Browsing the blog archives for November, 2007

Haibane Renmei – Impressions

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We’re coming up on 2008 and I finally got around to watching this one. I’ve been meaning to watch it for a really long time, but had never gotten around to it. What’s a really long time? I first heard of the series in when Steven reviewed it in 2005.

Now, part of the time lag was intentional. I don’t usually like reviews to color my initial impressions. Even so, the reputation this little anime had built up made it an intimidating prospect to watch. In retrospect, the idea of putting off watching this anime because it seems too intimidating is a little ironic, as it’s one of the least intimidating animes I’ve seen. Funny to think that I’ll usually jump right in to something like Ghost in the Shell, which is the sort of thing you need to mentally brace yourself for if you want to comprehend the world that’s being presented and the stories that are being told, yet I spent so long avoiding this quaint little story. I’m actually a bit surprised at how inviting an experience it was to watch, certainly something that seemed fitting to watch around Thanksgiving.

If I hadn’t stopped myself I probably would’ve watched the whole thing in one day. That would’ve been a little bit overkill, but I did absolutely devour this series. Despite what is so little obvious plot, the whole thing is so well executed in every way that I found it extremely compelling. The series creates a little world that you can peek in on … but only for 13 episodes. It’s really a shame, because I felt like I didn’t want it to end. I don’t think there’s much more I can say to praise the series than that.

UT3 Intermission

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I think I’m going to take a little bit of a break from the UT3 weapons now that I’ve finished posting thoughts and information the core weapons set. I’ll get around to the Translocator, Avril, Redeemer, and maybe some of the other miscellaneous items later. The interruption comes out of a couple of different motives:

One, I went out and bought the full game and have started playing it. I’m only on the single player campaign right now, but I think it’s fantastic. Having access to the full range of maps makes the game feel so different than simply playing with the three demo levels. I put in a good number of hours in the game yesterday, and I’m still playing the campaign — It’s actually pretty cool for an Unreal Tournament singleplayer mode, and there’s a bit of humor mixed in with outstanding gameplay. Playing on CTF-Hydro16 or CTF-Coret brought back memories, and both maps feel really good, fast, and action packed. The only complaint I have is pretty common: The bots on my team are incompetent, while the bots on the other team are pretty good.

Two, there are some other things I want to write about, and even though most of my work on the UT3 weapon summaries was done last weekend, I’ve been doing editing and checking of my material over the course of the week, so I’m a bit burnt out on that. Besides, it’s time to mix it up a tad.

UT3 Weapon Rundown: Sniper Rifle

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Games, Unreal Tournament


The Sniper Rifle is like the Hammer of God. At least, it is in vCTF-Suspense. In DeathMatch it’s a different story unless you can get a good vantage point. Still though, the weapon’s stylization is spot on, the best yet, and it even sounds powerful. I love using this weapon.


Primary fire is a single tap on the trigger. A hit does 70 damage to a person normally, or 140 for a headshot. Headshots are easier than they were in UT2004, although once the full game is out and we have the full range of player models to choose from we’ll see if they are more reliable or not. The firing speed is slower than the demonic firing rate that the original UT’s sniper rifle had, but it’s faster than that pathetic toy, the Lightning Gun. It also lacks the emitter lag that plagued the Lightning Gun, thankfully.

One unusual bit of info is that when an opponent is standing still, his headshot hitbox is 75% larger. Many people have noticed this and come to the conclusion that the headshot hitbox is too big, but it seems to be intended as a balancing factor to make campers more vulnerable to headshots. When a person is running at full clip, their headshot hitbox is only 80% its normal size, effectively making it more difficult to one-hit kill someone who is trying to flush you out.*


Secondary fire is zoom. There’s not much to write home about here, although zooming in does have a momentary animation pause as the weapon is placed over your “eye.” The scope will black out your peripheral vision, but it’s not bad, and at least the zoom is uncluttered and clear, which is more than I can say for UT2004’s Lightning Gun.

One tactic that was popular with the Lightning Gun in UT2004 involved shooting off one shot, switching to the next weapon, firing, and then switching back to the Lightning Gun. With the Lightning Gun’s slow refire rate, it was actually faster to switch to another weapon, fire, and then switch back and fire again than it was to simply wait for another shot. This was pretty obviously silly, so one of the main changes to weapons in UT3 is that you now need to reload the weapon before you are able to change it. I’m of the opinion this is a good change, at least for the Sniper Rifle (not so for some other weapons — the Flak, for example, suffers badly because of it). However, it does make it so that if an enemy gets in close on you while you’re using the Sniper Rifle you’re pretty vulnerable.

