Wing Commander: Privateer II: The Darkening

Publisher: Origin (Electronic Arts)
Release Date: 1996
Review Date: March 1997
Operating System: DOS / Windows 95
Rating (1-10): 9
This is a first-person space exploration game, but it does have some features in common with space-conquest games, like ship enhancements and a star map. It plays very much like the original Privateer, but it is constructed as an interactive movie of the highest quality.

The user interface is graphical and fluid. You can fly many more ships than in the original Privateer (18 by my count), and you can trade around at will, since the buy and sell prices for ships and equipment are the same everywhere. It is notable that you can't haul your own cargo in this version - you have to hire cargo ships, and protect them during their runs.

From a technical standpoint, the biggest innovation is the use of real movie footage to highlight elements of the plot. This was undoubtedly costly, and may have contributed to the brevity of the plot line, but it's pretty cool. This version of Privateer does include a rotatable 3D star map, but it is also fairly tiny (8 major planets, 10 minor planets, and 50 or so "nav points").

My only real gripe about the game is that the plot line is too short, so that I was able to win the game in just a few weeks. But it was loads of fun while it lasted!


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