Review by LocoSpitz
After playing this great game, I can't find any reason why it didn't sell as well as The Sims or RollerCoaster Tycoon. Not only is this game more enjoyable than any other space sim I've played, it's better than any other game I've ever played. Volition obviously spent a very long time to make sure that all the elements of the game were perfect, and it shows. The graphics are excellent. The sound is excellent. The music is excellent. The controls are excellent. The gameplay is excellent. The multiplayer is excellent. This game is practically flawless. Whether you're a fan of the genre or not, you simply must go out and pick up a copy of this superb game.
GRAPHICS - 10/10 - WOW! The graphics in FreeSpace 1 were good, but not great, so I wasn't expecting them to be much better in this game. Fortunately, they were MUCH better! Every ship has enough polygons to make it look great, and the textures are EXCELLENT and VERY detailed. All the weapons look great, and the laser weapons look very good. The beam weapons, fired from capital ships, look great, with quality consistent with some movies! Even better, everything is smooth - no jaggies here! I also NEVER experienced ANY clipping, a first for me! And somehow, Volition made all this stuff run GREAT on my 3D card - a 16MB TNT!
All the pre rendered videos have this same high level of quality. Also, the animations which go along with weapons and mission briefing are VERY high quality.
SOUND - 10/10 - The voice acting in this game is some of the best I've ever heard. I've heard good voice acting before - Grim Fandango comes to mind - but this is better. Nothing like the AWFUL Sonic Adventure 1/2 voices! They sound exactly as you'd imagine, and never sound forced or ''fake''.
The sound from weapons and ships is just as good. All the weapons have firing sounds, with each weapon having its own sound. The sound from the weapon impacts is just as good, very solid. The capital ship weapons are also great. The flak guns sound very good, with a little explosion sound each time it is fired. The beam weapons also sound great, with the kind of sound you would expect from one.
One other great thing about the sound was the A3D support. I have an A3D card, and this is the only game that supports it that I truly heard the effects from. The 3D sound from A3D is very helpful. You can tell where shots are coming from, and it makes the game that much better. This game is certainly a reason to get an A3D card.
MUSIC - 9/10 - The only part of this game I can complain about. The music wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It seemed to be of lower quality than everything else in the game, but not by much. Fortunately, it stays in the background, where it's supposed to be. You're never overwhelmed by the music like you are is Phantasy Star Online. It's always just the right volume.
CONTROL - 10/10 - A perfect combination of joystick and keyboard. When I play, I use my joystick to turn and fire weapons, and my keyboard for everything else. A lot of thought obviously went into the controls, because they never frustrate you. Plus, it works very well with just 1 hand on the keyboard and 1 on the joystick, because you never need more than one hand on the keyboard. Just make sure you have a joystick with this game, it's nowhere near as fun without it.
GAMEPLAY - 10/10 - Excellent! Before each mission, you're given a briefing. In the briefing, you are told information about the mission through text, voice, and diagrams. At the end of the briefing, you get a list of primary, secondary, and bonus objectives. You can easily choose your ship and weapons. Once you're in the game, you NEVER feel frustrated by the game's constraints. All the information you need is available all the time - information on targeted ships and escorted ships, weapons status, mission objectives, speed, energy meter, afterburner meter, kill counter, shield status, radar, and subsystem status. And even though there's all this information, it's not cluttered at all!
During a battle, you can easily target ships. The status of the targeted ship is shown in the HUD. When the ship is visible, it has brackets around it and an indication of your distance from it. There is also an indicator showing where to fire to get a hit, so you never have to guess. The enemy AI is very good, so you never feel like it's cheating, or like it's just a practice target.
When you destroy the targeted ship, the game CAN automatically target the nearest hostile ship. Plus, you can also automatically match speed. If you decide to take on a capital ship, you can target specific weapons and subsystems, so you can take out beam cannons to prevent the destruction of your capital ships, or you can take up the engines to prevent the ship from moving. In one word, the gameplay is perfect.
REPLAYABILITY - 7/10 - The lowest point in this review. You can replay the main campaign, and it's still fun the 2nd time, but because of the highly scripted missions it's almost exactly the same. Luckily, you can download new campaigns, and the multiplayer adds a lot.
This game makes great use of my Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro joystick. You feel the rumble of the afterburners and feel the recoil from firing your missiles and energy weapons. When you're hit, you know it. When there's a collision, you really know it.
This game is probably the best I've ever played, and perhaps the best I ever will. And don't think I'm comparing it to terrible games. I'm comparing it to games given Game of the Year awards and near perfect ratings - games like Homeworld, Starcraft, and Grim Fandango. Those games are very good, but can't beat FreeSpace 2. If you have even a slight interest in computer games, buy this one. Now.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/15/01, Updated 08/15/01
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