Just under two years ago, Buka Entertainment
sent me a copy of Echelon to review
. I wasn't much of a combat flight sim type of guy but I went ahead and started playing it anyways. What came out of this was a flight sim that was fun to play and looked good. Echelon: Wind Warriors picks up where it's predecessor left off.
Set in 2351, players assume the role of major Jason "Wolf" Scott - one of the best Galactic Federation pilots on the planet Velian. The plot is the same as the original Echelon and actually takes place around the same time too. The difference however, is that you take on the role of the trainer of the original Echelon. The planet Velian is under attack from aliens and since now you're an experienced pilot - your mission objectives just became more tough.
You advance through the ranks of Lieutenant to Commander to achieve your mission objectives. Branching out over 40 campaign missions and over 30 pilotable vehicles, Echelon: Wind Warriors is full of action and variety. What you do and accomplish in your current mission will affect the next mission you play and it's objectives.
To further variety, throughout the campaign missions, you will see over 250 different types of vehicles and structures. Player profiles have been added so now more than one person per computer can play and save his / her progress on the computer.
The game interface has been reworked and is beautifully done. Navigating through the various menus and game options is a breeze! Not to mention the GUI is just nice to look at, heh.
The flight interface is a little more than challenging to get used to at first. Even after playing Echelon: WW for several weeks, I'm only now starting to get the hang of things. Though gameplay and controls have been reworked, I'm afraid that Echelon: WW will have the same problems that Echelon possessed.
Echelon: WW runs off of the same graphics engine as the original Echelon
and back then the game was ahead of its time in this area. This time around, MADia has tidied up a few things and added a few more special effects to allude to a new engine. The game features gorgeous dust and particle effects; smoke trails and worlds that take 7 hours of real-time flying to cross.
Much like it's predecessor, Echelon: WW features localized damage. The advantage to this is that you don't have to totally obliterate your opponent to claim victory - you can disarm them by blowing a wing off, an engine, you name it. I've had a lot of fun picking my enemy's plane apart
One thing you'll definitely want to have for this game is a good sound card. Taking a chapter out of Echelon's book, Echelon: WW features great positional audio and ambient sound effects. You can hear other fighters scream passed you as you veer out of the way. Shell casings eject from their weapons and flutter down beneath you. Even the sound of your wing being clipped off as you graze a cliff face sounds cool
The network code has been completely reworked to cut down on the latency of games and a new dedicated server mode has been created for server admins. Net play will feature many different types of multiplayer gametypes including deathmatch, co-op mode and capture the flag. The number of players in a server is only bound to the server's power. Also new in Echelon: WW is the support of Gamespy Arcade so finding a server should be no problem.
The copy that I received was still in its beta phase so there were a few bugs and glitches here and there. Nonetheless, MADia
has taken an all ready successful combat flight sim and made it even better. Look out for Echelon: Wind Warriors on the shelves sometime in Summer 2003.
Echelon: Wind Warriors on Buka's Website