Written by  :  Stargazer (105)
Written on  :  Dec 09, 2003
Platform  :  DOS

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Easily the best in the Elite series, although a bit buggy at times

The Good

Realistic Newtonian physics (for its time) provide a great and realistic atmosphere, good graphics (again for its time), and further helps improving this unique atmosphere.

I like the idea of seamlessly being able to travel from space to terra firma, with full 3D planetary topography - a feature that has never (to the best of my knowledge) been attempted again in any commercial game since First Encounters (Noctis is probably the closest thing you'll get, where the surfaces are even more detailed - but the transition from space to ground is still not quite as seamless as that in Frontier or FFE).

Exploration in Frontier is simply amazing, although it does get somewhat repetitive over time, combat is a bit frustrating at first, but ends up being one of the many unique features in the game as it evolves (space dog-fighting in Newtonian physics are indeed very hard – proving its not likely to ever happen that way in real-life).

The Bad

There are a few bugs but - thank god - these are far lesser and less critical then in the sequel.
They could have worked more on the sounds and music, and also a tad more at the plot and missions - for not to mention trying to make the universe more dynamic.

AI is quite poor as well - I generally don't mind that, but Frontier really could use a bit refreshing on the computer brain part.

Also, I really wish we were able to actually leave the ship and explore a planet on foot - I mean, seeing all these mountains and lakes and rivers passing by really makes me want to climb out of the cockpit and explore them further. Unfortunately, Frontier doesn’t seem to allow that; a shame really: all these detailed worlds, and so relatively limited ways to really experience them. Oh well, one can't have everything, I guess - and we have to remember Frontier was coded in a time when DOS was full of restrictions.

All of these are mainly just minor rants though, I'm sure I'll remember more after I've submitted this review...

The Bottom Line

Frontier is quite easily one of the very best games in the Elite series - with all its detailed worlds and countless star systems. It has probably not yet been surpassed by any other commercial game (although Alessandro Ghignola’s Noctis appears to be closing in fast to become the successor to Frontier's exploration elements).

Although the initial release was rushed a bit out the door, the few bugs that could hamper the Gameplay has been mostly removed; and only a very few remain.
Although occasionally a bit frustrating, Frontier makes it very clear why the series gained its popularity: although it does have a few lacks and mistakes here and there, Frontier was and remains quite simply a work of art rarely seen in commercial games

Final Score: 8/10