Frontier Elite 2 (Second Review)

Title		Frontier Elite 2 (Second Review)
Game Type	3D Combat Sim
Players		1
Compatibility	All
Submission	Isaac Abraham

Frontier was the follow up to the supposedly classic "Elite". Although some
magazines thought that it wasn`t anywhere near as good (I recall AP calling
it a "damp squib") as the original (which I don`t think was that great
anyway), others thought that it was a milestone in gaming, with endless
possibilities - truly a wonder game. I fall somewhere in between the two.
First off, Frontier is better than Elite. I don`t see how people could
disagree with this. People who enjoyed Elite did so not because of the space
ship fighting, because this was so simplistic that it could hardly be the
main reason. No, that merely complemented the game. The main part was the
freedom to do what you wanted, how you wanted. Logically, all that Frontier
did was to expand on this, and increase the believability of the Elite
universe. Firstly, now you have the Empire and the Federation, sort of like
the Romulans and Starfleet out of Star Trek. These two bodies generally stay
out of each other`s way. You can choose to complete tasks for them, for a
fee of course, ranging from simple courier missions to full-on seek and
destroy mission. In fact, there were rumours that I recently read in that there were other missions as well in the game, only they
never made it due to deadlines. Yep, Frontier, in true Pagestream 3 fashion,
suffered from the perennial problem, deadline day. Just like SWOS. Only
Sensi Soft at least made amends by releasing a fix disk, whereas David
Braben elected not to, and just left it to us to discover the bugs, and make
up reasons for their existance. For instance, travel to 655 light years
away, and you`ll be able to jump there. This is a bug, no two ways around it
in my book. Some people, however, call this a "wormhole", in a vain attempt
to maintain the believability of the Elite universe. Also, this benefits Mr
Braben as he is in fact commended for including a really clever feature, as
opposed to being remanded for not bug testing enough. Bah. Thankfully, this
foolishness did not continue in First Encounters, when Braben pushed his
luck too far by creating a mishmash game based around some incredible bugs,
as opposed to the other way around. But, I`m being a bit too picky, because,
when all is said and done, the bugs aren`t too bad, and they certainly don`t
stop the game being playable or anything.
Now, back to the game! Oh, yes, comparing Elite with Frontier. Whereas Elite
had five or six missions in the game (which were carefully hidden), Frontier
has about ten or so for the military, plus another twenty or so such as
passanger carrying that you broker with the civilians in the game.
I`m not going to bother illustrating every way Frontier is bigger than
Elite. But if you take a feature of Elite, multiply it by 10, you`d probably
be close to it. For instance, there`s one planet per system in Elite, you
can have multiple stars and planets in a system in Frontier, land on them
all, mine them, or scoop fuel from the stars. Character interaction is
greatly improved in Frontier. It`s all much more believable, and as a
result, much better.
The main problem with Frontier is as follows. The combat is way too dull,
and unfortunately takes up far too much of your time, especially if you have
a powerful ship in a dangerous system, and this is possibly the only area
where Elite outscores Frontier. It`s also buggy, as I`ve already said. And
finally, no, it is not a milestone in gaming. It comes on one floppy disk,
in other words 880Ks worth. Yes, there are millions of star systems, but
they`re all much of a muchness, all very samey. At first sights, Frontier
may seem to be an almost boundless game of surprises, but within a month of
playing (and the intial week it takes to get accustomed to the quirky
controls), it`s a bit of a drudgery, except when you get promoted, at which
point you get to do a different mission.
To summarise it up, then. Frontier is better than Elite, but it`s still not
a classic game. It`s certainly quite addictive initially, and certainly has
lastability. You`ll probably play it for about 6 months non stop. But once
you get to that point, you`ll rapily tire of it, and chuck it into the
cupboard, never to play it again.
Oh, and the secret Thargoid ship does NOT exist, unless you get the hack
FrontierTrn.lha off aminet.

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