Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ship Review - Hypnoville Marauder by Cunningham Capalini

See it on XstreetSL!

Hypnoville is a well-known and widely seen brand name across Second life's sci-fi sims, most commonly associated with interestingly designed UFO craft but over the last year or two has also been filling his range out with more varied fighters and shuttlecraft. The designs are very distinctive and make excellent and quite imaginative use of curves to keep the lines looking fluid and neat. The Marauder in particular has a very appealing design - it is, essentially, a huge engine with cannons and a cockpit. The large snout gives an immediate feeling of speed and raw power, the stubby wings reinforce the high speed purpose of the ship. Despite no obvious use of sculpties, the ship manages to look slick and detailed. The texturing is also low-key and nicely detailed. Only the silvered cockpit canopy looks slightly out of place - I'd replace that with some custom alpha texture at some point.

The flight system, wants for nothing when it comes to customisability. I hate to use a cliche, but there's something for pretty much everyone here, and you can mix and match modes and controls to suit. The flight system on this ship has to be about the most in-depth in terms of pilot options that I have ever seen. Even I was somewhat bewildered by choice. The thing is that you will never use all of the flight modes, so my advice is find a setup that works for you and you only ever need to learn to fly it in that mode. It has mouselook with strafe, mouselook with roll, mouselook with fast roll, hover mode, three different, more realistic flight modes, you can bring into play smartfly modes (technically the same thing that Neocrypter's flight script does; when in mouselook it is a mouselook controlled ship; pull out of mouselook and the hover mode is initiated), you can switch from the default throttle controlled setting to an impulse alternative for movement, and then set the speed at which the impulse setting will propel you and the ship. There are three camera modes to suit your tastes as well. On top of all of that, it boasts not one, not two, but four fully implemented combat systems. We have the old stalwart CCC, then there is the upstart and increasingly popular VICE system, TCS (which seems to be somehow incorporated into VICE I believe these days), and finally HVS, a basic hit points system that works with the missiles. Weaponry is also well catered for, with forward firing twin cannons on the nose (a great mount for accuracy), missiles, bombs, and floating mines. This is an impressive payload of weaponry in anyone's books. I'd suggest that the only thing missing is homing missiles, but frankly that would be like sitting in a Rolls Royce and complaining that the champagne in the back wasn't expensive enough. This loadout is more than adequate for most people.

Similarly the ship has a wide variety of customisations in other areas, such as the camera position, the cockpit transparency, and gadgets like a jump drive, a scanner that will lock onto a nearby target and give you their location whilst pointing the compass at them. This is all useful stuff that comes in handy in a dogfight. If I have to be critical (and I should, it is a review) the jump drive is a little tricky to use as you have to enter co-ordinates in a menu, which takes time. I guess it's more realistic, but after being used to the systems used by Agent, Neo and Podwangler I'm used to just typing stuff in and being wherever I'm going - fast. For roleplay, however, it kind of makes sense that you'd have to pull in and stop to program in co-ordinates into a navicomp, and it can add a real sense of urgency as you input the co-ordinates whilst those damned pirates are searching the asteroid field for you...

The flight itself is lots of fun, whether you use the mouseroll or mouseturn settings, the more realistic flightmodes I've never been sold on when I've used them but that's down to personal tastes - I guarantee there are pilots out there who will lap those modes up. The flying is smooth, and in smart mode the switching between hover and mouselook modes is relatively painless - perhaps not quite as fast as Neo's script, but if I'm honest, I hardly noticed the difference. It was only after repeated testing that I could say for sure that Neo's was swifter at making the switch. The ship responds smoothly, is nimble and light, and fast. I found it reasonably easy to hit targets whilst flying with both cannons and missiles. The mines are a genius idea and are a great way to discourage pursuit for rp. I did have a small issue with the bombs exploding almost as soon as I'd dropped them, however, but I suspect that's a small issue. I understand from conversations with other builders that this is an easy to rectify issue, and judging by how fast Cunningham Capalini responded to a small problem I had with the controls, I expect that it will be fixed in short order. There were, however, no sounds for the firing cannons. This was an unexpected omission, and despite that fact that you can't hear guns in space, there would still likely be some sound inside the ship as the shock of firing travels through the frame.

All in all, this is a thoroughly excellent and well-specified ship at an excellent price. It's packed with gadgets, exceptionally customisable, and well put together in terms of both scripts and build. It is a superb fighter that I can heartily recommend, both for rp and for dogfighting. Very impressive!

Build Quality - 85%
Nicely put together and textured, being unobtrusive and understated without being bland, and with superb use of normal shaped prims to make a very stylised, slightly retro-looking fighter. If I have to point out flaws, the lack of landing gear makes it look odd when landed, and the lack of a texture on the canopy seems out of place by the rest of the excellnet body. But these are small points - Cunningham has the rest of the ingredients right.

Scripting - 90%
There's a lot going on there, with 4 combat systems and more customisability options than a BMW M5, and the Marauder carries them off without a strain. The flight is fast and responsive, the jump drive does what it says on the tin, the weapons work just fine. To have so much crammed into a ship is great, and to have it all work so nicely is even better. Despite the loadout of scripts, the sim barely flickered as I switched modes and flew around, so it's not going to lock up your homestead if someone brings one around for tea. Good stuff, and very competently executed. Apart from the slightly clunky implementation of the jump drive, it's almost perfect, but even there I can see good rp uses for that. The lack of sound effects on the cannons however is disappointing. I like to hear my guns spewing forth fiery death. Though that could be just me.

RPability - 85%
There are so many customisability options and gadgets that make this such a great rp vehicle. Mines, scanners, jump drives, moddability, and the ability to make it easy to fly for anyone makes up for it in spades. A good-looking ship to be seen in, and a deadly one to be fighting in. I can see a lot of bounty hunter types buying these for the sheer intimidation factor that the silhouette will inspire.

Gizmos - 95%
I honestly have never seen a small ship so far that is so filled with gadgets and options. 4 combat systems, 3 cam modes, more flight modes (and tweakable) than you can shake a stick at...This is certainly one of the strongest points of a strong ship. The scanner / compass is a useful idea and absolutely a godsend in a dogfight where you can easily be disorientated and lose track of your target in the chaos.

Value For Money - 90%
At a mere 500L$, the Marauder is cheaper than almost anything else out there, and is better specced than most. I'd say that bewteen them Podwangler Zapedzki and Cunningham Capalini are redefining the price point for quality small ships, and the Marauder in particular certainly wins hands down in terms of toys and options. At this price point there is simply very little reason not to get one.

Overall - 90%
A beautifully made, well-scripted ship, overflowing with options, flight modes, gadgets and style, fun to fly and to fight with and with a bagful of weapons to play with, that is available at a very reasonable price that should make it an essential purchase for anyone who loves fighters. Very highly recommended!

My bad - the original version I was sent for review was not modifiable, I just didn't think to check when Cunningham sent me on the updated version for the flight tests. I've just played with it and found that it is indeed modifiable! In my shamefaced way I've gone and remarked it accordingly. I apologise for having a complete 'buh' moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment