Author Topic: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review  (Read 6357 times)

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Offline General Battuta

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
FS1 was much better then FS2.

Haters gonna hate. The story and emotion in FS1 were far superior. Between the desperate, back to the wall struggle for survival and the ancients cutscenes, the shivans put the fear of god into you. The Lucifer wasn't just a big ship, it was as far as we knew absolutely unstoppable. And the visions of the ancients made it clear to us just exactly what the price of failure was. No matter what glorious victory you scored the shivans just kept coming. Vasuda Prime was just meat through the shivan grinder, and nothing suggested Earth would be any different.

FS2.. the majority of the battle with the shivans is fought in Shivan, not Terran/Vasudan space. That lowers the stakes. Additionally, we'd stopped them once. By the skin of our teeth perhaps, and at terrible cost, but it had been done. That changes the face of the enemy significantly.

Furthermore, the Sathanas was never as intimidating as the Lucifer. For this simple reason: It can be destroyed, and that is clear from the get go. Only its massive size and large firepower made that impractical. Until the very end of FS1 the Lucifer isn't just hard to take down - it's impossible. And you KNOW this, beyond a shadow of doubt.

The psychological power of the story in FS1 blows FS2`s out of the water.

FreeSpace 1 is a dull, cliched space opera with nary a surprise or a single moment of real emotion. Its stakes are so low it can never muster real tension, and its antagonists are so familiar they can never muster real fear. It serves only as a helpful prelude and basis for subversion in the real meat of the series.

Nearly everything about FreeSpace 1 takes place on a storytelling map familiar to us from decades of science fiction and adventure writing. It enters no alien terrain, takes no risks, offers only comfortable ground and well-worn roads. Only when the series steps into unmapped territory with FreeSpace 2 can do it do anything of narrative value.

 

Offline An4ximandros

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
FreeSpace 1 is a dull, cliched space opera with nary a surprise or a single moment of real emotion. Its stakes are so low it can never muster real tension, and its antagonists are so familiar they can never muster real fear. It serves only as a helpful prelude and basis for subversion in the real meat of the series.

Nearly everything about FreeSpace 1 takes place on a storytelling map familiar to us from decades of science fiction and adventure writing. It enters no alien terrain, takes no risks, offers only comfortable ground and well-worn roads. Only when the series steps into unmapped territory with FreeSpace 2 can do it do anything of narrative value.


Maybe I should make you a medal. You got exactly what I felt about FS1's story.

 

Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
Meanwhile I really don't care because FS1 executed well, so it gets a nod as a quality product regardless.
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
Meanwhile I really don't care because FS1 executed well, so it gets a nod as a quality product regardless.

It executed terribly man, look at the very first CB. Read that thing.

 

Online Mongoose

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
wheeee i'm so glad that we're having this thread again for some reason

oh wait no i'm not

  

Offline General Battuta

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
It's my favorite topic :colbert:

This may be the greatest post I ever made on the matter

Quote from: General Battuta" post="402448112
Okay, here goes the :words: version.

FreeSpace 1 is an action-adventure space opera story in which two warring parties must learn to set aside their differences in order to survive. The Terrans and Vasudans enter the story in a state of sin (as the Ancients put it): they have turned against each other for meaningless, petty reasons. To survive, they must realize the insignificance of their differences. FreeSpace 1 is a story about overcoming differences in order to meet great challenges.

The Shivans represent many things: karma, justice, the threat of an empty, hostile cosmos that will swallow up the 'sinful'. By coming together, the Terrans and Vasudans are able to stand up to the Shivans, and by learning from the lessons of the past (the Ancients), they are able to discover the Shivans' weakness and defeat them. This is all very familiar material: friendship beats hostility, teamwork provides the key to meeting an overwhelming challenge, an ancient warning is vital to stopping a looming threat.

When the Lucifer is destroyed, the FS1 Shivans stop being a threat. This miraculous contrivance reveals the fundamentally didactic nature of the FS1 Shivans: they are a test, and destroying the Lucifer qualifies you to pass. (I speak here in the narrative sense, rather than the literal truth of the setting.) But the destruction of the Shivans also comes at a price: both species lose their homeworlds.

This is important in the context of FreeSpace 1, because it nails home the game's themes: Vasuda Prime and Earth represent the baggage of each species' past, and without them, the Terrans and Vasudans must rely on each other to build a new starfaring civilization.

But the loss of the homeworlds also provides the tragic flaw for FreeSpace 2 - the mistake that drives the story going forward. FreeSpace 2 is all about how the Terrans (and, to an extent, the Vasudans) learned the wrong lessons.

