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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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In strategic mode you can remote control all of your production and research, rather than having to enter the building to punch in the orders locally. They're controlled through a fairly easy to understand menu system. Through this you can pick the research to be worked on, control warbot production, and also go into the warbot designer. Yes, you can actually DESIGN your OWN units. You can select from various chassis with various handling characteristics, add on different sized turrets, choose armor, types of weapons and their ammunition, and save the designs for production. All of the designs WILL have different handling characteristics as well as durability. Wheeled vehicles will go at a good clip, but are harder to turn, while walkers will turn on a dime...but don't have as high a top speed. Drive all of the vehicles and you'll see how differently they react, which is a nice level of detail from the developer. They actually FEEL like differently-designed vehicles, rather than one generic model.

One thing you should watch out for however, is getting too overwhelmed with designing bots, since the rest of the game will NOT stop while you're busy tweaking your bot designs. This is realistic, but a game option to enable or disable a pause in the rest of the game while designing bots would probably have been a good idea; bot design is somewhat complex, and fixing it so that they have the right weight/speed/power ratio can take some trial and error. Another problem with the bot design is the inability to assign a name to a particular class of warbot (it can be saved under a name, but that won't apply in the in-game interface). Bots are identified in the game with a cryptic 3 letter code followed by a number, and then one of 4 names. Warbots are called Warriors, builders are called Builders, transports are (yeah, you got it) Transports. And since you can have MANY different types of Warrior bots out there, it's hard to tell what you're grabbing. As shown below, when you select a warbot, you get its basic stats, and that's it.

And which bot might you be?

When using the factory, the game also displays an accurate graphic representing the bot, so you know its approximate size, and method of propulsion, but sometimes you can't tell how it's armed. There's very little visual difference between a rocket pack and a missile pack, and flame launchers are hard to see as well. If you're at an angle where you can see tem, autocannons tend to be distinctive due to their length, but you won't know what caliber they are. There's also no way to tell how much ammo these weapons might have in them. An option to give names to each bot design that would actually be displayed in the game's interface would be a great help here.

One of these has missiles; the other has rockets...which is which?

You can electronically get behind the wheel of these vehicles while in HQ mode through what the game calls "telecontrol," or remotely-controlling the unit. Don't get worried though, the interface is EXACTLY the same as if you were piloting the vehicle yourself. One thing I noticed while playing was that I would suddenly lose manual control of warbots without explanation; and end up back in my bunker interface, with the telecontrol buttons for that bot disabled. The manual doesn't explain that this can happen, so it took me a while to figure out why. Sometimes a bot's turret will be destroyed LONG before the bot itself, and when you lose the turret, you lose your direct control. I also don't know if they can be repaired in that condition, since they've never survived long enough to get to a repair facility.

Controlling your weapons in any mode is pretty easy...same with the radar. Between right-clicking and the Tab key, you can go through all of your targets quickly. But the radar really pulled me out of my euphoria concerning this game. The first time I piloted the Captain, I noticed I was seeing targets VISUALLY before the radar even picked them up! Since guided weapons require a target to be designated before firing, this turns your missiles and electro-gun into weapons of shorter range than your Autocannon, with which I DID manage to hit and destroy targets that were out of radar detection range. I'm sorry, but this is absolutely unacceptable; the whole idea behind radar and other such detection systems is to be able to see things BEFORE you can physically see them. When radar was first invented it could see BVR (beyond visual range); the whole idea of guided missiles is for some of them to be able to be used BVR as well. After seeing so much in this game done so well, this was really a disappointment to find the radar detection range so limited. It got better a bit when telecontrolling some vehicles; I noticed that I was detecting smaller warbots BVR, but larger ones could still be seen before being detected. I also noticed that detection didn't seem to be based on any sort of terrain masking; the radar could see right through hills. Of course, since the science of the radar itself is never fully explained, I'm not sure if all of this is a good or bad thing. The low range is definitely not good, though not having to worry about hills and terrain-masking is a pretty good deal.

Another rather small omittance is the inability to link weapons for sucessive firing. What this means is to light off weapon 1, then 2 then 3 et cetera. This might not be too much of a worry with guns, and TERRIBLE with missiles, but it would make lasers incredibly effective, and be great for a large multi-barrel artillery unit as well. Since they require recharge/reload time to be effective, the only way to set up a continuous barrage is to fire 1, switch to 2, fire that, switch to weapon 3, and so on. If you're lucky enough to have some sort of game controller that supports macros, then you could program that into it, but it would be tricky. This is a small thing, I admit, but being able to sustain a barrage would be handy in cases.

Now, I want to point out something here. Despite the short radar range, and the inability to assign units to hotkeys, this game is still fun to play. It's just much harder to manage things than it should be. One other small annoyance is the lack of any lead compensation reticule (read: aimer-helper thingy) for unguided weapons. Even today's guns on airplanes work with a computer that calculates where your weapons will go depending on gravity and angle of movement, and plots that against the movement of the targeted hostile. What this ends up with is the pilot, instead of lining his gun sight up with the enemy, he instead lines it up with a computer-generated dot that shows the convergence of the projectile-path and the enemy's movement path at a particular time (meaning the projectiles are more likely to hit the currently selected target). Parkan doesn't have this. It might not help much for the lasers, but the autocannons and artillery guns could really use it...the same with the flame launchers. It's not so much that the things I've described are a necessity, but the fact of the matter is, BVR radar and missiles, and a lead-calculation system are in use TODAY...did they forget how to do these things in the future? It's just frustrating to know that, while this game is fun, it's much harder than it should be, due to technological omissions.

Score: 15/20

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