Author Topic: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]  (Read 2283 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Woolie Wool

  • 211
  • Fire main batteries
Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
I guess I'm rather late to this party, but I only actually finished the campaign yesterday even though I had played it last year but not all the way to the end (the last time I had got stuck on that mission where the Zy was introduced and gave up, then I lost the pilot file, then I had to start over again).

I must say that this mod really does capture the stylized, deliberately over the top aesthetic of sci-fi anime combat. There's beams flying everywhere, awesomely exaggerated pyrotechnics (love the Dragonslave missile--KABOOM!), ludicrous missile massacres from the Skirmishers, and hordes of bad guys. Watching some of the larger battles was a real treat, even if many of them couldn't really be affected by the player and were there as window dressing for the actual mission.

It's also definitely not FreeSpace. Everything works differently ([REDACTED, because I shouldn't have said what was here in the first place]), and there's a real learning curve as you have to discard many of your FS tactics for ones that are more appropriate. The UEU mission at the very beginning is interesting in that it seems far more FreeSpace-like in its gameplay, serving as a sort of bridge between FS2 and WoD.

The music works brilliantly as well (well except for the ghastly anime theme song in the intro cutscene but I intentionally skip the opening credits of anime so I don't have to hear the J-pop theme songs so I'm probably not the best judge of that). I don't know how much of it (if any) is original compositions, but it really fits the theme of the mod and is a radical departure from the usual big-brass-with-spacey-synths space opera music. The battle theme that first pops up in the first mission and appears several more times throughout the mod, with the guitar solo in it, is my personal favorite.

The models, while pretty crude in terms of detail and texturing, almost all have something unusual or interesting going on--animated textures, animated subobjects, alpha, etc. Each race (except one, which I will get to later) has its own distinctive look and none are "ISO Standard Human Spaceship" (well I guess the Nordera come pretty close but they have a cobbled-together, brutally primitive look that gives them a unique identity). The Fur'angle in particular are completely unique and I've never seen anything like them. The ships also do unusual and interesting things and require different tactics to defeat, something not often seen in FS mods. Minor quibble: the FS assets used for some of the civilian ships don't look like they belong at all.

The storytelling, while certainly eccentric, works for the most part, and the characterization is better than in any mod I've played that is not called Blue Planet. My only problem is that the story lacks a real sense of conflict and danger before the Hertak personally arrive, as the LSF seems to have little trouble holding their own against the battle thrall races. Well that and some moments involving certain female characters get a bit...gratuitous. (That scene with Misuzu and Crystal. You know what I'm talking about.)

OK, now for some of the things that I didn't particularly like:

The balance of the game feels a bit hit and miss. The Fur'angle Sweepers are incredibly frustrating to fight, there is no angle from which they cannot damage you and their turret guns are really powerful for a weapon that has a 360-degree field of fire. Worse, they jiggle your view so it is very difficult to line up a shot on them, making it even harder to fight them without incurring major damage. On the other hand, the infamous Cordi fighters can be very easily dispatched by exploiting a simple AI quirk--stop firing at an AI fighter for a few seconds and it will "forget" it's being chased and fly in a more or less straight line, giving you a free shot that for a Cordi fighter, usually spells doom. The Adasyas were hyped up as a very dangerous enemy but in a fighter, you can just have your wingmen distract it and then fly up and blast its core before it can effectively respond. In the Prometheus Frame, you just shoot its center of mass with your beams and it vaporizes. I destroyed 11 of them during the campaign and never once did I find them as threatening as the Sweepers and Astrays escorting them.

On the LSF side, only the Ray III and its derivatives are really that fun to fly. The Caliburn has absolutely horrible handling in either of its two variants and is not durable enough to tank all the fire it will draw. Its heavy weapons are also incredibly slow and difficult to use properly. The Kaze, on the other hand, has awkward turning characteristics, limited primary firepower, and very weak defenses. However, the Ray III has its own problem in that, except for the W version, it basically has no assault capability whatsoever due to its single gun and missile bank. This is a pretty serious failing for a medium fighter, and leaves the player who picked the Ray III E (I did) in a fairly bad situation. As for the Hazel, I flew it for a few seconds in I think M21 and hated it immediately. It's like the LSF's Medusa, only with even less primary firepower.

