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Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators
Space Rangers 2:
Rise of the Dominators
Developer:Elemental Games
Publisher:Cinemaware Marquee
Genre:Strategy Role-playing
Release Date:March 2006
Article Posted:April 2006
System Requirements

You successfully complete the 20 parsec jump between the Arctur and Kephrone systems. As you come out of hyperspace, you set the course for the planet Upsula-Vega and try to relax. Your cargo is extremely important for the war against the Dominators and you have to reach Upsula-Vega within ten days. If everything goes as planned, you should have more than enough time to complete the mission. Then you can join your fellow rangers in the battle to liberate the Marcabe system.

Drifting ever closer to your destination, you enjoy the eternal serenity of space. The distant stars look beautiful. They also glow with the promise of greater glory and the fulfillment of your grand destiny. You lose yourself in the peaceful ocean of stars and your dreams of grandeur. Yet a strong laser blast shakes your spaceship and harshly brings you back from your reverie. Even as you order the computer to switch to manual control, you receive the telecom signal from the pirate ship that attacked you. The corsair is demanding several thousand credits before he will allow you to pass safely. Unfortunately for this loser, he has no idea who he is trying to rob.

You respond to his message by returning fire to the pirate’s ship. The pirate initially tries to put up a fight as you circle around each other firing your weapons. But before long, the corsair realizes your piloting skills are far greater and your weapons are far more powerful. He tries to turn around and fly away. You pull the trigger one last time and watch the enemy ship blow into pieces. He should have known better than threaten a ranger.

You set the course back towards Upsula-Vega and put the ship on autopilot. As soon as you reach your destination, you know you will have to embark on another journey and take on a harder task. You are a free-spirited warrior, a daring mercenary, and a cunning trader. A member of the legendary Space Rangers, you are the last hope of an entire galaxy on the brink of extermination.

Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators is a truly remarkable achievement. Featuring successfully implemented elements from multiple genres, the game offers an immersive experience that will keep you chained to the computer for many hours. Between the sheer diversity of addictive game play and the engaging atmosphere, Space Rangers 2 is a rare treat waiting to be discovered.

The game is set in the far future. Mankind has long made contact with other intelligent alien races. Spanning the entire galaxy, humans and the other members of the Coalition of Peaceful Races somehow manage to live in harmony despite their differences. Three hundred years have passed since the events in the original Space Rangers. The stories of the war against the Klissans are still widely told. People remember how the Space Rangers rose to the challenge when the regular military forces failed. The legendary bravery, resilience, and unfaltering dedication of the space rangers ended a terrible war three centuries ago. But now, far greater danger threatens the whole galaxy.

The Dominators are invading star systems with terrifying power and slaughtering civilians with cruel, calculated, and mechanical efficiency. These sentient self-repairing and self-replicating robots are descending upon civilization with unprecedented force. The great military fleet has already miserably failed to stop the invaders. The galaxy’s strongest ships were shattered in a great battle while the Dominators suffered nothing more than a minor setback. It is once again time to change tactics. Where huge fleets and massive firepower have failed, a cunning tactical strike force might succeed. It is time to call upon the Space Rangers. The legendary group of independent warriors may be the only hope for salvation.

You start Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators as a newly- recruited ranger with a humble ship and very meager resources. The simple character creation process includes selecting your character’s race, portrait, starting skills, class, and equipment. Players have the option to participate in a few simple training missions to help them learn how to play the game. However, once you are done with the training, you are completely free to play the game in any way you choose. Your decisions during character creation by no means greatly restrict you throughout the game. Space Rangers 2 is all about finding your own path through the galaxy. Whether you choose to play as a heroic warrior rising to the defense of the people, a cutthroat pirate terrorizing the star systems, a great trader, or something in between, the decisions are yours to make.

The most distinguishing feature of Space Rangers 2 is the incredible diversity of game play. Space Rangers 2 carries strong space exploration, tactical combat, role-playing, real-time strategy, arcade, and even text-based adventure elements all in one game. This is a game where you can go from a simple delivery mission to a massive space battle. Upon completing a text-based adventure featuring an interplanetary pizza-making contest, you might be asked to personally command a battle on the surface of a planet. There are enough different game play elements to appeal to a wide variety of players. And to make things even better, much of the content is optional, allowing players who may not appreciate all of the genres covered an opportunity to focus on other parts of the game.

The primary objective in Space Rangers 2 is to locate and destroy the three command centers that belong to the Dominators. You start the game with a simple ship and limited funds. Unable to pack much firepower, you cannot initially stand against the invaders. You are recommended to visit different planets to acquire missions from their governors. By completing these missions, hunting down pirate ships, or harassing civilian ships, you gain experience and become a better pilot. Eventually new technologies become available and you earn enough money to buy better equipment. When you have a strong enough ship to hold its own in a large space battle, you can start taking on groups of Dominators and fight to liberate star systems.

