Way back in 1998 the clever chaps at Volition graced us with the best space simulator of it’s time; Freespace: The Great War. If you liked sci-fi, giant ships and dog fighting then this game had it all, as well as a compelling story with a mysterious race hell bent on pure destruction!
Set some time in the future in our own galaxy and quite a few others, Freespace puts you into a fighter space craft while someone barks orders at you over the radio telling you who to kill. The war between the Terrans and Vasudans has been raging on for a number of years when suddenly a 3rd race, almost xenophobic in nature, come out of the blue (or the black) and sends both races packing!
The gameplay is amazing, works best with a joystick (remember those things?) as you need to fly around the system taking out other fighters and huge capital ships, the dogfighting is second to none and the fighting very intense with plenty of fighters on the screen at one time duking it out as they fly around their own capital ships(think The Empire Strikes Back where the Falcon is flying around the death star)
The story in Freespace 1 has a great feeling of dread as this mysterious 3rd race is trying to wipe out all trace of Terrans and Vasudans and ends on a climatic finish, it also has great music to boot.
Each mission is briefed to you by one of the commanders, explains everything that’s going on in the fight and introduces you to new ships and new weapons you will be using in the next mission, the voice acting is really well done.
Then less than a year later along comes Freespace 2 and it is an improvement on Freespace in every single way and is the greatest space simulator of ALL time! The story escalates, it gets more intense with a lot more dread, the briefings are better and give you a greater sense of scale with some great voice acting by people such as Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox and Robert Loggia.
The music gets better too with some of the most intense action packed, atmospheric scores I’ve ever heard in a game. The dog fighting is pretty much the same, it doesn’t need improving, it plays as brilliantly well as the first game, but the scale of the fighting gets a lot bigger with capital ships 5x bigger than the ones in the first game, in the above screenshot, that ship is 6KM long and it takes you a few minutes to fly from end to end.
The introduction of beam cannons to every ship (only one ship had them in the first game) makes the fighting even better, it’s amazing hearing a beam cannon powering up and seeing it fire straight past you and cut another ships hull in two!
The Freespace games are still going strong thanks to fans who have sliced and diced the engine and upgraded it conciderably, adding new graphical features and new mods, 13 years after it’s released it’s still being played, that’s a testament to just how bloody good it is!
This game will ONLY be topped if Freespace 3 comes out, and I still hold out hope to this day! Come on Volition, we will love you forever, be your best friends, wash your car, clean your house and take your dogs for walkies if you manager to create the best sequel ever to one of the best games ever!
If you wish to see just how good this game is, take a look at our Let’s Pwn! series which goes through both games.
Freespace 1: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL186D25594E1689E9&feature=view_all
Freespace: The Silent Threat (expansion to Freespace 1) http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD942ADE4FF078C87&feature=view_all
Freespace 2: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL81BB0A8596D1E1C2&feature=view_all
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