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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Pyro Update Weapon and E3

You'll have to excuse the late hour, and the fact that nothing went up today. I'll confess that this is as yet not a habit for me, and until it is, regularity will be something I'll have to work at. On a more petty note, since I haven't gone to bed yet, it is still Tuesday for me (at least in spirit). Because of this, and the fact that I have to get to an eye appointment early tomorrow, I'll make this brief, or as brief as it requires. The topic is the Backburner, the pyro's weapon of choice if he want's to help himself and not necessarily his team. Also, I'll give my opinions of what's been going on in the world of the Electronics Entertainment Expo, or E3 as the world of gaming knows it.

So, the Backburner. At first, the weapon seems like a handy replacement for the pyro's regular flamethrower. Crits from the back, which is generally where the pyro should be, being an ambush predator. At a current 20 hit points per crit, the damage per second (DPS) is over 450, which is enough to kill even a fully overhealed heavy (who has 450 hp). The catch, though, is that the pyro loses his/her airblast, the one thing that makes him/her more versatile than just a giant damage source. The ability to reflect rockets, flares, baseballs, sticky bombs, pipes and arrows allows the pyro to not only be offensive but also play a support role, keeping vital players safe for just that one second longer, which might be all that's needed. This also makes axetinguishing (the act of setting someone on fire, airblasting them into a wall and killing them quickly with the Axetinguisher) much more difficult, since the second step no long applies.

The Backburner, therefore, encouranges what TF2 players in the know call a "W+M1" pyro. Essentially, the pyro runs forward without regard to his safety and flames everything in sight. There is no advanced tactical thought, no idea of where to go next, simply a desire to ignite everything and let the chips fall where they may. While the pyro him/herself may certainly approve, a good deal of players do not, for the simple reason that skill is applauded in the game, as it is anywhere, and someone who shows no desire to go beyond the basics generally garners a good amount of criticism. This is, of course, putting it mildly. What one hears in game is often, almost exclusively, hate and insults.

Before I move on to E3, something I need to explain. I did not give the pyro a specific gender. This is not a mistake. The simple fact is no one, except Valve (and maybe even them still) do not know if the pyro is male or female. He/she could be a robot for all we know. There is a fan created reskin of the pyro without a top showing a bikini, but this is by no means canon. The answer to the three year old questions will be answered, the community hopes, when the Meet the Pyro promo video comes out. Somehow I don't actually think that'll happen.

On to E3 then. With the convention now three days old, I'm going to revise my plans again. I'll split my conversations from this point on between my thoughts on E3 and Medal of Honor (the beta starts tomorrow for me, I hope). The first thing I'll talk about is what Electronic Arts (EA) put up in their press conference. There was EA Sports, a good portion of the presentation, which I won't touch on, since I'm not a fan. There was the Medal of Honor demo, which I'll get to in a moment. Killzone 3 and Crysis 2 of course, which I'll talk about now.

I did not play the original Killzone or its PSP adaptation, but I picked up Killzone 2 pretty soon after its release. I played through the campaign, then jumped into multiplayer. The campaign was fairly good, with some nice set pieces and fun firefights, but it was generally a really grimy shade of brown all the time, and the ending turned into a grindfest worthy of a B-Class MMORPG. The multiplayer, however, was awesome. I'd never played a console shooter like Killzone 2 before, since, and I'll admit this now, I didn't jump on the bandwagon to play Call of Duty 4 (hate me if you must). The experience was an eye opening one, but enjoyable in the extreme. Certainly there were frustrations, for when aren't there? but in the end I appreciated the amount of thought and care the designers put into each level. Every game mode shifted seamlessly between the others, and the maps accommodated each beautifully. The matchmaking too worked really well. Experienced players generally didn't play with the newcomers, and those with hours and hours under their belt were barred from playing with anyone but their dedicated peers. When I got to this last level of play, and I'm vain enough to say that even here I could manage to come out #1 among these players, I slowly grew bored and returned to Team Fortress 2, my home among the multiplayer masses.

Killzone 3, then, I hope fixes the few things Killzone 2 did wrong, the main thing being the horribly responsive controls. Even with a high sensitivity, turning to face an enemy was slow going and unneeded deaths happened as a result. Also, I think the shotgun needs to be tweaked, since if you had any skill with it, rage among your enemies was common. On that note, the engineer class in general needs work, since it had almost no tactical use, and few people played it. I was awful, and so stuck to the support classes, occasionally moving to assault. Lastly, I sincerely hope that jetpacks somehow work their way into the multiplayer. Halo Reach is doing it. Killzone 3 should too... And no, I don't think much of the whole 3D thing. The TV's are too expensive and I don't want to wear something to watch TV. I already have two remotes for each TV. I don't need anything else.

Lastly, Crysis 2. My experience with the original Crysis was almost the complete opposite of Killzone 2. I played the campaign several times and enjoyed every one. The multiplayer sucked. The maps were too big, the weapons too clunky, the game modes to obscure and not nearly enough players to make it worthwhile. The campaign, however, I think, set a new tone for how shooters should be done. The sandbox environment of the game lets you tackle every encounter differently, no matter how many times you play through. Sure, the enemy spawns in the same place, and their reaction to you, blind fury, is the same, but how you take them out is up to you. Plus, there is a really nice social commentary tucked away in there, despite the seeming disconnect from reality with the whole "we're on the island why?" argument. With Crysis 2, I want the action ramped up to 11, where it was once only 9. I want bigger alien battles all throughout, not just at the end. I want more weapons and more customization. More types of ammo, new armor abilities (which I know we're getting) and most importantly more relevant setting. Of course, this last bit is already taken care of. Crysis 2 takes place in New York City under siege by Aliens and super powered human enemies and their tech.

We'll see.

Thanks for reading,

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