Ares Rising is a space combat title in which you play Marlowe at a time when warring factions sit on the edge of galactic war. Habitable planets are scarce, as are resources. The conflict rages around a mysterious and powerful alien artifact.
As Marlowe, it is up to you to accept the assignment offered by Helena which will bring steady work and, of course, wealth. Sounds great, except Helena is a representative of the ruthless IPEC overlord Radivic Karadescu. The fate of the universe is with you, as is the fate of the human race. Your chance for glory is at hand.
Ares Rising allows you to outfit your ship with hundreds of different weapon and equipment combinations. It includes advanced flight simulation characteristics. Choose from inertial or fly-by-rail flight models. Other abilities include control of wingmen and stealth combat abilities, utilizing cloaking devices, passive energy systems, communications jammers and decoys.
The multi-player game supports a maximum of eight players via TCP/IP, IPX LAN, modem or serial connection. Player characteristics are remembered across multiple multi-player sessions. Continue to build your power and capabilities game after game.
Graphically this game falls short. The quality of these graphics are comparable to Wing Commander 3, a veteran game released many years ago without 3d acceleration. This title does sport 3d acceleration in the form of D3D, however it sure doesn't look like it. I didn't notice any of the fancy hardware enhancements I would expect from a 3d enhanced shooter. Translucency, realistic smoke trails, etc are all completely missing in this game. The ships are all cartoony as are the projectiles. The ships are a joke compared to the Wing Commander 5 armada, especially when put up against the WC5 enemy ships, organic, dark and scary looking. The projectiles are especially cheesy and ruin any realism this title had in terms of graphics. The laser beams are single fat sprites that look completely unrealistic and unnecessarily cartoony. The missiles look like a fireball sprite that repeats itself. If you are looking for translucent smoke trails and dynamic colored lighting you will be sorely disappointed. The aboard-ship rendered backgrounds look adequate, but lack a polish and look kind of like they were thrown together quickly just to finish up the package. The menus and layout are simple enough to navigate but again don't look like anything special. Fortunately the HUD is relatively nice, it is well placed and shows all the information cleanly and clearly without any excess fluff to confuse the eye in the middle of a dogfight. In 1998 when faced with Descent: Freespace and Wing Commander 5 and the expectation of enhanced 3d graphics, this game does not deliver.
The sound is adequate but adds nothing to the game. There is very limited speech, the few pieces I hear I couldn't understand very well because they are very low quality recordings. The sound FX are standard fare, they definitely don't convey the sort of excitement and power I would expect to hear in the middle of a space dogfight. I feel sound is important in heightening the gameplay of any game and in this case the sound does not deliver. It does not add to the adrenaline pumping excitement but rather blandly does its job. Unsatisfactory sound.
I'm afraid this game is just not fun! Perhaps if there were absolutely no good space flight games out there, this game would be really good. Unfortunately for Ares Rising we have stellar games such as Descent: Freespace and Wing Commander 5 which we must inevitably draw a comparison to. In such a comparison Ares Rising loses out in all categories. There are many many missions, which is a good thing. The missions are all rather tame, which is a bad thing. I simply did not get into this game and I could not enjoy it. I was constantly comparing it to the aforementioned games and saying "I could be having more fun playing those...I could be having more fun playing those...." The sheer number of missions might attract some, but the lack of fun in the missions will repel most people. As well, there is absolutely no real story to the game. You are a hired mercenary, a common theme in games these days, however this doesn't allow for any character development or plot development. There is no interaction between your player and others, in fact the entire interaction takes places via emails on a computer. This doesn't give you any sense of character or emotion in the game, something I think is important. Additionally, the missions aren't always tied in, because there is no real sequence to them. One of the pluses in this game is the configurability. You can completely configure weapon loads and all sorts of things related to your character. You can choose what missions to take and what not to take. Things like this add some choice and therefore replay factor to this game. Control is fine, you can use a keyboard, mouse, or joystick and they all work fine. The buttons aren't very intuitive so you might want to access a computer before you fly any missions and go to the GAME CONTROL section and see how the keys are laid out. Otherwise no problems in that department. Too bad the fun of flying isn't present in this title, and there is no development plotwise during the game.
Fun Factor: [14/20]
As I said before, this game isn't fun. The combination of bad graphics, bad sound, and non-suspenseful and rather tame gameplay makes up for a pretty boring experience. I hate to do it again, but I must compare it to Descent: Freespace and Wing Commander 5. Both those games were a lot of fun, and this game is not. I can't see anybody getting this game when they can get those other two games. Customability is a nice plus, it adds to the fun to be able to completely configure the weapon loads on your fighter, but that is something you could do in other games, so it's not a unique feature.
Multiplayer Play: [4/5]
Multiplayer is one of the better features in this game, I've always been a fan of dogfighting with my pals over the internet. However Multiplay is also present in Descent: Freespace (but not Wing Commander 5) and it's done better in that game. All the standard connection methods are supported.
Overall Impression: [6/10]
I just can't enjoy this game when I know there are better games of this type out there. I read a whole bunch of previews before playing this game, and they were all really positive and enthusiastic. This is not the game that will revolutionize the space sim genre. It is crushed in terms of graphics and sound by all the recent space sims and it is beaten in gameplay too. Considering this was made by the maker of Privateer, I'm disappointed with this effort. Retool the graphics and sound, add a sprinkle of fun and variety to the gameplay and call me when you're done.
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