Space, Flying and Space Flying

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Am I the only person in the world who liked sonic unleashed that isn't an obnoxious sonic fanboy.

I enjoyed Lylat Wars. Sure, It was mostly on rails but it was still damn good. And occasionally went fully 3d.

Yahtzee, thank you for this article. As a space sim fan myself, I've also wondered what's happened to my favorite genre of game. Thankfully there are a few recent games you might like:

Parkan 2 - Space game that lets you pilot a spaceship, get out and run around on planets (in a limited fashion) and board spaceships in first person mode. A lot of fun.
Evochron Legends -- A good mix of space combat and trading action. Doesn't let you get out of your ship like Parkan 2, but still a lot of fun.

The last great game in the genre was Freespace 2, but sadly since neither that nore Independence War 2 -- which came out around the same time, IIRC -- sold as well as their predecessors, developers slowly moved away from the genre since it didn't seem as lucrative, sadly. Kinda like what's happened with flight sims, but without the rivet counters to blame. ;)


Well, I don't know that simplifying the mechanic is a bad thing. Again, in many of the games mentioned in this forum, a simplified mechanic is the rule. I think one of the reasons Colony Wars died out as a series is that they had gotten the flight to a great point, but sort of neglected the gameplay around that.

Having played the demo of Dark Void, I think that the flight in it is unnecessarily difficult. There's no added motion control to it that makes it any more needing of depth than the average game space ship, it's just not really clean. I'll reserve judgment on the game until I play the whole thing, but at the moment, I think flying in Brutal Legend is way more fun, and that sucks.

I actually think you could do a great version of Freespace on the console. When I played it, I'd do loadout and pretty much only end up using 5 or 6 items over and over. And that's without the possibility of adding in FPS gameplay.

Again, I don't think there's any magic here, just lack of will.

And if Bridge Commander wasn't enough nostalgia for one thread, now you just reminded me of Descent.

That's a tough middle point to reach, though. Descent felt too responsive (you felt like a disembodied free floating eye, rather than a vehicle) and, like somebody else pointed out above, many "advanced" space sims feel like there is too much inertia involved and it's really hard and not too much fun to aim at stuff with what feels like a ton of steel pushing against your pointer.

Oh, well, if nothing else, this has helped me compile a list of games to dust off and replay in the next few weeks:

Star Trek Bridge Commander
X Wing vs Tie Fighter
Freespace 2
Project Sylpheed

Oh, and here's another one I remembered

Terminal Velocity

Oh, and

Magic Carpet 1 and 2

This is going to take a while.

In San Andreas, you could fly a airplane and hop out to beat up hookers.

In Battlefront 2 you had space fights where you could hop out in the other teams ship and kill them all.

So there ya go Ben.

For what it's worth, Iron Man was fun in regards to flying around and shooting things. Sure the rest of the game was balls, but there were moments where I just didn't give a damn. The level with that flying death fortress was my favorite one, because here you are, this tiny, man-sized metal-man; and there's the S.S. Death-from-Above Fortress.

On a side-note, I just hope the next game doesn't have as missile-happy as the first.

Okay, well it's nice to see that there's someone out there who knows how to laugh at himself. Now, let's see if Mr. Combos and his studio know how to take the constructive criticism and use it to improve their work. I certainly hope so, because it would be nice to see more companies learn from their mistakes (like Looking Glass Studios did with Thief 2 (an awesome game, if you didn't already know)).
Also, it would give Yahtzee the chance to feel like he's doing some good in the world and he needs all of that he can get, right?

How about I-War (Independance War)? That was an outstanding space combat sim. I loved being able to fly through space following similar mechanics to a plane, then hit a button and flip the ship over and start firing on the people chasing me, while now flying backwards. Excellent.
And having played Elite on both the BBC model B, and later the Acorn A5000 (widely regarded as the definitive version), I think that there's worse things that a space game could aspire to than being like Elite.
A mixture of I-War and a FPS would be pretty cool, but sales-wise you'd end up with some problems with customers who were only interested on one of the facets of gameplay, as they'd be unlikely to buy the game.
Unless, (going off into dreamland) they published it as two parts which could be fitted tofther interspersing the two styles of gameplay, but if you only wanted one, the other style missions could be filled in with short cinematics to move the story along... Now that would be awesome.

Pants = Bad
The Pants = Good.


I really liked Freelancer. That game was straightforward. thing were to explore I could rob transporters. Lots of factions and ships and good characters with a suspenseful story.

this is really weird, i had this exact same discussion with a couple of mates and went on ebay and picked up a cheap copy of freelancer because i missed it :P still waiting for it to arrive though...

