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Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters
Star Control II cover.jpg
Cover art of the DOS version
Developer(s) Toys for Bob
Publisher(s) Accolade
Designer(s) Fred Ford, Paul Reiche III
License proprietary

GNU GPL

Series Star Control series
Platform(s) DOS, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer
Release date(s) November 1992
Genre(s) Space simulation, Adventure game, Shoot 'em up
Mode(s) Single player, Multiplayer
Media Floppy disks, CD-ROM
Input methods Keyboard, Game controller

Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters is a critically-acclaimed[1][2] science fiction computer game, the second game in the Star Control trilogy. It was developed by Toys for Bob (Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III) and originally published by Accolade in 1992 for PC; it was later ported to the 3DO with an enhanced multimedia presentation, allowed by the CD technology. The source code of the 3DO port was licensed under the GNU GPL in 2002. The game still enjoys a cult following.

Contents

Gameplay

The Captain's ship enters the Sol System at the beginning of the game.

SC2 is generally regarded as the best of the trilogy and the reason for the series' devoted fanbase. It added a large number of species and ship types to the already diverse cast and replaced the first game's strategy-based scenarios with a story-driven space exploration adventure game that included diplomacy with the inhabitants of the galaxy, some resource-gathering sub-sections, and instances of the mêlée combat of the first game whenever diplomacy failed.

Interaction with the various alien species was a chief part of the adventure game; the backstory of both the species from the first games and new ones were fleshed out considerably. There were literally hours of dialogue, each species bringing out their characteristic conversational quirks, music, and even display fonts. In mêlée, Star Control II maintained the originality of ship design from the first game, extending the strategic possibilities of the combat section greatly with the addition of a multitude of new ships. A two-player mode was available, named Super Mêlée, consisting solely of the ship-to-ship combat. All ships from the first game are included, even if they made no appearance in the story.

To many, the game's strongest aspect is its atmosphere. The carefully designed plot significantly impacts the game experience by requiring the player to explore every corner of the galaxy and make discoveries and connections independently; all this, occurring within a huge game world featuring numerous alien species, a vast number of star systems to visit, and dynamic events depending on the actions of the player created a powerful sense of openness, cause and effect functionality, and freedom; this gives the player the feeling that they are indeed interacting with a realistic universe instead of merely pitting their wits against those of the game designers.

The soundtrack of the PC version was high-quality — the contents were determined by running a contest which anybody could participate in, composing tracks based on a description of the game. Included on the soundtrack were compositions of Aaron Grier, Erol Otus, Eric E. Berge, Riku Nuottajärvi and Dan Nicholson, the president and founding member of The Kosmic Free Music Foundation. Music was in Protracker-MOD format which uses digitized instrument samples while most of PC game music still relied on FM-synthesis based instruments at the time. The game also supported Gravis Ultrasound sound card, which was popular among MOD composers.

Star Control II was highly influenced, both in story and game design, by the games Starflight (1986) and Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula (1989), developed by Binary Systems and released on a variety of platforms by Electronic Arts. Indeed Greg Johnson, StarFlight's lead designer, helped write dialog for Star Control II and Paul Reiche III contributed to Star Control II's alien communication system. David Brin's science fiction series about the Uplift Universe is also often mentioned as inspiration for the Star Control II universe, as well as Larry Niven's Known Space universe.

Accolades

In addition to numerous awards by gaming magazines published around its release, Star Control 2 also has spots in top games compilations of notable gaming publications as of today. IGN named Star Control II the 17th best game of all time [1], and Gamespot named it one of the greatest games of all time.[2]. It also has 8th place in Gamespot's Reader's choice - Ten Best Gameworlds listing [3], and 3rd place in Gamespot's Ten Best Endings among games. [4].

Plot

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Introduction

In the last phase of the war between the Alliance of Free Stars and the Hierarchy of Battle Thralls, the Tobermoon, an Earthling ship, discovered an ancient Precursor subterranean installation in a cave on the surface of an uninhabited planet in the Vela star system. The Alliance hastily sent a secret scientific mission to study the relics, but a massive Hierarchy's offensive forced the Alliance fleets to retreat beyond Vela; the mission commander, Captain Burton, decided to go into hiding on the planet and sent back the Tobermoon, her only starship, asking for help. Though the Ur-Quan forces didn't find the Earthlings during their sweep of the system, relief never arrived. Years later, with the help of a genius child born on the planet, the colonists activated the Precursor machinery and found out that it was programmed to build a starship. Using the limited store of raw materials available in the planet, in ten years the Precursor factory built a (barely) functional ship, which could be piloted only by the now grown genius child, who alone could interact with the Precursor central computer. In the first test flight, it was discovered that the ship Burton had sent for help had been severely damaged by the Ur-Quan and was orbiting unpowered in the outer solar system: the Alliance had never known of the mission's discoveries. The colonists decided to fix the recovered ship, train new crew members for both the Precursor ship and the Tobermoon and send a mission back to Earth, eager to know how the war had ended. Shortly before reaching Sol the little fleet was attacked by an unknown ship; Captain Burton, commanding the Earthling ship, intercepted the alien ship before it could damage the defenseless Precursor starship, but was killed in the short fight, leaving the genius young man in command.[5]

Game

The player begins the game as a commander of the Precursor starship, who returns to Earth to find it enslaved by the Ur-Quan. It is discovered that the rest of the humans' allies in the war against the Ur-Quan have either been eradicated, put under a slave shield, or put into service as Ur-Quan battle thralls. As the player progresses, it is revealed that the Ur-Quan are fighting an internecine war with the Kohr-Ah, a subspecies of Ur-Quan who believes in eradicating all life in the galaxy, as opposed to enslaving it. The winner of this war gains access to a Precursor starship with unparalleled power.

The Ur-Quan Masters

A Slylandro Probe attacks the Captain's ship.

The Ur-Quan Masters (or UQM) project[6] aims to port Star Control II to modern operating systems including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and BSD. The project began in 2002 when the original creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III released the source code of the 3DO version as open source under the GPL. It is currently at version 0.6.2 [7], and has accomplished its goal. It has also added the option of online multiplayer Melee play, something which was not available in the original game. A variety of modifications to the melee have been released by fans, including versions with superpowered ships and numerous planets. As of version 0.4, the long-missing intro and ending movies were finally added, as was an in-game setup menu. The ability to "mod" the game is one of the project's goals.

The project was renamed The Ur-Quan Masters because the trademark Star Control was registered by Accolade in 1997, acquired in 1999 by Atari, then known as Infogrames, along with the rest of Accolade's assets.[8]

While development on the UQM codebase continues, a second group of semi-professional musicians called The Precursors are creating new musical tracks and remixes of the originals. They are an optional package that can be listened to in-game, replacing the original music, or just played with an audio player. The group's main members are Jouni Airaksinen (alias Mark Vera), Tore Aune Fjellstad (alias VOiD), Espen Gätzschmann (alias TiLT) and Riku Nuottajärvi (an original composer for the 1992 release). The Precursors have released three remix packs.

A fully playable port has been produced for the GP2X portable game system[9] and the Maemo 5-based N900[10] smart phone. Other ports are underway to the Sony PSP[11] and the Microsoft Xbox[12][13].

Reception

The game was reviewed in 1993 in Dragon #195 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[14]

See also

References

External links

Ur-Quan Masters Ports


Redirecting to Star Control II


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