Thursday, June 16, 2005

All Frosting And No Cake

I've been hearing a lot about Nexuiz lately, so I decided to download it last week (still trying to get rid of the weird feeling that accompanied last week's post), and gave it a try. I'm all for the idea of a GPL first person shooter (you may be thinking Cube, but that's under the zlib license as far as I know) but, having played this game, I can't really understand why everyone is so excited about it.

The title of this post says it all, when it comes to Nexuiz. Sure, it's got realtime lights and way too much bloom, but the gameplay is nothing more than the standard deathmatch we've all been playing for years. Additionally, the graphics aren't even that good. Normally, screenshots pale in comparison to the actual game in action - here it's a case of the exact opposite. The screenshots look nice, but the first thing you notice running the game is the janky animation of the character models.

For it's engine, Nexuiz uses a customized version of the Darkplaces engine (edit: it was pointed out to me in the comments that it's actually just the stock Darkplaces engine). Hey, for something based on the Quake (not Quake II) engine, it looks pretty good. That being said, there isn't much that can be done to improve the actual level geometry so, even with new particle effects and textures, it's just not as impressive as it wants to be. The Nexuiz web site makes a big deal how some of the features can only be used by fairly recently released high end computer hardware, but who the fuck cares when games with lesser system requirements end up looking and running better?

I haven't even gotten to the sounds yet - they're not good. At least on my system (on which every game sounds fine) firing a weapon sounded suspiciously like throwing pebbles at a tin roof. Weapon models and tracer effects are unimpressive, some character models (animation aside) are just plain ugly. You want my opinion? Go play Cube. Don't care about open source? Go play Enemy Territory. Don't even care if it's free? Go play any game in the Unreal Tournament series. Any of the aforementioned games are infinitely more enjoyable than Nexuiz. How the fuck are you supposed to pronounce that name anyway? To me it seems like it would be "Neez-weez"...


Zenex said...

You seem to be missing one of the most imporant points here, which is modability. The Darkplaces engine is more advanced than the Nexuiz screenshots let on. It can load Quake 3 format maps (some q3 maps can be loaded directly), Quake 3 format models, and supports Doom 3 style features. The realtime lighting editor is in-game, you can walk around and change the lighting in any map (without having to recompile the map). Overall, the graphics level is somewhere between Quake 3 and Doom 3, and really bears little resemblance to its ancient cousin, Quake 1 (although it maintains Quake 1 compatibility). If you follow John Carmack's blog, you'd know that Half-Life 2 is still based on Quake 1 (heavily modified of course).

If you dive into the console, so much of the engine is tweakable, you can change the whole gameplay style without writing a line of code. The bloom setting can be turned down, the bumpmapping and gloss can be tweaked, the pace of the game can be slowed down (or sped up), the weapon balance can be changed.

Also, Nexuiz dosn't use a customized version of Darkplaces, it uses the latest release of the engine. Nexuiz is simply the first major game to take advantage of it's graphics capability.

That said, I do agree with you about Nexuiz's model animation and sounds, but for someone who's "all for the idea of a GPL first person shooter", you don't seem to "get it". This is GPL. If there's something you don't like, fix it. If you don't like the maps, make your own. Hell, if you want, make your own game on top of it (and if you don't use any of Nexuiz's textures/sounds/etc, the viral nature of the GPL doesn't apply, and your mod does not have to also be GPL).

Nexuiz has it's share of problems, but all in all, if you play for a while (on a server with low ping), it's a good game, and it's generally well balanced and fun. Like any game, playing with a group of good friends on a good server is infinitely more enjoyable than jumping into a game with complete strangers with a server on the other side of the world with 700 ping. Additionally, the first patch (yet unreleased) fixes the server browser problems, and makes the server ping times more accurate.

I'm surprised you complained about how Nexuiz is just plain deathmatch, when on Nexuiz's site, it clearly says "Nexuiz is [...] focused on providing basic, old style deathmatch.". In other words, that's the whole point!

As open source advocates like to say all the time, this is free as in speech, not just free as in beer. I can appreciate how you may not wish to take advantage of it, but at least realize that the fact that Nexuiz is GPL makes it an ever evolving game, of sorts. Don't write it off as crap and never look at it again, because 6 months from now, or a year from now, it may look totally different. For example, bot support and CTF are both in the works (CTF is done, but there aren't any maps available).

And in the future, do more research on a game than downloading it and playing it for 10 minutes. It'll make your blog a lot more enjoyable to read if you write a proper review, and not what seems like the opinion of the average 14 year old gamer, albeit with a good grasp of the english language.

kristofer said...

Thanks for the well thought out reply. I realize that I may have come off as complaining, and I apologize for that. Thanks for correcting me on the Darkplaces issue.

I still do stand by everything I've said, however. Nexuiz just isn't my cup of tea. Anybody who reads this site with any frequency can tell you that I'm not really doing reviews - just writing about games.

Just for the record, I did play the game for quite a bit longer than ten minutes. At least 6 hours of game time were put in between downloading it and writing about it.

kristofer said...

By the way, I forgot to mention: Unless it's some sort of commercial game where only a demo is the only thing I've tried, I'll always take a few more looks at a game once it's further along in development. See my old Vendetta posts for an idea as to how easy it is for my opinion to pull a 180.

I'm looking forward to trying out CTF when it's playable, as that's very much more my type of thing.