In vehicular gametypes the Sniper is pretty useful, but mainly as an infantry killer. Of all the vehicles we see in the demo, only the Manta is an open topped vehicle. It is possible to snipe a Manta pilot in his vehicle, and I’ve headshotted Manta pilots several times by now, but it’s usually not worth the effort it takes to hit such a nimble vehicle. The only other vehicle we’ve seen that is vulnerable to the sniper is the Hellbender rear seat, which isn’t all that effective in the demo anyway, so will likely be unmanned. The sniper rifle really makes me pine for locational vehicle damage, or at least vehicle “weak points” that could be shot for extra damage. The damage the Sniper Rifle does to vehicles seems to be reduced something like 50%, so it is virtually useless against anything heavier than a Manta. If there were weak points it could be made more useful without just outright giving it more punch.

Either way, it’s great to finally have a respectable sniper rifle back in the game, and I can’t wait to play some sniper arena with this thing.

* Note about this information: I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here. It may be that the Sniper’s headshot box increases or decreases in size, or it may be that other players’ headshot box increases or decreases in size depending on whether they are running or not. I’m looking into it and will update when I know a definitive answer.

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UT3 Weapon Rundown: Rocket Launcher

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Games, Unreal Tournament


If there’s any criticism to be made of this weapon, it’s that it’s simply too damn good. I was never a huge fan of the original Rocket Launcher, although the power of loading up to 6 rockets and letting them fly was undeniable. I also thought that UT2004’s Rocket Launcher never lived up to its potential. With UT3 they have finally gotten everything right. The thing has a feature that’s good in almost any scenario, making it a great all-around weapon.


Primary fire shoots out single rockets. The sound and visuals of the rockets are great, and the explosions are satisfying, particularly when there’s someone on the other end being ground into chunks. Each rocket does 100 damage, so that’s easy enough. Splash damage with rockets, as with most weapons, has been reduced a bit, but it’s still good enough to kill with frequently. I’m not certain about it, but the rockets’ speed feels somewhere above the speed of rockets in UT, but below their speed in UT2004. The refire rate is also fairly quick for this sort of weapon.


Secondary fire loads up to three rockets that can be fired simultaneously. There is about a quarter of a second delay when tapping secondary fire, as the Rocket Launcher enters a loading animation, so don’t expect to tap secondary fire and immediately fire off a rocket. The secondary fire is where the real versatility of the weapon comes into play, as it can fire rockets in either a straight, horizontal line, or in a tight spiral configuration, or shoot them out as grenades with timed detonation fuses. Switching between these three “modes” is accomplished by holding down the secondary fire button and tapping the primary fire. One tap will take you to spiral mode, while a second tap will take you to grenade mode. A third tap returns you to the default line fire mode. Release the secondary trigger to unleash the rockets when you’ve selected the firing configuration you want.


The line is best for carpet-bombing an area, while the spiral configuration is best if you know you’ll hit your opponent and are more concerned about dealing lots of damage in one go. Players are highly agile, so against them it is most likely you’ll use the line firing configuration. Even if none of the three rockets scores a direct hit, the splash damage from the nearby rockets is often enough to kill an unarmored opponent. If you are fighting against a big vehicle like the Goliath or a stationary target like a node, spiral configuration will give you a good solid punch with 3 rockets hitting simultaneously, rather than risking that the two side rockets will deviate away from the intended target.


There’s also the return of an old favorite, the grenade mode which launches a live rocket with a timed detonation rather than a warhead. Up to three grenades can be launched, but they’re wildly unpredictable. Their trajectory is quite similar to the Flak Cannon’s secondary fire arc, so it is a bit high, although nowhere near as far. Your best bet when using this fire mode is to use them when an enemy has ducked into a confined space or when you are trying to cut off strategic exits or entrances. For example, the small Bio Rifle room near the Helmet pickup in Heat Ray is great for tossing grenades into, if you happen to have the Rocket Launcher. The large doors on Shangri-La that separate the UDamage plaza from the Stinger also make a great choke point that can be used to funnel unwary opponents into a face ful of grenades.

