Game Over Online ~ Starlancer

GameOver Game Reviews - Starlancer (c) Microsoft, Reviewed by - 2XHelix

Game & Publisher Starlancer (c) Microsoft
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB Ram, 300MB HDD, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 85%
Date Published Wednesday, May 24th, 2000 at 02:51 PM

Divider Left By: 2XHelix Divider Right

Imagine if the future contained another cold war, this one set in our solar system. This is the scenario set in Microsoft's newest space sim, Starlancer. The Collation, which consists of mainly the Russian army, has just launched a surprise attack on the Alliance, while the two sides were discussing peace. The Alliance is formed of the United States, Germany, England, France, and most of the other nations of the world. After this initial assault, the Alliance found that their main fleet had been destroyed. (Very similar to the Pearl Harbor bombing) From this point on, the player is put into a squadron of fighters known as the 45th volunteers. As the name suggests, this group is poorly trained, and is a collection of some pilots that want to be heroes. As the game progresses, the 45th volunteers become more famous for their epic battles with the Collation, and are renamed the 45th Tigers. There are 24 missions in the game. Although Microsoft claims that there is a non-linear story line, this is clearly not the case. After each mission, you will get a debriefing. If your pilot and co-pilot cheer, it basically means you completed the mission perfectly. If they just pat each other, it basically means you have some improvements. If your pilot spazzes and throws his helmet, you know you should fly the mission again.

Before each mission, you are treated to a nice briefing, although each mission never turns out to work like the briefing. For example, you might find a Collation convoy by accident and you will have to take it out. During the mission, I found that ships that were equipped with "Blind Fire" had a huge advantage. Basically you just aim in the general direction, and your guns will hit the target. There are some other neat guns like the Nova Cannon, where you have to charge it up and then fire. The ship interface is very similar to the Wing Commander layout. You have a power and thrust bars in the middle of your HUD display. As you fire your weapon, the power decreases. As for Afterburners, they run on fuel. I like this concept because you can fire your afterburners while shooting. This was not possible in the Wing Commander series, because the afterburners relied your power.

The cut scenes are well acted and you feel that you have actually contributed to the Alliance's cause. The in game graphics are crisp and clear but not close to revolutionary. The explosions are highly detailed and actually seem like the ships are being blown to bits. (unlike Tacyhon or other previous space sims) The capital ships are nicely designed and same with the fighters. One of the most graphically intense missions is the one where you are required to fly INSIDE an asteroid that contains fuel pods.

Starlancer also features some of the most believable voice acting. However, I really hated Hawkee in the later missions, she was just plain irritating. The actors really seem to be playing their roles, instead of just reciting the lines given to them. Also, while you walk around your ship, other pilots will give you some short comments, for example "Way to go ace". It sounds really cheesy but it gives you some great satisfaction after you complete a mission. However, I think there is a bug in this because although I get perfect on missions, I have heard the other pilots make fun of me. I was not too pleased.

In multiplayer mode, it supports team missions as well as some death match options. The multiplayer only supports up to four players, which is too low in today's standards. Some of the death match options are interesting such as vampire mode, where the last person to turn into a vampire wins. However, I find this really dumb because you can only have a maximum of four players, it is not that exciting, but the idea behind it is very interesting.

The lack of a realistic collision model is annoying. Once, I attempted to fly directly into a capital ship and full speed. The result of this action caused my ship to bounce away with no damage. Although this makes the game easier, it takes away from the realism. Also, I think the kill board is really messed up. For example, before my squadron goes out for a mission, Bandit (one of the AI pilots) has 120 kills, while I have 80. I know that during the mission, I do all the work since the AI controlled pilots are just useless (like most space sims). The thing I am wondering is how come after the mission, Bandit has like 130, when I know he probably could have made a maximum of like 2 kills. Lastly, the most irritating part of the game is when you have to destroy the enemy torpedoes. If a capital ship or torpedo bombers launch their torpedoes, you have to intercept and shoot them down. This is very tedious because if you come to close to the torpedo, you yourself get blown to bits, and usually there are 8-12 torpedoes launched at your capital ship and you really do not have enough time to shoot them down.

These problems are just small and annoying ones. There is nothing seriously wrong with the game. A mission editor is about to be released for download, so it seems like there will be more of a lasting appeal for those individuals who like to create their own scenarios. It seems that Chris and Erin Roberts have once again created another worthy space sim. I can't wait till the add-on is released.

[ 16/20 ] Graphics
[ 12/15 ] Sound
[ 26/30 ] Gameplay
[ 18/20 ] Fun Factor
[ 04/05 ] Multiplayer
[ 09/10 ] Overall Impression


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