Remember this, it's important: after FreeSpace 1, the Shivans have taken our divinity from us. As long as the Shivans exist, we cannot be masters of the world.

Here's my thesis: FreeSpace 2 is a story in which the Terrans attempt to claim divinity from the Shivans by emulating and knowing them. But they fail and are cast down. When the story opens, we listen to the introductory narration and learn that the Terrans today call themselves 'the Lost Generation' and pine for Earth, a place which represents, to them, 'dreams of humanity everlasting.' They believe that by going home to Earth they can reclaim their mojo, their fire, their prowess. The Shivans have humbled and terrified them, made them realize that they are an insignificant spark in a cold vast cosmos, and only by reclaiming Earth can the Lost Generation overcome that fear.

This is the NTF: the strategic and political reification of the need to return to Earth and the need to know and master the Shivans. They stand opposed to the GTVA, which believes it can match the Shivans and reclaim lost godhood by defeating them.

Compare to the Vasudans, who did not suffer economic collapse during Reconstruction. Unlike the Terrans, the Vasudans do not want to reclaim their homeworld; they know they can never go back. Where the Terrans have turned backwards, the Vasudans look forward, and they are better for it. This is (thematically) why the NTF hates the Vasudans: alien and prosperous as they are, they threaten the NTF ideology by suggesting that success lies in abandoning the homeworld, accepting cosmic insignificance and working with it.

Then the Shivans arrive.

And we kick their asses! We've been preparing for this moment for 32 years, and we are ready. We have beam weapons to match theirs, superior fighters, superior tactics. The initial Shivan push is beaten back and we go on the offensive, ready, as one pilot says, 'to show them what firepower is all about.'

The NTF has made its statement: 'we must go home to be gods.' Now the GTVA makes its statement: 'we have learned to be gods. We are a match for the Shivans.'

Observe that the story here mimics FreeSpace 1. We meet the Shivans, hunt one of their smaller warships, and then find ourselves ambushed by a larger ship (the Ravana). It's like poetry, it rhymes. :v: We take down the Ravana, and let me quote the reaction -


Without a doubt, the firepower to neutralize any Shivan threat.

The GTVA asserts that it is now a match for the Shivans. It can take the Shivans on their home turf, and win. The FreeSpace 1 story is happening again, but this time we're ready.

The NTF starts trouble back home, and we switch back to that storyline.

And now we reveal the Colossus. Why did the Alliance build an invincible supership? Because it wants the Lucifer. It wants to master the fear of the Lucifer by building something even bigger and better, something that shows the Shivans 'we are what you are, but more.' The Colossus symbolizes the strength of the Alliance just as the Lucifer symbolized Shivan power.

We roll over the NTF, mocking their argument that we have to go home to reclaim our godhood. Bosch slips through our fingers, though, into Shivan space. We chase him. The Bosch monologues are a hint of unease, so far...Bosch reflecting on the cycle of the galaxy, the hundreds of species the Shivans might have claimed before us, as if he knows something we don't. The NTF wants to reclaim godhood by going home (hiding, perhaps?), the GTVA wants to reclaim godhood by overmatching the competition, but Bosch believes the Shivans can deliver godhood.

Seeing our Colossus, the Shivans seem to ante with the Sathanas - and we know, from playing FreeSpace 1, that this is how it ends. The Shivans roll out their biggest, badass solitary warship, a titan to challenge the Colossus. Is our Lucifer better than their Lucifer? This is our entire strategy, our claim to godhead: we've made ourselves in the image of the Shivans. We use their beam weapons. We build our own Lucifer to be better than theirs. It has to be.

Of course it is. We win. We're better than the Shivans now. This is where FreeSpace 2 'meets' the end of FreeSpace 1, and stops echoing its predecessor.

Only we were wrong. We thought we understood the rules of the game, had the measure of Shivan strength, but we miscalculated terribly.

In the remainder of the story, everything goes off the traditional space opera rails. We were utterly wrong: supremacy isn't decided by a duel of invincible superships. The Sathanas is just one of many, more than we can comprehend. They have more Sathanases than we have corvettes. The GTVA argument for godhood-by-force is rebuked.

And the Shivans take Bosch. That doesn't make any sense! The Shivans never gave a **** about the Hammer of Light - why are they listening to Bosch? It's because he is the single, solitary voice in the story who recognizes that the Shivans cannot be defeated in competition, that we will never match and defeat them. He thinks we must make an alliance with them - like a cultist coming to accomodation with an Elder God, MrL_Jakiri would probably suggest.

