The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: weapons

A Very Festive Team Fortress 2 Christmas

Team Fortress 2 was updated a few days ago to drop the naughty and nice crates, as per tradition (or at least, something that was first done last year). The previous year, I purchased keys for two nice crates to get my premium account, while this year, I purchased two keys to open naughty crates to get a festive grenade launcher and übersaw. and also traded two key-equivalents with a friend to obtain festive weapons, including the Festive Frontier Justice, Festive Buff Banner and Festive Ambassador.Nice crates drop seasonal hats, while naughty crates drop coveted festive weapons.

Festive weapons are a special class of weapons wrapped in blinking Christmas lights powered by a battery pack. The lights are green, yellow, and team-coloured, even though the backpack icons depict both red and blue colours being on a weapon at the same time. The visual additions are purely cosmetic changes and have no effect on gameplay. Festive items could only be found by unlocking Naughty Winter Crates and are available in both Unique and Strange quality, though the Strange versions are much rarer.

The festive weapons turned out to be a considerably better deal compared with the contents of the nice crates, which eventually become craftable. Conversely, festive weapons do not drop and can only be acquired via purchasing  a key and opening naughty crates. This year, Valve must’ve realised the value of Festive weapons and slowed down the drop rates on the naughty crates: I acquired my weapons through transactions with a friend. With blinking lights, I don’t mind that the festives I picked up aren’t strange: they really bring on the Christmas spirit in ways that the Spycicle and the Ornament Armament.

Interview with Fukui: The Unicorn Banshee

I imagine several people will be curious about why the OVA Banshee has a different loadout compared to its novel counterpart. An interview with Fukui from Char’s Blog holds some of the answers about the Banshee, in addition to giving more insight into the choice to go with a seven-episode series as opposed to the original six. The first order of business is the Banshee’s armaments, and the justification for its change.

  • The contrasts between the Banshee and the Unicorn are numerous, reflecting on the idea that possibility can create and destroy. However, that’s not the purpose of this article. I’m here to show off the Unicorn and Banshee’s signature weapons, and then explain why there are now seven episodes instead of six.

The writers at Sunrise for Gundam Unicorn initially designed the beam magnum to be a highly powerful weapon with its ammunition capacity as its constraint: while capable of a mobile suit in a single shot, its limited magazine size meant that each shot had to be carefully placed. The weapon’s design reflects on Banagher’s situation; when he is given access to this weapon in his first confrontation with Full Frontal, he initially burns through all of its ammunition. Subsequently, Banagher opts to hold back when engaging the Sleeves forces at the Laplace wreckage, citing its power as a liability, and only uses the beam rifle to impede the Shambloo’s movement. Thus, the beam magnum can be seen as a symbol of responsibility in that while each shot is highly damaging, they must also be used wisely. In order to ensure that this point was driven home, the OVA beam magnum cannot be adjusted to fire shots of varying intensity. The end product is a highly powerful but also impractical weapon for situation demanding heavy firepower: indeed, the beam magnum feels more like a sniper rifle, as it is more suited for engaging a single high value target at a time as opposed to multiple targets. These capabilities and limitations make the beam magnum a realistic weapon, which sharply contrasts the beam smart gun wielded by the Banshee.

  • Two screenshots comparing and contrasting the design differences between the Unicorn and Banshee’s primary weapons. Apparently, looking down the barrel of a gun with the left shoulder pointed back is the “in” pose in UC Gundam.

Whereas the beam magnum feels like an anti-material rifle, the beam smart gun wielded by the Banshee is distinctly a more sci-fi like weapon in terms of design and performance. This was motivated by the wish to depict the Banshee as a dangerous, unpredictable machine: in the fifth OVA, the Banshee is capable of firing this weapon constantly, and is initially seen slicing the Shambloo in half. The weapon overpowered for a reason: as the antithesis to the Unicorn, the smart gun is less precise than the magnum and is designed for continuous, unrestrained use. Fukui has stated that the weapon was specifically designed to overpower the Unicorn in one-on-one combat, hence the choice to use an integrated rifle that is reminiscent of the Seravee’s cannons from Gundam 00. While the choice represents a departure from the decidedly realistic nature in Gundam UC, it also reflects on the thematic elements in UC.

  • These two screenshots of the Unicorn duelling the Banshee are from the latest and greatest episode.

The Banshee is capable of wielding beam sabres, although its most powerful melee weapon is a VN Claw is mounted onto its left arm. This weapon was conceived by mecha supervisor Genma, who had wished to like to test a new concept with the Banshee. He got permission from Furuhashi and Katoki. While Fukui was not aware of this decision, he was nonetheless impressed with the results.

  • The Banshee reinforces the notion that UC Gundam is a reference to the Lady and the Unicorn, a famous taspery that is replicated within the anime. Riddhe Marcenas’s role is that of the “Lion”, with Mineva Lao Zabi being the “Lady” and the “Unicorn” being Banagher Links.

