Star Flight (Second Review)

Title           Star Flight (Second Review)
Game Type       Action Strategy
Players         1
HD Installable  ?
Compatibility   ?
Submission      C. Shrader

Starflight is a game published by Electronic Arts and written by Binary
Systems. I recently was able to play and finish this game in late 2001,
and enjoyed it immensely. The charm of this game, to me, is the quest into
the unknown. Although you can read "briefings" that will fill you in on
some of the aliens that you can meet in this game, travelling out to
encounter them is still a thrill that will remind you of old Star Trek

The game is very popular, and has a near-cult following, so much so that
an attempt to write a second sequel (Starflight III), by some of the
many people who love this game, took place. I don't believe that the
project was ever finished, but there is always hope.

First, some game features will be mentioned. The game allows you to
explore 270 star systems and 800 planets, each with unique eco-systems. A
few of these worlds are "very" unique, and that is all I will tell you
here. I stumbled on one that was quite a surprise. Play the game and if
you are dedicated to finishing the game, you will discover what I mean.

Scattered about these worlds are clues and cool artifacts that will help
you to fulfill your mission. Most planets are pretty inhospitable to
human life, but once in a while you will find a world that fits into the
guidelines of habitable. By finding these worlds, you can recommend them
and make signficant amounts of cash. The game appearently took 15
man-years of development.

Graphics in this game are simple but help "make the game".  There are two
primary modes that you can be in - the first is "Starfleet Mode". When in
this mode, you are at starfleet, in a circular chamber. The view is
looking down at the chamber from a 45 degree angle. You are a small
space-man, who, by walking to different "posts", activate various
Starfleet menuing systems. Included are "Personnel (where you generate
your crew), "Training", the "Bank", Starship configuration (and repair),
"Trading Post" (where you sell your minerals, artifacts, and life forms),
and Starfleet HQ, where you are briefed, receive news as the game
progresses, and receive rewards for correctly found habitable planets.

When you are not at Starfleet, you are in your ship. The screen is laid
out in a fairly simple yet workable fashion. In the upper left hand
corner, you have your "sight window" - in this window are displayed
graphics of what you "see" as you play the game. Here you will view the
aliens that you communicate with (whose graphics are particularly
pleasing), ship combat, planets that you orbit (that actually revolve as
you view them), planet surfaces that you traverse, and outer space as your
ship travels through that cold, cruel vacuum.

Right below this window is the system button, which brings you to a menu
where you can load, save, pause the game, or turn sound on and off.

In the upper right hand corner is a window that shows your "status" -
current date, ship damage, percentage of cargo space full, ship energy
remaining, shield status, and weapon status. You also can view ship
shield and armor damage levels. In an area right below this is your
action menu. This menu at the top level displays the crew titles. You
pick the crew member button to access sub-menus. For example, to view
your cargo, you would choose the "Captain" button. To analyze a planet or
unknown ship, you would choose the "Science Officer" button. These menus
are your interaction with the Starflight universe when you are not at

The final window that encompasses the bottom of the screen is an
"information" window. Here is displayed the dialogues between yourself and
the aliens that you chat to, science officer "read-outs", combat events,
detection of "motion" around your ship as you travel (should you be in an
area where an alien is near), landing sequence information, the text of
clues that you may find on various planets in the game, etc.

Sound in this game is basic. Each alien will have a musical "theme" that
will play when you meet it. When you receive a reward at Starfleet, there
is a basic "Good Job" tunette that plays. When you dock with Starfleet,
you will hear the airlock door slam shut. When you leave Starfleet, you
will hear a beep with each countdown from 5 to 1, then a sound effect as
you leave the airlock and enter the solar system. This same sound effect
plays when you enter a "flux" in outer space (your basic worm-hole).
There is no sound when you are in ship-to-ship combat.

Cash was a bit of an issue in this game. I ended up with so much of it
near the middle of the game that it became a total non-issue. It would
have been nice to have had to struggle a bit more with this resource.
Perhaps they should have made ship upgrades more expensive.

There are seven alien races that you can interact with, each with unique
languages, cultures, and dispositions. Some are so bizarre that
interaction is fruitless. Others can be "diplomatically" convinced (and I
used this term loosely with respect to some of these slime-bags) to turn
over important information to you. Others are extremely friendly and
helpful, if you make an alliance with them. My favorites are the plant
people (the Elowyn), who are a very altruistic, knowledge seeking race.
They will give you fuel if you are in desperate need, which is otherwise
extremely expensive.

You can choose, and provide training to, 6 separate crew on your ship,
including the Captain, Science Officer, Communications Officer, Navigator,
Doctor, and Engineer. The more training that you provide for these
individuals, the better they are at their profession.

The primary goal of the game is to discover why your sun is acting
erratically. As the game progresses, you will discover that you must save
your star, or Starfleet will be destroyed. Other secondary goals are
discovering habitable planets, making money by collecting and selling
minerals and life forms to Starfleet, not getting brutally killed,
acquiring fuel, and discovering "fluxes" - wormholes that facilitate
travel throughout the game environment.

As the game progresses, you will get a sense of "history" as to events
that preceded your exploration. There are a few "sub-plots" that generate
interest and provide for a story-line.

In this game, you travel from star to star in search of fulfilling your
objectives, and land on the various planets in search of clues, artifacts,
minerals, and life forms. Some planets will crush you with their gravity
should you choose to land on them. Others have weather that can kill crew
members before you get a chance to leave the planet's surface.

The alien races include the Elowyn (previously mentioned), the Mechans,
the Mysterions, the Thrynn, the Gazurtoid (these guys are no fun!), the
Spemin (slime bags all!  Literally!), the Minstrals, and the Veloxi
(your basic intelligent grasshoppers). Each can be dealt with in a
separate fashion. In addition, you will run into probes that your race
launched in eons past that are prepared to dump immense amounts of data
they have collected into your lap. Not that they help you all that much,
but they are fun to find.

Ship to ship combat is rather simple, and not much fun after a while.
Blow up enemy, collect remaining debris... ad nauseum. You have lasers,
missiles, shields, and armor that influence how well you will fare in a
fight, but your weapons are pretty much automatic. You shoot by pressing
your joystick button without even having to aim, and hope that you destroy
them before they destroy you. Simple, effective, and boring. But you can
get lots of minerals to sell this way.

The game is worth playing, even by today's Mega-Direct-X 30.0 squared
standards. The game has a charm that is hard to find in today's
multi-gigabyte processor-hog monstrosities. Not that these games aren't
fun. They just lack that nostolgic charm that games like this can provide.

A final word about "artifacts". As you find clues on various planets,
they will lead you to various "artifacts" throughout this space sector.
Many are worthless, but some provide you with enhancements to help you
fulfill your mission. Some are planet destroying bombs, some help keep
your planet-crawling terrain vehicle safe, some help you to see "fluxes"
in outer space, and some help keep you alive in ship to ship combat.
There are others that may provide you with other enhancements but the
writer cannot immediately recall them at this moment.

Category list.

Alphabetical list.