Inspired by this post
and a little bit of this thread
, I've decided to make a thread where we can all talk about space sims in general instead of having to worry about getting off topic, because bringing up TIE Fighter in a Freespace thread derails things almost as fast as bringing up Freespace in a TIE Fighter thread.
Space Sims are Dead, You Idiot!
I humbly submit that YOU, sir, are the idiot! This is a good place to be nostalgic about all those wonderful old games, but this is also a fantastic place to inform everyone about those up and coming space sims that nobody ever hears about.
Frontier: Elite 2
Unfortunately I never played this treasure, although perhaps some day I'll rectify the mistake. Elite's pretty much the definition of "free roaming" and it's probably the first that did it, or at least the first that did it well. Apparently it's shareware now
and you can get it working with DOSBox. According to Wikipedia and my memory, the game is all about exploring, trading, and Newtonian physics. Wikipedia says the fights consist of "both ships taking slingshot thrusts at each other, lasers being fired constantly at each other, until one of the ships is destroyed" which sounds pretty exciting unless you hate ships firing lasers at each other.
Often considered the best space sim ever, and even among those who disagree, it's easily near the top. It's not hard to understand why: this followup to X-Wing let you play as the bad guys, which was novel back then and pretty novel now, and the fantastic story, dynamic music, and eventually upgraded graphics were all just icing on the sweet, sweet cake. Many Bothans died to bring us this game, because we killed them. Flying TIE Fighters is awesome. This awesome guide tells you how to play X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and the other crummier games in Windows 7 (and with a 360 controller if you're a weirdo
). They've even fixed the music, which was a large part of what made these games so amazing.
The only contender for the X-Wing/TIE Fighter throne back then was Wing Commander, which went the 2d graphics route instead of the 3d graphics route and had Mark Hammill in its cutscenes later on and now I'm out of stuff to say. I'll let everyone else go on a nostalgia trip about this one.
Tachyon: The Fringe
BRUCE CAMPBELL IS IN THIS GAME! Okay it's actually got more than just that in terms of having fun. It has a story mode but it's also free-roaming, so it's one of those games where you set out into the inky blackness of space and make a name for yourself doing whatever the heck you want. You can also cut your engines and "slide" or whatever which is pretty tricky. I have fond memories of this game's demo but not much else. It's available on GameTap if anyone's curious. Definitely worth a look if you've already signed up for GameTap, and worth a look even if you haven't!
and Independence War II
Independence War and I-War 2 are free-roaming cruiser sims; you're in charge of a medium-sized ship and it's up to you to make your way in the world. IWar 1 might actually not have been free roaming. Never played it! In any case they're both awesome and they both feature super Newtonian physics. They're a lot more realistic and a lot more hardcore than your average sim, although it really doesn't take a PhD to get used to the combat. They're a great change of pace from the turning fights you often get into with fighters. Try it out!
Privateer 2: The Darkening
This is one of those really weird Wing Commander spin-offs (see Freelancer) that technically isn't a Wing Commander game but it sort of is. In any case it was perhaps awesome (according to darleysam) and probably a good candidate for purchase if you're in a used book store and you see it for $5, which seems to be the pattern for fantastic old space sims these days. The page that link goes to is a review of the game which is so comprehensive that the dude included a freaking bibliography. Wow.
Trying to top TIE Fighter is silly, but they tried anyways and they nearly did it. X-Wing Alliance is as close as anyone's gotten to a remake of TIE Fighter, and it has the added advantage of including a level where you fly through the second Death Star in the Millenium Falcon in order to BLOW IT UP. That sounds pretty cool, eh? It's also got a long, involved storyline with more missions than the Alliance lost Y-Wings in the Battle of Yavin. And for extra happy fun times, check out the XWA Upgrade Project
which makes it look more like Freespace 2 and less like TIE Fighter. In graphics quality I mean, not in terms of ships. Obviously they are still Star Wars ships.
