Aren't I lucky (and you, Spoon, oh and hello Niffiwan, maybe you too!
) that I preserved a copy:
Hello. This is my first post on Hard Light, so I intend to make it a good one! I originally was going to just launch into saying whatever I wanted, which would have been mostly praise of Wings of Dawn, but somewhere down the road I decided I could make something more useful, a spoiler free review of Wings of Dawn. I am new to Freespace, I’ve had the game about a month now. I’ve played a few campaigns, with this being the latest one. Other new people may benefit from this in the future. I went for Wings of Dawn after reading someone asking for a campaign to play and listing the ones they’d already played including one called “WoD”. Well, if people know what it’s called just by something like that, it has to be good, right? Since people can identify the game by “WoD” this next part may be irrelevant now, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Going by the description of the game on the site where I downloaded it and by the opening movie, this has to be the biggest example of underselling I have ever seen. The description and opening movie make the game look silly and half-baked. And the ship models in the opening are far inferior to their models in the game. Anyone reading should not be fooled by these. Spoon has however done a much better job with the teasers for the coming sequel. I want it!
I was recently bemoaning the mainstreaming of gaming to a friend and how it is stripping games of creativity and individuality. And talking about how it’s simply impossible for one person to make a game anymore like years ago, and how everyone is playing it safe. Well, here we have something that doesn’t do that. A whole universe, created by a single person. Even though each individual race aside from us humans only have a number of ships you can count on one hand, they are still very distinct from each other and feel like the ships of a different race. They are also far more diverse than what the main Freespace 2 campaign has to offer. It’s not just limited to aesthetics, ship stats and custom weaponry, but how they fight. Some ships can glide and strafe too. There are also two types of weapons, energy and kinetic, and some races have weaknesses to one type, including you, which adds some thought to what to bring out to a battle. But it’s more than even that, I’ve also been into FRED and seen that each race has it’s own AI script. Some have two. And new, superior AIs for your wingman. Even “Wingman Weak” is better than Freespace’s “General” AI. I ran some tests.
There is a wealth of information on this new universe in the techroom. The separate races, history, some information on each star system, and of course, information on nearly all of the new ships and weapons. Every ship except one (the Faustus) is completely new. I’ve seen some moan about the presence of Freespace 2’s Faustus Cruiser in this game, but it only has a minor role, and only appears in two levels. I think it’s fitting that it’s there personally. It reminds you of where the game came from. And it’s been modified with new turrets anyway.
This game has plenty of colour, and the space is absolutely loaded with weaponry. Sometimes I marvel at how anything can survive when my ENTIRE SCREEN is full of explosions and lasers and beams and missiles. Somehow, it works though. This game is significantly harder than Freespace 2. The sharper AI and better ships in relation to your own see to this. But do not skip missions. I ran into this problem by skipping mission 22-1 and ruining the game for myself with a show stopper bug and having to start over. I also lost some ships in the techroom by skipping an earlier mission. Thankfully that was rectified in my second play through. The variety of missions is vast, though some of them can only be completed one way, which reduces replay value. The mission variety enhances the first play through though. And there is great diversity in the missions. I won’t spoil them, but I’d say you’re in for a treat. There are some you won’t have seen their like in the official Freespace campaigns.
There is also a new soundtrack and plenty of art for the loading screens. the chosen soundtrack is excellent, and the art really brings you into the World (even if much of it is the female characters looking like they’re putting together a Wings of Dawn Calendar. And you people know which kind of female calendars sell, right? Don’t worry though, there’s nothing offensive in there.) We also have some very nice head animations.
This game borrows heavily from Star Control 2. I’ve never actually played Star Control 2, but I recently watched someone let’s play it, so I know this, it’s obvious. That was when I was groping around for something to play, very shortly before I went for Freespace 2. If you liked that game, I think you’ll like this one too. It lends from it, but it doesn’t outright rip anything off from it.
Anyway, it’s an exciting game, and I got pulled into Spoon’s World, and I’m sure other people will too. It made me want to advance the story and beat difficult levels. And it makes me want to play the sequel. I’m glad I’ve come along over a year into said sequel’s development.
There is an “Ask a Crew Member” thread on here started by Spoon. That Ask a Crew Member thread is a good place to go if you don’t care about spoilers. You can tell how much Spoon cares about his World by the in-depth answers he gives to the questions. There are a lot of silly questions in there, but also plenty of really good ones with equally good answers.
Oh and Spoon, if by any chance you want to hear my opinion on anything specific, I’d be happy to give it. Just ask and I’ll take it into the main Wings of Dawn topic to keep this spoiler free.