back to article Rebel Galaxy Outlaw: Well, lookie here! For once a space game that doesn't promise the universe

Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last one, not only did we play and complete Bioshock for the first time, but also Batman: Arkham Knight. And a lot of Kenshi. Did we mention it's an incredible game? Of course we did. However, this month we're being very …

  1. Baldrickk Silver badge

    A couple of other space games

    Strike Suit Zero for those after an arcade space shooter is a LOT of fun. The standalone DLC (can you call it that) is a wave shooter if you want to bypass the story.

    Same studio, but under a new name have done Fractured Space which is more along the lines of a MOBA in space, if that's your jam.

    Don't forget Kerbal Space Program, or for fans that would prefer more of a simulator, look for Orbiter.

    It's not ships, but I wish Shattered Horizon had been a bigger hit, despite my PC being below minimum spec to play it back when that was released.

    And if you want some nostalgia, Freelancer is free from myAbandonware (is that legit free? still, it's the second result on a google search for "Freelancer game")

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: A couple of other space games

      The 'X' series are worth a look. X3:Terran Conflict was a very solid game and there's a ton of content and mods for it. Skip X Rebirth and the latest, X4, is probably only a major patch or two away from being a very good game too.

      They're less 'fly around and do stuff' and more 'build an empire in space' but you can do both.

    2. the Jim bloke Silver badge

      Re: A couple of other space games

      Independance War and IWar 2 were my go-to games for space westerns, had some fun stealing entire terraforming stations in IWar 1, or causing the giant freighters to crash and spill their cargo at the jump gates in IWar 2.

  2. adam payne Silver badge
    Coat

    The other was Elite: Dangerous (ED), from Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder David Braben's Frontier Developments, the latest in a series that stretched all the way back to 1984, though until then I hadn't even heard of the original...

    Not heard of the original!?!?!, this is simply unacceptable.

    1. Stumpy

      Absolutely. Especially when you consider that it's been released on pretty much every single platform ever produced!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @adam payne

      Have to agree, that particular sentence caused me to simultaneously spit out my coffee and rush to the comments section!

    3. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      I knew this would leave my street cred in tatters, but believe me, I was as surprised as you. Came out three years before I was born, and it seems I never met anyone to tell me about it. Just one of those things.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        To be fair, Elite doesn't fare well by modern standards.

        I replayed it slightly earlier this year. For the time it's great - decent graphics, a bit of a plot, and the ability to save and load games (to tape in my instance). I managed to reload my Dangerous commander from the late 80s without any issue.

        Unsurprisingly though, modern space games are better in every dimension. There's considerably more plot, the graphics are many order of magnitude better, with improved control schemes.

        Not to mention you can download Oolite for free, to play something approximating the original Elite but with many improvements.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What I liked about it, compared to other space games, was that you could do what you want. Other space games - "You are in the space navy, your mission is to fly here, shoot that"

      2. mr_souter_Working

        I feel old

        "Came out three years before I was born"

        that sentence makes me feel really, really, really old.

        :(

      3. James Hughes 1

        Clearly unacceptable

        The original Elite was pretty groundbreaking. How DB got the line drawings fast enough for the original BBC micro is a miracle. I did talk to him about it a couple of year ago (at the Houses of Parliament, of all places). Lots of micro optimisations, and also some deft use of video mode changes part way through frames to get a combination of B&W and 4 colours graphics. And I believe all the spaceships were convex hulls, to make the back face culling simpler (could be wrong). It was a spectacularly good bit of work and kept me glued to the screen for a long time.

  3. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Privateer 2

    I remember spending many happy hours playing Privateer 2: The Darkening when I was in shorter pants than I am now. Thoroughly enjoyable game, great story(I thought at the time anyway) and it introduced me to the wonderful acting of one Clive Owen.

    Hmm, wonder if I can get it to work on a modern PC...

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Privateer 2

      Works perfectly in Dosbox and with a Thrustmaster T16000m. (joystick is mandatory, really)

      1. adam payne Silver badge

        Re: Privateer 2

        DOSBox is good but I still prefer to play on my Atari ST with my Zipstick.

      2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Privateer 2

        Privateer, or Privateer 2? Privateer is DOS based and should work fine in Dosbox. Privateer 2 (which I admit I've still not played), is a Win32 application.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge

          Re: Privateer 2

          Privateer 2 was available in both Win32 and DOS versions.

          1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: Privateer 2

            That'd completely passed me by - you're quite correct, have an upvote. Good call on the 16000M too, one of the few decent reasonably priced joysticks.

            I'll probably play it eventually under Windows unless there's a good reason to use the DOS version.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Privateer 2

      A lot of people slate Privateer 2 but I too have many fond memories of its blend of FMV cutscenes with roaming space faring action.

