back to the early 90's, specifically the year 1990. It was the year
that a man known as Chris Roberts introduced a game to the public that
would arguably become the most influential space-sim game ever to hit
the market. Wing Commander started off by changing the shape of space-sims
by adding more than just the average simplistic missions. The missions
had more of a human touch behind them and the gamer had the chance to
get to know his or her wingmen.
the ship detail is truly sweet even when up-close and personal
of this, the missions had many different aspects to them, not just the
same old defend or attack assignments. Now in 2000, Chris Roberts has
pushed the envelope once again.
release of Starlancer by Microsoft earlier this month, space-sim gamers
have a new game to obsess over. When the news broke about Chris Roberts
leaving the company he had stayed with for almost a decade to begin
his own, gamers were concerned that this would affect the quality of
his games. But you can put your worries to rest, if all of the games
that Digital Anvil (in cooperation with Microsoft) release are like
Starlancer, we may have a new series to look forward to.
begins with a view of the future as if the cold war had never ended.
Man has colonized other planets and has advanced in space travel capabilities.
But not everything is good in the future. There is still tension between
the Coalition (Russia, China, countries from the Middle East) and the
Alliance (United States, Western Europe, and Japan). Without giving
away too much of the storyline, war breaks out between the two factions,
the call goes out to volunteers to take up the struggle and your character
is one of the many that respond.
that is presented is a refreshing change from the norm. Most space-sims
have the human race struggling against some odd alien species so it
is nice to get back to basics with the human versus human conflict.
Furthermore, the game gives an individual a very thorough explanation
as to why his/her character joined and why he/she is a beginner(that's
right, you can play as a male OR a female). Your squadron unit is made
up of retired veterans and civilian pilots so this explains your lack
of experience as well as the experience of your wingmen. Again, without
giving away too much, Digital Anvil has successfully stayed away from
the same-old rehashed storylines.
the actual game mechanics, there seems to be little or nothing that
one can complain about. The graphics and sound are just fantastic and
completely immerse you in the space-dogfight atmosphere. The ships themselves
are beautifully rendered and there are enough ships within the game
to find one that fits your play style. Also, the shape and look of the
fighter and large capital ships do not deteriorate as you get closer.
The shape and colours remain perfect and there are none of the grainy,
pixilated textures that are found in so many other games.
explosions in this game are actually quite pleasing-debris and
Anvil also stayed away from using real actors for the characters which
is the accepted and appreciated standard of today. The characters are
well rendered and animated and are not cartoony. The sounds on their
own make the game feel quite realistic and if you close your eyes and
just listen to the lasers and explosions, you could swear that you were
in space yourself. Communication between wingmen also sounds realistic
and the voice-acting is clear and understandable. Overall, the audio/visuals
of the game add to the realism of this sense-pleasing space-combat game.
Roberts' first series was a fan favourite, it did lack a multiplayer
option. Starlancer has made up for this oversight and provides quite
a few options for the multiplayer hungry gamer. Everything from playing
on Microsoft's Gaming Zone to playing a friend over the modem is available.
Additionally, gamers can play either in a death match session or in
cooperation with each other. The cooperation session is a particularly
interesting feature since it allows a group of gamers to play all of
the campaign missions in order instead of just random missions.
the drawbacks of Starlancer is in the actual control of the game. There
appears to be as many commands as there are buttons on the keyboard.
For a beginner, this could be confusing. Fortunately, not all of the
commands are necessary for playing the game. Only certain keys will
be used constantly, allowing a beginner and a veteran to space-sims
a chance to get used to the settings. On top of this, the keys can be
customized any way in which the gamer chooses, allowing one to become
better acquainted with the command buttons.
Digital Anvil has provided three training sessions in the game so that
a pilot can check up on the command buttons and skills even within a
the cockpit environment is great-until you're ejected.
drawback is the fact that you can only play the campaign on the Alliance
side. It would have been a fun addition to be able to play as the Coalition.
Sometimes it is fun just to play as the bad guys.
Starlancer does have its frustrating moments. When a pilot is forced
to eject, there are 3 possible outcomes - be killed by the enemy, be
picked up by the enemy, or be picked up by the Alliance to begin play
again. In one session, one of my friends here in the office kept getting
blown to pieces and ejecting. After the ejection cut scene he kept getting
killed even though there were no enemy fighters around-you can just
imagine the frustration.
these drawbacks, Starlancer is a great game and it comes from a long
line of space-sims. It is unique in it's own sense and a blast to play.
Whether you're playing a single player campaign or a multi player session,
this game will definitely deliver. I recommend this game highly to anyone
who has played a space-sim or is interested in trying out a new genre.
is beautiful in terms of graphics, sounds.
to see storyline get back to basics
can be complicated