View Full Version : The joy of Star Control 2

18-12-2003, 10:58 AM
Let me just say thanks to marcus for re-instating the retro forum.

If ever there were a list of the top 50 games of all time, this surely should be on it.
A perfect example of when a Western company can get things so unbelivably right, from characterisation, art direction, raw gameplay, to even cover art.
It can also single handedly (sometimes) hold up the entire rose tinted specs argument. They don't 'em like this anymore.

What would you get if you took the best gameplay from Elite and Space WAR, threw in a plot to rival that of the original Star Wars films and left to boil for half an hour on an unknown stove.(system)

An epic classic space faring masterpiece of epic proportions.
That sadly was ignored by far too many.

The game was released on an archaic model of PC, meaning you'd have to now get a DOS emulator to get it to run, and even then, not so well.
And heres where it gets interesting for NTSC-uk and console owners, it was ported to the 3DO, and what a port that was.

Instead of text for all the alien faring races like the PC version, they recorded must be at least 4 hours worth of dialogue, by some excellent actors, of which very little repeats, only near the end of the game.

Easy, Im building up to that.

First the plot:
You are a descendant of a deep space research colony, sent to a distant planet to recover the technology of an ancient exitinct space race, in order to defeat the Ur-Quan heirarchy which is slowly decimating Earths alliance forces, failure would result in all alliance species being enslaved as combat thralls, or under impenatrable slave shields.

The mission goes wrong, and the colonists are stranded for several decades. But all the while, they unearth and master said long lost technology, the automated machines slwoly building a ship, but only a skeleton ship due to lack of resources.

It is eventually complete, and you begin the slow journey back, but the commander is killed in an ensuing battle, and you take command.

Apon returning to earth, you find it enslaved, the alliance lost the war, and you set off to rebuild the alliance, defeat the heirarchy, and discover ancient secrets to solve hidden mysteries.

GAMEPLAY: is broken into 2 segments, adventuring, where you travel a 2D star map, exploring the Universe and discovering alien races to befriend or fight. Along the way, you mine planets, deal with traders and generally solve the problem at hand.

the second is a vastly updated version of space war, where your ship, and an enemies ship go head to head in melee combat. There are 26 ships, and each one handles differently with different types of weaspon and movement. Very well balanced, and worthy of being a standalone game in itself.
It recreates the emotions seen in so many epic space films, a gravity whip round the planet, guns blazing, crew burning, the enemy turns, his in your blind spot, spin, dash, blast, FIRE FIRE FIRE! KABOOM! you win by the skin of your teeth.
During battle you see a little picture of your bridge, with crew controlling everything, and its full of tiny details.

Slowly you build up resources, trade with the Melnorme, make alliances, steal valuable artifacts, and slowly become powerful enough to detsroy the heirarchy.
What makes it so refreshing, is that the entire game, up until the final epic battle is totally non-linear.

I have played it through nearly 5 times, and each time I took a different course of actions, you can complete the needed tasks in any order, backwards if you want. Meaning no 2 games has to be the same. Do you befriend and enemy race and make them fight for you, or do you destroy them, and take their riches?

I know that to some the space setting can sound really boring, but trust me, it is so packed full of colour, everything feels bright and exciting, hell, youd almost think it was a nintendo game.

I know some like RJ are not narrative gameplayers, but thats where melee comes into play, on the 3DO version you could set it up to be just melee combat against the COM or another player, and it really shines. You build up a fleet of anywhere between 1 to 16 ships, and fight it off. Each ship has a value, so you can ensure balance, say a weak player can have up to 200 points, a good player only 100.
2D shmup blasting doesnt get too much better than this, think SW in high res, with bright colours, loud explosions and a refined control scheme.
Its vertical/horizontal, but instead in a looping piece of space. (Like asteroids)

For those who do like narratives, as I said before, the story here is excellent. My personal favourite has to be the Yehat, who in a brillaint stroke of genius all have Scottish accents, to show their clan like nature, and they retell the story of how one alliance group, detonated their sun, in a last ditch attempt to win the war. When he describes their desperate kamikaze runs on the enemy ships to buy time for those trying to escape, its quite awe inspiring.
Who says games cant reach the emotional highs of film or books?

oh, and the orchestral soundtrack is amazing, graphics are pure 2d goodness, animation is wonderfull, alien design is lifelike and believable, control is tight, humour is abundant and it all runs smoothly.