While most of the missions have pretty solid design, some of them got very confusing and difficult to follow. Making more of the mission-critical enemies assigned to hotkeys would go a long way to fixing this problem, as would a "beep" sound to indicate incoming messages (and perhaps a Blue Planet-like klaxon sound for when something demands immediate attention). The missions involving flying into enemy ships both were incredibly disorienting and difficult, mostly due to two things: default FS collision physics, and lighting. The lighting inside the ships is completely featureless due to the limitations of the FS rendering engine, making it difficult to judge contours and distances, and when you strike a wall, you bounce off violently, often hitting another surface, and then another, and then another... A baked glowmap with lights and shadows on the inside of a ship would make orienting oneself inside the Hertak Flagship much easier, and Collision Physics entries in ships.tbl could help curb the bouncing problem and make it more forgiving, especially inside the Cordi Motherships where there is almost no room to maneuver. The LSF Alligator mission, on the other hand, was just ridiculously, brutally hard, especially considering that the attack on the Hertak warship in the Prometheus Frame immediately afterwards is quite easy if you attack it from the side rather than the front.

And speaking of Hertak, their ships are IMO the biggest problem in Wings of Dawn. The other races were all weird and different, even the human ships, and did all sorts of weird things too. The Hertak ships on the other hand very strongly resemble Shivans, and not just any Shivans, but Inferno R1 Shivan ships, which are widely known for being well...ugly. With the sole exception of the drone, they are lumpy, boxy, and rather dull-looking, and their warships even behave like Shivan destroyers, moving around very slowly and blasting enemies with big red beam cannons. This is very, very unfortunate considering how the game had been building up and alluding to them for almost its entire length, and when they finally do appear they turn out to be very pedestrian. The fighters are even worse; they feel like less of a threat than the Zy and (especially) the Fur'angle fighters, being mostly a big, slow lump of hitpoints with unremarkable weaponry and a total inability to keep up with the Ray III and Kaze in combat. There is no enemy more boring than one that is easily defeated but just takes a really long time to die, which is what a Ravager is. I hope your revamp of the campaign will improve the Hertak fleet and make them a more distinctive and dynamic enemy.

But overall I liked it a lot; it's a completely unique experience among FS mods, the absolutely tremendous effort that went into it is plainly obvious, and it has a lot of potential to be even better with your upcoming rebuild.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2013, 09:05:19 pm by Woolie Wool »
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 

Offline Spoon

  • Moderator
  • 212
  • ヾ(´︶`♡)ノ
Re: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
Cool, thanks for the review!  :)

To adress some of your points:
Quote
The Fur'angle Sweepers are incredibly frustrating to fight, there is no angle from which they cannot damage you and their turret guns are really powerful for a weapon that has a 360-degree field of fire.
Well it seems everyone has an enemy he loves to hate! Some loathe to chase after Cordi ships (whereas you have found a clever way to dispatch of them), others have a hard time getting knocked around by Ravager's.
Sweepers have a bunch of hard counters that turn them quickly into space dust. Conversely if you did not bring the right equipment with you they can be incredibly hard to take down.
Their turrets are statistically actually really weak. Dealing a mere 25 damage per shot. It takes 64 shots to fully bring down a Ray III's shield (if equalized properly and thats not counting shield regeneration).

Quote
As for the Hazel, I flew it for a few seconds in I think M21 and hated it immediately. It's like the LSF's Medusa, only with even less primary firepower.
The Hazel's secondaries are its primaries, whereas its primaries are its secondaries.

Quote
While most of the missions have pretty solid design, some of them got very confusing and difficult to follow. Making more of the mission-critical enemies assigned to hotkeys would go a long way to fixing this problem
This is a complaint I havent actually heard before (or at least, not that I can recall), as most important targets do have either a hotkey assigned to them or are put on the escort list.

Quote
as would a "beep" sound to indicate incoming messages

 :confused: every message comes with a sound.

Quote
The missions involving flying into enemy ships both were incredibly disorienting and difficult, mostly due to two things: default FS collision physics, and lighting. The lighting inside the ships is completely featureless due to the limitations of the FS rendering engine, making it difficult to judge contours and distances, and when you strike a wall, you bounce off violently, often hitting another surface, and then another, and then another... A baked glowmap with lights and shadows on the inside of a ship would make orienting oneself inside the Hertak Flagship much easier, and Collision Physics entries in ships.tbl could help curb the bouncing problem and make it more forgiving, especially inside the Cordi Motherships where there is almost no room to maneuver.
Agreed on the lighting/texture issue but the collision physics you linked are a .13 feature. WoD was released for .12. It simply wasn't there yet when it got released.


Aside from the issues with difficulty that you experienced, I'm glad that you overal enjoyed the experience.
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline Woolie Wool

  • 211
  • Fire main batteries
Re: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
Maybe I just didn't hear the beeps sometimes amid the chaos of battle. I liked the klaxon in WiH because it was loud and strident enough that you would always pay attention to it.

