Space Rangers 2

Format: PC
Excalibur Publishing
5 060020 471797

Age Restrictions: 12+
17 June 2005

It is now more than two hundred years since the defeat of the Klissans and the events of the original Space Rangers game. The year is 3300 and the universe is experiencing a period of relative peace. The several indigenous races compete for political and trade advantages; fat merchant ships ply the trade lanes with only the pirates to contend with. Trying to keep the peace and defend the week are the Space Rangers, a group dedicated to defending the galaxy. But after two hundred years after the last conflagration a new menace has arisen; The Dominators. Arising from one of the planets previously controlled by the Klissans, these self aware cybernetic machine are spreading out bringing with them fear and destruction...

Space Rangers 2 is an open ended RPG/action game. The game is similar to Microsoft's Freelancer, in some places too similar. Whilst the graphics are not as polished as Freelancer there is a greater overall freedom of choice in Space Rangers. The game encompasses a huge area spanning 60 star systems and over 250 planets, as well as sundry spacer stations. Within the game there are hundreds of computer controlled ships all going about their own business for you to interact with. As a Space Ranger you are not alone as there are 50 more rangers all competing with you to save the galaxy from the Dominators.

When you fire up the game the first thing you get is a nice little CGI which is amusing and sets the slightly irreverent tone of the game. From the menu you can choose to play as a member of one of the five dominant races - Maloq, Peleng, Human, Freyan or Garlian - each of these choices will determine which other races you are currently getting along with. You can also choose a profession - Fighter, Mercenary, Merchant, Corsair or Pirate - your profession will determine the type of ship that you start the game with. There is also a kind of Brucey Bonus so that you can make minor configuration changes to your ship.

Once into the game proper, you appear on the planetary surface and are presented with the option of going straight into the game or run through a training scenario to get you used to the controls. As ever, if you're like me and don't read the manual, its well worth going through a little training first. Once you're past this you're ready to play. You can choose to trade, engage in piratical activities, or pick up the quests available within the game. Obviously the whole idea is to gain more and more credits to make your ship as strong as possible prior to engaging the Dominators.

The game arena is very open ended. Whilst it's good to play the overall narrative out, there's nothing stopping you becoming a successful trader or pirate, however the storyline continues regardless of your choices as does the spread of the Dominators. Combat comes in two types, space and planetary warfare. Graphically, the space combat looks very retro with little 2D ships flying around trading and blowing each other to bits. The planetary combat utilises large robots in a 3D environment and this section plays very much like the old Dune games.

So whilst the game will not break any moulds its well worth a play, there's a little bit of something for everyone and enough variation within the game to stop you getting bored.

You should get many enjoyable hours of game play from Space Rangers 2. Better still, if you like SR2 then the developers have included the original Space Rangers absolutely free. Not bad two games for the price of one.

Charles Packer

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