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Mercenary's menu Paradise Cracked

Developers: MiST Land
Publisher: Buka Ent.
Release Term: Spring, 2001



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Until now our readers could judge about domestic game Paradise Cracked developed by MiST land only basing on not so numerous screenshots and few interviews. This game happened to be more known by English-speaking audience, not ours. This my Paradise Cracked alpha version review opens the series of articles dedicated to domestic tactical roleplaying game.

Let's get down to business

So what is the future of the Earths according to MiST land? Speaking in fiction terms, the genre of Paradise Cracked is anti-utopia, or game of warning. The game is being developed intensively, so the developers cannot disclose the plot in full details. But we can tell you at least something.

In universe created by MiST land designers, the mankind have chosen the way of hi-tech and data system progress. Negative man-caused factors have been slowly accumulated to stage when the effects produced to environment become disastrous. The life conditions have deteriorated, so scientists started to search the solution to this problem. Most promising direction was data technology and virtual reality development. These people of future started to use cyber implants spending their lives mostly in virtual reality. They haven't noticed the virtual freedom achieved made them the slaves of the system created.

The future world is presented by single city, which is the place of all game events. The City is conditionally divided into different zones, about 30 in general. The City is complex multilevel system where more respectable citizens lives on higher levels. Lower levels have no access to sky and sunlight, and local inhabitants are poor people dragged out a miserable existence. This kingdom of two-faced Janus, where beautiful virtual world is combined with horrible unjust social system, is our main character's home land. It is hard to say he's good person because his main business is hacking.

This our friend has a bad luck to find strange data somewhere in the virtual space. The attempt to hack the network owned by government caused a massive hunt for him by police and special service.

Paradise Cracked is the game of RPG/Tactics genre. The plot unfolds according to different maps and town levels you explored. The map library is splitted into 4 Episodes, 5-8 maps each. Like in Baldur's Gate, you can move through City levels freely. You have a single global goal, but the way to achieve it is up to you.

The whole Paradise Cracked world is three-dimentional. Every level piece is 3d single-level map with complex architecture and interactive environment. This level is dozens of different tiles and hundreds of polygons. The engine allows to move the camera all over the map freely, zoom picture in, retaining good detail quality. You can affect the environment, shift boxes, break windows, explode barrels and lockpick doors. All this is supplemented with complex visual effects, colour lighting and detailed object interaction system.

Paradise is populated by miscellaneous characters. They have some special skills, and divided into 2 classes: NPC and hireable characters. The main character has the following set of stats: Strenght, Dexterity, Reaction, Accuracy, Wisdom, Mechanics and Vigilance. Seems, this is first time since X-Com when tactical game has Reaction stat implemented again.

Your character has a certain level of Resistance to different damage types - shock, fire and electricity. Your team members improve their stats according to classical scheme - as far as they gain experience for quests completed and enemies killed. Main character has preset basis for skills and stats, but you have some bonus points to distribute among the stats at the beginning of the game. When main stats improved (in Paradise, like in Diablo, it is player's decision what stat is to be developed), health level, action points number, etc. improve as well.

However Paradise characters are not just walking combination of stats and experience - they are also a persons with own temper. All of them has own attitude to main character. And negative attitude will not necessarily prevent them from joining your team. Though, don't be surpised later when they'll try to put a burst from favorite six-barrel gun into your head in response to your decision to dismiss them.

In Paradise, you can recruit up to 6 people into your team. You can hire anyone from about a dozen of recruits who wish to join your cause. Any character except your main one can be dismissed and replaced by new recruit. Almost every map has primary objective and some additional optional quests - you can try to complete it for nice bonus rewars.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

This Paradise, even though it is Cracked, has more than enough persons willing to confront you. You'll have any opponents you may want to meet. Police, army, special agents, robots and much more. Main character is forced to fight both City government and different criminal structures. You'll have to eliminate various kinds of enemies to reach the sacred final video cut at last! Everyone wants to find out what our poor hacker has discovered.

You have to prove your talent for tactics if you wish to get to finish. The combats are turn-based, like the game at whole. You'll have to fight almost on every map. Some of them should be visited repeatedly in different episodes. And often you'll meet the enemy here again. But the game is always remember the stage of game you reached by this moment and sets the nature of enemy and AI script accordingly.

Paradise Cracked has a wide choice of weapons and combat equipment. All weapons are divided into two classes: firearms - various kinds of pistols, rifles and machine guns; heavy weapons - rocket and grenade launchers; and good set of special weapons to be mounted on heavy battle suits. Special weapons are rare in the game and you can get it only upon completion of special quests. Additionally, there are miscellaneous grenades, including timed and proximity grenades, as well as different mines. Each weapon type has such stats as damage level and hit factors. Different weapons use different ammo.

For the first time since X-Com, we have a game with great soldier equipping options. Paradise Cracked allows to equip units with miscellaneous armor types - vests, battle suits, environmental suits, and much more. Different armor types allow to mount different additional equipment.

Wide choice of weapons and armor is not enough. Paradise Cracked has many vehicles and robots as well. Your units can capture police aircars, or control mechs like those in MechWarrior. Main character is hacker and able to sneak up to enemy robot and hack its system, gaining control over the machine.

All described above sounds good, but it may be realized as a good game only provided a convenient control system is available. Paradise Cracked interface is handy and allow to manage your soldiers easily. Control panel is made keeping the best traditions of Warhammer: Dark Omen, i.e. takes just small part of one of the screen corners.

I cannot say too much about multiplayer - the development of this system has just started. You'll be able to play both via LAN or Internet in Death Match mode.

Conclusion

Generally, game alpha version makes good impression. It is high standard project and good approach to top-level game. The game also has first class video cuts in addition to pretty tiles and polygons and convenient interface. Paradise music is unusual, it is dynamical and changing depending on circumstances, amplifying the game athmospere.

The game also has quite high requirements to hardware. Optimally, you need PII 450 MHz, second generation accelerator (GeForce, for example), and at least 64 Mb RAM. The planned release term is spring, 2001.

I would like to take an opportunity to thank Buka employees and especially Vitaly Shutov - project's Head Designer, for their help preparing this article and chance to play alpha version of the game.





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