"An alternate option would be FreeSpace?. (Also on budget) FreeSpace? has a very different campaign, but a very similar amount of plot. It also uses most of the same keymappings and has a very familiar physics model. MultiPlayer?? is slightly more comprehensible for me. There's also a fan-made BabylonFive conversion. It also has slightly more realistic capital ships (no longer do you take out a capital ship - you assist YOUR capital ships in taking it down) and... eventually.. (SpoilerWarning) BeamWeapons. BeamWeapons are very very nifty. They look nifty. They sound nifty. They blow stuff up. Including, on the higher difficulty levels / further on in the game, you (trivially)." -(poster unknown)
I only have Freespace 2. But it is great. Even now (2006), 7 years after release. The above summary holds for number two, except that beam weapons are around from the start. One good thing about beam weapons is that they are one of the things that you can hear charging up, even in space. This is usually a cue to take evasive action. Lots of it. On a gameplay front, after a few missions you'll have a decent selection of guns covering a wide tactical base. Graphics are acceptable, from my PoV? anyway. There's a reason that a Babylon5 mod was made, and the graphics engine in the second freespace is better than in the first.
Freespace 2 comes with a decent mission editor, too. One of my neighbours in college built a SouthPark? mission, where you had to defend the convoy of freighters carrying cheesy puffs. It was next to impossible to complete but it was quite funny. And yes, you had a wingman called Kenny. And the enemy did tend to kill him. B***ards.
Best mission quote (context: you have just been moved to an anti-capship bomber squadron, call it the 102nd for sake of argument):
"Welcome to the 102nd. We're not called the Suicide Kings for nothing, pilot."
The best thing about Freespace 2: The sourcecode has been released to the public. The "Freespace 2 Source Code Project (FS2_open)" has done a great job enhancing the original FS 2 engine. You can download it for free, play the original FS 2 campaign (with better graphics, sounds and improved AI). Additional fan-mande campaigns/mods and plugins that enhance the graphics even more are available. [The Source Code Project]
Does this mean that the fs2_open executables are actually the full FreeSpace 2 game? --CH
This executable is just one of the required parts. I remember that it was quite tricky to get them all. You need the media packages, the cutscenes and a launcher as well. Good thing that i tend to not cleaning up my bookmarks: [detailed install instructions and video downloads], [Media Download], Executable and launcher are available at the scp site in the downloads/official release section -- Grumpf
Good links. Looks like I will need Vitenka to send me his copy. Discussion unsnipped to below. Note the rather marvellous line "FS2 has a very strange licensing agreement which states that 'You may give copies away to friends...'". Neat. Looks like I can copy V's copy. --CH
Oh yes - the point was that only one person needed to have a copy and you'd still be able to play it multiplayer. --Vitenka (awaits email contact)
Grumpf - do you happen to know whether FreeSpace 1&2 run on WindowsXP?? I presume that fs2_open will, but I was curious if the original would without needing to grab fs2_open. Mostly just idle curiosity, since it's not exactly an issue to get hold of it. --CH
Sorry, i have only played FS2_open, which runs fine on WinXP. --Grumpf
Just to add... Freespace 2 (gold edition, released 1999) runs absolutely stonkingly under WinXP, so far. In normal space, you can turn all the graphics options up to max, although you may have to use the software-rendered graphics, dependent on cards and compatibilities; but even so, on a modern machine, it runs fine at top res. Some of the really nasty nebula-based missions can put strain on the computer but it's usually handleable (for reference my computer is a 4 years old, 1st gen. Athy XP2000 with just a 64MB graphics card, so a newer machine will have a *much* better time). --Jumlian
Grumpf has fought his way through the main campaign of Freespace 2 and some user mods and really liked the game. Mission briefings with voice acting, the presentation of the game and optional secondary objectives that can influence the storyline - thumbs up!
