|Publisher: Battlefront.com Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: G4 @ 1200 MHz|
The life of a game reviewer is not as glamorous as some might make it out to be. Sure, we get to play a lot of games, but for every good game we review, thereís another game out there that seems determined to inflict as much pain and suffering that it can during its brief tenure on our computers. These games oftentimes feel like mindless bogs, created by a group of folks whose focus, technical expertise, or design ability we have to seriously question. While we at IMG donít necessarily enjoy slamming these poor titles (well, some of us do), our obligation to our readers and the industry as a whole demands that we give credit where credit is due, and deal out a carefully measured thrashing when the situation merits. With that said, buckle up, fair readers: this is going to be one short, bumpy ride.
The Method Behind The MadnessLetís get this out of the way: Iíve always been a fan of slower paced games that feature heavily armored machines hammering the rivets out of each other with gleaming lasers, supersonic missiles, and artillery shells as big as gallon milk jugs. My father helped design a microprocessor that went into the original BattleTech systems (the precursor to the computer-based Mechwarrior series by FASA) back when I was fairly young, so the early introduction I received from watching him work may have something to do with my longstanding interest in these type of games.
DropTeamís fundamental concept sounds promising: experience armored ground combat in the distant future by piloting tracked and wheeled vehicles through numerous single-player missions and multiplayer maps. Ride (or more accurately, plummet) into battle and duke it out in gorgeous environments, all the while experiencing realistic weaponry, accurate physics, and rewarding team-based combat that doesnít mock the intelligent gamer. If that sounds good to you, check out DropTeamís promotional materialóit certainly promises all of that, and much more. Unfortunately, all of the writing in the world doesnít change the fact that nearly every single one of those claims is a steaming pile of bunk.
InterfaceDropTeam starts off on bad footing, and stays there. After installing the game, youíre treated to a dialog box that informs you that you need to update DropTeam. After you click on the update button, youíre effectively stuck for anywhere between 2-10 minutes while DropTeam slowly checks every resource file that it owns, and then individually downloads numerous files (over a hundred, usually) ranging from less than 4K to 10MB. Unfortunately, the game does not provide an estimate of how long this process will take, prevents the user from accessing the Finder, and continuously plays a generic, 30-second loop of techno-rock, so youíre better off leaving and grabbing a snack while the updater crawls through its modus operandi. When itís finished, itís up to you to manually quit and restart the game. You havenít seen the last of the updater, however: these updates seem to occur about every other week (and sometimes sooner), so be prepared to know the DropTeam updater intimately.
With this task taken care of (at least for the time being), the next logical step that most users take is to configure the game to their liking. Regrettably, DropTeamís GUI is about as cluttered as a typical UNIX program. Options and settings are scattered about with little thought as to aesthetics or functionality. In order to change resolution, users have to wade through what appears to be a pseudorandom list of odd resolutions. For example, 1920x1440 is followed by 2048x1280, which in turn precedes 1800x1440. To add insult to injury, once youíve set up DropTeam the way you like, thereís a chance that a future update will wipe those settings clean. It happened to me twice after running the updater on a nearly clean installation of Mac OS X 10.4. When you finally decide to quit DropTeam, thereís no keyboard command, so you must locate the little square box in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, because (as we all know), Windows does it right.