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Reviewed: TreadMarks
Author: Chris Kim       Date: January 30th 2000
Page: 3

Multiplayer support and gameplay in TreadMarks is excellent. Up to twenty players can go head to head in a deathmatch or race via the internet. Free dediciated match making service is available through an automated internet tracker built into the GUI of the game. Internet connections are fast, easy, and quick to get into and out of. Lag times are excellent and there is little or no slow down in games. The networking code seems to be very optimized and it shows that in the very smooth net play. The only problem some people may have is that the game is fairly new and isn't sold in retail stores, making finding games slightly difficult.

With the game being completely arcade and non-realistic style, the game tends to be a bit on the easier side, but the game does offer great challenge. The AI skill can be adjusted on a percentage scale, from 0% to 100% depending on how much of a challenge the user feels is necessary. Even on the lowest skill level, the computer gives and adequate challenge on both racing and deathmatches, racers will be aggressive with weapons, but not so aggressive on the racing end. As the AI skill is increased, the aiming and aggressiveness of the computer controlled characters is boosted by a significant notch. Racing tactics are then introduced with trying to cut off enemies and ramming them into other obstacles to obscure progress.

Freakish Explosions
Ramdrill is Deadly
Grenades are Lethal

While the game might not contain the most intuitive interface, it is quite easy to use and navigate around here and there. The menu system is quite brightly labeled with buttons easy to click and see, configuring the game to a gamer's tastes is quite simple with a very easy to follow and use options menu. The game also adds an excellent auto configuration of the graphics settings based on how fast or slow a PC is. The in-game internet tracker for games is an added plus so gamers will not need to download or purchase any extra programs for internet play to be enabled. Installation is a breeze and quite error free.

Controllers are pretty simple and easy to use. The preferred controllers of choice will be keyboard and mouse, somewhat similar to how a first person shooter would be played, but the arrow keys are used to control the tank, and the mouse is used to control the movable turret on the tank head. The movement of the turret is somewhat sluggish, but it does seem to work quite effectively. Strong and slow movements must be used to perform movements on the turret, but this was a wise idea, so that a slight movement on the mouse won't create any movement on the turret. One area that might have been overlooked was the ability to aim the turret up and down, however. Gamers might be a little discouraged at this because aiming high or low is not available; if another tank were to fly up in the air, then the player would not be able to shot for this enemy tank.

Air Strike is Cool
Enemy Silenced
Machine Gun Fire

Used in the game was a priority engine developed in-house at Longbow Digital Arts. The engine is scaled quite well across several machines, while still maintaining quite a bit of quality from platform to platform. The engine is based around an OpenGL, which most current day videocards do support, but for users without 3D Accelerators that support OpenGL, a software renderer is included. In hardware accelerated mode, the graphics are a quite good. While the models might not be the best seen in a game, the special effects and outdoor terrain look superb. The explosions by far have to be some of the coolest effects seen in any game. Explosions of all assortments of colors and shapes make the mighty large explosions just so tasty to look at. The term eyecandy had TreadMarks in mind when the term was created. The explosions can't really be described in words, just look at the pictures. Terrain graphics and textures used in the game are excellent; they are very detailed and have a lot of extras to make them look quite realistic. Even when the holes in the engine are created to make the terrain seem all deformed, it all still looks excellent.

While the models of the steel tanks might not be the best, the liquid tanks are to die for. The steel tanks are just solid block models with a metallic finish and some shadowing work done on them. There is nothing really special about them, they don't have any moving parts or anything else animated on the tank aside from the turret. The liquid tanks, however, are really cool, they look like lava lamps with a metallic chrome finish and seem to move like blobs, really cool. Technically, the engine scores well with solid features and options, high resolutions, 32-bit color, texture compression, and other high quality features.

Blasted It!
Crumbling Tank Model
Dead Tanks in Fire

Wow, how much can a small developer put into a game? Well, it doesn't stop at graphics; TreadMarks also delivers in the sound department with full A3D positional sound effects. The sound that is recreated using A3D is a pseudo surround sound environment that works very well. Tank engines, explosions, weapon blasts, and the announcer voices all come alive. While the sound effects might not be the greatest or coolest, they accomplish the job. Musicwise, the game impacts with a techno/rave type of soundtrack, while not as cool as Trickstyle's, still sounds pretty nice.

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Added:  Sunday, January 30, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Score:
Page: 3/5

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