Friday, 10 January 2014

The Ten Lives of Johnny Law

I've been playing some Counter Strike: Global Offensive recently, and it is a very stressful kind of fun. For those who've never heard of Counter Strike, it began as a Half-Life mod in 1999, and currently has 3 different versions in the Steam Top 10 played games. A team of terrorists try to plant a bomb, and a team of counter-terrorists try to stop them. There are many variants and different game modes, but that is the core of the experience.

My favourite mode is Demolition, where the terrorists only have one bomb site rather than two, the maps are smaller, and getting a kill in a round gives you a new weapon that is harder to kill with than your last. I decided to document one such game – the brief and pointless ten lives of Sergeant Johnny Law, counter-terrorist, lawman, and idiot. 

He and his elite SWAT officers will be trying to protect a small-town bank from this bunch of bad bastards, with seriously limited success.

Life 1
Johnny Law springs out from behind the SWAT van, M4 assault rifle in hand, and is instantly shot in the head and killed. The last thing he hears is one of his SWAT comrades calling him a “fucking noob”.

Life 2
Johnny is significantly more cautious, letting his team mates fan out from the van. He follows them, moving towards the left of the bank hoping to get near the side window. As he approaches the building, a bank robber in the opposite car park saunters into view from behind a chain link fence and shoots Johnny square in the chest with an AK47. As the life ebbs from Johnny, he fires wildly, somehow putting a bullet through the brain of his murderer as his last act in this life. This death-twitch will prove to be one of Johnny's most effective moments in the entire game.

Life 3
Now armed with a shiny P90, Johnny Law heads straight forward at the start of the round, taking cover behind a postbox and aiming directly into the main window of the bank. Any bank robber that goes near the vault will be in his sights. His finger is on the trigger. He breathes deeply. He is ready. He waits.

He sees no-one.

Meanwhile, the rest of Johnny's team kill the robbers and win the round.

Life 4
Johnny decides to try his luck on the flank. He fans out from the van to to the right, moving behind 2 petrol pumps, and down the street to the building next door to the bank. If he goes through through here and out the back, he can slip into the back door of the bank like a ninja and take the unsuspecting criminals by surprise. As he walks through the front door, a bank robber is already stood there.

There is a pause that extremely short, and so charged with tension it is almost erotic.

Johnny, unsurprisingly, comes off worst.

Life 5
Something in the mind of Sgt. Johnny Law snaps. He charges forward and crashes through the front window of the bank, gun firing wildly, presumably screaming like a fucking banshee the entire time. Amazingly, this seems to work. A robber next to the vault is gunned down by Johnny's indiscriminate bullet-spraying, and the others scatter for cover. Johnny feels like a god-damned action hero, right up until the moment his P90 runs out of bullets, and he is forced to attempt to reload under heavy fire. It does not end well.

Life 6
Johnny's reward for his mini-rampage is a UMP-45, a weapon that is basically a bloody popgun. With terrible penetration, a slow rate of fire and an agonizingly long reload time, you would frankly be better off with a drawing of a gun. Reverting to caution thanks to his crappy new weapon, Johnny once again runs forward to behind the postbox and fixes his crosshairs on the bank vault door. Once again, there are no signs of activity. Johnny wonders if a game is even happening right now. A lethal shotgun blast to the side of his head tells him that there was, he just wasn't looking at it.

Life 7
Johnny decides to go ninja. He runs out from the van and straight up to the front of the bank, then ascends a ladder and advances to the roof. Through the skylight, he sees three robbers in the lobby of the bank. He crashes through it and drops into the bank, gun roaring, descending from on high like an avenging angel with the righteous fury of justice coursing through his veins.

The only person he manages to actually hit is his own teammate.

As the three bank robbers take aim and fire, Johnny defiantly pulls out a knife and waves it around a bit.

Life 8
This life is basically a rerun of life 6. Johnny runs to the postbox, aims into the bank, gets murdered by a shotgun-wielding man to his right, and reflects that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

Life 9
Johnny attempts another straightforward breach, charging towards the bank with all guns blazing. It is even less effective than the last time he tried. He almost makes it to the door.

Life 10
At the this stage of the game, many of the bank robbers have advanced through the weapon ranks, getting enough kills to acquire sniper rifles. In a life that is so similar to his first it might as well be a shot-for-shot remake, Johnny springs out from behind the van and is instantly shot in the head and killed, the only difference being that he is shot with a different kind of gun. Johnny ponders the futility of his constant reincarnations, quits the force, and goes to play Spelunky.

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