I just finished! My thoughts.
ST:R was a pleasure. In a sense I think it's the Halo of Freespace campaigns -- though it's not the most innovative or risky campaign in terms of FREDding or storytelling, it's polished, it's engaging, it exudes character, and it's got enough twists (like 'He Who Rides the Tiger' or the Karnak incident) to keep the player guessing at what's going to come next.
Difficulty was a little variable, but the peaks weren't awful and every mission provided the tools necessary to get it done. I will admit that Return to Ross 128 had me gritting my teeth a bit, but other than that and the EMP instant-kill, I never felt like I'd been cheated out of a completed mission.
The voice acting was fantastically polished, especially for an amateur release. Though there weren't any standout Mackie-type characters, that's keeping in line with the FS2 campaign, and several of the rebel commanders were memorable.
What happened to Admiral Glaive? He escaped, but it was never specified if he'd taken command of the Hades, unless I missed something big. I'll also admit that the psychotic Vasudans threw me off a bit; I wish 'someone set us up the bomb' had been some kind of easter egg, rather than being thrown out right in front.
The FSPort MediaVPs were a blessing. I particularly appreciated the HTL Karnak. I'm looking forward to seeing what becomes of the Hades.
It's odd how sedate capital ship engagements are in FS1. Without flak and beams, the main threat becomes those damn Lokis! I appreciated seeing the role of space superiority fighters foregrounded. Anyone who crackes jokes about 'Alpha 1 teh uber' has clearly never tried to perform a bombing run with a couple Lokis on their tail.
Best of all was ST:R's success at pulling together loose ends from FS1 and tying them into FS2, even going so far as to explain the Hades on Deneb. I was afraid the campaign would end at 'Secrets Reborn', which would've been a disappointment -- so the next few missions were a gift!
It's certainly true that the final mission was a bit of an anticlimax. The addition of some dueling cruisers or background fighter engagements could've done a lot to increase the epic feel.
Alternating waves of GTI and Alliance reinforcements -- GTI cruisers, the Orff, GTI bombers, Vasudan fighters -- might have been one way to handle that. Alternatively, perhaps the Hades could have attempted to maneuver away via sublight, and Alpha 1 would have to help defend allied craft as they moved into blocking position? Who knows.
Like a good writer, I'm delivering more constructive criticism than praise. Let me conclude, then, by saying that ST:R is by far closest in spirit, quality, and mission design to the retail Freespace campaigns. And that's exactly what it should be. It's a coherent, detailed reimagining of a somewhat flawed chapter of the Freespace legacy. It succeeds at that, and succeeds beyond -- its story brings Terran and Vasudan together, sets up the NTF (in a hands-off kind of way), and meshes perfectly with existing canon in the process.
ST:R will be the metric by which future campaigns are measured -- not because it's the best (calling one campaign the best is silly) but because it does everything so well. I was more emotionally affected by Blue Planet, and more taken with The Procyon Insurgency's canny mission design, but both of them are in a way defined by this grand centerpiece.
My compliments to the team, and I look forward to what you produce next!
EDIT: looking back this review seems kind of tepid. So let me say one more time how thoroughly I enjoyed this campaign. It has fewer weaknesses than any other user-made campaign out there. The pacing of the story is spot-on, the development of the crisis is believable and realistic, and the motivations of the rebellion are fully fleshed out in a way I thought was really ingenious.
If only it could have somehow made the Zeus appealing! I ended up taking a heavier bomber on every mission where the Zeus was the default.