4th November 2002
A mixed bag of goodies, but is it any good?
Today’s review concerns itself with the latest version of the mod called "Parallel worlds". Describing this mod in terms of its setting is a bit hard since it doesn’t take place in a consistent world with a certain theme such as is the case in mods like GI Joe or Desert Combat.
Parallel Worlds (PW) mainly entails the original vehicles that have been modified to a smaller or greater degree aswell as new vehicles with completely new capabilities and appearances. The physics, damagemodel etc are still the same as in the original BF1942-game although some of the classes also have been modified.
The result is BF1942 with some new options on both teams where both sides have a combination of both modern day weapons and equipment and WW2-material which probably explains the title of the mod. The question however that is most important is: does this approach work, is its gameplay balanced and is it any fun to play?
As said the vehicles as they appear in PW are partially modified original vehicles from BF1942 aswell as completely new ones. Just to give a short overview of the vehicles:
Dive Tank (Sherman, Chi-ha, PanzerIV, T34/85)
AH-1F "Huey Cobra"
Since the modified vehicles have an overall appearance that is roughly the same as the original ones these vehicles were not looked at while determining a score for the graphical aspect of the mod.
The graphical side of this mod is definitely a pleasure to look at. Not only are the new planes, vehicles, hovercrafts and the spidertank! very well-done in terms of their overal skins but also when it comes to small details that are so important because they an indication that the makers really wanted to give their mod its own character.
The Vespa-scooter looks very nice with its sharp skin (maybe make a Harley-bike for the americans and keep the Vespa solely for the Axis?) and the helicopters are equally nice to look at, especially the Kolobri with its unusual and unique appearance. Nonetheless, the show-stealers in terms of the graphics and attention to detail are absolutely the F-35B (VTOL, which stands for Vertical Take Off and Landing) and the Senkousha (robot) and the SpiderTiger.
The way F-35B takes off vertically by turning its exhaustpipe in a vertical position, during which at the same time a small compartment at the front of the aircraft is opened to reveal a fan that helps the plane to get of the ground, is truly amazingly executed. Though the F-35B is the number one in the graphics department the Senshouka and SpiderTiger come as a close second. Especially the latter is extremely well-animated and really brings a whole new type of animation into the BF1942-engine, although there are still some clipping errors with the Spidertank’s legs (they go through the ****pit at times). The LCAC and Potormik-class hovercrafts come in as a close third when it comes to the quality of their models and skins. They’re full of little details such as the propellors that move as you steer the crafts across the water. Sadly and strangely enough these vessels cannot traverse over land despite the fact that they are truly hovercrafts.
Apart from graphical changes to the vehicles some changes have also been made to the classes in the game, which entails that some classes have been granted additional weapons. The overal quality of these new items and weapons is generally good though the fire that comes out of the engineer’s flamethrower looks a bit of. But considering the fact that the BF1942-engine isn’t truly capable of showing a flamethrower in the way Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and more recently Unreal 2, did it can be considered a decent attempt. A very nice effect is seen when the planes drop their fragmentation-bombs which gives a series of neat looking explosions.
Endscore: 12/20. The newly added vehicles, with their animations and attention to detail, aswell as the ones that have been modified a bit all look nice and grant this mod with a pretty good score in the graphical department.
As mentioned before this mod throws a lot of modified or even completely original vehicles in the fray. However, the main question of course is: is the game any fun this way, are the two sides somewhat balanced and do all the vehicles truly have something to add to the gameplay?
Here is where the mixed bag type-kid of setup of the mod works against it. Individually the vehicles all are great fun to play with but as a whole they do not seem to be very balanced. For example, the planes have no machinguns like in the original game but instead now have AA-missiles which means that they are very powerful in air-to-air combat and in attacking groundtargets by dropping fragmentation-bombs. However, at the same time they are, due to the lack of a fastfiring weapon such as a cannon or machinegun, a lot more vulnerable to AA-units since they have to drop their explosives right on top of a designated target at relatively low altitudes. As described earlier the F-35B is fun and stable to fly, but the Axis counterpart, the SU-37, is a lot less fun and forgiving in terms of its handling. The jet is very manoeverable thanks to its exhaustpipes that can move enabling you to make very sharp turns. In itself this is a nice and original idea but the problem lies with the fact that the plane is still far too touchy on the controls, like it was in version 0.5, compared to the other planes and vehicles.
The Vespa-scooter has been improved severely in terms of its handling when travering terrain. In 0.5 it was near impossible to drive it since the vehicle would sway from left to right at the slighest movement of the player. In the current version it is a lot more stable yet still has one noticable problem: the damage sustained by driving over uneven terrain is far too great. At times I was killed simply because I drove down a hill and hit the ground too hard, which usually ended in a nice fiery explosion. On final notice, maybe it would be nice to give the americans a Harley-bike with its own skin and handling and reserve the Vespa solely for the Axis-forces?
