Listen up, troops, this is your range instructor speaking.
I hear you drove the final nail in the coffin of the Nazi regime - you've battled the alien menaces at Phobos and Deimos, and you've run wild through Hell itself. You've fearlessly slain Fiends and Shamblers, gave old Chthon a buzz, and gibbed Shub-Niggurath down to chunks small enough to dine on. You've kicked so much Skaarj ass that your boots are starting to smell like lizard meat, and you've singlehandedly won more gunfights than you can remember. You're probably thinking you know your way around a first person shooter pretty well by now.
Well, that was then, and this is now... the times have changed.
Back then, handling your gun was simple point and click. Couldn't have been easier - hell, you even had a glowing crosshair on your HUD. I'm afraid Serpentine doesn't work that way. These are real guns, and real guns call for a bit of real tactics and training. Reloading (or, "Bang Bang Bang Click Damn Damn Damn!!!")
Each gun, regardless of the feed system, has a maximum capacity for ammuntition. The Ithaca holds 4 shells, the Remington 700 holds 5 rounds, the 1911 holds 7+1, the Glock holds 17+1, the Aug holds 20, and the MP5, 30.
These aren't movie guns - you know, the ones that you can fire full-auto for most of an action thriller before running empty? Serpentine is rooted more firmly in reality, and limited capacity is a fact of life.
Your ammunition meter on your HUD (if you have it enabled) shows you the amount of loose ammunition you have in your pocket, for the currently selected gun. Notice, it doesn't drop when you pull the trigger - it drops when you reload. You might have a 0 showing, and still have a full clip - it would simply mean you had nothing more to reload with.
If you reload before the gun is completely empty - you automatically scavenge the remaining ammunition from the gun back out into your pocket, so you never lose any ammo. Thus, if you can afford the time spent vulnerable, reloading whenever you get a chance to is a very valid tactic, ensuring your gun is topped off for the next firefight.
Reloading itself is accomplished by binding a key to button bExtra3 - for example, set input X button bExtra3 would bind your X key to be reload. In the case of gun with a removable magazine, you'd tap it once to change clips - if the gun forces you to reload it one at a time (like the Ithaca and the Remington) you'd have to hit X for each round you wanted stuffed in. This is a pain in the ass, and the chief advantage of a having a detachable magazine, although it does allow you to pause halfway through a reload if someone interrupts you.
Note that occasionally it's faster to switch to a full gun than reload the one that you're using - and it tends to suck to switch to a weapon to find that you left it empty. When you get a breather, it's often wise to reload every gun in your inventory, just in case. "Plus One"
You'll often see us designate a weapon as holding 7+1 rounds, or 17+1 - the +1 means that one round can be carried in the chamber. Some would claim that this is a dangerous way to carry a pistol - it certainly does keep it closer to readiness at all times. The practical upshot of +1 is shown by this example...
I have a totally empty Colt 1911a1 (0 in the magazine, 0 in the chamber). I slap a clip into it. (I now have 7 in the magazine and 0 in the chamber) Then I rack the slide, which takes 1 from the magazine and chambers it. Now we have 6 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber, right? Well, if I reload -again-, pulling the clip, stuffing another round in it to top it up, and then slapping the clip back in, we now have 7 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber - 8 rounds total.
So, if the pistol is shot all the way empty, until it locks open, you'll get 7 rounds when you reload. Reload *again*, and you get the 8th round.
Or, if you reload any time before the gun is totally empty (i.e. it still has 1 in the chamber) you'll go straight to 8. This is a reason to pace yourself, and reload whenever possible - BEFORE the gun is empty. The Trigger (or, more importantly, the Disconnector)
In reality, if you pick up a loaded 1911, aim it downrange, and squeeze the trigger, it will go off. Once. Bang, and the slide flies back, ejecting the empty, comes forward, chambering the next round from the magazine... then it waits patiently for you, even though you're still squeezing the trigger. To make it fire again, you have to RELEASE the trigger, then pull it *again*.
This is due to a very handy little bit of machinery inside the trigger group called the Disconnector. Were it not for the disconnector, the pistol would be fully automatic. Full auto with a 7 round clip is ridiculous - it's only barely useful with a clip of 30, and it doesn't come into it's own until you've got 100+ round belts.
In Serpentine, your fire button IS the trigger. The same rules apply - hold it, and a pistol fires once. Release it, then hit it again for the next shot. You can happily walk around for as long as you like with your finger mashing the trigger - it won't do you a bit of good, unless the gun is capable of fully automatic fire. Accuracy
The one cardinal rule of the rifleman is, "Only Hits Count". This applies to every firearm in Serpentine. (The RPG-7 and the grenades remain exceptions to this otherwise universal rule.) Unlike some games or popular movies, simply unleashing a massive torrent of firepower across a room doesn't generally result in kills. A miss is a miss, and missing someone 30 times with an MP5 will hurt them less than hitting them once with a Glock. Keep your cool!
Accuracy is a learned skill in Serpentine, just as in reality. Guns have sights for a REASON - learn to use them. Using the sights and getting a properly aligned sight picture is the single major difference between gangstas capping their own buddies in the ass more often than their enemies, and IPSC champions making 4 hits each to 3 man-sized targets (that's 12 aimed shots total, in a drill called El Presidante), in under 7 seconds - counting a fast draw and a mandatory reload in the middle.
