Need some help picking a Graphics Devel. Tool

Here are the three products I am considering (all are academic license edition, but are full editions and become my property once I graduate):

SoftImage | XSI - $489.98

3d Studio Max 5.1 - $699.98

Maya 5 Complete - $599.99

SoftImage's product looks good, and is currently the one I'm looking towards getting, but I'm not sure. If anybody could give me some helpful thoughts on which is better (based on experience, viewing, reviews, or anything) I would really appreciate it.

Also, please do not suggest that I download any of these. I really do want to purchase the software with a legit license since my use of this hopefully will extend beyond educational.


Established Member
Personally, I'm a 3DS Max person. 5.x has a bunch of nice features (radiosity, softbody dynamics, etc). Version 6 is out sometime soon with a whole new slew of features. Maya used to be the business if you wanted to do character animation, but Max with Character Studio is probably as good. I think the animations in Starcraft are the work of Maya.

Softimage isn't one I've ever seen used i don't think. I'm not sure what it is capable of. Of that lot, I'd reccommend 3DS - it is nice and easy to get to grips with (at least for the basic stuff) and the online help it provides is excellent. Do you have much experience with 3D work?
Thanks for the info.

Anyway, I did some looking around and saw that SoftImage is what thier using to make Half-Life 2. They also used it for Tekken 1 through 4, Super Mario 64, Jet Set Radio, Zelda 64, Resident Evil 0, Final Fantasy X, and a bunch of other stuff.

The software also produced effects for Terminator 3, some of the Harry Potter films, and other stuff.

(some of the more popular stuff developed is listed on: )

Anyway, If you don't mind, I would like to ask two other questions (sorry about this):

1.) Do many of the products support integration with Visual Studio or Borland IDEs?

2.) Are C/C++ libraries usually supplied that would allow me import my work from a tool like 3d studio max, Maya, etc into an existing application?