Battlefield Bad Company 2: VIETNAM

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this add on. For one, it’s a lot of fun. It also brings back the fast rush gameplay since C4 (TNT) now does the old level of damage. On the other hand I spent a countless amount of hours playing the original vietnam, and it is not the original game. Hastings and the remake of Wake Island (the C shaped island with the carrier deployment) in the original are the two iconic Vietnam maps which got the most rotation. Both of these are conspicuously missing, minus the fact that Hastings will come out when they have 69 million player supporting actions (revives, etc). Or basically the end of January.

The good stuff is that the maps make decent use of the battlefield engine (frostbite). There’s a metric ton of trees and grasses and the battlefield engine does that particularly well. There’s PT boats and a variety of paths for good players to use to get between objectives. The problem is that the maps tend to feel cinematic rather than strategic. The other problem is that they all blend together. I played it for about three hours last night (counting the bottlecaps) and I can’t tell you which map is which. There’s nothing particularly distinctive about them except that one has a napalm strike and one has a temple. The temple could have been a cool urban-ish combat feature, but it’s not. The napalm strike turns into sniper wars since you walk out and go oh that’s COOL right before you realize there’s only one tunnel in and out and that’s the first thing that gets filled with flamethrowers and shotguns. Basically that’s the end of that map. Maybe the other team plays it badly or maybe your snipers are good enough to keep their heads down but if you make it through the tunnels you end up at the objectives and met with more flamethrowers and shotguns. I hate to say it but the maps, while they look cool, just aren’t as well built as the other maps for this game. Even the ones which they shoehorned into the other mode and then patched to move the MCOMs (white pass) are better built than the vietnam one. And what’s conspicuously missing is Heavy Metal, which would have been an awesome vietnam map but is an utter failure in the bad company 2 vanilla format. Finally, urban combat? Completely missing.

The classes have good balance. The engineer feels grossly underpowered. I barely silver starred the engineers machine gun. The RPG just doesn’t do enough damage. The medic does well, there’s no real gripes. The sniper takes quite awhile to get used to, the bullet drop isn’t there. The mortar strike is wonky. The anti-tank mines seem to do less damage, which is also a bad thing because it makes the engineer entirely unremarkable. You absolutely must have an assaulter follow you around since you’ll be running out of mines and RPGs. Even the extra explosives perk only gives you one extra, instead of doubling it. Finally the worst of the worst is that marking bad guys, even bad guys which should be terribly obvious (helos, tanks), only sticks around for 30 seconds or so.

Vehicles – vehicles are cool. The jeep is just about uncontrollable and slow which sucks because it makes it more of a target than a tactical helper. The jeep is useless. The tank is actually decent, it takes a good beating due to the engineer being useless. Tanks really get killed by TNT, otherwise things just marginally hurt it. The mortar strike, which used to be a super mortar strike with the explosives perk, only really hurts a tank about 10% to 20% of it’s health. The helo is a death machine. It’s fast and maneuverable and the guns on the side do stupid amounts of damage. On the other hand all the weapons hurt it, so on a half competent team even the engineer can kill it with small arms. Mostly though it seems like the bullet penetration is set to max because it’s not uncommon to shoot both gunners out of the helo. The PT boat people are bitching is too strong, it’s not. The trick is to shoot the driver and gunners with precision fire. The PT boat itself offers them no cover whatsoever, so a thumper or an RPG aimed at the crew will often clear the decks in one hit. People shooting at the boat itself are the people bitching it’s too strong. In fact one of my games had two PT boats consistently wrecking us, the solution was to shoot the driver so it was still enough I could make use of cover to shoot the gunners. (The other team went entirely sniper after that).

The really bad stuff I’ve saved for last and it really comes down to the flamethrower. It’s so powerful everyone is using it but the range is so short it’s reasonably balanced. If you’re using explosives perk as an assault, you can usually grenade them out of cover. On the other hand the flamethrower itself seems glitchy. People standing in water take fire damage for as long as you’re shooting them, but they go out immediately. People in the presence of a med pack don’t seem to catch on fire (or even take damage sometimes). There’s nothing to distinguish between friendly and enemy flame streams. You don’t hurt yourself with the flamethrower even firing it at your feet. The flame spread is cool, but as an assaulter I usually just toss down ammo, hold down arm and spin wildly shooting flames to put up a wall of death around me. It doesn’t set off C4, mines or TNT. It doesn’t blow down buildings. It takes awhile to clear brush with it. It’s not obvious if it gets buffed by explosives or magnum ammo. Finally the worst part is that you have to hit “reload” to transfer “ammo” from your “pouch” to your weapon. It’s just weird. If you let the game reload for you, the flamethrower sputters. It’s just buggy. The worst is the fact that it won’t burn down a building. Toss a grenade in the huts and it’ll blow the hut down. Hit it with a flamethrower and nothing happens (but weirdly enough the people inside get hurt even though the animation doesn’t show fire inside). I have a feeling they won’t fix it though.

