​ ​get​ ​the​ ​most​ ​out​ ​of
the​ ​game​ ​is​ ​very​ ​high,​ ​although​ ​the​ ​development​ ​team​ ​have​ ​done​ ​a​ ​great​ ​job​ ​to​ ​try​ ​and​ ​mitigate
this​ ​with​ ​in​ ​game​ ​help​ ​and​ ​tutorials,​ ​but​ ​if​ ​you​ ​are​ ​a​ ​fan​ ​of​ ​almost​ ​any​ ​FPS​ ​or​ ​RTS​ ​game​ ​then​ ​I
would​ ​strongly​ ​recommend​ ​heading​ ​over​ ​to​ ​the​ ​website​ ​and​ ​taking​ ​a​ ​look​ ​at​ ​the​ ​unique
gameplay​ ​Natural​ ​Selection​ ​2​ ​has​ ​to​ ​offer.​ ​While​ ​you​ ​do​ ​that,​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​dusting​ ​off​ ​my​ ​armour,
reloading​ ​my​ ​machine​ ​gun​ ​and​ ​marching​ ​into​ ​a​ ​bar​ ​where​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​to​ ​serve​ ​some​ ​Kharaa​ ​scum​ ​a
cold​ ​glass​ ​of​ ​revenge.
The Problem With Opportunity Is That It Only Knocks,
While Temptation Kicks The Door In

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