Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.
Star Control II.
Originally on the PC but also ported to the 3DO with enhanced sound and added speech, this game was easily the best open world game of its time. You can now download it FOR FREE (link at the bottom of the post) as it’s been made open source. It’s really rare, even today, to find a game that offers the same level of freedom, non-linear progression, and sense of scale. Here’s the lowdown.
Game is set way in the future after a big galactic war in which the Earth and its alliance lost. Earth is trapped under a slave shield and a race called the Ur-Quan rules the galaxy along with anybody else that chose to join up with them and avoid being annihilated or enslaved.
You’re a descendant from science team that left earth way in the past that had colonized a new planet where you’ve found alien tech. You go out to find out what happened with earth. After finding out that the alliance basically got curb stomped you decide to take it upon yourself to fly around the galaxy recruiting races to start the fight back up again against the Ur-Quan. Depending on the alliances you make the game changes and the storyline can get altered quite a bit.
The game is split into three main styles of gameplay. First there’s exploration where you’re looking for resources (money), new races to ally with, and alien technology to augment your ship. Secondly there’s the political aspect where you need to convince races to join your fight and keep them at peace with one another. Finally, there’s combat that plays out as a 2D top down battle. It’s all great stuff.
Here’s the intro video:
Here’s a battle sequence:
A conversation with the Spathi, a coward race that you still want to recruit as allies because they make awesome starships.
You can get the game for free here: http://sc2.sourceforge.net/downloads.php
Versions of the game are available on Windows, OS X, Linux, and a few other devices (including PSP).
I know it’s a busy time for gaming, but honestly, I doubt any game coming out in the next few months will be as good.