45% - Downright Ugly
Its the usual streamlined Windows 9X affair - insert the CD and run setup.
The fun ends shortly after you read the usual legal mumbo-jumbo. The default space requirement is an astounding 1.2 gigabytes. This is about five times the amount X-Wing Alliance required! By keeping the FMV sequences to the CD-ROM, you can narrow that number down to about 920MB. Users with lower end hardware can also free up a few hundred megabytes more by removing all of the high resolution (1024x768) mode textures and options.
As a testament to the sheer amount of data that needs to be copied to the hard drive, you will also be stunned to find out the 1st CD is an installation CD only!
Installation takes its due time depending on the speed of your CD-ROM drive, but is still a lot less time consuming than most professional (work related) applications.
Gamers should take the system requirements with a grain of salt. Freespace 2 is as much a system hog as Unreal, albeit a much more stable one. 640x480 mode is fairly smooth on a 300MHz Celeron, but you will need at least a 450MHz processor to handle the 1024x768 resolution. With a standard TNT class video card, the game is fairly smooth (25-30fps) for most sequences but drops down to 10-15fps in the nebula missions. Don't even think about running this game without 64 megabytes of RAM.
Freespace 2 is surprisingly free of major bugs, but a few nasties rear their head:
- Letting the game sit while you go eat, etc., is not a good idea. After a few minutes, the music locks, the CD-ROM drive spins down, and the only way out is through the reset button on your computer.
- In what seems to be a memory leak, Freespace 2 is often guilty of crashing after playing the game for long periods of time (more than 5 missions).
- The 8x CD-ROM drive requirement might as well be considered a bug for being such a heinous act of false advertising. Expect constant chop, sound repeating, and the occasional system freeze.
Finally, Interplay must be frowned upon for their choice of packaging. Instead of using a standard jewel case (2 or a double would be needed), Interplay settled for a cardboard flap design that poorly protects the CD-ROM's and is adorned with advertisements.
Documentation is more than acceptable - while the manual is unfortunately the standard black and white, it is well written, and comes with freestanding keyboard controls guide. The latter proves invaluable for learning how to use advanced commands.
Celeron 300A @ 450MHz,
SDRAM 128MB PC-100,
STB Velocity 4400 TNT,
Diamond Monster Sound MX200
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