Game Category: Simulation – Role Playing Game, Adventure
Developer / Distributor: Elemental Games / 1C Publishing
Release Date: 20 Dec 2002
Rating: ESRB – Teens, PEGI 12+
Out in the farthest reaches of space may be civilizations that humanity has yet to meet. We may wonder what they may be like and dream of what future generations may find. Fortunately, out of the blue comes this little gem of a game with the title of Space Rangers stamped on its cover. The game has a vision of what life is like at the end of the third millenium and it easily helps us visualize how fantastic such a world will be.
The game introduces us to a little sector of space where humanity tries to eke out an existence together with four alien civilizations. The aliens are either friendly (or more likely neutral) and willing to trade with us, while there is an evil race who is bent on seeing the destruction of all sentient life in the known galaxy.
This then is the world of Space Rangers, a cool little turn based multi-genre space game from Elemental Games and distributed by 1C Publishing. The game also has a pinch of role playing, simulation, and text adventure gaming to boot. What can I say, but wow!
Once you start this single player space adventure, you find you have 5 races to choose from at the start of every campaign – they are Humans, Maloqs, Pelengs, Fayeans and Gaals. Here’s a bit about each according to the Help file provided in the install directory of the game:
- Maloqs are large humanoid who thrive on physical strength.
- The Pelengs are wily green amphibians who love a little industrial espionage in their lives now and then.
- The brainy philosophical types are the Fayeans who in a stretch do look a bit like renderings of Little Green Men.
- The Gaals are an equanimous ancestor race who have been around longer than anyone else.
- Humans of course need no introduction.
There is a sixth non-playable alien race, the Klissans who are the evil beings trying to crush the life out of the known galaxy.
|The Gaals have the funniest dress sense|
You have four difficulty levels to select from in the game – Easy, Normal, Hard, and Expert. Each difficulty setting ups the ante by either making the bad guys more responsive and powerful, or making sure you get fewer returns for the quests you complete.
Every game you start will be random, but one thing that is certain will be – you will start the game on a planet where your race is predominant, and you will be in the Government House where you will be talking to someone who will quickly offer you the chance to do a little tutorial on piloting, trading, and fighting. Follow the tutorial if you must, otherwise I think you will enjoy the game more through trial and error.
|The tutorial is optional|
With a large galactic map of about 50 systems and 200 planets to explore, you may at first be overwhelmed by what you should do. But no worries, gameplay can be quite structured if you decide to follow a routine. Here’s generally what you will be doing in the game:
- Get quests from the Government House of a planet. These quests are mostly straightforward “Reach planet by date” and fulfill a certain objective. There have been quests where I have to deliver some item, or quests where I must reach a place on time to perform some objective.
- Once you get your quest, you take off from your planet and engage the galaxy map. After picking your destination, a route automatically plotted and your ship starts flying you to your destination.
- You ship will perform a hyperjump when you reach the edge of the system map. A hyperjump brings you into a zone of hyperspace clots. Yes, you read that right – Clots!
|Should I enter and explore this Hyperspatial Matter Clot?|
- Exploring a Clot brings you into the arcade battle mode of the game. This is an ingenious area of twisting spaceways that truly defy Newtonian space. Within these areas may be pirates waiting to lay a trap for the unwary. Fight them for extra cash, treasure and experience.
- After leaving battle mode and exiting from hyperjump, you wind up at your chosen system. If this is your final destination, you head to the planet to claim your rewards, otherwise you must find a habitable planet to refuel and repair your ship for the next leg of hyperspace.
|Battle Mode is fun arcade action|
There are other aspects of game play in Space Rangers. They are Trading, Ship Upgrading, Engaging in a Text adventure, and Fighting a desperate battle against the Klissans fleet.
Trading: You actually have the option to survive the game entirely on trading. Every habitable planet or space station has a trading list that you can request from the Trading Centre. There is even a little paper clip that allows you to sticky a particular trading list to your message bar. As they say: “Buy low, Sell high” and you will make an astronomical amount in credits after a few trips. It’s almost like reliving the great retro game known as Elite.
|Medicine worth buying|
Ship Upgrading: If you have enough credits, you should spend it on upgrading your ship. There are upgrades to your ship’s hull, engine, fuel tanks, radar, scanner (to learn more about your enemy), droids (to perform automated repairs), cargo hooks (to pick up objects left behind after a battle), and pro-field generators (another name for ship shields). Almost every location sells ship upgrades, with some locations obviously giving rare items that are highly sought after, make sure you hunt around for these.
|Lots of wonderful ship upgrades|
Engaging in a text adventure: Some of your quests will take you planetside where you will participate in a text based adventure. This is a pleasant surprise for a AAA game; it has you playing out a mini game where you must meet certain objectives over a period of time. For example, I had the opportunity to set up a new colony. Once there, I had to engage my workers daily to either continue building, or letting the workers rest from work. It feels like I am playing a simple and fun turn based strategy mini-game without the flair, pizazz and complexity from modern game implementations.
|Feels almost like a Choose your Own Adventure book|
Fighting a desperate battle against the Klissans: There will come a time when you visit the Ranger Center and get introduced to the escalating war between civilization and the Klissans. This sub-game has you battling against the Klissans who come in a variety of ship sizes and power. For every Klissan ship destroyed, you should farm the protoplasm left behind and bring it back to claim an increase in your Ranger status. You will be competing against 50 AI Rangers for the top spot so it pays to be an all-rounder too (although destroying Klissans still nets you the best scores).
|Gotta rescue that poor ship from the Klissans|
In general, graphics in Space Rangers is a colorful and animated affair for its time. Its really pleasing to look at the game in all the various modes.
The exploration mode sports a 2D top down look with animated anomalies, flying comets (complete with eccentric orbits), wispy nebulous backgrounds, cool miscellaneous animations such as ships, space stations, planets, and even the stars.
While planetside, you’ll get nice 3D renderings showing the aliens and their peculiar architecture. There are nice internal views of the various space stations as well, and if you search hard enough, you will even find a nice surprise of a pirate base.
|Visiting a Scientific Base|
There’s this lovely signature music that you hear at the main menu, as well as 14 other additively catchy pieces that you get to hear when in space or planetside. The sound effects of space battles are also pretty cool to listen to with lasers a blazing and more high tech stuff whizzing away as you buy the fancier weapons later in the game. There is no voice work whatsoever in Space Rangers.
- I just love games that allow you to do whatever you wish, and Space Rangers is exactly that sort of game. You have absolute free reign over what you can do, so you may wish to try your hand at some exploration, mingle with the aliens and take on common enemies, evade pirates while doing a trading run, be a pirate yourself, or even chip in the fight against the big bad guys to win the ultimate battle against evil.
- Space Rangers stresses on the first word – space, which we all know is supposedly infinite in dimensions. Similarly, the game offers infinite replayability, so all you have to do is to run a new game to generate another galactic map to explore over the next few hours.
- Space is simulated with some degree of realism in Space Rangers – for example, planets actually move around the system as they orbit the star. Such extra realism adds to the feeling of being in another world altogether.
|At the military base and talking to this Peleng|
- After a while, you will start to sense a pattern start to emerge and then realize that some of the sub-game modes are not so deep after all.
Space Ranger is a great game that has lots of replay value to it. I have owned this game for many years now but yet I never find myself tiring from playing it. Every new galaxy the game churns out still brings me hours of great fun. I suggest you get this game as its requirements are not too high. The game has two screen resolutions – 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768, so you should have no problem running the game on a netbook. Have fun now, I guess I won’t see you until the next millenium!