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Echelon By John "Award" Del Percio, June 29, 2001
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Developer :Buka Entertainment
Publisher :Bethesda Softworks
Release Date :June 2001
Demo Available : Yes - Download
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

Zero-T, The Way to Be

Despite its sometimes frustrating shortcomings, Echelon remains one of the most intriguing sims I've played to date. It doens't get overly bogged down in realism, and provides an extremely unusual merging between Descent and the old arcade shooters, and sims like Mig Alley and Flanker, with a touch of Freespace and Wing Commander. Overall, I must say that it's extremely fun to play just to get the rush of a high speed dogfight with plasma weapons over a mountainous ground-level terrain. It's just something that doesn't come along very often, and is an experience you'll never forget, especially if you're a fan of one of the afore mentioned genres.

Rating

Personal Note

Graphics - Sound - Gameplay - Depth - Multiplayer  Reviewed by John Del Percio
GRAPHICS
98 %

The graphics are absolutely breathtaking. Fog and other effects were used in the most useful fashion I've seen, and framerate is kept entirely optimized so you don't miss out on the rush of speed. Some of the textures looked a bit flat to me, though, and I think it could have used a bit more work in terms of art, but overall, it turned out wonderfully.

SOUND
93 %

One time while playing I thought that my volume was getting louder on my rear speakers for some reason. It turned out that it was just an extremely low-flying 747. The point is, the sound is incredibly realistic. Unfortunately, the computer voice can get really annoying (It sounds like that Ericson phone commercial that's been on recently that was co-promoted with the Tomb Raider movie), and the radio chatter can sound garbled or choppy and digitized. Still, though, that's only a small fraction of the audio in the game.

GAMEPLAY
95 %

The gameplay is very fun. There are some flaws that drag the score down a bit (mentioned on Page 3), but overall, the only thing that matters is how fun it is, and I must say it is fun. One thing that would have made a nice addition would be a "waypoint save" feature where if you failed a mission, you can simply respawn at your last-reached waypoint with whatever ammo or damage you had. It would save the tedium of doing the entire mission over every time you lose.

DEPTH
90 %

I wish that the storyline had been explored a lot more than it was. It has an incredible storyline that seems to be frequently forgotten during the play of the game. Between-mission briefings and debriefings are presented in a short text to read. This does further the story somewhat, and the intro movies are exceptional, but I really would have loved to have seen the storyline fully explored in-mission and in cut-scenes like in Freespace or Wing Commander. Given the lack of story development through much of the game, it's difficult to call it "deep."

MULTIPLAYER
91 %

I'd call the multiplayer of the game a mixed bag. It's exceptionally fun, based on the implementation, however it is difficult to locate a game. Without a central server for game lists, you really will have to go through a lot of work to find a running game if you can't get some friends to buy the game and play with you.



One thing that should be noted in the scoring of this review, if you're used to the normal GameVisions rating system, is that we've changed how we do the scoring a bit. For some time we've been boxed into a corner by most games coming up to a high rating, and having nothing to differentiate between really good, pretty good, and decent reviews. Now, each number range is dedicated to the "quality" of score, and the 10 units in it are for the degree of review, such that the 90's are for good games, the 80's are for ok games, and anything below that really says something about the game. A 91 is a low good, while a 99 is an exceptional good. At least, this is sort of how the system works out. It is still a percentile system and will be treated as such, but this is a general guideline that will be followed now. If you need to compare this review to a previous GameVisions review, add 5 to any score below 95 for a rough estimate (thanks to those that posted on the forums regarding this matter.) Furthermore, Echelon is our second game of 2001 to be nominated for the Top Pupil 2001 awards in the category of Simulation.

Overall Rating

 



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