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: Space, Flying and Space Flying

Where did all the space-flight games go?

Read Full Article

Actually there was a game that was going to be made that is very close to the game you are wanting called Star Wars :Battlefront III .
Here is some game play that might give you a nerdgasm :

I'm not sure if it's entirely what you have in mind when you think of the old space flight games (having missed that period of gaming entirely myself,) but there's an in-development indie piece called Star Ruler which looks like it could turn out pretty well. still in heavy beta, mind, but what I've heard so far has been pretty positive.

and then there's the chance it could turn out like an offline Eve Online, but I'll quietly pretend that possibility doesn't exist.

Try Star Trek Online. Both space and ground based combat. And the space combat is AWESOME!

I love you, Yahtzee. You lighten my day.

I'm really surprised at how nice those developers were considering your closing comment. However, in many ways you were gentler than other sites so they're probably thankful for just the cliché-o-meter.

Keep it up.

I miss my Freespace and Wing Commander... damn you FPS for killing the space sim.

i would consider not being drowned a plus... but thats just me.

good luck on your space game the last one i played was that project something or other on the 360 which was meh nice CG, so so gameplay and poor story but macross would be proud of the missile spam. i think the problem is less with the games stopped being fun but rather that what new can you bring to space combat? real physics? someone tried that with a mod freelancer (don't know the name) and dogfighting consisted of head on charges that lasted 1 second then they needed to stop and turn.

Space flight games... how 'bout Zone of the Enders? There's supposed to be another one coming up. It's been coming for a while...

Really? Nobody's said it yet? Well I guess someone has to, *AHEM*


....It had to be done

Lethal Skies 2 let you take off and land, but you can't get out.
More info here.

Space really isn't all that fun unless a lot of stuff is going on around you (you need to have a sense of scale). To cope with this problem large battles with enormous ships to fly around/near are needed OR you should be able to fly in and out of the atmosphere of a planet... that could be really cool. Go do that, Yatzee. I told you to do it, and therefore it should be easy and quick, as that's how most people think game making works.

I wish Dark Void were better, I was so looking forward to it. Sadly, I never gave it a chance, but based on reviews (and my current funds), I don't think I'll ever bother with it... I like flying too! :'(

I think a big part is that there really isn't a whole lot to do with a space flyer game. Maybe there's a shortage of games because there's a shortage of ideas that companies can use to hook people on a game centered around space flight. I mean sure you could have a game where you get to fly around being a good/bad/neutral guy and generally making space your playground but then you'd just have freelancer all over again. Which really wouldn't be too bad but we have to think about originality here people.

I'm still waiting for the contemporary equivalent of 'Escape Velocity.'

Of course I will get flamed for this, and probably have my gamer credentials undermined and ridiculed, but frankly I don't care. I've been gaming for longer than many people on here, Yahtzee included, and I know a truly terrible game when I play one. Here goes: Sonic Unleashed is a good game. The daytime Sonic levels are trial and error twitch gaming, a little frustrating, but massively rewarding when you master a level (anybody yearning for the gaming ethos of the early nineties really shouldn't be complaining. Apart from the QTEs, but frankly they're hardly the great evil that Yahtzee makes them out to be. They CAN be done well). The werehog levels are an admittedly mediocre brawler interspersed with some of the better cerebral platforming I've seen of late. Ok, so it's no Super Mario Galaxy, but it's hardly Croc either (and it isn't going to aggravate my vertigo). The problem with Sonic Unleashed is just that it suffers the gaming equivalent of split-personality disorder with involuntary narcissistic medal-collecting.

Well, unless you played it on the Wii, in which case it truly is utter gubbins.

I love games like Prototype and Spiderman 2 where you can free-roam flawlessly, but what really has me is the Xenomorph in the upcoming Alien vs. Predator. Climbing everywhere at insane speeds is a little disorienting, but for now the novelty is beating any space or free-roaming based gameplay I've experienced.

One of the first "real" (non-educational) games I was allowed to play was Freespace 2, and I loved it. Ah, the memories.

Lots of flight sims have died out. Trying to get a joystick in this day and age is much more difficult than it used to be. I remember the days when hardware retailers stocked at least a dozen joysticks to pick from. Nowerdays, I visited three different PC stores and none of them had any.

I remember X-3. The game is practically a second job - you are a space trucker, and you have to commit to weeks of ferrying stuff around before being able to buy anything of value (like a factory). I remember, after commiting 20 or so hours to the game, finding I was still making only paltry sums of money and having no fun whatsoever. It took me that long to finally say "fuck it" and snap the game disc.

