User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Starsiege (Windows)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
80
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Raphael (1160)
Written on  :  Nov 03, 1999
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars
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Summary

A disappointing entry in a great series... but man, the graphics rule!

The Good

The graphics are absolutely gorgeous! They are the highest quality graphics of any 'Mech game so far, and they are some of the best of any game I've ever seen. The game runs like lightning.

The music rules! It seems hard to find a game today with good music, but this game has high-energy, hardcore techno, dancey type stuff pounding as you fly across the beautifully rendered planets. It is an awesome gaming experience in this aspect.

It supports Glide and Open GL, which gives it wide 3D support, but also supports DirectDraw for 2D cards.

SS supports any DirectInput device, which means that you can finally use the mouse to turn left & right!

You can choose your "face art", in other words, what your character will look like. You can also customize the art for your HERCs!

The Bad

Unfortunately, despite the awesome graphics and music, the rest of the game is a big disappointment.

First, the plot. Professional sci-fi writers were hired to develop the Earthsiege universe. They made it take place about 200 years after ES2, and added all these new characters. The main problem I have with this is that the plot is kind of hard to follow... Is Dynamix really trying to rival FASA's BattleTech universe??

Second, the controls are highly customizable, but there are a lot of controls that I never was able to really figure out, or seem useless. For example, you can "Drop a Nav Marker". This seems pretty useless. There are all these controls that you can use to turn your shield focus. This seems pretty interesting at first, but during a battle there is just too much to concentrate on, and I was never able to make use of this feature.

Third, and most important, the HERCs themselves are really poor. The way ES I and II handled the HERCs loadouts were far superior. ESII featured some new special items you could put on your HERC, like a turbo booster, an energy pool increaser, shield increaser, etc. The only thing you had to configure for the HERCs were the weapons and special items (which went in a standard weapon hardpoint). But in SS you have to configure: your Engine, Reactor (two different things!), Computer, Shields, Armor, Sensor, 2 Special items, and up to 6 (only 6!) Weapons. Basically, the problem I have with this is it's just too complicated and restrictive. For the weapons, you are heavily restricted. In ESII, some of the HERCs could hold up to like 8 or 10 weapons. In this game, there are only about 4 HERCs that can hold 6 weapons. All the others can hold 4, 2, or even 1(!) weapon! This is just way too restrictive. Not only that, but you are severely restricted farther because each weapon mount is only able to hold a certain "size" of weapon (each weapon is defined as like small, medium, large, etc.). Usually only 1 or 2 mounts are able to hold the largest sized weapon. ESI and II had this to a certain degree, but they were not nearly this bad.

Another thing is that not all the vehicles are HERCs... you can also pilot tanks, which is stupid. I mean, why should you buy a "'Mech"-type game if you're gonna be driving a tank?

Next, the HERCs don't weigh very much. The largest ones are 90 tons, but most are far less (I'd say the average is about 60 tons). This means that you are heavily restricted in the amount of items you can put on them. Once you get a good Engine, Shield, and Reactor, there's hardly any room left for good weapons. I guess this makes it more challenging, but in my opinion, this greatly takes away from the fun that ESII had.

Lastly, the weapons themselves are really terrible. They don't do very much damage, and they're hard to aim. They're just too needlessly complicated: each one has a Shield Damage rating, and an Armor Damage rating. When I'm in a battle, there's too much action going on for me to figure out which weapon would be best to shoot at the target, so I end up just firing everything at it. I would almost say that the ES universe would have been better if the HERCs didn't have shields, like the MechWarrior 'Mechs.

The Bottom Line

Overall, this game is very average. I would go so far as to say that it's not worth buying, other than to look at the awesome graphics. If I were you, I'd wait a few years until it gets put in the cheap software bin at your computer store and get it then. Sadly, the cons slightly outweigh the pros...