Renegade: Battle for Jacob’s Star

13SSI’s Renegade is an attempt to jump on the Wing Commander and Star Wars space sim bandwagon. Based on FASA’s “Renegade Legion” series of strategy and role-playing games, Renegade also offers more between-battle interaction than the competition. The designers managed to bring some RPG elements into the mix, giving you and the pilots in your command a set of attributes. Even the ships have their own changing statistics; if a Penetrator medium fighter loses one of its Neutron Particle Cannons in a dogfight, there’s a good chance it’ll be out of service.

All this leaves you with a bunch of important decisions to make. How many interceptors should you take? Will you fly a light, medium or heavy ship? Which wingmen will you assign to which ships? Should your best pilots come along for the ride, or should you let them sit this one out so they’ll be rested for more vital missions? If an exhausted pilot refuses to fly, should you force him to go? And do you pilot that damaged Avenger, or leave it in the hangar so the crew chief can work on it? All of these choices make Renegade more involving.

But the way the game handles saves is annoying. Your position in the game is saved automatically after every mission — even if you were killed during the battle! Try to restore your dead pilot, and you’ll just see your death scene again. The only way around this is to make a copy of your save files between gaming sessions.

10Then there’s the speech. Renegade’s designers put hundreds of megabytes of digitized speech on the disc, but it’s almost a waste of space. Very little of what your wingmen say in battle makes any difference, or even any sense. One wingman regularly cries “We can’t break off!” even though you haven’t given any orders to do so. Another pilot may say “Watch it! That’s an old trick,” when the only enemy ship in sight is flying directly in front of you, letting you pound the hell out of it with your guns.

The result is a feeling that you’re flying a mission with a bunch of mindless bots. Origin managed to put together a game with speech that fit the action years ago, with Wing Commander II, but Renegade can’t seem to catch up. Overall, the game has some redeeming touches, but lots of small pesky mistakes and oversights ruin the final experience.

System Requirements:486/33 MHz, 4 MB RAM, DOS

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