Daikatana Demo Review #1

Originally published on 16 March 1999 at 3DGaming.net, this was the first of two Daikatana demo reviews (there were two demos, so – two reviews).

And this is what we call double the pleasure for double the fun…

Oh. My. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the official “it” boy for Daikatana at 3DGN. Hell, I wrote a 13 page feature on it. And now I get to play the damn thing, and atleast it’s the demo, and damn if it isn’t a really cool frickin game. This game is multiplayer only, so if you aren’t interested in multiplayer games, please take a number and await your turn, and I’ll get someone to help you as soon as I can. Anyways, what was I saying? Oh yeah, the demo, it’s pretty cool. Read some of the stuff I typed below and you’ll see what I wrote. It makes sense. Sometimes.

Initial Impressions

After spending something near 3 straight hours playing the demo, I have to give Romero some credit; the weather effects are spiftastic, and the rocket launcher’s speed is equivalent to that of Quake, but there are some problems. I want praise first though since this game is all I wrote about for nearly a month. The speed. I love Quake II’s speed. Nice and slow. But Quake’s was too much. This seems to be right in-between the two. Not too fast, not too slow. If anything, it should be modifiable. For small, enclosed levels, make it slow, for the wide-open levels, make it fast. And make it a client side modification.

The Weapons

The weapons. The Sidewinder (the equivalent of the rocket launcher) is a fun little toy. Two rockets at once provides for a new twist. Very nice. The explosion is somewhat lacking, although it has earned the nickname of pitchfork of death amongst my community of friends. Yes, it does look like a pitchfork, but when it’s this good, I’m not going to care. Have a brownie.

The C4 Vizatergo. A camper’s dream weapon. My nightmare weapon. I know my editor is going to enjoy this weapon. I don’t. He’s felt my pain though. It’s a helluva lot better that the Quake II bomb gun thingy from hell, but it’s also a lot worse. What would improve upon this weapon? There should be server and client side based code that monitors every single mine, so that if a person steps over his/her own mine they don’t get hurt by it. Why do I say this? Because there are already retards killing themselves with their own mines.

The Ion Blaster. Wow. This is such an amazing weapon. I love using this bad boy. It’s like flubber as an offensive projectile. Super Jello. Wow! Anyone caught in my crosshairs with this weapon automatically knows the silence of death. And it’s green too!

Next weapon is the Disruptor Glove. Not quite what I thought it would be, but not as bad. This sucker still does a great deal of close up damage. I was hoping for some kind of disintegration effect, but I can live without it. Two to three direct hits and the opponent is bloodied and unmade.

The Shotcycler 6 is the odd child of the brood. I can understand the whole idea of reloading, but it takes too long and is a bit underwhelming simply because of that. It’s a powerful weapon, but the reloading is obnoxious. It felt as if though I fired 6 shots and then had to reload. How paltry. Either fix it or get rid of it, but don’t change the amount of damage it oodles out. The weapons aren’t bad, but they could be better. My main gripe is that with the exception of the Shotcycler 6, they all have the same color scheme. This bugs me. And I’m going to whine until it’s fixed.

The Bad Things

Now, onto the bad things. Sadly, there’s a lot that’s wrong so far.

I’ve spent a great deal of time contrasting the changes in deathmatch between Quake II and Daikatana, and the most prevalent problem is the sheer power of the weapons. Even the disruptor glove can frag someone in 3 hits. There’s something wrong with that. The reason that the multiplayer aspect of games such as Quake II and Half-Life work so well is that each and every weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses. The gauss gun is powerful, but only if you don’t miss. The sniper rifle is great if you don’t miss, but it also has the non zoomed firing option. The rocket launcher is powerful, but people can see the red dot and thus avoid it.

In Quake II the railgun is a great weapon, but it’s firing time is slow enough to not become a god weapon. The same holds true with the rocket launcher; it was slowed down to balance it out. Unfortunately, Daikatana seems to have foregone all such logic. It seems as if skill is no longer required. Just drop bombs all over, use the sidewinder, and collect the armor and health, and you own the game. There is no balancing. In addition, the weapons are simply too powerful. One direct hit from the Sidewinder can easily kill anyone. All the weapons are simply too powerful. It practically screams “No Newbies Allowed!”