But even Bosch seems unable to fully understand the Shivans. He looks forward to his crew boarding the Shivan transports and sailing to a bright future - but when we board the Iceni, we find a charnel house, most of the crew dead, Bosch and his lieutenants gone. Was there a misunderstanding? Or did Bosch fundamentally mistake the nature of the Shivans? Here the Bosch storyline concludes, with a firm declaration: the Shivans are intelligent, and they are not simply, purely hostile. They heard Bosch. But getting their attention is not the same as speaking to them. We learn that the Shivans are beyond our comprehension or communication, just as much as they are beyond our strength.

Bosch, too, is rebuked.

With the Bosch storyline concluded, and the GTVA effort to reclaim godhood in jeopardy, the remainder of the story concerns itself with the GTVA's new understanding. We go into the lion's den and glimpse more Knossos portals, more juggernaughts.

Wow, we think: we never had a chance. Our hubris led us to believe we were ready for anything, but we were terribly wrong. We must abandon our war for divinity and focus on survival.

In the end, we come up with a desperate plan to abandon Capella, hiding from the Shivans by burning jump nodes behind us. It's no accident that we plan to do to ourselves what the Lucifer's detonation did to Earth. Having spent 32 years planning to meet and defeat the Shivans, we must now discard all that effort, and realize that what we thought was a tragedy - isolation - may be the best possible outcome.

There's one last thematic twist, and it comes from the Shivans. With 80+ juggernaughts, they could wipe us out. But they don't. Instead, they destroy the Capella star. Why? What do they gain by this? We have no idea. We can only begin to guess.

By annihilating Capella when they might have annihilated all of humanity (and the Vasudans as well), the Shivans demonstrate their absolute, alien power. Not only can we not defeat them, we cannot understand them. Perhaps we survive for one reason only (thematically, at least): we have abandoned our claim to godhood.

Perhaps the Shivans defeat us not by wiping out our worlds but by humbling us. They don't need to send a Sathanas into every system, because their goal is not our annihilation; we passed that test 32 years ago. By destroying Capella, they destroy our hubris; remind us of our place in the cosmic order. They could have annihilated us, and could still.

Or maybe they're shepherding us. Maybe they're just a mindless, destructive force, operating on rules we can't understand. Maybe, as Petrarch speculates, they are exiles like us, and Capella was somehow an effort to go home...and here, I think, lies the final conclusion, the answer to the question of homecoming. In the destruction of Capella, in the face of this alien, capricious act, Petrarch can think only of going home. Given an alien act, he interprets it through a human lens.

That might be some kind of success. Or it might represent absolute failure: glimpsing the full emptiness of the night sky, and turning around to crawl back into our burrows.

The GTVA tried to seize godhood by force, and the Shivans rebuked them, demonstrating both their impossible strength and their unknowable intentions. Bosch tried to seize godhood by communication and alliance, but in spite of his prophetic confidence, the Shivans rebuked him too.

In FreeSpace 1, we move from petty conflict, into recognition of the true threat, into triumph through unity and derring-do. In FreeSpace 2, we begin in a state of triumph, ready to meet the Shivans, and gradually descend into the realization that we are not ready, that we know far less than we believed. The FreeSpace 1 Shivans aren't frightening, because in the end we beat them. The FreeSpace 2 Shivans are truly terrifying, not because they beat us, but because they suggest that they cannot be beaten.

Everything ties up at the end of FreeSpace 2. The plot might seem like it ends on a cliffhanger, but the story is completely resolved. We are not divinities  yet, and we were arrogant to think so. Maybe it's time to go home. Maybe that's impossible.

You're absolutely mistaken if you think the ending was rushed or tacked on. It sums up the themes of the game perfectly. Things don't 'chug along nicely' and then suddenly 'supernova': everything in the game leads to that supernova, and it's foreshadowed as early as mission 4. Everything that happens leads to the ending we got, and nowhere else.[/spoiler]

I can also tell you that you're certainly wrong about the game running out of time or money: V shipped it ahead of schedule and on budget, and to this day consider it the finest game they've ever made.

I always thought it was really clever that FreeSpace 2 contains pretty much the entire arc of FreeSpace 1 in the first acts, up through 'Slaying Ravana'.

 

Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
It executed terribly man, look at the very first CB. Read that thing.

Yeah no considering all the fascinating places discussion of the first CB has gone.
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Offline Arpit

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
lol, how come this is a fs1 vs fs2 thread?

give it a rest ppl, everyone knows fs3 is better.

I AGREE. FREESPACE 3 IS TEH BEST.