  4. seven of five

    scaling difficulty

    The original Rebel Galaxy had a massive problem with its adaptive difficulty, far too often to be entertaining, someone either pulled you out of hyperspace or awaited you at you next mission whom turned your ship (and your ass) into spaceborne confetti. I will take a very careful look to see whether double damage fixed this.

  5. Peter2 Silver badge

    Where did all the space games go? Where was a modern follow-up to, say, X-Wing vs Tie-Fighter? I fondly remembered my kidhood pals pulling out tacky beige joysticks with chunky red buttons and having a blast pretending we were ace pilots.

    Yes, I miss them too. And EverSpace is a fun shooter, but it's pretty arcady as well.

    By far and away the best space sim that i've played is actually a fan based effort, Wing Commander Saga: The Darkest Dawn. which is a complete freebie. Frankly, it's an awful lot better than commercial releases that i've spent decent money on. Well worth it if your a fan these sort of games.

    The only other notable one going is Overload, which is a resurrection of Descent from some of the original programmers. Other than that yeah, it's a bit dire if your a space sim fan isin't it? Suggestions on a postcard for anything decent i've missed gratefully received.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Ah, Freelancer

    All the mods, the hours spent, the gorgeous nebulas, the danger. I could lose myself in that game for the entire day.

    And I did, many times.

    Those were the days.

    As for this one, thanks for the tip. I'll wait for it to be on Steam, though.

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Ah, Freelancer

      Just recently discovered my copy of the game, might just have to go looking for the mods since it's been years since I had a play.

      That and Tachyon: the fringe (complete with the voice of Bruce Campbell)

  8. Stumpy

    I'd deperately love to see a modern remake of Independence War 2.

    1. TheProf

      I-War 2

      The Edge of Chaos? Never finished it. Got bored. Preferred the original Independence War.

      However, if they do a remake of either game then my money is waiting.

  9. MOH

    Enjoyed the original Rebel Galaxy, so this is on the list.

    It might sound weird to say about a top down game, but I've just discovered Star Sector, which is the closest spiritual successor to the original Elite I've seen in a long time. In development ten years and still in pre-release, but has an astonishing amount of depth, a dynamic economy which includes factors like pirate attacks and stability of a region, faction politics, fleet level battles with excellent AI, player owned colonies, and probably more stuff I haven't found yet.

    Doesn't have 3D or multiplayer, but well worth a look for a single-player Elite-style experience.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Rebel Galaxy was indeed a decent game, so I'm looking forward to this when it's released next year.

      In the meantime I'll take a peek at Star Sector, thanks.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. GSVNotInventedHere

    I was going to say this reminds me of a revamped 'Freelancer' from Microsoft Studios'. That had a great story arc and an amazing multiplayer scene. Many hours spent trying to find all the hidden jump holes.

    1. Rathernicelydone

      This also reminds me of Freelancer particularly when you enter a station and have 3D characters talking to you. For someone who prizes the narrative even more than the ability to explore Freelancer was great. This seems quite similar and for those that don't want to manage the complexities of a full on space sim it may be ideal.

  12. fizz

    Oolite

    To those nostalgic for the old 1984 elite, I suggest giving this open source remake a try.

    It's still surprisingly playable, especially with some of the abundant mods installed.

  13. The Dogs Meevonks

    "Where did all the space games go? Where was a modern follow-up to, say, X-Wing vs Tie-Fighter? I fondly remembered my kidhood pals pulling out tacky beige joysticks with chunky red buttons and having a blast pretending we were ace pilots."

    The follow up to X vs T was X-Wing Alliance... and it's still going strong thanks to the work of the people at the X-Wing Alliance Upgrade Project which has been going for some 15yrs now. They have updated all of the graphics and it looks beautiful these days.

    I still occasionally fire it up and you can get the original games working fine under modern versions of windows. I do on occasion even miss my force feedback flight stick I used to have... that thing was a beast (Black & Red not beige) with about 20 or more buttons in total including hihat switch and the ability to program macro's.

    But it required it's own power supply and 2 USB 2 connections to have it working fully.

    I think I threw it out when I moved... but to be fair I wasn't thinking straight... I'd just lost my brother and partner and wanted to 'clean house' so to speak... so much great stuff thrown in the bin without a second thought that I now regret.

  14. cornetman Bronze badge

    Looks like Everspace 2 is going to be something along the same line: less FTL-like and quite possibly more like Elite.

    Can't wait myself. I'm a bit addicted to Everspace.

    Even though I got to the end of the story, it actually has a lot of replay potential due to the procedurally generated areas.

    Can be picked up for peanuts on GOG during the sales often and the Encounters add on is well worth the money.

  15. localzuk

    Escape Velocity

    Escape Velocity was where I started with space games. I *loved* all of the series. I just wish there was something like it now, that had the long story to go with the galaxy size.

