Frontier: Elite II

aka: FE2
Moby ID: 802
DOS Specs

Description official descriptions

Frontier: Elite II is the sequel to Elite and it continues in much the same way. You have a ship and limited funds, and nowhere to go but out into space. Trade, fight, hunt criminals, work for the various governments, anything goes in Frontier. There are few, if any, limits on what you can do or where you can go. And Frontier's universe (with approx. 100,000,000,000 planets and moons) is so big you'll never see the end of it.

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Credits (DOS version)

18 People

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 87% (based on 35 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 80 ratings with 5 reviews)

Easily the best in the Elite series, although a bit buggy at times

The Good
Realistic Newtonian physics (for its time) provide a great and realistic atmosphere, good graphics (again for its time), and further helps improving this unique atmosphere.

I like the idea of seamlessly being able to travel from space to terra firma, with full 3D planetary topography - a feature that has never (to the best of my knowledge) been attempted again in any commercial game since First Encounters (Noctis is probably the closest thing you'll get, where the surfaces are even more detailed - but the transition from space to ground is still not quite as seamless as that in Frontier or FFE).

Exploration in Frontier is simply amazing, although it does get somewhat repetitive over time, combat is a bit frustrating at first, but ends up being one of the many unique features in the game as it evolves (space dog-fighting in Newtonian physics are indeed very hard – proving its not likely to ever happen that way in real-life).

The Bad
There are a few bugs but - thank god - these are far lesser and less critical then in the sequel.
They could have worked more on the sounds and music, and also a tad more at the plot and missions - for not to mention trying to make the universe more dynamic.

AI is quite poor as well - I generally don't mind that, but Frontier really could use a bit refreshing on the computer brain part.

Also, I really wish we were able to actually leave the ship and explore a planet on foot - I mean, seeing all these mountains and lakes and rivers passing by really makes me want to climb out of the cockpit and explore them further. Unfortunately, Frontier doesn’t seem to allow that; a shame really: all these detailed worlds, and so relatively limited ways to really experience them. Oh well, one can't have everything, I guess - and we have to remember Frontier was coded in a time when DOS was full of restrictions.


All of these are mainly just minor rants though, I'm sure I'll remember more after I've submitted this review...

The Bottom Line
Frontier is quite easily one of the very best games in the Elite series - with all its detailed worlds and countless star systems. It has probably not yet been surpassed by any other commercial game (although Alessandro Ghignola’s Noctis appears to be closing in fast to become the successor to Frontier's exploration elements).

Although the initial release was rushed a bit out the door, the few bugs that could hamper the Gameplay has been mostly removed; and only a very few remain.
Although occasionally a bit frustrating, Frontier makes it very clear why the series gained its popularity: although it does have a few lacks and mistakes here and there, Frontier was and remains quite simply a work of art rarely seen in commercial games

Final Score: 8/10

DOS · by Stargazer (99) · 2003

Fantastic in vision - lacking in dynamics - but it is 10 yrs old

The Good
The whole concept of elite and this sequel have simply never been beaten, EV Overide / Nova on the Mac does a cool but ultimately (and literally) 2 dimensional take on the concept.

And the concept is as other reviews suggest - an infinite world of possibilites with no finite goal just a billion plus systems to explore!

The Bad
well only the obvious - how can you create a real functioning Universe on a 1meg Amiga!

you can only suspend disbelief for a finite time!

now if only the energy that is put into creating modern XBOX or PS2 graphics games were utilised in such away - HALO or Grand Therft Auto are the only two games I've seen that really push the borders of AI - nevermind the latest graphics, plotline and AI is what makes a real game... or perhaps I mean more than a game!

The Bottom Line
I doubt there has ever been a game made with the possibilities of such endless possibilities, worth a look but gaming has moved far in the last 10+ yrs still if your INTO the core of gaming/imagination then this has to be researched!

DOS · by kie kelly (3) · 2003

An exercise in frustration.

The Good
This game was the long overdue sequel to the classic 80s game Elite. It improved several things over the orginal. It expanded the trading goods available. Through its BBS system you could accept "quests" of a sort, mainly delivering parcels, passengers or dealing in black market goods. Best of all, it not only added more ships but also allowed you to pilot different ships other than the Cobra Mk III that was only available to you in the first game. And if that was enough the entire game was set in a gigantic recreation of our own universe.

The game is very open ended. There is no way to "win" instead you have various careers to pursue and a large universe to explore. The orginal game had the challenge of getting an 'Elite' combat rating, this is here too but along the way you can earn titles and medals from the two space armies by peforming missions for them. Other careers include mining, piracy, bounty hunting and of course you can trade.

This game uses a large number of classical musical scores for the soundtrack. This works very well for the game, especially if you are a 2001 fan, as its obvious the creators are.



The Bad
The biggest problem with this game was its flight system and combat. The author is obsessed with creating a realistic universe so he made space flight how it is in reality not the "Star Wars" style combat of the first game (and most space sims). Its difficult to explain it if you havn't played the game, but what this means is flight is affected by gravity of nearby planets and momentum. So battles end up being sling shot affairs between tiny dots on the screen. You fly past each other, if you're good you'll hit it a couple times, then spend a few minutes slowing down your momentum and turning around for another pass. Its not a lot of fun and takes a long time before you will figure out how to fight in space effectivly.

