StarLancer by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti
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by Alfred Giovetti
History * Company Line * Game Play * Plot * Graphics * Animation * Voice Actors * Music Score * Sound Effects * Utilities * Multi-player Features * Cheats, Hints, and Walkthrough * Journalists * References * Letters
Erin and Chris Roberts who left Origin to form DigitalAnvil. StarLancer is the latest in a series of games produced by the team which include the WingCommander and Privateer series of flight simulator games. StarLancer is essentially the same type of game with extensively scripted and animated plotlines separated by well designed missions.
These highly cinematic flight simulators were so successful that they spawned the Wing Commander movie. Starlancer contains over 25 minutes of Hollywood quality cinematic cut scenes. The experience of Chris and Erin Roberts is evident in these movie-like sequences their fans have come to expect.
The Roberts probably infected all of Origin with their enthusiasm resulting in such wonderful games as Strike Commander set in the not to distant, post nuclear World War III era. Many of the Origin flight simulators also had well developed missions separated by the scripted and animated cut scenes.
Since Erin and Chris left Origin the Jane's series of games have become no more than missions separated by the barest of plotlines. Games like Jane's World War II fighters are very realistic as to the graphics but lack the great storylines that held together Roberts' era Flight Sims from Origin. We looked with great anticipation at this long awaited title from the masters.
Game play can be set on difficult, medium or hard settings. The 25 long and extensive missions start out with an ainmated sequence which shows your mission briefing and you are given the opportunity to select a ship for the mission and a load out. Initially, many weapons and space fighters are not available to you. But as you amass kills, you are given access to better planes and weapons that you can fly and equip.
The missions are comprised of multiple mission goals that you must achieve to successfully complete the mission. Many missions may involve an initial skirmish with the enemy that have jumped you or that you have jumped. This skirmish may be followed by a refueling and rearming exercise with a "Nanny" ship where you may also run into enemy fighters. When you finally arrive at the final objective you may again be expected to take on several waves of enemy fighters and capital ships.
If your destination is a base set for a strike mission, you will have to complete certain goals in sequence successfully or your mission will go belly up. For example, if it is a strike mission, you may have to protect special bombing ships or missile ships which are particularly vulnerable. Next, you may have to take out some strategic communications device. After that you may have to attack turrets or capital ships. A second wave of fighters is not unheard of at this point. Finally you may have to destroy some specific structure or target a vent with a torpedo before you can return to the base.
If any objective is not completed or if you fail your escort and vital allied ships are destroyed, you may loose the mission and find yourself irretrivably on the loosing branch of the branching plotline. Many missions are extremely hard in one or more aspects even on the easy game setting. While other missions appear to be inexplicably easy by contrast. These "choke points" will probably prevent you from progressing and require you to repeat the mission over an over.
You must complete each and every mission successfully, indicated by a slap of the hands between pilots at the end of the mission. Should you fail you are doomed to repeat all aspects of the multifaceted mission all over again. You can only save between missions and not while within the mission. It is extremely frustrating to be forced to complete these complex and multifaceted missions over and over again simply for missing out on one particularly difficult sequence. This may cause many gamers to shelve the game before they finish it.
The missions have you startting out as a rookie pilot. You and your wingmates were recruited following a cataclismic war between Earth and her colonies. "Anyone with flight experience" are immediately recruited and inducted into the space air force defending your home planets.
The 80 types of spacecraft are rended in three dimensional graphics with extensive details. The source lighting and realistic ship destruction enhance the overall experience. Chris and Erin separate parts of the mission with animated cut scenes that other than the letter box format are visually indistinguishable from the game itself.
Starlancer contains over 25 minutes of Hollywood quality cinematic cut scenes. The experience of Chris and Erin Roberts is evident in these movie-like sequences their fans have come to expect.
If you play the game cooperatively with up to four players, it gives you a better chance at completing it, and reduces the frustration level significantly. The artificial intelligence players in the game are extremely limited and almost useless for most tasks. Taking the time to order the AI's around takes up vital mission time and may doom the mission to failure. In game voice commands or a set mission plan employing human beings is faster and more efficient.
Head to head dogfight and six deathmatch modes allow eight players to compete over LAN or the MSN Gaming Zone (a href="http:\\www.zone.com">www.zone.com)
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