click here to access Diaryland click here to send me an email click here for bio and links click here to access the archive list click here for the latest entry

Forget what I said about Freedom Force not running on this computer in my LAST DIARY POST, which diary post, by the way, is brilliant and definitely worth sitting down to peruse in detail.

I found 'Omega Drivers' for the Voodoo5, which are basically homebrew drivers for the card. Seem to work okay. Installed DX 8.1 and other than a little strangeness here and there (videos are suddenly choppy, things get 'stuck' every now and then), it's working. So I reinstalled Freedom Force since my brother bought it and so enthusiastically talked it up. Now keep in mind he has an Athlon T-Bird 1.4/Geforce3-64/512 MB Cas 2 DDR-RAM and other premium pieces.

The 'teach me' level was kind of fun. I got to pick up streetlights and bash thugs down the street with em. I got to jump on top of buildings. I got to blow up cabs. I got to swoop down from above and land haymakers on common thugs. Then I designed one character of my own and brought three others along for the first mission.

And that's where things went downhill. First of all, I had framerate problems. Not only was it below 30 fps alot of the time, but it had that 'ponderous' feeling where the mouse pointer is laggy and the screen movement feels drunk; the opposite of Starcraft, in other words. Next, the camera was glitchy as hell. Numerous problems. The damn thing wouldn't rotate down enough to let me see what was ahead. It was like trying to view the world while wearing a ballcap on your eyebrows. The zoom out feature only worked HALF the time. I had to get up to these dipshits on top of a building, but the zoom out wouldn't stay, it just kept floating back to zoomed in. Grrr... I had a flying character, but he basically could only hover over the ground a few feet. Totally two-dimensional flight. The camera also loved to swing around, and given the semi-realtime nature of the game, this led to much frustration.

Trying to locate the snipers firing from all over was enough to make me want to break the CD. Well there wasn't a CD, but I wanted to break something. Trying to coordinate all four characters through the minimal interface usually left one or two guys just standing there being bashed with impunity. The sluggish mouse didn't help. Even peons in the first Warcraft were smart enough to flee or move out of the way when being continually hacked upon. The special effects for the powers were sort of neat, although kind of samey; but they caused their own problems in heavy melee combat where I didn't know what the hell I was clicking on underneath the fireworks and the camera played a 'funny' cat and mouse game with me. It all just worked to kill the immersive effect it could have had.

I really wanted to like it. The character generation, even the 20% they included in the demo, is relatively complex (for a simple computer game) and included many options for customization. The tone of the game is fun and drew me in to its world. I love the goofy outfits and the cheezy dialogue. The game doesn't take itself too seriously--it's a parody of the 'Silver Age' of comics, the Kirby/Lee era. The idea is a winner. The execution... well...

Granted, my computer is now officially over two years old (and the components are really more like 33 months old), and my brother's ten times faster machine might alleviate a few of the problems, but I think the game could stand to be less 'real-time' and more 'turn-based'. More like Fallout, which, despite its awfulness, had a satisfactory interface. The camera needs revamping. In fact, the game could do with 2-D graphics instead of its 3-D ones. It just wasn't fun after the third or fourth time my team got mowed down by constant machine gun fire (and those wonderful freeze-rays) and I was frustratingly powerless to prevent it.

Oh well. This is what demos are for, right? I'm glad I didn't blow $50 on this game. I read a couple of online reviews and couldn't understand why the writers missed all the fatal flaws I saw. I know I only played the demo, but I believe the second mission was perfectly representative of the kind of experience that lay ahead for the person who buys this game. The reviews seem stuck on the 'novelty' aspect of the game, the fact that it's a first. But there is a 'second' on the way. City of Heroes will be released later this year and I already like the way it looks much better.

One good thing about Freedom Force: it's selling like gangbusters and could not have come at a better time for Fred, particularly with the 5 month lead Fred has on Silver Age Sentinels and Wild Talents. Dozens of new people have found the Hero boards just in the last few days as a result of a thread on the Freedom Force boards, and they come to learn more and buy Fred and find out what true flexibility in game playing is. Freedom Force and Fred seem to go very well together. As I speak there's a person working on a conversion system--FF to Fred. Maybe the sequel will be better.