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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: August 15, 2000
The guys at Ritual Entertainment make it really easy to get excited about their games. For starters, they know a lot about their audience. Most of them earned their stripes within the hallowed halls of 3D Realms creating Duke Nukem 3D. Their reputation for fast action, quick wits and timeless personalities have made them and their designers some of the most well-known developers in the industry. Even their aging and much maligned shooter SiN, which was released prematurely and has had to undergo reconstructive surgery because of it, is still a very exciting title.
So when Ritual announced they were working on another game and that it was using the Quake III Arena engine, I was immediately interested. As more information became available, however, and word spread that the story would revolve around the Heavy Metal universe of adult cartoon fame, I lost interest just as fast as I had gained it. Already sick of Lara and unimpressed by other’s attempts to duplicate her mass-audience appeal, I gave up on Ritual’s Heavy Metal campaign before I knew a thing about it.
Then in April, while attending the CPL and covering the workshop sessions, I was treated to a first hand sneak-peek of Heavy Metal: FAKK 2 and ever since then I have been dying to play it. FAKK 2 places you in the role of Julie Strain, heroine of the Holy Land wars and defeater of the evil Lord Tyler. Since that time, Julie has taken up residence on the planet of Eden, a place of breathtaking beauty and youth. The water found on the planet somehow prevents aging and its inhabitants haven’t done so since their arrival 30 years ago. In order to protect the planet from would-be attackers the colonists have employed the use of a F.A.K.K.2, or Federation Assigned Ketogenic Killzone device. It alters the visual and sensory appearance of the planet to mimic that of a deathtrap, hopefully steering would be attackers away from it and keeping its inhabitants safe in the process.
Unlike Ritual’s previous productions, FAKK 2 is a third person action-adventure. While it does include its fair share of mind melting mayhem, the action is balanced nicely by story elements, puzzles and exploration. While similar to Tomb Raider in many regards, the reference doesn’t do the gameplay in FAKK 2 justice. FAKK 2′s much heavier emphasis on action lends itself more to the shooter crowd, and added depth in characters and world physics does the same for adventure fans. One aspect of its gameplay I found peculiar is that it’s almost entirely scripted. Interaction with NPC’s and enemy encounters have been meticulously placed within each level. My fear with a design such as this was that the experience would become completely linear, and FAKK 2 meets that fear head on. Ritual has gone to painstaking detail in order to insure perfection on the first run through. The end result is that the game flows without hiccups. Scenes glide one to another with seamless transitions, giving each area a unique look, feel and personality. As such my fears of linearity were never an issue.
The exterior world of Eden and its many hidden layers are wondrous places, and work well for the style of gameplay offered. The folks at Ritual, well known for their level design masters, have outdone themselves. From the opening level to the final four Temples of the We, FAKK 2 will keep you in permanent jaw-dropping awe. If you were playing games when Unreal first hit the scene, you’ve got an inkling of the visual impact that is FAKK 2. Better than any title on the market, this title looks as sweet as its cover girl. The Quake 3 engine surely can’t look much better than this, and I don’t imagine it can be optimized much more either.
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