Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Flatspace

I played a demo of flat space the other day. I wasn't impressed. I took up a mission and just couldn't get to the grid reference I needed to finish it, I was one square away and it just said out of range. So I quit, uninstalled and then installed FreeSpace2 in the hope it was better, but alas it was virtually the same game.
I did manage to finish a mission, but trying to get to grips with that map and the controls was so frustrating. Once I arrived out of hyperspace, I was flying around not knowing where I was going! Having no scanner and flying blind is not much fun. I should mention, there is a targetting mechanism, so you can target a base and then at least head in the right direction. I do prefer an overall view however, so I know what is around me, i.e. with some kind of scanner. Perhaps you can buy this later on in the game though, I couldn't be bothered to play long enough to find out. The graphics were nice though!

The Bad
I didn't like the mouse controls much, I found them rather frustrating. I can understand having to use comms as it adds to the atmosphere, it is rather frustrating I feel though. I would rather have automatic docking with a base whereby when I'm in range it docks with the base itself, rather than have to target the base by pressing "t" and then press "r" for radio comunications and then click "2" to talk to the base and then "1" to ask for docking permission and if I'm in range permission will be granted whereby I can move my ship into the ring and then press "D" to dock! Some things really shouldn't be overcomplicated.
I wasn't too happy with the general UI, I don't like modular dialog boxes that I have to close. For instance when viewing equipment I would've liked to be able to click on one device to see it's stats and then click on another device and see its stats, and not have to close the stats window every time.
Freespace desperately needed a training mission. The first one was so frustrating I just gave up on it.
Missions should be finished as soon as you arrive at the appropriate delivery base. I shouldn't have to click the Complete mission button. Thats just a waste of my ever so precious gaming time, time that could've been better spent exploring or blowing things up. Speaking of which when I blew up an asteroid, smaller asteroids were visible before the big one blew up!... a minor bug I guess. Looks good though when it blows, probably better than mine will.
I know I'm being picky at times, but I do need to be.

The Good
So what was good? Graphics were smooth. Music was cool. I liked the idea of going into the base to dock and that there is a docking ring. Nice at first, bit annoying later on.
There was a variety of player types: Trader, mercenary, bounty hunter, etc. Plus the player could have special abilities. The game also featured guilds, so trading would raise your standing in one guild, doing taxi mission would raise your standing in the courier guild or destroying and alien fighter would raise your standing in the Alien Fighter guild. Plus you can only buy certain specila equipment if you have a high rating in a certain guild. Guilds are a very useful feature.


It would not be fair if I didn't mention that FlatSpace was created by a very tiny company. Cornutopia Software (http://www.cornutopia.net) Mark Sheeky being the big guy behind it all. Despite all the flaws I've pointed out, it is truly a hugely impressive achievement for one person.

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