preview by Hasta
When Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament came out, it was a good time for gaming... And a bad time for being in any gaming related IRC channels. The "Which is Better?" debate continued for months, and while people were getting sick to hell of it (as was I), when somebody stomped into the local gaming channel quoting "mI Quake 3 OwnZ j00 uT," I (along with everybody), found it almost impossible not to respond. So it just continued… And while it isn't nearly as bad 4 months later, the evil still lurks and it may just surprise you the next time you are on IRC. Yes, well, it looks very promising that come August 2000, you will once again be victim to yet another mindless treat, and it seems not much will have changed. In one corner, Rune, a third person action-adventure game based on the Unreal engine. In the other corner, Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2, a third person action-adventure game based on Quake 3 engine. Who is favored in this epic duel? With all the info, screenshots, and movies released for both games, it's pretty damn hard to decide. Look for the Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 preview soon, but I've decided to preview the Unreal powered beast first. Why? Because I love Vikings.
I've always wondered why there are almost no games based on Vikings, but never really gotten a straight answer. I mean, let's face it, Vikings are badass. They are ugly, tough, wear some tight looking outfits and most of all, are ruthless. They aren't very smart, but why does that matter? The Viking is the ultimate character for an action packed video game. Who wouldn't want to control a legendary little Viking in a vast world with huge axes, monsters, and caves? Personally, I dream about it every night.
As said, Rune is using the Unreal engine. And while it can't compare to the Quake 3 engine being used in F.A.K.K. 2, I can clearly see why Humanhead Studios chose it over id's baby. First off, F.A.K.K. 2 is a fantasy game based on a comic book series. Quake 3's engine is very comic in itself, leaning much more to the cartoon side than the realistic. Unless you're a fool, it's not too difficult to see why Ritual went with this technology. It's equally obvious why Humanhead went with the Unreal engine. It provides deep, rich, realistic atmospheres that fit the Viking environments perfectly. What else does it provide? The ability to provide huge, vast worlds without slowdown. Again, this is painfully obvious considering back in the Viking's day, everything was open and spread out. Why aren't they using the "Unreal Tournament" engine, you ask? Well, technically they are, but I just find it stupid because UT was simply built on the Unreal engine. But yes, all the updates and nifty little changes made to UT are incorporated in Rune as well.
You take on the role of Ragnar the Viking, a young warrior trying to live as a warrior of his village. As Ragnar, you enter a mythic realm based on the many of the myths and legends of the good old Vikings. Of course, as Ragnar, you will not only explore these wonderful areas but kill things as well. What will you kill? In the underground, you will find the primitive little goblins. Make your way up to the mountains, and the Dark Vikings will be all over your ass. Then there are my favorite little creatures outrageously sexy little dwarfs. Don't let their looks deceive, though, because traditionally these little bastards created the weapons and artifacts for the gods. Focusing on melee combat, Ragnar will need some powerful little weapons to fight these little ones off. Swords, axes, knives, and clubs will all be available to Ragnar. Don't let those simple names fool you though. The axe alone is horrifically big, at least half the size of the man himself. The sword is just as impressive, that would make one run at the sight of it. I don't think I'll be missing my precious little rocket launcher anymore.
You are probably wondering, like I was, how long a melee combat based game could last without just getting downright boring. Thankfully, Rune has incorporated a fighting system that resembles a fighting game more than a shooter. No, there won't be 102 hit combos, but for every little maneuver done Ragnar will pull a new trick out of his ass. Maybe even something else.
Lastly, the sound in Rune is looking to be good also. Unreal had great sound, as did Unreal Tournament. Why in the world would Rune not? The sound effects in Rune will be even more impressive due to the fact they will be so different and unique given the time period they are taken place in. What I find even more important than sound effects in a game like this, though, is music. And while only one track has been released for the public's ear, it sounds pretty good. It has a cinematic feel and hopefully the overall score for the game will resemble Jerry Goldsmith's score to The 13th Warrior.
I'm almost positive Rune will be a badass game. Actually, I AM positive it will. Just the fact that they are using the Unreal engine to bring us back to the Viking's time gives me the chills. And with the footage they've released so far, it's a pretty safe bet you can count on this one. The only question is, which will be better? Rune or Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2? All we can do is wait.