Vengeance is a dish best served with a nice red wine.
At the end of the Great War, the so-called League of Free Worlds, led by the insidious Father, realized that they couldn't destroy the Sol system. Instead, they fled, sealing the warp hole behind them and driving the Sol system into utter chaos.
A hundred years passed, filled with brutal tribal warfare, until the day that
Kron appeared. Kron ended the bitter blood feuds that tore the Navy apart and
reunited them with one goal - escape from sol and the total obliteration of
the League of Free Worlds. You are a young Navy pilot. The success of this campaign
rides on your shoulders. Is your hatred strong enough to exact your Vengeance?
It has been
over a year since this reviewer was wowed by the appearance of Colony
Wars. To date, no PSX game has yet to match the sheer visual mastery of
that great game. So when the designers announced they were making a sequel,
you had to wonder whether or not it would be as good. Colony Wars Vengeance,
while being a fantastic game, just doesn't quite live up to its predecessor.
The first question on everybody's mind is "What's different?" Well, plot-wise, the designers definitely had a lot of fun. This time around, you get to see the conflict from the other point of view. You also have a name and a face. You are a young disciple of Kron named Mertens, but don't think that your loyalty is absolute. This game has more shades of gray than a Bosco cartoon. Neither side is absolutely good or evil; they each have their own motivations for what occurred in the past and why they're fighting now. Though the James Earl Jones sound-alike is gone and the new guy sounds a little whiny, the plot and cinematics are still just as engrossing.
On top of that, the graphics are right on par with the original. The textures on each of the ships are much more complex. All of the ships are new, designed from the ground up to show that over a hundred years have passed since the first game. Personally, I find the ships to be more angular in Vengence. But who needs aerodynamics in space, anyways?
Also, you aren't confined to just outer space. Following the logic that in order to capture a planet you might actually have to enter the atmosphere, there are now five surface missions scattered throughout the game. Tear across the landscape in your dropship and take out enemy bases and superguns. Though the ground missions play the same as the space missions (i.e. gravity is suspiciously absent), they do offer a nice change of scenery.
Just to crunch the numbers on the rest of the differences, here are a few of the stats. Colony Wars had 70 missions, while Vengeance has 41; the missions in Vengeance, however, are much longer and more involved. Vengeance also has six different endings depending on how you do. In Vengeance, you have the choice of four craft that each have upgradeable shields, maneuverability, speed, and afterburners. You also have a fifth craft specifically designed for the surface missions. With more weapons and more in-game graphical effects, you may think this is a gamer's dream come true.
Unfortunately, they were making a sequel to Colony Wars, one of the few games that has ever received an "A" at Game Revolution. Though Vengeance comes close, it just doesn't have the polished feel that made its predecessor a classic.
For one, the action is slower. Until you play the game enough to get the faster, more maneuverable craft, the game is significantly slower. Second, they removed the great encyclopedia that was in the first game. It gave you the feeling that no matter what happened you were simply a minor cog in a greater machine, thereby establishing a truly epic scope. The lack of the encyclopedia is a disappointing omission.
I also don't like the fact that you play as a specific character. By giving your character a name, it becomes easier to distance yourself from the plot; more like watching a movie and less player involvement. Finally, the missions are too long. It is almost impossible to pass most of the missions until you have played them several times. With too many objectives per mission, you get the feeling of being lost some of the time.
And with such a killer engine, I'm still miffed at the absence of any sort of multi-player mode. The idea of dogfighting some friends makes my eyes light up, so get to work, Psygnosis!
Don't get me wrong, the game is still great, and a must-buy for fans of this genre. But if you don't own the first Colony Wars, buy it before you get Vengeance. Not only will the plot make more sense, but you'll be able to experience the universe to it's fullest. If you already own Colony Wars, you'll still love Vengeance. Now go out there and kick the League in the pants. Do it for Kron . . .