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Gamer Seeks Space Combat Sim (PC)


DeepChild
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I've been itching for a good space combat simulation for the PC for a while now. It's been almost a decade since Freespace 2 was released, and that's the last time I thoroughly enjoyed space combat. I played Freelancer, and it was pretty good. I've stood at the foot of X3 Reunion's mountainous learning curve and wondered where the fun begins and the confusion ends. I long for the glory days of Wing Commander and Freespace.

I've almost decided to make myself to play X3 until the ridiculous controls become playable through sheer force of will, but I was wondering if there is some alternative that you can recommend to me.

EDIT: Oh, and I'm speaking strictly of single player games. MMOs don't really interest me. Thanks.

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Yeah, I'm kind of in the same place as you are. Last good space games I enjoyed were Freespace I & II and Freelancer. I don't know of any good, more recent Space sims, but if you're looking to go old-school, you could check out Tachyon. Very underrated game IMO. Plus it has Bruce Campbell, so there you go.

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Give Arvoch Conflict or Evochron Renegades a spin. Both were created by the one-man-studio StarWraith 3D Games and they're absolutely excellent games.

Also, a demo for Heresy War was very recently released.

Edit: Oh, and you may not be aware that Freespace II is now free. There are a multitude of fantastic mods for it. In particular I've heard great things about the Battlestar Galactica-themed mod Beyond the Red Line, although I haven't had the opportunity to try it out yet.

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space/flight sims really aren't my strong point. but all I can think of is The Last Starfighter and Hardwar (though Hardwar is kind of old and more of a space trading game on a single planet than anything. and the Last Starfighter isn't exactly stellar) Then there's Parkan II, which is kind of a on-ground FPS hybrid along with space combat sim. You may also want to look into Starshatter.

None are exactly Freespace, but I guess they're decent alternatives. Best to pick and choose from a bunch until you're comfortable with one.

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There are a couple of MMO's that fill the itch

1. Jumpgate

This was what eve is now and basically fell out of favor due to the engine...This will change when they bring their new version online (complete redesign from the ground up) Keep your eyes on this one.

2. Vendetta online

Vendetta is a small mmo which while somewhat fun it doesnt have the pop i am looking for

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I haven't been able to play the games myself, but I've heard good things about the X-wing series of games. You might want to look into those, despite them being quite old.

The X-Wing series was brilliant, but convincing them to run on modern PCs is quite the task. DOSbox is capable of doing so but I wouldn't expect fantastic performance unless you set the game's detail options to their lowest settings — my 386 ran the games better!

I should have mentioned it above, but I've had quite a bit of fun with the Half-Life 2 mod Eternal Silence. Think of it as something like Battlefield 2142's Titan mode except in space and with a great deal of emphasis upon fighter combat. The game is simply a blast and could certainly use more players.

Supposedly all that you require to run it is the Source SDK Base, which can be downloaded through Steam. I'm not sure if you're required to actually own a Source Engine game to do so, though.

You could always pick up Team Fortress 2 if you find yourself lacking.

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The X-Wing series was brilliant, but convincing them to run on modern PCs is quite the task. DOSbox is capable of doing so but I wouldn't expect fantastic performance unless you set the game's detail options to their lowest settings — my 386 ran the games better!

Yeah. Of course, if you just so happen to still have a computer from those days, or a copy of, say, Windows 95/98 to run on your new machine (in my case, I have both), I'd say you're in pretty good shape if you can find the games themselves.

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I'm seconding Nutritious here. Play Tachyon:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=RYcYTtiOZI4

:3

It's from 1998 so it's a bit dated, but it features lots of Bruce Campbell voice acting [which makes it the best space sim ever]. There's a lot of things that make it one of my favourite games, from the whole gate system, to the huge space stations, and the varied environments. There's also a two-pronged story and you can pick a side later in the game.

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The X-Wing series was brilliant, but convincing them to run on modern PCs is quite the task. DOSbox is capable of doing so but I wouldn't expect fantastic performance unless you set the game's detail options to their lowest settings — my 386 ran the games better!

Or you could try the latest in the series, X-Wing Alliance, which runs quite fine in Windows & also has mod-updated graphics.

Edit: Oh, and you may not be aware that Freespace II is now free. There are a multitude of fantastic mods for it. In particular I've heard great things about the Battlestar Galactica-themed mod Beyond the Red Line, although I haven't had the opportunity to try it out yet.

I've downloaded Beyond the Red Line, but have yet to install it. Eager to try it, though.

Along those lines, there is also a mod for Homeworld 2 called Battlestar Galactica: Fleet Commander. While it may not be an in-the-cockpit game, it's still space combat. ;)

And lastly, Privateer: Gemini Gold is a free remake of the old classics Privateer & Righteous Fire. It puts you in a universe where you can jump from star system to star system, buy & sell goods, accept missions for shipment, bounty, patrol, or escort, beef up your ship or buy an entirely new one, all while optionally playing out game's storyline.

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+1 to people who think X-Wing Series and Tachyon where amazing. (I was to young to realize who Bruce Campbell was, but not to young to realize that the game was incredibly well made.)

I played Beyond the Red Line a little bit, and it was EXTREMELY well made. I had a lot of difficulty getting it to run smoothly on my computer though and wound up uninstalling it :-(. I'd still highly recommend trying it out.