Respawning and Internet Connectivity

Outside of that there are no real problems other than strange little bugs that weren’t eliminated, such as respawning and not being able to see the weapon being held, respawning with the weapon that was held just before being fragged, and an odd lag everytime someone is gibbed. Strangely enough, this last problem was encountered on many different machines, including my own K6-2 400 on a cable modem and a friend’s P2-400 (with 16mb TNT) on a T3 connection. I hope this will be alleviated by the time the full game is released.

Let’s move on to the maps shall we? Come on, I’m not waiting for you, I’m not the energizer bunny, that would be my editor Rick.

The Levels

The levels are the strange beasts here (although I suppose that my John Carmack skin for Quake II falls under the same category). The first deathmatch map, Gibbler on the Roof, is a blatant camping map. Someone could camp off the roof, off a railing, anywhere. It’s so utterly wrong and evil. And it’s only worsened by the amount of darkness prevalent in the level. Never before have I had to turn my monitor brightness all the way up to 100% to see what was going on in a level.

This level needs street lamps… or maybe a few skanky whores that Hiro can pick up after deathmatching, perhaps even some decrepit cars on the street to make the level look more interesting. And somehow make it harder for campers to camp. Once that is accomplished, then this level will truly rock. Until then it’s kinda annoying.

The second map, Storm Sector 7, is absolutely stunning. It’s reminiscent in atmosphere to that of BladeRunner and is my favorite of the two deathmatch maps. Whereas Gibbler on the Roof is very large and has many hiding spots, this does not. The map is very circular and much better lit. The rain effect is absolutely stunning.

And while I’m sure a rain mod can be downloaded as a mod for Quake or Quake II, what makes this map unique is that it’s not a mod. Someone implemented this into a map, and they did it incredibly well. And instead of being placed in the level for a graphical effect, it actually enhances the level. There’s a simple way to tell. Imagine the level without rain. And then look at the level as it is. It does make a difference. It adds to the atmosphere of the level, which is what’s important.

The Sound

The sound is about average as well. Infact, it could be a great deal better. Even though it’s been clearly stated that there is no 3D sound in the demo, with all the rain that falls in Storm Sector 7, I imagined that when I walked in the outer corridor, I would be sloshing through water. Instead I heard nothing of the sort. It’s unfortunate since I’ve come to believe that it’s the small things that make a game great. Hopefully when the full version of Daikatana is released, I’ll visit this deathmatch map again and hear the echo of dripping water and rain splashing on my boots. Until then the level lacks a certain ambiance.

It’s nothing revolutionary. But then, it was never intended to be. It’s supposed to be fun. Nothing more. And atleast it’s a helluva lot more fun than the Half-Life demo. At 34.5 MB, the demo has a fair amount of replayability if you happen to love deathmatching. Beware though, this is a deathmatch only demo. There is no single player to be found anywhere. That will be the determining factor in the download.

In Summary…

What do I say to those of you who rarely play multiplayer? Well, 5 weapons, 2 levels, and MPlayer. Not exactly a winning combination. If you want some pain, slaughter, mayhem, and hamsters, look no further than the Daikatana demo. But if you crave an immersive plot, stay the hell away. For those of you who ask whether or not it’s better than Quake II. No, it’s different. The whole feel is different. I enjoy both. But until the weapons are reduced in power, I’m shying away.

The Goods
Size: 34.5 MB
Pros: Nice level design, interesting weapons.
Cons: Mplayer only, weapons too powerful, no 3D sound, Mplayer only.
Bottom Line: After years of waiting, John Romero finally revealed a piece of his much-hyped game Daikatana. Except we can only deathmatch. While this may make deathmatch fans jump up and down like little schoolgirls, the single player people are left out. Without any really interesting maps and overly powerful weapons, the demo lacks the punch that would have made it much better.

Worth it?
Download Factor 4/5
Overall Fun 4/5
Overall 4/5

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