STAR CONTROL / Acclaim / PC
If you're up on your Star Control 2 lore, you'll know that the war that is represented in this first Star Control game actually ends up being won by the bad guys -- the octo-spider-like Ur-Quan. Appropriately, the Ur-Quan Dreadnought in this first Star Control game is broken beyond the point of hope. It was bad enough in the sequel - only a few select ships with little tweaks and tics executed with crackerjack skill could even have a shot at it - but in this game there's just no hope whatsoever. Whosoever controls the Ur-Quan wins the game, and that's about the size of it. Such is history.
Not that it's ruining much. Unlike the stellar sprawling adventure of the sequel, the initial foray into the Star Control universe settles more for a tepid slow-paced strategy game punctuated occasionally by ship-to-ship arcade battles. The concept actually isn't that bad - you play a sort of combo of Risk and chess as you move ships under your control from planet to planet in a system, gathering resources by which to build new ships (and repair the wounded), and trying to asplode the enemies and overrun their main base while protecting your own. The thing that drags it down, however, is that this is all played out on a constantly rotating field of planets, which makes it very difficult to see at any given time which planets are close to you and what the exact series of moves is to get from one place to another (another "cool concept, didn't actually work so well in execution" moment.) There is no cohesive overall story here, however, just a handful of isolated pre-fab scenarios, and the option of customizing your own. Unless you have another Puny Hunam handy to play hot-seat with you on the regular, get ready to get tired of this mode very quickly, as the computer AI basically has only two settings - Rock Stupid and Ridiculous.
What that'll leave most players with is the arcade mode, wherein one or two players can choose their favorite ship and duel it out against any other, or send the entirety of the Alliance and Hierarchy fleets up against one another one at a time. While this mode is fun, it is unfortunately also outdone by its superior sequel, which has more overall ships and less of the play balance issues seen in this one.
I don't mean to suggest Star Control is a bad game - I bet it was pretty exciting back when it first came out, but with a superior sequel and about twenty years since then, there's unfortunately not a lot left here to get interested in anymore. Has not stood the test of time like its follow-up, unfortunately.
* Gameplay Video