coonce's The Ur-Quan Masters (Fan Remake) (PC) review

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

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When I tell people Star Control II(released in 1992 by Accolade) is the Best Video Game Ever, I’m only slightly exaggerating for effect. I’m not an avid gamer these days–the gags in Penny Arcade and VG Cats have a tendency to whiz over my head–but I’ve played my share, and Star Control II did some truly amazing things.

The core is a science-fiction role-playing game with the most non-linear plot I’ve ever seen. You always start in the same place: you are the son of explorers who went off to investigate a major alien artifact site and got stranded 20 years ago, and you are returning to Earth to see how the war against marauding aliens went. When you arrive, you find the planet encased in a red shield; this is your first hint the war didn’t end so well.

Actually winning the game involves one bitch of a boss fight (which in this case is a plus), but it is the journey that makes the game shine, not the destination. Most computer RPGs have a single, clearly delineated main plot laid down with all the subtlety of a four-lane interstate. There may be occasional subplots and side quests you can explore or ignore at your leisure, but there is always that main thread to follow from one meticulously crafted event to the next. Star Control II, on the other hand, sets a sizable chunk of your corner of the galaxy (to the tune of 500 stars or so) in front of you, and then gets out of the way and lets you start exploring it.

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