A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a disembodied James Earl Jones sound-alike narrates over a series of dramatic spaceship battles. He speaks of an oppressive struggle between the League of Free Worlds and the despotic Colonial Navy and of the hope that one day peace will be restored. This is the conflict gamers will enter into with Psygnosis' latest spaceship simulation, Colony Wars.
Colony Wars is a two-disc set of missions whose narrative sequence changes based on battles won and lost. Once you learn the basic six-degree control of your League fighter and sit through a mission briefing, you're ready to embark upon a League-appointed sortie, defending a cargo ship against a swarm of enemy fighters, or perhaps destroying a critical space vehicle on the other team's side. Missions differ in theme, but their successful completion often involves the same pattern of following your wing commander's orders to blast this or that ship. As critical events unfold, the James impersonator returns to punctuate these less-than-completely engaging missions with your current status quo.
Plotline aside, Colony Wars delivers the real experience with its spectacular cinematic graphics. As enemy ships explode before your HUD in the battlefield, you'll behold incredible space vistas that seem to come straight out of your favorite Star Wars movie: iridescent planets and suns reflecting through approaching stars and space debris; a caravan of monstrous motherships with glowing booster engines; and even the classic fireworks displays of laser charges exploding in the cold void of space. Guiding your maneuverable craft through these environments makes for dramatic space pursuits, fly-by attacks, and emotional moments (such as witnessing a fellow wingman being chased and gunned down), which almost make up for the comparatively bland storyline and monotonous missions.
Gamers who were fans of the Wing Commander series on the PC may be disappointed that Colony Wars tends to feel more like an arcade game than an epic, engaging adventure. Once in the cockpit, you are taken through the dynamic visual world of your own interactive sci-fi movie: a long film, with a heavy dose of special effects and action, but one that is definitely short of being a classic.