Battlecruiser Millennium Gold

snap115Battlecruiser (mostly) operational.

One can’t discuss the Battlecruiser series without mentioning Derek Smart, the franchise’s controversial creator and developer. Smart had to deal with scathing criticism when the first game in the series — Battlecruiser 3000AD — was prematurely released through Take-Two Interactive in 1996 in all but unplayable condition. After some extensive patching, BC3000AD was eventually repaired and re-released in 1998, but by then it was painfully outdated. Smart, being who he is, decided for a remake.

Featuring a massive, persistent universe that encompasses 75 planets, 145 moons, and over 100 space regions, Battlecruiser Millennium is a sci-fi fan’s gourmet buffet. As a starship commander, you navigate between star systems, explore individual planets, interact and trade with alien nations, and (of course) blow your enemies into space dust whenever it strikes your fancy. Alternatively, you can choose to play as one of a dozen different alien species and select from a similar number of diverse careers such as raider, diplomat, and trader.

snap120Cumulatively, there are over 60 different spacecraft and planetary vehicles available to be flown or driven. These range from huge interstellar military carriers to nimble planetary defense fighters and ground vehicles, and the micro-management options with some of the larger capital ships will make your head explode. As the commander of one of these monsters, you’re in complete control of every function on the ship, from tactical, navigation, and logistics management to the direct deployment of all personnel and support craft.

Space combat is a large component of the game. You’ll often be called upon to issue orders to your various fighter pilots while simultaneously overseeing your command craft’s primary weapons and defensive systems. The bridge interface from which you control your ship is surprisingly clean and intuitive, and most commands necessitate only a mouse-click or two.

Its incredible depth certainly nets the game some major kudos, but there’s a serious caveat in the near-absence of any structured gameplay. Apart from a single, rather uninspiring 15-mission scripted campaign and a handful of Instant Action scenarios, the bulk of the single-player action is devoted to a vague, freeform roaming game with no clear-cut objectives. It’s kind of like someone tossed you the keys to a starship and simply told you to “go outside and play.â€

snap127Battlecruiser Millennium is anything but simple to learn. With a learning curve comparable to most hardcore flight simulators, a careful combing through the manual is unavoidable if you hope to comprehend the massive amount of game options, stations and features found within. It’s also a type of game that will appeal to a specific niche of players – fans of fast-paced action shooters need not apply. But there’s definitely a good deal of immersion to be had as well, and it’s not everyday we’re given the keys to a giant spaceship to joyride through the universe.

System Requirements: Pentium 75 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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