Freespace 2 was developed by Volition Studios and published by Interplay Entertainment. An action-based space flight simulator that casts the player as a faceless pilot of the Galactic Terran Alliance (GTA).
Several decades after the events of Descent: Freespace - The Great War. Humanity is separated from Sol after the destruction of the first Shivan fleet and alien Vasudan people without a homeworld after Vasuda Prime's destruction in the events of first game. These once rival races unified by the first Shivan invasion have developed closer ties in the reconstruction since, but inevitably be tested again as the destroyers return.
At its the time of its release, Freespace 2 featured amazing visuals as well famous voice talent in the shape of Robert Loggia (Admiral Petrach). It also included a full-featured editor named FRED (FReespace EDitor) which was used by Volition to craft the campaign missions of both games. FRED allowed players to build and share their own ideas and mods online.
The game received critical praise upon its release, but it sold poorly due to a number of factors such as a lack of marketing and a decline in active players with flightsticks. Upon Volition's acquisition by THQ, which had no interest in pursuing any further development of the IP, the source code was eventually released by Volition allowing a large number of fan-led modification projects to follow.
Unlike other space sims such as X-Wing or Wing Commander, the manual for Freespace 2 focuses more on the gameplay mechanics and technical aspects of the game than any of the story elements. Much of the information gleaned about the narrative comes directly from the databanks from within the game itself as well as from the mission reports.
Freespace 2 takes place in 2367, some 32-years after the first game. The Terrans and their former enemies, the Vasudans, joined together to barely stave off an invasion by an ancient, incredibly advanced, and exceptionally hostile power, the Shivans. The Great War was devastating, and even the Vasudan homeworld was annihilated before the Shivans were beaten back.
Out of desperation, the Terrans launched a daring attack against the Shivan flagship Lucifer, while it traversed subspace unshielded on its way to destroy the Earth. With the destruction of the Lucifer, the Shivans were sent into retreat. However, the jump node (a special subspace 'tunnel' connecting two points in the same universe) that led to the Sol System was collapsed in the explosion, separating Terran forces from their homeworld.
In the 32 years since, the remaining Terran forces and their Vasudan allies continued to work together under the auspices of the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance (GTVA) in order to rebuild those worlds ravaged by the Shivan incursion. However, not everyone believed that the Alliance was in the best interest of either species. Eventually, cracks appeared in the form of rebel movements intent to sow discord between them Terrans and Vasudans. As the game opens, the GTVA is now engulfed in a civil war with the Neo Terran Front (NTF), a rebel organization lead by Admiral Bosch, a bigot who rejects the Alliance.
After a series of battles with the NTF, the Shivans re-appear in the Gamma Draconis system and send shockwaves throughout the GTVA, as they were to have been thought defeated when no sign of them had been seen since their defeat more than three decades earlier. Soon, a massive ancient device, codenamed the "Knossos Gate" by the GTVA, is eventually discovered. The Knossos Gate has the unprecedented ability to stabilize jump nodes and it also appears to lead to an unknown location where the Shivans are marshaling their forces. After the player explores the gate, and the nebula that lay on the other side, they discover that the NTF are already there engaged in clandestine experiments of an unknown nature.
The GTVA then encounter the Shivan destroyer Ravana - considered to serve as the Shivans base of operations within the Nebula - destroys several GTVA capital ships. In time Ravana is cornered and destroyed by the player's squadron and the fleet that they are assigned to.
Believing the Shivan threat to be over, the GTVA turn their attention back to the NTF and the player is recalled back through the Knossos Gate to participate in the action. In a crucial battle, the GTVA unveil the massive Colossus, the most powerful warship ever built. It single-handedly turns the tide in the war against the NTF.
With the Colossus, the GTVA chase down Bosch and destroy his ship and fleet, thereby bringing the NTF's rebellious activity to an end. The GTVA then turn their attention to the Shivan threat and the player flies sorties piloting both human vessels as well as Vasudan ships as part of a pilot exchange program.
Although the first several missions investigating the Shivans are routine, this changes with the discovery of a second subspace portal and the appearance of a massive Shivan juggernaut, codenamed "Sathanas." In a furious battle, the Colossus
finally defeats the Sathanas, but not before the Shivans inflict massive damage to the GTVA fleet.
The war is again declared won until dozens of Sathanas-type warships suddenly appear in GTVA space. It is now clear that the Shivans have launched an all out offensive against the GTVA. In a desperate attempt to destroy a jump-node, the GTVA fleet takes a pounding and even the Colossus is destroyed by Shivan battleships at Capella . It is at this point that GTVA intelligence begins to believe that the nebula beyond the portal was created as the result of an accelerated supernova, most likely initiated by the Shivans to eliminate the species who constructed the subspace portals. Shivan warships then mass around the Capellan sun and prepare to destroy it. The final mission consists of a mass exodus from the system with the ultimate goal of collapsing the last jump node to halt the Shivan advance.
