Title Star Flight (Second Review) Game Type Action Strategy Players 1 HD Installable ? Compatibility ? Submission C. Shrader Review Starflight is a game published by Electronic Arts and written by Binary Systems. I recently was able to play and finish this game in late 2001, and enjoyed it immensely. The charm of this game, to me, is the quest into the unknown. Although you can read "briefings" that will fill you in on some of the aliens that you can meet in this game, travelling out to encounter them is still a thrill that will remind you of old Star Trek episodes. The game is very popular, and has a near-cult following, so much so that an attempt to write a second sequel (Starflight III), by some of the many people who love this game, took place. I don't believe that the project was ever finished, but there is always hope. First, some game features will be mentioned. The game allows you to explore 270 star systems and 800 planets, each with unique eco-systems. A few of these worlds are "very" unique, and that is all I will tell you here. I stumbled on one that was quite a surprise. Play the game and if you are dedicated to finishing the game, you will discover what I mean. Scattered about these worlds are clues and cool artifacts that will help you to fulfill your mission. Most planets are pretty inhospitable to human life, but once in a while you will find a world that fits into the guidelines of habitable. By finding these worlds, you can recommend them and make signficant amounts of cash. The game appearently took 15 man-years of development. Graphics in this game are simple but help "make the game". There are two primary modes that you can be in - the first is "Starfleet Mode". When in this mode, you are at starfleet, in a circular chamber. The view is looking down at the chamber from a 45 degree angle. You are a small space-man, who, by walking to different "posts", activate various Starfleet menuing systems. Included are "Personnel (where you generate your crew), "Training", the "Bank", Starship configuration (and repair), "Trading Post" (where you sell your minerals, artifacts, and life forms), and Starfleet HQ, where you are briefed, receive news as the game progresses, and receive rewards for correctly found habitable planets. When you are not at Starfleet, you are in your ship. The screen is laid out in a fairly simple yet workable fashion. In the upper left hand corner, you have your "sight window" - in this window are displayed graphics of what you "see" as you play the game. Here you will view the aliens that you communicate with (whose graphics are particularly pleasing), ship combat, planets that you orbit (that actually revolve as you view them), planet surfaces that you traverse, and outer space as your ship travels through that cold, cruel vacuum. Right below this window is the system button, which brings you to a menu where you can load, save, pause the game, or turn sound on and off. In the upper right hand corner is a window that shows your "status" - current date, ship damage, percentage of cargo space full, ship energy remaining, shield status, and weapon status. You also can view ship shield and armor damage levels. In an area right below this is your action menu. This menu at the top level displays the crew titles. You pick the crew member button to access sub-menus. For example, to view your cargo, you would choose the "Captain" button. To analyze a planet or unknown ship, you would choose the "Science Officer" button. These menus are your interaction with the Starflight universe when you are not at Starfleet. The final window that encompasses the bottom of the screen is an "information" window. Here is displayed the dialogues between yourself and the aliens that you chat to, science officer "read-outs", combat events, detection of "motion" around your ship as you travel (should you be in an area where an alien is near), landing sequence information, the text of clues that you may find on various planets in the game, etc. Sound in this game is basic. Each alien will have a musical "theme" that will play when you meet it. When you receive a reward at Starfleet, there is a basic "Good Job" tunette that plays. When you dock with Starfleet, you will hear the airlock door slam shut. When you leave Starfleet, you will hear a beep with each countdown from 5 to 1, then a sound effect as you leave the airlock and enter the solar system. This same sound effect plays when you enter a "flux" in outer space (your basic worm-hole). There is no sound when you are in ship-to-ship combat. Cash was a bit of an issue in this game. I ended up with so much of it near the middle of the game that it became a total non-issue. It would have been nice to have had to struggle a bit more with this resource. Perhaps they should have made ship upgrades more expensive. There are seven alien races that you can interact with, each with unique languages, cultures, and dispositions. Some are so bizarre that interaction is fruitless. Others can be "diplomatically" convinced (and I used this term loosely with respect to some of these slime-bags) to turn over important information to you. Others are extremely friendly and helpful, if you make an alliance with them. My favorites are the plant people (the Elowyn), who are a very altruistic, knowledge seeking race. They will give you fuel if you are in desperate need, which is otherwise extremely expensive. You can choose, and provide training to, 6 separate crew on your ship, including the Captain, Science Officer, Communications Officer, Navigator, Doctor, and Engineer. The more training that you provide for these individuals, the better they are at their profession. The primary goal of the game is to discover why your sun is acting erratically. As the game progresses, you will discover that you must save your star, or Starfleet will be destroyed. Other secondary goals are discovering habitable planets, making money by collecting and selling minerals and life forms to Starfleet, not getting brutally killed, acquiring fuel, and discovering "fluxes" - wormholes that facilitate travel throughout the game environment. As the game progresses, you will get a sense of "history" as to events that preceded your exploration. There are a few "sub-plots" that generate interest and provide for a story-line. In this game, you travel from star to star in search of fulfilling your objectives, and land on the various planets in search of clues, artifacts, minerals, and life forms. Some planets will crush you with their gravity should you choose to land on them. Others have weather that can kill crew members before you get a chance to leave the planet's surface. The alien races include the Elowyn (previously mentioned), the Mechans, the Mysterions, the Thrynn, the Gazurtoid (these guys are no fun!), the Spemin (slime bags all! Literally!), the Minstrals, and the Veloxi (your basic intelligent grasshoppers). Each can be dealt with in a separate fashion. In addition, you will run into probes that your race launched in eons past that are prepared to dump immense amounts of data they have collected into your lap. Not that they help you all that much, but they are fun to find. Ship to ship combat is rather simple, and not much fun after a while. Blow up enemy, collect remaining debris... ad nauseum. You have lasers, missiles, shields, and armor that influence how well you will fare in a fight, but your weapons are pretty much automatic. You shoot by pressing your joystick button without even having to aim, and hope that you destroy them before they destroy you. Simple, effective, and boring. But you can get lots of minerals to sell this way. The game is worth playing, even by today's Mega-Direct-X 30.0 squared standards. The game has a charm that is hard to find in today's multi-gigabyte processor-hog monstrosities. Not that these games aren't fun. They just lack that nostolgic charm that games like this can provide. A final word about "artifacts". As you find clues on various planets, they will lead you to various "artifacts" throughout this space sector. Many are worthless, but some provide you with enhancements to help you fulfill your mission. Some are planet destroying bombs, some help keep your planet-crawling terrain vehicle safe, some help you to see "fluxes" in outer space, and some help keep you alive in ship to ship combat. There are others that may provide you with other enhancements but the writer cannot immediately recall them at this moment.