Written by  :  Jonathan Daggar (5)
Written on  :  Nov 08, 1999
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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The game that singlehandedly justified buying a 386.

The Good

The plot was involving, well-paced and, for a video game, nothing short of brilliant. The aliens all (okay, all except the Supox, who were apparently an afterthough) had very well-developed and entertaining personalities.

The graphics were excellent for their time. Though they look a bit dated now, they certainly don't look bad. Some-- like the Spathi captain or the Ur-Quan-- probably would look much worse if they were done in the sort of rendering and ray-tracing used today.

The game's sound effects were so far ahead of their time that its own long-delayed sequel's sound didn't come close to matching up. Instead of using Bob-awful MIDI music, it used MOD files to create a game soundtrack whose quality was absolutely unparalleled until game companies started putting real music tracks on their CD-ROMs. It still sounds good today, if you can get your Sound Blaster 64 (or whatever) to emulate an SB-8 decently.

The combat part-- super-melee I think it was called-- was simple but addicting. It was a 2-dimensional top-down view of two ships in combat, with a huge variety of ships to pick from.

The Bad

The "resource gathering" part-- where you had to run around to every nearby star to gather minerals-- got tedious. Fortunately, the original version had a way to get around having to do it.

The fact that the rights to make the sequel fell to Accolade instead of the game's designers, who were responsible for making it a brilliant game largely in spite of Accolade's involvement.

The game was optimized to run VERY well under DOS-- a little bit too optimized, in fact, for anyone running win95. It's quite a chore getting the game to run well with all the stupid memory tricks that windows 95 uses.

The Bottom Line

All things considered, probably one of the greatest computer games of all time. If it doesn't run on your new computer, buy a 386 at a garage sale and play it.