As if the Rocket Launcher wasn’t good enough, it’s also got a homing feature. It’s had the feature in past Unreal Tournament games, but in Unreal Tournament 3 it’s better than ever. That is to say, it’s actually useful. In past UT games, as soon as you began to load up rockets, you commited yourself to not locking on to an opponent. This means, for example, if you had an enemy tank in your sights and wanted to load up three rockets and fire them at him, the rockets would not home in on the tank. In UT3, though, you can gain a lock while loading rockets. This makes a big difference in vehicular gametypes, because you’ll frequently see a vehicle barreling at you from a distance away, but a single rocket usually won’t connect with a moving vehicle, or if it does, won’t phase it much. This change allows you to load up to three rockets AND lock on to an enemy while doing it. It’s a great trick to use on Scorpions, Hellbenders, and Goliaths. It’s even effective against the Raptor if the pilot is hovering low and remains relatively still for a few seconds. Just beware and realize that vehicles have heavy armor that grants some amount of damage reduction to them, so a salvo of three rockets won’t instantly take out a Scorpion with 300 Health, but they will do severe damage.

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UT3 Weapon Rundown: Flak Cannon

Games, Unreal Tournament


Where the Shock Rifle is the katana of weapons, the Flak Cannon is akin to the mallet. A favorite of newer players, it’s big and unwieldy, but when you connect you know the guy is going down. It does have some finesse to it, as you can ricochet flak off of walls, but it’s focus is on delivering the brutal one-shot kills. I have to say that, among the UT3 weapons, the Flak Cannon is probably the one that I’m most displeased with. There’s just enough “off” with the weapon, and enough better choices that it doesn’t feel like the monster it should. Its primary fire shoots out a spray of flak pellets, while the secondary fire launches an intact flak shell in an arc.


Primary fire is powerful as hell. It shoots out nine flak shards that do 18 damage each, for a total of 162 damage in a direct hit. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the firing rate is really slow, over a second before your next shot. If you didn’t kill the guy with that first shot, then chances are you’re going to eat it before you can fire again. The distribution of flak is also different from in previous games. In the past, the weapon would simply randomly give each shard a somewhat randomized vector from the same origin, but now the weapon has a randomized area of spawning defined for each chunk. The long and the short of it is, the flak shards begin with a wider distribution pattern, which makes it more difficult to hit with all of the shards unless at Impact Hammer ranges.

In vCTF-Suspense, it is one of the weapons you receive on spawn, yet I find it largely goes unused. For most situations the Stinger is the superior option: It hits instantly, is more accurate than the Flak Cannon primary, and is comparable in terms of the damage output over time. The few instances I see Flak consistently used in are in the small corridors containing the Shock Rifle or Rocket Launcher, and in the nest above containing the Avril. However, it’s definitely not the only weapon that’s useful here: the Shock Rifle and Rocket Launcher also do quite well in these areas. Although in UT2004, the Flak Cannon primary was useful for dealing a near-fatal blow to Mantas and stopping them in their tracks, in UT3 this seems significantly harder. Though it’s still possible, due to the higher initial spread it is more difficult to accomplish, and you’d probably be better off using the Shock Rifle or Impact Hammer if you found yourself in such a situation. Against any heavier vehicle, if you’re close enough to use the primary fire you’ll probably be dead. The only non-suicidal options for using the weapon against vehicles are if you’re taking it by surprise, or if you’re banking shots off of walls.


Secondary fire is the flak ball you’ve come to know and love. Unfortunately, every Unreal Tournament game has decided to fire this projectile off in a slightly different trajectory than the last. With UT3 this trajectory is high and far, something I’m still not used to after playing with it for some time. I’m fine with the far bit, but the ball consistently fires above my opponents’ heads. When it connects, it usually kills them, but it’s been a struggle getting that to happen against anything but braindead bots. A direct hit with the weapon does 100 damage, plus it also spawns five flak shards that do 18 damage each for a total potential damage of up to 190. The splash damage radius has also been toned down noticeably, so near-misses are not as valuable as they used to be.


Though the secondary fire of the weapon fires further than it did in UT2004, the vehicles have all been adjusted so that the flak shell is no longer a very effective option anymore. The Hellbender SkyMine turret is now enclosed, protecting the driver from flak shells. The Scorpion is also an enclosed seat now, with the same effect. Both Hellbenders and Scorpions have had physics changes that make it virtually impossible to budge either vehicle with a flak shell, so it isn’t going to effectively tip over either vehicle if you land a shell at one of its tires. Your best bet when using this fire mode against vehicles is to take advantage of its arc by firing from protected positions. Getting on higher ground and lobbing shells down will wear down even a tank, or at least force them into a position of your choosing rather than facing off directly against a vehicle.

