I played a 3DO and tell Jaguar's Doom (Nov.07,1993)

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 02/20/94-01:11:38 AM Z

From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: I played a 3DO and tell Jaguar's Doom (Nov.07,1993)
Date: Sun Feb 20 01:11:38 1994

 :: Volume 2 - Issue 19      ATARI EXPLORER ONLINE       7 November 1993 ::

 |||   I played a 3DO (and lived to tell of the Jaguar's Doom)
 |||   By: Timothy Wilson
/ | \  Internet: wilsont@rahul.net    GEnie: AEO.8

//// 3DO, Competition for the Jaguar?

Ah the much vaunted 3DO is finally here, made by Panasonic, and called
the 'R.E.A.L' Multiplayer. REALly expensive is what I can say first
off. I tried the R.E.A.L. at a local "The Good Guys" store, where it
had a price tag of $699.99. Having known people on the internet that
rushed out to buy one sight unseen, I suppose the high price tag won't
stop everyone. So lets get on to the machine itself.

The pack-in game, Crash & Burn was already in the drive. So, I pressed
the button on the controller (A square, much like the square that you
see to stop VCR's and CD's, is the symbol for the start/stop/restart
key), the game reset, and displayed a interesting animation of CD's
floating through what looks like the rings of Saturn. (Lots of rocks
and debris orbiting a planet.) It turns out, this is the Crystal
Dynamics title sequence. From there you can watch a short demo of
"Total Eclipse" or play Crash &Bburn.

I watched the Total Eclipse demo first. By the look of the demo, yet
another "rails" game. By that I mean that the ship you control flies
forever forward, turning around isn't an option. The demo is just a
animation spooled off the disk, but is still impressive. I watched
the whole thing, and then started Crash & Burn. Crash & Burn starts
with a nuclear blast and a city getting thrashed by the shockwave and
firestorm. There is then a pan across a futuristic complex, that ends
on a race track. Then, there is a shot from behind a driver (the same
as from the CBS This Morning clip), followed by the two cars coming
around the corner, with the leader skidding sideways and exploding.
(with a little help from the pursuing car :) Again, this is the same
clip everyone saw on the CBS This Morning segment.

I then got to choose a driver, each of them is accompanied by a
"rant," in which the driver (a small video clip and voice), explains
his or her philosophy/strength, or whatnot. This was done ok, the
actors must have been amateurs, the accents were poor, but, who cares,
this is a video game, not the Oscars?. I choose the first big n' burly
guy with the big gun. I selected the "rally" mode first, which lets
you try out 1 of 4 tracks (I don't know if more tracks are availible).
I selected the first track. As usual for racing games, you are placed
in the very rear of the starting lineup. Not a bad position, since
your car is equipped with forward mounted guns. Rally mode also gives
you full ammo loads (for weapons that use ammo). Availible were a
light cannon, laser, mines, and a missile launcher.

About now I got aquainted with the controller, its a hybrid of a Sega
controller and a SNES pad, three thumb buttons a "cross" joypad, and
two "shift" buttons workable with your index fingers. To move, you
hold down the "C" button, that's full throttle, and there really
isn't any reason to go any other speed but full speed. The first thing
I noticed was the noise the car engine made sounded horrible. Kinda
like my electric razor, ugh.

I noticed that I was outside of my car, looking down on it and the
road ahead. The car only pivots left and right a few degrees, it does
not appear to be a 3D object. When you take heavy damage, this view
will show smoke and fire spewing out of your car.  I switched to the
"driver" view, the HUD and instruments are availbile here, so I
continued playing from here. As I raced around the track, there was
ice ( maybe water?) for a long strip, more pavement, and then a dirt
section. The road twists and turns convincingly, as well as up hills
and through tunnels. You can see other portions of the track in the
distance, it gives a good sense of "big".

Just to try it, I stopped. I then noticed the nasty pixelation from
the texture mapping. It's hard to see when you are barrelling down the
track - except when climbing a hill, the view points up toward the
sky, and the clouds also exhibit this effect.

I also listened to the music, I don't know if the music changes, but
it was the same tune through the whole track that I played. It lasted
for about 5 minutes before repeating. The music was good, not SNES
tinny crap.

Since the 3DO owners on rec.games.video.misc said to try the game in
tournament mode, I exited the rally and started a tournament. I
started on the first track, (the one I just tried on rally) and there
is now a "track champion". That's one of the other driver/characters
that is the one to beat. I placed second, and still made it to the
next level though.

I really got to playing it then, no longer scrutinizing the graphics.
but trying to see if the gameplay was there under all the flash. In
tourney mode, I started with 30 cannon shots and a laser, my missiles
and mines were empty. After I finished the race, you have the option
of buying new equipment and ammo, provided you have the money.

I decided to pick a car and start blasting. A green triangle moves on
the screen, and turns red when it "locks on" to a target. After about
30 seconds of using the cannon and the laser, the car exploded. But
not skid-left-into-a-barrier-and-fly-apart-in-a-grand-explosion
explosion, but a simple flame burst, and the other car simply "dimmed"
- the colors were darker - and it stopped moving. Since I was still
moving, I rammed into it. The dead car was knocked to the
'side-lines', while I roared(whined is more like it) past.

I didn't even know that I had killed it, (expecting a huge shrapnel
spewing explosion), until the final results for the race were posted.
3 other cars had, somewhat unknowst to me, been killed.

After the race, I got to buy weapons and equipment. Each item had a
little video clip associated with it. Guns fired, new items rotated,
etc. all prerendered and spooled off the CD.

"Eh," was the final verdict for C&B. It might be worth 20-30 bucks,
and it sure didn't make me want to buy a 3DO machine on the spot.

The next thing I tried was the 3DO sampler disk, I was amazed at the
presentation. It was a very well put together demo. There wasn't just
simple text for a menu, there was a 3D room to walk around in. It had
a bare woodfloor with some pictures on the wall, by walking up to the
pictures, they would animate, and I could then preview upcoming
titles. All of the ones I viewed were stills, no running demos or
animations. I didn't have the time to sample all of the areas, so I
went to another part of the demo disk, the "Diversions."

Diversions is a collection of neat things to do. The most impressive
was 5 minutes of "Heart Of Ice", A clip from the Batman animated
series. This had full screen video, and decent audio. Up close, you
can see some of the pixelation, but stand back at a normal viewing
distance, it looks fine. The CD was constantly on during the demo
(natch). Rumor (and Usenet) has it that it used CinePak (which Atari
also has licensed). Also, cartoons are easy to compress, do to there
large areas of static color.

Thats just my first look at it, I spent about and and hour and thirty
minutes playing with it. I hope to have similar time on a Jaguar soon.

Some other tidbits about the 3DO that I've picked up. The box claims
640x480 screen resolution. Well, the 3DO uses special built-in
hardware to interpolate up to that resolution from 320x240... which is
the "true" resolution of the 3DO.

The AT&T unit will be a rebadged Panasonic-built OEM unit with a

Also, even though now the 3DO is seemingly a games machine, I don't
think thats where they want to go with it. The point being, it's a
$700 box, aimed at a CD general use market. The Jaguar, definately a
games machine is $250. They are two different markets, much like a
Ferrari 348ts, and a Nissan 300ZX Turbo. Both can be great fun, go
fast and look good, but are aimed at different markets. They have
different engines, but produce about the same power. Just one is
$100,000 cheaper than the other. :)

Will that stop the mud slinging? Nope. But I tried.

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