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The 1996 PC Game Space Combat Sim video game

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A great cast of actors doesn't do programming or playtesting.

  • Oct 1, 2010
  • by

The Wing Commander series is one of my favorite series of PC games that sadly went away in the late 90s and only fan projects and an XBox live game keep it really alive.  A spinoff game called Privateer was made in the early 90s and it was phenomenal.  Take control of a space freightor, make jobs delivering cargo, shooting down pirates or doing exploring to make money.  It has to be one of the greatest "sandbox" games ever.

When the FMV video game craze hit in the 90's the Wing Commander games were the exception to the rule that a lot of them sucked by having a good game AND story.  After I played and loved the first Privateer, an FMV SEQUEL would proove to be great......hear that?............It's a sound of the rock that were my hopes hitting the ground years ago.

OKAY the game isn't THAT bad but to take the departure that this did from the older game was a crime.  The old Privateer was a great game with a universe that you got comfortable with and it's own factions you could align yourself with.  Originally THIS game was simply going to be released under the name "The Darkening" but needing a sequel to the original game, a few tweaks were made and it got "Privateer" slapped on to it.  Ick.

The game is about your character, Lev Arris being awoken from a cryo pod in a hospital after the ship he was on crashed.  Lev has amnesia from such a long time spent in suspended animation and doesn't know who he is.  Assassins come after Lev and he is able to escape to the Planet Hermes where after talking to the bartender is able to get ahold of a ship and travel the local systems and find out who he is.  Running into many people who have information for you, Lev is able to put together the pieces.

Privateer 2 gives you roughly 18 ships to fly with their own pluses and minuses.  For whatever reason, they are all fighter crafts.  In the first game, you had an antique freightor, a modern day merchant vessel, a state of the art fighter craft, and an armored transport.  They had much more character then the fighters in this game.  They also could carry cargo.  You CAN'T carry cargo in this game, you have to HIRE a ship that YOU escort to get your cargo from place to place.  Yeah, so much for that feeling of delivering beer and games to the mining bases or even the dirty feeling of moving questionable drugs and other contraband to the resorts, you have to HIRE other ships to do it.  Those other ships have some big guns on them, but it's one more thing you end up worrying about.

Missions can't even be flown right off the bat to make money.  You NEED to do some crummy cargo runs at the begining to get some cash.  You get some money for shooting down the pirates and gangsters but that will mostly help pay for damage they do to you.  When you finally DO get the missions, a lot of them stink anyway.

Combat in the game isn't bad since enemy AI is a -3 on the 1 to 10 scale.  Your only in real danger if you stay in a weak ship too long and don't upgrade or if you take on about 10 ships at a time.  In the old game you could run away if things got hairy and move on to the next navigation point, here ALL enemies have to be shot down and that includes enemy shuttles and capitol ships and they're big guns.  You need to use the mouse to steer your ship though.

The game is nice in one regard as far as reselling your old equipment and getting what you paid for it back to put towards newer guns, missiles and even ships.  Unrealistic but nice.

Graphics are nice and dare I say a little better then the 3D effected graphics in the next Wing Commander game, Prophecy.  The music is also good but muted a little at the wrong times and during FMV scenes the music and sounds blare over the poorly miced actors.  More on that in a minute.

The production is VERY questionable since this game if you aren't playing on disc 1 crashes easily.  Playing on Disc 1 wouldn't be a problem if when cut scenes play they could be played from the first CD and not 2 or 3.

So, a game that likes to crash, ruined the things that made the first game fun?  Sounds bad right.  But the graphics are nice and the sound is okay.  Anything else?  Yes, it's been a minute lets get back to the actors....


It's easy to see where the money went on this game.  It wasn't play testing or checking it was the actors.  Lets go down the list and see who is in this game:

Your character is Clive Owen
the bartender who you meet is John Hurt
your love interest is Mathilda May (hey now!)
a fellow privateer is Jurgen Prochnow
a ranting and raving Preist is BRIAN BLESSED!
a cool data hacker/gangster is Kevork Malikyan (I LOVE the way this guy talks and his lines!)
a right hand man to the lead villian is DAVID WARNER 

and....and....and.....one of the interstellar police commanders who you work with is......

Christopher Walken!


So a big name cast, that does a hell of a job acting in this GAME with a nice story that is KILLED by it's gameplay.  There are some nice additions to the game like the data booth and it's news feeds and databases but it's only a feature.  The flaws are in it's crashing gameplay and flawed game play that is several steps down from the old Privateer game.  This game should have IMPROVED the gameplay with more ships and characters in the familiar universe that the first game was a part of.  But it all ends up being what Walken even says in the game.

That's BULLS**T!

A great cast of actors doesn't do programming or playtesting. A great cast of actors doesn't do programming or playtesting. A great cast of actors doesn't do programming or playtesting.

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More Privateer 2: The Darkening [PC... reviews
Quick Tip by . October 01, 2010
Flawed and buggy gameplay is nearly overcome by the great cast of actors.
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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Number of Players: 1 Player
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts
Console: PC Game
Genre: Simulation
Release Date: November 30, 1996
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