There seems little point in practicing magic unless you want to do at least a few extraordinary things with this incarnation. Peter J Carroll, The Octavo

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Store link:Urban Metro Outfit

Urban Metro Outfit is a set of conforming clothing for the Genesis 2 Male line of figures. It includes a tee-shirt, down vest, pants/jeans and sneakers. I'm not exactly sure what style Urban Metro is...so I can't say if the name is actually descriptive. To me, its a sensible outfit; contemporary, even if the down vest is questionable (I actually just saw a fairly well dressed gentleman wearing one, so I guess they are back in fashion ) and the "retro sneakers" as the ad copy calls them... well, they were the reason I didn't buy the outfit on sight.

There's nothing "retro" about them, and while I can overlook the misnomer, the style was a little hard to swallow at first (and I am a guy who knows mens' shoes). If only these things had laces.... they'd kinda look like high top skate shoes. But they don't have laces... just an oddly placed strap. I'm not saying that these shoes aren't in fashion somewhere... they may well be. I probably wouldn't wear them. The only place I have seen that mid-foot strap in on "fashion" boots.

That being said, it is a great looking set. Its realistic, not overly "fashionable", and all-around pretty average. Those are all bonus points for me. I can get as much sci-fi, fantasy what-have-you gear as I can stomach.  But the average, contemporary stuff... rare. And finding a good, complete set is rarer-still.  The shoes are often the downfall, if they are even included.

What's Included

Urban Metro Whats IncludedThe set comes with 4 models: Tee-Shirt, Vest, Jeans and Shoes (single model, not split into right and left), with one set of textures for each. The store page lists 5 texture and bump maps, along with material presets for Daz Studio (3Delight) and Poser.

The models are not particularly high-poly (averaging 23,000 polys), but certain pieces do have significant detail: the vest and the shoes in particular. The vest has a nice zipper and the quilting is modeled in; it lacks morphs to change it from the default half-open shape which is a drawback, but not a large impediment to usage. The shoes are pretty intricately detailed and it really is a shame that the modeler left out the laces, because they would be the high point of the set (some still may consider them to the the high point of the set, as they are very nice). The tee-shirt is short on detail, but there's not a lot to detail in a tee-shirt; it has modeled in seams which is a nice touch. The jeans lack detail. The zipper cover is there, along with the waist band; but the pockets are not modeled nor is the button at the waist. The jeans do have seams, but they are incorrect for denim trousers and are more like dress slacks. The jeans, from a model stand-point, are the least impressive piece. The lack of detail results in the user having to use texture maps that make up for the lack.

The textures are outstanding. What the models lack in fine detail, the textures more than make up for. I can't say enough good things about the textures. The one thing that bothers me is that there are no effects maps  (1 bump map is included, for the shoes). 

Taken together, the models and the included textures are an impressive package. The models have broad detail and the textures are rich in fine detail.

Documentation

There is no documentation beyond the standard, online read me. This item doesn't really require any additional documentation.

Usage

Default materials exampleThis started off as a pretty favorable review. Other than my quibbles over naming and style, I liked the set. I did note that there were no effects maps included (bump, normal or displacement). I didn't think this was an issue until I started doing some renders for this review.  What I discovered is that the lack of effects maps does matter. And the materials are incredibly lacking. Specular, on everything, is flat... black  or gray specular color and no glossiness (see Vest materials to the right). What are we rendering with here, Poser 4 pre Pro-Pack? All that detail in the diffuse textures does nothing but make the items appear that much flatter; the lack of effects maps and sub-par materials make what could be an exceptional set into a set whose actual value is far below its price point. I take the greatest issue with the painted on specular on the shoe textures.

Further, there is no smoothing modifier on the vest or the tee-shirt, and as you can tell from my Brodie render (see below, the tee-shirt pops at the shoulder seam; click the image for full resolution), it's needed. The pants have a smoothing modifier, but it is effectively disabled. There are no movement morphs (Noted above is the lack of a morph to open or close the vest from its default half-open state) and very little in the way of adjustment morphs (there are a handful on the pants, but they were not up to the task of clothing my morphed Brodie).

The UV mapping on the models is not conducive to using tiling textures on them. The user is forced to use the included textures or make their own specifically for the set. The pants have a single material zone as does the tee-shirt. The sleeves on the tee-shirt are not mapped the way an actual men's shirt would be; if you put a pattern on the shirt (or used a tiling texture with effects maps) the pattern will be going the wrong way.

I'm going to mention the add-on texture set here, because those textures have the same failings as the included ones: painted on details and no effects maps. Further, they are exactly the same textures, just colored differently. All the details areexactlythe same.

This set is a mixed bag for sure: adequate models, detailed textures, sub-par materials and inadequate figure work. All things considered, I can't recommend it. And if I had looked at the product with this critical eye immediately after I had purchased it, I probably would have asked for my money back.

It is not up to the standards that one should expect. It most certainly is beneath my expectations for a product that carries a $22 price tag.

 

Click the thumbnails below for larger versions of this article's images.

M6 Urban Metro Full ImageBrodie 6 Urban Metro Full Image