Sunday, September 14, 2014

Takedown: Red Sabre - 6/20 hours

Though it's not a label I would necessarily apply to myself, it's hard to deny that I am, in fact, a "hardcore gamer." After all, I once installed a Skyrim mod to enable me to die of frostbite. Yet, Takedown: Red Sabre proves the inadequacy of such categories. When it comes to first person shooters, I'm not at all "hardcore." I'm not even "softcore." I'm more "marshmallow core."

What I like is to play as Salvador in Borderlands 2, and be able to just hold down the trigger buttons while vaguely pointing towards the enemy until everything around me is dead. And it is a testament to my lack of skill at this particular genre that I sometimes die as Salvador. So, as you might imagine, Takedown: Red Sabre is like a nightmare to me.

The fault probably lies with me. This game is almost undoubtedly meant for SWAT nerds - people who are deep into the minutiae of small unit tactics, and who can appreciate the nuance of all the various ways in which you get unceremoniously shot in the head.

On the other hand, I have my doubts about how realistic a simulation this game really is. Of all the various SWAT related news stories I've heard over the years, I can't recall any particular instance where the heavily armed and armored professionals were ever routed by terrorists, criminals, or private security. Usually, the forces of order have these sorts of situations well in hand.

Of course, part of the problem might be that Red Sabre is not, in fact, a modern military or police force, and thus has ramshackle armor, substandard weapons, and useless intelligence. That would seem to match my experiences of the game, where even choosing the "heavy armor" loadout does nothing to prevent me from dying in one hit and where I lack even basic intel (such as floorplans for the buildings I'm infiltrating or estimates about the number of foes I'm likely to face). It seems a little unfair to me to expect me to deal with all sorts of disadvantages in the name of "realism" and then deny me resources real special forces are able to call upon.

Yet, maybe the problem is actually that I do have all the advantages of a SWAT team, and I just don't have the knowledge and training to make use of those advantages. That seems plausible, and in a way, it doesn't even bother me that much, except this game does nothing to teach you the skills necessary to survive. It just throws you into the deep end and expects you to thrive.

That's something I can't abide in a sim. "Realistic" games can be frustrating, but there is something rewarding about learning about an aspect of the world you wouldn't normally be able to experience. Yet if that realism makes the game too inaccessible, it is difficult to learn anything from it.

For me, Takedown: Red Sabre falls on the wrong side of the line. I don't feel like I'm starting to think like a hardened mercenary. I feel like I'm pointlessly dying again and again, like a damned soul being forced to relive the last day of his iniquitous life as part of the punishments of hell.

I think I'll have to learn to take myself less seriously.

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