by, 03-24-2010 at 11:12 PM (2843 Views)
Computer gamers who are into space sims speak the name "Elite" with no little reverence. David Braben and Ian Bell's classic opened a whole galaxy to explore. Two sequels were spawned: Frontier, which boasted an accurate Milky Way and played very well on the Amiga. Then they blew it badly with First Encounters.
Plying the space lanes with complete freedom has been hit or miss. Volition and Interplay graced us with Freespace I and II and of course we cannot forget Independence War I and II. But these are strictly military in nature, and while a lot of fun to play, pretty much restrict you one role: a star fighter pilot.
MicroProse then released StarLancer which began the bridge to its sequel Freelancer. Freelancer gave players a sense of a universe to explore that had not been around since those heady days of Elite. Rumours of Elite IV continue to surface from time to time. But, have no fear, you can get your Elite fix from a number of titles out there. In this entry I will be talking a bit about Darkstar One by Ascaron Entertainment.
Darkstar One was released in 2006 and is still a blast to play. What's more, you can get it for 9.99USD now! So let's get to exploring shall we?
Darkstar One DOES have a story, but, like Oblivion and Morrowing in the FRPG genre, you are free to do as you wish for as long as you wish. What makes Darkstar One unique is that your SHIP is the character you level up by finding artifacts strewn throughout the galaxy. These artifacts allow you to customise and morph your ship into whatever you want. Fancy an agile star fighter? Perhaps you want something that you feel can wipe out entire fleets? You can customise any way you want.
The galaxy of Darkstar One is huge and the graphics hold up VERY nicely for a 4 year old game. And, unlike a lot of games in this genre, you are not alone. The universe is CROWDED and you can choose how YOU deal with it. You can be a trader, bounty hunter, pirate, take on jobs for the government, and at the end you will be in the middle of a galactic war! Not bad for ten bucks!
Difficulty is scalable and you actually fee like you have a chance at survival in this gem. Old school players will remember that Elite was almost panic inducing at the beginning when all you had was a pea shooting 1MW Pulse Laser.
Voice acting is mixed. The main characters through the story are pretty believable, but the voice overs of the enemies you fight are almost ridiculous. But, the COMBAT is FUN!
Control is by mouse, joystick, or keyboard. The interface is clean and flight and combat are wonderfully intuitive.
Baseball score: a solid double.
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