Before King’s Bounty There Was…

By Alec Meer on November 30th, 2009 at 8:17 pm.

I find myself reviewing Space Rangers 2: Reboot for PC Gamer magazine UK. Which is their business entirely, so you won’t hear any opinion on it from me here, bar linking to the review if it ends up online. But! It did create a little brain-tickle of worry that we hadn’t mentioned this revised version of the old multi-genre dear on RPS. Why should you care? Well, because it’s what many of the folks who are now known as Katauri Interactive did before the wondrous King’s Bounty: The Legend, and because it’s a game Kieron scored 9/10 to back when most publications were entirely dismissing it because it had a silly name and a low budget.

It’s a sprawling, weird, ever-changing, incomparable thing. Will the spit’n'polished Reboot version (new maps, a new 3D engine for the planetary battles) improve the crazed experience? Hopefully one of these other buggers can tell you at some point. There’s a trailer of sorts below, though it doesn’t paint as clear a picture as Girren’s review or Bill Harris’ delighted write-up, naming it his PC game of 2005.

That’s from the Rise of the Dominators expansion from a while back. This’un gives more of a sense of the various modes, but unfortunately has been soundtracked at random by an idiot.

Mute! Mute! Mute!

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45 Comments »

  1. salejemaster says:

    I bought an original copy of this gem in Serbia for 300 dinars which is roughly 3 euros :)

  2. Yehat says:

    Believe or not, but for me this is the best game of the soon ending decade.

  3. kai says:

    I was kinda expecting a space combat sim… :(

  4. Clovis says:

    This game made me vow to never play another game involving a trade system like that. I hated the RTS part (b/c I hate RTSs), and I didn’t really enjoy the text adventure stuff either. They just seemed repetitive and boring. I was probably just doing it wrong, but I have way too many other things to play before trying it again…

    • Ape says:

      People often reminisce about the old text adventure games. I remember them even from the old ZX Spectrum days. I’ve never understood them, they never understand me. Frustrating and then boring and then off.

      Maybe I just have the wrong type of mind, or I’m just stupid. Mmmm, probably the later.

    • jackflash says:

      Word. I loved the game overall, but found it bloody hard, and the text adventures and RTS parts annoyed me.

    • Matt says:

      I liked most of the game, but the text adventure stuff eventually ruined it for me. Not only did it completely not fit with the rest of the game, but it was poorly done as well. It would have been one thing if the player could somehow devise the correct choice from the text, but each aspect of it is effectively a random chance at seeing a game over screen. That’s just bad game design.

  5. jonfitt says:

    I heard tell from one of my sources that SR2 was great, but I never got around to looking it up.
    Perhaps we’ll see a demo of the Reboot?

  6. Pew says:

    I came for a possible HOMM retrospective, I got Space Rangers 2. Tried to get into that game up to three times over 2 years, but I never was patient enough to get into it :(

  7. Turin Turambar says:

    One of the best games of the last years. Better than King’s Bounty, a game that is well done, well produced, but that lacks the spark of SR2.

    It has hands down the best dynamic campaign/sandbox thing done in any videogame, with piracy, combat, trade, missions, smuggling, real ecnomy, dynamagic game-changing war against the dominators, and different player-effected relations with factions / races / planets. And good loot. And interface. And on top of that you have dozens of different text based adventures, and i mean totally different (math puzzles, choose your path adventure, rock star tycoon, space races, etc), and each text adventure had random factors or different solutions.
    And on top of that put an arcade 2d game. And on top of that put a (only passable, ok) 3d rts with design-your-mechs.

  8. Turin Turambar says:

    dynamagic = lol

  9. Wolfox says:

    One of my favorite games EVER.

  10. Fede says:

    Got SR2+expansion from the first Impulse sale more or less one year ago, and loved it. The endgame is a little grindy, but it’s still worth to finish.
    I liked a lot also the text adventures.

    Btw, one of the puzzles in Machinarium was also in one of SR2′s text adventures (the difference being SR2 required you to find the best soluion, not just to solve it, but it didn’t make a big difference).

  11. KJR says:

    I’ve played through this twice now and can foresee doing it again. It hooked me more than King’s Bounty, and is among my favorites of the decade. Few RPGs allow you to fill so many different roles in as satisfying a fashion.

  12. disperse says:

    I loved the turn-based space combat, the free market trading, and the factions. Absolutely hated the planetary assault missions but they were, more or less, optional. The text adventures were hit or miss (particularly with some spotty spelling/grammar) but didn’t ruin the game for me.

    I need to go back and revisit Space Rangers 2 at some point.

  13. Nox says:

    This is the only game that comes to mind which actually includes you, not as the ‘Savior of the Universe’ but, instead, one of many potential saviors. Granted, the AI Rangers will never defeat the Dominators alone, but that’s more a deliberate ‘you get to be the Ultimate Hero’ limitation imposed by the programmers than a lack of effort on your digital comrades’ part. They fight and die right along side you. They attempt to clear enemy-occupied territories, with or without your aid. They defend systems, shoot down pirates, and exist in the Ranger Ranking system as a testament to their achievements.

