You are currently viewing an archival version of GF!

Click here to return to the current GamesFirst! website.


GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)

by Accolade
So you thought it was over......
After setting your ship on a collision course with the enemy battle platform, the Sa-Matra (Star Control 2), you escaped in a tiny pod ship, thinking that you could outrun the enormous energies released in the final explosion that could destroy the vessel...... you were wrong!

The explosion was so strong that it ripped a hole in time and your small pod was sucked into the near future! There you saw a great battle at the galactic core where all the sentient races in the galaxy were fighting against a great unknown enemy force. Reality and space were crumbling all around them as if the inter-dimensional fabric was collapsing! As you drifted into unconsciousness, the last thing you saw were the sentient races being slaughtered, and their life energies sucked into the enemy void!

Your escape pod then hurtled back to your own time..... where your peek into the future slowly begins to come true. It seems that inter-dimensional fatigue is causing hyper-space to collapse and travel between stars has ceased. Using an ancient race's advanced technology, you build a Warp Bubble Transport system that can travel between stars without using the now crippled hyper-space. After studying your vision of the future you conclude that it occured in the unexplored Kessari Quadrant. Trying desperately to piece this puzzle together, you realize that the destruction of all sentient life by this great unknown enemy is somehow connected to the collapse of hyper-space.

Quickly, you formed a union between your old allies and the defeated Heirarchy. Each race contributing an explorer group, you all warped toward the galactic core to search for clues about this great unkown enemy and to find a cure for a dying galaxy.

*YAWN* I have not slept in three days! Why? Because of this game! Although classified as an adventure game, Star Control 3 is one of the few games that truly has something for everyone. Action gamers will find the Hyper-Melee (space combat between ships) truly addictive! Strategy gamers will be immersed in running the operations of each colony. And for the politician in all of us, the dialogue screen will certainly sharpen your skills at dealing with other cultures.

Most games stick to one type of playability, either it's strictly a strategy game or strictly a shooter, etc. But the point is this: if you play a game that has only one type of gameplay for too long you begin to yearn for something a little different. Not that the game itself is boring, but you do get tired of it. Many times have I played a game like Civilization II for hours, but then had to stop because I had this urge to simply shoot something dead! So I would stop playing and boot up something like Doom. But I never felt this way with SC3; this game has such a nice diversity that it kept me very satisfied! (This is how I played it for so long without sleeping.)

The graphics have been improved in every aspect of the game, most noticeably in the dialogue screen (This is where you speak with other races, shown left). The graphics for these aliens are incredible! 24 realistic characters and detailed scenes were designed by SOTA EFFECTS, one of Hollywood's top special effects team. You may even notice that most of the alien races are actually computer controlled animatronic puppets filmed in digitized video! This, I found truly a treat! A wonderful job was done with these puppets in making them look lifelike. I found their movements to be smooth and consistent, while at the same time not looking like a muppet.

Other vast improvements include the Hyper-melee. Veteran SC players will notice first off that it is no longer a top-down view. Accolade has opted for an isometric view of combat, which I feel was a good choice. This gives us a much better view of each 3D modeled starship. But if you prefer the top-down, there is an option to switch to that angle also (How nice of Accolade to do that for us). But I must say, each ship is very impressively designed by Panoptic Imaging. The SVGA scrolling is smooth and without flaw... nice job!

There are just as many improvements in sound for SC3 - noticeably the speech for the dialogue screen. One thing that I've always wanted to see in SC2's sequel was alien races actually talking, instead of me having to read everything they said. When I first booted the game, I was surprised when the earth colony leader actually spoke to me! At first I thought "GREAT! This is exactely what I wanted!" But I quickly grew suspicious of this, thinking "Oh Yeah, but now they won't have much to say... and the story line is going to suffer!". WRONG! All 24 species have plenty to say and they were all very talkative! I must say it's a real treat being able to sit back and listen instead of having to sit up and read.

All other aspects such as sound effects and music were crystal clear and smooth. Explosions and weapon fire were very realistic and convincing, narrations during cinematic sequences were very descriptive, short, and to the point. I also felt that the narrator had a very calm and soothing voice. This made the movies very relaxing and enjoyable to watch. All in all, a very definite improvement over SC2.

Well... so far Star Control 3 has totally inpressed me, but... here's where it starts to go a little downhill. The interface, although I can see Accolade's logic, took longer than it should have to become accustomed to. Every screen (except dialogue screens) has what are called "common controls"; these buttons switch you among the four main screens that you use in playing the game. This (after a while) I found to be rather nice. All buttons are easily represented by illustrations, in an otherwise disappointing design.

Another thing I didn't like was the map. I remember way back during Star Control 1, they had a very annoying and hard to work with rotating star map. Don't get me wrong - it was a nice try! It just didn't work because you never really knew which star you could get to! Since our perceptions are clouded by a 3 dimensional rotating shape, it's difficult to determine whether going to one star would allow us to get to the next one. This was the flaw with the first one, then in Star Control 2 I was so delighted to see a 2D top-down map of the galaxy. This was very easy to work with and I didn't have to fuss with moving white dots (white dots represented stars in the SC1 map). I thought to myself, "Well I'm glad Accolade learned their lesson! "

But of course this didn't last long. Imagine my dissappointment when I first played Star Control 3. AARRGGHH! Return of the killer rotating map! I really hate this map! Accolade tried to embellish it by adding some features, like the ability to stop or manually control the rotation. They even put in options to show the locations of colonies, ships, artifacts etc. Nice try guys! But if you put a turbo charger and ground effects on a Yugo... its still just a Yugo! So no matter how you work it, or how many additional option you give it... the rotating map is still a failure. It looks pretty cool but it's just too annoying to work with. I mean, pointing at little white dots all night is not how I want to fly across the galaxy. Plus, sitting up staring at my screen looking for the right "dot" isn't very fun! And if the map is rotating, the star you're looking for is always moving, and I can never seem to find it! Oh Yeah Accolade! I'm really having fun now! As for why they switched back to this map, I have no idea. But in my eyes, it's a bad call.

Well after everything is done I have to say that SC3 is definitely a must have. And for you Star Control veterans, I think that you'll find the story excellent and very intricate. The plot twists and turns and keeps me at the edge of my seat. Another nice feature to this sequel would be the multi-player options for the Hyper-Melee letting you play via modem, direct serial link or network play! I felt this was a good call for Accolade, since Internet and Network gaming is such a big thing now. This is absolutely the BEST Star Control ever!