But I had a lot of fun playing this mod, and I love the creativity and vision that went into it.
16:46   Quanto   ****, a mosquito somehow managed to bite the side of my palm
16:46   Quanto   it itches like hell
16:46   Woolie   !8ball does Quanto have malaria
16:46   BotenAnna   Woolie: The outlook is good.
16:47   Quanto   D:

"did they use anesthetic when they removed your sense of humor or did you have to weep and struggle like a tiny baby"
--General Battuta

 

Offline Luis Dias

  • 211
Re: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
Yeah I also noticed how he makes a very good overall review and then the thread decays into how wrong a microscopic parenthesisized remark was. Meh, humans.

****, just read Spoon's last line. AS I WAS SAYING, GOOD REVIEW! :D

 

Offline Legate Damar

  • Keeping up with the Cardassians
  • 29
  • Hail Cardassia!
Re: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
Meh, humans.

Indeed.

As for the Fur'angle fighters, that shield piercing laser (forget the name) works wonders.

 

Offline Lorric

  • 212
Re: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
Meh, humans.

Indeed.

As for the Fur'angle fighters, that shield piercing laser (forget the name) works wonders.

I just KNEW you would respond to that line  :lol:

 

Offline niffiwan

  • 211
  • Eluder Class
Re: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
As for the Fur'angle fighters, that shield piercing laser (forget the name) works wonders.

I found that any ballistic weapon worked fine vs the Fur'angle.  The only time I recall having a problem with them was when I flew a Kaze, which can't use ballistic weapons... but an appropriate missile loadout solved that issue :)
Creating a fs2_open.log | Red Alert Bug = Hex Edit | MediaVPs 2014: Bigger HUD gauges | 32bit libs for 64bit Ubuntu
----
Debian Packages (testing/unstable): Freespace2 | wxLauncher
----
m|m: I think I'm suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Bmpman is starting to make sense and it's actually written reasonably well...

 

Offline Flak

  • 28
  • 123
Re: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
By all means, 'Spiritus Lucis' tear through them rather easily.

 
Re: Review of Wings of Dawn [SPOILERS]
Cool, thanks for the review!  :)

To adress some of your points:
Quote
The Fur'angle Sweepers are incredibly frustrating to fight, there is no angle from which they cannot damage you and their turret guns are really powerful for a weapon that has a 360-degree field of fire.
Well it seems everyone has an enemy he loves to hate! Some loathe to chase after Cordi ships (whereas you have found a clever way to dispatch of them), others have a hard time getting knocked around by Ravager's.
Sweepers have a bunch of hard counters that turn them quickly into space dust. Conversely if you did not bring the right equipment with you they can be incredibly hard to take down.
Their turrets are statistically actually really weak. Dealing a mere 25 damage per shot. It takes 64 shots to fully bring down a Ray III's shield (if equalized properly and thats not counting shield regeneration).

Quote
As for the Hazel, I flew it for a few seconds in I think M21 and hated it immediately. It's like the LSF's Medusa, only with even less primary firepower.
The Hazel's secondaries are its primaries, whereas its primaries are its secondaries.

Quote
While most of the missions have pretty solid design, some of them got very confusing and difficult to follow. Making more of the mission-critical enemies assigned to hotkeys would go a long way to fixing this problem
This is a complaint I havent actually heard before (or at least, not that I can recall), as most important targets do have either a hotkey assigned to them or are put on the escort list.

Quote
as would a "beep" sound to indicate incoming messages

 :confused: every message comes with a sound.

Quote
The missions involving flying into enemy ships both were incredibly disorienting and difficult, mostly due to two things: default FS collision physics, and lighting. The lighting inside the ships is completely featureless due to the limitations of the FS rendering engine, making it difficult to judge contours and distances, and when you strike a wall, you bounce off violently, often hitting another surface, and then another, and then another... A baked glowmap with lights and shadows on the inside of a ship would make orienting oneself inside the Hertak Flagship much easier, and Collision Physics entries in ships.tbl could help curb the bouncing problem and make it more forgiving, especially inside the Cordi Motherships where there is almost no room to maneuver.
Agreed on the lighting/texture issue but the collision physics you linked are a .13 feature. WoD was released for .12. It simply wasn't there yet when it got released.


Aside from the issues with difficulty that you experienced, I'm glad that you overal enjoyed the experience.

If this is considered a necro of any kind, I apologize and will delete this post if it'll help.

I have to wonder, however, if the biggest problem with the difficulty/balancing in WoD is that players tend to miss some extremely useful tricks/realizations (while getting others), leaving certain enemies/challenges/missions to be disproportionately difficult in ways that were not anticipated from a design standpoint. I'm not saying it should all be told to the player on a silver platter, but making them more clear/intuitive would possibly make a lot of players' experiences more smooth and consistent, challenge-wise.
Delenda Est delenda est.

(Yay gratuitous Latin.)