computer gaming

Apart from Operation Flashpoint, these are all games that I would recommend playing on the Internet. You may notice a recurring military theme here. I’d be the first to admit that real war IS hell, but pitting my wits against other humans, in war games, provides me with a satisfying intellectual challenge and, since we barely have TV, (no cable and only one broadcast/re-run channel), I don’t feel too bad about using this as down-time.

Note that many of the downloads, even for "patches", are over 200 megabytes and take, literally, hours to download. So, if you live close enough, try asking us to burn you a CD.

America’s Army – The "game" is free but you need a reasonable computer and a high-speed Internet connection to run it well.
You have to give an email address to play, but no other personal information, and a Hotmail account is OK.
This is intended as a recruiting tool, which it may be for some, but for me it illustrates just how dangerous soldiering is as a profession.
If you get into the game and Special Forces (SF) qualified, you may see "PoliteHitman" or "{-Krait-}" on one of the SF maps.

Counter-Strike – If you need to ask what this is about, you’re not really into computer games, certainly not into first-person shooters", (a.k.a "FPS). Excellent frame rates on older computers and OK performance on dial-up modems keep this an on-line community favorite. This is where the name/online identity of "a little old lady" started. Question 1: Who would you be most embarrassed to be digitally killed by? Question 2: Who would you feel least inclined to digitally kill? The answer I came up with is "a little old lady". The boys most usually use "Polite Hitman" and "Purple Rabit". "Polite Hitman" was inspired by a hitman, in a movie, who politely asks a nearby diner to put out his cigarette. Let’s just say that the smoker lives to rue his rude refusal.

Day of Defeat – World War II Counter-Strike (CS) Mod. A bit more strategic than CS, with more interesting maps.

Battlefield 1942 – Higher system requirements than Counter-Strike, but entertaining if your hardware is up to it. A.k.a. "BF1942".
Realistic enough for entertainment purposes.
The latest version moves to the Vietnam war - their demo video is impressive but all that foliage will need a good computer and video card.

Desert Combat – this is a BF1942 "mod." that is faster-paced due to more modern hardware. Helicopters are hard to fly but are lethal in the hands of a good pilot. Jets can be almost too fast unless you burst throttle. Both jets and helicopters are probably better with a joystick.

Operation Flash Point – I enjoyed the higher level of realism, but the kids found it too slow paced with not enough detail in the landscaping. Having stalled on the penultimate mission, I have never made it to the expansion pack.

Over the years there have been many games, these are all ones which gave enjoyment at the time:

Sop – short for Sopwith. A 2-D game where you flew a small plan icon and either shot a row of dots or dropped a bomb on static or flying targets. The flying targets (enemy planes) were trying to shoot you too. Airfields spawning them could be destroyed by cratering the runway. Neat game.

F14 – Hectic wire-frame flying game that had you taking off from an aircraft carrier. You had about 10 seconds to lock onto incoming bogies, send them a couple of heat-seeking or radar-guided missiles, then initiate violent maneuvers to avoid their missiles. If you survived the first wave, there were more bogies on their way. If you survived the second lot of bogies, you were probably low on missiles and the only way to get more was to land back on the carrier. I think I only did this once.

Armored Fist – My first pseudo-realistic game, with rendered terrain as opposed to wire-frame. Command (I think) 2 squads of 4 tanks or APCs, (Armored Personnel Carriers), select armor-piercing or high explosive shells based on targets. Lightly armored troop carriers were vulnerable to tanks but had anti-aircraft missiles, useful against tank-busting helicopters.

Comanche – Armored Fist from the helicopter viewpoint.

Comanche versus Werewolf – expanded on the Comanche theme by introducing the Russian Werewolf helicopter, distinctive for its twin opposing main rotors, with no tail rotor. My first LAN-capable game – one person flew the Comanche on one computer while the other flew Werewolf on the other.

TerraNova – In my opinion this was the finest FPS game made, for its time, with features that are STILL to be matched here in 2003. Even today, I can’t help looking at Halo without missing the quality of the Terra Nova game play and story-line. You could set way points for your 4-person team, choose their armor, weapons load-out and attack (or not) instructions, you had recon- and explode-a-drones etc. etc. Too bad publishers Looking Glass went out of business. Note: In case you didn’t yet check it out, this link includes some historical context notes about what was going in the world back in 1996.


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