    I’ve sold this game to many of my friends who thought it was a strategy game as ‘the single best, faux-simultaneous turn-based RPG I’ve ever played.’ If you take out all of the other admittedly disjointed but fantastically enjoyable elements, it’s all about killing the bad guys, hoarding stat points and finally leveling up your favorite attributes and outfitting yourself with the best gear.

    It may be more accurate to describe it as a 2D Privateer or liken it to a flat Elite, but I prefer the RPG reference because it tends to garner more attention from the people with whom I consort. I also find that once I began approaching the game from an RPG point-of-view, it all began to click. This was after two false-starts with the game, where I couldn’t wrap my (meager) brain around it. The same thing occurred with Mount&Blade, but that game took me three tries before I was finally able to grok it.

    To those still on the fence: imagine a deep, strategic RPG with galaxies Civilization-like in their randomness & replayability and you may find what I did: one of the best-kept-secrets of PC gaming. It’s easily the best game of 2005, and one of my Favorite Games of All-Time(tm). There hasn’t been a game this immersive, or a universe this convincing, since Outcast. Oh, and the DRM-free version will play from a flash drive!

    For what it’s worth, these are all the opinions of someone who’s been gaming since the Atari 2600. Modify your expectations accordingly.

    • Argos says:

      That’s not strictly true. The AI will defeat the dominator in many cases, it depends on the difficulty settings you selected. Weak/strong dominator’s or genius/dumb scientists with cheap and readily available advanced equipment thrown in as a variables all drastically affect how well the AI ranger do against the dominator threat. I’ve had them save the galaxy before I shot down my first dominator in one game.

      The AI is actually quite competent. The other rangers tend to jump into the fray more often and occasionally join in on fights they aren’t yet equipped to handle more often then the player might… But fact is the only drawback they really suffer is the inability to reload their save game when they fail like the player does. :-P
      And you will fail sooner or later. The you will ponder and rethink the situation, refine your strategies and ultimately succeed after numerous strenuous attempts. You will find this pay off for your hard work extremely gratifying as well.

  14. Dean says:

    Loved this but the poor translation frustrated the hell out of me (spoiled the text adventures, which otherwise would have been the best part. Then a translation patch came out, but the expansion came out at around the same time. So I got the expansion thinking I’d replay it and, doh, the translation patch doesn’t work with it (ie. doesn’t work at all, not just doesn’t improve translations of the new stuff).

    There was talk of updating it but nothing seems to have happened so I’m stuck in limbo over it…

  15. Dean says:

    Oh and Alec, Rise of the Dominators was just the US subtitle for the game (it was Space Rangers 2: Dominators over here). It wasn’t a separate expansion. Reboot is the only expansion. Wouldn’t be that picky about a blog post but if you’re reviewing it for Gamer then it might be good to know!

  16. Dominic White says:

    Reboot has more content, better balance, and a worse translation than ever the base game. Please, someone, tell me there’s a fan-translation patch to turn all the garbled russlish into proper english? The game IS fantastic though, despite this irritating shortcoming.

    It’s kinda like playing as a single rogue, autonomous unit in a massive 4x strategy game. It was mentioned above that the friendly AI factions can’t ‘win’ the game, but I actually think it’s possible, given enough time and a little support from the player.

    There’s a huge game going on. Armies move, planets fall, empires burn, and you’re just this single rogue element that can sent thundering tornadoes of activity across the universe with just a beat of your wings.

    It is lovely, and there really isn’t anything even remotely like it.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      The bad translation is a feature, it adds to the game’s charm.

    • Dominic White says:

      The bad translation was merely charming first time round. It was awkward as hell in places, but never impossible to understand. For the new text adventures that were added with Reboot, it makes them a nightmare to comprehend.

  17. Nerd Rage says:

    The text adventures were a little weird sometimes, not just due to occasional translation hiccups but also from differences in cultural expectations. In your typical american game/movie, the hero punches the big guy in the nose and it’s a big statement of some sort. In Space Rangers, if you opt to punch the Maloq in the nose, you are literally beaten to death after he recovers from his side-splitting fit of laughter, saying something about your puny man status as he breaks your skull open against the wall. That, or a Peleng shanks you.

    As Nox observed – For most of the game, you’re not THE hero, you’re just another jerk with a ship who might turn out to be a hero. Awesome game.

  18. bergotronic says:

    I have the original SR2, and have been meaning to play through again. Anyone happen to know where I can get the reboot expansion or both bundled online for cheap???

  19. robolove says:

    I’m sold. I’ve read what you all have to say and frankly, I cannot wait.

    This sounds remotely like Mount and Blade in it’s overarching structure, would that be a fair assertion?

    My only question now is which game do I start on? Which one would be best for me get into the series?

  20. Tim James says:

    The game is excellent, but I didn’t like the RTS balance and avoided most of those. The text adventures could have used a little more polish. Still more than enough fun; killing those Dominators and saving up for new items was a blast.

    Wait, I mean… check out my review next month! (Sorry, I know it must require some light footing to make a buck as old media collides with new.)

  21. Heliocentric says:

    Space rangers is the sci fi cousin of mount and blade, with 4000% more crazy. Just one (wo)man/thing against the world, or rather which ever bits of the world you wrong.

