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Reviewed: System Shock 2
Author: Paul Scherbak       Date: December 6th 2000
Page: 3
Multiplayer was fast paced and extremely exciting! Not to mention loads of fun! Wait a minute…that was Microsoft's other space-sim, Allegiance. Multiplayer might have been fun, I'm not really sure. I tried and tried but failed to get the multiplayer aspect of Starlancer to work. Every time I tried to start or join a multiplayer game it would instantly crash my whole computer. That's not a good thing.

That's a Lot of Dead Hybrids
Badly Damaged R&D Sector
Reading Logs
The interface is as standard as space-sims get. You have energy on the right, target lead indicator, etc. It's all pretty basic, nothing innovative. If you've ever played Freespace or Tie Fighter, you'll feel right at home. One cool thing about the cockpit is that it is rendered in 3d. Very well. It's something you have to see to understand, but it looks super cool in practice. When you cloak your ship, the whole cockpit waves around, very neat effect (more on that in a minute).

Also a bad not was the game's AI, which was rather unimpressive. It seems that most of the attention of the design of the game went into the graphics engine, since the other areas of the game seem to be lacking. Instead of taking the time to make smart enemies, the devs thought it would be better to send wave after wave after wave after wave of stupid bad guys. Even your own teammates act like Forest Gump in a fighter jet. This is rather annoying since it leaves you to blow up all those torpedoes and enemy bombers, which can so easily destroy your carrier and capital ships. Even though they look big and tough, your carriers can succumb to five or six torpedoes. Not very cool. One mission comes to mind where you have to protect your carrier from torpedo attacks that are coming in from all directions. You zoom from one side of the ship to the other, blowing up torpedoes at an all too slow rate. It's fun the first time, but after the eighth you're ready to throw your computer out the window and drive an icepick into your cranium.

Recharge that Battery
Eat it Bastard
Huge Maintainence Robot...
Now I will talk about the part of the game that stands heads and shoulders above the competition, graphics. I'm willing to bet a majority of the development time was spent making this the prettiest game on the market, and if it was, they pulled it off. The effects are something to behold, high-polygons galore with excellent textures! The ships almost look real, this is every evident while looking through the external camera during take off. This first time I saw one of the ships launch from the Yamato (which uses a catapult style system with a camera trailing the ship) I was awestruck by the level of detail! It was absolutely amazing! Starlancer is to space-sims as Quake 3 is to shooters. Not much content but eye candy out the wazoo. Everything from the aforementioned CGI movies to the massive capital ships and bases are so meticulously detailed it's no wonder the game feels like most of the time spent was in the graphics department. Digital Anvil had to devote a very major chunk of the development ti me to making it look the way it does. But flash and pizzazz sell so it might have been worth it, guess it's up to ol' Billy to decide.

...Broken Maintainence Robot
Anyone for Minesweeper?
Grenade Launcher Explodes
Sound was another seemingly neglected area. I was rather unimpressed by the sounds in the game. Things just didn't sound the way they should. Capital ships didn't sound like the lumbering masses they are. I felt like some of the big ships should have knocked the walls down with my 400-watt speaker system (which has a 160-watt sub-woofer…bragging rox0rs!), but instead they just slid past. The weapons effects were also pretty mundane. Zap, zap…bling, bling…whoosh. If you've ever seen a really cheesy sci-fi movie you can imagine what I mean. Missiles should have screamed by, lasers should have tore into my hull, explosions should have shattered my eardrums (thank you Klipsch). Instead, missiles went by, lasers hit me, explosions happened. It would have been cheaper to take the Stanley Kubrick route and had no sound in a truly realistic fashion, but they didn't do that either.

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Added:  Wednesday, December 06, 2000
Reviewer:  Paul Scherbak
Page: 3/5

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