about feedback archives submissions

//loonygames://issue 2.9://The Top Shelf://1, 2
switch to printer-friendly version

What's new today:

The archives have been cleaned up, dead links fixed, and the printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the main page!

Livin' With The Sims
theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura
Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

Real Life
Check out our newest comic strip, Real Life! Updated daily!

User Friendly
Updated daily!

Random Feature:

Search the Archives!

The Top Shelf:
Freespace 2

Vol. 2, Issue 9
January 27, 2000

The screens / interfaces in the game are probably my biggest beef with Freespace 2. The menus and interfaces seem far more complex than they need to be; possibly in and effort to enhance the “sci-fi”-ness of the game. I personally found them a bit intimidating at first; and I didn’t feel that it was made clear that much of the options (such as HUD configuration) are already taken care of for you in a fairly good manner. There also didn’t feel like there as an option to just jump in the game and fly. All of the pilot management screens add a barrier to this, I think. Much of the interface reminds me of the “I’m in a room on a ship” menu screens in Wing Commander 3 (although without the needless tromping about your capital ship).

click to enlarge!

Woo...glom that background (30k).

Gameplay was where I was really hoping that Freespace 2 would break some new ground – but alas, as of this writing I haven’t found anything really innovative. The fact that missiles and guns can be chained together is nothing new, and the flight mechanics are fairly familiar as well (standard airplane-like control). The ships do seem to carry a bit of momentum, but for me that just translated into problems when trying to fine-tune my aim in a dogfight. Ships seem fairly eager to begin a turn or roll; but are not so happy or precise when trying to stop one of the afore-mentioned maneuvers. One of the things that they seemed to hype, was HUGE capital ships.

Well, while it is fairly impressive to see a giant starship warp in and start blasting the hell out of everything with big guns, I personally don’t see that it makes much of a difference in the game. You can target individual components on these ships, you have to fly through heavy defenses on their part, and blowing them up is no easy task. But none of this is news – all of these things could be done with Wing Commander 3 (not to beat a dead horse here). In fact, the only significant thing I think that the huge ships add, is an opportunity for more scripted sequences where one huge ship has to warp in to toast another big ship; because you just plain can’t handle the task of taking down such a monstrosity in a fighter craft.

I also felt that the difficulty of the game ramped up sharply after the first few missions. You go from a time when you’re just jumping on fighters and taking them out fairly easily, to a couple of situations in which you must be VERY precise and VERY fast with your kills to protect some objectives. Weapons-fire isn’t all that rapid, so accuracy counts for a lot in this game.

There’s also the old trick of “let’s send the player on a completely un-beatable mission so we can have some scripted dialog add to the story”. I’ve seen this plot mechanism in space sims WAY too much for it to interest or entertain me at all anymore. Its true that they do fuel some intrigue with the dialog in the beginning; but I’d rather have seen some more original ways of bringing the same information to light.

All in all, if you are new to Space Combat simulators, or want a “run of the mill” space combat sim experience – then this is a good game to get. Otherwise, I suggest you try something more challenging and more original; like one of the Battlecruiser 3000AD games. Or, save your money and wait for the upcoming line of games like Allegiance or Starlancer.

- Noel "HB" Wade is a regular contributor to loonygames. Basically, he just wants attention.


about feedback archives submissions

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