Star Control. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Warren Quinlan
This is not just another space game. While Star Control revives several classic game themes, it improves on them all and gives you plenty of options. Whether you decide to fight for the Alliance (good guys) or the Hierarchy (bad guys), you can choose one of 14 different craft to pilot, each with a truly distinct personality.
To help you out, stunning digitized graphics provide vital information about each ship. Pay attention here because knowing your ship helps you develop tactics to exploit enemy weaknesses.
Once battle has begun, you see your ship represented in deep space, with stars and planets floating by in different directions. The fine detail and multiple animations give the action a 3-D feel. As your ship and the enemy ship approach or dart away from each other, the screen zooms in and out. This ensures that both spacecraft appear on the screen at all times while providing the greatest possible detail.
The real virtues of Star Control emerge when you graduate to playing a full game. There are nine war game scenarios to choose from and an option to design your own. Generally, each places you in command of a handful of specific ships, pitted against an enemy who, one way or another, is as strong as you are. Taking turns, you and your opponent set out to explore planets. Ideally, you discover worlds where you can establish strategically important mines or colonies. - Don't think the strategy involved is an afterthought. In a full game, it's vital. Accolade wisely incorporated a save-game feature into Star Control, as a well-fought scenario can last several hours.
Player options are extensive. A human or the computer can exercise exclusive control over each side. If you'd like, the computer can control either the strategic moves or the tactical fighting of a camp. Either player can navigate by keyboard or joystick. The keyboard seems to offer the best control, but ditch the key defaults. Star Control allows you to define your keys, and that really helps the playability.
CGA screens are adequate, EGA good, and VGA gorgeous. The supported game boards primarily provide different weapon sounds. While everything sounded perfect on my CMS board, you don't have to own a sound card to fully enjoy the program.
Star Control works just fine on a floppy-only system, but to run it on anything less than an AT-class machine requires stripping off a lot of the visual and audio features that you wouldn't want to miss. Documentation is very good. The off-disk copy protection is probably the least burdensome yet most effective I've seen.
Accolade deserves credit for taking the time to integrate the many diverse facets of Star Control into a cohesive package, paying obvious attention to minute detail in every aspect of this game. It may be another space game, but it's a space game with everything done right.
IBM PC and compatibles; 512K RAM for CGA or EGA, 640K RAM for MCGA, VGA, or Tandy; 8-MHz or faster At class recommended; supports Ad Lib, Tandy, CMS, and Roland MT-32--$49.95
Also available for Amiga, 1 MEG--$49.95
550 S. Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, CA 96128
(408) 296-8400 (support)
(800) 245-7744 (orders)