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Alive SE - EIL 2001

A Falcon demo by DHS

It  is  almost a week after the event now,  and I'm still struggling  to
adequately  put  my  feelings about this demo into some  form  of  words
suitable for a review.  As a fast-approaching deadline for this issue of
Alive! looms, I suppose I had better try now...

We'd  been hearing of a new demo from DHS,  for the Error in Line part 2
for a little while. We were guessing that it would probably contain some
sort  of  advanced  3-D  world,  and most likely make  use  of  hardware
accelerators in the Centurbo 2 class. How did this guesswork turn out?

It is a sizeable download,  and the depacked files include a couple with
the  magic words .mp2 on the extender.  This is not a great surprise  as
the  first demos using .mp2 replay were seen at last  years  Siliventure
2000 party.  Anyway,  on with the show,  and we are presented with a GEM
dialogue box,  giving a list of monitor options and a choice between CT2
busting  'High detail mode',  and 'Low detail mode' for humbler Falcy's.
Being a smug git with a CT2,  I go for the first of these,  with a touch
of VGA 100 Hertz.

Then  things  go dark,  a black anticipatory stillness.  The  soundtrack
starts,  and a large and bright DHS logo drawn by Exocet of psycho-bunny
fame  fades up with the first dramatic synth-stab of the music.  This is
an excellent soundtrack by Candyman,  really a tune to die for! The logo
slowly  fades  down again.  The music picks up the pace,  and the  first
'real' effect then comes into view.

A  crash of cymbals!  A huge spinning silver glowing Fuji logo  rotates,
surrounded  by  four other protective pointy polygons,  and  covered  in
glowing blobs,  almost as if it was made from cut-glass crystal. This is
an  excellent  beginning to the main part of the demo,  surely Evil  and
Gizmo  have  been working very hard since their last full demo,  at  the
first EIL two years ago.

The 3-D polys take a back seat for a bit,  but the glowing blobs remain.
A little subversive touch is next,  as various lines of text zoom in and
out  from  the  side of the screen,  comments designed  to  preempt  any
flaming  for such breaches of Atari demo making orthodoxy like  "MP2  is
cheating"  or "Oldschool rules!" and even "FPU is cheating!".  DHS don't
care if not every Falcon owner appreciates this demo,  but with more and
more people getting memory upgrades (with an FPU), most people can now?

The  next  hardcore full-on 3D screen is next.  A golden  glowing  torus
surrounded  by  four  precious  stones  set  against  a  lucious  moving
background  texture.  This  seems  to add to the feeling  that  Evil  is
obsessed by jewellery and precious stones in this demo,  maybe we should
rename it the "Crown Jewels Demo?!"

There  are  some  credits to follow,  but not just any old  credits.  In
keeping with the high quality of this demo, these are zooming in and out
of the screen, done to an incredibly fine detail level, with a swooshing
distorting background thrown in for no extra cost.

A mid-demo relaxer comes up, with a gorgeous high resolution 'Cyberbird'
themed  still piccy from Lance of Aggression.  Interesting how many high
profile people got involved with this demo!

A slight change in design,  a red-based screen with another Exocet drawn
graphic on the right (a fictional female,  is Exocet trying to crack the
mOdmate  market?) On the left,  what can be described as a double  ended
mushroom polygon spins,  with a 3D bumpmap attached to it.  Another cool
screen, feels slightly 'earlier' than the rest of the demo. Was this one
of the first bits that Evil and co completed?

Something  that  can  be  described as a golden  mucus  spins  in  three
dimensions,  but it isn't on its own for long, as a series of fast paced
greetings pound in time to the music at the bottom of the screen.

Time  for some motion blur,  with a blurring diamond or blob that morphs
into a double ended mushroom. Very subtle, in a misty sort of way.

All  too  soon,  the main part of the demo is over,  with a high quality
voxel  fractal landscape to show the way out.  It is a misty day by  the
seaside,  with  lots of jaggy fjord style coastlines,  and the beautiful
blue sea, which fades up to whiteness ever so slowly.

But it isn't quite the end, as DHS have cleverly provided a deliberately
slow  and relaxed endpart.  There is a change of music,  and a series of
high  detail  textured silvery polygons drift across the centre  of  the
screen.  There is a fair bit of what might be described as 'infotext' or
'readme',  including  the  encouraging news that this is not the end  of
their Atari activities. The pace of this part is much more langorous and
slow, in deliberate contrast to the faster pace of the mainpart.

Then it is really "The end", and we are booted back out into the desktop

Some more words?

This  is the first demo production that really uses a Centurbo 2 to  its
best advantage.  The demo is viewable on a low detail mode on a standard
machine,  where DHS have gone for a technique seen in the EIL '99 Mystic
Bytes  ST  demo 'Sweety',  of removing every other line displayed.  This
makes  the demo a little bit more blurry and indistinct,  but still good
enough  to run at a reasonable speed.  I might add there were one or two
textures  that were running in a distinctly chunkier resolution than  on
the high detail mode. You will still need 14 megabytes and an FPU, which
may  put some people off,  although fewer people than in the recent past

I couldn't help comparing the DHS demo, with the TOYS demo 'Wait', which
is very similar in a lot of ways. Here goes...

Ways in which the DHS demo is better than the TOYS demo.

..More assured polished and professional overall design. 
..Absolutely no rough edges. 
..The music rocked, best music in the whole demo compo. 
..It was the right length, didn't end too soon, or overstay for that 

(There  will  be a companion endpart in the TOYS demo review,  'Ways  in
which the TOYS demo is better than the DHS demo!')

Well  I have to say that I was very excited by this demo,  and a lot  of
others at EIL part 2. DHS were denied the first prize by the superlative
efforts  of  Escape,  who were using a different philosophy,  but 'Don't
Break the Oath' still sets new standards for demos running on higher end

Don't stop now, you crazy Swedish pizza distorting guys, we want more!


Graphics:- 92% - Cool still graphics by Exocet and Lance. A very assured
and professional use of textures in the active parts of the demo too.

Sonix:-  97% - Top tune by Candyman,  one of my favourite demo tunes  of
all time! Is there more from him? Can we hear it soon??

Gee-Whiz:-  90%  -  There's nothing really really new here,  but  it  is
running on a higher detail level than before, with more obvious care and
attention  taken in putting this demo together.  Also audacious in being
the first demo that dares to use enhanced hardware fully.

Overall:- 95% - This has got to go very high in the top ten list of all-
time favourite Falcon demos!

CiH for Alive! mag, in a hurry! April 2001.

Alive SE - EIL 2001