I'm putting this in "past" instead of "present" because I'm over it. I mean come on. Mouse support only? No joystick in my space sim? That aside, Freelancer really wasn't too bad. Exploring the galaxy was pretty cool, the storyline did not blow chunks in my opinion, and the combat wasn't awful. There are a ton of pretty sweet mods for the game, ranging from adding new ships (Serenity!) to adding new games (Star Wars!).
There's a ton of space sims to play right now. Most people haven't heard of half of them. Hopefully this thread will help us all find those fun games that we didn't know existed. Who knows; you might just find your new favorite flight sim! Unless you've already played Freespace 2 and Allegiance.
and Freespace 2
Probably your best bet if you're looking to get into space sims today. They're not free anymore, but you can get them off gog.com. Get them now: if you buy Freespace 2, I think you can run the original Freespace mod without buying Freespace 1
. Be sure to stop by the Source Code Project
to make your game look SUPER AWESOME. I'm serious; next gen graphics, tons of new missions, play Freespace in the Freespace 2 engine, etc. In any case, Freespace and Freespace 2 are probably two of the best space sims ever made. They have epic scope: in some battles you'll be dodging gigantic laser beams and flak barrages going between two fleets, and in other missions you'll be desperately destroying each individual bomb as wings of enemy fighters and bombers try to destroy the convoy you're protecting. Great story, fantastic missions, updated graphics, cheap price: the Rolls Royce of space sims today, or, rather, the TIE Advanced or Millenium Falcon of space sims today. If you're not convinced, you must watch this video
Blue Planet is actually a Freespace mod, but it's pretty much a professional quality space sim. The graphics are enhanced, the story is brand new and not horrific, the production values are off the charts, the planets are blue... what more do you need? It's a must play if you enjoyed Freespace, or free things, or space.
Three things to know about Allegiance! One: It's freeee! Two: It's incredibly complex and hard to get into. Three: It's a spectacular, intricate game where teamwork is the most important thing and spaceships are the second most important thing. The two teams in Allegiance fight against each other, and one dude on each team is in control of the team's mining robots. He establishes bases and gives everyone orders. Players in scout ships drop sensor beacons to set up a perimiter to detect enemy attacks, players in capital ships and bombers make runs at the enemy base, fighters keep the runs safe, and special players with "nans" (nanite thingers) go straight in to each fight and try to keep their teammates alive. It's nuts, it requires intense coordination, and it's like no other space sim you'll ever play. If you've got the time and the will to get into it, you'll be rewarded greatly. Free Allegiance
has all the info you'll need.
Allegiance was hard to get into? Hah. That thing has lots of players ingame to help you and extensive documentation. X3 has a learning curve that looks like a graph of how many people like George Bush nowadays. Sort of. Whatever, it's steep. Freaking hard to learn. X3 isn't just a space sim: it's a universe sim. You can follow the story but that's dumb, what most people end up doing is setting up an interstellar empire focused on manufacturing, trading, and shooting or whatever. I think you can also be a space pirate? Bonus points for having an alien race named, basically, "COCK." A game after the Penny Arcader's heart.
The Tomorrow War
Based on superpopular Russian book or something. Looks neat! I read one lackluster review that gave it a D minus or something, but either way I'd hold off until there's more info. Preliminary reports: translation woes. Those silly Russians! More info at the always-wonderful Rock Paper Shotgun
You play as Jim Darkstar (no you don't) and you fly Darkstar One (you do), a ship that levels up as you do, growing as the game progresses. Other than that I think it's your typical blow stuff up space dogfight game. Got pretty favorable reviews.
Wing Commander Privateer Gemeni Gold
This is a free remake of Privateer, and because it's free there's no reason not to try it if you're a fan of free-roaming space sims. It gets pretty frequent updates, all things considered (the last one was at the very end of 2009) and it's Privateer. What's not to love?
In Dashui's words:
Starshatter: The Gathering Storm
Basically, it's a free-roaming space game where you can do whatever you want, but it has really nice features that the others don't necessarily have. For starters, you build your own ship, component to component, and you can move each part and scale them on an XYZ axis. You could make the engines small and put them in the front of the ship, for instance, underneath the cockpit.
