Little Green Army Men

(Editor’s Note: TLDR: It’s not Saving Private Ryan, but that might be a good thing.)

An odd coincidence happened the other day. I was sitting in my living room with a friend. We were trying to find some motivation to go disc golfing. Don’t misunderstand me. We love to go out and throw frisbees around the forest. It’s just that we are both getting older and require a little more to get going. Also, because he and his wife went overseas for the last two years, we have quite a bit of catching up to do.

While conversing, he again noticed my Magic cards and we discussed teaching him how to play, he asked why some cards have the holo sticker and others don’t, and then he mentioned that we should put together an NCAA league (or whatever its called) for us and friends. I replied that I’d have to pick up a new system and the game, but that I’d absolutely love to do something like that. I’ve often done the franchise mode in those games, solo, and I think it would be a blast to have company as I ran a prominent college football program into the ground.

Go 'Bama. Roll (over and play dead?), Tide.
Go ‘Bama. Roll (over and play dead?), Tide.

Of course, none of this is indirectly relevant to the coincidence. It is, as we say in “the biz” (What Biz? You might ask. “The Biz.” C’mon, keep up.) setting the stage. We continued to talk about games and gaming and geek culture. He’s not a full fledged member of the community, but he does share some of our passions. Often, I’m surprised when he displays these geek tendencies even thought I should know better by now that we come in all shapes and sizes. That reminds me. We need to sit down and watch the new Godzilla movie together since it released while they were gallivanting around the Middle East and Europe. Also, I think I might have talked him into a midnight showing of Star Wars Episode VII. I’m not sure about that one. After all, I did have to explain to him the sequencing of the first six movies. Oh well, even if I don’t get a midnight showing, I will take the boys.

None of this is setting the stage, no matter what “Biz” you’re talking about. That was all just my usual easily distracted ramblings that will often interrupt my articles. Still, they are all a part of the weird and wonderful stew of ideas, thoughts, and dreams that live in my head. It may not all be relevant, but I promise that it is all important in one way or another.

My tendency to forget the geekiness of this particular friend manifested in other ways during the conversation. Ultimately, it led to the surprising coincidence upon which this article is based. See, all important and we eventually make it back to the point. While talking, he asked me if I ever played “Company of Heroes”. I had to verify that he meant that particular game because we had never discussed the game previously.

Another Steam purchase gone to waste? Perhaps not this time.
Another Steam purchase gone to waste? Not this time.

It was offered as a free weekend game a couple of weeks ago on Steam. As I often do, I not only tried the game, but I bought it after only playing through the tutorial. you can understand, then, my surprise when this friend who has little use for video games outside of the occasional NCAA football game asked about a game that I only recently discovered and began to play. To be fair, he seemed almost as surprised when I answered yes and told the story of how I started playing.

As with many of my Steam purchases, I played the game extensively in the first two days, enjoyed myself, and bought the package with the game, sequel, and DLC. Since then, I’ve loaded the game, maybe, twice for a total of about an hour and a half. that’s not to say that I don’t like the game. In fact, I found the tutorial enjoyable and the play through of the Normandy invasion was decent, though not as chaotic as presented in Saving Private Ryan. Yes, having seen only that dramatized version of the events, this did not live up to the immersive experience. Sure, it is a cheap game, but there are good voice actors. Maybe they spent all of their money on that and did not have enough left over for cut scenes.

Actually, minus the river of blood, this scene resembles the game. Maybe I just wasn't in a mood to be immersed when I played.
Actually, minus the river of blood, this scene resembles the game. Maybe I just wasn’t in a mood to be immersed.

Additionally, and this came up in our conversation (I think), the AI sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. More on that in a minute. After coming to terms with our individual surprise that the other played the game, he cryptically referred to some part of the game that he absolutely despised. “I love the entire game, except for this one thing.” Like the Meatloaf song, he never identified the what this one thing was.

(Before you write in to tell me what a moron I am for not getting the Meatloaf song, just stop. I get it. I’m just taking a bit of poetic license to make my point.)

I’m fairly sure that he was referring to the AI sometimes breaking to the point of turning a sure win into a loss, but I can’t be positive. He danced around the issue saying that he only played multiplayer against his brother. When I said that my experiences in online gaming have left me scarred and unwilling to venture too quickly into such an environment, he scoffed, implying that people who play the game single player are noobs unworthy of consideration as serious pretend Army generals. What can I say? When you find a role that suits you, embrace it and play it to the best of your ability. I dare say that few embrace the role of noob more fully nor play it better than me.

Maybe this guy. Then again, it is his name.
Maybe this guy. Maybe.

While storming the beach with my little green army men, I saw some issues with the AI. more accurately, issues with the AI interrupted the second part of the D-Day invasion as I moved inland. My guys, who carefully followed every command while ducking bullets and mortar shells to get to safety (relatively speaking, of course) suddenly became so stupid and suddenly had no self-preservation instinct.

As I baby sat one group of soldiers in their attempts to eradicate the Nazi roaches from the map, another company of “heroes” calmly stood completely still while the Nazi scum that I had commanded them to eradicate shot them calmly in the face. The whole scene was quite the calm massacre on the battlefield as I stared in complete disbelief at the horror unfolding on my computer screen.

These guys played pretty good noobs. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised when they showed up in my company.
These guys played pretty good noobs. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when they showed up in my company.

Ultimately, good triumphed over evil, but it was made much more difficult due to the accuracy of Dark Helmet’s assertion that “Good is stupid”. I know the game was very inexpensive, so I shouldn’t complain,but that sequence was incredibly frustrating. I can’t imagine how angry I’d be if the bug caused me to lose an online match against another person. Losing to a timely top deck or costly misclick in Magic or Hearthstone is enough to push me right to the brink, so that might just send me over the edge.

Unfortunately, the game hasn’t been able to crack my daily rotation and I haven’t played a single minute of the game since the disaster on D-Day. Surprisingly, that has not factored into the decision. I just have a limited time to play and I too often make terrible choices about what to do with that time. Instead of trying a new game, I spend too much of that time in a futile attempt to convince myself that Hearthstone is a fun game and not a complete waste of time and resources. I won’t say that has inspired me. Nor will I make any promises to play the game more. Those promises too often go unfulfilled. I won’t even mention Fallout 3 and how Fallout 4 is actually becoming a thing.


I will finish by saying that I really did like the game in spite of the potentially game breaking bug. I’m not usually a fan of war games, but I do enjoy a good turn based strategy game once in a while. The story alone might be enough to keep me playing. Also, who knows, maybe we will actually follow through on getting together for some multiplayer action. Do you notice a common theme among my recent articles? I’m really itching to play some games against actual live humans. Chris and I have not been able to have our monthly nerd nights and the family has been really busy with other things to even consider finishing our Star wars campaign that we started and I wrote about last week. Hopefully that all changes soon. Mid term is over for school. As I write this, my friend who plays Company of heroes texted me saying that he wants to try to set up a game soon. Guess I need to put aside the Hearthstone and practice with some Army men.

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