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Remote report on Heretic II from GenCon

Jim Gaynor
August 7, 1998
Milwaukee Wisconsin



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Activision's got a fairly large booth at GEN CON. Literature/PR area up front, with oversized SIN boxes on the table. Middle is three sets of PCs, three in a set. One set is running Heavy Gear II, one set is running Civilization, and another set is running Heretic II.

Heretic II is running on P2/233 (Compaq) with 32MB RAM, 8MB Voodoo2, and AWE64 for sound. Nice set of speakers and a subwoofer.

The build they're showing is, I was told, about 2 weeks old. Fairly stable to actually run (I didn't see a single in-game crash), but Windows 95 would complain about all sorts of exception errors upon exit. The three workstations are open-play, just walk up and have at it. So I did. :)

Heretic II is all third-person, no option at all for 1st person view. I played in two different levels, one an inside castle level and another an outdoor canyon level. The camera worked fine - seemed smarter than the Tomb Raider camera, although I thought it went annoying high and low as the character looked up and down. Gameplay itself was smooth, although I never encountered more than 4 critters at a time. Nice little touch - some critters, once killed and not gibbed, would continue to twitch a bit. :) One weapon/spell that simply looked gorgeous involved the mage bringing in blue light with his hands (complete with trails), then releasing the energy at the target. Longer you held the button, the more energy he gathered. Throw it at the floor and you have a great "rocket jump".

They don't have graphics done for a lot of "pickup" items, so there's a semi-translucent barrel that they use for a placemarker in the levels where pickups are going to be.

Water effects in the castle levels were excellent. Not just the usual translucency, but also ripples when things (like you) broke and/or moved along the surface.

Heavy use of lighting already, because every spell/weapon seems to have some sort of lighting component to it. Great, great eye candy.

Friday Update:

They had multiplayer up and running when I stopped by today (Friday), and I got a chance to have at it for awhile. It's always a ball to do some multiplayer on a fast machine with a Voodoo2 and a LAN, but the third-person perspective made things a bit harder for deathmatch. There were a couple times when my character was squarely in the way of what I wanted to see, and you can have the vast majority of your view blocked by your character's back when you're up against a wall.

2) Animation. God. I forgot to mention the character animations. Really nice, really fluid, detailed little character animations. You could see Tomb Raider 2 influence in some of the jumps (there's a strafe-jump that incorporates a flip). There's idle animations if you leave things alone for too long, and very nice animations for things like climbing up over ledges, changing weapons, and moving about. I don't recall seeing any foot slippage, either.  :)

I was told that November is what they're shooting for, and that this build is still considered alpha. Granted, I'm not a developer, but it was a good alpha. :)


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