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for what it's worth, spaceforce: rogue galaxy was an excellent game, despite the mediocre metacritic rating. it's 30 bucks on steam atm, last time i noticed.

edit: i should point out, if for some reason you didn't like x3 (which was space sim gold, after you got the hang of it), then you might have issues with spaceforce since the story is...not really there. well, in a relative sense. it's got a steep learning curve, too.

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You can track down StarLancer very easily these days, as it's cheap as hell to buy. There's also Wing Commander and Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi for some old DOS fun, and Wing Commander: Prophecy for the older Windows OSs. I've not yet played all the way through Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, and I don't own Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, I can't comment on them yet.

Oh, and see if you can find Darklight Conflict, Sinistar Unleashed, BANG! Gunship Elite, and Incoming. They're not the best games out there, but they're not too bad.

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UPDATE: Over the weekend I decided to give X3 one more real try, and it seems I've pushed through the first leg of the climb. I've discovered the joy of circle strafing cargo ships in my heavy fighter, and then ganking them when the pilot bails. Fun! Once I got the basic controls down, and learned where to find some action, things took a sharp turn for the better. Now the insane depth of the game looks more appealing than daunting.

Thanks again for all the great suggestions. In time I'll give each of them a go, and I'm sure I'll like what I find.

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UPDATE: Over the weekend I decided to give X3 one more real try, and it seems I've pushed through the first leg of the climb. I've discovered the joy of circle strafing cargo ships in my heavy fighter, and then ganking them when the pilot bails. Fun! Once I got the basic controls down, and learned where to find some action, things took a sharp turn for the better. Now the insane depth of the game looks more appealing than daunting.

Tell me, how long did it take to learn it and start enjoying it? Because I've tried playing it before a few times, and every time I find it to be extremely difficult to get the hang of; I never could. Especially the controls. I mean, damn! Did you use your mouse (and keyboard) for it, or something else?

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Want new X-Wing game, dammit. After those bastards left us with a totally cop-out cliffhanger ending in Alliance, I've been eternally bitter to LucasArts for pulling the plug on perhaps their best Star Wars video game series. I started back on TIE Fighter, then X-Wing. Hate them for not continuing this. I'm just imagining how cool a fully rendered Imperial Star Destroyer would look on modern hardware. Do want. Obviously, if you can dig up copies of the old X-wing games, they're excellent. And if all else fails, for people wanting TIE Fighter, look for the versions remade with X-Wing Versus TIE Fighter's engine. Not quite as good as the originals, but they're less temperamental because they work in Compatibility Mode for XP.

But yes, I've heard good things about Free Space and Rogue Galaxy. Otherwise, there's just not a lot out there.

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Tell me, how long did it take to learn it and start enjoying it? Because I've tried playing it before a few times, and every time I find it to be extremely difficult to get the hang of; I never could. Especially the controls. I mean, damn! Did you use your mouse (and keyboard) for it, or something else?

Yeah, I know what you mean. It took me four separate attempts, between which I would uninstall the game out of frustration. First it was the bugs, then the controls, then trying to figure out what to do to find some action rather than just floating around in space. Here's how I've got it to work for me:

Controls:

I'm using a nice flight stick (IMO at least), the keyboard, and the mouse. Each of them is useful for various things. My desk gets a bit cluttered of course, but it works pretty well. I've got the keyboard angled, with the stick sitting in front of the numeric keypad. In combat I put my left hand in the classic FPS WASD position. WASD allows you to strafe (W = up, and S = Down though, not forward and back). I remapped some of the stick controls, setting the left and right to roll the ship rather than yaw, and setting the "twist" to yaw rather than roll which is far more natural to me. Now yanking the stick left rolls the ship, and twisting turns it. I only use the mouse in "cursor" mode to access menus, and click on ships and stations when I'm not in combat. I found that after getting the basics down, I would find some other useful function that I needed, and I would remap the given function to a convenient control.

Game Startup:

The biggest mistake I made in my previous attempts was in my selection of startups. I chose the "custom" game, and this puts you in a Buster (light fighter) which is capable, but not great for starters. Choosing the "Bankrupt Assassin" game, you get a nice Mamba (heavy fighter) that has better shielding, and much better weapons. As the name suggests though, you have zero starting credits, so you may find yourself starting over if things go poorly in your first few attempts at combat. Hull damage slows the ship terribly, and is very very expensive to fix. The best way to make money in this start is to capture ships and sell them off. This can make for some quick and large returns. The process is quite complicated, and so I'll point you to some guides that I found helpful. I'd be happy to try to answer any other questions I can as well. I know pouring over guides can be frustrating when you're looking for answers to some questions.

Good luck! I hope it becomes fun for you soon :)

linkage:

My flight stick:

http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/gaming/pc_gaming/joysticks/devices/291&cl=us,en

X3 Player's Handbook v. 2

http://apricotmappingservice.com/x3handbook.html

X3 Updated Instruction Manual v. 1.4

http://www.egosoft.com/download/x3/patches_en.php?download=144

X3 Patch v. 1.0 -> 2.5

http://www.egosoft.com/download/x3/patches_en.php?list=80

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