The various missions you can perform for armies or private citizens get very repetitive as there is little variety. Promotions in rank and elite rating are long in the coming and take often hundreds or thousands of kills/completions to advance to the next rank.

Although the game has a lot of options for "careers" being a straight milk run trader is the only way to really make any money. Mining only pays off if you are very very far away from the population centers and not enough to warrent the time invested. Bounty hunting is a waste as the bounties are so low when compared to the fines you get for attacking ships near a port (intercepting them in space is near impossible because of the combat). And as mentioned the army is a very repetetive career, however getting army promotions does unlock photo missions and bombing runs. Forget piracy unless you like poverty, as you play the game you will rarely encounter another ship, apart from pirates of course. In the orginal sometimes you would often run into neutral ships and sometimes had to wait to dock into a space station, this game its as if you were all alone.

Which brings me to the fatal flaw of the game: the universe is static and empty. You'd think that the various trading you could do (like bringing arms to a world in civil war or large numbers of slaves to planet that has outlawed slavery) would have some effect on a local economy or politics but it does not. As noted, apart from pirates, there is not really anyone else to run into in space. Your military missions have no effect on the political boundries. With the high rank I had with the Imperial Navy, I visited the enemy capital, Earth, expecting to be attacked but instead I payed a fine and they ignored the fact I had commited numerous crimes against their nation.

There are some interesting systems to visit, binary stars (watch the duel sunsets when landed on a planet), a prison planet and corporate worlds but apart from their descriptions and trading options at the space stations none of these systems have any real atmosphere to distinguish them from each other. And most of the alleged millions of sytems the box advertised are empty systems with little interest other than potential mining sites.

The Bottom Line
I am a huge fan of the orginal game and while I did play and enjoy this game for a good year, I can't reccomend it to non-Elite fans. The frustrating combat will turn off most people combined with the fact there is no way to "win". I liked the open endedness of the game and I tried all the career paths but I left the game with an empty stomach. The game feels rushed and incomplete, and none of the careers available are all that interesting or rewarding.

DOS · by woods01 (129) · 2001

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Other games with planetary flight? BurningStickMan (17916) Jun 29, 2013
Free release? MrFlibble (18361) Nov 19, 2012

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Frontier: Elite II appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Development

It took David Braben five years to develop Frontier: Elite II. He started programming it on Commodore 64 but eventually continued the development on Amiga computers instead, as the C64 was not only becoming out of fashion, but had way too many technical limitations for this type of game.

Extras

The PC version had a huge star map and a coupon for a Frontier: Elite II T-shirt.

References

  • The docking sequence for spaceships in this game is a near perfect imitation of the one showed in the movie 2001 - A Space Odyssey. The "medium"-sized space station (that is: the "circle" or "ring") is nearly identical to the 2001-Station. You may also listen to the same music (Blue Danube waltz) while docking. In addition to the docking sequence at the space stations. Some of the planet bases are identical to the Moon base in 2001.
  • The PC version of contains a reference to the then upcoming Transport Tycoon. Some of the advertising hoardings in space ports announced "Coming soon... Chris Sawyer's Transport Game" ! Why the connection? Well, Chris Sawyer did the PC conversion of Frontier: Elite II back in 1992/3.

Thargoids

Contrary to many peoples beliefs and circulating rumours, the Thargoids (the superior alien race from the first Elite game) and their ships do NOT exist in Frontier: Elite II, and it is not possible to get the Thargoid ship.

David Braben didn't exactly help killing this rumour when he claimed that there indeed was a Thargoid ship to be found somewhere in the galaxy. No-one has ever found the ship however, and it is believed that this was just a trick by Braben to keep people playing the game.

Frontier: Elite II has been both hacked and modified since it's release by players, programmers and hackers, and even the game program code lacks any trace of a Thargoid race or ship, so it's pretty safe to say that there simply doesn't exist one.

Version differences

  • The CD-ROM version of this game was totally bogus. They just took the disk version (700kb), decompressed it (to then 900kb) and pressed it on a CD. Nothing else. No intro cinematics, simply NO bonus material whatsoever - just the 900kb .exe file on a whole CD. They even "forgot" to add the contents of the second floppy which included five or so savegames which could help beginners a lot.
  • The PC version featured added texture-mapping on some polygons for enhanced graphical details, something which did not exist in the original Amiga version.

Awards

  • Amiga Joker
    • Issue 02/1995 – #2 Best Genre Mix in 1994 (Readers' Vote)
  • PC Player (Germany)
    • Issue 01/1995 - Least Quantity of Data on a CD-ROM in 1994
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/1994 – Dumbest Copy Protection in 1993
  • Retro Gamer
    • October 2004 (Issue #9) – #20 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by Brolin Empey, Imajica, phlux, woods01 and xxxxxxxxxxx

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Related Sites +

  • Frontier Astro
    Fanpage with game information, tips and additional materials.
  • Frontier: Elite II
    Frontier: Elite II Frequently Asked Questions (Answers from David Braben)
  • The Elite Club
    Where you can download Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters, now released as shareware

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 802
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by faceless.

Amiga added by Richard Firth. Amiga CD32 added by Kabushi. Atari ST added by Martin Smith.

Additional contributors: Cravo, Rebound Boy, Longwalker, Indra was here, Patrick Bregger, Jo ST, FatherJack.

Game added January 27, 2000. Last modified February 12, 2024.