Written by  :  Stuart Stocks (7)
Written on  :  May 20, 2001

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Good but flawed, 33rd century space action as you partake the role of an interstellar mercenary.

The Good

Many of my friends who have seen this game alwys ask me questions like, how many levels does first encounters have and how do you complete it? I then tell them that there is no set goals or end to the game, which i believe is one of the games most appealing features. You can play the game any way you like, such as completing the missions to find the insect thargoids, or you can just cruise around space reliving the moon landings or trying to land on Pluto. The point being, there is no linear game structure, you can pretty much do what you like (barring leaving your ship, which is a pity.). This is not the only good point of FFE. Others include contacting the Thargoids (They were not present in Frontier.), completing both military and the set missions which are provided, which can include nuking reserch bases of the enemy militia, assassinating high ranking figures and even smuggling spies from one planet to the other. Finally the graphics of the game are on the whole improved from Frontier with texture mapped planets and more exotic space ports and orbital space ports.

The Bad

One of the most irritating issues to this game is the amounts of bugs present. Some of these remain even after the patch disks later released by Gametek, after the first unplayable version of the game was released. These bugs include the joystick going crazy, and certain problems with the set missions ( wont give away too much so as not to spoil the game for those who havent done them.), and some ships (such as a gun turret being placed behind the hull, which registers as a hit on your ship if you fire this gun. Very annoying.). The graphics can also be a bit dodgy at times, with problems such as cities appearing to "hover" on the planets surface and when you land sometimes your ship appears to sink beneath ground level producing graphical glitches. The auto pilot can also crash you rather than land you in a space port. But on the whole, the game is playable and enjoyable once you get into it.

The Bottom Line

So to sum up, if you liked Frontier, missed the Thargoids and enjoy a long running complex space sim, you could do worse than get a copy of First Encounters. But if youre in to blasting everything in sight and easily pick up and play games, then I wouldnt reccomend this title. But overall FFE is a pretty descent space sim which you can play to your own rules without following a set game plan.