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So I have played through Freespace 2 a couple of times now, and trust me - this is one hard but fun game. The story is actually kind of ok, but the way you play it through is amazing. First and foremost, the game is very militaristic, in the sense that you actually feel like you are in the Alliance fleet. You only know enoough to complete your missions, and you frequently feel like a pawn in a giant battle. This feeling is compounded due to the presence of giant cruisers and destroyers that are far more important than your fledling little fighter. Yet, a wing of bombers is a real threat to these big ships. Sometimes you just want to sit back and watch the giant ships battle it out with their beam guns, but unfortunately, doing that will
a. get you killed
b. get your big ships killed.
You have specific objectives that you really must do and you have to fit into the overall battle plan to win the scenario.
The music really works well with the atmosphere and the visuals are nothing short of stunning.
However, the one place the game really falls short is in its space physics. I mean, it completely forgets intertia. In space, you should keep moving in a straight line unless you actively decide to slow yourself down. While you can set your speed to a certain level, applying a burst of power from your engines only increases your speed temporarily and then slows you down. What I want is a realistic space sim, one in which there is practically no terminal velocity, but just limited accelaration. With crazy velocity, the fighter will be impossible to handle and should be fairly easy to shoot down with laser weapons or something.
Besides unrealistic space physics, it is fairly difficult to control the fighter with mouse and keyboard. This game really seems to need a joystick, especially for dogfights, where dragging the mouse just doesn't work well because you have to keep lifting up the mouse to keep turning. Only keyboard play is also awkward because of the games complexity of commands and sllightly awkward positioning of controls. Either way, this game is still totally worth it. Absolutely beautiful.