|Let me preface my review with something that should be said. I have never seen either of the Heavy Metal movies, or had a chance to read any of the graphic novels or comic books based on the subject. I have listened to both of the movies' soundtracks, but that is the extent of my knowledge on the subject. So to summarize, I am coming into this review a total newbie to the series, so I canít let any bias I have for or against the cult following influence my judgment. |
To say I was impressed with FAKK2 would be an understatement; I was completely blown away by the game. Ritual Entertainment has paid for the mediocrity of their "SiNs" and has released a product that is up to par and beyond that of their best work, Scourge of Armagon. This game just shines with polish, and then blows you away as you are immersed in the world of Julie Strain and the inhabitants of Eden using the beautiful Quake III Arena engine. From the get-go, the developers had the fans of the movies thrown into the game world. The opening cinema, although not as impressive as you would think, sets up much of the back-story.
This game takes place about 30 years after the events that occurred in Heavy Metal 2000. Julie Strain, Penthouse Pet and heroine, has evacuated her people to a planet called Eden. There is a secret on Eden, though: The water on the planet prevents aging from taking place, therefore all of the characters from the movie, including Julie, look exactly as they did 30 years ago and not a day older. To protect their precious planet, the inhabitants of Eden have constructed a massive shield generator that protects the planet from space debris, and masks the planet as a FAKK. A FAKK, as I have been told, is an acronym for Federation Assigned Ketogenic Killzone, or a planet that is hazardous to all carbon-based life forms. A FAKK2 would be a planet that is so dangerous that no one would even try to venture near. The shield protecting the planet of Eden gives off a FAKK2 signal, hence keeping all unwanted guests away.
One pleasant surprise was the installation of the game. It went smooth, and was very quick. One thing I would like to note is that this game isnít a hard-drive hog. A simple 400 MB full install will keep you from having to boot everything off of the CD-ROM and having your computer search for what it needs. After installing the game, you are dropped to the games menu, and then I was totally blown away. I know I have said this before, but the menu system totally rocks. From the awesome music playing in the background, you get to hear Julie say each menu and a little comment about each. Place your mouse over Controls and she says, "Controls," then take it off and place it again and you get, "Oh, I want you to turn my knobs." Hey, I didnít put it in there, Iím just commenting on it. Very well done, Ritual.
Using the Quake III Arena engine and a third-person perspective, the game just feels right. There is no real way to describe it, but the game rocks.
The control system is almost exactly the same as you would use for a first-person shooter, and fully customizable. One new feature that I like is the double weapon system. First, this game doesnít use the standard "push 4 key for fourth weapon," it uses the weapon class system that Half-Life introduced to us. What this refers to is when you hit the 4 key you are not given the fourth weapon, you are given the fourth class of weapons; from there you continue to hit the key and you are then browsing down the menu for that class of weapons. Also, the game has the dual weapon system, which allows Julie to carry two different weapons in each of her hands and use them independently. Some weapons, like battle-axes and slings, require both hands. The fighting system is then mapped onto two different keys on the keyboard or mouse, one for each hand. This system comes in veryÖ handy (excuse the pun, please).
With the extensive fighting system, you will need a world to fight in, and the Quake III Arena engine shows that it can do more that just first-person action. It can do so much more. FAKK2 looks amazing. If you wanted to, you could stand and just look around you for hours, enjoy the sweet views, beautiful weapon effects, and bask in the glory that is the graphics of Eden. The engine has been pushed leaps and bounds beyond that of Quake III. The game can run in ultra-high resolutions with little to no slowdown what so ever. Using a 500 MHz Pentium 3 and an Ultra TNT2 I never saw a single stutter in the frame rate running at 1074 x 768. The amazing surroundings of this game give you the little extra feel you need to be apart of this wonderful universe.
I stated earlier that I was blown away by the sounds in this game, and I stand by that. The intro music, used on the menu system, is one of the best songs I have heard in a long while. Itís nice to actually get some real music, other than some games that throw rejected MIDI garbage your way. FAKK2 strives beyond this and holds true to the form set down by the movie predecessors. The soundtrack is without any anchor bands though, in fact, for a game like this I half expected it to be loaded with big-name rock bands, and brimming to the top with some awesome rock music, but that didnít happen, and I can say that I am somewhat disappointed by this. The in-game music playing in the background is adequate rock music, and like I stated, holds true to the Heavy Metal "way" of doing things. I hoped that Ritual or G.O.D. could have secured a few bands to do the music for the game. If anyone from Ritual or G.O.D. is reading this, I would love to get that intro song in MP3 form.
No game is without its flaws. Heavy Metalís designers felt that they must take the Messiah route of things in one department and that is platform jumping. I donít care how many times they put it in a PC game; platform jumping does not belong on PC. One particularly annoying event is about the third level when you must reactivate the shield surrounding the planet. You have to make about 25 correct jumps while the platforms are going up and down. This isnít the easiest thing to do when Julie decides she wants to run and fall off about every fifth jump. This is just a personal quibble I have, but I hope there are others who feel the same way.
In the end, I was so hooked on the story of this game, the graphics amazed me, and the sound blew me away. Ritual has become one of my favorite personal developers now that a game like this has been released. I was so influenced by this game that I have the first Heavy Metal on order on DVD, and I plan on getting the second as soon as possible to get acquainted with the series even more. If one game can get you hooked on an already established series, then the designers deserve all the praise I can give them. Great work Ritual, great job in picking this one up G.O.D. and thank you both for many hours of great entertainment.