The Lag Monster

With Halo 2, Microsoft brought console shooting games into a realm previously reserved for their desktop counterparts. Xbox Live allows players to play with all sorts of people everywhere at anytime. It is not without its issues.

I can deal with the poorly designed Xbox Live interface Halo 2 has, it's workable. I can especially deal with the immature ten year olds, I'm familiar enough with that. What I am not able to deal with is the idea of paying money for a service that lags.

That's right, Live is under the evil influence of the ever frustrating Lag Monster. I've played Halo 2 on Live at all hours of the day, on many different days. Some hours I'm sure all three thousand Messiah residents were using the internet in one way or another. Other times I'm certain it was probably me a one hundred others using Messiah's partial T3. Regardless, I've never had the precision experience achieved through pure LAN play.

As a gamer, I rely on precision. When I point my rocket launcher in a specific direction, I need to be able to know that it will fire in that direction at the specific time I fire it. When I throw a grenade, I'd like it to throw at the moment I watch myself throw. When I jump, I'd rather like to jump when I think I'm jumping.

Now, a typical game on Live is not wholly destroyed by the Lag Monster. You can see pretty clearly what's going on and whatnot. However, I've had games where players instantaneously teleport from where I saw them to somewhere else because of lag, and on a slightly smaller scale games where my radar simply doesn't work because of lag. These happen often enough to be an issue, but are not typical.

What is typical is a minor loss of precision in everything I do. Honestly, this loss is minor enough to not be noticable to most casual gamers. The fact that I have my look sensitivity up at its maximum probably doesn't help. However, I find it highly frustrating that my shots do not necessarily fire in the direction I'm facing. In many games my accuracy is shot not because I have no ability to aim, but because the lag between where I'm shooting, and where Live thinks I'm shooting is just enough to screw me up.

Now, were this a free service, I'd probably be fine with it. Unfortunately, people spend money on this monthy for what ends up being lag. Paying for a service is generally supposed to make it supirior.

I've had plenty of experience with computer games online, and I've used free services with less lag. While the architecture for computer online gaming may be different than Live, it has set up my expectations for games in general online.

I suppose that World of WarCraft has been having server problems as well, so this isn't exactly a unique phenomena.

Regardless, I'll stick to LAN games.

No comments: