I’m usually skeptical of total conversion mods. Most of them set very ambitious goals for themselves but never quite reach them. What you usually end up with is a half-assed, buggy mod with sub-par graphics and degraded game play. On the other hand, some turn out great. Beyond The Red Line is a total conversion of Freespace 2 set in the universe based on Battlestar Galactica series. I never played Freespace but I do like to play space sims from time to time, and I do love BSG so I decided to give it a whirl.
This is not a full review because I didn’t really get to play a lot. But I wanted to put a blurb about it here anyway. Besides, it is hard to review a product that is still in an early development stage. Right now only a demo is available on the website and it is a tad rough around the edges. The briefing UI and option panels are positively dreadful and unintuitive. Ship and weapon descriptions are read by the Microsoft text-to-speech engine and it sounds horrible. But I’m guessing these are little details that they can iron out later.
Fortunately the mission briefings and in-game chatter is all voice acted. This was the bit of the game that impressed me. The acting is really decent, and the voices are surprisingly clear. They follow BSG cannon closely using the familiar jargon – they even do that voice distortion thing when you are in the cockpit. I did notice a slight issue with volume though – sometimes it was really hard to hear the dialog over the effects, but I think that’s something I could just tweak myself via the options menu. The default volume settings are not prefect apparently. But it’s a demo.
The game puts you in the role of a rookie viper pilot on Batlestar Pegasus. The first mission is a tutorial where a slightly annoyed instructor puts you through the basic navigation and combat training. I think they did fudge around with Freespace controls a bit I can’t say for sure. What I can tell you though is that this game is more on the sim than the arcade side. You do have a pretty fine control over your ships acceleration, and thruster systems and the keyboard controls are all over the place. Initially I was a bit confused by the complexity but I guess it grows on you eventually.
I didn’t really get much past the tutorial mission so I can’t write much more. It does have a potential though and it looks like the crew is active and committed. I will be watching this one closely to see where it goes from here. I think that if anyone has a chance to become one of the few successful and worthwhile total conversions it is these guys. If you love BSG I recommend you grab the demo and check it out. You don’t actually need Freespace 2 to play – it is distributed as a standalone product.
Oh, and as most total conversions this one is free. ;)
[tags]battlestar galactica, bsg, battlestar, galactica, total conversion[/tags]