I changed my mind, I am going to bother with spoiler tags.
I hadn't played freespace in a while, my last post was January and I often spent time listening to stuff about things I hadn't played. But last week I updated with Turey's and got really excited seeing BP2. Re-did BP AoA on saturday. After getting confused a bit before changing my engine to SSE2, I finished BP2 on sunday, and monday afternoon. I just wanted to point this out as my reply was several months after the release and for all you know I could have spent months playing it.
Freespace 2 Open Blue Planet: War In Heaven is the best video game I have ever played. In the short time before I started really comparing it to other stuff, it was also the best fiction I've ever seen. After thinking about it a bit more its more like the third best fiction (I'm sorry, but the Bourne two-part trilogy
and El Goonish Shive top it. Maybe after the Karuna's cleaned up and you get voice acting). To expand, I preffered BP:WIH to: Lord of the Rings, Avatar (the $2.8x10^9 one), Halo: Combat Evolved, Age of Empires II Conquerors, The Inheritance Cycle, The Seventh Tower, Peggle, Casino Royale, World Of Warcraft, The Keys to the Kingdom, The Order Of The Stick, Doctor Who, The Matrix, The Hilltop Hoods, The Herd, British India, Freespace 2 retail, Descent: Freespace, Ender's Game, Artemis Fowl, Battlefield 1942, Fringe, The Alamo, Big Fish, any of the English lit things I've done (Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, Macbeth, To Kill a Mockingbird, Oedipus Rex, Lord of the Flies)(But I don't really like them anyway), The Chronicles Of Narnia, Derelict, Transcend, Star Wars or Temeraire (in no particular order) just to name some of the best I can name off the top of my head! (some other big ones could go in there, but I haven't actually seen
them.) Not to say I think these are worse then BP:WIH, just that BP is better. (Know what I mean? (You here what I'm saying? (If you do, get your ears checked, because no one said a word. (Sorry, couldn't resist (Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics (woah, bracket pyramid)))))))
First of all is minor characterisation. In Halo, for example, marines say things like "get up so I can kill you again" (less funny when they oblige), "hey, that was my kill", grunts scream hectically (sp?) and about the only a couple of scenes touch on the tragedy of so many dying (one was only to show how badass and scary the badies were). Blue Planet: War In Heaven had pilots asking for forgiveness for both themselves and pilots once they killed someone. There wasn't so much "good kill", rather it made you realise that this was a war. This was horrible, people were actually dying here. ("I can see the bodies. Oh my god, some are still moving!" For the win). Very little fiction, and almost no video games (not any I've played at least) have actually made the point that your killing people. Your just killing avatars and getting more and more dulled to the violence around you. Or for fiction, faceless mooks whose only name is "Enemy Soldier" and only mention is they died with the rest of their squad when their magician got killed by Eragon. Nobody cares about them, not the reader, not the protagonists, not the antagonists. But you care for them in BP2. And getting recommended to see the psych constantly is right on the money. I've killed whole squads of soldiers because I got bored in Halo. I've gone traitor in FS2 retail for kicks. But I killed one enemy pilot in BP2 because no-one was paying attention to her and I didn't think the mission designer or the crew of the relief forces would notice her. And I felt ashamed.
Crowning Moments of awesome. You start the game with You Shall Not Pass and it works. Again and again you put in Epic moments and make the player realise that they're in an influencial turning point in history. Play "The Battle of the Bulge" or "El Alamein" on Battlefield 1942. It's not an influencial battle. Its you running around killing AIs and having them respawn when they lose their HPs. Blue Planet had events in them that made you realise, they were events. Freespace 2 was a bit too big, a bit too unrealistic. It broke my Willing Suspension of Disbelief when the sun went nova. The sun going nova is an event so momentous, I can't get it. But you made me realise that the officers and crew on that frigate were real, and they just lost their lives in an important battle. Bravo BP team. Bravo.
Main Characterisation. To be fair, characterisation has been done much better. It was pretty basic. My much love El Goonish Shive goes into some very deep and heart renching (sp?) moments. There is one very important thing that brings this up though. This is a game. A first person shooter flight sim. Games are for fun, games are to fill time when your bored, they serve as engines taking you to another world where you can be a psycopath and people will thank you for it. Plots are an afterthough. You made this game, not a hobby, not an addictive money-making waste of time, but a medium. Sure, books go deeper and have far deeper characters than WIH, but that's what they're meant to do. With luck you just created the first proper (keyword: proper, others have plotlines, but they're plot<fun.) gamic narrative (definitely not a word) where fun is equal to or less than story. That's probably completely false, but its the first and best I've seen.
FSO. Freespace is over a decade old. It's [insert preferred curse here] awesome. That has got to be an incredibly rare trait. Tetris and space invaders are incredibly old and still kicking (tetris moreso), but that's not thanks to their graphics. How did a game maintain cutting edge graphics over an 11 year period? It's all thanks to you Source Code Project.
Honourable Mentions to (understatement):
Mission where you team up with GTVA to help Vasudans. I didn't fire a shot during or after negotitations and flew around horrified by their deaths.
Hostage. As I already mentioned, I felt ashamed for killing her.
Steele's plans, I loathe him for the vasudans thing, fear him for Delenda Est, and respect him as a brilliant GTVA operative
Last mission, the saving was predictable I'm sorry to say, but the simms thing and montage... gold. How the heck did you make me empathise with a random bridge officer with only a few lines better than other fiction's protagonists?!
The Elder dies, nothing new, i didn't know her or her importance, there's more where she came from. Wait, my character's fuming about it. I should be to! Hey, you killed the elder, come and take this you [censored]. etc. The reaction by the characters caused me to shift from indifference to fury, just because I learnt I should be, which is odd because it could have so easily have gone the other way and made me feel manipulated by putting words into my mouth. Soon I was hoping that the whole planet would rise up against the atrocity, prove Steele a liar to the vasudans, and kick some GTVA butt back to Delta Serpentis (or wherever the Sol Gate leads to).
How did you have nebula and non-nebula in the same mission?! Must be some new fso thing.
You showed me how awesome battles can be without huge cap-ships hanging around.
I thought that a hull repair support ship would be unbalanced. It wasn't.
Subspace missiles. Oh my god we are so doomed. In hindsight I think if you destroyed the right fighters they couldn't fire though. Missed that.
Edit:In short, if you [BP team] feel unhappy with what you've achieved. Don't be.
Because it is...