A lot of AmigaOS 4 users are aware that you can currently buy a copy of Descent Freespace which was converted by Hyperion Software, however what appears to be little less known is the fact that the follow-up game Descent Freespace 2 is also available for AmigaOS 4 machines. I first discovered the existence of this port whilst browsing for some games on Alinea Computer’s website where it has a description of this game along with what appears to be the PC version of the game which comes on 3 CDs. http://www.amiga-shop.net/Amiga-Software/Amiga-Games/Freespace-2-AOS4-1-Port-comp::444.html
Descent Freespace 2 for AmigaOS 4 comes courtesy of Amigasoft.net and it is advised that in order to run this game you will need to download the AmigaOS 4 file and also have a 3 CD copy of the game which is advertised over at Alinea Computer’s web shop. However as we are dealing with a game which is now over 17 years old, finding a 3 CD copy of this game becomes a little bit tricky and this is where Great Old Games or http://www.gog.com will come to the rescue where they are currently selling a copy of this game for £7.99.
Now a little disclaimer here, due to the way that the download manager works from GOG, you will need to download this game from the GOG server on to a Windows PC or tablet/laptop before transferring the files over to the Amiga. It is rather unfortunate that you still have to work from a PC to begin with, but I guess until Amiga users start hassling companies like GOG to make them aware of the fact that Amiga users are out there and would like their game files to be downloaded to their Amiga’s without the need for the silly setup installer, then for the time being at least we will have to continue with silly workarounds. However if anyone at GOG.com is reading this, then it is worth perhaps looking at letting Amiga users download the game files directly to their machines as there are a number of Amiga conversions doing the rounds which require you to have the original PC game files which are then dropped into the Amiga executable.
Once you have run the installer on the PC, it is time to use a USB flash drive to move the files across to the Amiga, although be aware that you will need at least 2.6GB of space to move across the game files. From the AmigaOS 4 files, you will need to move the following files into the SObjs folder in your AmigaOS 4.1/DH0 partition and these will be the following files:
Now you may already have these libs already installed on your machine depending on whatever pieces of software presently make use of them, so if you already have them in, or have a newer version installed then there is no real need to move these across.
Once you move the AmigaOS 4 startup into the Freespace 2 folder with all the PC data, it is time to start the game which you will need to do by clicking on the Freespace 2 logo that appears on the screenshot above in the bottom left corner.
First the bad news, this game will only play in a 640×480 screen mode which means that the resolution is not too great especially as the original game was able to run in a much higher screen resolution. Sadly I have been unable to find a way to modify the screen mode settings either within the game menu or via a configuration file which is a bit of a shame really.
Presentation wise, this game doesn’t differ too much from the original where the main menu is a command type centre where you can adjust the various controls settings, either a joystick of keyboard can be used or a combination of both and you access your missions into outer space by going through the door towards the middle.
First up, similar to the first game is a set of training modules that you are advised to complete so that you get a feel for the game and understand the various controls which are at your disposal. Now if you have ever played the first version, you will notice anything too much different here, except that the presentation is a lot better than the original game and everything looks a lot more polished.
Once the training levels are complete it is on to the main game missions
The presentation of the interval screens are not bad, there is an audio description of the actual mission along with some animation to really get you into the game.
Within the game mission itself, you have the viewpoint of sitting in front of ship with a complete 360 degree view of space and the world around you. Friendly craft that you may be teamed up with or that you may find yourself escorting can be viewed on the screen if they are nearby or if you lose sight of them, they can be located using the radar which appears at the centre bottom of the screen.
During the game combat, you are given instructions throughout and in the left hand side of the screen, you will often see a window appear with a pilots face advising of what is oncoming and how to attack. Unfortunately due to the low resolution of the screen it is not possible to totally see these characters on the screen and they often appear in the dark. There are options within the game to adjust the brightness, but even at its maximum level and going through the options menu to make adjustments to the detail that you see on-screen, somehow there just isn’t enough light to the action that is going on-screen which is a real shame as compared to the first version of this game, there have been clear improvements to the general presentation of the game.
The space combat scenes are not bad also, you have to manoeuver your ship into the optimal position to ensure that when you do fire your weapons and torpedos from your arsenal they are inflicting the maximum possible damage to the hulls and shields of the opposing enemy ships. You also have the option to fire afterburners or engage warp speeds to ensure that you catch up to objects which disappear off into the distance giving a realistic combat experience.
There is also an option to play multiplayer games in the options menu, however for the purposes of this post, I did not try this out and so I am unable to comment on its functionality.
Is there much to recommend version two over the original game? In truth probably not as the gameplay across both Freespace games is very similar. The original Descent Freespace game also benefits from being an optimised Amiga port which Hyperion have further optimised over the past few months to ensure that it supports the latest version of Warp 3D which was released for Southern Island Radeon cards like my Radeon HD7750. The original game also makes use of Mini GL and allows me to run the game in a 1920×1080 screen mode and as you can see from the original game on the left hand side in the window, the person passing on the messages is clearly visible. If you are interested in picking up the original game also, I suggest you also check out the original too.
Freespace 2 is quite an enjoyable space combat type of game but on balance it could just do with being optimised further for Amiga OS in a better resolution than the one it is currently supplied. I would certainly check this out particularly if you are a fan of the game genre and for the £7.99 paid, this makes a good budget release.
Until next time have fun with your Amigas!