The Flak Cannon remains a favorite, but the quirks have yet to be worked out of the weapon. I’m sure with just a few minor adjustments to firing rates and trajectories, the weapon can be returned to the glory of past games.

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UT3 Weapon Rundown: Stinger Minigun

Games, Unreal Tournament


For the Minigun, this time around, Epic has gone back to its Unreal 1 roots and combined the Stinger weapon with the Minigun, adding a lot of flavor to what’s normally a pretty boring weapon. The new weapon design is spectacular, reminiscent of Unreal 1’s minigun design, but in no way looking dated. This thing has a barrel with three spinning barrels, each comprised of three spinning barrels. How cool is that?


Primary fire is what you expect from the Minigun. Rapid-fire, hitscan bullets with a built-in spread. This time around, each bullet does 14 damage, which is near double the damage the standard minigun bullets did in UT2004. I’ve no idea how many bullets it sprays out per second, but I figure it’s somewhere between 7.5 and 15. The bullet spread has also been tightened up a bit. In short, this weapon will tear things up. It’ll take down a freshly spawned player in under a second, and even heavily armored opponents will die quickly under sustained fire. A lot of people consider the Stinger to be the ultimate weapon now, although I’d argue it doesn’t stack up quite that well at close range. It is very effective at medium to long ranges, maybe a bit too effective at long range. Just be sure to start firing slightly before you think you’ll need it, as it does take half a second or a second for the barrels to spin up to full speed.

In the demo, at least, the Stinger is the only weapon given in the weapon lockers of vCTF-Suspense that gives footsoldiers a fighting chance against Mantas or Raptors. Neither the Shock Rifle nor the Sniper Rifle are given in the lockers, so acquiring one requires a bit of effort. Further, neither of these weapons have near the raw damage-per-second output of the Stinger. The Stinger does over 100 damage per second, where the Shock or Sniper Rifle do about 50 damage per second. Holding down the fire button is guaranteed to do at least some damage, and used in conjunction with other teammates it’s quite effective at taking out these threats.


Secondary fire with the Stinger fires out a single, 38 damage tarydium shard. This firing mode is pretty much a direct homage to the original Stinger from Unreal. Unfortunately, the Stinger in Unreal was pretty much only useful as the weapon you used when you didn’t want to waste ammunition for better weapons. The secondary fire is almost identical to the plasma bolts that the Link Gun shoots out via its primary fire, except the tarydium shards only fire about half as fast, but do half again as much damage when they connect.

I’ve only found two situations where I find the secondary firemode consistently useful. The first is in delivering a knockout blow to people who I knock off of their hoverboards with the primary fire. Once someone is on the ground, they’re sitting ducks against the high-powered but relatively slow shards. The second is in spamming tarydium shards at vehicles coming across the bridge in vCTF-Suspense. With the latter, it’s not so much about getting kills as suppressing vehicles that might be on the far side of the map, and a couple of quick hits of 48 damage each will dissuade most people from sticking their head out.

Many people have been complaining that the Stinger is “too powerful,” and while it’s true the Stinger is extremely effective, in a regular DeathMatch game, walking around with a weapon that’ll take 6 or 7 shots to kill a person just seems suicidal with so many one-hit wonders stalking about. Perhaps others might find it more effective, but I typically only tend to pick up stray kills with it. It is an overwhelmingly good choice to have drawn if you’re in large open spaces, whether in DeathMatch or in vehicular gametypes.

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UT3 Weapon Rundown: Link Gun

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Games, Unreal Tournament


Formerly known as the Pulse Gun, the Link Gun is a weapon that holds a bit of a strange spot in the arsenal. It doesn’t excel in any one area as a DeathMatch weapon, but it is so essential to vehicle based play that you may as well spawn with it. The Link Gun in UT3 has undergone some minor changes from UT2004 and a significant visual overhaul. Some people criticize the weapon as looking out of place, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, but it’s similar in design to the Enforcer, so that design has precedent among the weapons set. Primary fire of the weapon rapidly shoots out bolts of plasma, the secondary of the weapon discharges plasma in a superheated cutting beam.


