Independence War: Deluxe Edition (IWDE) is not really a sequel to the incredible Independence War (IW), but merely included a new campaign. If you're not in the know, IW was a space combat simulator wherein you faught on the side of the Commenwealth Navy against the Indies in an ongoing civil war. What set IW apart from the rest of the space sim crowd was the attention to detail both in its flight model and ship model. This was no turn and burn dogfighting sim wherein you fly a nimble fighter. In IW, you had a small starship with multiple stations to deal with.
The main difference between IW and IWDE is the inclusion of the Defiance campaign, which gives us a story from the Indies perspective this time. Defiance tells the story of your crew through a series of linear missions that are very story-oriented. There are a few differences, however, between this campaign and the original one in IW.
First off, you now have the option of selecting your weapon loadout before entering a mission. This usually isn't necessary, since the default options are usually enough to handle most missions, but it's nice that we have the options to change things. Secondly, we now have save points during the mission. This is a large criticism of games of this type, not being able to save mid-mission. This can lead to much frustration as a particularly long mission (and IW had many of these) can take several times to complete. The Defiance campaign, thanks to these save points, can go much quicker.
We now have a zoom/sniper option, which is nice for trying to hurt an enemy while they're still far away. We also now have some new weapons rounding out the mix for your destructive pleasure. Overall, while these enhancements are nice, it would have also been nice to see them included in the original IW campaign as well. Unfortunately, these enhancements are limited only to the Defiance campaign.
Next topic...how does it play? Well, quite well, in fact. If you play the game in simulator mode (there's also an arcade option for the wimps out there), you'll be graced with a flight model unlike anything in the genre has ever seen. We have inertial effects now, so ships don't turn and stop on a dime. We have multiple thruster modes for later and horizontal movement, among others. We also have multiple weapons and shields for those moments when combat occurs.
The learning curve for a game like this can be quite steep, which means it's a good thing the game has a fully loaded tutorial. These tutorial missions cover everything from navigation to weapons usage, and will really get the novice up and running in no time. There are a multitude of controls to remember, and a good programmable controller (or game commander) is definitely recomended.
How is the game's presentation? In a word, stunning. The original IW opens up with one of the BEST opening movies I've ever seen. This movie outshines some theatrical releases. The movie is fifteen minutes long and rendered in full CGI, making for a full CD for just one film. The opening for the Defiance campaign isn't as good as IW, but it does the job well, and is rendered in the same style.
The in-game graphics are nothing to sneeze at either. Taking advantage of Glide (no Direct3D support, sorry) the game's visuals are splendid. Match that with an unbelievable software mode, and you have a feast for the eyes. The sounds and voices are also well done, and there's no music to speak of besides in the cutscenes, which only adds to the atmosphere.
Overall, I'd have to say that if you're a fan of Science Fiction or space combat, you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't own this game. It's a real treat to play, and even when it's completed, you'll want to play it again, since the stories are so good. This is the benchmark by which all future space sims will probably be judged.
Graphics: If you have a 3dFX card, the graphics are great. If not, the software mode is nice too.
Sound: Ambient starship sounds and great voice acting only pull the player in.
Enjoyment: One of the most enjoyable space sims I've ever played.
Replay Value: This game is completely linear, but like any good book or movie, you'll want to experience it again.
People who downloaded Independence War Deluxe have also downloaded:
Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, Jane's AH-64D Longbow Gold, iF-22, Hind, Jane's F/A-18, Jane's 688(I) Hunter/Killer, Gunship!
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