Review by Wandrell (2007-03-25)
Born and raised in a distant colony isolated during the war you come back to Earth, bringing the ancient technology found in your planet to improve your civilization and help if the war still ravages. But it has already reached the end with the fall of the alliance and the eternal imprisonment of all those that didn't want to become slave warriors for the Ur-Quan. And humanity is among the trapped ones.
Create alliances, improve the mothership, recruit fighters, explore planets and talk with aliens. It is part of the work that awaits if you wish to recover freedom for your species. And be fast, because the Ur-Quan, now somewhere deciding the future of the galaxy, can come anytime.
More exactly, they will come back in five years. Which is plenty of time for all that has to be done, starting with collection of the resources required for the two main things your fleet depends on: crew and fuel. The first serves as health for the ships, like in the first game; while the second is spent when travelling through hyperspace.
To get resources you go to a planet, scan it for minerals and send a special ship to collect it. There is also an organic scanner, to find animals which give biological data; and an energy scanner, for locating story related things. Each planet is different, with its own gravity, which affects to fuel consumption when landing; and geological and atmospheric dangers. But they are grouped based on similarities with descriptions like "crimson world" or "treasure world" and more imprecisely by their colour and their sun characteristics, something that with a bit of experience can help greatly to mineral gathering.
Those resources are used in the starbase located in Earth's orbit, and they serve for two other important things, building ships and creating modules for your mothership, which can have a bunch of them. Some are for crew, other for fuel, and there are some weapon related ones that can transform your ship into the more devastating one. But more importantly, there are motors for speed and control, without them travelling near a sun or fleeing can be a horrible experience.
The fights still are in real time, a one to one battle even if you fight against a squadron. You can choose which of your own ships send to battle, but can only change them after fleeing, which means not using again in this battle that ship, and sometimes losing it while waiting for the motor to charge.
A good part of the old ships are still here, along with a bunch of novelties. They keep the easy system of having a main weapon and a secondary one or special skill, both requiring energy that, normally, recharges automatically. Gravity and asteroid are still here during the combats, and you can play a two players melee which haves all the new and old ships.
Those new ships include things like a mobile turret one that is also capable of sending marines to kill the enemy crew, a fast ship that gets back energy insulting and can resurrect, another with a turbo which leaves dangerous energy paths or a sniper ship with a huge coil back and great reach that recovers energy faster sending crew directly to the furnaces.
Talking with aliens is one of the main parts of the game, the dialogs are good, and all the species are different, with their own way of speaking that range from menacing to confusing, and usually also are fun and comical.
And talking with them is necessary for getting new allies but also for important and background information, mothership improvements and new ships blueprints (which really is what usually a new ally means).
There are missions and adventures to make aliens friendlier to you, there are some quests for getting useful tools but there is also the possibility of avoiding of causing the extinction of an entire species.
The games has a lot to do, it doesn't get boring even though the map is huge and has many generic places, planets that serve only for collection, as when you wish to advance in the main arch there is always something awaiting.
Review by dogchainx (2012-12-10)
If you don't already, you should worship this game. Literally, dedicate at least a closet in your home. Light candles, incense, and give your virgins to this game. It really is that good.
The first Star Control game was a pseudo-strategy game released by Accolade. You conquered stars on a rotating 3D map by pitting star ships in a Asteroids-type top-down game map in real-time. It was a simple but fun game. Now comes Star Control II, which is almost an entirely different game altogether. If you've played StarFlight, you'll notice the similarities immediately.
Star Control II is a mix of an arcade and adventure game, with a deep lore universe filled with thousands of planets, dozens of races, and a very good story. It really epitomizes the "damn, that was the best game ever" feeling when you play it… and play it again, and again. It almost brings a tear to my eye how good this game is. Now that I've gotten the giddiness out of my system, here's the review.
The story so far is that humanity is in peril (naturally) and losing a war against the Ur-Quan. The humans have found an undiscovered very ancient Precursor installation hidden in a cave on a planet in a distant star system, which might hold advanced technologies that can help them win the war. After hiding from the Ur-Quans in the cave for many years, the stranded human explorers finally figure out what the Precursor installation is for… its a factory to build starships! So, you build a skeleton Precursor starship and start heading back to Earth to see what is happening with the war. The stage is set, and onward to an amazing adventure!
The game allows you to fly this Precursor star ship through a vast 2D universe. The game map is massive, with hundreds of star systems to visit. Each star system usually contains a few planets, up to around 8 or 9. Each of these planets in turn can be visited, with most non-gas planets landable with a shuttle craft (the lander) to pick up resources (ore, precious materials, etc.) à la StarFlight's mining rover.
Gaining resources gives you credits back at Earth. You can also get credits by destroying enemy spacecraft. The credits are then spent on upgrades to the ship, extra landers, more crew, and the most precious thing of all… fuel. At game beginning, you're fighting for the hope of humanity, and the scarcity of resources make you feel like you're always an inch away from doom.
You don't have very many choices of upgrades at first, and the few ways to get new modules to put on your Precursor craft is to talk with aliens and get blue prints from them. You can customize where the upgrades are placed on the ship, which do make a huge difference on many modules. Front and rear-firing cannons can be a god-sent during encounters. Speaking of combat… this is one place where SC2 resembles SC1… the battle screen. You can either fight with your Precursor ship (not always a good idea) or fight with a ship that's part of your fleet. You can have up to 12 ships within your fleet, not counting your Precursor ship, ranging from Human Cruisers to a Kohr-Ah Marauder (the Ur-Quan's mysterious brothers).
As you explore each star system, new side-stories pop up that fill the game universe with lore. Such side-stories like dealing with alien gods, practical jokes, going on treasure hunts, rescuing aliens, calming religious wars, etc. The game is filled with content to keep you busy while you continue to build up your forces, making alliances, and finding out the dark secrets of the Ur-Quans and the fate of humanity. You'll fall in love with the numerous characters and races as well. Each are truly as unique as their names: Mycon, Pkunk, Orz, Zoq Fot Pik, and so on.
One of the downfalls of this game is that… well… it ends. That's the game's biggest downfall. You wish you could keep going on, exploring more, finding new alien races, saving the universe again and again.
Star Control II. One of the best DOS games ever created, or maybe the best DOS game. Damn… now I want to play this game again. Thinking through all the fun I had, I want to relive those moments. So yes, light those candles and burn the incense. Pay homage to the deity-of-a-game that is Star Control II. I'm off to play this for the umpteenth time!