Galaxy on Fire 2
I’m going to take you back in time for a minute, back to 2003. A game released that featured a single player campaign throughout the vast reaches of space, though multi-player was available if one knew how to create a server. It was mainly a space combat simulator, though players could shy away from combat and just ferry goods in between stations and earn credits by buying low and selling high. You could purchase new ships, weaponry, defenses…the works. I still come back to it every now and again; because the game was fantastic…even the soundtrack was top-notch. That game was Freelancer.
Galaxy on Fire 2 plays A LOT like Freelancer. I am able to do just about everything I could in Freelancer…even the idea of getting from one sector to another via jump / warp gates are the same. At stations, you can purchase new ships, weaponry, defenses, and various other upgrades by spending money…which you earn by taking jobs, mining and selling various metals, or just by ferrying goods and playing the market.
One of the things that stood out and impressed me was how streamlined navigation was. If you’re in space, you can pick from available waypoints and have your auto-pilot navigate you there and even speed up the game to minimize the downtime. If you’re on a station, you can view the map and click on a nearby planet or system so that your auto-pilot automatically takes you there. You can also point your targeting reticule at something in space and auto-interact with it…if it’s an asteroid for example, your auto-pilot will fly your ship up to it and auto-dock with it to start the mining mini-game. You can “warp” to planets in the same fashion by targeting a planet and hitting the appropriate key.
The mining mini-game can be repetitive…the object is to keep your mouse cursor inside the rings as they contract and disappear. Your mouse cursor will fly in random directions, so you’re trying to constantly keep your cursor in the rings provided. As you mine more metal from an asteroid, the rings disappear until you’re left with an extremely small space to try and stay inside. If the cursor falls outside the rings, the asteroid’s health will drop and explode once it is gone. You lose all of the metal you mined if this happens, though you can prematurely halt the mining operation and leave with what you’ve collected up to that point.
The campaign itself starts out with you (the protagonist) jumping ahead thirty-five years into the future and your tutorial takes you through the motions while the story expands from there. So far, it’s not bad…I appreciate the back buttons on the dialogue boxes so that I can go back and re-read anything that I didn’t get the first time around. Like in Freelancer, you’re often tasked to pick up side missions until you reach a certain point money-wise, guaranteeing that you have enough to purchase upgrades for the next mission in the main quest line.
Combat is pretty fluid. I can’t put my finger on it, but it lacks something that Freelancer had that really put me into the moment. Don’t get me wrong, combat is still a lot of fun…but I miss the “feel” of Freelancer. Those of you who enjoy combat will be happy to know that there are plenty of side missions available that have you taking out pirates and the like. You’ll be able to choose between different kinds of weapons like mini-guns and lasers…and they have tech levels associated with them allowing you to purchase better versions of the same weapon down the line.
Probably best of all, you’ll be able to veer off from your quest line to “sandbox” it until you’re tired of doing so. There are limits to what you can do and where you can go, based on your ship’s current strength. One of my favorite things to do in Freelancer was to find all of the backwater systems and Easter eggs. I enjoyed trying to befriend a faction just so that I could land and buy one of their ships…I enjoyed the diversity that each faction had in regards to what you could buy from them. I can only hope that as the game progresses that I see the same diversity as I did in Freelancer.
For twenty bucks on Steam, it’s not a bad deal. If the game truly delivers on everything that it advertises, it will keep me busy for a good while. I put in about two hours last night and look forward to putting in more over these next few weeks.
Final Verdict: 5/10