|Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators, from 1C Games and Cinemaware Marquee, came out of no where and popped up on the radar with a tight, engrossing adventure that lacks some of pizzazz of higher budgeted games, but clearly makes up for it in the shear amount of content. To say the game is huge doesn't do it justice, the dynamic solar system provides would-be rangers with a plethora of options, missions, and storylines to shape their own adventure in any way they see fit. |
As a sequel to a game never released in the United States, SR2 has a difficult time making a name for itself in a sequel-plagued marketplace where it seems only big franchises can grow, but there's so much potential here that anyone who looks over the game sitting on the shelf is doing themselves and independent developers a disservice.
You start things off by creating a character in a rather deep setup where your race, ship type, and profession weight heavily on the type of game you will experience. There are massive strings attached to each decision you make here from which races regard you as hostile to the type of work you're able to take on. After that the universe is generated assuring that you'll never play the same game twice.
After that, it's up to you how you want to approach things. Step into the shoes of the game's rangers to fight the all-robotic Dominators and once again bring peace to the universe, or ignore the game's namesake profession and become a merchant cruiser looking to make a name for yourself as the richest man in the quadrant. There's so many open-ended options to this game that its hard to really wrap your mind around it.
Those that follow the "main" storyline will learn that the Dominators are out to destroy all living species in the galaxy and you join the racks of the Space Rangers in an effort to destroy these maniacal machines. You'll do this by exploring the game's solar systems in a top-down interface allowing you to pick up stray asteroid and battle other ships. When you reach a planet where a battle will ensue the game switches things up and drops you into a RTS-lite mode where resource collecting is never a problem, but designing the perfect robot is. Skirmishes pit your robots against those of the enemy even allowing you to take manual control of one combatant and stick it to them personally.
Both modes of play look okay, although the resolution options are limited to 800x600 and 1024x768. Those looking for widescreen modes and higher resolution textures are out of luck, although the game's colorful environments still shine at lower resolutions. The space-based environment, where you'll spend a majority of your time, is primitive in its presentation with your ship, and others, being presented almost by 2D sprites on a flat surface. Little additions like 3D space stations and expansive planets give the universe some dimension, and the pre-rendered landscapes of planets when you land on them do look good. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the pre-rendered character models which all look the same in a crew-cut-seems-to-be-very-popular kind of way.
The 3D real time strategy mode has a leg up on your universal traveling view but you spend only a fraction of your time engaged in such battles that it doesn't really matter. Buildings, landscaping, and your robots all look great and the game's volley of firepower produces some great looking explosions.
The game's sound is another story, however, the ludicrous "rawk" music at times is more often-than-not annoying and the ambient piano music playing in the background on human planets almost makes you want to rip the soundcard out of your computer for fear it will never be the same again. The game features next to no voice acting which may be for the benefit of everyone due to some strange translation from the game's native languages to English. There's no better example than the game's cheese-rific intro movie which should be viewed once for its laugh factor then completely forgotten about.
Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators was a surprise only because the game came out of nowhere (or Europe) and features and impressive amount of dynamic content allowing gamers to really dive deep into their own persona and live it out virtually. There's quite a bit to see and do here and the immense replay value and RPG elements provide an incentive to keep on flying. While the game won't win any awards in its presentation, it certainly shall for being one of 2006's sleeper hits, as long as we're allowed to skip over the introduction.