In its time Caustic was techno-organic engineering at its best. The pride and joy of some ancient corporation's cybernetics division. However, in this age of nanotechnologic enhancement and "wetware", Caustic's antiquity shows. Exposed hydraulics and the static-dissipation curcuitry protruding from its back all indicate a unit of at least four centuries of age.
I didn't know what to make of this at first. I read through the text file and then the story included with the model and was left with no less confusion. Despite the author's description of this model as a technologically enhanced human, I can't get the image of a 1/2 porcupine - 1/2 man out of my head. Regardless of my interpretation of the character, I like the look. It fits the Arena world while being just different enough from the standard cyborg styles we've seen.
The mesh is a good distribution of 762 faces. It deforms nicely and includes LOD's. The proportions are a bit strange and the torso sits a little weird on the legs. It doesn't appear that much effort was put into the LOD's but they server their purpose. Since LOD's are included at all, I'm not considering the lack of attention to UVW mapping a problem. All in all, it's a very solid mesh with a respectably low polycount. Score: 8
The author explains that the animations are Grunt's with slight modifications. It's unfortunate to see an interesting design like this fall to default animations and some issues arise from it. The arms clip through the chest "armor" during weapon switches and the torso slips behind the legs during the walk cycle. There's also some twitching on the idle animation that's rather annoying. The run seems awfully fast as well. Whatever modifications were made to the Grunt set are offset by these minor quirks. Score: 5
There are four skins included in this pack. Caustic is the cybernetic human and plays source to the CTF blue and red skins as well. The fourth is called Warlock and is notably different than the others. Looking closer at the skins reveals two 256 x 256 files per entry, one for the body and one for the "fur," with the exception of Warlock which uses a 128 x 128 for the fur. I think the fur for all four entries could have been done effectively at 128 x 128 and the default and ctf fur files are so similar they probably could have all used the same file. It hardly affects the size of the model pack though, so I'm not too worried.
The skins fit the Quake 3 theme well, maybe too well. The offer the typical armor over burnt or leathery flesh. Don't get me wrong; they are well detailed for their size and show a good amount of effort on the part of the author. I just would have liked to see some more variation. Templates are included, so maybe the community will jump in and do something off the wall.
Shaders are used sparingly for environment reflection except on the Warlock skin where some added eye candy is used. They're a little overwhelming here, but with some suspension of disbelief they can be attributed to the "alien wizard" style the author was going for.
All in all, caustic is an impressive effort. Detailed and clean. Score: 8
The author credits "Mark Klem" for the sounds. Sounds are often the most subjective part of an original model design, as we have nothing to compare them to. These are short and to the point. The quality and volume is perfect and they contribute instead of hinder the model. Score: 8
Some technical notes: It's as often that we don't get LOD's as when we do, but I'd like to see more work put into them. Most LOD's I see look like author's hit the polychop button and called it a day. Let's keep in mind that this is not an end all solution to LOD's. UVW mapping is often distorted or moved altogether in places when we lower a model's detail and it doesn't take very long to remap before we export again.
This is a solid model that may not be full of eye candy but deserves a spot in your baseq3 folder for a look. With some custom animations this could have been a bit more striking.