The Cobra’s controlmodel is great on the other hand and makes the bird easy to fly. The Kolibri however I felt still responds a bit too sluggish on the input of the controls for a helicopter its size seeing how it’s very small and lightweight.
The hovercrafts are great fun to use and on both sides the vessels have completely different characteristics making them truly unique. The Axis have the bigger hovercraft that has more weaponry (several rocketlaunchers and miniguns) to defend itself with than the Allied variety and carries two T-34 tanks and one APC. However, the allied vessel is somewhat faster, a lot more manoeverable and comes with two tanks, one Sherman and one M10.
The B-17 (VTOL) in this mod is extensively modified, can take of vertically and comes with additional gunningpositions including a large cannon under its fuselage that can be moved up and down! aswell as the ability to drop of two Sherman tanks using parachutes.
The classes in this mod are basically the same as in the original though some minor changes were made to the sniper, assaulter and engineer, some of which are quite interesting. The sniper has, additional to his standard rifle, now the ability to use an AA-rocketlauncher that does very little damage versus tanks and APC’s but can take out planes thanks to its high-speed missiles. Apart from this both the sniper and the medic can throw anti-peronnel mines (that take away about 90-95 % of a person’s health should he/she step on one) on the ground aswell as use a boomerang. Especially for the sniper the use of anti-personnel mines is a nice touch as it enables you to defend the building you might be sniping from a lot more effectively. The assaulter no longer has handgrenades but instead has a grenadelauncher that is attached under the barrel of his assaultrifle. However, to use the grenadeoption the player has to switch to a new weapon after which the riflemodel changes to a model with the aforementioned grenadelauncher attached. Maybe it would have been more handy to put the grenadelauncher under the secondary firemode, so mousebutton 2. The engineer now has, aside from his normal equipment, a flamethrower that as already mentioned doesn’t come with very good flame-effects but this is no doubt mainly due to the fact that BF1942 never supported a flamethrower in the first place. The anti-tank soldier now has a shotgun additional to his standard armament, though the weapon has somewhat limited use due to its slow rate of fire and limited range.
As said, although the mod has a lot of originality and good ideas it somehow seems to still miss something at the moment. It’s a bit like it doesn’t have a real consistent feel to it yet, but more like the makers tried to throw in a lot of funny or great ideas and distill a mod out of this. However, the skill of the makers definitely shows from certain parts of the mod, such as the fantastic B-17 and the F-35B (VTOL) fighter.
Final score: 12/20. It has some good vehicles and ideas whereas others lack a bit in terms of gamebalance and implementation. However, based on the quality of some of the mod’s parts (F-35B, B-17, the hovercrafts etc) it is apparant that the team does have the skill needed to further enhance the game’s overall experience.
Ease of use:
The mod comes in an easy-to-use zipfile that installs within the mods-directory without difficulty. The mod, alpha version 0.5, runs fine without any crashes or glitches.
Final score: 20/20. Like most other mods I’ve reviewed so far this mod also runs without any problems despite the fact that it’s still an alpha-version.
Documentation and support:
The mod comes with a nice txt-file that shows all the chances that were made and things that were added in the previous aswell as in the latest version. Email and website are all mentioned though what is missing is some tips on how to use some of the more tricky vehicles such as the VTOL-planes.
Final score: 15/20. Other than some tips on how to use some of the less-obvious vehicles and planes the documentation that comes with this mod is fine.
The Wild Card:
The hardest part of any review is to give the score for this final section. Looking back on the previous parts I can conclude that the modders who made PW have a lot of skill, ideas and potential but that their mod does not yet have the spark needed to make it as memorable as some other usermade projects. PW still needs some more work to give it a more consistent feel and an identity of its own. Seeing as how the mod has improved in terms of the number of vehicles, the quality of the skins and the way the makers have extended upon its content since the first version.
Final score: 10/20
The total score comes to 12 + 12 + 20 + 15 + 10 = 69%
Suggestions and comments:
The Kolibri could be a little more touchy on the controls, its a bit too unresponsive atm for a helicopter its size and weight. The plane’s lack of a machinegun makes giving groundsupport a lot harder. Change the LCAC and Pomornik so they are able to move over land like real hovercrafts?
Tramp made Moderator...
1st May 2003
Yah I think that reviews fair, but I have a question, now this guy appears to be working for dc(sigh) does that mean there will be no more PW releases?
Last of the Mohicans...naah
18th July 2002
I'm not exactly sure to be honest. There has been a recent update on PW but that was only to make it Battlefield 1.4 compatible in that sense that it didn't have any added content in the form of vehicles etc
I guess we'll just have to wait and see ;)