BIG BANG is Project Two's new epic space shooter, featuring some of the most amazing space battles ever seen in a video game. The game, developed by Paris-based studio Rayland Interactive, has been under development for over a year and will be released early February 2000.
Using Raylands very own Custom Built 3D engine they have managed to be able to create a game which is Absorbing as well as Graphically nice (Have a look at the Screenshots on the Right), I had to be pulled away to write this Preview! The in-game effects are Astounding, Everything looks and feels Great, Even on my K6-2 300, Voodoo Banshee & 64Mb Ram, the game just flew at 640x480, There was not a smidgen of slowdown and all the effects were on!
The enemy's must be the hardest to Fight I have ever seen! Even on Easy the Enemy's were constantly adjusting their position so you could not lock on, They used tactics to draw your fire while the others got off some pot shots at you and they even adjusted their speed to throw me off.
The effects used in Explosions and Weaponry are great. When you kill a ship it explodes, as you would expect, but it explodes starting from the point of impact so if you hit a ships wing the explosion would start there and move towards the centre of the ship and on to the next wing, truly amazing. All that with another 10 ships flying about, 2 big ships in the background and god knows how many asteroids to avoid.
The size of the Ships is one thing that's really great, They are so BIG, if you compared one of the small fighters to the Big Motherships you would be scared, they literally are that big, at least 50 times bigger than the small fighters, maybe even 100 times!!
While the graphics are Absolutely Great, they have not skimped on the sound, NO WAY, the sound is just as good, 3D audio so you know where you enemy's are at, Lock on sounds, Engine sounds, even the Small warning sounds are there. Everything that's text on screen has a sound associated, It's really important in this game for sound, you don't have time to read anything on screen, you just gotta fight till you die or fight till you win.
In BIG BANG you play a young and talented pilot who belongs to the Sekians, a race who has an alliance with the Chakkams, a race of mad scientists, and their working class robots, the Kümats. The alliance is at war with the Forgalls, who have sworn to annihilate everyone that comes in the way of their evil intentions. Though it will be very hard, if not almost impossible to stop the Forgalls. Also in the game are the fearsome Ittits, a race of even more unstoppable warriors, destructive like a natural disaster... Thanks to the games mission-based storyline (18 missions), the ever-evolving plot and the incredible enemy AI, this game promises to keep the player glued to his PC screen for quite a while.
While the game has a great and Intriguing Storyline, How can any great game truly be released without the necessary multiplayer aspect? Well I tell you it cant, Multiplayer Nowadays is really essential and with BIG BANG you get 8 additional multiplayer levels via a LAN or over the Internet. I have not played the Multiplayer part of the Game but believe me, if is anything like playing the Single Player game and I assume its going to be then we could be in for a lovely Multiplayer Treat in 2000.
Heres Some technical Information from Project 2 about BIG BANG:
- "For Big Bang we have been searching for a lot of new techniques to improve the overall aspect of graphic rendering to make this mission based space shoot-them-up really different from all others you have seen on the market.
One of our goals was to get a high quality space environment to give to the players the best rendering, without limiting the field of view or number of elements by the usual fog or common tricks you can find in other games. We have certainly produced the first game that is able to create this great looking space environment, with coloured maps and texturing with this type of quality. This difference shows up as soon as you launch the game with the first 3D real time introduction sequence.
We also used 3D real time for all our « cuts » and animated sequences, such as mission briefings and other in game special events, because we wanted a constant quality from start to end and no variation in video quality as you may have when using AVI files or other MPEG or JPEG sequences like in most games. For Big Bang we have done about 15 minutes of various 3D Real Time cinematic sequences.
Our second concern was to give the speed feeling, that is usually so bad in other space simulation games and we have succeeded not only by using permanently nearby moving objects but also because we use a really high speed factor for most flying spaceships. This is very important because a 3D action game must be as good and fast as in the old 2D arcade games we had not so long ago before the 3D video cards arrived on the market. To do it we had to find very fast algorithms to fly our spaceships at best possible speed around asteroids and other structures such as space stations, train convoys, large spaceships and complex architectures.
