Take that, Cap'n Hector!
The year is 2246. Humans have colonized all the habitable systems close to
the mother planet, Earth. The core worlds, with Earth at the center, are
run by the Fascist Confederacy, brutally suppressing any uprising. The
outer worlds, however, are fighting back. The Rebellion has gained a lot
of power in recent years, enough to almost match the Confederacy. On the
outskirts lie the pirates, plaguing both governments for what they want
more than anything: money. In the middle of it all is you, a novice
starship captain and proud owner of a tiny shuttlecraft. There are riches to be made among the stars, you just
have to go out there and take what is yours. Do you think you can make it? Think
Escape Velocity is another fine product from the designers at
Ambrosia Software. Combining the mercenary aspect of Privateer, the
combat of Star Control, and the plot independence of
Daggerfall, Escape Velocity is in a genre by itself. You can
completely ignore the central plot of the game if you want. There are even
different missions and outcomes depending on who you align yourself with.
The best way to describe it is AutoDuel (for the Apple II) in outer space. Available
for download, it's hard to believe that this game is shareware.
Escape Velocity is not what you would call eye candy, but it's
graphics are practical. They are good where it counts, in game
play. Each ship is pre-rendered 3D, rotates cleanly and moves smoothly across the screen. As
you earn more money, you can buy bigger and better ships. There are over
ten ships to choose from depending how much money you have and what type of
missions you want to accomplish. Unlike Star Control there's no
real limit to how many ships can be on the screen at any one time. On
slower computers, this does cause a little slowdown.
The planets are
really basic. It has a picture of the terrain and a maximum of seven buttons which you can
push. There are no FMV's or amazing sights to see, but you'll never notice.
You'll be too busy having fun.
The sound for the game is also sparse. Besides the opening, there is no
background music during the game (so play your favorite cd). That leaves it all up to the sound
effects, which, just like Ambrosia's other games, are just as funny as they
are fitting. The only digitized speech in the game is from your escorts
who vocally agree or argue with you. Other people I know who have the
game, but don't have any speakers, still enjoy the game just as much
Enough with the externals, it's time I told you what it's all
about. As a starship captain, you have four ways you can go about earning
money: trading, running missions through the mission computer, piracy, or working for a government
or group. Trading is the easiest, but least profitable. Most planets have
a commodity exchange where you can buy and sell goods. What's expensive on
one planet, may be dirt cheap on another. A very simple way to make money,
but not a lot of fun. The mission computer is available on all inhabited
planets and it contains a list of passengers and cargo that need to go to
different planets. Rush deliveries will get you more money, but then you
are held to a time limit. Starting out, you only want to do missions close
to your location, otherwise a pirate might get you.
Speaking of which, piracy is a lot of
fun. (It's pretty fun in the game, too.) We've all seen pirate movies, so
I'll keep it breif: blast ships, take their money, cargo, and sometimes the whole ship. In order to work for a
government or group, you'll need to meet them in the Spaceport Bar. You can
receive special missions like picking up documents or blowing up pirates.
As you get better at the game, the number of missions you are offered
increases. Don't bite off more than you can chew, however, or you might
find yourself sucking vacuum.
The most amazing part of this game is the replay value. How did Ambrosia
solve the fact that you can eventually run out of missions? By adding more,
of course, an infinite number more. Escape Velocity has a folder specifically called
"Plug-ins" just for the player who gets tired of the game. The plug-ins
themselves are not designed by Ambrosia, they're designed by players like
you and me. Available all over the web (the best place is escape-velocity.com), there are
plug-ins that can change just about everything in the game. There's even
a couple of plug-ins that change the whole universe into a "Star Wars" or "Star Trek"
game. While those particular plug-ins are unlicensed and therefore illegal, who cares? They are terrific! Ever wanted to fly a Star Destroyer? Well, here's your chance.
Escape Velocity is, by far, the best shareware game that I have ever
played. You download the game in its entirety, opting to pay the shareware
fee only if you want to. Mind you, the shareware fee is $20, cheaper than
anything you'll find in the stores and well worth it. If you let thirty
days go by without registering, I won't be held responsible for what Cap'n
Hector does to you.
OK, so its not the flashiest game ever made, but being one of the most addicting games ever, every Mac owner, bar none,
should have a version of Escape Velocity on their computer. With so
very few Mac games on the market, leave it to Ambrosia to fill the void. EV is great fun and infinately expandable.
It's also only a five megabyte download, so go to our download page and
get it right now. You won't regret it.