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Camille's HeavyMetal Pro Review
Saturday, Novemeber 11, 2000

Well boys and girls, this here is Medron and I’m posting a review that Camille made some time ago but then never got published. Rick Raisley, the author of HeavyMetal Pro, recently posted it on the sarna.net at Camille’s request. Having requested and received the go ahead from Camille I am now posting this review with Rick’s comments left completely intact except for a couple. One is not needed because of the formatting allowed by html and the other was changed due to a response from Camille. So have at it and I hope you like it.

[Since I'm the one that has to post this, I get to put comments of my own in, in brackets for easy identification. My comments in [], Camille's are the rest.]

HeavyMetal Pro -- The Review

About a year or so ago, I reviewed HeavyMetal, the Mechdesigner with FASA's official stamp of approval. I was decidedly less than impressed with the product, and pronounced it a waste of $20 (and a few other not-ready-for-prime-time things as well). It was bad with a capital B-A-D. [It wasn't as bad two years prior to its release when I submitted the "final" version to FASA, but the BTech world does not stand still.]

When I heard that HeavyMetal Pro was coming out, I was rather lukewarm to the idea. I'll be honest, I was expecting more of the same—a piss-poor product that was far below any of the shareware designers out on the net.

Well! I can honestly say that I have never, at any point in my life, been so thrilled to be disappointed. HeavyMetal Pro is not the best ‘Mech designer ever written, but it is miles ahead of its predecessor. [Medron - When asked, Camille claimed she had yet to see the best ‘Mech designer.] There are a few things about the product that I’m not very keen about—I’ll get to those first.

What I didn’t like

The big thing that I didn’t like was the somewhat crowded interface. If you’re new to the program, I suggest setting the view mode to "Regular" (the default is "Elite"). [Actually, the default is Regular, for this very reason. Camille, as a playtester, had reset it to Elite, I believe.] This decreases the number of easily-accessible options, but it’s good for helping new users get familiarized with the interface right away. The crowded interface isn’t, IMO, a bar to usage—but it can be a little daunting for new users.

Next is the "Dreaded Omni Problem". HMPro can’t save omni configs in the same file like BMD and The Drawing Board can. This is a little annoying if for no other reason than the fact that it’s a few K off your available hard drive space, but it’s livable.

What I did like

The interface, though crowded, is intuitive—much more so than the old HeavyMetal was. Mouseover help is available by rolling over the various buttons on the screen, and the icons are clear enough that users can pretty easily figure out what they’re for. The crit distribution icon is clearly marked this time, with a big red DIST over it (there wasn’t enough room for CRITS). Also clearly marked is the icon to add and change the equipment list—I don’t know about you, but the words "Add/Change" tell me that that’s what I click on to add or modify what my ‘Mech is toting around. [Gee, I wonder who suggested those features?]

Everything’s there this time. All the Level 2 weaponry available as of the release of HMPro (including the Lyrans’ Brass Totties O’ Death, err Heavy Gauss Rifles) is included in the program, as is the funky zoom equipment (like the Targeting Computer from the Greater Book of Evil, err the FedSuns Field Manual). There is also a function that allows users to enter custom weaponry and equipment—so if you have a less cheesed HGR or a more cheesed RAC, you can enter it.

Heat calculations that take UAC fire rates into account. Hoody hoo! This is really really cool.

Battleforce 2 rosters. Very nice.

The ability to make your own little mini-TRO with your ‘Mech designs. You can input fluff text for the design and even a picture, if you have one.

High-quality logos for printing—Gone are the cheesy bitmaps from the first version. Those bitmaps have been replaced with high-quality JPG logos provided by the FASA art department. Users can also put their own logos in there, under the Logos folder. I don’t recommend these if you use an inkjet printer like I do, but if you use a laser printer I’d definitely use these bad boys on your record sheets. [Actually, I've found they look far better when printed by a color inkjet printer.]

There were some changes in the program that were largely cosmetic, but overall the bulk of the changes were to the program itself. It’s far, far, far better than the original HeavyMetal.

The Final Verdict: BUY THIS PROGRAM.

HeavyMetal Pro doesn’t have that much more than the shareware ‘Mech designers, but I do recommend throwing down the $20 for it for one simple reason—Rick Raisley (the programmer of HMPro) is working on other Officially Blessed projects like HM-Vee (vehicle designer—currently only 16-bit, but will become 32-bit), HeavyMetal "Lite" (the Protomech designer, for those that still like those little turdlets), and even a combined suite of products. I really like HMPro—I know, I sound like a big ol’ shill, but I am a firm believer in rewarding sincere improvement and effort, and I feel that Rick has earned himself a second chance with HeavyMetal Pro.

IF YOU OWN HEAVYMETAL:

If you’re one of the poor saps that bought the programming tutorial abortion known as HeavyMetal, there is relief for you. Yes, you will still have to pay for HeavyMetal Pro. HOWEVER: If you still have your original HeavyMetal disk, you can send it in to RWC Enterprises as proof of your original purchase and get half off of HeavyMetal Pro.

BUY THIS! BUY IT NOW!

[Anyone quoting this review, please feel free to remove my comments. - Rick]





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