Whenever the topic of conversation turns to the recent tirade of really quite baffling user complaints for FPS games these days, you’ll hear me hark on about how things were much better back in the day. In fact, going on about the good ol’ days is a full time job for some people but, admittedly, I can’t stay from the new shiny things no matter how hard I try.
While this has generally led to massive disappointments (namely Modern Warfare 2), I was recently shocked when I ended up buying Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and found out it featured something from the old days which I’ve missed for so very, very long. It’s so beautiful in both its simplicity and complexity that it would be a crime to not share it with you all.
Back in my Call of Duty 2 days, it was a subtle art to match your weapon of choice to you play style. You had the typical sniper rifle for the long-range sneaky folk; the big, noisy guns for those with short attention spans and who can’t aim for shit; a standard rifle which was often the sniper rifle minus the scope, basically for mid-to-long range fire, and finally the semi-automatic rifle which was a most interesting beast. The semi-automatics had the range of the other rifles, but what set them apart was that they weren’t bolt action.
We’ve all been in the situation where you run around a corner, see an enemy, crap pants,* fire off a shot, miss and get gunned down whilst trying to load another bullet in the chamber. That wouldn’t happen with the semi-autos. Why? They could fire as quickly as you could pull the trigger. Instead of having an exclusively mid or mid-to-long range weapon, you now had one that could still be effective at short range too. You could use it for well placed across the map shots, medium range cover fire, or as a close-up rapid fire weapon. Your teammates loved you for having it, your enemies would get supremely pissed at your prowess and it was glorious. I was surprised to find that such a weapon exists in Bad Company 2 only better. Every class can use it, you can decimate enemy forces, piss off a lot of your opponents, and even use it to mess with your allies.
I’m talking, of course, about the Tracer Dart Gun.
The Tracer Gun is one evil bit of tech. The idea is that you see a tank, crap pants,** shoot the tracer, then laugh maniacally. The Tracer itself acts as a little homing beacon to all missiles that lock onto it, so although the tank may have killed you, it’s now getting bombarded by all your Engineer buddies.† It’s not exclusive to tanks, however; it works on any vehicle. The Tracer also fires in a straight line, unlike other projectiles that abide by the laws of physics, creating a shooting range minigame: Tanks, APCs and Humvees are standard points but Quads and Helis are de facto skill shots. Honestly, I’ve spent an entire round just trying to hit a Heli with a tracer dart and had more fun than doing whatever I was supposed to be doing. But it gets better. You can fire tracers at enemy infantry and you can still home missiles to them. This gives birth to another game to play, Explodey Sniper Race of Doom™.
Here’s how it works:
1. Fire a tracer at enemy Recon, preferably one that’s been pissing off your team
2. Announce the tracer is placed and everyone should try to hit it (unless someone spots the target, no one knows what the tracer is attached to)
3. Try to be the first to Javelin shot the bastard
OPTIONAL: Laugh like a schoolgirl if you see him killed on the kill update scroll.
But wait, there’s more! Tracers also stick to friendly players and because they can’t be removed, this offers a couple of interesting possibilities. Of course, it’s worth noting that you can not home in on Tracers attached to friendly targets so please don’t try to; you’ll just look silly. Anyway, one of the hilarious applications of friendly-fire Tracers is to just plaster your teammates with the glowing darts to make them the talk of the town when everyone is standing around them giggling while waiting for a server to fill up or for friends to join the match. The final minigame to play is Super Hard Mode Brothers™: two or more of you spawn as Recons with Tracer guns, making your way to wherever it is you want to set up. Along the way, you have to put a tracer on your buddy to make his life difficult. The flash on a Tracer can be seen at a far distance, and a well placed Tracer to the face will actually stick to their screen, impeding their vision. Whoever makes it to the frontlines alive wins!
In closing, it should be noted that there is a massive difference between messing with friends and griefing strangers. You’re not the only guys playing the game and you’ve got points to cap, objectives to complete, you know the drill. Always remember Binerexis’ One Commandment: Don’t be a dick.††
†The best way to do this, once you’re locked on, is to fire directly up. The projectile fires straight into the sky, locks on and pivots toward the tank like a Javelin. It looks awesome, deals huge damage and makes people rage quit; this strategy is therefore imperative when your friend(s) are stuck in the wait queue.
††Unless it is accompanied with the correct emoticon. ~ WiNG