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How the Heck Did The Idiots Get Klingon Honor Guard Before You Did?
January 29th, 1999

Gary: Hey, Randy, you look terrible. What happened to you last night?

Randy: "I…was up all…night. My ship…was in danger…my crew…my crew…was…"

Gary: All right, Captain Kirk. I guess somebody was up in the screening room all night watching another Star Trek marathon.

Randy: Not watching TV. Playing game.

"KIRK! Federation bastards killed my son. I am Klingon!"

Gary: Your Kirk and Klingon impersonations sound notoriously alike.

Randy: I am a warrior in the Klingon Honor Guard! Now where's my coffee? Klingon warrior, sleepy.

Gary: Let me see here. Would this be a painfully obvious intro into a game review?

Randy: Of course not. This is a shamefully obvious intro. Pass the Sugar Smackee-Smacks and milk, please.

Gary: Straight from beer and pretzels to cereal without a break, huh? At least I brushed my teeth. Since you are hogging Gamey (if you don't know who Gamey is, see "Now A Few Words About The Good Book" from The Idiots' archives), I guess I'll talk a little about the latest game to be based on the Unreal engine, Klingon Honor Guard. To set the record straight, I am not as nearly as big of a Trekkie as Randy is, but I still enjoyed this game immensely.

Dude, look out behind you! There's a giant ice sloth or something around that rock! (Psych! Ya Trek geek, ya.)

Anyway, I liked this game a lot because of the combination of first person shoot-(and slash) 'em-up violence and creative puzzles that are reminiscent of MYST.

So, Randy, a pig-dog bit you in the groin? Too bad, there. What a horrible way to die.

My turn!

Randy: Because it is built on the same engine as Unreal, Klingon Honor Guard's play is very similar to Unreal's. No surprise there. But there was something that held our interest in this game a little longer than Unreal. But let's start back at the beginning.

When we first popped in the Klingon Honor Guard disk we noticed something weird. There was no installer. There was an icon to launch an intro movie, so we clicked it, and let the intro movie roll.

And roll, and roll, and roll, and roll.

Gary: After what seemed like an hour of intro that mostly consisted of old stock footage of lava flows with an incredibly long voiceover describing Klingon Honor Guard history, the movie ended.

Next, we expected a game menu to come up.

There was no game menu for us.

Randy: Eventually, we discovered the second disk in the jewel case, hidden away in a secret compartment. (Kind of a game in itself.) Low and behold, it was the installer disk. After running the installer and launching the game we were told to put the first disk back in for the music and movies to play. (I am sure if we had read one scrap of the documentation that came with the game, we would have been told what to do. But, hey, we never read the instructions. We're Idiots.)

Gary: While we understood the reason for this setup, we still found it a little confusing. But, it was nice to find out you can still play the game without a CD-ROM, if you don't mind missing out on the great music or the cut scenes.

Randy: Funny you should mention cut scenes. Because it's time to cut to the chase and talk about the actual game play.

Gary: Holy jeez. That's it. No more segues for you. That was terrible!

Randy: All right, sorry. I was just trying to make the point about the cut scenes in the game. One of the things that seemed to make this game more interesting for me were the cut scenes. In Unreal, the plot of the game was pretty much to just stay alive.

In Honor Guard the plot is unfolded in a slightly more cinematic fashion. Your character, as the new Honor Guard inductee, is suddenly yanked from training and sent to foil a conspiracy that has attempted to assassinate Gowron, leader of the High Klingon Council. Don't get me wrong. The actual game play didn't change any. It's still massive killing. But I did feel more involved in the game, having some purpose to my mission besides clobbering everything in sight.

Also Honor Guard has a sense of humor. Kind of like Shadow Warrior meets Unreal. While not quite as brash as Shadow Warrior, I did chuckle at my character's taunts that included, "Is that my D'k Tahg in your throat?"

Gary: But it wasn't just that. The game seemed more varied than Unreal, too. The scenery changed more frequently, taking you through seven different worlds on nineteen missions. Also, the enemies seemed to vary more, with over twenty different enemy types. Also, enemy characters had more defensive moves than the monsters in Unreal. I particularly enjoyed the cool shoulder rolls and dives pulled off by the AI-controlled Klingons.

Randy: I agree. Slight changes in the overall game design made Klingon Honor Guard a slightly better game than Unreal, in my opinion. An example is the weapon selection. In Honor Guard, your primary weapon is a D'k Tahg, a bitchin' knife that you use in close hand-to-hand combat. However, there are times when you just have to use a distance weapon, such as your assault disrupter, on an opponent. Often times, you have to learn about how your enemy fights to understand which weapon will ultimately kill him.

Gary: Hey, your breath could kill any monster in Honor Guard. I wasn't kidding when I mentioned that you didn't brush your teeth.

Randy: Oh, really? Hhhhhhhhhow bad is it?

(dull thud as Gary hits the floor)

Klingon warrior wins victory again!

Gary: I guess I'll continue from down here. We tested Klingon Honor Guard in both hardware and software rendering modes. In hardware mode, the 3D visuals are as stunning as Unreal, with maybe a more liberal use of light flares and particle effects. They look fantastic. I sure hope I don't get to the point where this stuff looks average to me.

'Cause it looks good.

Randy: Get up, you big baby. And, interestingly enough, I think that the graphics look better than Unreal in software rendering mode. You still want a 3D accelerator if you want to get the most out this game, but with a fast machine you can have a great time without one.

Gary: Now, to the interface. Yecchh! The Unreal engine allows for a high level of customization, but I can't imagine a more unintuitive interface. The worst part of a game based on this engine is customizing your controls, and your audio and video. Once that horrible, horrible chore is out of the way, the sense of relief is great. God forbid that you lose your preferences.

Is that how it is in the Windows world? Poor guys.

Randy: While we are on the subject of things we didn't like about Honor Guard, I have two points. One I have already mentioned is the boring intro movie. The second is the flat wound effects left on the enemy Klingons after they take some damage. The wounds are accomplished by a scripted change in the character skins after a hit has landed on the character. The trouble is the wound is exactly the same on each character and it looks very flat and unrealistic. It didn't matter if you shot a Klingon in the head or stabbed him in the foot. The same chest wound popped up every time. This is a minor quibble but it was something that bugged me.

Gary: Well Randy, I think it has come to that point in the article.

Randy: Cool! I'll call the strippers!

Gary: No. I mean the sticks rating. What are we gonna give Klingon Honor Guard?

Randy: I personally liked Honor Guard. I found it more engaging than Unreal, due to the more cinematic way the plot was told.

Gary: I agree, and I liked the more interesting AI in the enemies and the generous helping of lighting effects. I think Honor Guard gets a very enthusiastic three and half sticks out of four.

Randy: You said it, my Ferengi-eared friend. Three and a half sticks it is. This one is a keeper!

Gary: What's a Ferengi?

Randy: Don't worry, dude. It's a compliment.

 

Klingon Honor Guard gets Live Long and Prosper.

Klingon Honor Guuard
Macsoft
MRP: $49.99
System Requirements:

PowerPC 603e at 180MHz or greater
16MB RAM
32MB hard disk space
Color Monitor, System 7.6 or later
Quad-speed CD-ROM
Open Transport required for multiplayer gaming

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .


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