RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

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

Get the demo!



The music is very likeable, and you can select between a variety of tracks here, which is a plus few other games have. Sound effects are sparse, basic, and a bit muted at times. I can understand sparse and basic, since sound, like graphics, isn't a focal point for the developers, but muted doesn't make sense. The ONLY place for the sounds to go in space are into the body of your spacecraft. While afterburners are nicely thunderous, the laser blast effects sound almost like a popgun, and there's no capacitor whine of any sort. Missiles sound OK, but the crew voices are dim and very hard to hear at times.

Score: 10/15


The controls, as in any complex flight simulation are very complex, and will take quite a while to have down completely pat. There are so many keyboard commands that most of the time there are at least 2 per key, and in some cases, CTRL, ALT and SHIFT are used to give 4 different commands to a key. This is truly a hard-core simulation game in this regard, and not for those who just want quick gratification.

That being said, the controls are laid out in a somewhat thoughtful manner, mostly with the first letter of the command indicating the key. So many commands will take time to learn, and a tutorial would have been helpful in making them reflexive, but they can be learned with enough time.

The interface is pretty good, but it's EXTREMELY loaded....and it can be difficult to keep track of things at times because it's so hypercompressed.

Along the left side you have power readouts for all of your systems, whivh is fairly simple. Along the right side are launchable craft, including shuttles, fighters...and missiles. I suppose that makes sense, but I figured they'd be under weapons systems that you can fire without having to mouse over. In a turn-and-burn fighter engagement, that might not be a good idea, even though engagements rarely get to turn-and-burn stage in BCM.

The lower third of the screen houses the multi-function displays. And they aren't kidding about Multi, either...they have 4, 4, and 8 display modes, respectively. It would be nice if they were a bit more interactive, considering the fact that you're pretty much forced into mousing around the interface anyway. But when you click on the data in the displays to interact with them, it doesn't work. Clicking on the displays SHUTS THEM OFF! Now in some minds that might make sense, but not to mine. There should be a close button in the corner...then you can use the mouse that you're pretty much stuck with anyway to designate targets and such. This is DEFINITELY a bad design decision forces a player to have 4 or more arms when commanding his spacecraft. Not good at amount of SpeedPad or Strategic Commander or any other wild and wacky device will help this situation. Also, there's very little drill-down, meaning there's no going to a particular system suite, such as tactical, or navigation and then accessing the commands there. Nor is there any giving orders to any crewmen. You're in command, and you have all of the buttons that control the ship in front of you. This is not how the bridge of a ship works. The only exception to this is the various computer systems...tactical, mission, personnel, etc, but these aren't what one would call "heat-of-the-action" functions. When you're in the heat of the action, you don't give orders, except through a ton of keyboard commands, mousing around, and grabbing the joystick to pilot the ship manually. I found myself wishing for a third arm.

Other than the dry fact of the universe itself, the gameplay flows rather smoothly from land to space. Maneuvering takes a little getting used to, since this physics engine is as close to real as it can get, but practice makes perfect. For those looking for space-based gun battles and dogfights, look elsewhere. Space as a rule doesn't lend itself well to dog fighting and close-in battles, even though that makes some nice graphic action for games (and can be enjoyable to...even I admit it). It's more oriented towards launching missiles at medium to long range, as real-world physics would suggest (and yes, realism is another thing I enjoy). However, this being said, the weapons, particularly missiles, seem RIDICULOUSLY short-ranged for a space-based combat sim. In atmosphere, I can understand ranges being relatively short. Air will cause friction on missiles, and they have to keep up thrust to keep going. Laser bolts will diffuse, and bullets will also be affected by drag. But in space, the only factor is gravity, and it's not as pronounced as it would be in atmosphere. Missiles and gunfire (energy and non) should be able to travel MUCH farther in space, and missiles themselves only need to burn their engines to change course, which should GREATLY increase their range (Yes, I know they have to overcome stellar gravity-generating bodies, but they're not that deep in any gravity wells other than your own ship, and continuous thrust shouldn't be required). In Battlecruiser: Millennium, your weapons appear to have the same range in space as they would in atmosphere, and this is a big no-no.

First person planetary mode is truly a far cry from games like Quake3 or Serious Sam, but it's functional. The visuals in this mode aren't rich a matter of fact, in some areas they're quite bleak. There's also no way to look up or down, or do many of the other things that have been brought to the first-person shooter genre in these past few years, such as crawling, taking cover, et cetra. But since it's hard to find enemies to shoot at on the surface, I never really was able to have a look at this mode in depth. It's obvious that this mode was not a particular priority for the developers either; simply leaving it out would probably have been a better idea, and just restrict first person stuff to space, which is somewhat interesting.

Score: 10/20

Next Page: (4)