The other order of business is the decision to extend the series by an episode. This is a welcome announcement, seeing as the quality in Gundam UC is astounding. The extension was motivated by the plot: writers would have felt rushed to condense the contents of the last few chapters into a single episode, so Fukui secured permission to use an additional episode to tell the story. This accounts for the slightly slower pacing of episode five (I’m citing the interview: episode five blew me away) and acts as a prologue for the final acts. The script for episode seven is still on-going, and as it stands now, its length is uncertain given that there is a lot of material that still needs to be covered. Gundam Unicorn was originally set to fit within four episodes, but it was apparent that the plot could not be condensed into this length, so Fukui negotiated for a six-episode OVA. As evidenced by the presence of a seventh episode, six episodes was still too limiting, bearing testament to the depth and detail of events found within the Universal Century.

Tips for Halo Trial Multiplayer: Revisited

“Magnum and sprint? That’s it?” “It’s all I need.” -Arbiter on the awesomeness of the pistol. Arby n’ the Chief, Digital Fruit Cakes.

Halo PC was released way back in 2003, being a direct conversion of Halo for Xbox (released in 2001). Shortly after, a free trial was released, including the campaign level “The Silent Cartographer” and the now-classic multiplayer map “Blood Gulch”. Given that this trial was free, it is hardly any surprise that many bored gamers downloaded this version and began getting familiar with the mechanics of Halo PC. As such, following its release, “Blood Gulch” servers were the most numerous of the Halo PC servers. This is an article I found sitting around on my hard disk, and was once posted to my website. I now revive this article in its original glory.

Contrasting Halo PC and Halo 2 PC, there exists a very unique set of tactics that players adopt when playing solely on Blood Gulch, a wide open map set in a closed valley. There are two bases at the ends of the valley, with cliffs and caves lining the edges of the map. The original Halo for Xbox involved a multiplayer by system link and involved up to 16 players. As such, most strategy guides out there assume that one is on an Xbox and are playing with their buddies on a weekend. However, when paired with other players online, elements of communication fracture, and as such, so will any notion of teamwork amongst most players. Halo trial comes with two main modes of gameplay: slayer and capture the flag. The two modes start a player off with different weapons (plasma pistol and assault rifle plus pistol, respectively). However, the techniques generally remain the same with the weapons. Thus, let’s begin by considering slayer.

  • It should be apparent that Halo 2 differs dramatically from Halo Trial. Owing to difficulties in getting screenshots of me dominating all I encounter (and my subsequent laziness in installing Fraps), I’ll use Halo 2 screenshots instead. The Battle Rifle replaces the pistol in Halo 2; aside from functional and aesthetic differences, it more or less serves the same role as the pistol in Halo CE. The map here is Coagulation, the direct descendent to Blood Gulch. Aside from having more complex bases, more greenery and rocks on the right of the blue base, it has a similar layout as Blood Gulch and as such, will be used for discussion here.

Slayer is the most straightforward of the gametypes; the goal is simply to get as many kills as possible to either reach the limit (usually 25) or until time runs out. In Halo PC, the only map is Blood Gulch, and as such, a mid-range weapon is always advisable. This role is satisfied by the M6D Personal Defense Weapon System, better known as the pistol. Its scope, coupled with heavy hitting rounds and high rate of fire, makes it behave like a designated marksman rifle; four shots will decimate any player without overshields. The choice of secondary weapon depends on one’s preferences: a shotgun or sniper rifle are advisable for extreme range combat. From a personal experience, having a sniper rifle and a pistol plus a handful of grenades is more than sufficient to easily dominate a match. Capture the Flag (CFT) is driven by bringing the opposing team’s flag to your team’s base. Teams usually have several players on offense, several providing support and several on defense. These concepts go out the window in Halo Trial; players usually stand still and are generally useless all around, or else go on the offense and leave their flag completely undefended. Typically, winning teams in Halo trial have a single player who carries out the offensive roles, and a handful of players who do little more than decimate opposing players.

  • The sniper rifle is the most effective weapon on Blood Gulch given the map’s size. With a massive zoom and stopping power, it can be used to pick off enemies from across the map. The vapour trail the shot leaves behind will betray a wielder’s position, although this can also be exploited to lure careless banshee pilots to their death, as described below. Typically, my preferred tactic is to camp in the cave above the blue base and then use the pistol and sniper rifle to take out players.

With that in mind, there are four main classes of players in Halo trial:

  1. Objective- These players actively aim to win the game and are oriented by goals, such as flag captures. In slayer, they’re the most likely to use power weapons to get kills as needed, although they are usually competent with standard weapons.
  2. Defensive- These players tend to stay near the spawn areas and engage enemies as they move into the bases. Snipers fall into this category; they usually camp in the cave overhanging the blue base and have a nearly unlimited supply of pistol ammunition.
  3. Vehicular- These players will use the nearest vehicle they can get and either try to ram players or, in the case of the banshee, bombard other players with plasma.

