27 - Escape Velocity Nova (PC)

Elite in 2D is a facile way to describe the Escape Velocity series, but that doesn't do justice to the essential differences the perspective provides. The basic template of trading, combat, upgrading and mission-running is there, but the gameplay has a much more immediate, arcade-like feel to it. Space flight and combat are more akin to Asteroids, but there's more than enough depth here to satisfy any space game fan.

Despite the comparatively tiny graphics, EV Nova is quite beautiful. Each ship is modelled in 3D and fully lightsourced, and lasers, bullets, missiles and explosions are painstakingly drawn and animated. The player is free to just bash about on their own, but a strong plotline is provided that will lead to greater riches and dangers. There's even an option to play in 'Ironman' mode - meaning permanent death for a lost character. I don't think I could bear that in a game so demanding of time investment, but it's certainly an exciting prospect.

One thing I find about 3D space games is that the combat is often fudged. Taking the whole thing into 2D negates that problem while still providing the meat of a classic space trading / combat game. This was a hotly contested spot in the 100 - I had considered both Space Rangers 2 and Flatspace 2 for it, but EV Nova wins out over both. It's a little gem.

No comments: