Platform: PC | Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Accolade | Developer: Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III | Released: 1992
Games like Star Control II come around once in a lifetime. In retrospect, this 1992 PC game (which was also released for the Panasonic 3DO system) has such an unlikely combination of elements, it's a wonder it even exists. For one thing, Star Control II offered outstanding arcade-style action in the form of its ship-to-ship combat sequences, better known as the super melee mode. Featuring 14 inventive and unique ships and an intuitive control scheme reminiscent of Asteroids, the combat in Star Control II was highly entertaining against the challenging computer and especially against a friend.
Actually, the combat was more or less the same as that of the original Star Control. The sequel simply added an uncommonly good storyline and some very well-integrated role-playing elements, and these three components combined to make a game that's truly one of a kind. The game begins when you return to Earth after being marooned for decades on a distant planet, only to find that the human race has been enslaved by a hostile caterpillar-like race called the Ur-Quan. Separated from your species, your only hope is to try to free Earth and put an end to the Ur-Quan conflict. In so doing, you travel across the galaxy, upgrade your alien vessel from a skeletal husk into the most powerful starship around, recruit the assistance of a number of memorable alien races, and do battle against many others. The 18 different races in Star Control II were all distinctively different, and none of them fit the generic science-fiction stereotypes that have always been so common in games.
Star Control II's campaign was completely open-ended. You could fly anywhere so long as you had the fuel, and so long as you could defend yourself against the possibly hostile aliens in that region. The game's world consisted of 500 unique star systems, and you could even scavenge the surface of the thousands of different planets in the game for minerals and other valuables. Meanwhile, the dialogue for all the various aliens was exceptionally well written and often hilarious. You always had numerous dialogue options, and could just as soon make enemies as make friends if you didn't choose your words carefully.
For good measure, Star Control II featured uncommonly good production values. The different alien species were imaginative in both appearance and bearing, and the top-down ship-to-ship combat looked great and ran smoothly. The game sounded even better. It used the innovative MOD digital music format to give each alien race a truly distinctive theme, at a time when most PC games had awful-sounding, tinny, synthesized music. Plus, the sounds of combat were dead-on, drawing inspiration from the sorts of sound effects heard in classic sci-fi films and television shows.
Simply put, Star Control II had everything. It was challenging, rewarding, open-ended, fun, and highly replayable. It's a genuine classic that's still unsurpassed, and it's so original that it hasn't even been imitated. And even though the game is more than 10 years old now, it still holds up extremely well, and most of today's sci-fi-themed games can't hold a candle to it. From playing Star Control II, you clearly get the impression that the game was a labor of love. Yet it's just as evidently a work of incredible talent and creativity.
|Star Control II is easily one of my all-time favorite computer games, and one of those games that makes me feel privileged having played it--I felt like I'd dug up a chest full of gold doubloons when I discovered that game, it was so unbelievably good. It's just an amazing work of fiction, not to mention a really fun game. Long after I'd finished the campaign several times, my friends and I would still play the super melee mode for hours and hours. I never would have imagined that my favorite shooter and my favorite RPG of the era would be part of the same game.|
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