This is why, in Big Bang, you can hardly hide from enemies even in complex structures without getting in trouble very quickly, because all enemies have this ability to find their way through and to catch you. In fact we even had to make sure they would not all come together to leave the player with a chance to survive... The other « Big » difference and improvement over other games of this type stands in the fact that we did not build pre-computed behaviours and paths for attacking fighters. You will never know what is going to happen since it is based on your own position, speed and also on difficulty levels, enemies characteristics and their own damage state. These are very important parameters and we use them during all missions to make enemies harder to shoot and to give even more fun to the player.
Concerning collisions, we wanted them to be as realistic as possible and we decided to build a new engine able to determine exactly which part of a structure was hit or collided. With this new engine we are now able to use a unique explosion system based on a very efficient technique. You can see that all explosions on stations or even very large spaceships are starting from the point of initial impact and that the blasting effect and the shock wave propagates itself from this point to every part of the 3D structures in a very logical manner. This gives a fantastic rendering and makes this game far ahead and above other mission based and simulation games.
We also developed a very efficient technique that can handle fast flying engines in real time without getting lost in long or endless computations and this is why the game can run so smoothly even with dozens of vessels and plenty of collision detection's in real time. At this point we are very happy to be able to play Big Bang on a PII 233 with a Voodoo 1 video chipset in a 640/480 resolution. On other video cards we can get the resolution up to 1024/768 and we might even go higher with a better PC and latest video cards...
For lower configuration PCs we have implemented an option to reduce the size of the textures and level of details in the game. This is one of the reasons why Big Bang can be played on a PII 233 with a fair 3D accelerated video card and even with OpenGL video cards compatible with DirectX®.
Another interesting point is that you can play Big Bang in a windowed mode and also that our tests with Windows 2000 ®© Beta version and DirectX7 was successful.
In Big Bang we use real time lights to increase the level of realism and to create the various atmospheres needed for each missions along with a very efficient background rendering engine that gives this high level of details for far away galaxies, planets, stars and other asteroids fields.
The game itself offers a variety of missions and 5 different races to fight against. Each race has of course their own spaceships and weapons and some of them are quite tricky to destroy but I cannot say much more on this and better leave it to the players to find out...
In about each mission you find a new weapon and you also can increase your shield, life and other ammunition levels. Concerning the weapons we wanted them to be well integrated in the action and so we use a very nice animation system to make them constantly move, spin, rotate or shake differently with flexible parts and physical laws effects applied in real time.
The Bonus system is also tied to the player ability to play and we managed to keep the pressure on the player all along the missions by constantly adapting the enemies number and the types of bonuses the player can get at particular times. This was not the easiest part of the programming since we had to play each mission hundreds of times and in many different playing conditions to make sure that the real time analysis of the player and mission state worked perfectly. So, as you see the AI of the game does not merely takes the player's or enemies capabilities, but also the overall player's actual behaviour to accurately maintain a pressure and difficulty level at all time.
We also added in game speech to point out some important mission events or player selections and a great variety of sounds for each type of fighter and flying structures. This helps the player to keep concentrating on the action without having to look at texts information that may also be displayed in same time. To make it even easier on the player we store important messages in memory with their timestamp and the player can get back to each of them for a fast reading of what message was displayed at anytime during the mission.
The 3D sound environment is also a good way to identify the type of enemies and structures you are flying by and the mixing of the necessary sound information, original music and speech puts you right into the pilot's seat...IF you have a good sound system and BassBoost then turn it on and you will hear what I mean... !
We have also implemented 8 multi-player levels that can be played in death-match using IPX and TCP/IP protocols. I must say that we had a lot of fun playing against each other at RayLand's office during the development of the game. The multi-player game offers the possibility to use all the weapons, but this time you have to find the ammunitions in space or inside structures before you can use them. It is possible to have up to 8 players per level and this is more than enough to get blown up...I think that we are among the first or maybe the first to have done multi-player levels in which you can see a whole level at once and all your enemies in the same time. This was also quite a challenge to make, because the data flow when every player is shooting as well as the displayed frame rate must be kept very high.
We have made an efficient Menu and the game can be played with a mouse, joystick or keyboard or a combination of them. The volumes can be set for the sound F/X and the music and a lot of video options are available such as Windowed mode, texture sizes for lower memory video cards, screen resolutions and level of details. You can even reduce the number of stars displayed in the background and gain a fair ratio on the frame rate and game speed to play Big Bang on slower PC's.
Frederique Gaulbaire - RayLand Interactive