Written by  :  Haystack (7)
Written on  :  Jul 11, 2000
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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The asteroids are the LEAST of your worries.

The Good

There's a definite sense of community amongst those who play this game, or used to. Although I haven't been very active in SS for a year or so, I can still pop into CHAOS Zone and see folks who've been around since back in the beta days. I can hang out with my old squadmates, or run like mad from old enemies still hell-bent on my destruction.

The gameplay's easy to get into and not so easy to master, though a week or two of practice in the introductory "Alpha" zone should get one well on one's way to developing good fighting skills.

It is very easy to communicate with other pilots, far more so than in other games of this genre.

The Bad

As with any other multiplayer Internet game run by independent server operators, you'll occasionally run across Zones in which the ops cheat, or let their friends cheat. Fortunately there are many more Zones in which this doesn't happen.

I don't recommend this game for small children. Lots of nasty stuff gets said in most of the Zones I've seen.

The Bottom Line

Virgin ran this game as a free, open beta for a couple of years before releasing the game (with, sadly, very little fanfare). Although VIE is pretty much gone, SubSpace remains, now available for free (and legally so) from http://subspace.ds98.com. It's as active as it ever was, too, with many "pro" leagues, regular tournaments, and a variety of user-run provide gameplay styles to suit pretty much any taste.

So, what IS SubSpace? It's a multiplayer, internet-only space shooter in which ALL your opponents are other humans. You and up to ninety or so other ships fly around in an enclosed arena and blow the stuffin' out of each other. Depending on the zone one is inhabiting, one may or may not have teammates to prolong one's survival. Some zones are simple kill-or-die, some have Capture-the-Flag-style game play, and some even allow hockey/soccer-like play. Some zones are "super" zones (in which rapid-fire weapons given in bountiful amounts, and energy to match), while others are more sedate.

You'll find all sorts in here, going from honorable dogfight-loving pilots to crass lameballs (like myself *wink*) who prefer to delve into the cheesier side of the game. Some folks are nice, and others, well... aren't. Happily, one can easily block messages from unpleasant players (and block the obscenity that frequently rambles across the public messaging channel).

Speaking of messaging... this game has the best interplayer comm system ever devised. Want to send a message to every? Type it and hit ENTER. No special keys required. Team, channel, and private messages are not much harder to send.

I say the best thing about SubSpace is that there's a niche in it for anyone... if you want to stick with dogfighting and leave the flag-game to the strategians, you can... or vice versa. Hang around long enough, and you'll make friends, enemies, and a reputation for yourself.

All in all, this game's certainly worth the couple of weeks' play it takes to get the hang of the various ships and weapons. Exercise a little patience and you may be in for one of the most engrossing gaming experiences around, shooter-wise.