Review by Shadow Hunter V
"This is easily the BEST space/flight/anything sim I've played!"
Never in my life have I felt so comfortable giving a game a 10. I've been a big fan of games like these since I was a child, hell, so has my father! We both played and loved the Wing Commander series when I was younger, and for a Christmas not too long ago I got Wing Commander Prophecy and Freespace 2(we were big fans of the original). Going with tradition, I played Prophecy(a decent game, I still prefer WC3 or 4)and kinda forgot about Freespace 2. Fairly recently, I rediscovered this game, and can safely say it IS THE BEST! I had no idea it had done so poorly 'till I read some reviews on here, and it really sickens me that it didn't sell better, because it is totally worth it! Alas, I have noticed a decline in pretty much any PC game that's not a FPS. So, with that background info out of the way, on to the review!
Story-You would think flight simulators, like their semi-related cousins FPSs, would be a little dry on the plot. Well, Wing Commander poured the plot on you as thick as possible, in all their games! The Freespace series has an amazingly interesting plot that unfolds as you play, mostly through in-mission chatter! One mission leaps to mind where something doesn't exactly go the way it's suppossed to(I'm trying to avoid spoilers, excuse the vagueness)and your wingmates start to complain, question, and become a little suspicious. Plus, every few missions you'll get a news update, and there's numerous CG movies throughout to advance the plot. The plot started back in Freespace 1, where the Terrans were engaged in war with an alien race called the Vasudans. The game opened right in the middle of the war. About halfway through, an alien species later called the Shivans showed up out of nowhere and started blasting both sides. After much effort, the two species teamed up and fought off the Shivans, destroying their massive superdestroyer, the Lucifer. FS2 takes place 32 years later, the Vasudans and Terrans live in peace, and you're flying against some insurgents that wish for freedom. However, turns out the destruction of the Lucifer sealed off the Earth jump point(oops)so the Terrans and Vasudans you see in this game have lost all contact with Earth, and its fate is unknown. Well, turns out that that's a good thing, since the fighting with the rebels draws the attention of the Shivans once again, who come through a massive super space node thingy, and as expected, all hell breaks loose. Now, Freespace2 has only one failing with story advancement that Wing Commander handled better. In WC, failing a mission would change future missions and there were usually two 'paths', a losing and winning path. Freespace 2 requires you to successfully complete at least the primary objectives before moving on. This allows the plot to be more solid as the writers didn't have to plan for you possibly screwing up some missions, and secondary and bonus objectives are still optional, and doing them make MAJOR differences in upcoming missions.
Gameplay-Alright, lots of games have good plots, so what about the biggest deciding factor in games like these, the gameplay? Well, it absolutely ROCKS! I've played this game on a small old MS Sidewinder 3D Pro with like 3 buttons that I used on it, the rest were done on the keyboard, and it was very intuitive. I most recently am using a Logitech Wingman Extreme with about 7 buttons, that is of course better, and very good. The useful training simulations get you up to shape fast and the missions follow a decent learning curve and you have numerous difficulties to choose from. The gameplay isn't copied from WC as you might suspect, it's almost closer to Descent controls(A and Z accelerate, though I quickly regulated that stuff to my joystick's throttle)though plenty of WC elements remain within. One big theme of this game is making you feel very smalland fragile. Every capital ship you come across DWARFS your tiny fighter, the super sized capital ships just make you wet your pants! The Lucifer from Freespace 1 was just plain huge, the main ship in this game is freakishly ginormus!<--(not a real word)When you get to the fun missions that involve taking out bombers and fighters while a pair of capital ships duke it out, you discover the true definition of hectic. Flak explosions all around you, missiles screaming by EVERYWHERE, LOTS of lasers and other weapons streaking everywhere, and above it all, the capital ship's have their massive beam weapons that'll ionize a fighter with a near miss, and cut apart capital ships(the preferred weapon of cap ship duels. Avoid the crossfire:-)The gameplay easily delivers on all needs.
Sound/Audio-The music is better than you would expect from a game of this type, though not as good as Wing Commander's(yes, I compare the two a lot, but hell, they're the two top space simulations on the market so I think it makes sense)The audio is excellent. Your numerous 10 or so primary weapons(you don't get them all at once, don't worry)all make a distinctive, identifiable sound, as do all your secondary weapons when launched. The extrememly high speed Trebuchet missile is more of a SWOOOOOOSH while the slow heatseeeking Rockeye is a FOOM. If you get to near a fighter you hear the traditional screech of its engines, that's always cool. And yes, you can't hear noises in space. Well, screw physics, when they're this good, no one should care!
Replayability-Yes, though not the ''replay to find new stuff'' type, but ''replay because it's damned fun'' type. If you usually don't like to replay games just because they're fun, then there's little for you.
Buy or rent?-Weird question, who rents PC games anyways? But BUY!! Around 50 missions, many of which will take you numerous tries, and some of which are fairly long!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/27/02, Updated 05/27/02
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