Monday, 18 January 2010

More bullets than brain cells

Now a lot of the previous classes have had abilities that help them in battle when things get heated, after all its good to have some kind of edge over your enemies isnt it? "Screw that!" says the soldier who goes in all guns blazing, no biotics, no tech powers, just guns. Lots of guns and a hell of a lot more bullets, and grenades, and rockets, and miniature nuclear missiles.

I only tried out the soldier in ME1 untill Virmire (and that was rushing through the story) and found that it was lacking in fun. This may have been because all my aiming sucked as I put equal points into each gun type. I hardly hit anything for the campaign, with aiming reticules the size of the citadel, especially for the shotgun.

So how exactly will the soldier eviserate his enemies this time? Surely guns and bullets cant have been upgraded that much since the last game.

The enemy still has its shields up, will the soldier overload them to get them out of the way? No, he'll shoot them off. The enemy is heavilly armoured, will the soldier cast warp so that the armour will weaken? No, he'll shoot it to pieces. The enemy is close to death, will the soldier finish them with a throw? No, he will shoot them dead with a gun, a big gun, in the head and then he will dance on the enemies corpse for hours and hours, cackling madly like the pyschopath he is.

Thats right, guns. The soldier has no time for wussy powers in the heat of combat. He knows his guns and sticks to them religiously, being the only class to have access to all of the guns in the game. This includes heavy pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, assualt rifles and heavy weapons. Like Gordon Freeman in Half Life the soldier carries more guns that any one person is ever supposed to have, although in Mass Effect they've somehow managed to make them all fit on someones back. Who knows how Gordon Freeman does it, presumably by bending time and space to create a pocket dimension, with his sheer awesomeness.

Half life fanboyism out of the way (I did not make that) I'll go through each of the guns, something that I havent done in detail for the other classes but something I think fits the soldier pretty well. As more and more videos have been revealed on the mass effect website, more variants of each gun have been revealed, though not officially explained.

Heavy pistols are the bigger and badder older brother to the pistols in ME1. They fire big bullets and have only a few of these in each clip. The damage from each shot looks massive and the pistol is versatile at close to long range. They fire slow though and dont have much knockback on the enemies, leaving you open in close combat. They need to be reloaded every 6 or 8 shots as well so the shots have to count.

Another variant of the pistol briefly shown in the Vanguard video looks much smaller, but carries 16 bullets in a clip, it can then spray these out at high speed, like the cool gun the Joker had in The Dark Knight. It probably deals less damage but has a obvious advantage with the larger clip and the faster rate of fire.

Submachine guns are the step up from pistols in size but their role is completely different. They have a high rate of fire and work horrendously well at close range and okay at medium ranges. They seem to do small amounts of damage on a hit but they have a lot of hits. The knockback shuts some enemies down while you pepper them with bullets.

The shotgun is the workhorse of the close combatant. It looks tremendously powerful, but is only at all accurate at close ranges. It has a slow rate of fire but possibly the largest knockback which means the enemy will have only just recovered by the time you fire the next shot, if they survive.

The sniper rifle is the territory of the Infiltrator which the Soldier has the cheek to pick up and pretend to shoot at people while pretending to be a much better class. Never the less the soldier can also use the sniper rifle. The larger sniper rifle is effective at medium to extreme ranges and has amazing power, able to headshot pretty much any enemy. It only holds one shot per clip and has a terrible rate of fire as it needs to be reloaded every time.

Assualt rifles are exclusive to the Soldier and seem to be very powerful, with a high rate of fire, good range and good damage the assualt rifles are the well rounded gun that the Soldier needs. They also have a large clip but they burn through ammo very quickly.

Another variant of the assualt rifle is the light machine gun which is just a bigger and nastier assualt rifle, with decreased accuracy but heightened power it is meant for suppressing and shredding bad guys. It also has a massive clip of 80 rounds so plenty of "ARRRRRR!" Rambo moments are sure to be had.

Heavy weapons are largely mysterious at this point but a few have been confirmed, these include the rocket launcher, the grenade launcher, the blackstorm which fires singularities, the cryo gun and of course the miniature nuke launcher. These should be a hell of a lot of fun to unleash but they have extremely limited ammunition making them weapons to fall back on if everything goes wrong.

Sure the soldier has powers, but they all involve guns and ammo in some way. The soldier has access to all the different types of ammunition, the incindiary ammo for soft targets, discruptor ammo to shoot through shields and destroy mechs and the cryo ammo to freeze enemies before their utter destruction.

They also have access to Concussive shot which looks like it will be useful. It effectively works like carnage in ME1 and fires an explosive shot from the gun to force enemies away from the impact and knock them over. This could let the player set up easy finishes or to reduce a well co-ordinated group of enemies to a pathetic mess that easilly be picked off by your team of highly trained killers.

Adrenaline burst is the other power and is potentially the most interesting, allowing the soldier to slow time around him for a limited duration. During this period you move and fire much faster than your enemies and deal extra damage with each shot. This allows the soldier to become a god for several seconds and tear his enemies limb from limb. It also helps you to aim faster but if anyone ever used the pause aim tactic in ME1 this shouldnt be too useful.

I'll play the soldier this time as it looks like so much fun from the video, the versatility of having that many guns should add depth to it. What will make or break the soldier in my opinion though is the gameplay mechanic for the gunfights in the game. If the gunfights are good and fun, then some of the best moments are sure to belong to the soldier class. If it falls a bit flat I'm afraid the soldier will fall back into its past role, uninteresting and repetitive.

The enemies in the mass effect universe dont stand a chance against the soldier and their best hope may be that the soldier depletes the galaxy of bullets before he reaches them. This being unlikely, I hope they've all been saying their prayers.

Next time I will finish with the best class, the almighty Infiltrator.

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