Because I desperately crave acceptance and attention from the “cool kids,” I’ve recently found myself playing immense amounts of Halo 3 with my roommate and various Xbox Live people.
A quick aside about my gaming habits (which you don’t care about but are vital to this post). I have never been a console FPS gamer. I’ve always been a PC gamer. UT2k and UT2003 were my bread and butter – annihilate people with a twitch of a mouse and a blast of the flak cannon. From there I moved on to Call of Duty, which was “slower” because of the WW2 genre, but still immensely fun.
Controllers for FPS have always been my kryptonite. As a result, I sort of fell off the FPS gaming bandwagon. I did recently get into Gears of War for a bit, but it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as Halo 3 has been.
Which brings me to my point. One common thread between both Gears and Halo 3 is the imbalance of melee weaponry compared to distance weaponry. A big part of my distaste for this stems from the fact that in Unreal (which I “grew up” on), there is no melee weaponry and the majority of battle is done at distance (or close range with the shot-gun behaving Flak Cannon). But you never have to worry about getting too close to someone because they might melee you. It’s all gunpower.
Gears was particularly bad with this. Initially, I was confused because in the future, all guns have chainsaws. After playing Gears, I realized the reasons all guns have chainsaws is because while chainsawing someone to death (a five second process), you are in fact invincible. The future may not bring us the cure to HIV or cancer but it does bring us magical chainsaws. This drove me nuts, because a successful chainsawing in Gears multiplayer gives you an automatic kill while your victim’s friends can do nothing to you (except perhaps time their own chainsawing once your magical chainsaw invulnerability wears off).
Halo isn’t quite as bad, but it comes close. Every weapon can melee with extreme prejudice, inflicting 90% or so damage head on and insta-kill from behind. There are also devastating melee weapons, the sword and grav hammer, which can insta-kill while your victim pumps round after round into your body. Add in latency which makes the timing of a successful melee somewhat erratic (it’s hard to tell who was supposed to kill who if two people melee at once, and you’re often left cursing loudly), and you’ve got a recipe for frustration. One of the positive aspects is that unlike Gears, you’re not invulnerable in Halo while you melee, but the damage imbalance makes melee one of the most important skills in PvP action.
Now that I’ve got the timing down, I hate it less than I used to, but there’s just something annoying about the fact a pistol whip will kill me while 10 rounds of an assault rifle doesn’t.