 

Offline deathfun

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
lol, how come this is a fs1 vs fs2 thread?

give it a rest ppl, everyone knows fs3 is better.

I AGREE. FREESPACE 3 IS TEH BEST.

Holding out for FS4 honestly
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Offline Al-Rik

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
"The only real innovation in the controls department is a "match speed" function, which is totally useless in practice. What they really needed was a "match velocity" function, matching your target's speed and direction."
It sounds to me like he wants the ship to not only match the ship's speed, but also it's direction, as in follow the ship for you.
I think the reviewer wanted to have a glide mode:

Quote
Without velocity matching, momentum, FPS-style strafing, or even reverse thrusters, manoeuvring over the surface of a moving warship is virtually impossible. The only way to attack one is to fly straight at it, guns blazing. Which isn't a terribly good idea.
Well, IMHO there are at least 2 Mods for FS2 that add a glide mode ;)

The other points of critique are also sensible:
The Wingmen in Wing Commander (1991) haven been much more immerse than the no names in Freespace (1999).

 
Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
Huh? People actually argue over whether FS1 or FS2 was better?

I thought FS1 had a great story, even if the tech was relatively primitive, and FS2 was exactly what a sequel to FS1 should be.  :v-old: I loved the fact that, without the Lucifer, the Terran/Vasudan alliance and the Shivans seemed to be on relatively equal footing, so that it all came down to how to destroy the Lucifer if the GTA and VPE were going to have a chance at winning the Great War. After that, the Shivans could be defeated and eventually were, whereas in FS2 at first it seems like the Shivans might not be quite up to the task of taking on the alliance this time, up until they suddenly come at the GTVA with a virtually unbeatable and seemingly limitless armada that, even if they could get another 32 years of peace, the GTVA would simply never be able to cope with. It became less of a "How do we defeat the Shivans?" type of story and more of a "How do we survive the Shivans?" one. That was what made the Shivans my personal favorite sci-fi villains of all time, coupled with the fact that we still know next to nothing about them in any real sense. If the Shivans were able to send 80 juggernauts into Capella, I tremble at the thought of what actually lies beyond Knossos 3. I guess Bosch is the only one who will ever know.  :P

Edit: By the way General Battuta, that was an excellent post.  :yes: I always like it when someone drills down to the thematic levels of a story, because God knows I'm no good at it.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 05:46:02 am by Kane Kaizer »

 

Offline Luis Dias

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
That's a really good one Battuta, except perhaps for that tiny bit where you clearly have problems squaring Bosch's attempts to get godhood from the Shivans and *at the same time* get same godhood from Terra reified. Perhaps you have squared it nicely inside your head, but the way you expressed it is somewhat confusing to me.

I say I'm still confused but I recognize there's something here very interesting. Terrans were still struggling to get their libido back, and they either did so by reifying Terra as a symbol of eternalness that was lost and should be fought for again (in a vaguely similar vein to the third Reich and the Roman Empire), or with allied Vasudans who were awkwardly and weirdly not traumatized by the new cosmological order.

My confusion derives from both facets of Bosch. In one hand, he presents an eternalist ideology that is based precisely in this mythical Terra that will be enacted again, a future where humans have their own destinies back to them. This ideology is confirmed positively by the sheer amount of support he has. OTOH, he sees that the only possible cosmological solution is to ally humans with the shivans, whom he regards as probably a much grander species even the GTVA can't dream of.

These two don't match, so I think there's this basic level standard interpretation (voiced by himself) that the first was a lure, a lie, the real reason for his treason is to save humanity with an alliance with the true gods of the universe. In short, we can then have three ideologies (the fake Bosch's one, the hidden Bosch's one and the GTVA's one) without multiplying too many characters in the fiction.

But of course, being the totalitarian that I am, I don't like this interpretation. It's much more poetic that we can explain Bosch's both facets as being consistent with each other within a set that I still do not understand properly.

The only thing that comes to mind is how the usual greek tropes that are endlessly played in FS1 and most of FS2 hit a wall of Lovecraftian unintelligibility and dreadfulness with a Lacanian sense of horror. Suddenly we see Reality rudelessly disobeying all the ideologies we had in our heads, raping all the dreams the lost generation postulated.

 
Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
That's a really good one Battuta, except perhaps for that tiny bit where you clearly have problems squaring Bosch's attempts to get godhood from the Shivans and *at the same time* get same godhood from Terra reified. Perhaps you have squared it nicely inside your head, but the way you expressed it is somewhat confusing to me.

