Darkstar One / Freelancer / X2, X3

Ok, help me out here. I’m in the mood for a fun space game, and I’ve played Freespace 2 (FS2Open) to death…it’s still a blast, mind you, but I’m looking for something a little different this time around.

I’ve played through Freelancer a couple of times, and it’s ok, I guess. It’s kind of what I’m looking for, but it misses the mark in a lot of subtle ways.

I played both X2 and X3 and, given the proper motivation, can probably locate my CDs to reinstall either one…I found my Play CD of X3 pretty quickly, but I think I put everything else in a safe storage place. The problem is, I have too dang many safe storage places. Anyway, that’s not the problem - the problem is, which should I play?

I remember really enjoying X2 in a lot of ways. I was getting a handle on the economy, though I never began building up factories or a fleet or anything. I can’t remember much of the flight model, but I did like having to actually fly into space stations to dock.

X3 took the flying into the stations away, seemed to make the economy tedious, but I did love the flight model.

Anyone care to weigh in on which one I’d be better off playing, given a choice between the two?

Also, I just got done playing around with the demo for Darkstar One. It seems to hit all the marks that Freelancer missed for me, AND it allows for joystick play. While Freelancer (and Darkstar One) made good use of the mouse, and I was surprised by its effectiveness, it just doesn’t feel right, playing any sort of a flight-sim without a joystick. I also dig the pulled back cockpit view in Darkstar. I’d do a digital purchase of it right now, but a quick check of gamerankings shows pretty mediocre reviews. I was wondering what you guys thought of it, if you played the full game. I trust your opinions and will hold off making a decision until I hear from you folks.


I’ve spent some time with all the games you mentioned and while I never beat Darkstar One, the time I spent with it was fun. But you might want to wait for more people to chime in on that one, a lot of people felt it got really repetitive and linear with no point to doing anything outside the main storyline.

Between X2 and X3, I always choose X3. I found it to be the most playable version in the series.

I’m not an X fan. I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to mesh a (fairly serious) economics sim with flying a space ship. For me one just gets in the way of the other.

Darkstar came out at the wrong time for me and I still haven’t gone back to play it but I believe Chick liked it well enough. In general it received positive but not glowing reviews.

Kerberos is working on an Elite Clone and theres an central European indy that has one pretty far down the pipe. Theres a Russian studio developing a Freespace inspired Space Shooter (the HUD looks like a carbon of the Freespace setup). Deep Shadows (Boiling Point) is developing a title that borrows a number of bullet points from Derek Smart but it really could be a decent game.

Track down a copy of Independence War II.

Does it run OK under XP? Any must-have fan modifications available for it?

I should point out that I enjoy doing the main storyline of any free-roaming game…in fact, it’s the primary reason for playing, for me. Sure, I may spend some time roaming around, doing this or that, but the vast majority of my time spent with the game will be in the story missions. What was so aggravating for me about X3 was the poor way in which the story missions were woven into the rest of the game. The emphasis was clearly on the free-form side of things than the scripted, and you had to do much, much more of the former before you could make decent progress in the latter. I like things the other way around.

After reading some Darkstar reviews, I find that they do all seem to comment heavily on the repetitive nature of the game. I wonder, then, if that is a deal-breaker, or is it simply a minor blemish on the title?

Also, does anyone know of any good inertia-based space sims other that the I-War and X series games? I’d go spend some time with X-Wing Alliance, since I never seemed to get into it, but if I’m going to put up with WWII fighter plane physics in space, I’d rather stick with something like Freelancer or Darkstar. I’m asking in the hope that there’s a small indie title out there that I’m just not aware of, about which some of you may know in much the same way as I was made aware of Mount and Blade via QT3.

You should only play X3 if you love the Kha’ak

It just occurred to me that I would really, really dig a physics-accurate space flight and combat simulator for the 360, as long as it was done in Steel Battalion style - with a custom controller…huge and complex, with pedals and a couple of joysticks, a throttle or two and, of course, lots and lots of lighted switches and things that go ping!

I’d also like world peace and an end to hunger and disease, while I’m longing for the impossible…

It runs fine under XP, I still play it on and off when I feel the need for a joystick fix. I don’t know of any mods, I just play the regular game. It’s somewhat open ended.

I just ponied up for Star Rangers 2 (DRM/Starforce-free!) from Stardock and EGADS, is it fun.

SPACE Rangers 2 is a blast, yeah. It’s not a space sim, though.

I’ll second this. It lacks the openness and econ of X3, which is also a good choice, but it’s a good bet. Also a real oldie, Tacyon, is a classic. It’s only branching missions, and not actual open, plus the inertia is only partially in the flight model, but it’s a good mix of character for a space shooter.

I had a lot of fun with Tachyon, and hey, Bruce Campbell, but that final mission was such a bitch.

I don’t think Tachyon is in the same league as the other space sims mentioned.

I still haven’t played X3 though, but plan at some point to get to it. Are they still patching it up, or is it in good shape now? I played x2 for a while, and it was a bit rough, although I appreciated its ambition. Does X3 improve much of X2? It sounds like the same game.

I’d say it’s in the same league as Darkstar One, but no, it doesn’t have the freedom of the X games.

Wot he said.

With a second vote for Space Rangers 2.

Independence War 2 is really a lot of fun. Definitely scales back the open-ended style and the economy compared to the X series, but they are definitely both there. As was already mentioned, I have no problems getting it to run under XP.

As for the combining of the hardcore econ sim with a space sim, to me it always felt like a natural combination, although I can’t say why. There were times even back when I played Privateer that I wished I could go a little bigger. Sometimes I feel like the X series takes this a little too far in the other direction, it lets you go too big so that space ends up feeling pretty small. I often wish there was some way to split the difference even though I’m not even entirely clear on what I’m describing. My best X experiences always come after I’ve got those first few bases up and running. I stop having to babysit, so I buy a good combat fighter and just start flying, leaving the economy to sort of take care of itself. After a while, you get too big and have to go back to some type of babysitting.

I blame you all for the tornado that just blew through my home. Due to all the I-War 2 talk, I decided to dig out my discs and reinstall it for a new run through the game. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to locate the Play disc (Disc 2) so far. Of course, I’ve completely ransacked various areas of the homestead in search of the first disc, hence the tornado…What fun!

I really wish someone could start up a site that deals almost exclusively in the digital purchase and distribution of older titles. Surely some business type could negotiate with all of the IP owners to work something out…it’d solve the “abandonware” problem (well, for us legal sticklers it would, anyway), and bring in at least some money to the games’ creators/publishers/Uncle Bobs…

Of course, Gametap is getting better every day, and a subscription service is, in many ways, a lot more preferable for something like this. While searching for a digital purchase site for I-War 2, I stumbled across a Games on Demand site from Eurogamer, which has a good number of games I’d enjoy playing. It’s not quite Gametap, but they have a much larger number of recent titles. Here’s a link for those who might want to take a look at it.

I sent someone a PM about IW2, but he never answered. Can it be played with a PS2 controller (gamepad)? Or should it really be played with a joystick?