The sights are your friend. While you may be able to estimate the point of impact while hip-shooting, you'll never be as accurate as you can be by pulling up a sight picture... besides, why make things harder on yourself? Altfire will bring the gun up to where you can use the targetting system (if it has one). From this view, you'll be able to tell precisely where the gun is pointed. The down side of this stance is that your mobility is somewhat reduced, and your field of view is partially blocked. So, you'll want to use it at the right times - when you've got a moment to go for a steadier shot.
Now, just being able to see where the gun is pointed helps a lot. Once you get the knack of aligning the sights over the target, you'll be fairly competent. However, it's not the whole picture. Bullets, while fast, do NOT travel instantaneously - thus, you have to compensate for two more factors if you want to be a crack shot.
One is lead (Rhymes with 'Bleed'. As in, leading ahead of the target. Not as in the metal that bullets are made of). Because the bullet takes time to reach it's target, the target may have moved slightly by the time the bullet arrives. In long-range shooting with slow bullets against fast targets, you may find you have to aim ahead of the person and shoot at where they will be by the time the bullet arrives. This is a skill you may have developed back as far as Doom, to tag running people with a rocket.
The second factor is drop. The bullet is effected by gravity during the entire course of it's flight between the barrel and the target. This means that the path of the bullet curves to form a nice ballistic trajectory. If you aim directly at a feature on a distant clifface with your .45, squeeze off a round and watch, you'll see that the point of impact is many yards below where the gun was pointed. The slower the bullet is moving and the farther away the target is, the more you will have to aim above your target's head to compensate for this effect. This aiming above is called "Hold-over".
Different cartridges have different effects. A .45 is a slow, heavy bullet, which means it does lots of damage but requires lots of lead and holdover at range. A 9mm is a light, fast bullet, which reduces the amount of damage it can do but makes it more accurate at longer ranges. The rifle calibers are extremely fast by comparison to the pistol rounds. (Detailed specifications of each of these calibers can be found in the technical weapon data section.) Long-Range Shooting
Guns in Serpentine don't really have a maximum range - they have a maximum EFFECTIVE range where your odds of managing to hit anyone drop too load to really be worth the attempt. Your individual Maximum Effective Range will vary with your own personal marksmanship as a player. Being able to estimate range, knowing how the guns act, and how much drop and how much lead to expect at that range can all combine to let you hit someone with your .45 "way out past Fort Mudge" - a definate tactical advantage.
If you're looking to improve your accuracy, my advice is to practice engaging targets at different ranges with each of the guns. The Glock is a pretty flat-shooter out to intermediate range; the .45 is a pumpkin-tosser. Long-range work is pretty much impossible with the Ithaca since the shot pattern is spread so wide as to be an annoyance to your target, at best. The MP5 is not a good choice for long-range shooting; this variant fires from an open bolt, which aids cooling but significantly reduces accuracy. The Aug and the Remington 700 are both excellent choices for long range sniping since the rifle calibers offer roughly two to three times the velocity of the pistols - that means less holdover and less lead to factor in. The Remington also has the advantage of a 4x scope.
When shooting for accuracy, be aware of recoil - while you CAN hurry your next shot and squeeze it off while the gun is still recoiling, the accuracy of that shot will be degraded. A long string of rapid-fire has a cumulative error effect. Your maximum rate of CONTROLLED fire is achieved by waiting for the gun to make a full stop, then squeezing off the next round. This phenominon also occurs with burst and full-auto; there's a marked tendancy for the shots to spray... fine at close quarters, but highly ineffective at long range. Speed
Accuracy makes up half of combat marksmanship. The second half is speed. The best way to describe the feeling of rapid, accurate fire is "Take your time, just as fast as you can.". Remember, it means NOTHING to be the fastest gun if you missed! The drill I recommend to improve your speed is to practice engaging multiple targets as rapidly as you can WITHOUT missing once. Even if you can afford the wasted ammunition, you CANNOT afford the wasted time in a genuine firefight. If you miss, you're going too fast - take a deep breath, slow down, and gradually start accellerating toward your limit again, engaging the targets in a deliberate pattern. Change patterns and targets often, otherwise you'll just be learning a specific choreographed dance, which isn't very useful in combat.
Always remember, hit versus miss is a much more important distinction than fast versus slow - you should only be working on your speed once you're confident with your accuracy. Tactics
Lastly, rememeber that there is a tactical situation where each gun is the ideal choice, and every one of them has a role. Pick the weapon most suited to your own tastes and to the situation you find yourself in - if you've got a Glock and an Ithaca, and somebody pops up off across the courtyard from you at long range, the Glock is going to put down more damage out there than the Ithaca will. Seems funny for the little 9mm to be outdoing the hefty shotgun, but it's true - at long range. No weapon is the best, or even close, at everything - there's no magic whoop-ass-with-no -drawbacks gun in the game. We set things up that way very carefully, so that with any gun, if you can force the right situation, you can beat someone with any other gun, given a bit of skill. Tactics work both ways - use the best gun for the situation, and if you're limited to using a certain gun by preferance or necessity, then force that type of situation on your foe. Say you've only got a sniper rifle - you'd better find somewhere inaccessable with a nice view to hide out in. Or, say you've only got an MP-5... you'd better be hanging out somewhere with a lot of tight blind corners and narrow hallways.
Hopefully, the things I've said will help keep some of you alive out there. With enough practice, you'll all develop your own personal style - assuming of course that you don't get your frigging head blown off first. Dismissed!