  • The rocket launcher in Halo CE does not have the ability to lock-on to targets. As such, it is primarily used for taking down groups of players or vehicles headed straight for a player. The decision to give the rocket launcher a lock-on function made vehicles death traps in Halo 2 and encouraged balanced gameplay by preventing vehicle-users from dominating a match.

Generally speaking, players who use vehicles tend to be the most irritating to engage. There is a specific set of tactics that may be used to defeat players using Warthogs.

  1. Players driving the Warthogs can be defeated with sustained fire from the pistol coupled with a well-placed grenade. The grenade can flip the vehicle, forcing them to exit it and damaging them in the process, and the pistol is then used to deal with the player. Alternatively, a Banshee’s fuel-rod cannon and plasma cannons can be used to quickly defeat a moving vehicle and its occupants.
  2. Players using Warthog turrents are sitting ducks: a well-placed headshot will one-shot them. When lacking a sniper rifle, use a combination of grenades to flip their vehicle, and then finish them using the pistol. It is imperative to stay out of the operator’s line of sight. In this case, using a Banshee is ill-advised, given that the firepower of the minigun easily exceeds the Banshee’s output. If forced to engage a player on a Warthog turrent, use the fuel-rod gun to flip the vehicle over, and the plasma cannons to (hopefully) mop up the player.
  • To ensure competitive balance, the Banshee in Halo 2 lacks the fuel-rod cannon and is susceptible to rockets, as well as boarders. The latter makes it inadvisable to splatter enemies on the ground at times. Given that Halo CE does not have these limitations, players often exploit the Banshee’s firepower to get easy kills.
Players piloting the banshee are the most difficult to eliminate. Players out on foot in the middle of the map have very little chance against a banshee, so it is advisable to take cover in the bases or the caves near blue base immediately when the distinct wail of a banshee is heard. There are several special techniques one may attempt to defeat one, all of which are context sensitive.
  1. If practical, grab another Banshee and use the fuel-rod cannon in conjunction with the plasma cannons. Whoever lands the first shots will be the likely victor, so timing of the fuel-rod cannon is essential. To evade the other pilot’s fire, use circling motions and occasionally switch directions to close the distance.
  2. If both Banshees are gone, grab a Warthog mini-gun turrent; the two pilots are concentrating on each other and typically use circling motions. Take advantage of this and lay down some heavy fire. The combined fire will take down at least one of the pilots, and chances are, the other pilot will be low on health and thus, also be easy pickings. The rocket Warthog is useless owing to its slow project tiles.
  3. Continuous fire with a pistol, shotgun or assault rifle will most rapidly defeat a careless pilot if one’s on foot. Stay near buildings for cover, and failing that, near objects like the trees. This will prevent the pilot from getting splatter kills; if a pilot decided that ramming is the best solution, backpedal and use grenades.
  4. If one plays as a sniper and has access to the caves above blue base, they have a massive advantage over the banshee pilot. Plasma grenades and the pistol spawns in this area; use the sniper (if ammunition is relatively plentiful) or the pistol to draw the pilot’s attention, and more often than not, the pilot will attempt to go right into the cave. As soon as the Banshee’s frame is seen, stick two plasma grenades to it. The pilot cannot survive the two explosions, and will quickly be dispatched. This is probably the most effective method against most players currently.

Other than these tips for handling vehicles, the traditional rules of FPS apply here: always keep moving and strafing to avoid being sniper targets, use grenades to suppress an area, and always carry the pistol in conjunction to another weapon. Moreover, the old adage of aiming for the head holds true: four well-placed pistol rounds will finish any player. There is a slight delay in pistol shots at longer ranges, so leading shots and predicting where a target is going becomes important.

  • The shotgun is remarkably effective when paired with melee attacks. A pistol should be carried in conjunction with the shotgun to maximise combat capacity at different ranges. In Halo trial, most players do not bother defending their flag or, in some cases, going on the offensive. When actually playing Halo trial, don’t expect graphics like those in the screenshots above: I’ve already mentioned that they are Halo 2 screenshots and are here for the purposes of discussion.

These tactics become indispensable when one goes up against inexperienced players who decide that the Banshee is the only way to get kills. Of late, most of the servers I’ve encountered are hosted by Spanish speakers…who appear insistent on using the Banshee. Playing on 48k modems, their servers are plagued by significant lag, and they will exploit this. Fortunately, most of them are not particularly skilled with the standard weapons: use one of the aforementioned techniques to remove them from the vehicle, and subsequently dominate the game using the pistol. Expect them to insult you in Spanish should that happen, but ignore them and demonstrate that the pistol is mightier than the insult. You may also choose to quit before the lag gets too particularly bad.