Saturday, 13 March 2010

Ship Review - BA-5 V-Wing, by Thundercracker Bandit

I'm not normally a huge fan of Star Wars themed stuff, probably because it was one of the first things that sci-fi fans started building as soon as they came to Second Life. I've seen so many Star Wars fighters that I became jaded with them pretty quickly. Until someone showed me this. It's beautifully textured, with a level of detail and thought that just doesn't seem to be present on many other Star Wars ships, has a very useful HUD control system for controlling the landing gear, canopy, wings and speed, and is quite possibly the most fun to fly I've had for a long time.

The build quality is excellent, the V-wing's fold-out wingtip blades swivel into position when you arm the cannons in a most satisfying way, and the cockpit slides open smoothly. The landing gear are a little basic, and could perhaps do to be updated with some sculpties, but by and large, the build here is faultless. It's also tiny; this thing will fit neatly into any hangar with the greatest of ease. My only gripe with the build is that it is no mod, thus preventing you from retexturing or adding in things like Agent Tairov's docking script to allow the fighter to move along with the carrier when docked.

What scripting there is thoroughly excellent. Despite the lack of VICE or CCC, it does still carry the VCS combat system (which features shields and hit points) which makes dogfighting other Star Wars fighters a really fun possibility. It's a shame it didn't include something more universal, but then I guess Star Wars rpers will only really be dogfighting with other Star Wars rpers, so Thundercracker is playing to his audience and can be forgiven. The HUD is clear and easy to use, and the flight script is exhilarating; fast, responsive, exciting, the remapping of the left and right keys to roll the ship out of mouselook is a nice touch, and using Page Up and Page Down to dive and climb means that, if you want to, you can actually fly this ship pretty much without the mouse for landing. I wouldn't recommend it at the higher speeds though - at speed setting 4, you will be hard pressed to do anything other than hang on grimly and hope that you can make the turn before you end up smeared on that asteroid's - oh, too late. Like Neocrypter's excellent flight script, this one has a roll-and-turn mouselook function - moving the mouse a little to the side starts the ship turning that way, moving it further to the side initiates a roll. It's tricky to master, but very effective. If you can find a low lag sim, this, at high speeds, is possibly one of the most exciting ships I've flown. Takes a few minutes to acclimatise yourself to the controls, but once you do, you'll outfly anyone. The only bad point is a tendency to spin out when pointing straight up - I believe that is a problem with the vertical attractor and by dialling it down a little can be solved. There isn't a lot there scriptwise, but you don't feel left wanting. I'd say it's about right.

The sound effects and cannon shots are solid and fun, the medium-pitched whine of the engines is very Star Wars and adds to the effect no end when you are scooting through asteroids in search of your target, or on the run from bandits. All adds to the immersiveness.

The price on this ship is probably the most jaw-dropping part of the whole experience, and after the astoundingly fun flight experience, that's saying something. 100L. That's all. Just 100L for one of the best-flying ships out there. Thundercracker Bandit, you could probably times that by 5 and people would still buy this ship, because it is fantastic.

In summary, I think the only major criticism I can draw here is that the ship is obviously Star Wars and being no mod, isn't editable to make it look less Star Wars. As such it limits rp use to Star Wars rp, and that is a shame. I'd love to use this ship in more general sci-fi roleplay. But if you are a Star Wars rper, or just someone who like flying cool and exciting ships, then buy this. For 100L it's pocket money prices, and there really is no excuse not to have one!

Build Quality - 85%
Superb build, detailed, yet cleverly simplistic. Manages to look sexy without using any sculpts whatsoever. Nice shape, excellent and effective texturing. The best V-Wing I've seen so far.

Scripting - 80%
Neatly scripted HUD and tremendously fun flight script that I haven't encountered anywhere else, plus the combat system which seems implemented well, and gives a good Star Wars combat experience complete with falling deflector shields. Lots of fun with a few friends!

RPability - 70%
Loses points for not being moddable and therefore limiting it's appeal to Star Wars roleplayers, but if you are a Star Wars roleplayer, throw away your shoddy X-Wings and TIE fighters right now, this is probably the nicest looking fighter to be seen in.

Gizmos - 40%
Not much here beyond an opening canopy, alpha landing gear and folding wings, though the HUD is a nice feature and makes it easy to control. The way the ship automatically heads for a landing when you drop the gear is a nice touch. Otherwise this is a gadget-free zone.

Value For Money - 98%
Seriously, at 100L for such a high quality little fighter? He might as well be giving it away. Unless you are starving and can't afford food (in which case, what are you doing on Second Life at all?) there is absolutely no excuse not to have one of these cracking little ships. It's cheap, but it isn't cheap, if you get what I mean.

Overall - 88%
The flight system might throw people at first, and the lack of moddability to make it a little less Star Wars-y loses it a few points - if the moddability was addressed, this would be into the 90's - but this is a beautifully put together little fighter that is a joy to fly, with a unique flight system and weapons and combat systems that work nicely, and it's an absolute steal. Highly recommended!

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