I've long been a fanatical Wingnut (Wing Commander fan) even to the point of actually enjoying the WC movie, a characteristic that will probably get me flogged by other Wingnuts:). Because of this rabid love of all things WC I was anxiously awaiting Freelancer, and planning to upgrade my computer solely for that reason, since this was the last game that Chris Roberts initiated before leaving Digital Anvil and it was touted, at least in the Wing Commander community to be the new incarnation of WC Privateer.
Anyway the fateful day arrived when the game was released and I quickly snatched up a copy.
My reaction was: Not too bad.
When you start a new game you do have to sit through the opening cinematic that brings you up to speed on events. You are Edison Trent one of the survivors of a surprise attack on Freeport 7. Unfortunately, your ship was destroyed with the station and you wound up riding with the other survivors to the New York system. So you are short on money, clothes, and transportation. Because of this you are forced directly into the storyline, whereas in Privateer you could cruise around to your heart's content before actually starting on the story track. This is perfectly fine since between story driven missions you can take on any combat or cargo running mission you like. Once, you progress to a certain experience level it will activate the next set of missions in the story. The story itself is pretty standard Sci Fi fair, but still enjoyable. The only problem I found with it was that the CGI actors' lips almost never moved. This was only an issue for about the first two or three conversations and then my attention was no longer drawn to their lips. This is pretty acceptable though considering there are a lot of cookie cutter conversation scenes for when you pick up jobs, gossip, or an improved reputation from people in the bars. So the CG actors come off like the old Thunderbirds series but it's not much of a detractor.
The graphics are spectacular as is the environments you can fly through. There are trade lanes available in the "settled" systems that speed up travel between planets and stations in the system but you can also explore the system just using your cruise engine, although the trade lanes do propel you faster.
After the storyline is finished you can continue exploring. There are several unsettled and fringe systems to map and quite a few easter egg ship's and systems, on one planet I found myself quoting a particular Charlton Heston film. There are derelict ships in just about every system, providing a free source for spare parts and commodities. Some of these derelicts are the only place you can get the most powerful guns in the game, although you'll probably be well past the storyline before you can afford a ship that can mount such powerful weapons.
Even if you are a die hard space shooter fan it will get a little old fairly quick, although I still find myself going back to it for a little relaxation. But the game is surprisingly easy to modify so it's just a matter of jumping on the Net and downloading one of the many Mods out there if you want to liven up.
I my personal opinion, it's perfect just the way it is. The stunning visuals of the nebulae and planets is worth the price.
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