- By Woody Hughes -
When I was asked by Kayt Draeker, Loki Software's Queen Bee, to join yet another beta session with a bunch of other avid Linux gamers, I jumped at the chance. The group is small, and we all get to put our heads together to report bugs and other needed fixes for the game. To tell the truth, I wasn't excited because I got a "sneak peek" per se, but because I really wanted to test F.A.K.K.2, a game I had played on Windows a good year ago. But when I started to play it, I remembered why I never really cared for the game much in the first place.
F.A.K.K.2's storyline is boring. Maybe I'm stuck on cool storylines based on die-hard soldiers and their willingness to kill everything and anything in sight, all behind a cloak-and-dagger government project (Read: Half-Life) -- but F.A.K.K.2 consists of a good looking chick, with a cute smile, nice legs, and explosives strapped to her hips. No, her name isn't Lara, but Julie. Her sole mission is to kill an evil force named GITH, who resides in a different universe, who's supposedly going to destroy her home world, Eden.
First, the Prom Queen at my prom back in high school was named Julie. And if I remember correctly, she wasn't a warrior from the planet Eden, although she did have Julie Strain's personality complex. And for all of you prepubescent teens, yes, Julie carried a sword and a pound of C-4 around, too.
I mean, c'mon people, is Julie really the kind of name you'd give to a warrior? I don't think so.
Graphics and gameplay
So the storyline is dull. Who cares? I don't necessarily buy games based on their storylines, and if I did, I'd probably only own a couple titles. And I really doubt that most of you buy games strictly on their storylines either, so, with that said, let's take a gander at Julie's graphics ... ahem, or rather, F.A.K.K.2's graphics capabilities. Yeah, that's it.
F.A.K.K.2 features a smooth, modified Quake 3 engine. The surfaces are nice and curved, with advanced modeling features and volumetric fog. The level of detail in all of the characters is downright fascinating. If you've got a machine that can handle F.A.K.K.2, then I recommend you turn all of settings to the highest possible. What got me the most were the awesome shadows generated. Sure, I noticed a few discrepancies here and there, but for the most part, everything, graphics-wise, is dead-on target.
However, thinking back to my days of playing F.A.K.K.2 on Windows, I come to the realization that no matter what platform I play F.A.K.K.2 on, I can't stand the play control. As I progressed through the game, I kept feeling overwhelmed by the lack of control I had over Julie. Every turn she made, and every movement made me feel like I was playing in an invisible box and everything else moved around this box. It's hard to explain, but it felt as though Julie was a bit "clumsy."
One other major gripe of mine is that Julie has to hold her sword in her right hand, forcing my ring finger to be my "fire" button, making for an extremely awkward feeling. Sure, you can edit the controls just like you can in any game, but that's not the point, because if you do decide to change the controls, you'll quickly find out that your guns can be used, for the most part, in any hand, so it really doesn't matter.
Sound and configuration
There is a little too much going on in the background, foreground, and everywhere else in between. Especially the little creatures that would make these annoying "chirping" noises and everything else. The sound quality, however, is good. And you have a good choice of sound quality options within F.A.K.K.2's configuration menus.
Speaking of configuration options, I appreciate a game that gives me plenty of options to choose from. F.A.K.K.2 has what it takes when it comes to tweaking your in-game display. My favorites are texture filters, sound quality control, a nice model detail slider, and everyone's favorite, an excessive violence check box.
So what does this monster need to run at peak performance? Do you need to get another mortgage or sell the farm for the serious hardware that this bad boy craves? I don't think so. Here are the recommendations -- the "real-world" requirements I deem appropriate for running this game full out, 1024x768 at 32bpp:
Video: 64MB, 32bpp capable
Sound: 32-bit sound card, OSS compatible
Remember, this is what I recommend if you really want to enjoy the game. You could probably go a bit lower on these settings. My personal game machine only has 256 megs of RAM, and I'm fine. But RAM is insanely cheap these days, and adding another 512 megs will only set you back about $50 to $60.
By the way, here are Loki's recommendations:
300Mhz PC running Linux (400Mhz recommended)
Supported 3D graphics acceleration card
XFree86 3.3.x or 4.0.x with MESA/OpenGL drivers
64MB RAM (128MB is recommended)
400MB hard drive space
OSS compatible sound card
Much thought has gone into the look of F.A.K.K. 2, but other than that, it leaves a lot to be desired. The cinematic scenes are interesting, but they don't seem to be inserted in the right spots of the game. In some areas, particularly in the beginning of the game, you'll be thrown into a cinematic scene, and as soon as you're done with that one, you'll walk a few paces and hit yet another scene.
F.A.K.K.2 also has some serious issues with the overall play control. I didn't like it, and I was never satisfied with the control layouts and the way that Julie held weapons. Of course, there have been a lot of complaints lately concerning Loki's ability to port games in a timely fashion, and it really shows with this title, which has been out on a Windows platform for quite awhile. However, I believe Loki's working on it, and that takes time.
The game is quite short and left me wanting more. Once you've finished the game, it might be good to play again, especially if you'd like to do a lot of exploring and finding any secret areas that you may have missed. And what about multiplayer? There's really no need for multiplayer support in this title, so I wasn't upset to see that it was left out.
All is not lost with the storyline, however, which might be saved pretty soon as Heavy Metal 2000, the movie, may be showing up soon in a few select theaters around the country. F.A.K.K.2, by the way, takes place 25 years after the movie.
Overall however, I was disappointed with F.A.K.K.2 -- but if you'd like a change of pace, and if Lara Croft is boring the heck out of you, you might want to take a gander at this title. Be warned, even Julie's long legs can't keep this game standing strong for too long.
Configuration: 10 out of 10 stars
Price: $29.95 USD.