Ladyhawke vs Louise – what happens when a popstar challenges OPM to a game off
We’re going to pit you against Ladyhawke,” beams editor Ben across the office on a sunny March afternoon. “She wants to play some games.” Amazing, a real-life popstar for me to play games with! A real-life gamer popstar! I remember that the cover of her first album had a drawing of her playing on some kind of retro console, and my response is a sort of happy vowel sound that probably removes any credibility I once had in the office.
As I squee, Ben continues on. “So you’re in? Cool. I’ll pick the games,” before turning back to his computer. A seed of doubt is instantly planted as he gets back to work. He’ll select the games? Oh gawd. I instantly know I’m going to have to break every rule of my existence and attempt to play FIFA.
Fast forward two weeks. It’s the night before, and I can’t sleep. I only got the games today, and tomorrow I need to travel to London and face off against someone who gets to officially call herself Ladyhawke. Earlier, in the office, prod ed Emma ever so helpfully suggested I call myself Shegull and get it stitched on the back of my Batman T-shirt in gold lettering to match the symbol on the front.
Staring at the ceiling, I realise I should have had my training montage by now. I should have played each of the games for hours and worn through at least three controllers. I should have already run up a set of steps and reached for the skies while raising the physical representation of my Assassin’s Creed platinum over my head. Inevitably I haven’t done any of these things – and I’m going to have a hell of a time finding some suitable steps and a platinum trophy before I have to go to the train station.
Attempting to relax, I listen to Ladyhawke’s new album. Music should surely soothe my troubled mind? Not so. The aptly titled Anxiety features tracks Black White & Blue (the colours she’s going to beat me in Street Fighter X Tekken tomorrow), The Quick & The Dead (an excellent analogy for a failed COD session) and Gone Gone Gone – a fitting way to describe my dignity should I dare to pull a Rocky in his first film outing.
Only when Ben handed me the stack of games today – along with an extra-manly slap on the back – did I really consider that Pip (Ladyhawke’s real name) and I wouldn’t be sauntering through Aperture test chambers, or around Lego Hogwarts together like best buddies. Instead, we’re going to be trying to slaughter one another with bullets: head-to-head battling for my OPM honour without a hidden blade in sight. Am I up to the challenge? Of course, I am – I’m Batman. At least, that’s what I’ve told myself going in…
Round 1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
I’m not sure what I was expecting upon meeting my opponent, but it’s not the ridiculously sweet New Zealander who joins me on the couch and immediately confesses how nervous she is. “I’m a solo gamer – I never play with other people,” she admits as I hand her a controller. “I like third-person games. I like stealth and taking my time.” Well, it’s a good thing we’re going to play an FPS that’s less stealthy than Ezio after a bottle of absinthe, then. As I set up a deathmatch, we discuss our usual inability to play well with others. “I get scared to go online,” laughs Pip. ”I did it for an Uncharted 3 trophy, and it was all these kids going, ‘You suck, you noob!’ I’m like, ‘Why can I hear them?’ It’s terrifying!”
We launch into the Bakaara map. Very aware of my FNG status, I pick a class with a missile launcher – hoping that, if nothing else, having a bigger gun will help. We’re momentarily silent as we wander the wartorn streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of one another. “So this is your job?” Pip asks. ”If I wasn’t a singer, I’d love to do your job.” Entirely flummoxed by this statement, I find that my nerves aren’t jangling as much, and ask if Pip plays when she’s on tour. “Yeah, I take my PS3 in my luggage. It’s getting really heavy, though. I don’t have the slim one. I have to put it in a wheelie bag.”
And there she is. I’ve found her. A quick rattle of machine gun fire, a failed attempt to spin around from Pip, and I’ve taken the first kill. Phew, one up for the games journo. An internal fist-pump from me and we return to the fray, where she promptly riddles me with bullets to level the score. Something about chickens, hatching and counting appears in my previously celebratory mind. We fall quiet as we draw, the combination of nerves and caffeine booming in my ears. I catch a glimpse of her heading around a building and send a hail of bullets in her direction. Pip returns fire, but it’s another kill from me and I creep into the lead again. “I really like shooters,” Pip says as she respawns. “Uncharted 3 was the second game I platinumed.” She really is one of us, and I don’t feel quite as bad as I’m KIA twice by the popstar in 30 seconds.
3-2 down, I’m wandering the map and bemoaning the bar in the corner of the screen that declares me the loser. “At least it doesn’t follow you around in life,” Pip interjects helpfully. It may as well. The timer is ticking away with my dignity, and I arm myself with my missile launcher. “I saw you loading that up!” my opponent exclaims and looks at my half of the screen, “I’m trying to see where you are, and come and find you.” The hunter has fast become the hunted, and I scurry around a ruined helicopter to find a decent vantage point – but my time is up, the clock reads zero and the blonde songstress reigns supreme. “What’s next?” grins Ladyhawke.
Ladyhawke: 1 – Louise: 0