Each day is considered a turn in Space Rangers. However, the structure in which you use turns is different than many other games. While you are in a star system, you can click on a point at any distance and any direction. This sets the course for your ship and shows you the number of turns you will need to arrive at the designated location. When you execute the action, your spaceship automatically flies in the indicated direction. While you are setting your course, other ships and planets remain stationary. All ships, asteroids, and planets move at the same time when you choose to end your turn. Using this simple interface, you can instruct your ship to cross a star system or land on a planet. If you are attacked during any of the turns spent to reach your destination, the game automatically prompts you to take action at the end of the turn. If you set your ship on a course that will take multiple days to traverse, you can also command the game to stop the action at the end of any given turn.

Travel between star systems is accomplished by entering into hyperspace. The distance your ship can cover in hyperspace is determined by the power of its engine and measured in parsecs. At the beginning of the game, you have a simple engine that can only jump across a very limited distance. This restricts your ability to move freely between all the star systems and requires you to plot your course carefully. As you upgrade to better engines, your ship becomes able to jump across far greater distances. Once your ship can go across multiple star systems in a single jump, travel time will be tremendously reduced.

The tactical space combat in Space Rangers 2 also makes use of the turn-based structure of the game. Players can control the fight directly by assigning orders to fire weapons and fly the ship. When the game is paused in between turns, you can choose the direction and the distance your ship will fly that turn. You can also attempt to attack if you are close enough for shots from any of your weapons to reach the enemy. However, if you do not want to bother with assigning orders each turn, you can use the automatic battle mode. In this mode, your character will automatically engage the enemy. The battle will go on until the enemy ship is destroyed or your ship receives critical damage. The game’s feature that prompts you when the ship has received critical damage gives you chance to take charge and run away. You can also interfere and instruct the game to stop at the end of any turn.

Against one or two enemies, the automatic battle system works very well. Players might want to consider using it to save time and get through the fight quickly. However, especially when you are facing a large group of Dominators, the tactical space combat gets pretty intense. The automated dogfights might bring you too close to the stronger enemy ships that you might find too difficult to face alone. In these situations, taking control of the action and assigning orders in each turn might be the best approach.

Since players will start the game with limited firepower, it is difficult to engage in a great deal of fighting. As such, completing the missions assigned by planet governors is a good way to advance through the early stages. These missions vary greatly in terms of their background stories and objectives. The simplest tasks are delivery requests that require your character to transfer cargo from one planet to another within a set number of days. The only challenge in these missions is to plot your course between star systems to make efficient jumps and reach your destination on time. Especially early on, you may have to make multiple stops during the journey to refuel your ship, and completing the objective might be somewhat challenging.

Even though the delivery missions can sound tedious and boring, Space Rangers 2 manages to give them unique background stories to keep them interesting. For instance, one of the tasks assigned by the Faeyan race involves returning a toothbrush “accidentally” left on the planet by a human visitor. Curiously, the toothbrush contains a camera, which the Faeyans suspect is used to study the user’s brain. The aliens take it upon themselves to greatly enhance the equipment to conduct a much better scan. Of course, upon delivery, you realize that the toothbrush was actually a bug carefully placed to spy upon the aliens. The good mix of serious and whimsical content in the missions greatly helps break away from the tedium during the very early phases of the game.

Upon completing a few deliveries, governors will start assigning you other types of missions. Sometimes your character will be asked to escort a transport ship for a set number of days. You will have to follow the ship across star systems and fight off pirates. One particularly memorable escort mission involves guarding a spaceship where the defrosting of Elvis Presley is taking place. You have to make sure the King safely wakes up from his cryogenic sleep and rejoins society. Other missions will require you to track down and destroy a particularly notorious pirate. You may also be charged with the safety of an entire star system, making sure no civilian ships are harmed for a set number of days. And these are only examples of the simplest mission types. Space Rangers 2 also features two additional mission types that are completely different than the ones involving space exploration and combat.

Governors will occasionally assign you tasks that play like a text-based adventure game. These missions truly show the creative genius behind Space Rangers 2. They vary greatly in terms of setting, story, and execution. Some of them are played like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel where you make key decisions that either result in the success or failure of the mission. Others feature certain role-playing elements such as character stats. One exceptionally memorable quest has your character training a team of clerks for a very special contest. The vastly popular competition pits clerks from all over the galaxy against each other in a series of challenges. You will have to determine which team members will be most effective in challenges ranging from wrestling to encyclopedic knowledge and lead the team to victory. Another quest will require you to put together a rock band and perform at a concert while a third one will have you mastering the etiquette of an alien race. The creativity that has gone into these missions is obvious. They also make a nice occasional break from the core game play.

