Thursday, April 05, 2007

Made-Up Profanity Is So Much More Fun

News has been popping up here and there about Beyond The Red Line, a Battlestar Galactica themed mod based on Freespace 2. With a Linux version finally available, I decided that I'd give it a try.

Before I say anything, let me state that I am a huge fan of the series. I don't think I've ever been so excited about new episodes of a television show as I have with Battlestar Galactica. So, basically, keep in mind that, with my being such an enthusiastic fan of the show, you should probably take what I have to say with a grain or two of salt.

I've encountered a lot of mods for a lot of different games in my time, and I've got to say: I think the only other mod I've ever encountered that paid such attention to minute details was Alien Swarm. The difference in this case is that while Alien Swarm was clearly influenced by a few sources, Beyond The Red Line comes right out and says "this is a Battlestar Galactica game."

This admission gives Beyond The Red Line full reign to use anything the meticulously crafted Battlestar Galactica universe has to offer, right down to the slang. That the voice acting - usually a terrible choice for inclusion in a fan-made game - is (surprisingly) so well done speaks volumes about the attention to detail that fills this game to the brim. This is obviously a project that the people involved really care about.

Since I had never played "vanilla" Freespace 2 (which is not required, by the way, this game is fully standalone) I was very glad to find that a tutorial mission was included. Usually an afterthought in mods, or often not even included, a tutorial is essential to anyone who doesn't know their way around Freespace 2. The fact that the tutorial actually manages to be entertaining is just sugar on top.

The rest of the missions I've had the chance to tackle are similarly well crafted, and the radio chatter from your comrades only adds to the already deep immersion factor. It's often hard to believe that the game you're playing wasn't produced by a major player in the industry, albeit with tech that's a few years old.

If you're a fan of the show, definitely download the demo. The developers do warn that if you haven't yet seen all of season 2 (and it was season 3 that just had its finale) you may encounter some spoilers, so watch out for that. And let me reiterate: Freespace 2 is not required to play this game, it's entirely standalone. So, make sure to grab this as soon as possible in case the project is shut down for intellectual property reasons.

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