Starglider was a great, simple 3D shooter. Enjoyable enough but fairly limited. The sequel came along and blew me away with its depth, scale and technical achievement.
Starglider 2 was one of the first 16-bit games that really hit me with the leap forward that had been made over the Speccy and C64. It wasn't just a prettified version of something on the 8-bits, it was an entirely new level of freedom coupled with fast, smooth filled vector graphics and evocative audio.
The shooter elements are there, but on top of that is a quest that takes you onto and inside the various planets and moons of the Solice star system. The Egrons are back after their defeat in the first game, this time attempting to build a huge space station with which to destroy the planet Novenia. The player's task is to collect the parts and means to construct a neutron bomb with which to destroy the station. The spacecraft Icarus is completely free to travel the system, encountering space pirates between the planets, all manner of enemies on the surfaces and even giant mechanical whales in the upper atmospheres (whose songs provided a unique, landmark moment in Amiga gaming).
Goods can be traded for services and weapons in the supply depots deep beneath the planet surfaces - reached via a series of tunnels. The Icarus can also be refuelled in a variety of ways, the most dangerous being to skim close to Solice itself. There's a wonderful moment in Starglider 2 when you get into space and accelerate to lightspeed... a white flash and the background starfield disappears, leaving you racing along with ships flicking past, barely registering. It's one of the most simple yet satisfying effects I've encountered in a game.
Starglider 2 really gives a sense of a fully-realised, coherent solar system and a grand mission, but with enough immediate action to keep things exciting throughout.