Review - Star Control II

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Review - Star Control II

Post by 3DO Experience » Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:29 am

STAR CONTROL II by Crystal Dynamics

Reviewed 1994 by Bill Garrett for Game Bytes Magazine.

I've been mostly pretty pleased with the latest rash of games coming out for the 3do. Whether you've liked them or hated them they have for the most part been original and distinctive (with several obvious exceptions such as the "The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes"). So it was with some amount of trepidation that I picked up Star Control II.

I had been hearing on the net for quite a while that Star Control II was "just a port" of the pc version. Since I have played (and enjoyed) the PC version I was unsure of how much I would like this game. On the other hand I trust Crystal Dynamics so I picked the game up.
THE GAME:

Star Control II is an RPG set in the far future with real time combat in the spirit of the classic Starflight series and the original Star Control games.
THE STORY:

I've shortened this up a bit and am just trying to get the gist across here.

It's the 21st Century and Earth is at peace finally. All of the Nuclear Weapons of the world have been collected and stored underground. Local space travel is commonplace and everything is as it should be.

In 2112 first contact is made with the Chenjesu. They come with a warning: the Ur-Quan are coming. The Ur-Quan, a species genetically compelled to conquer, a horde of conquering warriors that have made slaves of a thousand races across the galaxy.

The Chenjesu are members of the Alliance of Free Stars, a confederation of races dedicated to stopping the Ur-Quan by any means necessary. Earth joins the alliance.

Skip ahead to 2134, the war is going badly, it's only a matter of time before the Ur-Quan and their Hierarchy of Battle Thralls breaks the Alliance.

Through an eventful series of events, Star Control Captain I. Burton and her ship the Tobermoon are forced to land on the planet Vela II. While there the discover a huge underground city, built by an extinct race known as the Precursors.

Skip ahead several decades. You have managed to develop a rapport with the Precursor's master computer system, and it has activated a set of robots. A set of robots that precedes to automatically assemble a starship.

Skip ahead again, you are the pilot of that starship, and you're headed back to Earth. The Alliance is in very deep trouble know, the future of the Earth and the Alliance is in your hands.
GRAPHICS and SOUND

I had heard that the graphics in this game were about the same as the PC game, I'm not sure what PC game they are playing but the graphics are VERY heavily upgraded in most areas.

The intro is a beautifully done rendered telling of the basic plot line. I'm not sure what Crystal Dynamics is using to do the compression but this is some of the best software decompressed FMV released on the 3DO to date. There are artifacts, but they seem very different and less subdued than the typical artifacts. It could simply be that they worked around he limitations of the compression scheme, there is no quick movement for example and the colors don't clash. Whatever it's a very impressive, and cinematic intro.

The in-game graphics are almost up to the same level. Doing things from inside your ship such as scanning planets for minerals is done beautifully but is hard to describe.

Contact with alien species is also done well, although the actual pictures of the aliens probably could have more colors.

I assume that most of the problems others have with the games graphics are because of the graphics during navigation and during actual battles. The real problem here is probably a a lack of resolution more than anything else. The screen is zoomed out during these phases and the colors are fairly basic.

More impressive than the graphics however, are the sounds. The sound makes this game very much worth playing even if you've completed the original.

The background music is simply terrific and sets the mood like almost no other game I've seen, I can only compare it to something like the Secret of Mana, although I believe that had more variety and this higher quality.

Contact with an alien species, which happens quite a bit, is done fully through high quality audio. A picture of the species pops up and they begin talking. Each in a very unique, and very, very well done voice. Below the picture are cassette type controls allowing you to rewind the speech to any point and here it as many times as you need to. This also serves to add a lot of mood to the game.
GAMEPLAY:

Despite all the enhancements this is still definitely Star Control II, when it comes down to it, and those who have played other versions , know that that's a pretty big compliment.

Star Control II has a very distinct tone and mood, and pretty much stands alone in the RPG world (the original Starflight's come close). Which is unfortunate because the system is so good. The universe is massive, there are lots of places to explore ton's of people to meet, and lots of puzzles to solve. You can add ships to your entourage, build better ships, find items and so on. All in all it's a pretty complex game.

There's also a fair amount of combat. Combat is much improved over the original PC version. Although there are things that do take getting used to (e.g. it's very easy to lose track of your ship during combat). Everything is tons smoother, the attacks of the ships looks more impressive, and on the whole combat feels better than I recall. It also seems quite a bit more tough than I recall which is probably good in the long run as well.

I don't have much more to say about gameplay it's still Star Control II, the enhancements do a lot to add to the mood of the game and makes it quite a bit easier to get into the mood of the game.
MISC

The manual is well written, is about 50 pages and includes a section of hints for those who need them. The game is packaged like a typical Crystal Dynamics game which means a CD case with no inserts (front or back) and an oversized manual. (I hate this btw). The game also comes with a nice sized color map of the known universe and a nice advert for the Crystal Dynamics range of games. The disc also has a simply wonderful advertisement that should be on TV, which features long clips from Gex, Star Control II, Samurai Shodown, and Offworld Interceptor.
SUMMARY

I really enjoy this game, if you're into RPG's, if you've enjoyed Star Control II in the past, or if you're simply looking for something good than get this game. The FMV is very well down, the graphics range from excellent to good, the real time combat is great, the voices are well done and the gameplay is still there. Definitely a keeper.
"Wait. You don't have a bag of charcoal in your gaming room???"

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dazzadasha
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Post by dazzadasha » Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:20 pm

Thanks for posting this (Nearly a year ago).
A mighty romp it was- . Just ordered one from US for 10 smackers. No map though which is a bummer- I bet they're hard to get. Any Ideas where I can lay my mits on a star map?

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Post by Trev » Fri Jul 18, 2008 1:54 am

If I could find mine, I'd make a color copy for you. Let me dig around for it ... I'll get back to you.

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Post by dazzadasha » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:54 am

Man- You guys are too much :o
Thanks Trev.

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Post by Trev » Fri Jul 25, 2008 3:11 pm

Nothing yet, but I'm still digging ...

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Post by 3DOKid » Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:19 pm

map...? What map?

I'm going to have properly play this aren't I? I think we'll wait for Mrs 3DOkid to go back to work and my boss to go on holiday;)

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Post by oldskool » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:36 am

Excellent, excellent game. What I really like about it is that it's so environmental, like the reviewer mentioned. You can get lost for hours playing this game. It's almost mesmerizing.
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Post by 3DO Experience » Sat Apr 03, 2010 1:51 pm

dazzadasha wrote:Thanks for posting this (Nearly a year ago).
A mighty romp it was- . Just ordered one from US for 10 smackers. No map though which is a bummer- I bet they're hard to get. Any Ideas where I can lay my mits on a star map?
Wow I dunno why but I never put this up. I just added it to the game guide. Here is the Original Map... you have to follow the link as I can't hotlink to the server anymore. :(
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Post by T.A.P. » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:54 pm

I love this game. It's the reason I got into 3DO stuff in the first place. Now if I could only find a copy...

I still think the Orz/Androsynth stuff is really creepy.

Did anyone else keep Fwiffo with you to the end of the game?

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