You can also seamlessly fly into or out of the atmosphere of planets, and the effect is really great. You can collect fuel from nebulas and go to any system without the use of jumpgates (although they are there to make travel easier). There are tons of quests to take and you can do it all via multiplayer, too. That's my most favorite feature. I can take my singleplayer ship and go into multiplayer to fly, explore, and quest with other people, and then take that ship back to singleplayer again. The whole game is made by an indie developer, one guy, so it's pretty impressive.
I can't praise it enough. You guys should check out the demo and then maybe we can fly together.
Starshatter's whole thing, aside from the name that sounds like "starshitter," is that you go from flying a tiny little fighter craft to commanding an entire space war with capital ships that you fly and everything. The campaigns are apparently epic in scope or something. This is also on my "to play" list but the biggest draw is the whole capital ship/running the war thing. Archonex wrote a sweet writeup
with the plusses and minussesses.
Space Force: Rogue Universe
Free roaming game. That's all I know. SPACE!
It doesn't even have a Wikipedia page but I'm pretty sure I played the Tarr Chronicles demo and it was pretty fun. It was originally Russian!
There's a demo out, not sure how representative of the final product it is, but I think the gist of it is that this is a game where you're a spaceship that shoots things in space.
Naumachia: Space Warface
Probably the sim I'm most excited for. Why? It's being made by the people who made The Specialists, that awesome Half-Life mod. So if they can keep that quality level, this will rock. It's a multiplayer space shooter with fighters and carriers and cruisers and stuff. Check out the videos.
Basically Descent plus destroyable terrain. If you watch some of the videos you'll probably be blown away by how crazy easy it is to blow open asteroids in this game. They're really touting the whole 6 degrees of freedom thing, so keep your eye on this if sneaking behind an enemy by tunneling through an asteroid from above is your sort of things. Bonus: you play as a miner which is almost as badass as playing as a waiter or a ballet dancer. Miners have a pretty good history in space sims, I'd say, what with Independence War II and... maybe that's it.
If this game ever comes out I'll be "whoa." You can do everything: space, run around on land, and uh, yeah. But there are like a million planets, plus all of space. It's every game in one! It looks incredibly sweet but it's so ambitious we'll have to see if it crashes and burns. Couldn't find a picture of the space combat so here's a purple man riding a space dinosaur.
Space MMO. Think it's got twitch combat. Hilarious trailer on their website, plus it's financed by microtransactions, not by a monthly fee, so that cheap people like me can still play it. We'll just have to forgo space-hats for our ships or something.
MMO in space. But wait, don't leave! It has twitch combat! So, like the only good bit of Star Wars: Galaxies, you can fly around in space blowing the crap out of your friends because their reflexes have atrophied from years of letting their macros in WoW do all the work for them. Show them who's boss with lasers! YOU ARE THE LASER BOSS.
Logitech Extreme 3d Pro: "The Reliable Phallic Symbol"
This is my recommendation to pretty much anyone looking to buy a joystick. Cheap, incredibly durable, lots of buttons, comfortable, nice hat, fun throttle. What more could you want? How about a silver and gray color scheme that goes well with your Ikea furniture? You've got it!
Saitek X52: "Only Overkill if Your Priorities aren't in Line"
For those of us who are more hardcore than others of us, or whatever, this is usually the go-to stick. Just look at that thing! Jesus Christ, you could probably fly two spaceships with this and have a hand free to pick your nose.
NOT MENTIONED AT ALL:
- EVE because this is a thread for shooting people in space, not filling out spreadsheets in space.
- DEREK SMART because if I say his name two more times he'll show up and this thread will go south faster than a planet inhabited by Spaceballs.
- Battlestar Galactica Tactical Mod for Mount and Blade because like, whoa?
So, go at it! Let's all talk about space, past present and future! I'll start: TIE Fighter is the best space sim ever, Freespace 2 is #2, and Allegiance is tied with Independence War 2 for #2 or something like that. Nobody can ever compete with Star Wars, but Freespace's epic scale is pretty sweet.