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Old 15th Nov 2003, 04:26 AM   #1
ModSquad NewsPoster
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Join Date: Jul. 21st, 2002
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Post Review: Unreal Speed 1.6 Public Beta

[ Transscript of review for Unreal Speed 1.6 Public Beta | Posted by Vlosk on 2003-11-15 | Score: 8 ]
‘Beta’. This is an ugly term, and one that I feel is poorly used. A beta game is something for insiders only, usually because the people who can appreciate it know and see it for what it is; a work in progress. That said, I was rather impressed with many elements of the 1.6 Unreal Speed beta. The game was stable (relatively), had new menus and graphics. There was a good selection of maps and cars, and the added element of customizability! The graphics were clean, and the models of above average quality (player-mesh could use some work though). The game worked, had a good clean HUD, and most interestingly, had bots... which actually seemed capable of driving!

The installation seemed to work. It created its own folder in my start menu, was able to locate UT2003, and installed its files in the right place. There was a bit of instability on the first few runs; namely in the form of 2 GP faults, looking for items such as \"Any.None\". (Looks like a mishap in the ini setup?) Regardless, the installation was relatively painless, and was followed by a nice slick intro. Past the intro, the menu was cleaned up with its own background and loading pages, and to my surprise, a nice concise menu allowing car selection, weapon selection, and even color. All of this was very cool, and very professional; the sort of polish which is wonderful (and rare?) surprise to see inside a ‘beta’ package.

Inside the game proper, I was given a nifty car… complete with my own insane color choice! I did spawned in the car, and died in the car, but I was rather surprised when I found I could leave the car, run around, and jump back in. If I was given an anti-tank missile launcher, this could be quite interesting; jump, blow up racer #3, and get back in. Without this though… it feels like a broken feature; one to either fix, or simply remove. Besides this nitpicking, the handling was pretty damn good, though it could be tightened up in a few more places; perhaps it’s just the tendency for even ash fault to feel a little icy. Still, the handling was quite good, and felt natural; it was even terrain dependant, making the road a much nicer alternative to say, ice. The weapons were fairly intuitive, though it seemed very… small, compared to the scale of the map. I’d almost be willing to suggest rockets with a half-redeemer sized explosion, as excepting 1 mine, there was very little collateral damage, and not really for lack of trying.

The HUD is well done, shows the right info with nice little radial graphics. The fact that objects like lap time are maintained, and even reflected on the scoreboard, is a very cool, polished, feature. This is a doubled edged sword through, for in showing lap time, you get to see the performance of your opponents… my offline test thus showing just bots. Though the bots do work, do drive, it was rather disappointing to see half the challengers unable to finish a single race… High difficulty bots should be capable of winning, with no difference between the cars of humans or bots. If this were addressed, the offline gameplay would be many times better. Don’t get me wrong through; the bots are far from ‘bad’, just not quite competent racers yet. They appeared to use weapons properly, they set mines, and they actually were aware of the track. A few odd pileups aside, I was very impressed to see a bot turn, missile me, and get back on the road; if this were tweaked a little, the bots could be quite revolutionary.

The performance was decent, but not outstanding. Likely do to the vehicle, 7 bots had the game running at 15 fps on a 2.0 GHz machine; playable, but not very fun. Less helped, but the racing feel of the game didn’t pander well to 3 players. I can’t help but feel though, that much of this was in part related to the map, and the FX. Perhaps considerations to optimization could help a little map side, and for FX… this is my one real gripe with this mod. The smoke-grenade effect seemed odd, and cut fps by 20%; I realize smoke is difficult to do with performance, but having done so myself, I know it’s a possible / reasonable expectation. Besides the smoke, I feel that the weapon FX are painfully small. The machinegun worked as a weapon, as did the rockets, but they just felt so small against the maps, the cars, and the removed camera angle. Other than issues of visual scale, the effects on the vehicle seemed like a rip-off from the bulldog demo; the smoke and pebbles were horribly out of place. Though the tread marks were a more than welcome chunk of 1337ness, the smoke asked ‘why is my car always on fire?’ (this could very well be the case…) As for the pebbles, I can understand on dirt of the like… but pavement? The only explanation…: excessive use of chains and studs; nothing like winter driving on the nice sunny beach! (Watch that pavement fly! Though wouldn\'t this give me _better_ traction?)

Overall, this was a very good ‘beta’ version, and definitely worth your time, if you have an interest in this sort of game. It’s less about the combat, more about the racing, and overall, a rather complete little package. There are a few issues remaining, and always room for improvement in areas of features or content, but all in all, it’s not half bad. Any improvement could be in tweaks to the core technology, though all key systems are present and stable. Artistic considerations could lead to some map tweaking, and perhaps some sleeker vehicle models / player models. For the current version as it stands, it easily earns an 8.0.

Last edited by ModSquad NewsPoster; 18th Nov 2003 at 02:51 AM.
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