Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Space sims / shooters and true 3D

Recently, I had a craving for space sims and shooters and a tendency to blast off a few aliens. As the system I own is no gaming rig, I look for older games that are cheaper or requirements and on the purse as well. Nowadays, most publishers are keener in releasing games that fall into the FPS or MMORPG categories.

After rummaging through the bargain bins at Landmark, I acquired Freelancer, a space shooter from Microsoft. You play a freelancer who takes odd jobs, make money so that you can retrofit your ship or weapons. One key differentiator of Freelancer is its open-endedness. Though the game features a central theme and a plot, the player is free to do whatever he / she chooses, like accepting odd jobs that are randomly generated, thus enhancing the playability.

An oddity of Freelancer and most space shooters are, though the action takes place in deep space, all items and objects of interest are located in the same plane.

Compare this to Homeworld, a 3D RTS (real-time strategy) game, and you are in a completely different league altogether. All the three axis’s are put to full use and the freedom disorients you. This one as most RTS goes gives you a fleet to manage over and during the course of an epic battle, you instruct your fleet to perform various maneuvers like attacking, refueling or salvaging in true 3D.

It looks like the market for space sims seems to be down the past few years, with no new major titles being released. The current game on the download queue (hint: BSNL has upped it’s bandwidth to 2MBPS shared) is the grand-daddy of all space shooters, Decent Freespace 2. The game was finally open-sourced giving access to all the code-base for you to tweak and enhance.

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