Frontier Elite 2 (CD32 Second Review)

Title		Frontier Elite 2 (CD32 Second Review)
Game Type	3D Combat Sim
Players		1
Company		Gametek
Compatibility	CD32, Amiga+CD
HD Installable	Yes

Just in case you`ve never heard of this game (and frankly you`ll have
spent the last ten years in Parkhurst)  I`ll explain. Frontier is without
doubt the finest 3D space trading/combat game of all time.

The original Elite, written by the young duo of David Braben and Ian Bell,
was a massive hit on the BBC Micro and subsequent 8-bit machines. You
begin with a sparsely equipped fighter and 100 credits, and your initial
aim is to trade commodities between star-systems making a profit as you
progress. Naturally, there are other traders in this universe - some
benign, some intent on taking your cargo for themselves - indeed, you may
elect to take the same route to riches and glory. As your combat skills
improve, so does your combat rating, the ultimate goal for the dedicated
few being the supreme accolade - Elite combateer. What made Elite such an
enduring and addictive game was this open-endedness - you had a galaxy to
explore, and you could go about it in your own way. Elite was ported in a
modified form to the Amiga and Atari ST, the original wireframe graphics
being replaced with gaudy solid models, but everyone wanted a sequel
worthy of these more powerful machines. Enter Frontier - Elite II.

Written primarily by David Braben with the Amiga in mind, FEII took the
Elite concept and went to the moon with it. More ships to fly, a realistic
galactic model with accurately positioned bodies including our own solar
system and its near stellar-neighbours, planets you could land on and
exploit, two rival empires with their own politics and to which you could
either pledge your allegiance in full or play against each other - the
list is endless.

The depth of gameplay was marred somewhat by sluggish performance on the
unexpanded A500`s owned by most gamers in 1993, though performance on the
A1200 was acceptable and is positively spritely on today's trick hardware.

Despite the obvious benefits of a CD32 version of the classic Frontier,
Gametek wasted the opportunity by releasing little more than the floppy
version on a compact disk. At a time when many titles were released in
enhanced form or specifically for the console, this lack of substantial
improvement was responsible for some fairly uncomplementary reviews.

The original (floppy) Frontier was compatible with any Amiga with 1 meg of
RAM. Various problems and bugs emerged in the wake of the original
release, and several revisied versions slipped quietly on to the market
prior to the launch of the CD32 version. Clearly then the CD32 Frontier
executable benefits from all of the revisions, making it the definitive
version, although it will still crash if not run from early startup. I
have heard of at least one person copying this to a floppy and using it on
a 1 meg A500! The old savegames still work, so compatibility is not an

There are a few differences to the basic version. The manual copy
protection was not considered necessary and removed, which is in my
opinion a good thing. There is one extra item of equipment, a navigational
aid which when fitted (strangely taking up naff all cargo space) will let
you view and select the nearest spaceport in the system you arrive in
without all that zooming around. When landing at outdoor starports you
might notice a few extra things like powerlines, and it could just be me
but I`d swear that space is a more realistic (darker) blue. Apart from
some concessions enabling you to use the joypad to enter your name (CD32 =
no keyboard, remember!?) thats it. Oh, and it came in a bigger box...

For those of you used to running Frontier from HD, you should have no
problems. Sadly, the exit patch on the Aminet won`t work with this
version, reporting an incorrect file length, although the trainer patch
(which does not change the file in any way) does.

Taken in context, the CD32 release was a shabby attempt to cash in on the
new console with a minimal investment. However, this should not detract
from the brilliance of the game itself. Basically, you`re getting Frontier
when you buy this, nothing added and nothing taken away, and you will have
hours/weeks/years of fun with it. Get it if you can, and immerse yourself
in Frontier lore.

Short version? Still the most fun you can have with your pants on. On a
shiny silver disk.

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