The primary fire of the Link Gun is small, rapid bolts of plasma that deal 26 points of damage per bolt. The bolts fire about twice as fast as in UT2004, so even though you do marginally less damage per hit, you’re still pumping out nearly twice as much damage in the same time period. If you’re any good with prediction you should be able to capitalize on it, though aimless spam doesn’t seem all that effective. One significant change from 2004 is that each bolt itself only takes up one ammo, so you’ve got a lot more incentive to use the primary firing mode.

Against vehicles, it seems like it is going to be a prime weapon to switch to when firing on big targets like Goliaths or Hellfires that are dug in. Since vehicles in general are big targets, and since, with the exception of the Manta, they can’t really strafe or jump, their movement patterns are predictable. That makes them prime targets to use the Link Primary plasma on. Link Primary is particularly deadly with the Berserk powerup, as it unleashes a stream of projectiles that is impossible to dodge between, and will deal enough damage to take down vehicles in seconds, before they have a chance to react.


The secondary fire of the Link Gun is the same beam that was in UT2004. According to reports, it does about 5 damage per pulse, with 20 pulses per second. There are a couple of significant changes, though, good and bad. The bad is that the beam length feels much shorter than in UT2004. It really feels like it should be a good quarter to a fifth longer. Then again, I might just be saying that because I’m not used to the new length and want things exactly how I’m used to them. As for the good? The beam is straight, which makes aiming with it a breeze. There’s also a nice sound that plays when you’re cutting through a guy with the beam, providing some nice audio feedback for the experience. The secondary is virtually useless against vehicles, as anytime you’re close enough to use it, you’ll likely be dead in less than a second. On the other hand, you can use it to heal friendly vehicles, so it’s still quite useful, just not offensively.

The Link functionality that was in UT2004 has been changed a bit for UT3. It seems that linking is no longer possible manually, by which I mean aiming at another teammate and firing the Link secondary, but occurs automatically when teammates within a certain proximity all use the Link Gun. The proximity is very, very small, though, so in order to link up with a teammate you put both players at risk. Personally, I preferred the old method, as you had more control over when and where you linked, and you were able to maintain Link formation on the move. On the other hand, the new method does seem to allow both players to fire simultaneously, and avoids the baggage associated with ordering who would be at the lead of a link chain. I suppose the ideal option would be to allow both approaches.

Overall, the UT3 version of this weapon seems a minor improvement to the gun, but not enough to make it an exceptional weapon in DeathMatch. It’ll likely serve you better than an Enforcer, but you’re better off if you’ve got a Shock Rifle or a Rocket Launcher in your hands for most combat situations in DeathMatch. Its role as a “finishing” weapon is almost entirely gone, as weapon switches are made slower in UT3 to the point where weapon switching in combat is close to suicidal. It is a great weapon in vehicular gametypes, due to its particular effectiveness against vehicles or stationary targets like nodes, but you’ll wish you had something else drawn if you’re caught unawares in the thick of it.

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UT3 Weapon Rundown: Shock Rifle

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Games, Unreal Tournament


Lethal, elegant, requiring years of training to truly master, the Shock Rifle is the katana of First Person Shooter weapons. If the Katana is the soul of the Samurai, then the Shock Rifle is the soul of an Unreal Tournament player. It’s always been a dominant weapon in Unreal Tournament, but a lot of factors made it the single weapon you needed to have in Unreal Tournament 2004. From the looks of things in UT3, it isn’t necessary in DeathMatch, though it’s still one of my favorite weapons there. In vehicular gametypes I expect it to be a necessity simply because it’s so versatile.


Primary fire is a hitscan beam that does 45 damage. The only significant difference to its functionality in UT2004 is that it takes maybe one or two tenths of a second longer to refire. However, major changes to maps and player movement have made the primary fire far less dominant. By reducing the exaggerated movement options, map scale was brought much more into line with player scale, meaning that DeathMatch encounters now are more likely to take place in a medium range where all weapons are effective, rather than at long range where only hitscan can be reliably used.

Although vCTF-Suspense has some long-range vistas, particularly across the bridge or from the lower level to the top of the tower, these are usually fairly contained. I consider it a necessity to pick up the Shock Rifle on this map, as it’s still a footsoldier’s only effective long-range option against Mantas and Raptors. Others contend that the Stinger alone is enough to deal with these threats. Personally, I feel like delivering a fair amount of damage with precision is more important than firing the Stinger and hoping that it sprays enough bullets in the general direction of the target to destroy it. In medium to close ranges against these vehicles, though, the Stinger is definitely superior, so your strategy should be dictated by whether your opponent is directly attacking you and coming closer or whether they’re otherwise occupied or at such a distance that they can’t close it quickly.


