There is probably no-one who has owned a home computer who hasn't at some time or another come into contact with David Braben's trading-cum-
Yes indeed, Wolf Flipside: Righter of wrongs, purveyor of purity, guru of goodness, federation freedom fighter and legion of liberation. Well, it wasn't quite like that; there was the odd run-in with the law for smuggling the odd ton or 20 of Arcturan Megaweed, and a couple of errors in judgement due to mistakes in identifying nice, ripe, juicy traders carrying priceless cargo for nasty roughneck good for nothing pirates.
As the incomparable Wolf, I had many exciting and dangerous adventures (well, kind of for a teenager playing on a home computer). In fact there's one particular incident that I remember with some clarity.
We'd been travelling over 20 days, the hyperspace jump from Quaxxon to Zoonce was some jaunt, and talk about dull. All around the half-shadowed interior of my beat-up Cobra, beer cans lay redundant reflecting the lights of the ship's auto-pilot.
In a half drunken stupor I glanced across at the long range scanners, nothing but asteroids for entertainment, and to be quite frank the novelty of zapping lumps or rock had long since dried up.
Another turn of the head and I'm gazing at the Gronk, my ever-faithful companion. He lies snoring his little furry snout off, occasionally catching an itch up his hairy torso with a dozy claw. I begin to snooze myself, and am just beginning to fantasise about a night on Rigel 5 with the four-
"By the piles of the Ploeides, it's a Thargoid invasion ship!" I gasped.
The missile exploded and rocked my craft, just as the rear thrusters initiated themselves. As we shot back the ship centred and put four bolts of military laser into the Thargoid's belly. The inky void illuminated suddenly as the warship's shields failed and 100mw laser burned into its weak underbelly, exploding it into a million fragments of space debris.
The action over, I cracked open another "tinny" on Gronk's beak and lay back in my seat, content in the knowledge that Wolf Flipside would rule the space lanes for another evening.
The true actuality of the events however, was somewhat different. The reality of the situation was a stuffed teddy anteater (please don't ask why anyone should envisage this particular species of mammal should make a nice cuddly toy) and myself, in my bedroom with the curtains shut gazing at a BBC computer, surrounded by empty tins of pop - but such is the imagination of a 13-year old. It wasn't long after that, having reached a rating of Elite, that my anti-grav boots were hung up. But, as they say in movies, that was then and this is now.
After what seems like a lifetime of self-inflicted solitary confinement, Mr Braben is back with the long-awaited Elite 2: Frontier.
While in this self-
The only background relevant to you is that you've been left a paltry sum of cash and a middle-of-the-launch-pad type space ship by your recently deceased grandfather (didn't mean to sound ungrateful - honest paps), in a huge galaxy where you can basically do anything.
When you first boot up Elite 2 it's quite daunting because you just don't know where to start. To tell you it's a vast game area really is an understatement.
In the original Elite there were eight galaxies, in Elite 2 there's just one. However, it's as accurate to the genuine article as amateur astronomer Mr Braben could render it, and contains 200,000,000,000 (11 zeroes) stars with some 30,000 inhabited planets.
So you can immediately gather that to get anywhere of any status in the game is going to take a little bit more effort than the usual climb a few ladders and blast a few baddies malarkey. After you've come to realise your own petty insignificance within this massive arena, the next task is to decide what on earth you're going to make of yourself.
In the original you reached the top notch through a combination of fighting, clever trading and maybe a touch of under-the-
To all intents and purposes Elite 2 has recreated a new life ina universe of the future. The political infra
In the original there were only a spartan number of missions littered throughout a vast universe. Elite 2 has literally thousands and includes over 70 different types of mission. On landing at a space port or one of the many orbital space wheels, stations and cities, you can access a bulletin board. It's here that much of your destiny will be decided. To begin with the missions you are offered are quite simple and can very easily be incorporated into trading. For instance, you may well be required to deliver a message or parcel from one base to another.
If you are successful then your reputation is enhanced and more complicated tasks will be pushed your direction. Conversely, if you manage to make a gaseous nebula of a mess of your job, then you lose the confidence of your employers.
The military of both governments are always on the lookouts for recruits, so it's quite easy to enlist here. Again starting out on simple spying trips, if you're successful you'll soon be on contract killing missions or sent to destroy an enemy space station.
Obviously, the stock market aspect of Elite is still in existence. However, fundamental changes have taken place since the heady days of the 80s. For one the prices at each location are no longer static. What this means is that because prices behave like a real stock market, you could actually sit at one port buying and selling commodities for profit, without actually blasting off anywhere.
The other probably immediate difference to the trading aspect of the game is that the range of products has increased dramatically. The same is true of equipment that can be bought from the stations around the galaxies. For instance, if you wanted to become a space taxi, then you'd have to purchase passenger cabins.
You can also upgrade just about everything to the nth degree. From engines to lasers and missiles the list is almost endless. It's even possible to purchase something called a Hyperspace Cloud Analyser which checks where a ship has gone once it's in hyperspace.
But, I've left the best till last, because in Frontier you can actually upgrade your ship. No longer do you have to stick with the Cobra, and there are 30 to choose from. The choice really is yours - you can stick to nimble acrobatic combat single seaters or get yourself something a little more substantial like the 2,500 tonne Panther (Volvo of the future) for extensive trading.
So you can see there's an absolute crater full of things you can do in Frontier, but the question that's positively bursting to escape is: What does it play like?
When you first start controlling Frontier it'll feel very alien and different to the Elite you knew so well of yesteryear. For one, the simulation of space travel has been made much more realistic, with zero gravity and directional energy having a lot more relevance than in the original. This at first is off-
It's incredibly difficult to describe what playing Frontier is actually like once you've become adept with the controls. I could give you some long-
Visually, Frontier contains some of the highest detailed polygons you're like to see on an Amiga. From the huge space wheels to the domed cities on the planet surfaces, it's all there in beautiful light-sourced techni
Everything being astronomically correct, you can watch nightfall from one of the moons of Saturn or orbit Jupiter and follow the red spot. For a game to handle so much, there has to be some pitfall. It has to be said on an A500 machine the update is a rather slow affair and behaves like a it of lame mule. However, detail levels can be turned down and this speed the general pace of the game up.
Frontier is an incredibly difficult title to bracket. There are many different styles of game in it, and many different ways in which you can approach it. It's also quite tricky to come up with a superlative that encapsulates (serious word time folks) the total feeling that Elite 2 generates. It has everything really - great graphics, vast play area and an on-going depth that immerses you further the more you play.
In a word, Frontier is unmissable. It's a star of a product that burns brighter and with a greater magnitude than any other product has for many a year, and you'll love it.