Frontier: Elite II

aka: FE2
Moby ID: 802

[ All ] [ Amiga ] [ Amiga CD32 ] [ Atari ST ] [ DOS ]

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 87% (based on 35 ratings)

Player Reviews

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

Elite + realistic physics = Good.

The Good
I really like the fact that it uses newtonian physics instead of the Star Wars, turn-on-a-dime physics model. It makes the game much more interesting and you really feel a sense of accomplishment once you get in orbit around a planet (which is possible, although incredibly difficult to accomplish). Also, the sheer size of the playing map ensures that one will be exploring new star systems in FE2 for a very long time. The graphics, while simple, really show the grand scale of planets and stars, especially if you get up close! The missions that you can pick up from the various bulletin boards are well varied, and it's always fun to nuke a military installation from orbit after fighting through a small fleet of fighter craft. Modifying and servicing your craft has improved over Elite substantially, and you can also deal with police in a more realistic and interesting fashion than in Elite. Trading is also handled well, and follows the solid buy low/sell high formula. The game has a certain personality to it, like all the other games in the Elite series. Finally, FE2 easily has the best theme song in the entire Elite series.

The Bad
The sound, for a start, is atrocious. The sounds were ripped out of Elite Plus, it seems, as they sound no different than the sounds from that game. Also, save for the title music, all of the music is of very poor quality as well (think 'organ grinder' as the operative word here). Combat is handled very poorly, and it easily makes this the most difficult of the Elite games to have a decent combat in. Mining, while possible, is not an effective means of earning money, which is disappointing. Also, some people may have difficulty adjusting to the new flight system.

The Bottom Line
Frontier : Elite 2 (more popularly known as FE2), takes place roughly 100 years after the original Elite. In that time frame, a lot has happened. The Thargoids have been defeated, and now only reside in their home system (wherever that is). The galactic powers, the Federation and the Empire, also have gained a lot more prominence in the rest of colonized space, and the Core Systems are now major ports of call. Also a lot of things on the technology front have been happening as well. Inertia-less drives are no longer available, and now pilots must contend with newtonian physics instead of the tight turning nimble dog fighting style of flight of yesteryear. Also, the Mamba is no longer in production due to shoddy hull design, and the Fer-De-Lance and the Military Laser were just too good to remain legal.

However, on the bright side of things, pilots can now purchase different types spacecraft with ease, and are no longer confined to the Cobra Mk 3. Also, Bulletin Board Services have been installed in every port now, thus allowing for more varied job opportunities, just as military jobs, assassinations, ferrying of special cargoes and passengers and the occasional missing person notification. You can even unload illegal cargo unto the black market to avoid detection from the police (although if your caught you can always bribe them), or sell it to someone who needs said cargo so badly they'll pay twice the local market value.

Overall, this game improves on upon Elite in every respect except sound, and I recommend it without reservation.

DOS · by Longwalker (723) · 2002

Damn good I'd say

The Good
The best part of frontier has got to be the variety of things you can do. You can be a merchant and travel from system to system buying and selling goods. You can kill other ships for bounty. You can even do missions for the federation or imperial (or both) and get various awards and titles.

There are a whole load of ships you can choose to buy, when you have the money. For some ships you may even need to employ staff to help run your ship.

The controls are easy enough. There are plenty of shortcuts available to save time. The only time I can think that the controls may be dodgy is when you're having a fight. The best way around this is to pause the game then change your view until you see the enemy, lock on to it, then autopilot, then KILL!!

I once read in Amiga Power that there was a shipyard orbitting a VERY distant world, something called the MIRAGE, a ship? A rumour? Who knows?

There are a few ways to cheat in the game:

For example, you can get unlimited cargo space, get unlimited money and even sell items to systems in Civil War at a massive profit.

To get lots of cargo space: 1) Buy at least 1 tonne of rubbish. 2) Leave your current space dock. 3) Hyperspace to somewhere where they don't mind you dumping stuff. 4) Go to the inventory screen, where you can jettison stuff. 5) Click just UNDERNEATH the box with rubbish next to it. 6) The game thinks you are jettisoning stuff, so it gives you 1 cargo space each click!!

Lots of Money: 1) Make sure you have enough cargo space for a passenger cabin. 2) Get someone in it. (Doesn't matter who, Doesn't matter where they want to go) 3) Go to the shipyard. 4) Look at the ship that will give you the most money if you part exchange it. 5) Attempt to part exchange. 6) The computer will not allow you to sell a ship that contains a passenger, but still willingly gives you the money for it. Hoorah.

I can't remember the exact coordinates of this system, but it's called Beinin. (around -13, -5 or -5, -13). It's definately in the -'s somewhere. It's worth a look.

The Bad
The only annoying thing about Frontier is the in-game protection, where if you accidently give the wrong letter a couple of times, the police put you in prison and you lose the game.

Okay, the graphics aren't great, but remember that Frontier was first written for less powerful machines such as the Amiga.

The Bottom Line
The most addictive, enjoyable, exciting game I have ever played. 10 out of 10

DOS · by Tom Fielder (3) · 2000

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

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

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Patrick Bregger, Parf, mailmanppa, Alsy, Игги Друге, Tim Janssen, Barbarian_bros, S Olafsson, formercontrib, Sun King, Alex Fest, Xoleras, Belboz, Crawly, RhYnoECfnW, Jeanne, WONDERなパン, Wizo.