6.5

Initial impressions: OK, but not great. Won't blow you away, but it'll kill some time.

Just finished playing a quick little mission in the demo version and determined that while it's ambitious, it falls a little flat. The graphics aren't bad at all, they're pretty sharp considering the relatively low system requirements. The gameplay is pretty much your straightforward flight action fare. There's nothing too fancy to get caught up in as you're going after the baddies and shooting them up. What is unfortunate, however, are the uninspired explosions. When you make a kill, you want a satisfying and colorful burst accompanied by a perfectly good explosive sound. Here, after you make a kill, it feels like a pop gun going off, and a weak one at that.

The controls aren't too shabby, as they made it available via either joystick or mouse for the casual gamer. I tried both and the mouse controls are surprisingly responsive. I have a force feedback joystick and was disappointed that the game didn't include force feedback as it certainly enhances the experience of the game. Also, despite having rudder controls on my joystick, I could only use the rudder via the keyboard. Perhaps there's an option to change that binding, but I didn't bother finding out.

The story and voice acting, to be honest, is hokey. The whole chatter with "confirm, zeta alpha!" kind of kills the sci-fi feel as it's too overwrought. Like I said earlier, ambitious, but falls on its face.

Maybe it's because I'm spoiled in X-Wing Alliance, Tie Fighter, and especially Freespace 2 that I expect so much out of Tarr Chronicles. If you HAVE to get this game, I'd wait until it was in the bargain bin so it's not much of a ripoff. Actually, speaking of ripoffs, I think Tarr could be described as a poor man's Freespace 2.

Bottom line: There's better games out there, but given the dismal state of the sci-fi sim genre, this is about as good as it can get for a modern game. I'd recommend Freespace 2, except it's next to impossible to find, and don't ask me if I'll sell my copy, it ain't for sale! :)

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