Epic – announced and hailed as a Wing Commander killer… and at release, it was actually well-received by most of the mainstream press. Apart from a couple of minor voices spoiling the party. In spite of a well-known development team which had already been responsible for the well received F29 Retaliator and would go on to universally lauded simulations such as TFX. What went wrong with this one?
On the basis of a plot inspired by Battlestar Galactica, the player flies a small spacecraft in missions against the evil Rexxon empire. Approximately half of the missions take place in space, the other half on various planet surfaces. This should make for some exciting action and varied challenges, shouldn't it? So you might think, until you notice the difference between space and surface battles is mostly just the background colour on the screen. Even in space, your ship's pitch movement is severely limited for no good reason at all. Consequently, your flying ship is not really able to move in three dimensions, but only two. Maybe, being nice, let's call it 2.5 dimensions. With only eight missions being included in the game on the whole, this makes for a disappointingly short experience (in a game which calls itself Epic, no less).
While this might already seem like a major blow, this limitation is nowhere near the game's biggest problem. So you're on a time-limited mission… to do what exactly? The pre-mission briefing is usually not too clear about the goals, or rather the specific conditions which will lead it being counted as a success. No problem as further information about each mission can be found in the manual? Feel free to try – that manual has almost nothing to do with the actual game!
Another major obstacle is the resource management. This concerns your ship's weapons and fuel. You're supposed to collect canisters for refueling while on the missions – or so the manual claims – but where are they? OK, let's resort to cheats instead, that should make us breeze through this short game. Wrong again… the mouse controls are guaranteed to make your ship spiral out of control sooner or later, sending you off into a completely wrong direction. Since the built-in radar is completely useless, good luck finding your way back on track again. Maybe this was the reason to restrict pitch movement? To avoid making this disorientation problem even worse (especially in space, where there are no landmarks to visually hold on to)?
Immersive cutscenes with booming music and impressive visuals even in the live-rendered 3D action scenes simply cannot make anyone completely overlook the fact that Epic is a virtually unplayable mess. For all its hype, this obviously rushed and immature product turned into one of the biggest disappointments in the emerging computer games mass market.