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Vol. 2, Issue 9
January 27, 2000

The Top Shelf:

Freespace 2

by Noel "HB" Wade




ere’s a novel concept: An alien race threatens the human race. It’s a kill-or-be-killed situation, and we’ve got to take to the stars in our space fighters (many of which are developed from ships found in the previous game in the storyline) to defend civilization as we know it. If you’ve EVER played a space combat sim in your life, you’ve probably heard this whole spiel before. In fact, with a few notable exceptions (like Battlecruiser 3000 AD and a few forth-coming products) - space combat sims haven’t changed much in many years.

click to enlarge!

Dang there's a lot on that screen (40k)

Unfortunately, I can (with conviction and a clear conscience) say that Freespace 2 is following directly in the well-trodden footsteps of those before it. In fact, it seems that it is almost stepping in the exact boot-prints of previous games. However, rather than jump right into the details, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that Freespace 2 does deliver fairly solid gameplay in a tried-and-true format. I experienced no major bugs or hassles with getting the game to work. I found no features notably absent, and no features were boasted about that they didn’t actually provide. The game ran solid and required no crazy patching or setting-tweaking.

Graphically, the game is very strong. Textures are well done, and while poly-counts for ships aren’t high, good lighting and plenty of ships on-screen at once help make up for it. Effects are done well, although I personally don’t like the lengthy “death throes” that most targets go through before falling off your radar screen. The game isn’t revolutionary in the graphics department; but its close to cutting edge for the genre, and is clean and solid. Although I hold a special place in my heart for the “Babylon 5 Combat Sim” that never saw the light of day, Freespace 2’s graphics come close to reminding me of the battles and action from the Babylon 5 TV show... much lower poly counts, to be sure; but the look and feel of the action are very similar.

click to enlarge!

Purty (31k)

Sound-wise, the game is fairly good. I think that some sounds are too transient or “arcade-y”, but overall they keep you in the game (I could pick a bone about sound traveling in space... but, I’ll let it slide for gameplay reasons). Voice acting is well done, if not spectacular; and the background music for things fits decently well – if not exactly drawing your attention or making you think “gee, this stuff is good”.

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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Dan Zalkus. This review is © 2000 Noel Wade. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, goldarn it.