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SummaryWatch out, Wing Commander!
The GoodExcellent cockpit and graphics, cap ships that makes sense, LOTS of multiplayer options, lots of missions, full mission/campaign editor,
The BadGets repetitive after a while, plot is old and stale, doesn't add much to the genre (refinements only)
The Bottom LineFreespace is a new chapter in space combat sims, in the spirit of Wing Commander, but doesn't add much to the genre, if at all.
The graphics are noticeably better, at least as good as Wing Commander: Prophecy, the latest Wing Commander game, and supports more 3D accelerators. The missions are also better designed with more interactivity. You can tell wingmen to attack specific parts of the ship, and maybe even call in reinforcements (if available). You can configure loadout for the entire flight, both you and your wingmen (up to 11 of them). You can win awards and citations and promotions. You even get suggestions in the debriefing about your performance.
Freespace is very customizable. ALL the keystrokes can be remapped, and the cockpit HUD can be remapped/moved as well, even chosee from three different colors. There are also five different levels of difficulty and plenty of other config options to suit.
Where Freespace really shines is multiplayer, as you can play free on PXO, the free Freespace gaming service. Signup is as simple as Battle.net and action is just as furious, with random ships and missions possible. If you have the bandwidth, you can even try voice comms.
There's also Squad Wars, where the server keeps track of individual battles that affect an overall campaign map, which in turn generates more individual battles to be played out in MP games.
The full mission/campaign editor (FRED) is very powerful and user campaigns and mission are plenty. If you tired of those, there are even mods and total conversions for Freespace that converts the crafts and weapons and ships to vessels from other sci-fi universes.
Freespace, however, is merely an evolutionary title that made the old features better, but didn't really bring anything new to the table. Story-wise it couldn't match Wing Commander (yet), and it's hard to imagine what the next breakthru feature would be. Freespace is about as state-of-the-art as you can go... And is worthy of your money if you like this genre, but just be warned that you have seen all this before, in one way or another.