Freelancer

If you listen to my podcast at all lately, I have dropped certain hints to my gaming habits. Sometimes what I am playing, sometimes what's coming. What's coming in the long term is Star Citizen. Like Hawken, it seems that in this day of gaming revolution, long old forgotten PC genres are being randomly revived at an astounding pace.

Freelancer is a space combat game that came out 10 years ago. Feeding off of nostalgia, I managed to fire it up again. I was afraid that it wouldn't work, because it works on Windows XP, but not Vista. Somehow, miraculously, it works again on Windows 7.

Freelancer screenshot, shooting at an enemy ship

Sure the graphics are a bit dated, but it's not quite used toilet paper origami bad. I managed to find an HD texture mod, but that didn't jack up the quality all that much, but I'll take it. At least with a GTX 680, it had no hiccups running it with 32x anti-aliasing.

It is part of a series (a sequel of sorts to Starlancer), that was conceived by Chris Roberts. He also did a game called Wing Commander, but that was a bit before my time. He is also the brains behind Star Citizen. Unfortunately, he left somewhat early during the development of Freelancer, but I hope that plenty of elements remain to illustrate what his ideas are.

The universe is plenty big. You roam around in systems between planets and stations, and there are dozens of systems. The setting is rather alive with several factions, each with their own alliances and enemies. I love it! Roaming around, you hear other ships and stations hailing each other, with an occasional bandit raid. When docked, things turn a bit dead. You don't see people walking around in bars or to traders.

The single player campaign is a generous 13 hours or so long. You play as freelance space pilot Edison Trent. Things quickly go south as the space station you are on gets blown up by unknown parties. You return to civilization and get some jobs going after criminals. It doesn't take long to know that something's going on, and off you go to the edges of the universe, and beyond. The cutscenes are all done in-game: no blocky pre-rendered stuff to be found, which gives better immersion, even with the dated graphics.

Mister Roberts claims big things for Star Citizen, hopefully he can carry through with all of them. If takes this and builds on it, yipee! He shouldn't have much trouble, since the funding for this has gone over 8 million dollars, plus other private funding.

If EA were to make a game that's like Freelancer, but set in the Mass Effect universe, I'll buy it. Face it: there's plenty of lore for Mass Effect already: doing a space combat game there would be little work. If it had a good ending, I might forget that Mass Effect 3 even happened. That said, I'm not holding my breath for a huge risk-averse gaming publisher to bring a niche (if not dead) game genre to casual gamers.

Posted under Gaming.

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