Heavy Metal : FAKK2

Ritual in game featuring well endowed woman shocker!

FAKK2 is the game of the movie of the graphic novel, a third person action adventure game in which you control the scantily clad gun-toting Julia. So far, so Tomb Raider.

Can FAKK2 lift itself above the crowd of third person games? Let's take a look... Quite An Eye Full

The most noticeable thing that FAKK2 has going for it is graphics. Based on the Quake III Arena engine, its world is a huge sprawling organic place full of high resolution textures, detailed models, curved surfaces, and lots of over the top special effects.

Ritual have added a few tricks of their own to the graphical splendour of the Quake III engine as well, such as level of detail for the models so that the closer you get to a monster the more detailed it becomes. Then there's the animation system which can blend different animations together, which means that even though there are only four basic attack animations for the dirty big sword that Julia carries around with her, those animations can be combined with rolls, jumps and strafing to produce a whole variety of carnage.

There are also environmental effects - it rains, leaves fall from the trees... Most impressive though is the sky, which is totally dynamic. In one of the tech demos that Tom Mustaine of Ritual showed me the sky starts to grow dark as clouds billow over it and a meteor streaks past overhead. The clouds even leave shadows on the ground as they pass overhead. It all makes the world feel more life-like. Bouncy Bouncy

Ok, so the graphics are several generations ahead of even the latest Tomb Raider game. But what about the gameplay? Well, that side of thing is looking promising as well. Tom described the game as a mix of Quake, Tomb Raider, Half-Life and Tekken, which sounds good to me.

The different environments in the game include swamps, temples, and towns, and each area has its own unique style of gameplay. For example, the swamp area is very influenced by platform games, with lots of jumping around between lily pads and leaping from one island to another.

The swamp is also home to a vicious man-eating plant that will swallow and digest you if you get too close to it. Jump in a pool of white liquid though (don't ask...) and the plant won't like the taste of you anymore, spitting you out and throwing you high into the air, helping you reach an area you wouldn't otherwise have got to.

Ritual have learned from their mistakes with Sin, and are working to keep the level load times down by going the way of Half-Life and using smaller maps. So far they have 18 of them done, and many others planned out on paper.Let's Play

Another lesson learned from Half-Life is the use of scripted events, which again help the world feel more alive, as well as warning you of potential hazards. For example, at the start of one map you find a cute little animal that runs off as you approach it. It promptly charges straight into a little patch of plants that explode around it, warning you to stay clear of those in future.

The dynamic camera also helps add to the cinematic feel of the game. Although there wasn't much evidence of it yet, the camera in the final game will swing around in places to show you important events, locations and characters. And like in Outcast the camera can be controlled by the player using the mouse, zooming in and out and swinging up and down to give you a better view of the world.

Ritual are also trying to reduce the frustration of third person adventure games by keeping puzzles and their solutions close together. Many games feel insecure and try to make themselves look bigger by making you walk backwards and forwards across the map several times to complete a puzzle, but FAKK2 has no such self-image problems... Rough And Tumble

The action part of the game is pretty impressive as well, mixing hand to hand and ranged combat. Weapons range from swords, axes and knives for close combat to crossbows, slings and guns for picking targets off at a comfortable distance.

Julia can hold a different weapon in each hand, for example fending off a monster with a sword while plugging it with a gun. You can even do combination moves in melee, just like in Tekken or Street Fighter. Combat in this game should be intense and varied.

Which applies to the creature's you'll be fighting against as well. These are some of the strangest monsters to grace a third person game, twisted nightmares created by the demented artists at Ritual and inspired by the even weirder work of Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley, the men behind the Heavy Metal comic books and movies.

Ritual have apparently been given "carte blanche" to add to the world of FAKK2. The result is impressive and more than a little disturbing. As Robert Atkins of Ritual said, "It's great working with Keven .. to add our own slant to the already twisted Heavy Metal universe". Conclusion

FAKK2's core technology is now complete, and Ritual are working flat out on gameplay, tweaking and testing. Tom thinks it's about six months from completion, but he made it clear than unlike Sin, FAKK2 won't be shoved out the door without proper testing. Ritual were even more upset than their customers about the problems with Sin, and don't want to see that happen again.

If everything goes to plan we should see FAKK2 for Windows, MacOS and Linux some time early next year.

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