Thursday, 18 March 2010

Ship Review - C3 Warhawk Glider, by Cube Inada

See it at Xstreet!

C3 is one of those brands that seems ubiquitous in Second Life., and yet you never actually see being used outside his stores When I first joined and started looking for spaceships, Cube's bases seemed the ones that cropped up most often, and at first I found myself looking at these ships. The bigger ones always seemed far too expensive for me, and the smaller ones were still pretty pricy, so I never bothered, but finally I decided to see what they were like and took the plunge with one of his newer ships, the Warhawk. As far as I can tell, this ship came out at some point over the last 12 months because I don't recall ever seeing it on his vendors before that.

The first thing that strikes you about it when you rezz it is that you feel like you've seen it before somewhere. The forward-swept, slightly downturned wings, the engines slung underneath. It vaguely resembles a squat F302 from Stargate, and more closely looks like Podwangler's Lightning fighter (itself a ship from the Warhammer 40000 universe). The differences in the build are obvious, however. The landing gear is nothing more than three rectangular blocks, the engine is another block, the engine pods are simple toruses, and the only real areas that don't resemble a Lego model are the wings. It would appear that Cube relies on texturing to do his detailing work, but in fact it's a combination of texturing and build that does this; judicious use of sculpts, for instance, would go a long way towards making this look neater. And ditch those awful, gaudy textures. Something more subdued and less visually busy would look far better; as it stands, the textures don't match up where prims join, which, given the detailing on them, makes it look decidedly noobish in quality, which is disappointing.

Nonetheless, the shape is still one of the nicest looking shapes he's done, it just could have been done better. In terms of gadgets and gizmos, the ship comes with a HUD that seems to be little more than an AV scanner that also serves as a missile targeter. And the ship flies, in either hover mode (keyboard controlled) or glider mode (also keyboard). And you can turn in phantom. Errr, and that's it. The landing gear don't retract, the canopy doesn't open, there is a single gun on the front, but it doesn't actually work, and just in case you didn't spot it a sentence or two ago, it isn't mouselook. A fighter. That isn't mouselook. You kinda have to ask yourself, what's the point of that? The flight system works smoothly enough with a loosely connected chase cam following you around, and of course you can fly in mouselook if you want, but without a mouselook control system it's a sitting duck as a fighter. It moves soooo sloooooowly, amiably ambling around a sim with all the haste of a tired tortoise who's feeling a bit down. Anyone worth their salt in any other fighter will blow you apart in seconds. Except they won't because Cube hasn't put a combat system in it. Oh, it fires homing missiles, but they do absolutely no damage at all to any combat meters I could test, only causing Linden Damage with the Kill missile - and if you're on a Linden Damage enabled sim, you likely won't last long enough to fire one off what with the sluggish speed and all. As a fighter, this makes a good shuttle. But even as a shuttle it has its' issues. It has room for only one passenger, so it's not exactly a space taxi, and without a decent turn of speed or a jump drive, flying from the top of a sim down to the bottom would take you a fair amount of time.

I can't really fault what little scripting is there; the flight script performs it's duties well, and the homing missile system works, insofar as homing in on avatars goes, but it needs more. A lot more. As this is one of his most recent ships, I have to ask myself if he is even looking at the competition that's out there. His shop on Station Alpha is only a couple of doors down from Neocrypter Rojyo's Galactic Shipyards, purveyor of some of the finest fighters in Second Life. Round the corner is a Zapedzki Shipyards outlet, whose fighters are superb little ships that clock in at half of the price of this, look better, and fly better. And round the other corner he's faced with sculpty master Ifrit Skytower whose almost fully sculpted ships are definitely turning heads. And across the road from him, the new Krone Industries, who only have two ships out at last count, but both of which make huge use of sculpts to improve the overall look. With competition so close, and so readily observable, it seems Cube needs to get out into this market more and take a good look around, because he's still making ships that would have been merely OK four years ago. In this day and age, they are very poor.

Build Quality - 25%
The texturing is mismatched, gaudy, in places actually ugly. Very basic homemade textures that are overbright and underwhelming. The build is similarly basic, with the design actually using boxes as main pieces of the hull, and with more boxes for landing gear. I'd maybe expect to see something like this as a first or maybe second effort from a noob to building; from someone who's been building ships for years, it just shows a distinct lack of effort or care. Just because a ship doesn't use sculpties doesn't mean it has to be ugly - check out the A'den Starfighter by Priest Varun, which boasts one of the sexiest shapes I've seen, or Thundercracker Bandit's V-Wing, which similarly uses no sculpts yet manages to be a good looking little ship with a good use of detailed textures. This is unimaginative and spoils an otherwise pleasant (if unoriginal) design.

Scripting - 10%
There is very little going on here. A bugged (and sluggish and non-mouselook) flight script chugs along adequately (unless you decide to use the mouselook view in which case it glitches and sends the ship into a slow sideways drift and spin), and the rockets aim at people and hit them - but then do nothing. The lack of thought that has gone into the scripting is staggering. A fighter that isn't scripted to fly in mouselook? Which has a gun, but it isn't scripted for use? Which has missiles that fire, but then do nothing other than a light push? No combat system, no retracting gear, no sliding canopy, no engine sounds or effects, no jump drive... When you consider what you get on Neocrypter's fighters for around the same price, the diffreence is even more pronounced. And Podwangler manages to cram more and more into his ships for less than L$500 every time I look.

RPability - 30%
So you can fit a friend in it, but seeing as you can't dogfight in it, it's not much good as a fighter. The boxy build and texturing make it ugly enough that you won't be parking it next to a Dollwife Pink or Ifrit Skytower ship anytime soon. The slow speed means that you'll be last to the party up at 4000m. I can't find anything here apart from carrying a passenger that would recommend it as a rp vehicle.

Gizmos - 20%
It comes with an AV scanner HUD and homing missiles. Oh, and a two mode flight script that can turn the ship phantom. Aaaaand that's all, folks.

Value For Money - 10%
At L$600 I would expect a fighter that looked half decent and had a mouselook control, a combat system and missiles that worked in a combat system. Hell, even if it just sprays explosive prims when it lands so that you can do damage to DCS and the like. This, however, is very poor value for money when you compare it against the competition. You can get prettier, more fully featured ships from Galactic Shipyards, Hypnoville, Zapedzki Shipyards and A'den Technologies for the same price or cheaper.

Overall - 21%
I just can't bring this score up. Normally there are mitigating factors that can save the day with every ship I've reviewed so far, but I can't here. There just isn't anything that would make me say "..but if you're OK with this then you can still do that" It has no saving grace. It's vague prettiness from afar fades on closer inspection, and that was the only reason I was tempted to buy in the first place. I now understand why I never see C3 ships in use outside of Cube Inada's own shops. If they are all this kind of quality, it's because they're pretty bad. Sorry Cube, I think you need to look at the competition and perhaps not feel afraid to work with them a little - I've seen Ifrit Skytower and Podwangler sculpties on many ships, seen Neo's flight scripts in other people's ships...clearly these things are available to all from these people's stores, and you need to perhaps examine what makes your competition so popular and start doing the same thing.

After a few days I came back to this for some reason, and found that my above review was slightly inaccurate. I stated above that the flight script serves its purpose well. I did not realise that switching between mouselook view and back out to cam view would cause the script to sieze up and constantly propel you sideways whilst turning the ship uncontrollably. This error was repeated every time I did this for seven consecutive attempts, and can only be put down to a flaw in the flight script. The original 20% scripting rating takes another hit down to 10% due to a major bug in the one system that a spaceship needs - the ability to fly...

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