Port Report: Zeno Clash 2

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Port Reports are a new series of quick first impressions of the technical aspects of a PC game. For an up to date account of Zeno Clash 2′s fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

I was one of the few who appreciated the original Zeno Clash, a game which successfully implemented brutal first person melee combat and the unique otherworldly setting of Zenozoik. The sequel, Zeno Clash 2, brings a number of innovations including new moves, a co-operative multiplayer mode as well as a transition from the original’s Source engine to the Unreal 3 engine.

Performance

Generally speaking, performance is poorly optimised when compared to other Unreal 3 engine titles. Zeno Clash 2 fails to pass my ‘non-gaming laptop’ test – my i5-2450 and a 6630M AMD discrete card, only achieved an average of around 20-30 FPS on the lowest settings, whilst the same spec could achieve a solid 60 FPS in a game like BioShock Infinite at its respective lowest settings. Thankfully, I was also able to test the game on my main desktop, an i7-920 running a 560Ti ran the game beautifully at highest settings at 60 FPS.

I am impressed that the look and art-style of the original Zeno Clash has been retained in the new Unreal 3 engine. However, it does feel like the combat feels a bit more floaty, with more difficulty in judging distances, managing multiple enemies

Graphics settings

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Resolution

I find it odd that the game was unable to select my native resolution of 1366×768, instead opting for 1360×768 instead.

Fullscreen mode

The game will starts in windowed mode to begin with. In the game menus, ‘Full Screen’ is listed as a Yes/No option which is very disappointing, especially when other Unreal 3 games like Mass Effect 3 and BioShock Infinite have implemented borderless fullscreen windowed modes natively.

All efforts to get the game to run in a window at native resolution, stretched to fullscreen (using ShiftWindow or Borderless Windowed) seemed to fail, as the window proved to be difficult to manipulate to extend beyond the Windows taskbar.

Retro mode

The rest of the graphics settings are fairly bog-standard, but a new ‘Retro Mode’ is a new additional setting – it seems to add a very heavy pixelated look to the game for no good reason at all. I’m not exactly sure what era of gaming the mode is harkening back to (the mode’s graphical fidelity certainly predates Ultima Underworld, one of my earliest PC game memories), but it just seems like silly option with no functional or aesthetic value.

Field of view (FOV)

The lack of a field of view slider is a very glaring omission, given that the game is designed to be played first person up close to a PC screen, and that the first person melee combat and constant head weaving can cause very problematic motion sickness for some people. The game appears to default at 90 FOV, but when ‘locked on’ to an enemy, the FOV narrows to as low as around 65, which can become very disorientating for some people.

Given that the game runs on the Unreal 3 engine, it seems like it would be a simple fix to edit the FOV in the game. However, my efforts to edit the normal files don’t seem to have an effect.

For the record, I have tried editing the FOVAngle=90.000000 value in the ZC2Engine.ini file in the %USERPROFILE%\Documents\my games\UnrealEngine3\ZC2Game\Config\, but this doesn’t seem to have an effect in-game. If others figure out how to adjust this property please leave a comment or add to the Zeno Clash 2 article.

Controller

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Zeno Clash 2 allows one to use a controller at any point during the game, which is great firstly because a controller suits the ‘beat-em-up’ style gameplay, and also because the first game lacked native controller support. Using the left and right triggers to control punching does feel better than using a mouse. However, I had difficulty using a controller to target and line up charging attacks, although this might just be because my gaming skills are much more honed towards keyboard and mouse controls.

Unfortunately, tooltips will only display keyboard and mouse controls, even when a controller is plugged in, which is a shame, as other Unreal 3 engine games seem to manage controller-specific tooltips just fine.

Final thoughts

I am looking forward to digging into Zeno Clash 2 and to explore the fantastical world of Zenozoik. I’m also looking forward to see what the community can do with discovering and fixing problems to the game, and I hope that an enterprising individual figures out how to implement the missing FOV slider and borderless windowed options.

For an up to date account of Zeno Clash 2′s fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

  • http://daow.net DAOWAce

    Wao, why the hate on retro mode?

    It looks like old Commodore/Amiga/DOS-era adventure games; it’s wonderful.

    Author not young enough to appreciate the nostalgia from it? (Then again, I’m not young enough to have even played even Amiga games, but I’ve still seen many games in the past that look like that. Hell, just jump over to GoG, there’s some games there that look like that too.)

  • Nettacki

    FYI, the devs released a patch a couple days ago that resolved the FOV options by providing an option between normal and wide fov in the options menu. If that’s not good enough, there’s also configurable inis patched in.