IMG Archives
Archives  Reviews  Young's Modulus  



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

Click to enlarge
With the possible exception of team sports games, robot combat games are extremely high on the list of the types of games that Mac gaming enthusiasts would like to see more of for their platform of choice. At the forefront of the robot action gaming genre (which are more easily referred to by many as mecha or mech games) has been the FASA Interactive/Microsoft Mechwarrior series. The only time a Mechwarrior game has found its way to the MacOS was Green Dragon Creations’ port of MechWarrior 2 when Activision held the license.

Lamar Research, the maker of the super-realistic X-Plane flight simulator, has been quietly crafting a game that hopes to make a name for itself as an innovative and exciting mech combat game. Young’s Modulus takes a fresh approach to mech gaming by offering players three different styles of play built upon a graphics engine that produces clean, simulator-quality graphics. The title combines elements of turn-based strategy, first-person shooter and flight simulation games that result in a distinctive play experience that should appeal to players looking for something different in a computer game.

The game’s story is set three hundred years in the future in a time in which humanity is united and at peace. The people of Earth are reaching out into the stars by establishing a number of colonies and outposts throughout our galaxy. This peaceful exploration is disrupted when a number of these outposts come under attack. An unknown enemy with an impressive array of destructive weaponry seems to be intent on wiping out all of humanity. This enemy uses bipedal fighting machines to deliver their deadly cargo, so the United Human Federation quickly adapts their own two-legged cargo walkers into fighting machines. These All Terrain Attack Walkers (or ATAWs) are humanities only means of striking back against this new threat.

Young’s Modulus gets its name from 19th century scientist Thomas Young, who developed a method of determining the strength of a material based on the strain and stress it could endure. In this case, Young’s Modulus refers to the overall strength of a particular ATAW. The science fiction back-story that sets the stage for the game may not be terribly original, but the developers do not overuse this premise in presenting the game. In fact, few details of the story are actually presented in the game itself and are only found in a text document included with the game. Whether this was an actual design choice or a development afterthought, the limited story details work to add to Young’s Modules mystique; since the player is not bombarded with voice-overs and full motion video cut scenes, it feels more like a simulation.

This title offers three styles of play: the strategic game, a single player quick game and a multiplay death match mode. The core of Young’s Modulus is built around the solo strategic game. The strategic game starts out more like futuristic tactical game such as Spaceward Ho or Master of Orion rather than as a mech action game as one would expect. The reason for this is simple; before you can combat the unknown enemy you need to have assets to defend. The worlds that your outposts lay on are more than just targets for your opponent. They can be terraformed and serve as sources of metal, energy, money and technology advancement in addition to being of strategic importance.

The strategic component to Young’s Modulus is straightforward, involving the movement of fleets of ATAWs across the galaxy with the goal of taking over every planet. Once outposts have been established and resources are being acquired, the further construction and deployment of ATAWs can continue. This process of establishing bases throughout the galaxy makes Young’s Modulus’ action sequences even more meaningful. Whether your are defending a human installation or attacking an enemy-held world, the result is that the player is taken from the abstract planning stage and thrust into full-on combat.

The simulation roots of Young’s Modulus are brought into sharp relief once combat begins. The action in the game is more realistic than fantastic. Manipulating an ATAW is more like piloting a tank or fighter jet than, say, controlling one of the robots from Sega’s Japanese anime-inspired Virtual On mecha game. For flight simulator enthusiasts (especially X-Plane fans) who have turned them Macs into virtual cockpits with joysticks, throttle controls and foot pedals, Young’s Modulus is designed to take advantage of these peripherals. Even without these devices, a typical keyboard and mouse control scheme is very effective for taking command of an ATAW. The game’s design is clearly rooted in what might be possible thanks to a real-world physics model and believable mecha designs, however, this does not make that the combat in Young’s Modulus dull. There are ten classes of ATAW available featuring a variety of weapons that are sure to satisfy the most jaded of the hardcore gaming set.


Archives  Reviews  Young's Modulus