StuartFraser is thoroughly unimpressed. It manages to be really annoying and too easy simultaneously - I beat the game inside three days, needing no more than two or three attempts at even the hardest missions (one exception - it took me six attempts to zot the first Sathanas properly, because I didn't know about dropping the bombs at afterburner), and I spent a large amount of time complaining about the interface to myself and wondering "I wonder if there's a key I can press to...". The missions are generally badly designed - you've very little idea whether you're winning or losing in most cases until you actually win or lose; they pull a Deus Ex Machina on one side or the other in one out of roughly every three missions - if I wanted to watch other people fight, I'd play HomeWorld?. X-Wing Alliance (1999) or even Wing Commander:Prophecy (1997) rank as superior from my experience, not to mention StarLancer? (2000), which has a similar style of gameplay except for being better in every way (and not having an "argh, I can't see anything!" nebula to fight a third of the missions in.
Oh, and another thing. You fly various fighters during the game, and their relative merits are somewhat implausible given what the plot is saying and your general experience of what they can do whilst watching them from the cockpit of other fighters. You also recieve a variety of technological upgrades to your weapons during the game, but about five to ten missions from the end (there are 40 or so missions) you recieve an "experimental" cannon which is strictly better than everything else, so what's the point of it all? Likewise, after about 20 missions it becomes fairly obvious that it's only worth using one type of missile, and it stays that way to the end of the game too. It's a nice attempt, but the customisation really doesn't do anything. --SF
Ok, the physics model is... unorthodox. I have to constantly accelerate to keep a constant speed? You mean, my ship has accelerator and brake pedals? I guess I can't map my throttle axis to my throttle, then? --CH
No, you can keep a constant speed using the + and - keys to set it, just for some reason the game decides not to tell you that. Something else to complain about. --SF
It does tell you (briefly) in the tutorial - there's also the standard [,],BACKSPACE to set third, two-thirds,full speed - but mainly you use speed matching or maximum. --Vitenka
The SCP fs2-open project have improved their downloader engine. You can download a natty little installer (Turey's installer) that will go and get all the relevant bits. The download in total is about 1.5 GB though, including all of the original fs2 files, and takes about 4 hours, as the servers were fairly busy. SCP have not been idle. The project have seriously upgraded the textures used and texturising techniques; the skins for the craft have been upgraded, and they've also upgraded the graphics to support more recent graphics card features, allowing such funkiness as specular effects (glinting), glowmaps, lighting on missiles, and some seriously uprated environmental areas - space looks a lot nicer, although the nebulas look pretty similar to the last time I saw them. The mission generator has also been improved, and the game has a host of new and never-before-seen ship types of all categories, complete with new models. I think the GTVX Gorgon is pretty nice.
The latest download of fs2_open included all of the original game files, a fan-written campaign that is probably superior to the original in many respects - the Derelict campaign is absolutely great, as well as spanning over 40 missions. It avoids the "trebuchets are broken" aspect by not allowing you any until you're on really nasty missions, and you don't really care anyway as the whole campaign has a lot more structure and plot than the original game. This one has production values on a par with the original, and an awful lot of characterful chat. Say hello to Mackie when you see him (he flies Alpha 2; the one held together with duct tape).
There are several other campaigns that come with fs2_open. Awakenings, Cardinal Spear, Destiny of Peace and Transcend, and some others that are also available, like Homesick. Also there's a port of fs_one included; updated to use the fs2 engine and the improved skinning.
Note that there are also Mac and Linux versions, I believe.
Also, the fs2 engine has been borrowed for an independent game; not a mod of fs2, per se, but they borrowed the engine, so if you don't like the way things handle in fs2, no improvement there, but my it looks nice. And did some truly beautiful things to it to make [a Battlestar Galactica game] called BeyondTheRedLine?. I've not tried it, but it [looks sickeningly pretty] and it's also mac/linux compatible.
Ooooh. Must resist temptation to buy more games. --CH
Now, how'm I gonna know that? :) --Vitenka (According to Grumpf it's available to download free, anyway, now.)
I thought you might run XP. I have asked Grumpf whether that really is as good as it sounds. --CH
I do nowadays - but not then. And it looks like no, you need the campaign files from the original disk. But it should satisfy the rest of the potential pitfalls and I can supply said disk... email me ;) --Vitenka
I've got both, I think - but 2 is superior in every way. (The plot doesn't require knowledge of the precursor, either - though there's some nice references you'd miss) --Vitenka (1 lacks the capital ship battles)