Monday, December 28, 2009

Team Fortress 2: Updates

Okay, well, I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with TF2 over the years. When I first got the Orange Box, I mostly ignored TF2 for HL2, HL2E1 and HL2E2. However, as I wore those out, I decided to give TF2 its turn. However, I wasn't really very impressed. At first. Eventually, I finally found my groove in spy/sniper (not very good, but shut up) and got proper hooked. But it was not to last. Prototype came along, and, well, the rest is history.

Despite that, I always make a point to follow the class updates and get a few hours in each time. Well, sure as the sun's yellow, another update dropped recently: The very, very interesting Soldier vs. Demoman update. For those of you who don't know, it was essentially a war between the two classes: Either way it turned out, both classes got the requisite three extra weapons, but whichever class got the most kills against its brother got a special fourth weapon. I'm not going to go into detail about the specifics here, but it's pretty typical for a class update- IE brilliant.

I do have a little bit of hate for TF2, though: The random drop system still irks me. When I saw the random drop system detailed by Valve, I instantly realized that it was a horrendously bad idea. As much better reviewers than I have pointed out, putting random chance into a game mechanic removes all semblance of strategy. I think Valve thought they'd solved the issue of achievement maps (Which, I'll admit, I used to unlock some of the more stubborn weapons). Not so. With the release of the random drop system came two things; idling servers, and a special program that... Well, I'm not sure what it did, but it unlocked the drops for you. An idling program, if you will. Valve finally clamped down on the idling program, removing all items gained through it and giving people who never used it a special hat, but the idling servers still remain.

That's not my only beef, though. In this update, I noticed a disturbing trend: alt-weapons that were much, much superior to the originals. The Demoman was still on the good end of the spectrum with the Chargin' Targe (A shield that replaces the sticky bomb launcher), the Eyelander (A broadsword that replaces the bottle and is designed to be used with the Chargin' Targe), and the Scottish Resistance (Replaces the sitckybomb launcher, can place twice the number of stickybombs, can detonate specific ones by looking at them, but has a longer arming delay). Each of these weapons allows the Demoman to be more malleable. Originally, the Demoman class was split into two parts: the people who used the weapons offensively (Grenades down hallways, airbursting stickys), and the people who used them defensively, to defend a point or to set an ambush. This update allows either side to choose their style: The Chargin' Targe and Eyelander for offensive players, or the Scottish Resistance for the defensive players.

The Soldier, though, is a bit more one-sided. He gets the Direct Hit (Replaces the launcher: Fires missiles faster, deals more damage, and has less splash radius), the Equalizer (Replaces the shovel: allows the player to move faster depending on how low his or her health is), and the Buff Banner (Replaces the shotgun: dealing damage fills a rage-meter, using it with a full rage-meter grants nearby allies minicrits). The issue here is, the Soldier had two classes: The elite, and the rest of us. The elite were the people who were hitting people with rockets in the air, rocket-jumping to dizzying heights, and were generally masters of their art. The rest of us just spammed rockets all over the damned place. The elite will definitely take the Direct Hit. However, any sane player will use the other two in a heartbeat. Why? In my entire Soldier career (And I played Soldier for awhile) I harder ever got any kills using the shotgun, and while I have seen some, they were few and far between. Therefore, the Buff Banner is a smart move, because it allows you to help your allies to victory. Also, I never ever ever ever EVER got a single kill with the shovel, and not may others did, either. Therefore, equipping the Equalizer that lets you run faster than a Scout with low health would be a good move.

The earlier updates were better about this. For example, the Medic: The original medigun, which charges slowly but grants total invincibility for a couple of seconds, or the Kritzkreig, which charges faster, but grants crits instead of invulnerability. It allowed you to choose your playstyle.

Either way, I look forward to some more TF2, especially since (from what I heard) the random drops have been increased. I'm looking forward to ignoring the achievements and drops and smeltin' me some good old home-style pain! Hooah!
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