Bosch motivates the NTF for his own purposes with the prospect of Earth reborn; but he personally wants to ascend via the Shivans.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
I really like the collision with the Lacanian real.

 
Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
You know full well that you are the only person in this thread who knows what that term means.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline Luis Dias

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
Bosch motivates the NTF for his own purposes with the prospect of Earth reborn; but he personally wants to ascend via the Shivans.

This is what is obvious, I was lusting for something more inclusive between each ideology. Moses leads his people into the desert from the Egyptians, fighting its empire while fleeing to be the people of God. They then reach mount Sinai where Moses himself gets the touch from their Deity himself. When Moses comes down and sees his people worshipping something different, a lot of things happen, but one of them is the wiping out of half of the hebreus who didn't worship Yaweh. Only the true believers can continue the Exodus.

In FS2 we do get to see the Iceni as a theater of slaughter, and we don't get to see where the "true believers" went to in their exodus. To the "promised land"?

All this reading is obvious, literally taken from Bosch's own script. Bosch wants to stop the cyclical carnage that he recognizes and the only way to do so is through this sacrificial exodus with a faith beyond any Lacanian horror.


You know full well that you are the only person in this thread who knows what that term means.

The Lacanian real is something that goes beyond language, "it is that which resists symbolization absolutely". It's the kind of stuff that when it happens to you, you cannot localize it inside your own ideological coordinates, your experience, etc., it throws you off so much that something very very deep happens in your own subjectivity: you become traumatized.

Lovecraft was already a Lacanian in a deep sense: the idea of aliens being so alien that people just go insane when they are confronted by their presence.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 10:15:28 am by Luis Dias »

 

Offline Luis Dias

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
Ok, so I want to put out the obvious obviousnessness from the Mosaic perspective, that is, to see Freespace 2's narrative as a retelling of the Exodus story. The hints to this connection are not even ovious, they are shouting from the rooftops that this is so, more ways than we can probably count, but still I'm feeling like doing that mathematics.

So, from this point of view, the story of FS2 begins within the Egyptian ideological hegemony. Khonsu the Second is the only species leader we are aware of, the leader that makes the Collossus unity speech, and he's an emperor. This hegemony is threatened by the secession of those humans who have a different "god", a different ideological viewpoint, one that does not see the Vasudan emperor as a credible reference. Bosch, the secessionist's messiah, starts a bloody civil war and opens up the connection with the true gods of the galaxy. A metaphysical battle ensues, successive waves of plagues are thrown into the Vasudan hegemony, but the GTVA goes on.

Notice that in the original Mosaic myth, the pharaoh admits defeat and let Moses and his people escape. In FS2 we do see Bosch escaping throughout GTVA systems with apparent concealed authorization from Command.

Bosch flees to the desert, wondering if he is taking his survivors to the promised land or to the valley of the kings. From the GTVA / Egyptian point of view, their army is undefeated, the biggest arsenal ever constructed. They will go, fight Moses and his God and they are very positive about it. What happens next is the fact that this new God is something the Egyptians never encountered before, a traumatic impossibility becomes very real, and their army is absolutely wiped out by a Sathanas Fleet / by the closing of the red sea. The survivors flee back to their empire, with a fear that will accompany them for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, Moses gets to speak to God himself in mount Sinai, and, as I said before, this moral encounter with a vengeful, jealous god has a terrible consequence to all those who still dwell in the polytheistic ideologies of the past. Thus, the Iceni is a bloodshed and only the few who really believe get to the promised land.

But we don't get to see that, for we belong to the Egyptian army that has to flee back before being wiped out. We see the Mosaic events from the point of view of those who are not picked to be the Chosen People, and all we know about this God is that he is something Lacanianly terrible. Otherwordly and unintelligible. This is not your pharao's typical god. This is something else, this is a metaphysical revolution happening in our cosmos.

This is obviously the "canon" reading of FS2. Notice how every reference states clearly that the most important Chapter is precisely Exodus, and even admiral Petrarch mentions that the God of Moses is perhaps making an Exodus to their "home", their promised land.

So I just wanted to get this out of the way and now you can tell me how this has been said a thousand million times.

 

Offline Killer Whale

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
I've never heard it, and I think that's a really cool reading.

 
Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
FS1 also had some really terrible mission design. Seriously, read the campaign walkthrough on the wiki and note how many missions can be completed with no input from the player at all.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: Eurogamer Freespace 2 review
FS1 also had some really terrible mission design. Seriously, read the campaign walkthrough on the wiki and note how many missions can be completed with no input from the player at all.

I have, but the walkthrough is notably wrong on several occasions with that analysis.
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