The secondary fire is the trusty shock core projectile, but these have been changed slightly to make them a more effective option in their own right. The refire rate on the secondary fire seems to have been upped a tad, and the damage for a direct hit with a shock core has been increased to 55 per hit, so a secondary fire core followed up by a primary fire beam will kill a freshly spawned player. The speed of the projectile core has also been increased, which is, again, an improvement in this firing mode’s basic functionality.

While the Shock Rifle’s beam excels at long range, the cores are an average weapon in middle and close ranges. Although the core itself is not very menacing at mid range, it’s not something you can ignore either, and not simply because each core is a bomb waiting to go off. Cores move at a speed comparable to rockets and have a similar blast radius, so even though they don’t deal quite the damage a rocket does, they will take an opponent down if given the chance. Further, the cores have one unique feature that can make them situationally quite good: Shock cores will detonate other flying projectiles that come in contact with them. So firing a shock core at an opponent may detonate the rocket he just fired with your name on it. At close range utilizing the splash damage is a lot easier. It’s not the best DeathMatch weapon at those ranges, but it suffices in a pinch.

Oddly enough, the secondary fire of the weapon is a big part of why I consider the Shock Rifle a must-have in vehicular gametypes. With the current state of the beta demo (and, as far as I know, the first box version of the game), the Manta is such a dominant vehicle in skilled players’ hands that you need all the options you can get against it. In my Impact Hammer rundown I detailed how that weapon’s secondary fire can be useful against Mantas, but a skilled driver can easily defeat that strategy. The Shock Rifle secondary will knock back oncoming Mantas significantly, though, so if a Manta driver attempts to run you over, head-on or not, firing a core at him will beat him back. If he keeps coming you can keep firing as fast as he comes, and it’ll only take four or five before he’s toast. If he backs off or runs away, you’ve got the primary beam to use on him.


Then there is the combo. The combo is the main draw of the UT3 Shock Rifle, as it was in the original game. The combo is quick, big, and deadly. I have no idea about the size or damage in comparison to other games, and this is tricky to figure out without access to the script. As a point of reference, the combo in the original UT did 250 damage (maximum) and in UT2004 it did 200 damage (maximum), so I expect it to do a maximum of between 200-250 in UT3, leaning towards 250. It feels like the combo has a highly damaging core area, where most of the damage takes place, and a steep damage fall off outside that area. What this means is that it’s probably going to kill an opponent if it hits, and outside of that they won’t be damaged much. Overall the combo is very satisfying, and in DeathMatch I might even say it seems even a little too dominant, as if the other features of the gun are only there to supplement the combo.


The combo is what really fills in the weapon and makes it so versatile, but the combo is best used at medium ranges. At the long ranges seen in vehicular maps it loses some of its lustre. In UT2004 the combo was best used to destroy oncoming Mantas or to kill the drivers of oncoming Scorpions. Although the combo still seems like it will be an attractive option for destroying Mantas, since the Scorpion is now a closed-top vehicle you can no longer kill the driver with a strategically placed combo above the vehicle. I would like to say that a combo at the front of the vehicle could deflect its trajectory away from you, but with the Scorpion being a nearly immovable object by any form of force, I am skeptical if that would work reliably. However, a combo is a significant amount of damage, and given enough distance, a combo attack on an oncoming Scorpion followed up by Shock cores could dispatch the vehicle.

Overall I feel like the weapon is a good mix of the original Shock Rifle and UT2004’s, and might actually be the best one yet.

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UT3 Weapon Rundown: Bio Rifle

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Games, Unreal Tournament


Always the red-headed, or in this case the green-headed, stepchild of the weapon set in Unreal Tournament, the Bio Rifle in UT3 might actually end up being worth using — or maybe not, only time will tell. Primary fire shoots out small globs of bio goo. Secondary fire charges up the weapon with up to ten times the normal amount of ammunition, which will deploy as a single large glob when released.


