I just finished Wings of Dawn. I loved it! There's just so much
content; it's incredible, especially considering that it's mostly the work of one person! I really had a lot of fun.
Here is a short review (with minor spoilers).Gameplay
This mod has the distinction of having the most significant advancement to the core gameplay of Freespace. There is such a wide range of weapon types, armour types, and specific vulnerabilities that there is some strategy involved in ship and armament selection. Energy management also seems more important here than in Freespace.
The player-controlled ships and weapons are fun and satisfying to use. I don't like the anti-engine missile, though; it loses aspect lock if the target's engine isn't facing the shooter! The Prometheus Frame is fun, but it's good that it is used sparingly.
The enemy ships are a break from the Freespace norm, requiring different tactics to defeat, and are quite threatening in numbers. The difficulty is inconsistent: often, it is challenging without feeling unfair (on Hard), given that the hardest parts are optional secondary objectives. However, there are frustrating moments; in the mission with the Fur'angle jump inhibiter, whether enough wingmen survive to protect the friendly bombers seems more a matter of chance than of player input.
The mission design is very varied and imaginative; with some really special set pieces. My personal favourite mission was one where the player must flee from an overwhelming force of pursuers, using asteroids as cover. So intense!
Unfortunately, there appears to be a bug that kills save files
... I had to do the last few missions from the tech room simulator.Ships
The range of ship types is amazing. There are so many factions, each with their own distinctive style, both visually and functionally. This really made WoD's universe its own. Unfortunately, I found that the presence of a few FS2 ships broke my immersion somewhat. I'd have loved to see more of Spoon's ship designs as the science vessel and freighters.
The models are low-detailed, but in most cases the art style makes up for it. However, in the cases of the ships the player has to navigate inside, the lack of detail (and poor lighting) is disorienting and adversely affects gameplay. The reflective armour on the LSF ships is particularly cool; as are the translucent Furangle ships. The weapon effects are really, really cool. The capital ship battles are a visual and auditory treat!
There seem to be some graphical issues with the Adasya's shields; the shield impact effect doesn't always appear in the same location as the weapon impact.Story and characters
I really like the setting of WoD, and would like to see more of this universe!
Spoon clearly loves his work, and has crafted a very cool sci-fi world. The campaign's plot isn't particularly sophisticated, but it is certainly engaging. The tone is often upbeat and adventurous, which is refreshing for this kind of game. The music and the quirky characters definitely contribute; it's just a fun
universe to be in. Some main characters seemed flat and one-dimensional, but their interactions were endearing, and they did grow on me; besides, there's only so much you can do in a game about spaceships. I like the hand-drawn art!
I absolutely love the music; it's always fitting, often exciting, and at times sweeping and epic (ABriefing4 is my favourite!).