The world inside the game is massive. You can spend a great deal of time just going from base to base, galaxy to galaxy. At points, you really do feel like you are a very small spec in a large galaxy and that there are a lot of things going on around you. There is a constant struggle between the law and the criminal element and you are often caught in the middle. This can get annoying as often after a long mission you just want to land and repair your ship and you have to fight off a wave of rogues as you attempt to dock at a station. However, in the long run, it does enhance the feeling that there’s a lot going on in the world.
The game is beautiful, and while not scientifically correct, the universes that you can explore are varied and the game employs lighting for some dramatic effects. Each house has its own set of ships, weapons, and universe characteristics and it’s nice to see assorted design elements carried throughout the game. Even the weapons effects for each house are different and it helps reinforce the differences between the houses. There are also a great deal of cool bases that are off the beaten path. These will take your breath away. Never have asteroid bases looked so good. The lighting is excellent, and is used effectively to bring you further into the game (some of the effects in the dust clouds are pretty sweet and help show you the way in a few cases). There are plenty of neat little touches such as how your guns follow your cursor around the screen and all of the little touch details on the ships and bases.
The ship effects are well done, too. There are some subtle shield effects as well as nice effects such as wings and ship components breaking off as you finish off the ships. The outcome is a little diminished on the capital ships but it really works well for the smaller ships. (The capital ships are done very nicely but still don’t give the same feeling of size and scope as the ones in the Freespace series).
The sound in the game is fantastic with loads of good surround effects and an top-notch movie-like score. The music is subtle and does a good job of accenting the action on the screen (more evident in the single player portion of the game than the multiplayer section). My only complaint is that the afterburner on the heavy fighters sounds very much like an outboard motor which is a little distracting. The weapons sounds are pretty good as well but typical fair for the genre.
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