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Friday, June 18, 2010

The Heavy Update and More E3 News

Having made a great deal of noise about the Medal of Honor beta, not putting up first impressions of it seems to me to be a betrayal of words. And it is, but I do of course, have a reason (some might call it an excuse). First off, the beta didn't actually go live on Steam when everyone expected it to, though it did go up on the appointed day. That said, it was already rather late by the time I finished downloading, and as I considered booting it up to try it out, a friends of mine, TheDakon, who plays Battelfield and TF2 with me on occasion, already had it going. I asked him how it was, but soon realized he spent perhaps three minutes in the actual game. When I pressed him as to why, his response was quick and to the point. Because the beta had just gone live, everyone and their dog was in game trying it out, and the Steam servers were overloaded, as were the EA servers hosting games. Furthermore, several key functions were malfunctioning, so I decided, rightly I hope, to wait the until initial rush ended and the start up kinks began to work themselves out. I know that the consoles are also having trouble with occasional freeze-ups and other game-cracking things, so my patience, I'm sure, will be rewarded in the end.

With that out of the way, I think I'll get to talking about TF2 some more, this time on the Natasha. Because he heavy loves his guns, he names them, and Natasha is his updated weapon (he calls the regular gun Sasha). Sasha's main selling point is its bullets' ability to significantly slow down the movement speed of its targets. Every bullet causes the enemy to move at 75% their total speed for a little more than half a second. That being said, because four bullets come out of the heavy's gun per one unit of ammunition spent, this makes the falloff much more dramatic, so much so that it seems like you come to a near complete stop at all but long range.  The tradeoff, for all valve update weapons have a tradeoff of some kind, is a reduced damage output, to the tune of 25%. Again, with the amount of ammo the heavy puts down range with each pull of the trigger, he still takes out enemies very quickly, put up against a heavy with Sasha, the one who wins is either whoever shot first or whoever has a medic. All things being equal, the Sasha heavy wins.

Natasha went through several update phases, as most times, when Valve updated the gun it would lose the slowdown quality. Valve fixed this only recently. As for me, I don't use Natasha as a rule, though I don't play heavy that often (the servers I play on often having a goodly number of skilled spies). However, when I encounter one, I find my teeth grinding, since I feel, and I think others do as well, that the slowdown is too much and makes heavy a much easier class to play, almost cheaply so. Plus, with even the moderate damage reduction, in crowded areas the heavy loses out to the constant assault of rockets, bombs and bullets quicker than with Sasha. His effectiveness dropped, the medic usually goes with the soldier or the demoman or, if he wants to just clear a room, a pyro, while the heavy sits back and eats a sandvich.

Thinking about it, I'll stick to a single class update weapon, since there's cool news coming out in the industry right now that some might not know about. First is Infamous 2, the game where you have electrical super powers the likes of which send ordinary citizens fleeing in terror and cars effortlessly flung into enemies. Infamous (the original) became a favorite among sandbox game enthusiasts for the ease of getting into the game, the story and unique method of its telling and, most of all, the superpowers, something not often seen in a complete sandbox. Cole McGrath, the main character, always seemed the reluctant hero, forced to battle forces for the reason that no one else would. Assuming you played the good side of things, Cole truly did follow Joseph Campbell's Hero's journey, with a few modifications. It was a story of growth and transformation from ordinary person to true hero. By the end of the game, Cole, while still somewhat reticent about his status as super hero, has no reason not to follow the destiny he begins to see before him, and while the city of the game's setting might be safe, there is a whole world that needs saving. With his powers only in their infancy, what Cole comes up with next is anyone's guess.

All that aside, there is one piece of trivia that bugs me a little bit about InFamous 2. Cole's voice actor and character design are completely different. In the first InFamous, Cole' voice was gravely and his head shaven. In InFamous 2, his hair is full and black and his voice is more southern, more relatable. While Sucker Punch, the makers of the game, have purely practical reasons for doing this (their vision of Cole's voice and the actor didn't match up, and the actor couldn't make it to face modeling from where he lived) I find it against the spirit of the game. The voice and appearance of the first game acted as a strong indicator as to both the kind of person Cole is but also shone a light on his internal conflict. His voice, a low, rough sound, mirrored his mental state and reluctance to hear the call to action. His yellow apparel and rucksack showed his link to humanity while still subtly separating him from it. He remained somewhat above and beyond the normal person, while still maintaining his humanity. With the blue t-shirt, the southern voice, Cole is now still more human that he was before, and seems much more casual with the whole idea of having his powers. Now, I don't want Cole dressing up in tights and a cape, but retaining some degree of separation, at least for me, should have been tops on the list. Cole is no longer part of the population. He is a man apart, a man above and beyond so many. I think his appearance should reflect that. His reluctance should be fading as the world heats up in danger and chaos, but I know that to be a room with Cole, a man within whom a huge electric charge always sits, would be uncomfortable to say the least. I don't, therefore, want to feel like I could let him into my house and have a drink with him. If he is to be the savior, make him seem, first visually, the savior.

Thanks for reading,

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