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"On easy mode you could stand in front of a capital ship for a good 30mins before you got nuked, on hardů well best not to stand anywhere."

Looking deep into the bowels of the Internet and on-line play is another key area at which FS2 has finally sped away from the annoyances of the past game. You can now join games even if they are in progress and the choices are quite impressive. With an uncountable amount of different missions and arena's of play (this is space you know), you can fight as a team against AI controlled Shivans or fight each other in a death match. Better still you can fight as a team squadron against other human players and there's nothing like a large-scale engagement to brighten up a dull day. Our tactical tip is short use of the afterburners to dodge and use any large ships hulls as cover to evade your opponents. It's a lot of fun, marred slightly by the rather limited appeal of linear on-line space arenas that are just that, space.

Comparatively speaking Freespace2's only real opponents in this genre come from its predecessor, I-War, Wing Commander4 (yeah right) and a couple of others. As Bablylon5 will likely not make the game stands for some time and the critically acclaimed StarLancer and Freelancer still fit some way off, this should certainly fill the gap for a few months before the next entry arrives. It's the best you can get for now, good story, strong gameplay and annoying Aliens that speak like constipated cats. Obviously you'd like this game if you liked the original or even any space shooter, it tops just about everything even if I do still find I-War to have that little bit extra depth.

The difficulty levels are even, easy is easy and the rest are just what you might expect. On easy mode you could stand in front of a capital ship for a good 30mins before you got nuked, on hardů well best not to stand anywhere.

Stylish grace, but nothing new

With such a lovely game under the hood it remains a pity that they didn't do more than just add high-res support, beam cannon effects and a very interesting if not disorientation to the point of sickness, nebula. Essentially you only ever play in either normal space or the nebula, normal space is black with stars and an interesting looking coloured cloud in the background. The Nebula is a kind of 3D - multi colour - plasma affects that when played for longer than 5minutes can actually make you feel rather sick. I found myself to be very dizzy during the longer sorties and had to take a break, epileptics take serious note to avoid this game. Next to that the environments are only lit by large green jump nodes, huge capital ships that are over 6times the size found in the original and of course dozens upon dozens of fighters.

So graphically it looks exactly like the original but with a few extras that really make little difference to anything accept the gameplay. I don't see why they couldn't have made normal space more interesting, perhaps with a huge planet nearby in 3D like Unreal Tournament has on one of it's levels (you'll know when it's out) or perhaps the nebula could have been simplified and then allowed so you could enter it from normal space and not just 'appear' in it. By doing that you loose depth, it's nice to see the transition from place to place and not just be there. There could have been a huge asteroid field and previously killed ships just drifting in space like you find in 'Wing Commander4'.

Perhaps they could have even given your ship a tractor beam to add to the varying mission objectives. Still it is a lot of fun but the lack of new gameplay features means it truly is more like an add-on than a new game. Anything from a VooDoo2 upwards would work with Freespace2 and using the new high-res mode a RivaTNT2 is going to be better for the speed and image quality. Lastly the cutscenes are not as good as the originals, they have too much talk and less action with the music just not quite feeling appropriate.

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