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Friday, April 27, 2001

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World War II Online Preview
11:45 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Players who have been hungering for a truly reality-based FPS game need not despair anymore. World War II Online, a MMOFPS currently in development by Cornered Rat Software, is aiming to completely shatter the bar in terms of reality-based gaming. The boys at Xenofex recently put up a preview of this title that reveals many details. The focus of this game, as its title suggests, is World War II. Players can jump in, join a side, and attempt to win the day for their country.

To give players as much freedom of movement as possible, most of Europe is being modeled and implemented in this title, albeit at half scale. This should give players just a little bit more freedom than, say, fighting it out in a warehouse. Populating this environment will be buildings, vehicles, and even national landmarks and geographical highlights such as rivers and lakes. Day and night cycles will occur, and key battles that happened during World War II will take place. The environment will be deformable, and changes made to it will be downloaded if a player was absent during the time of deformation.

Buildings themselves will play an important part. Factories and hangars can be utilized for production, and can be either seized or destroyed from the enemy. Destroyed buildings can also be repaired if need be. Depending on the rank of a player (a system decided by the points a player acquires during gameplay), they can determine where buildings are built if they so choose.

Sound effects are also sounding quite detailed. A good player will be able to estimate the distance of an incoming tank based on the level of noise. Full Doppler effects and time-delay over distance are being instituted, with bullets changing pitch as they zoom towards a player. This will all take place in 3D surround.

Speaking of bullets, an accurate physics model will allow bullets to richochet accurately. Vehicles will also behave according to the model, being affected by terrain and other factors.

Damage modeling is also looking to be highly detailed. A look at a screenshot of a modeled tank shows a huge number of damage points that are actually modeled to various shapes on the tank, rather than being made up of a series of boxes. Everything, down to each individual wheel on the tank treads, seems to have its own damage area. Xenofex notes some heavy detail regarding this:

On the tanks, the armour will protect from some artillery, but other parts can be shot with a pistol. On a plane, if a bullet goes into your fuselage, it could easily hit you or the fuel tank, or it may hit the landing gear, or a wing, each event having very different outcomes. Also, start thinking "My vehicle has been hit" rather than "I've been hit". Should a bullet come through and hit you, you will either be dead or unable to control the vehicle, so getting hit in the legs would mean you can't control the rudder on your plane. There will be penetration, explosive, kinetic, and proximity damage on all the vehicles. Don't expect an easy mode for all this, it will be difficult to fly a plane but once you know how you'll be surprised at what you can do.
Infantry gameplay is also shaping up to be just as detailed. Fatigue, as well as health, will play a factor. Bloodloss and shock can slow or incapacitate players. All damage taken will be localized depending on where the player gets hit and what they get hit with. A variety of weapons, such as mortar shells and gun emplacements will be availabe for use. A sniper will even be able to hold his breath while sniping. A variety of movements, including running, crawling, and crouching while running will be available. Players will also be able to employ various stealth tactics by hiding in shadows, climbing trees, and immersing themselves in bodies of water.

The flight system itself is also going to be quite intricate. Here's a taste of flight jargon as applied to WWII Online:

"Engine pressure fed into the engine (the airflow that goes to the throttle, not the airflow to the cylinders) has been completely revised. For naturally aspirated engines, this, of course, is based on atmospheric conditions. For supercharged engines, this is based on the RPM of the engine (for centrifugal, mechanically-driven superchargers), and the atmospheric pressure. The net effect is that even though at max RPM the engine will receive full pressure up to the critical altitude of the supercharger, at reduced RPM, this critical altitude also gets reduced. For example, a particular engine at sea level might pull 50 inches of mercury maximum for 3000rpm and 2200rpm, however at the critical altitude of 18,000ft, 3000rpm might still pull 50 inches, but 2200 rpm would pull considerably less. Inches of mercury, for those not familiar with various notations of pressure, is a way of describing pressure, in this case it's the manifold pressure into the cylinders, which combined with RPM helps determine the power output of the engine. Thus at both altitudes, you'll get the same power with this engine at 3000rpm, but less power for 2200rpm at 18,000ft compared with 2200rpm at sea level."
Hopefully that'll be detailed enough for flight fanatics itching for some World War II action.

Even the task of being a tank pilot will not be a simple one. Tanks make a lot of noise, so the pilot will periodically have to switch off the engine and open the hatch in order to listen for incoming aircraft. Tanks also work better with multiple crews. Pilot a tank by yourself, and you'll have to stop and switch stations in order to fire the guns. There will also be a variety of types of tanks, which should further affect gameplay.

A full Navy will also be incorporated into this title, complete with subs, aircraft carriers, and AI crews when necessary, though full player crews will be able to do a much better job. Flooding and fires on ships can and will take place, forcing players onto lifeboats or a desperate swim for shore. To make things even more interesting, thermal layers and waves will be incorporated into the oceans.

For more details on what is looking to be the most detailed MMOFPS ever, be sure to check out Xenofex's preview, as well as the official WWII Online site. There's currently not a release date set on this title, but it is running in Closed Beta at the moment. A Mac version of this title is currently slated as "to be announced." Let's hope that changes to a definite release date soon.

World War II Online - Official Site
Xenofex - World War II Online Preview
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

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