Great game for its day
At the time SC came out, it was unsurpassed in the depth of its play. Although the controls were fairly Arcade-like and simplistic, the balance of the different ships is nearly perfect. (and arguably unmatched even by SC2, which had a few too many ships) Not only was each ship completely distinctive, but the dynamics of the battle changed completely depending on which ships were in play. An Ur-Quan and a Chenjesu would have a long-distance slugging match without closing, whereas a Spathi and Arilou would have an insanely frenetic dogfight. And there was great joy in discovering particular strategies for each matchup. On a smaller note, the included strategy game section was entertaining, if simplistic.
The AI is a bit dumb compared to SC2, but my guess is they programmed the AI in SC2 based on the more successful strategies discovered by players. (IE, the AI was about as good as could be expected) The rotating starfield in the strategy segment was INCREDIBLY difficult to learn, and many players never got the hang of it. (although if you could, it made the navigation a lot of fun)
The Bottom Line
Overall, this is a fun game with incredible amounts of replay ability. While it's easy to see all the game has to offer within a few hours, months could be spent exploring combat strategies.