Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hammerfight - 7/20 hours

Hammerfight becomes a little less luck-based once you open up the armory, which allows you to choose the loadout of your machine in order to find and use a weapon that fits with your particular fighting style. The different weapons respond differently in the physics simulation, spinning faster or slower, causing more or less knockback, requiring different angles for optimal hits, and so forth. That opens up quite a bit of strategy, as you search for just the right build.

I also unlocked some alternate game modes - Arena, which is just fighting enemies with no particular context; Hammerball, a game in which you use your hammer to knock a ball into a goal, something I find to be a neat idea, but utterly unplayable in practice; and Grim, which looks to be a survival mode where you have to face wave after wave of monsters. Of all these, I think I like Arena the best, because it's just the most fundamental expression of the game. The campaign is pretty decent, but there have been parts that have just felt massively unfair, so I can't really give it my wholehearted endorsement.

I might be the wrong person to ask, though, because I don't particularly enjoy this game. I can see the appeal. I understand why other people might like, or even love Hammerfight. It's a chaotic action game that rewards a degree of precision that most people can't attain, so there's a lot of room for mastery, and that is always a draw. However, it's just not my sort of thing. It's so busy, and it requires that you focus on so many things at once - you have to move your craft to dodge, but it has to be in a circle so your weapon has the momentum to hit, but whether you go clockwise or counterclockwise depends on a host a variable like relative position on the screen, the direction of rotation of the enemy's weapon, and whether or not switching would cost you too much time. I find it more than a bit overwhelming.

It's funny how time changes you. I used to think that I had to like every good thing and that anything I didn't like couldn't possibly be good. . . which now that I write it out seems embarrassingly juvenile and self-centered, but I'm not going to panic about it because it's a commonly-expressed sentiment. The thing I've come to realize (and boy howdy has this blog helped me along with his realization) is that there simply is not enough time in one life to experience all the good things in this world. And this is especially true when you consider that some of those things require a specific cultural background or the development of advanced skills to appreciate. And I suspect that much as I will never be country enough to be able to tell the good country music from the bad, I will also never be dextrous enough with this damned mouse to ever get the most of what Hammerfight has to offer.

It kind of makes me sad to think about. When I first tried to play Hammerball, it was a ludicrous farce, but I imagine that on the high end of the skill curve it is a glorious acrobatic ballet. And I am never going to be able to see it, merely because I am unwilling to invest the hundreds of hours necessary to master the controls. I guess that's just the central absurdity of mortality - the world is always bigger than you, history is always older than you, and the days are never long enough make up for how few of them you get.

Or maybe this just a silly little game about inexplicably spinning robots, and I should just enjoy it while it lasts. What would Sartre do?

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