Frontier: First Encounters is the third part of Elite series. You are a space pirate and you fly around through the universe in your space craft to fulfill different missions. You can also earn money by trading cargo with other races.
At the moment, Elite 3 is the last in the Elite series. Elite 4 is planned, but it doesn't seem like it will come out any time soon. Like in previous Elites, you take the role of a pilot trying to work his rank up to Elite.
You will start with a capable fighter ship and an auto pilot installed. From here on, you can choose your own destiny. For example, you can become a trader in order to make a lot of money until you can afford huge cargo ships. Trading makes the biggest profit in the game, especially illegal one (with weapons, drugs, liquor...).
Besides trading you can become a galactic taxi and drive people around to their desired destinations. This can be profitable too but there is usually a catch with those good offers, so be sure to ask the necessary questions.
A mining carer is also possible. In this one you need to use mining lasers and mining machines that are manually deployed on the planet. You can mine various ores and then sell them to the best bidder.
This game offers three more carers that are bloodier than the rest. You can take the role of a pirate, attacking ships, stealing their cargo and selling it. Another one is being an assassin, "removing" people for large amounts of money. It can be profitable but it's also very dangerous. The last one is a military career in which you can pilot lightly equipped and highly manoeuvrable military fighter. As much as it is fun flying these crafts, you will also find this career very difficult because it doesn't pay too much money and it is very dangerous. These crafts are so small that it's hard to find one with enough room for shields.
Graphics are good (use outer camera to see some spectacular scenery), music is awesome midi classics, sound effects are good (could be better sometimes), time compression is done good and the best part seems to be the newspapers which range from serious political and scientific ones, to simple gossips and yellow press. The game has two downsides though. Lack of good story - the Empire and Federation are supposed to be at war, but you hardly notice that if you are a trader. Maybe it's more visible in military carer, but personally I never went down that road. The second downside would be its realistic flight model which is too realistic sometimes, along with unrealistic way of equipping the ship. Large ships can carry a lot of shield generators and because of that they are hard to destroy, while smaller ships will die too fast (hard to play a role of a pirate like that).
Known bugs that I found: Some huge ships may get stuck when auto piloting into a small space station. Trading ships model has errors. One can't always fire missiles (missile often simply fires and hits your own hull), second one (Griffin Trader) has a hull in the way when you operate top laser turret. This means when you shoot backwards with the top turret you will be shooting your own hull and can even destroy yourself.
Aside from that it's a good game, especially for those who like exploring and want to see how it would be like to travel through space. It also has a nice starting animation.
People who downloaded Frontier: First Encounters (aka Elite 3) have also downloaded:
Elite Plus, Elite 2: Frontier, Elite, Hardwar, Gunship 2000, Grand Prix 2, Gettysburg for Windows, Great Naval Battles 1
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