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Reviewed by: Bryan Pizzuti [09.18.02]
Category: Space Simulation
Developer: 3000AD
Publisher: 3000AD

Get the demo!



Big. Bigger is Better, or so most game companies think. But they usually take it to mean bigger, better, flashier graphics. Well, not Derek Smart, lead developer and CEO of 3000AD, makers of Battlecruiser Millennium. Their priority was to make a huge, all-encompassing world to play in. Planets, moons, space stations; a whole universe is waiting. Each has it's own interior, or surface, making Battlecruiser a huge undertaking. The possibilities here are amazing: a game where you can fly into a system in your cruiser, launch in a fighter, fly into an atmosphere in said fighter, land, and get out and walk around. It's truly a stunning attempt. But how big is too big? Let's find out how smart Mr. Smart is. Insert bad pun groan here.

First Impressions

"Big" goes well here too. Especially the wonderfully intimidating 76 page manual, which I skipped, and tried some quick action. Or rather, no action. Considering I had NO idea what I was doing, I was lucky I managed to get the ship moving, and had no idea what to do from there. This game is NOT the "jump right in" kind, and it's going to frustrate a LOT of people who don't have very much patience.

The demo page itself is several pages long, and you're going to have to go through every bit of it if you plan on playing the demo for more than 2 minutes.

Score: 5/10

The Manual

This manual is 76 pages of blindingly small type, with little to no visual cues to help explain what they are talking about. There's lots of information; out of all of those 76 pages are 2, count 'em TWO screenshots. It took me quite a while to plow through all the information (and I'm a speedreader). The fact is, more screenshots would have been a BIG help here, since some visual cues would help in assimilating all of that information. That keyboard reference, by the way, is also an eyeful. here it is below, placed on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper to show you how big it is, and how small the text is.

Once you plow through the manual (and I DO recommend not only plowing through it, but keeping it and that reference card handy) there is a "Training Academy" set of tutorials in the game. Well, the game calls them tutorials, even though they don't really fit the bill. They aren't step by step learning scenarios at all; instead they just throw you into the environment you select and let you run around and do whatever. Apparently there ARE step-by step instructions that go with them...installed as HTML files in the game directory. Most people won't even know to LOOK there, and even then you have to print them out and keep them around, reading as you go through the tutorials. There MUST have been a better way to do this. The learning curve in this game is EXTREMELY steep; step-by-step in-game tutorials would have gone a LONG way towards easing that load. But since they don't exist, there's a VERY long and VERY steep climb towards technical proficiency in Battlecruiser Millennium. I took months just getting barely proficient in the game, and I've been flying computer sims since the original F-15 Strike Eagle.

Score: 3/10


This is probably where I have the biggest problem with the game. Why? Because there isn't any plot. Derek Smart went through a LOT of trouble to apparently create an entire self-sustaining universe in this release, but the player has no way of seeing it at all. Certainly things are happening...planets and civilizations are advancing and improving, empires are falling, wars are being fought, and people are dying. But you'll never know about it. Ever. The game pretty much has no way to tell you. And you have no way of finding out for yourself. There aren't even any intelligence reports, newscasts, or rumors at the commissary to tell you this universe exists. So what's the point of having it exist in the first place if you don't even know about it? There are dozens of race/job combinations, but what's the point of having all of them? Especially since only 2 of them offer campaign scenarios...the rest of them may as well be identical, or not be there at all. Especially with the concept that you're supposed to role-play in Roam Mode play...with most of the race/caste/job combinations, I've observed no difference in how the game treats you.

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