Saturday, January 13, 2007

Star Control II

Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters (officially "II", often written as "2") was written by Toys for Bob (Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III) and originally published by Accolade in 1992 for PC; it was later ported to the 3DO with an enhanced multimedia presentation, allowed by the CD technology.

SC2 is generally regarded as the best of the trilogy and the reason for the series' devoted fanbase. It added a large number of species and ship types to the already diverse cast and replaced the first game's strategy-based scenarios with a story-driven space exploration adventure game that included diplomacy with the inhabitants of the galaxy, some resource-gathering sub-sections, and instances of the mêlée combat of the first game whenever diplomacy failed.

The Captain's ship enters the Sol System at the beginning of the game.Interaction with the various alien species was a chief part of the adventure game; the backstory of both the species from the first games and new ones were fleshed out considerably. There were literally hours of dialogue, each species bringing out their characteristic conversational quirks, music, and even display fonts. In mêlée, Star Control II maintained the originality of ship design from the first game, extending the strategic possibilities of the combat section greatly with the addition of a multitude of new ships. A two-player mode was available, named Super Mêlée, consisting solely of the ship-to-ship combat. All ships from the first game were included, even if they made no appearance in the story.

To many, the game's strongest aspect is its atmosphere. The carefully designed plot significantly impacts the game experience by requiring the player to explore every corner of the galaxy and make discoveries and connections independently; all this, occurring within a huge game world featuring numerous alien species, a vast number of star systems to visit, and dynamic events depending on the actions of the player created a powerful sense of openness, cause-and-effect functionality, and freedom; this gives the player the feeling that they are indeed interacting with a realistic universe instead of merely pitting their wits against those of the game designers.

The soundtrack of the PC version was top-notch — the contents were determined by running a contest which anybody could participate in, composing tracks based on a description of the game. Included on the soundtrack were compositions of Aaron Grier, Erol Otus, Eric E. Berge, Riku Nuottajärvi and Dan Nicholson, the president and founding member of The Kosmic Free Music Foundation. Music was in MOD format which utilizes digitized instrument samples while most of PC gamemusic still relied on FM-synthesis based instruments at the time.

Star Control II was highly influenced, both in story and game design, by the games Starflight (1986) and Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula (1989), developed by Binary Systems and released on a variety of platforms by Electronic Arts. Indeed Greg Johnson, StarFlight's lead designer helped write dialog for Star Control II and Paul Reiche III contributed to StarFlight's alien communication system. David Brin's science fiction series about the Uplift Universe is also often mentioned as inspiration for the Star Control II universe.

IGN named Star Control II the 17th best game of all time , and Gamespot named it one of the greatest games of all time