This post might be a little disjointed â€“ Iâ€™ve been playing a bunch of games recently and thought Iâ€™d just pen down my thoughts in one single post since I donâ€™t really want to write five separate posts in one night.
Team Fortress 2
Valve has patched the game twice since the Scout update, yet the Sandman remains unfixed (although they did manage to break rocket jumping while trying to fix an exploit that made it harder for Snipers to get headshots, and they did break Nataschaâ€™s slowdown effect yet again). Iâ€™ve played in a few big games since the update, and Iâ€™d say the stun is overpowered even if you discount the fact that it affects ubercharges. I have not yet seen a single Scout that doesn\’t try to tag me with the ball the moment I see them, and in a few circumstances theyâ€™ve managed to stun me for extended periods at close range, allowing them a free kill. One particular incident that comes to mind occurred on the second point of the second stage of Dustbowl â€“ I was playing Soldier and standing on the point when a Scout ran out from the central tunnel, ran up to the point and threw his ball at me. I was stunned for a good 3 seconds or so, and this was from being tagged at close range.
The response from the competitive community has been very clear. CEVO has banned the Sandman, and from what Iâ€™ve heard a bunch of the other leagues like ETF2L have followed suit. Keep in mind that this is the first unlockable weapon that theyâ€™ve actually banned. If I recall correctly they didnâ€™t even ban the Pyroâ€™s Backburner back when it granted a ridiculous 50-point health bonus.
The response from the rest of the TF2 community has been less distinct. While there are a few players who recognise that the weapon is clearly overpowered, the vast majority of the communityâ€™s response has been â€˜LOL LERN2TEAMWORK.â€™ By this theyâ€™re implying that somehow Pyros need to have their entire team with them when they try to circle behind enemy lines to attempt an ambush, so that they can successfully fend off a class that they were previously on a reasonably even footing against. And of course, if your Medic successfully builds up an ubercharge by being a good healer and deploys it on a friendly Demoman in order to take out a Sentry farm, only to have his uber rendered useless by a flying baseball, thatâ€™s his fault for not being a team player.
Surely the absurdity is obvious.
Iâ€™m hoping that, like they did with the Backburner, Valve will realise what a terrible beast theyâ€™ve unleashed and make some sort of fix. A popular suggestion seems to be to change the stun effect to something akin to the effect of Team Fortress Classicâ€™s concussion grenades, but honestly I think they need to go back to the drawing board with this unlock. Never mind that there are a few achievements that depend on it â€“ go back to the design phase and get it right this time. And for Godâ€™s sake stop getting your unlock ideas from the Steam forums.
Iâ€™m starting to wonder if I should be playing Fortress Forever insteadâ€¦
This was recently on sale on Steam for the irresistable price of $5. Iâ€™d only ever played the demo previous to this, and I thought it was alright, so I decided to see what the full game was like (even though the superior Colonies Edition is out now). Iâ€™ve played the first few missions, and itâ€™s not too bad. I canâ€™t quite get 60fps out of it, but shooting up giant bugs in snowy wastelands is pretty fun. My main complaints so far are that the game is kind of easy (I havenâ€™t died once yet) and that Wayneâ€™s default movement speed is a little on the slow side, even when heâ€™s piloting one of the giant VS mechs. I guess Iâ€™ll see if these continue to be problems as I progress through the game.
Still, this has me interested in the recently-announced sequel â€“ I wonder what improvements Capcom will bring to the table.
King of Fighters â€˜98 Ultimate Match
I started playing KOF (and indeed, fighting games) with King of Fighters â€˜99, but I respect KOFâ€™98â€™s place in the order of things. Given that disclaimer, I rather like â€˜98UM. It doesnâ€™t have most of my favourite characters, but the (remarkably solid) system changes theyâ€™ve made to the original game make this a must-buy for any KOF fan, Iâ€™d say. Most of the changes theyâ€™ve made revolve around making Extra mode more interesting, and it seems to have worked. Extra mode users now benefit from the ability to cancel normals into dodges, and to cancel certain special attacks directly into MAX mode. On top of that they can choose when they want to break stock unlike vanilla â€˜98 where the bar started draining as soon as it filled up.
In addition, the new Ultimate mode, which allows you to mix-and-match subsystems from both modes, poses some interesting possibilities. Do you want the mobility afforded by the roll, or will you trade that for the ability to dodge and quickly counterattack (and extend your combos using the quick dodge)? Do you want the ability to do SDMs at any life level, or would you rather have the ability to max out in mid-combo for the possibility of turning your otherwise staid B&B combo into a more damaging variant?
As for the quality of the port itself, fortunately the US version of the game seems to have turned out pretty well â€“ progressive scan support is intact, and as far as I can tell the game has been brought over more or less unmolested, which should be a relief for anyone who was horrified by Ignitionâ€™s handling of the PAL versions of King of Fighters XI and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum.
So yeah, if you donâ€™t have the import version already, go out and get this one. Itâ€™s $20 â€“ you really have no excuse if you claim to be a KOF fan.
Street Fighter IV
Iâ€™m still getting used to the physics and timings, but at the very least my win ratio seems to have improved a little (in that it is no longer zero). My MadCatz Tournament Edition FightStick arrived two weeks late, but I used the Amazon gift certificate I was given as compensation to buy a PS2->PS3 controller adapter so I could use my old Tekken 5 Hori stick with the game until it arrived (makes me wonder why I didnâ€™t do it earlier, actually). So far Iâ€™ve mainly been sticking to Ryu and Abel, with some failed attempts at using Fei Long and Dhalsim (both of whom apparently have a pretty steep learning curve). Iâ€™ve played a few games online, mainly against Orochinagi members; Iâ€™ve played a few random strangers, although I havenâ€™t run into any of the Ken players of legend. I suppose I should be thankful.
On a side note, the MadCatz stick doesnâ€™t work for PS2 games. I donâ€™t know why I didnâ€™t see this coming, as this was also the case for the Sega Virtua Stick and the Hori PS3 sticks when they were released. The best I can hope for is for support to be added in the next PS3 firmware update, I guess.
Now, I haven\’t actually had a chance to play this game yet, but PS3 and 360 ports were announced recently. A lot of fighter fans are understandably excited about this, but a potential issue with the port has already been raised. The arcade version of BlazBlue runs at 1280×768/768p, while both current-generation consoles are locked to outputting at 1280×720/720p (and indeed, wonâ€™t let you play the game at its native resolution). The full extent of the problem is laid out pretty clearly over at the Insomnia forums.
In short, it looks like the great sprites and backgrounds are in danger of being butchered by scaling. If the blurry upscaled sprites in all of SNK Playmoreâ€™s Atomiswave releases bugged you, well, this is just as bad. Possibly worse, since itâ€™s one of the first high-definition 2D fighters, and really deserves more respect.
At this point, given that ArcSys canâ€™t go back in time and re-program the game to output 720p in the first place, the only real thing they can do is to crop 48 lines from the top and bottom of the display to avoid affecting the sprites. This is what they seem to have done, but the screenshots still lack the definition of the arcade version. A rep from Aksys (the company handling the US release) has gone on the record as saying that apparently the screenshots they released of the 360 and PS3 versions were smaller in size to make them â€˜download friendlyâ€™. This just seems ridiculous to me, given that stuff like this is typically distributed through special press FTP servers where presumably bandwidth wouldnâ€™t be a concern.
Weâ€™ll have to see how this shakes out, but I am rather worried that weâ€™ll end up getting a butchered port of one of the first high-def 2D fighters.