by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
Those Were the Days
The 27th of September, 1990 was a glorious day for the Space Combat genre. It was the day that the original Wing Commander was released for the PC. That game introduced players to an entire universe where humans were rapidly expanding their borders outside of their home planet and making a couple of enemies along the way. In the 8 years this series was alive, they outed a total of 5 games, abruptly ending the series with Wing Commander: Prophecy. Wing Commander: Secret Ops was an experiment in episodic online distribution and was later sold with Wing Commander: Prophecy as Prophecy Gold. The Wing Commander games were, like most other Space Combat games at that time, best played with a joystick, and players got a real feeling for the way their spacecraft handled with that method. A truly innovative way to control a spacecraft would come with the release of Microsoft Studio's Freelancer. Freelancer is a 3rd person Space Combat Simulator featuring an open universe, an enthralling plot and mouse-and-keyboard controls that work wondrously. (Let's not forget the game that birthed the entire Space Trading and Simulator genre: Elite from 1984 - Ed)
In more recent years, the Space Combat Simulation genre has all but vanished. Apart from the massively popular and ever expanding universe of EVE Online, very few games have been released that capture the imagination as vividly as Wing Commander and Freelancer did. Even the fantastic universe of EVE Online has been criticized for being too sluggish and the action too slow.
Victim of Recession
Black Prophecy is a game that has been in development at Reakktor Media for the past 4 years. The game was originally announced during the Leipzig Games Convention in 2007 and a website was launched to unveil some of the project's secrets to the general public. The project suffered a substantial blow in August 2008 when the game's publisher, 10Tacle studio's, filed for bankruptcy. Reakktor Media did not, however, let 10Tacle's financial woes stop them and subsequently released a statement confirming their commitment to the project. On March the 4th a spark of hope was kindled when Gamigo, a German based publisher, officially announced that they would be the ones to globally distribute Black Prophecy in collaboration with Reakktor Media.
Free? For Me?
The game will be released as a Free-to-Play Massive Multiplayer Online game and will feature a micro transaction system. The heads of both Gamigo and Reakktor have, however, assured the community that the micro transactions will not give the gamers that fork out the most cash any advantage over the others; they will simply save time by buying upgrades that they would otherwise have to earn. Considering the quality of graphics and the writer behind the story, this game could just pull off exactly what it set out to do: Be the first Free-to-Play game worthy of a triple A stamp.
High Production Values
The game's background story is quite a work of art. It tells of a time when the first humans start colonizing planets outside our solar system. They soon begin genetic modification programs to try to make the human race more adaptable for life on alien planets. The majority of human beings object to this and the genetically modified humans are banished to another planet where they set up a colony. For fear of retaliation from the genetically superior “Genides” the humans start building cybernetically altered “Tyi” to act as their protectors. These two altered sapiens soon outgrow their creators and start fighting each other for domination of the colonies. That is, until the Restorers enter the picture. The story is written by the award winning science fiction author Michael Marrak and is sure to breathe an intriguing life into the game's overall feel.