The primary fire of the BioRifle is the same as has always been: Fire a single glob of bio goo. And, as always, it is pretty much an inferior weapon. Single globs of goo do 21 damage, pretty much the same as an Enforcer bullet, except unlike an Enforcer bullet they don’t hit instantly and have a ballistic trajectory. The primary fire globs will stick around for about three seconds, but they’re not particularly deadly. Stepping into a glob only does 10 damage, half of what you’d get with a direct hit. And, yes, enemies must step directly into the goo for it to have any chance of damaging them at all.

Chances are, the only time you’ll bother with the primary fire is if you missed your first shot, which should always be a charged up secondary fire, and are desparately spamming while trying to run away. I would like to see something with the primary fire changed because it just doesn’t seem all that useful to fire 21 damage globs, especially given the other weapons. On the other hand, I’d much rather see the Bio Rifle’s functionality as this unique, trap-laying sort of weapon improved than simply making it a slightly less inferior DeathMatch tool by pumping up damage values, or something.


The secondary fire is also the same as in previous games: Charge up goo and unleash a single ball of death. For some reason this just feels significantly more satisfying than it ever has in the past, though. Probably because the goo, even on the lowest details, looks the most organic it ever has, and behaves that way too. When you manage to land a direct hit on an opponent with the secondary fire, the glob you fired will now stick to your opponent momentarily before exploding, which is a great little touch and it allows you to use the secondary at close ranges without blowing yourself up in the process. I haven’t done extensive testing, but I’m pretty confident the secondary fire does damage based on how much ammuntion has been loaded, such that 1 ammo used in the secondary fire will do 21 damage, while 10 ammo used will do 210 damage. I suspect that, like the primary fire, enemies that step into secondary globs on the ground will take only half the normal damage. One thing to note is that a fully charged secondary glob will remain on the ground much longer, I’d like to say up to 15 seconds, or 5 times the normal length of time. However, any weapons fire that strikes this glob will detonate it, and it’s quite big and easy to shoot.


The goo mechanics in UT3, from what we’ve seen so far, are a bit different from previous UT installments, and so are worth looking at a bit more. First of all, splash damage when goo detonates has been pretty much completely removed from this game. In fact, almost all splash damage values in UT3 seem to have been halved from UT2004, which isn’t a terrible idea considering how excessively big environments were in UT2004. In particular this seems to affect the goo, though, as goo has never had quite as big an explosion radius as say, a rocket. Halving that already-smaller radius seems to have left us with a situation where stepping directly into goo that’s lying on the ground, causing it to detonate and explode, only does half the damage that a direct hit would cause. Even though this is kind of counterintuitive, considering direct contact should imply zero distance between two objects, from what I understand this is actually normal for the game when dealing with small radius explosions.

Personally, I feel like that’s a bad choice. In order for an opponent to be damaged by piles of goo, they must be standing directly on top of them. Area-denial by strategic deployment of goo is made less effective because simply not stepping on it completely voids the threat of harm. Moreover, unlike previous versions of the Bio Rifle, you can no longer “build up” a pile of goo by firing the primary fire into the same spot. Primary fire globs will now detonate any other globs that are lying around, making the strategy of peppering an area with primary fire globs even more ineffective. Oddly enough, firing secondary globs into secondary globs will build up a larger glob, and the most effective way to pepper an area with goo seems to be shooting single secondary globs at a charged-up glob that has landed somewhere in the environment.

Then there’s also the bit about charged-up secondary shots sticking to your opponent momentarily before detonating. This is a neutral change to me, as it does keep you from blowing yourself up with the secondary fire, but it gives your opponent a chance to fire off a final shot and potentially kill you, or grab a powerup and potentially survive the attack. Surviving a fully-charged secondary glob seems unlikely given the small space of time you have to grab health or armor, but I’ve done it a few times already, so it is possible.

All in all, most people have had positive reactions to the new Bio Rifle, but I’m skeptical about whether it will be a worthwhile weapon in the long term. It usually takes a few months for everyone to get the game and get used to everything before the real winners and losers get shaken out. Since no new functionality was added to the weapon, though, and some functionality was actually taken away (splash damage, primary goo stacking) I’m skeptical about whether it’s going to come out ahead. I’ve seen some interesting things done with the weapon, though, and hope that maybe we’ll see some similarly cool modifications to it in the future. Heck, in Unreal Championship 2 the thing has some kind of gas mode, so maybe we’ll even see Epic incorporating that sort of new functionality into the weapon if, in a year, the statistics I’m sure they track for BioRifle kills are significantly under par for the other weapons.

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