Tokyo Game Engine

The Essentials

Different Cars

Only three, though two of them are indistinguishable except by sound. More can be "unlocked", however, and make things interesting

Traffic on the streets

Present and correct, not the most intelligent of drivers though, they will patiently wait at a blockage rather than driving around it or beeping their horns.

Pedestrians

Present in varied and, with configuration tinkering, huge quantities. And they can be run down mercilessley! As with cars they are a bit stupid though, they don't run from obvious danger, for instance.

Cops

None

.

Guns

None

.

Missions

None

.

Rockin' good explosions

None

.

The Review

Despite lacking several of the "essential features", as named above, I still hold this to be the best GTA fangame released so far. Though "game" is perhaps not the right word as it's really more of an engine demo for a delphi-based GTA-like engine for other coders to expand into an actual game (you out there, listening?). Why is it the best? Well because it's far and away the most fun! Though that's more of a poor reflection on all the other GTA fan games than anything else.

The cars, though small in number (though as said above, a few more can be obtained by tinkering with the configuration), are good fun to drive. There's three types, two saloons and a sports car. The saloons, though, look identical and can only be differentiated by the sound they make, and to an extent the colour of their bumpers. The ligher-coloured-bumper one has a more high pitched engine and is faster but seemingly weaker, the darker one has a deeper engine note, but is slower and stronger.

The strength of cars brings me on to this game's way of disabling wrecked cars, which I think is far better than the GTA series of having cars explode when they can take no more. In TSS (as Tokyo Game Engine seems to be abbreviated to) cars that are wrecked lose their wheels instead, which makes them un-drivable. Sometimes they lose only one wheel, which makes them still drivable in a comical fashion. To have a police chase in such a situation would make a more developed version of this engine a lot of fun. The wheel-loss also means that cars can last longer depending on how they are crashed, as well as how much. Head-on collisions or heavy hits with the scenery in the vicinity of the wheels will make them fly off after one crash, however side-swipes and rear-ending cars allows you to cause a lot of chaos and keep on driving. Other parts of cars also fly off with impacts, including the bonnet, bootlid, bumpers and doors. The rest of the car, including the windows, is indestructible though just like GTA3, in fact.

As there is no guns in the game, the all-important activity of massacring innocent people has to be done by running them over. There is no shortage of low-detailed, simply-modeled people to plough through with a satisfying "whipping" sound effect. The first thing you notice is the lack of blood and gore, the next is that the people "smash" into pieces like dolls. It looks a bit odd but having little bits of debris rolling everywhere can be cool in it's own way. One strange effect is that when you steal a car the driver who is thrown out also falls apart. Another thing to note about the cars is they do have visible interiors, but you can't see anybody sitting inside. There is also one "secret" pedestrian who follows you around if you are close by and moving slowly a naked woman! (well, this is Japanese). Expecting her to function like the prostitutes of the later GTA's, I parked nearby, but all she does is stare. She also can't be run over and just passes through cars,

Tokyo itself, as seen in this game, is quite a small city when you are driving around. Or at least it feels small due to the series of wide roads that lead through the city, on which you can drive at high speed. There is also numerous smaller roads and back alleys that can be navigated. If your PC allows you to set large amounts of traffic (again, with configuration tinkering), then these roads can be very crowded with cars and pedestrians, great for pile-ups!

The buildings in the city only use a handful of basic models, but they are textured in different colours to look varied enough. They also all have tantalising interiors on the lower floors, though these are non-accesible. If you enter first person mode you also notice that ceiling / upper textures are missing, allowing you to see the sky through the buildings roof. Still this adds a nice level of detail so long as you use one of the other viewing modes. Interestingly there is no free look with the mouse, the controls of this game are closer to the original GTA despite it being fully 3D. Several buildings do have stairs on their outsides that can be climbed, though not all have roof access the stairs just end. When the player moves close to the buildings the camera faces directly down, however, so stairs need to be climbed in first-person mode, which shows up the texture glitches. The views from the roofs can be nice, however, so long as your PC can handle a large draw distance.

This brings me on to the optimisation of the engine. I can run it fine even on my rubbish computer in 1024 x 768 resolution, 16 bit colours. This does require me to turn "detail" down to the minimum in the configuration setup, however. The setup program only tells half the story, as there is also an .ini file that can be edited manually. Setting the game to the lowest resolution, turning off several fancy texture features and setting "traffic" to 300 or so (the lowest detail setting sets it at 64) can be entertaining. "Traffic" includes both people and cars, so you won't have 300 cars to weave around all the time, but the roads do get noticeably more crowded, which is good fun for crashes.

So, whilst lacking several "essential" features, and being little more than a test, this is a highly entertaining game to play. If somebody is able to pick up and run with the source code (freely available on the site) and turn it into a proper game, a perfect 10 score could be achieved!

A typical TSS scene. I had to use the lowest traffic setting, but there can be a lot more!

Crash! The panels and wheels fly off cars, making for fun smash-ups

Tinkering with the configuration files allows several different vehicles to be "unlocked"

A rooftop view in first person mode

Driving in first person mode, yes it's actually "behind the wheel!"

A pedestrianised area. Again my POS computer means this area is empty, but it can be packed!

Further Information

http://mathpudding.com/PGD/tss/

The official site, with download and source code as well as a modifcation to have a truck with a trailer

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