Updated Wed, Jan 13, 2010 by Xerin
There have been a lot of attempts at creating a proper viewport addon in World of Warcraft. Many players often feel that it’s a fad. They install them for a brief period of time to marvel at how different their interface looks only to uninstall it shortly thereafter once the gimmick appeal wears off. It’s understandable; after all we crave that customized yet non-gimmicky feel. For those of you not in the know, a viewport addon is one that pushes your screen up and covers the bottom, sides, and/or top of your screen with art so you can store your map, action bars, and addons in a convenient spot and out of your gameplay area.
That is something that has always interested me but I run into a huge problem. Viewport addons tend to always either too bare bones or too drastic and never provide me with what I’m looking for. I want more raw screenspace but I don’t want the game to look foreign. Some viewport addons have gotten close to this, but my search still continues to this day.
I recently went and gave Spartan UI a return visit to see how it was doing. It’s been around for quite awhile, so I decided it was finally time to install it and give it a try.
Patch Reviewed At: 3.3
Version Reviewed At: 2.6.1
Homepage: Click here.
Spartan UI (SUI) is a mod developed to free up your gameplay area by moving your action bars, unit frames, map, mini menu, and pet bar to the bottom of the screen. It accomplishes this by surrounding these items with custom art. It uses Bartender 3 for its action bars and a version of oUF for the unitframes which all blends into one solid piece that works right out of the box.
SUI is customizable and many of its features, bars, and addons can be disabled or turned off. Extra effects such as a spinning camera while AFK, how some uncommon bars are hidden until you hover over them or the machinima screen effects can be modified while in the game with slash commands. Whenever you disable one of the bars the art behind it disappears keeping everything seamless.
It also allows you to change the viewing offset which adjusts how much of the screen the mod overlaps. This way you can change the amount of viewing area that’s pushed upwards, allowing you to have most of your normal viewing area compressed into a smaller space and placed above the addon.
Spartan U.I. is the unit frames/action bars in the background and not the additional mods. Although this is how many players set it up. The map is moved upward by MoveAnything to show the dungeon finder timer.
Click here to go to the official site for additional images.
Now that we know what we’re looking at let’s begin dissecting it all to see if Spartan UI is worth a download or ready to be shoved onto the ignore list. We’ll start this review with the installation. Installing this addon was easy and it didn’t require any additional dependencies. So a quick unzip and we’re ready to go. Loading it up in the game you’ll find it already preconfigured and ready to go out of the box.
I found that it was rather large and took up a good 1/4th of the screen for six action bars and a minimap. That was completely unacceptable, so you’ll have to adjust some of the settings like the scale and then reset the offset so it works properly again. Afterward though, you’re introduced to a mod that actually does what it claims.
I found that I had six action bars located on the bottom of the screen. Four of them were in the center and two of them were on the sides. The two on the sides were useful for consumables while my standard keys went into the four primary action bars. Since I hide a lot of my keys that I don’t need or have bound to keys I use I went ahead and disabled some of the bars. The art behind the bars disappeared creating a seamless experience. So while it works right out of the box you’re going to want to customize it a bit to be useful.
I also noticed that the unit frames were really well done, but I personally do not need them and had to disable that portion of the addon. I use nothing but Grid, but those of you who like unit frames will find them to be more than acceptable. You can disable them and use your own if you prefer something like XPerl or PitBull.
One of the big things that I found was how the art will overlap the micro menu, stance bar, and pet bar until you mouse over it. It can be disabled, but I found it to be a huge plus because I often make those invisible until you mouse over with Bartender 3. Since it can be disabled I cannot count it against the mod for those of you who need to see your pet bar all the time.
During actual use in a raiding scenario I found it to be a lot of help. Being able to see the full screen is really helpful during some encounters and having less junk in the way can be very beneficial. I can’t say that it is necessary, but it’s a big enough improvement that I could tell the difference. For players who have a mess of a UI and need more space this would be a huge help, especially for encounters where you need to see things on the ground and don’t want your interface in the way.
The additional features are not needed, but the spinning camera while AFK was helpful in alerting me that I was AFK while alt-tabbed out. The machinima features were cool for a second, but way too gimmicky for anything else. That was the only real gimmick I found with this addon.
I did find a few things wrong with it. The first was that it doesn’t provide a chat/omen/recount solution. You need to disable a few action bars to fit those in at the bottom. That’s a big negative to me, because I would have been happier with small action bars and more space to place things like that. I was able to disable some action bars and work things out, but I would have been happier with a native solution or more control over how much space action bars consume.
Spartan UI also disables your ability to move action bars around. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is an unnecessary constraint if you want to have more than six action bars out. You can change the Bartender 3 profile to get around this, but I find that to be too barbaric of a “hack” to fix things.
The mini-map is also placed in the middle and locked there. That’s fine for me because my eyes are usually in the center of the screen and I don’t rely on the minimap a lot. For some players that might be a deal breaker though. MoveAnything can move it up if it blocks your dungeon finder timer (like in the screen above).
Overall I would have to say that this is a very solid addon. It doesn’t provide a lot of gimmicks that make you want to uninstall it after the nifty factor fades away and it does provide an enhancement to your gameplay. If you’re someone who has been looking for a viewport addon then this is definitely an addon for you to try. If you want to reclaim some lost UI space then give it a look too.
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