Your character will also be asked to complete missions that are played as real-time strategy games. These tasks will put you against Dominators on the surface of various planets. You are given control of a robot manufacturing plant. You can choose the chassis and weapons that will be used on the robots produced. You can also construct turrets to defend your base. Production efforts consume one of three types of resources. At any given time, you can have a limited number of robots under your command. Facilities that produce resources are distributed across the map. By capturing these facilities, you not only ensure a steady flow of materials, but also increase the maximum number of robots you can manufacture. Dominators also have similar bases across the map. Your mission is to command your team and capture the enemy bases.

An interesting feature during the real-time strategy is the ability to take direct control of robots. If you choose to use this feature, you control one of the robots on your team from a first-person perspective. While this may not be the game’s best implemented feature, it might give you an opportunity to take out stationary targets from a safe distance without putting your entire strike force at risk.

On top of the wide variety of missions, Space Rangers also features additional activities to keep you occupied. For instance, you can realize great financial gains by engaging in trade. Each inhabited planet has a trade center that sells various goods. Prices vary greatly between different planets. While food products are common and inexpensive in one planet, minerals might be rare. A planet with plenty of cheap medical supplies may have a great demand for luxury items. As such, it is possible to buy items in one planet and sell them at another for profit.

Players can also visit special space stations at various star systems. It is possible for your ranger to catch diseases during his or her travels. These diseases can dramatically diminish your ability to engage in combat. By visiting medical centers, you can have the best doctors in the galaxy treat your character. Science centers engage in research activities to make discoveries to aid in the battle against the Dominators. You can capture equipment from destroyed Dominator ships and sell them to these research facilities. The availability of additional materials speeds up the research efforts. Since the discoveries the scientists are trying to make are important in the war against the Dominators, you might gain more than money by helping them. You can also visit business centers to take loans or military bases to request military operations. If you can afford them, military operations call upon powerful battleship across the galaxy to fight together and liberate a star system. Joining these fights gives you an opportunity to benefit from additional firepower while facing large groups of Dominators. Space Rangers 2 also allows you to hire other rangers to fight under your command. While it might be costly to hire additional rangers, having extra help during battle can be extremely useful.

Traveling through space, you will occasionally encounter black holes. If you choose to go inside any of these black holes, you can discover yet another aspect of Space Rangers. The black holes will take you to far reaches of space where you will assume manual, real-time control of your ship. You will be pitted against enemy ships as you explore the area and obtain various power-ups.

While Space Rangers has many strong features, the game does have a couple of problems. First of all, the wide variety of content and game play elements featured means that there is a learning curve to the game. Especially during the first few minutes of the game, players might be at a loss as to how they need to proceed. The massive galaxy may be daunting and it may take time to get used to the space travel. Players who are hoping to immediately engage the Dominators may also be disappointed since they will not start the game with a strong enough ship with a lot of firepower. However, once you spend a few hours and discover most of the game’s features, Space Rangers 2 will become far more entertaining.

There are also a few parts of the game where the English is not as clear and easy to understand as it should be. Thankfully, the language problem is not significant enough to greatly detract from the gaming experience. Finally, the real-time strategy portions of Space Rangers 2 suffer from some AI problems. Your robots are somewhat ineffective in navigating the map and assaulting the enemy as a unified front. Even when you try to closely control them in groups, they seem to get distanced from one another. One or two frequently robots engage the enemy first and suffer heavy damage before the others get into the action. Once again, the problems are not terribly significant and will not take away too much from the overall game play experience, especially considering that they are not the main focus of the game.

While they may not utilize stunning cutting-edge technology, the graphics in Space Rangers 2 are sufficient to create a feeling of immersion, and the presentation is always clear. The sound effects are once again not exceptional, but they get the job done. The music on the other hand is very fitting for the games atmosphere and stands out as a strong feature of the game. Many of tracks successfully create a feeling of urgency and serve as a reminder of what being a ranger truly entails. The techno tunes work well with the futuristic setting and the fairly large number of tracks keeps the music from becoming boring throughout the lengthy game.

Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators is a remarkably strong offering. The game manages to incorporate elements from multiple genres into a truly engaging and immersive experience. Enjoying real-time strategy combat, turn-based space fights, and text-based adventures all in the same game makes Space Rangers 2 quite unique. On top of the massive amounts of content offered, the game also has significant replay value. The five different available races, the ability to take your ranger career in different directions, and the randomization of the missions you encounter means that you can play the game many times and have a unique experience. The version of the game released in the United States also comes with a full version of the original Space Rangers, making the purchase all the more attractive. If you are looking for a game to keep you busy for many hours while offering a great deal of original creative content, you will not want to miss Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators. It is an exceptional effort that is worthy of notice.

The final grade is 93/100.


PC System Requirements:
Windows® 2000/XP
Intel Pentium® II 450 MHz
128 MB RAM
800 MB Free Hard Drive Space
16 bit video card
4x CD-ROM Drive