Steel Beasts Pro
Personal Edition
March 12, 2006

By Marcel ďSkybirdď Hoell

Page 4: Sound


Phew! Itís a deaf man writing this. In January 2006 I asked Steel Beastís sound guru Volcano about the sound FX, he said he was working on the recordings since 2000. Where SB1 had around 105 different sound files, SB Pro now has over 650 different sounds, "and counting" (Volcano) Ė and the various radio messages and comm-files are even not included in this number. Thatís much more than the first SB had Ė and that already came with a beast of a sound. However, the main interior sounds for the tanks have been carried over from the first incarnation of SB and why not if these were so damn good that many people said they kept playing just to listen to this tank opera. There are new interior sounds as well, making the sound environment more detail-rich. It seems to me some more diversity is to be heard with the various guns and cannons, and it is likely that the existing sound library will see further increase in the future. So far we are talking not about complete replacement of the SB1 sound library (I feared they eventually would replace the sounds and in that process maybe would mess up things), but a massive supplementation. A whole lot of radio comms now is implemented in the sound library, too.

There is no "fictional" constant background battle noise (for example a long sound file that is repeated in an endless loop), but every noise and sound you hear is referring to an actual event in the virtual world around you. So you can trust your ears in this sim, you can orientate yourself according to what you hear and from what direction the noise is coming, and nothing you hear will be a dummy effect. You especially know this effect from war movies, or maybe even from reality if you were a soldier in your life: you stand in the desert (like I was positioned in the desert of the 73 Easting scenario), and then you hear, almost feel this heavy, deep rumble in the air, you look around and become nervous, but you do not see anything, and the rumble in the air becomes louder, and then behind a dune the first dust trails appear and tell you that tanks and IFVs are nearby. The same effect also increases the drama when you wait for tanks appearing from behind a hill, or in a forest, the deep rumbling noise seem to be everywhere, and even at the monitor you imagine that you actually can feel it. Impressive!

Of course, it all is digital recording of the real things. In most cases, you easily hear the difference between the heavy Diesel of a Leo2 and the turbine of an Abrams, a Bushmaster auto- cannon sounds different than a Marderís, an assault rifle different form a tank-mounted 12,7 mm or a 0.5 cal. Range also distorts the sound of different weapons. There are many acoustic details inside the tank, from the complete loading procedure, over servomotors and hydraulics to the clipping sound when switching different magnifications in the optical system. Artillery is horror for your neighbors, the aggressive Hooosssshhh! of the TOWs is a hot needle penetrating your ears, impacting rounds at your position makes your boxes on the table move, a battlefield with shooting tanks and artillery impacting really is a maelstrom of noise. No other sim out today can rival the acoustic inferno SBP is creating in the sound department, believe me! Additionally, many voice commands now will be heard, and the sound environment at the height of the battle cannot be described, it must be heard, or better: felt. Very, very well done sound, the most impressive I have heard in any sim so far. Itís a frightening affair, really. The traveling time of the sound is also calculated, so you can see the muzzle-flashes in your binoculars, the puffing smoke clouds from the cannons, then hear your wingman blowing up eventually, and then the Tocka! of the enemyís gun finally reaches your ear. I donít know how often I got killed in SB without ever knowing what hit me and from where. It hasnít changed. Most times I donít see it coming and I donít hear it as well. Thinking Operation Flashpoint was a lethal game? Think twice! This is a training sim and it surely teaches you one thing: you donít get a second chance, so make your tactics working and your first shots to score, or get out as quick as you can.

While eight different languages are supported in writing, the spoken communication folders are complete for only five or six of these, for the time being, the Dutch and the French still have to wait for their share.

Let it rock! I said: R O C K...!!!

Next: Page 5: Mission Editing

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