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SummaryElite + realistic physics = Good.
The GoodI really like the fact that it uses newtonian physics instead of the Star Wars, turn-on-a-dime physics model. It makes the game much more interesting and you really feel a sense of accomplishment once you get in orbit around a planet (which is possible, although incredibly difficult to accomplish). Also, the sheer size of the playing map ensures that one will be exploring new star systems in FE2 for a very long time. The graphics, while simple, really show the grand scale of planets and stars, especially if you get up close! The missions that you can pick up from the various bulletin boards are well varied, and it's always fun to nuke a military installation from orbit after fighting through a small fleet of fighter craft. Modifying and servicing your craft has improved over Elite substantially, and you can also deal with police in a more realistic and interesting fashion than in Elite. Trading is also handled well, and follows the solid buy low/sell high formula. The game has a certain personality to it, like all the other games in the Elite series. Finally, FE2 easily has the best theme song in the entire Elite series.
The BadThe sound, for a start, is atrocious. The sounds were ripped out of Elite Plus, it seems, as they sound no different than the sounds from that game. Also, save for the title music, all of the music is of very poor quality as well (think 'organ grinder' as the operative word here). Combat is handled very poorly, and it easily makes this the most difficult of the Elite games to have a decent combat in. Mining, while possible, is not an effective means of earning money, which is disappointing. Also, some people may have difficulty adjusting to the new flight system.
The Bottom LineFrontier : Elite 2 (more popularly known as FE2), takes place roughly 100 years after the original Elite. In that time frame, a lot has happened. The Thargoids have been defeated, and now only reside in their home system (wherever that is). The galactic powers, the Federation and the Empire, also have gained a lot more prominence in the rest of colonized space, and the Core Systems are now major ports of call. Also a lot of things on the technology front have been happening as well. Inertia-less drives are no longer available, and now pilots must contend with newtonian physics instead of the tight turning nimble dog fighting style of flight of yesteryear. Also, the Mamba is no longer in production due to shoddy hull design, and the Fer-De-Lance and the Military Laser were just too good to remain legal.
However, on the bright side of things, pilots can now purchase different types spacecraft with ease, and are no longer confined to the Cobra Mk 3. Also, Bulletin Board Services have been installed in every port now, thus allowing for more varied job opportunities, just as military jobs, assassinations, ferrying of special cargoes and passengers and the occasional missing person notification. You can even unload illegal cargo unto the black market to avoid detection from the police (although if your caught you can always bribe them), or sell it to someone who needs said cargo so badly they'll pay twice the local market value.
Overall, this game improves on upon Elite in every respect except sound, and I recommend it without reservation.