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Publisher: Laminar Research    Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: 601 @ 200 MHz    RAM: 96 MB    Hard Disk: 30 MB    Graphics: 800x600

Young's Modulus
December 26, 2001 | Patrick Leyden

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Once combat begins, the action is fast and furious but strategy is hardly left behind. On the battlefield, you can command an entire squadron of ATAWs against any number of enemy mechs. Your wingmen can join you in combat or face off against other enemy forces by your command as you concentrate on other targets. The attention to detail in the 3D combat sequences of Young’s Modulus is so great that if were possible for ATAWs to be built in today’s world, this game would likely be used as the training simulator for the soldiers who would command them.

The other two modes of play, quick game and multiplay, allow the player or players to skip the tactical world-building aspect of Young’s Modulus and jump right into ATAW action. The single player mode pits the player against computer-controlled opponents on a battlefield of the player’s choice in a last-ATAW-standing contest. The internet-capable multiplayer game allows two players field up to five ATAWs and face off in a no holds barred battle royale of metal mayhem. Because of the realistic game design of Young’s Modulus, the action is quite different from other deathmatch games. Navigating terrain, locating your enemies and organizing your ATAWs slows down the gameplay but not to its detrement. This less manic pace should be a refreshing change for twitch gamers who are used to the ‘you blink, you die’ multiplayer madness of other games such as Unreal Tournament or Red Faction.

Graphics & Sound
Young’s Modulus is chock full of 3D OpenGL graphical goodness, but not in a mind-blowingly gorgeous way. The bleak planetary landscapes and utilitarian appearance of the ATAWs might appear to some as bland, but this look is what makes the game work. Being a title that is more combat simulator than action game, it stands to reason that the graphics would reflect this design philosophy. These graphics reinforce the simulator feel of Young’s Modulus, thereby reinforcing the story and strategy elements presented elsewhere in the game. In addition to the sharp 3D ATAW models and battlefields, the game’s 2D is equally as impressive.

The recently updated interface has a decidedly Aqua feel to it. Consequently, game’s user interface is both easy to use and pleasing to the eye. Another good example of the 2D and 3D graphical wizardry of Young’s Modulus is in the strategic game’s star map. The star map is a representation of the galaxy and who controls which planets, but Young’s Modulus takes it a step further. Instead of a 2D map, the game implements a fully 3D map representing these worlds and the space they exist in. Users are free to examine the space using the arrow keys. Does this make or break the game? No, but it is an example of the care with which this game has been crafted.

In keeping with the simulation feel of the game, Young’s Modulus does away with an in-game soundtrack. The only music elements found in the game are the techno beats that play in the background of the opening screen. The sound effects used in combat are what you would expect. Irregardless of the fact that lasers should not actually make any noise, this is one video game cliché that this game does not break. Lasers sound as we have come to expect them, as do the Vulcan cannons, rockets and other weapons.

Young’s Modulus shows its heritage of being developed by the team that created the X-Plane flight simulator. Its developers describe the game as a combat simulator, and it is difficult to argue with this description. The simulation heritage of this game may be a turn-off for some gamers who are worried about mastering the controls, but they should not be intimidated. After a few minutes of playing, the controls are quite natural and the excellent online help is always available if you have a question about anything that is happening onscreen.

Young’s Modulus has its fair share of action, but it is not solely about action. Gamers looking for Mechwarrior-style gameplay might be disappointed. The game is truly a mech simulator disguised as a strategic action game. If you are a gamer looking to try a game that borrows elements from flight simulators, action-shooters and a strategy games, then Young’s Modulus is worth a try. Currently, only Mac OS 8 and 9 users (as well as Windows-based PCs) can experience the thrill of piloting an ATAW, but development is already underway on a Mac OS X-compatible version of the game.

Young's Modulus
Publisher: Laminar Research


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