Relishing The Competition – Mano a Mano Tactics
Glove slap! Throw down the gauntlet! Honour must be satisfied! Thus begins some of the most epic one on one battles that for some reason require items of hand clothing. None the less, I have watched with anticipation as an increasing number of games arrive that allow challenges of single combat to be made. I feel I should clarify though, that while fighting games mastered this field of video game violence years ago, I never did. The shame of my button mashing was only matched by the fact I still lost anyway. So unfortunately I have no experience to speak of on the fighting genre. Not to worry though! If, like me, you enjoy the thrill of testing your mettle against another human bean without risk of death then read on, because I’m going to ramble about some cool games that I like to play!
First up is a game y’all might have heard about. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare was pretty popular even as a mod. Now that it is it’s own independent woman that don’t need no man, it has become one of the première ways to face off mano a mano. Not only does it provide a gruesome simulation of limb severance but if you stray from the wildly swinging denizens of 24/7 Team Deathmatch servers you may find yourself in my favourite part of the game. The duel servers used to only exist as deathmatch servers with a social contract and now has it’s own server type. Despite the fact that the new servers make sure that your fight won’t be interrupted, the scores are properly tallied and you can spectate properly (which is an awesome list of improvements), I liked the fact that it required everyone to know the rules. You must initiate a duel by taunting at another player. Watching someone shout a war cry and bash their mace against their shield and reciprocating by pointing your sword at them while screaming in their face was an apt way to begin something that ended in dismemberment. It was also pretty amusing to watch people who broke the rules get chased down yakety sax style, by everyone else on the server. Fighting amongst other pairs of people made it all feel more epic somehow, like gladiators in a coliseum. Now that you are insta-teleported into nicely designed two man duel arenas people want to get straight down to business.
In reality this is all beside the point because the main event is the combat. What many may see as wild swinging (and this may be what the uninitiated are doing) don’t be fooled as one miss-timed swing can see your head bounce off the floor (which is also really cool because the camera stays in first person as it rolls!). Ducking, parrying, feinting and moving around blocks are all finely crafted tools that make the combat artful and deeper than it would first appear. Knowing the weapons of your enemy and your own strengths can give you an edge; for instance, knowing that bladed weapons do more damage to less armoured foes, while blunt maces and hammers can be slower but more effective for knights in heavy armour. Then there is the actual moment to moment swordplay. The satisfaction of lulling your enemy into a rhythm of block, swing, block, swing and then switching the tempo on them by cancelling an attack half way through to catch them just as they’re putting down their guard is great. It involves prediction, quick thinking and risk taking to pull off the most impressive wins.
To make sure that this article doesn’t just read as an endorsement of the amazing Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (buy it now on Steam for £18.99!) I want to talk about other games that pit two people’s skill against one another!
A game I’m eager to play is Samurai Gunn. After watching this video I can imagine bringing it out when disputes with friends can’t be settled any other way. Seeing the tense moments of planning and waiting then the few frantic seconds of calculated slashing and shooting. Things like limited ammo (both yours and your opponent’s) to keep track of and being able to parry a slash with your own is right up my street. It makes the win more glorious when you can spray blood all over the screen, their remaining pixels floating apart from each other. That awesome stylised “Showdown at sunset” is a great climax to a tense game. For the moment I have settled for Teknopants’ other game, 0Space, which is similar but a completely different type of mayhem.
For the pacifists who are reading this and getting worried at my bloodlust, have no fear! If you prefer competitive sport then BaraBariBall might be up your street. It has fast paced 2 or 4 player ball control gameplay where you can play as a guy with pixelated nipples. No really, it has a brilliant pixels-meet-buddhist-art style that makes it’s own beat with the gameplay because most of the sound effects are drums or chimes. To score, you must put the ball in the water on your opponent’s side of the map. Doing this involves lots of jumping and slapping the ball out of the other guy’s hands. Most of the time you will be moving into a position that will let you steal the ball or let you throw it into the goal without interception. On the rare occasion when you can bait somebody into running out of jumps and watching them fall into the water, their foul and your new point can feel pretty satisfying.
Overall its the thrill of getting one over on someone and learning how to judge your options in any situation that grabs me. Relishing the competition set by a single person who can beat me and make me better is always a fresh feeling. More than anything though, it is the perfect feint, realising in an instant that you can win this if only you can pull off the timing on this clever move. And if it looks awesome while you’re at it then that is a nice bonus!