Is it worth it? Yes. It’s fun. It brings back quick rush mode. The maps are neat despite their flaws and the flamethrower is hilarious. It would have been nice to see better maps and the vietnam weapons available in standard battlefield 2, but there’s enough there to justify the cost. What it really needs is tighter integration where multiplayer could be “battlefield 2”, “vietnam” or “both” just like rush or conquest can be sorted, or not. But these are things which can be patched, and I think the price was fair considering the amount of other freebies we got from DICE.

T-Mobile Confirms Froyo (Android 2.2) for Galaxy S on December 15th

You heard it here first folks. Complete transcript below:

You have been connected to ~Diane S.
~Diane S: Welcome to T-Mobile Chat service Josh. My name is Diane and for your reference my rep ID is 13-20532. First, please allow me one moment to review the information you have provided.
~Diane S: Hi there Josh, how are you today?
josh knarr: Doing fine
josh knarr: although overtaken by jealousy of my recently upgraded andoid buddies.
~Diane S: I can certainly help you today to see when the 2.2 upgrade for your phone will be coming out.
josh knarr: excellent.
~Diane S: Please allow me 3 minutes to research this for you.
josh knarr: sure.
~Diane S: There is a froyo 2.2 update coming out by Dec 15th, if this is compatible with your phone you will receive a message with regards to this.
josh knarr: It will be available to download immediately?
josh knarr: (immediately on the 15th, anyway?)
~Diane S: Unfortunately, this is all the information I have resources to, you will need to refer to google for this, as they are doing the upgrade.
josh knarr: OK
josh knarr: good enough.
josh knarr: thanks!
~Diane S: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
josh knarr: nope, I’ll look for frodo on the 15h. thanks.

 

WikiLeaks

I’ve been following the live wikilinks thing with some detached amusement. Assange, if the allegations aren’t fabricated, committed at least one count of rape by US standards (having sex with someone unable to give consent due to intoxication). By Swisse standards, he’s up to six counts of rape, two of the first degree which is a mandatory four year sentence for each. He’s going to jail for four years at least, eight if he’s nailed on both the first degrees. Don’t ask me for the specifics of the justice system over there, I have no experience and I only know what I’ve read.

All the usual suspects came out, b-tards attacked paypal and various credit card processing gateways. Goons made MS-paint pictures. K5ers blew enough hot air to fly the Hindenburg back in time to Nazi Germany. The cries were all about the same which was “if you give into the US government we’ll do bad things over the internet”. This is why we don’t give kids guns and ask them to make moral judgements. Mastercard and Visa both had a point – Assange misrepresented where those donations were going. Paypal said he provided a false address. Both of those reasons are entirely valid and raise the important point that when you made a donation to wikileaks, you were actually simply sending Assange a buck or two. There’s no “wikileaks, LLC”.

The one I got the most lulz from was the people outraged that ICANN would can his domain. Protip – don’t use taxpayer developed resources and not expect THE INTERNET POLICE to come by. The roads too are public works funded by tax dollars, and the roads have police dedicated to policing them for things which are “wrong”. It doesn’t really matter that speeding is wrong and that it’s a victimless crime, the point is that someone in some government agency said speeding was wrong and so it’s wrong. I’m not here to particularly debate the morality of victimless crimes, but the point is that he kicked the governments puppy with spin and the government acted appropriately. Wikileaks offends me not because it brings transparency, but because it claimed to bring transparancy while adding Assanges own spin and politics.

What’s not appropriate has been the wikileaks side of this. Somehow it’s morally justified to release government documents about things which aren’t resolved yet (as though war in the middle east ever would be, but whatever) which includes commentary between soldiers and their families under the banner that it’s topical to the war, but when it comes to Assange himself and the coming trial he smokescreens the media and wikileaks themselves. Wikileaks should be asking themselves some really hard questions about personal rights when yours and my conversations might be republished just because they’re on a government desktop somewhere but when it comes to the topic of Assange raping two women and possibly more, he works to prevent a “media circus”. Is this not all that wikileaks is?

Boycott Sovereign Bank Part Two

Interestingly enough despite tracking search terms on the blog, Boycott Sovereign Bank remains one of the most linked to articles on this site.

It’s not hard to see why, people hate Sovereign Bank and most of the comments are filled with people fed up with the abuse. Weirdly enough no-one mentioned that cashing checks out of temporal order is something which other banks did. Not only that but the bank I jumped to, Wachovia, was purchased by Wells Fargo. Wachovia, for the record, never did this to us. If anything they were incredibly lenient on their policies for overdrafts, etc and often would refund you the money if you complained. (I only complained once, about ATM fees, not overdrafts, but the point stands that they were flexible). Turns out the bank which bought out Wachovia, Wells Fargo, not only did this but was sued for it as a class action. The class action won and Wells has to pay $203m to it’s customers. That’s good news to me, anyway, since I’m in Wells if I want to be or not. However, all of you with Sovereign accounts, you’re probably SOL and they’ll continue to do this. It’s likely going to court since now the lawyers know that there’s money to be made, but as far as pulling it off when you’re suing a foreign company, I’m not so sure it’ll work out. American banks have to play by American rules. You play with banks owned by Mexicans (Sovereign) and all they have to do is meet banking regulations, they don’t have to play nice.