I had my own idea for a space sim: set in the orbit of a gas giant, in which different altitudes put you into different atmospheres (radioactive ones/corrosive ones/safe ones/upper orbit etc.). Plus the ships would be big, ugly things that kind of look like steam locomotives, bristling with guns.

X-Wing and TIE Fighter 2 of the best.

Keep it simple without a million buttons and missions to remember is the secret. aka 'X Series.' Also a keeping it semi-realistic and not include silly things like having millions of missiles loaded onto your little one seater fighter. aka anything from Japan. :P

Yahtzee should give Shattered Horizon a try.

Agreed. Always enjoyed Tachyon: The Fringe.

Why did space flight sims die? I had this same conversation with a complete stranger some time ago. An easy explaination is that proper sci-fi contains too many complicated themes, far removed from modern life, to commanded a mass market appeal. Take Firefly; a piece of excellent screenplay whose success never matched its quality. The most successful stuff has gotten around this by cutting out the difficult stuff and keeping Sci-Fi in the simplistic mould of US contemporary military culture; Macho space marines, evil aliens, awesome humans. For reference see Halo, Gears, Mass Effect, Resistance, Killzone.

Not the whole explaination, but certainly part of it.

Yeah this is mostly true, I think a fear of making a game too complicated has brought the space sim game down, since most of those games had no qualms about being ridculously hard and difficult to get into. I love games like that, but if there' no market, there's no market.

I disagree with Mass Effet being thrown in the pile with the other games, Mass Effect is very intelligent indeed.

Great to hear Yahtzee is going to fix everything himself, I played his Chzo games and they were awesome, a real throwback to my younger years. So if I had to trust any single person to revive space games, it would be ol' Yahtzee.

I wonder how many Zero-Punctuation-a-likes will try and slam his game when it comes out though :D

that was fun to read :)

Yeah when Star Trek Online came out I was wondering the same thing, what happened to the space flying games. It is not like we have had too many of them and it is not like we have never had great ones.

As you mentioned X3, but X3 tried to do too much and should have taken it down a few notches and just improve what they had and focus a bit more on making the combat and such more exciting and more fun.

One of my favorite space flying games though is Nexus Jupiter Incident, which if you have not played before you really have to play. The graphics in it are still good enough to blow your mind (which is shocking considering the game was released in 2004). The combat is both realistic, well shockingly realistic actually and at this time I will have to go right ahead and peg it as the most realistic space flying game to date. The combat was both hard, extremely strategic and fun and exciting. Though the game was held back by a large amount of bugs and a lack of proper advertising to get the name out there.

Nexus also had no side quests, no trading, just briefing, fleet set up and then directly to action filled with surprises and lots of great story. Unlike any other space game you never knew what to expect when entering the next mission, anything could happen often forcing you to redo a mission if you were caught off guard. One second you are scanning some derelict ship, the next you have a massive invasion on your hands. If that is not enough at times you will be greeted by enemy siege ships which unless you react fast enough (luckily the game had a pause mod to issue orders and what not) your entire fleet could be taken out within seconds.

Other than X3 and Nexus the only other great space game I can think of is Star Trek Bridge Commander, its bridge mode and direct ship control modes were both equally fun, each as usable and as effective as the other to play through the game.

Freelancer was an awesome space flight game, even if it was just a remake of Starlancer, but whatever.

Also, has anyone looked at Freespace 2 SCP? I haven't tried it yet but it looks fun enough:

I remember and loved both freespace games when they come out. There is a an arcadey space-sim available on the 360 - Project Sylpheed. Not as deep as the freespace games, but I thoroughly enjoyed it (though I am an anime fan, and enjoyed the story apart from a couple of really weak bits of characterization, and some rather obvious moments you could see coming miles away).

Plus, you had a cluster missile weapon that could fill the screen with 60 missiles at once, plus the free DLC added one that fired close to that of FULL SIZED missiles... and you could berzerk-fire both at the same time, so if you ever wanted a game you could Itano Circus away like in Macross, it was certainly the game to go for.

Not to mention the under-slung torpedos and bombs as big as your actual fighter (yeah, several loadouts meant I couldn't see very much of it because of all the weapons loaded on), the chargeable gravity cannon...

I cannot help you out in the Space Shooters department, but for normal Earth flying - you may wish to look to IL2-Sturmovik. Some of the missions involve taking off and landing. Plus the maps are always rather large and have plenty of stuff to shoot, rocket or bomb.

I'm still waiting for the contemporary equivalent of 'Escape Velocity.'

Escape Velocity. Man. That game was so sweet when it came out.

Not 3d, though, so it kinda misses the point of the article.

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