    EDIT: Just discovered that Ambrosia SW seems to have gone out of business too. So will not be able to play my copy of EV Nova ever again :(

  16. Zack Mollusc
    Meh

    In-game music?

    Surely the only tune you need is 'When twilight falls on NGC891' ?

  17. Paul A. Walker

    Freespace

    Freespace and Freespace 2 were great, and since Volition released the engine there's been a huge community remaking and expanding them. Blue Planet is fantastic.

  18. Valeyard

    Board games

    Board games give you your space RPG nowadays, XIA is the most elite-like game i've played in a long time on any media, whereas Galaxy Truckers is really good casual fun

  19. Bite my finger
    Flame

    That sinking feeling

    <em>"Oh, and the summer heat wreaking havoc on my CPU? The heatsink was broken. We're water-cooled now, baby!"</em>

    How does one "break" a heat sink? Aren't they basically aluminum blocks with fins on? A hammer blow could do it, but that would wreck the CPU it's attached to.

    Come clean Richard. I'm guessing you installed a bigger heat sink and forgot the conduction paste. Or perhaps some debris got in between. If so, you're lucky your CPU isn't a fried chip now. ;-)

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: That sinking feeling

      One of the struts connecting it to the mobo had broken so I guess it was hanging off slightly and not making full contact.

  20. Alien8n Silver badge

    Jumpgate

    One of the best multiplayer space games was Jumpgate from Netdevil. There was even an entire lore surrounding the game, and a very sneakily positioned asteroid (nickname Emma) that was situated exactly halfway between 2 jumpgates, so you had to remember to first fly away from the horizontal plane before locking on the exit jumpgate, unless you wanted to learn why it was called Emma (basically Emma Roid, because it was a pain in the ass).

    There was a sequel in development for years that was just about to make it to Beta (Jumpgate Evolution) but was canned before release.

  21. israel_hands

    I've had my eye on RGO for a while now (just waiting for it to come out on Switch). Does look very good, as the article said, a bit of a Firefly feel to it (also reminds me of a small-print tabletop RPG from about a decade ago called Star Thugs).

    Much better than the pyramid scheme that is Star Shitizen. I also didn't realise the new Elite was so sparsely populated. I thought part of the reason for forcing it to be always-online was that players would interact (although partly it's apparently the size of the client required to run the universe in the background). The always online bit was enough to put me off though.

    Other awesome space sims are the X series (X3 with plety of mods is incredible but you really do need to devote a lot of time to getting good at it and building up your little space fleet).

    Colony Wars on the original Playstation was very good, proper Newtonian flight physics and some cool battles. The original X-Wing is really the daddy of them all, such an amazing game. I loved having the ability to divert power between engines, weapons and shields, depending on the situation (I fondly remembering retreating from missions in a damaged ship, shoving all the power to the engines and focusing deflector shields to the rear).

    Eve isn't a flight sim, in the same way that World of Warcraft isn't an action combat game. You click to attack then watch your ship orbit the enemy and occasionally you get to activate a special attack.

    Everspace looks good, although I've heard it's a bit dull after a while (which is always a risk with procedurally generated content).

    Subdivision Infinity DX has just come out on Switch and looks quite good, also has the stupidest name for a space sim ever. Sounds like some sort of dance game.

    Starlink was almost an amazing game. Really fun to play but the toys-to-life bullshit killed it completely. Not much in-game progression because that was all locked behind a paywall. Buy the toys to unlock new ships, weapons and pilots. It's annoying because the game is well made and loads of fun. I bought the starter pack on Switch in the bargain bin for £20 (launch price was £60), got myself a cool Arwing model, and then bought some other ships from the bargain bin. Even having got it very cheap, the game just didn't work as well as it would have done if it followed the usual format of letting you unlock ships and weapons as you go along.

    Oh, and for the author of the article, the Double Damage FAQ suggests you can turn off all the aim-assist nonsense, if you feel like taking the stabilisers wheels off and flying like a grown-up. ;)

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      ED isn't technically "always online". You can actually play in offline mode too, but the background simulation continues to be deeply influenced by player actions – economy, politics etc.

      It's not that it's sparsely populated, I'm sure a lot of people continue to play religiously. It's more that the Milky Way is incredibly large, and if you want to interact with other players (you're a pirate or bounty hunter), you'll have to go where a lot of players are known to frequent. This will change depending on what the system offers or whether a community goal is up. Community goals are the dev-run events I mentioned, usually a variation on "kill loads of pirates" or "haul loads of a specific material to this location".

      It is a brilliant game, if you're interested – I just felt the need to move on to something else.

      ED and RGO both have this same engine/shields/weapon power diversion system from X-Wing and I suspect it's become a trope of modern space-flight sims.

  22. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    ***TRIGGER WARNING: EPIC STORE***

    OK, I definitely sprayed coffee on that one and laughed audibly whilst cleaning the desk/monitor/keyboard/etc.

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