The game presents the player with the choice to valiantly guard the convoy 'till the bitter end or make it to the jump node to escape with the rest of the GTVA fleet. The final cutscene changes to reflect the decision made. The game ends on a positive note in either instance as Petrach announces that the tests done on the Knossos Gate might enable to the sub space node to the Sol system to be reopened, reconnecting humanity with Earth.
Freespace 2 is a space flight simulator. A flight-stick is recommended, although not absolutely required, for play in conjunction with the keyboard.
Much of the gameplay is centered on the HUD which displays several pieces of information at a glance surrounding the aiming reticle and along the left and right sides of the screen. In-game messages from wingmen, your capital ship, or other pilots within the vicinity are received at the top of the screen in text form although a great deal of the lines in the game are spoken. Many of these messages are often accompanied by animated "talking heads" that appear in the upper left hand corner of the screen.
As far as flying the ship is concerned, the HUD displays shield strength, current weapon configuration and firing options (showing how many missiles you may have left to whether or not you have linked your guns to fire together), energy distribution, hull strength left, and target information. Directives, or the player's mission objectives, are also listed. Wingmen information, such as how many are left in each respective wing group, is also listed onscreen.
Players are also allowed, either during the campaign in the main menu or as a part of the storyline, to engage in tutorial missions to teach them the basics of space flight and dog-fighting along with introducing new weapons that may prove to be pivotal in the upcoming sortie. Players will occasionally have the option to select their own ship and load outs if they so choose.
Energy distribution within the game follows in much the same way as that of X-Wing or TIE-Fighter. For example, configuring your energy reserves by focusing them into your shields will result in a faster recharge, but because of balance, may affect weapons and engine performance.
Freespace 2 also makes use of ship nodes. Attacking capital ships may require the player to destroy several guns, or other weaknesses, on the surface of these vessels first to pave the way for a bomber wing to safely engage the target. Re-arming is also possible from within the game by calling in a support craft for assistance and then docking with it to replenish expendables such as missiles.
Combat in the game consisted primarily of dog-fighting and long-range interception of enemy fighters and capital vessels, although there were several other missions in which
the player was required to escort important vessels or recon potential hot zones by scanning certain targets. Many of the battles in the game required the player to engage a large variety of different fighters assigned to many varied roles. For example, players may be forced to engage an enemy bomber wing coming in at extreme long range but at the same time, must keep in mind that the enemy may jump in elsewhere, forcing them decide whether they should chase after such targets or allow them to approach in order to maintain cover over their assigned escort target.
Most vessels in the game have shields forcing the player to whittle down these barriers first before being able to do any real damage. The Shivans, in particular, are powerful adversaries with advanced technology making their ships particularly tricky to deal with in battle.
Engaging massive capital ships within the game is also a highlight of its gameplay. The player will often find themselves skimming across the surface of titanic Shivan cruisers or enemy vessels in picking out surface targets while dodging heavy anti-ship fire. Beam weapons, in particular, are a major addition to the game. Reminiscent of anime-styled laser-type weapons, beam cannons in the game are ship-to-ship artillery pieces that capital vessels fire against both each other and enemy fighters.
Legacy and Future Developments Since Release
The source code for Freespace 2 was made open source in 2002, as a result of this the fanbase rapidly started work on the Freepace 2 Source Code Project (SCP) to give the game an updated look. The SCP requires either a retail copy or the downloadable version that is availiable from good old games.
There are already several mods compatible with SCP, including total conversions based on sci-fi universes such as
Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica.
It was also unique as its user license agreement contained the following clause:
You may make copies of the Software for your personal noncommercial home entertainment use and to give to friends and acquaintances on a no cost noncommercial basis.
This led to the game being considering abandonware several years after its release. It was hosted on the underdogs website, it was never strictly legal to obtain the game in this way. The game is now available commercially again through the good old games service.
Freespace 2's soundtrack was composed by Dan Wentz
Though an official OST has yet to be officially released, the in-game music comprises of the following 12 tracks and can be downloaded in the GOG.com re-release. Additionally, ongoing remasters can be heard at his Sound Cloud Channel
In 2012, Dan Wentz remastered all of the original game's music and incorporated the new tracks into the latest build of the open source Freespace Port 3.4
| ||Track Name||Length|
Joshua Chapter I
Joshua Chapter II
Joshua Chapter III
Numbers Chapter I
Numbers Chapter II
Numbers Chapter III
Revelation Chapter I
Revelation Chapter II
Revelation Chapter III
Freespace 2 has been re-released courtesy of Good Old Games or GOG.com for $5.99
- Full compatibility & support for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 for both 32 and 64-bit.
Additional free downloads from GOG purchase:
- Manual in PDF form
- Hi-resolution wallpaper
- Reference card
- Game soundtrack
Freespace 2, as of June 2014, is now also available on Steam.