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Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2

by Tristinian

Let us start off with a little game. What do Ultima 9, Messiah and Vampire: TMR all have in common? Not sure? Well, essentially each game was released a tad too early and had to be patched immediately afterward in order to fix their problems. Ultima 9's patch finally got its crashing problem fixed up (although it was fixed a little TOO late for many and it was still a demanding game). Messiah patched up most of its problems that dealt with graphic corruptions and bugs within the game and Vampire fixed its saving and gameplay issues. When you release a game too early that requires a patch to be downloaded immediately after opening the game's box, that is forgivable to a certain degree. After all, most of us are unfortunately used to that 2-step process by now. However, what FAKK 2 and the above mentioned games do NOT have in common is that FAKK 2's first patch doesn't work what-so-ever--or so we found here at H2H. So prior to going into full review, we'd like to give you that warning.

The real problem with the game out of the box is its tendency to crash upon exit of the game, causing explorer to crash with it and then causing the frustrated gamer to reboot cold. Additionally, other problems include frame lock ups during game play and incompatibility with vertex lighting settings on Voodoo boards which make the skies in environments in the game clip, tear and stutter. Of course the vertex lighting problem can be solved by simply turning off the vertex lighting in the advanced options menu, but then for all those without the horsepower, they must pay the price in frames. Did we mention the sound driver related crashes too? Here at H2H we believe in reviewing games right out of the box, but with FAKK 2 being unplayable a lot of the time, we patiently waited for the first patch to be released. Needless to say, the patch resolved none of our problems.

So, with that warning, let us move on with an analysis of this 3rd person shooter from Ritual. For those used to the Heavy Metal movies, this story takes place right within the timeline of the last HM flick, but there is no need to have watched it to jump into this game or its storyline. You play Julie, the hero of the Heavy Metal multiverse and boy can you kick ass. As usual, we don't like to give a terribly huge amount of the plot away in our reviews so that you can still be surprised, so let's just say things start off peacefully in your hometown of Eden, but they don't stay that way for long. After your homeworld's planetary shield is bombarded and strange happenings begin to occur, guess who has to fight to save the world? Right on. Don't worry, there is a wonderful tutorial to get you prepared for the gore and action you have yet to face.

Set in the Quake III engine, you climb, shoot, swing and jump through the world of Heavy Metal and damn is it a gorgeous one. A real bang-up job has been done with the environments in the game and although the texturing used throughout FAKK 2 might not be as 'full' or realistic as those used in Q3, it uses far more colors than Q3 that give the game a nice utopian feel to it. Speaking of utopian, the graphics are great, but the modeling and movements of Julie herself are phenomenal and are by far the best character modeling we've seen to date-and we aren't just saying that because of her shapely form. She moves, looks and acts more realistically and smoothly than anything we've seen before-if only characters like her were used in the demo movie for Halo (not like we aren't drooling to see that game too!).

With the beauty of the game though, there also comes a spoonful of ugliness.

It seems a shame that with Julie looking so damn good it doesn't translate to the other NPCs-they kinda look like crap in comparison. Also, since the Q3 engine is running this thing, there is going to be a performance hit for some low end users. According to some, the game requires less resources than Q3 itself, but we personally found that it requires more when tested on both GeForce and Voodoo based systems. For example, on the Voodoo system used, we run Q3 at full detail, 16 bit color, 1280 x 1024 with 2x FSAA turned on. These don't give the optimal frames for playing Q3 for everyone (a FPS ranging from 40 to 85), but with FAKK 2 we could only get the best gameplay/graphics tradeoff at 1024 x 768 (either at 16 bit OR 32 bit-they were somewhat the same) with 2x FSAA turned on and not quite everything maxed. Result comparisons did not differ with the FSAA turned off. As for the GeForce DDR system, it was actually choking at 800 x 600 for some reason so add that to the other game bugs and you might be a little turned off.

However, once you get this game in motion, you can have some serious two-fisted action in effect. Put an Uzi in one hand and a sword in the other, or go for the generic sword/shield combination, or just pick up a huge two-handed axe if you'd like. Either way, you are going to be having a lot of fun in this exotic world if you are into watching 3rd person shooting action-especially with some of the camera angles you can set up with the free camera option.

The weapons are large in number, the music and sounds rock on and the playability is pretty damn decent. And don't cry, but you might have flashbacks of Daikatana when playing in the initial stages of this game (and later on too) when you see that the first enemies you encounter are annoying green flies that you have to swat with your sword. argh. The game also needs to warm up a little before you can stop getting interrupted by conversations with other people constantly. FAKK 2 will still make many gush though while going through the action filled sequences.

If we are to compare this game to the other major 3rd person shooter title this year, MDK2, we'd have to say that the Omen Engine certainly seems better equipped to handle this sort of title-or so it would seem based on our experiences. MDK2 runs far better on low end systems and looks better on them too as a result. Many of us here at H2H were truly looking forward to playing this game-myself probably the most. But this is where things get sticky.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous (on a high end machine), the music is good, the sound effects are good, but the action feel isn't all there when compared to a game like MDK2. MDK2 is far more geared toward the shoot-em up, involving (and quite humorous) plot type 3rd person shooter while FAKK 2 seems to have gone more in the direction of eye-candy, loads of weaponry, and a plot that is generally ignorable. To put it simply, MDK2's action is heartier, but FAKK 2's action looks heartier. But either way these 2 games still compete neck to neck.

Thus, taking into consideration that we gave MDK2 an average score of 91 percent, FAKK 2 can't score much lower than that...errr...right? We began this review with a huge speech about bugs and now we have to come back to it. If this game had been bug free, it certainly would have earned a score of around 88%. It is a decent game that looks and feels great-especially at the right moments. It being sluggish at times and having WAY slow initial load game times doesn't persuade me to want to dock it too much, but what we can't ignore is the fact that this game is bug-infested--even with a patch that's supposed to address at least SOME of the problems mentioned earlier. To phrase it in simpler terms, we want to love it, but we just can't.

A little more tweaking and bug-squashing and this game would have been right up there in terms of competing for 3rd person shooter of the year with MDK2. But right now, unless some serious patching occurs to bring this game up to par, it might not even be at the podium come our year end awards.


FINAL MARK

QIII engine is being used so the game is obviously breathtaking to look at-especially Julie's char. animation.

Tons of weapons and stuff to use in varying environments. Some environments have sub-par texturing here and there though compared to Q3.

Tons of bugs and performance problems that even the first released patch did not solve. Really slow initial load-game times.

78%

 

The character pictured on the right must be one of the funniest in the game. What is even funnier is that in this pic he seems to want to get his hands on Julie with that big grin on his face. I wonder what his intentions are?

 

This shot was taken early in the game, but most certainly had to be included here to show off the many colors used in this game along with the sharp graphics and superb character modeling of Julie herself.

 

Something you don't get to use enough in the game we found were Julie's special skills, such as climbing ropes, bars etc. But she climbs fences and walls quite often throughout the game and quite realistically too in a lot of ways.