Thursday, August 25, 2016

Frontier: Elite II


After a worrying delay, Frontier Elite II was released in early 1994 by Gametek and was unlike most other games due to its sheer size taking place in amongst the stars. Yep, that's right a whole universe of countless stars to explore which basically meant many long gaming nights are ahead (over the decades and through to the present day!)

Commander Jameson has sadly left this realm and you came along just in the nick time to reap the benefits of his will reading. Being his favourite grandson, he left you 100 credits with strict instructions to stay clear of Vegas. He also left you his pride and joy, an Eagle Long Range Fighter - so be careful and don't scratch it. You now have the means and opportunity to explore the heavens so jump into your new spaceship and begin the journey of your lifetime!

  
There are two basic starting positions and faster computers can even crank up the graphical details.

After watching the awesome intro, various menu options are available to begin your first adventure and I advise selecting Option 1 which places you safely in the Ross 154 System. Or more precisely, at the Sirocco starport on the planet Merlin. You have 100 credits and a rather funky piece of 3D called your spaceship so starting at Sirocco is a great place to learn the ropes of the GUI and basic trading skills along with brushing up on your piloting skills.

Frontier is an open world (space!) sandbox game which doesn't restrict in any traditional sense as you are free to travel almost anywhere and do almost anything you like. However, even gaming folklore doesn't come free and this style of living costs money. So use the spaceship to provide yourself with a good living by means of job contracts and trading because everyone needs something. This is where you come in to make your hard-earned cash.

  
First things first, let's check out the cool spaceships and find dodgy jobs on the bulletin boards.

Frontier's universe has two major factions, and this is the Trekkie part, for me. Firstly, we have the Federation who are based in the Sol system and then we have The Empire which is based within the Achenar system. Both offer a haven to live and trade but aren't exactly the best of friends. Also, outside the safety of their territory, you run the risk of running into pirates who want your precious cargo - and your life!! Whoever said life was gonna be easy?

These dogfights are difficult to master and possibly the hardest part of the entire game. Gone are the arcade style controls in favour of realistic Newtonian physics which will affect the control of your spacecraft. So, momentum will first need to be compensated in order for you to slow down, stop or change a direction. Perhaps it's now that I should advise saving your game at regular intervals? Learn physics because the pirates are tough cookies.

Ultimately, Frontier is all about trade and trying to earn yourself the means for a lucrative lifestyle through the adventures of space and exploring the heavens. Use your galactic map to explore a 3D perspective of creation to plan a route, dig for information to find out what they need, and then buy in bulk to earn lots of cash.

  
Check out your local solar system and then see what goods are best to trade in...

Enjoy your journey but prepare thyself because nothing beats making your first hyperspace jump - very exciting!! This automatically ends once you are within the vicinity of your destination, but the distance to travel is still huge, so don't forget to use the Stardreamer buttons to pass the time quicker! Auto-docking is finally supported and, once you're boarded, get details of goods sold to reap the biggest profits. Also, before you begin looking for another trade route, remember to refuel your ship otherwise you won't be able to make another hyperspace jump!

After earning lots of money, you might want to consider checking out the Bulletin Board where you can upgrade your ship or search for extra jobs like transporting passengers, help to find a missing person, mining, military work or information. Heck, there is even a black market for those without a conscience where you can trade slaves, weapons, narcotics, or even be an assassin. However, this dark lifestyle will definitely take you into dangerous waters so will almost certainly attract the attention of the law. Are you ready for that kinda heat, bad boy?

Frontier is one heck of a game and one with immense potential and I'm hoping this feature will regenerate your interest to play? Frontier is all about progression and making the right choices to build up your own empire. Don't expect to jump into the pilot's seat and see the entire universe in one sitting because will take time, money and commitment. Frontier: Elite II is jaw-dropping and quite literally one of the best games, ever.

  
What I love is exploring the universe... Hang on, what's that I see? Zoomed in and saw this beauty!!

Grab yourself a slice of creation and play this immense game right now which comes either on floppy or for your hard drive. The manual is available on AtariMania and you can catch a glimpse of the 16bit universe right now.

Pondering Time: I have been talking with AtariMania's Marko Latvanen and, between us, we cannot decide if Frontier was released at the latter end of 1993 or the early 1994. Sure, the other versions came out months earlier but our research is conflicting and I personally remember buying it in early 1994... We would appreciate any help :)

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