If you ever played the Wing Commander Series, then you will love this game. Freespace 2 was made in 1998 but playing it with my GFORCE2 card, it looked awesome. The HUD and stellar matter (nebula, planets, sun glare, etc) was the best I have ever seen.
It has been 32 years since the end of the Great War in Freespace 1. The jump node between your system and the SOL system has been destroyed with the destruction of the Lucifer. Tensions have risen between the rebellious Neo Terran Front (NTF) and Terran- Alliance (GTVA). Now word has it the Shivans have returned with a more powerful weapon.
Starting the game, you get to take a refresher course with an instructor to familiarize yourself with your ships controls. Each time you get to pilot a new craft you get to take a beginners course. The main screen contains a HUD (Heads up Display) which contains many different items which at sometimes gets confusing. You have your current mission objectives, current hull integrity, wingman status, weapon status and power distribution (shields, engines and weapons). The main part of your HUD has the reticle plus current engine speed (which will diminish when using afterburners and weapon strength which will deminish when firing your mains guns for a long time. As with most games of this type, each mission contains specific tasks to be accomplished (protect a ship, destroy a ship, recon, etc) and sometimes there will be tasks which are extras (scan a specific ship, destroy all ships, etc). Getting these extra objectives will earn you medals. Each mission begins with a briefing with a short layout of the mission plus stunning cut scenes. When fighting the fighters, you must learn dog fighting skills like dodging their missiles, launching countermeasures, transferring power from engines to shields and linking all guns into one huge blast at their aft shields. When fighting capital ships, this is where the game truly excels. Most capital ships have two types of weapons; Anti-fighter beams, flak guns and normal missile batteries. You will be just flying along trying to get an enemy fighter in your sights when all of a sudden a large beam (think death star beam) appears out of nowhere and hits you draining your shields or in most cases destroys you in one shot. It looks really cool when two capital ships fight each other, beams going from one ship to another. With the flak guns, you will be flying close to the ship to fire that last torpedo when all of a sudden the sky lights up with hundreds of small explosions trying to destroy you and your torpedo. I cannot say this enough; this is the best part of the game next to the story. One of the coolest missions is where you have to rescue a fellow pilot in the middle of a nebula. Sounds easy? Not at all. If you have ever seen Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn, you will know what effect a nebula has on your ship. Youre HUD breaks up and scrambles, your weapon lock does not stay on the enemy ship meaning that you have to do it manually and you can get lost really easy.
The final mission is by far the coolest and depending on how you finish it depends on the final cut scene. The game is left open for a sequel but its been like 5 years and nothing.
I fully recommend this game to anyone who likes Space Flight Sims. It has everything you could wish for, plus some extras. The replay value of the game is also there, giving you a chance to get all the medals plus letting you try at a different difficulty level. The game also has a multiplayer portion where you can play squads and attack different capital ships with bombers and fighters.