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Reviewed By: Bryan Pizzuti [03.26.02]
Category: Real Time Simulation
Developer: Nikita Interactive (Russia)
Publisher: MonteCristo

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Well, there are supposedly 5 campaigns in the game, beyond the tutorial. But the fact is, you can only enter a campaign once the previous one has been completed, so it's more like one single multi-system campaign. It's a good one, though, and pretty interesting. Briefings are done 100% through game-engine cutscenes, and your first briefing officer sounds like a nice sarcastic gung-ho style officer, which is pretty entertaining. Also, before you enter the action, your objectives are summarized on a list on the screen. They can be referred back to in your data screen by hitting F1. Also contained in the F1 screen is that nice handy key reference...the designers know the game is complicated, so at least they're trying to give you all the help they can get.

Score: 8/10


The graphics aren't always what I would call realistic, but it's hard to say exactly what realistic IS in a science-fiction game. The units, for the most part, seem to be colorful rather than camouflaged. Polygon count seems to be relatively low in some places compared to other games, but the units look exactly as they seem to be meant to look. This is a lesson: polygon count isn't as important as careful design. A polygon based creation can have a lot of polygons, and still look terrible, but if it's thought out with the idea of not using many polygons in the first place, then they can be made to look good. After all, a square is only made of one polygon, right? But it looks exactly like a square, and a pretty realistic one too. It's important to worry about polygon count in a strategy game, since the number of units in view can get pretty high. Design the game and the units with that in mind, and play becomes smooth AND good-looking. And Parkan definitely's got a nice combination of science-fiction and comic-book look to it, so it looks gritty and entertaining at the same time. The units look curvy where they're supposed to, and nice and clean, except for the colorful paint jobs, which border on garish (but that's the comic-book part of it). You'll want to have a Kyro2 or better to to play this in 1024x768x32, and stick with lower resolution with anything short of it, including s GeForce2MX; it gets fairly choppy.

Nikita had even more reason to worry about polygon count when developing Parkan: they also had some comparatively HUGE buildings to design, and these will suck up a lot of polygons. It's great that they designed the buildings in proper proportion to the units, but they went further than that. The buildings can be ENTERED. Yes, you can go inside the buildings, walk around, and do whatever...the warehouse even has a large control deck that you can visit, complete with consoles (though none can be used). It creates another aspect of play, but it also creates another graphical challenge, since the interiors have to be designed too. Now, none of these buildings seem to be terribly complex inside, but there are plenty of reasons to go in there and see what's in there. There are two types of buildings; one built by human forces (yours and your opponents), and one type that are left over from some ancient race, and look more like a cave-style structure inside.

The weapon effects are nice; the laser beams are actual laser beams, meaning they suddenly appear connecting your emitter with the target. Missiles trail smoke on their way to delivering destruction, and cannons spit out tracers. The explosions aren't anything close to spectacular, but they do the job. And you can tell visually whether you're hitting the enemy or his shields, since they'll flash a bit where they stop your weapons. What I don't understand is why the futuristic factory has to belch smoke from smokestacks; are they using a coal-fired generator or something?

It would be nice to see a bit more labyrinthine buildings...maybe a command center with internal defenses of some sort, but if buildings are too complex to take from the inside, then I'm sure the enemy will just blow them up. Generally the game looks good, but so far I've only discussed the piloting engine. Well, the reason for that is the fact that that's the only graphics engine the game has. The strategic stuff is done from the same first-person perspective. I'm sure it will take a LOT of getting used to, but it's worth it. And there is an option to put up a satellite map on the screen though it's just a basic map. It's similar to the overview maps found in most RTS games, but it doesn't show terrain other than high mountains and valleys. It will, however, show friendly or enemy units, and also differentiate between different types of buildings. It will also obscure some of your cockpit viewing area (and your weapons indicators), but the developers were very smart to put in a transparency control for it, so it can be "seen through" to a varying degree.

There appear to be no cinematics other than the mission briefings and an intro movie for each sub-campaign. These are done using the game's engine, and look about the same as gameplay itself, which is pretty nice. The environments seem to be mainly eye candy and some cover in the form of hills and mountains. There also seems to be no way to scar the terrain at all; shooting at the ground won't create bullet holes, burn marks, or craters, and you can score a direct artillery hit on a palm tree and it will just keep waving in the breeze. With all the attention paid to detail in other aspects of the game, I was hoping to see this as well, and it was slightly unnerving to realize that the landscape wasn't responding to what was happening to it.

The level of detail is adjustable, and details such as water effects and reflections can be turned off. The game also supports Environmental and Emboss bump mapping, but I tested this game on both Kyro2 and GeForce2-based video cards, and both bump mapping options were grayed out. It is apparently fully supported on Matrox cards at this point, and some screenshots of the effect it has can be seen here. The developers are currently working to implement the bump mapping protocols on other cards through a patch.

Score: 19/20

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