Starlancer Preview

If you're suffering from interstellar space envy, suffer no more. Crave's Starlancer will soon deliver what you've been jonesing for: 3D space combat and true Internet play.

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In the year 2015, emissaries of humankind colonized space. Interstellar travel flourished, and a new age of prosperity dawned. However, tyranny and greed destroyed this utopia. In a series of mergers and acquisitions, the governments of the universe formed two rival alliances: the Western Alliance and the Eastern Coalition. It is now 2160, and both factions have long since colonized every sector of the known galaxy. All that's left is for one side to subjugate the other. Welcome to Crave's Starlancer, the Dreamcast's first futuristic 3D space-combat simulation.

You play the role of a Starlancer, a specially trained fighter pilot for the Western Alliance. Your unit, the 45th Volunteers Squadron, is being activated. Choosing from 12 unique ships and over 20 gut-busting weapons, you will become humankind's last, best hope for peace. Defeating the Coalition is no easy task, so why not invite a few friends along? Starlancer for the Dreamcast will feature Internet play. This feature won't just take the form of a wussy one-on-one deathmatch mode, either. How do eight-player dogfights and cooperative missions sound? Starlancer is coming to your doorstep to deliver the goods.

While it may be a big deal that Starlancer is the first space-combat title for the Dreamcast, and while Internet play is important, a game needs quality gameplay to be palatable. To this end, Starlancer features a number of notable tidbits. In the single-player game, both success and failure can affect the plot. Just because you failed to stop an assassination or to protect a convoy, the game doesn't necessarily end. You may face the negative consequences of your actions, though - such as watching the ones you love die or gaining new enemies. In the multiplayer section of the game, you and your friends can create squadrons, receive promotions, and even gain command over each other.

For the senses, Starlancer promises an involving experience. More than 80 types of spacecraft are to be rendered in extraordinary 3D detail throughout the game. While a majority of these are ally or enemy craft, this won't always be the case. Neutral craft can be seen going about their business, building jump gates or mining asteroid fields. The game will also include over 20 minutes of full-motion cinema scenes, 6,000 unique speech samples, and 40 custom-composed music tracks. If you enjoy exploring your living quarters, you'll have your own interactive bunkroom with a locker for your medals, a CD player, and a simulator pod for flight practice.

Whereas the Wing Commander series tantalized PC owners and the Colony Wars series owns PlayStation fanatics, Starlancer seeks to carve out the same loyal niche among Dreamcast players. While it may seem like a copout for a developer to port PC title after PC title to Sega's Dreamcast system, naysayers may find solace in knowing that Starlancer is one of the better PC titles to come out in recent memory. In order to ensure the same level of quality, Warthog, the developer of the PC version, is producing the DC version. While it may not be an original title, when you consider the fact that a US$150 game system is going to reproduce both the looks and multiplayer aspects of a hit PC title, unoriginality isn't such a bad idea. Starlancer for Dreamcast blasts onto store shelves this October.

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