Oh, did I mention everything is streamlined, so no need to deal with boring stats or numbers? This epic space adventuring, ARCADE style.

Suffice to say, I love it, and it is well worth buying a 3do just to play, indeed I spent ?80 on a 3DO and ?30 on SC2 in order to complete it again. (my pc version was monochrome with no sound, and it was still amazing)

But I hear you gasp! How can WE play it without a 3DO?

Good news my friends, the source code has been released, and it is officially freeware. Now, I dont know if that means people can trade copies of the 3DO version, (Id like a legal view on that please), but it does mean someone has ported it to PC for free, available to all.
So, from PC, to 3DO back to PC. Sublime.

I dare anyone who likes the space genre, to try it and say its awful, even if its not your cup iof tea, the painstaking attention to every tiny detail, and mammoth effort put into making it, deserves some respect.

More info on it:
main - http://www.classicgaming.com/starcontrol/
SC2 specific - http://www.classicgaming.com/starcontrol/sc2/

REMAKE - http://sc2.sourceforge.net/

If you liked elite, or space games in general, give it a try.
Be warned, I have not played the new PC port, so it may still be buggy compared to the old PC version, or the 3do version. Also, some things were edited out of the 3do version, but not to the point of making it any less enjoyable.

Crisp, refreshing, funny VERY funny, and not in any way dull or bogged down by stats like so many other space games.

There, thats my retro rant for the day, go forth, enjoy the game, post your own comments here, you knwo the routine.
I thought Id do a topic, since for the most part, I have not seen any interest for this game, and feel it my duty to spread the word to those who appreciate retro.

EDIT: had to mention, it also contains some of the most disturbing dialogue I have heard in years. I still get shivers thinking about the Ur-Quans explanation of self applied pain amplifyers:

"Do you have any idea what it is like, to need to feel excruciating screaming pain for months on end?"
Or the Illwraths description of what they'll do to your orifices when they capture you. <shudder>

20-12-2003, 04:09 PM
Agreed. Its a great game. It really is.

And thanks for posting the link to the remake - somehow that one had avoided my radar. Downloading now :D

25-12-2003, 08:42 PM
I've not played sc2, but used to play sc1 every lunchtime with me mates. It was awesome, and I have fond memories of getting the copy-protection-wheel question correct and it rewarding us with a squeeky "well done well done loading star control" spat. Looks like there's a reason for owning a 3do after all...

26-12-2003, 09:21 AM
Yes, SC1 was excellent, I have the Megadrive port, a little slower, but great fun.

If you liked 1, youll love 2

And yes, it is reason enough to buy a 3DO.
I bought mine just to play SC2

BUT! thanks to a new 3DO to PC port, all us PC owners can enjoy it in its full glory.

Link is above. But its a big download.

Anyone downloaded it? Its too big for my 56k, so I just stick to the old PC and 3DO version.

Brilliantly non-linear, and perfectly balanced combat system.

As well as the 14 ships from the first, there are 12 new ships, making a grand total of 26

glad there are other SC fans here.

26-12-2003, 03:13 PM
Yeah I downloaded it. And on my puny 56k modem too.

I was 'fooled' by the download size of the initial file. I hadn't realised it then went off and downloaded all the audio files and stuff. Luckily it was well late when I did so I just left it going overnight.

Other than to load it up and have a really quick dip in I've not had time to really have a bash on it. Been too busy coding (busman's holiday) and playing that damn addictive Head Over Heels remake.

Got another week off yet though so I should get round to it and will post impressions when I do.

26-12-2003, 08:28 PM
Me and my mates use to play this all the time......

I forgot all about it... but just loaded it up on my xbox amiga emu.....

O the memories :wub:

02-01-2004, 07:48 PM
Lets not forget about Starflight either, a great space game on Megadrive.

04-01-2004, 09:05 PM
I liked SC on the MD - excellent multiplayer - but I loved SC2 on the 3DO, especially

1. The music. Atmospheric, Brian Eno-style stuff.
2. The story
3. There was a whole universe to explore

Thanks for the links - I'll check them out...

04-01-2004, 09:28 PM
YES! I knew there were other fans of this game!

this topic is dead. :(