Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators Review

Developer: Elemental Games Publisher: Cinemaware Marquee
Release Date: March 27, 2006 Also On: None

At the surface, Space Rangers 2 may look like a space trading game for toddlers. It’s got bright, cartoony graphics and an easy-to-use interface. You might assume that because it has such a simple interface that there isn’t much to it. Surprisingly, it’s really quite the contrary. The great thing about Space Rangers 2 is how accessible it is. Just about everything there is to do can be done by left, right, or double clicking. In addition, there are tons of keyboard shortcuts which save time if you don’t want to, say, scroll across the map to get to a space station, you can press a key to get there instantly.

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Initially it seems as if there will be a lot to learn, (and there is) but everything is learned slowly as you progress in the game. Speaking of progressing in the game, this is probably the least linear game I’ve played since Animal Crossing. You start with a story, that the galaxy is being taken over by “Dominators�, evil beings that are essentially the most generic, cheesy villains, in that they just destroy, destroy, destroy.

Like I said, the game is open-ended. Although you are a space ranger, who normally would try to stop the evil Dominators from taking over the galaxy, you don’t have to. For all the game cares, you can make a living buying and selling goods, becoming a trader, and evading the Dominators when they pass. Although this can be fun for some, everyone won’t be happy with a violence-free lifestyle, and Space Rangers 2 accommodates that.

Beneath the space trading game surface is much more… a series of mini-games, each unique and well designed. You may find yourself fending off defenders in an Asteroids-like game, or deep in an old-school text adventure. The problem with many of these mini-games is not that they aren’t well designed, not that they don’t have good graphics, but that the AI is not well developed for each game. There is an RTS-style game in which you fight against your enemies, but it seems as if the only way you can lose is either stupidity or the enemy simply having more units.

While playing this game, I constantly thought of the words “all your base…�. Apparently this game, as well as the original Space Rangers game, was designed and released in Russian before being translated to English for the US release. The fact that it’s translated isn’t bad, because lots of games are translated. The problem is that the translation, although getting the point across, isn’t top-notch. You’ll find yourself being pulled out of the game experience by sentence fragments and some frankly strange phrases.

Another small gripe I had with the game is the fact that the only available resolutions are 800×600 and 1024×768, meaning as nice as the graphics are rendered, they are stretched across your screen anyway. I would have liked the ability to use whatever resolution I want, even if that means smaller characters and a larger viewable area. My last gripe isn’t a big deal, but it’s what will scare many potential buyers away. The production value seems low. The graphics look cheap and generic. It’s obvious that the designers of the game had an amazing amount of talent but just not enough money to make it top-notch. Overall it’s a great game which is unique in that is mixes in a bit of everything, so that even if you don’t like something, there is something there you will like. If you have the money (which is only $30 for SR2 and the original), I recommend you take a good look at Space Rangers 2.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.5
Written by Dave Review Guide

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