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kelp7 's profile
PC - DOS
I'd like to introduce you to possibly one of the greatest titles released for home computers. With a game as large as this one it's difficult to know quite where to begin when explaining quite what it is and why it is so fantastic. Those who thought Elite had an expansive and enthralling universe to explore would only benefit from the enjoyment of what's on offer here.
The game itself is best described as a sci-fi role-playing game. The universe within which the game is set comprises 270 star systems encompassing a total of 800 planets. This may seem small compared to the 8 galaxies worth of planets you could visit in Elite. The difference here is that these really are fully mapped out planets, a huge percentage of which you can land on and explore (depending on gravity).
You aren't given much to go on in the beginning stages. You're given a ship. Tasked with the duty of attempting to discover the reason for a large number of stars going supernova with the problem getting worse and gradually spreading from one side of the galactic map to the other you must equip your ship with a crew, cargo pods and anything else that may come in handy. Starport is your starting point and from here it's best to explore the local system of planets before going further afield. You'll want to upgrade your ship as soon as you can as your engines won't allow you to travel very far and this can best be done by mining minerals and capturing local fauna and flora to take back to Starport and sell in the marketplace.
All of your crew need to be trained to their full capacity before they become truly useful to you. I.e. a non-trained navigator could get you lost in space, a non-trained doctor could take far longer to heal an injured member of your party. Once you make it into deeper areas of the galactic map you start to encounter other alien species in their own ships. You can scan the ships to find out how well they're equipped, whether they're scouts or warships etc. Communication can occur on a range of topics between yourself and alien craft. Again if your communication officer isn't fully trained, you may only understand fractions of the alien's sentences, in which case it's possibly best to be obsequious and leave as quickly as you can.
There are many sub-plots to Starflight, you do not need to follow the main story as given in the first e-mail message you receive at Starport. Take your time. Do whatever you want. As per Elite, this is a free-roaming game. I can't do it enough justice here but there is plenty more on offer, alien artifacts and ruins to explore on planet surfaces with messages from long-gone species etc. Lots of mysteries to unravel and unknown places to visit. There's even tell of Earth being in the map somewhere. Another string to Starflight's bow is the ability to make money from logging planets as 'habitable'. Depending on how well the planet's atmosphere, gravity, mineral deposits etc match up to Starports requirements you can earn tens of thousands in one quick move. It's handy to have a notepad nearby when playing however as you are bound to be given interesting sounding information from aliens and messages you find on planets, be sure to check everything out as you may discover an alien artifact that somehow enhances your own ship's abilities.
This game was fifteen man-years in development, please seek it out if you can. It is worth it just for the plot twist at the 'end' of the game. It's the influence behind a lot of later games such as the Star Control series. It's available for DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Mac and even Megadrive. The sequel is very much worth playing also.
There are slight variations between the different platforms for which this was released. The C64 version misses out the vector graphics landing sequence. The Amiga and ST versions introduced an 'Auto Pickup' facility so that you only had to drive your terrain vehicle over minerals and artifacts to store them as cargo while the Megadrive version had many new features including improved graphics and an 'arcade' landing sequence where you had control over the landing itself via engine thrust.
Suffice to say this game is not about flashy graphics but more about gameplay and storyline which are both enough to suck you into the Starflight universe.