Just Like Being a Bug on the Ground in a Stampede
One thing that is most definitely worth noting is that this game is *HARD*. Casual gamers, someone new to space sims, and those without a decent joystick should avoid touching this game. Seasoned space sim veterans have a difficult enough time with this game, so it is most definitely a niche title. That's not to say it's not an incredible game, or that it is not rewarding, but I think a simple difficulty slider that boosted your shields and weapon damage, or weakened enemy shields and damage would have done a lot for allowing more people to play the game.
The combat in this game, especially when going up against larger vessels, involves maneuvering yourself directly behind your opponent's engines where it remains unshielded, and shooting, without getting caught by other enemies in the aft section while trying to take down another enemy. And, while it's nice that you regenerate hull integrity (auto-repair bots), so does your enemy. It's not a pleasant thought to be cornered by three cruisers or destroyers while piloting a tug and every time you attack them, you have to leave the system to repair, and they are at full health again as well when you return.
In fact, while there is only one big complaint to be made about the game, it is a fairly large one. As a result of this difficulty, you may find yourself replaying the same mission thirty some times before managing to get it just right. Considering you can only save the game at your main base as well, you spend more time in transit and load times than you do actually in the mission, especially later in the game. Some people don't mind games that make you keep trying, but I find them extremely frustrating, and it tends to turn me off from it, no matter how great the game is.
There are two other annoyances as well. Starting in the middle of act two, you stop getting fed waypoints and must find your destination planet manually through the starmap. The starmap is a wonderful idea, but it can get highly annoying at times. I spent a good two days on and off trying to find a particular planet in the Firefrost system, which is an extremely huge system with tons of planets. The other annoyance is a visual thing. The ships just don't appear as large as they should. Given the supposed lengths of the cruiser class ships, they're larger than the Star Trek Enterprise E, yet they look little bigger than an overgrown fighter. It truly made me miss the Freespace 2 ships where traversing from one end to the other of the huge capital ships would take minutes.
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