    Fly with a fleet of fellow pirates preying on the weak or a hire an escort while you ferry drugs. Or as i generally did, go it alone and do every mission you can to earn the high tech equipment you need to go on to kick the baddies in the teeth like an asbo youth and float like a moth.

    You can actually suppress the enemies financially by financing millitary vessels, you only need get your hands dirty to deliver to killing blow.

  22. Culprititus says:

    So this game sounds like a really awesome version of SM Pirates (In Space!). I’d sort of dismissed the 1st one when I saw it at a box store, so I never even gave it a chance until seeing all this praise given to it at RPS.

    All the talk about the exploration and RPG/RTS aspects really remind me of Pirates in a good way. It sounds like it takes some of the same ideas and really fleshes them out with some nice depth and interest. Pirates just ended up being goal-less and kind of point-less after a while. I’ll be trying to acquire this somehow.

    Thanks for the heads-up. I’m so glad RPS is here!

  23. qrter says:

    PC Gamer is really on top of all the new releases, I guess..? Oh well, at least they’re looking for it to be reviewed.

    I loved both games. I’d skip the original and head straight for the Reboot, if I were a new player. GamersGate has the game too, btw.

    I am a bit perturbed no one seems to have linked to roBurky’s first hilarious gaming diary (after this years Alice & Kev diaries , I mean) – Arthur Stone & The Rusty Nail, which is all about SR2.

  24. Arctic_Wolf says:

    Space Rangers 2 is an absolutely great game but I always get frustrated with the beginning. It’s not the evading combat at the beginning stages, I can do that and that’s fun as it’s part of the danger of being a trader.

    What gets me is the arms race of technology, missions start to have tighter deadlines and eventually for me I get bogged down with taking too many deadlines and losing time and money trying to get to an out of the away system to buy upgrades.

  25. malkav11 says:

    I will say a couple of things about Space Rangers 2.

    #1) It is, basically, the space sim I’ve been looking for all my life. What I mean by that is that it has everything I like about space sims: exploring the galaxy, running missions, trading, fighting pirates and a greater threat, being a pirate if you feel like it, upgrading your ship and tech, etc etc….but as it is not actually a space sim, it doesn’t require me to have a joystick, learn newtonian physics, etc, and as it is turn-based, it doesn’t require me to have twitch reflexes, good aim, etc. Plus it has text adventures.

    #2) It is sufficiently cool that I actually bought it brand new, for the full $50, despite the original boxed version having been encumbered with vile and treacherous Starforce. (Don’t worry if you buy it on Impulse – that’s gone.) Then rebought it when Impulse had a crazy sale on the bundle with the expansion.

    #3) You may see that there is a Space Rangers 1. It came in the original retail box. You don’t need it – it’s the same game, but less of everything. There’s some minor plot variation but not enough to worry about unless you’re reeeally OCD about such things.

  26. chaws says:

    Does anyone know where I can purchase this for less than thirty United States smackers? Seems a bit steep for a 2005 release, no?

  27. roBurky says:

    If anyone wants some convincing that this is one of the greatest games ever made, try the tale of Arthur Stone and the Rusty Nail:
    http://www.roburky.co.uk/?p=14

  28. Acosta says:

    What would be the way to buy the best package of the game? I remember Impulse had this but only in some regions and it discouraged me to get it, has been solved? (I am european). What I should get? Space Ranger 2, Rise of the Dominators and Reboot? or would SR2 and Reboot would be enough?

    • malkav11 says:

      Meer is confused. Rise of the Dominators is the subtitle for Space Rangers 2 proper. Reboot is the one and only expansion. Get SR2 + Reboot and you have all the Space Rangers 2 there is.

  29. Redd says:

    This is one of those games that requires a bit of imagination for it to truly shine. Not nearly as much as Dwarf Fortress, but judging by the comments here it’s in the same category of “you either get it or you don’t”. That said, I’ve been known to spend days in a fantasy triggered by brightly coloured bits of cardboard, so bear that in mind as I praise it.

  30. Yargh says:

    Add +1 (or more) to the list of players for whom this game is one of the all time favourites.

    I loved the variety the weird and wonderful universe they created.

  31. Lucas says:

    The element that makes SR2 worth coming back to is the world dynamics. This is the key that all the recent “open world” games are missing. Give the world some life the player can interact with and alter, even transparently, and the replay value grows enormously. Every single designer should play Sid Meier’s Pirates! to grasp the Cliff-notes version of this in action.

  32. miles says:

    it’s a real shame for you all english speaking guys, cuz in Poland, SR2 translation was just brilliant, and playing text adventures was my favourite experience in the game.
    Yeah, some of them were repetitive, but still, they were witty and imaginative (especially that one which reminded me of Franz Kafka’s ‘Der Prozess’ and that one in which you had to complete a galatic rock band)

    indeed, that game is pure AW3SOM3!

  33. dadioflex says:

    I’ve been playing Reboot for the last few days. I bought it in the Impulse sale months ago but because I’d played the original SR2 to death when it came out I was in no hurry to go back to it. The main reason I got it off Impulse was to get around the Starforce on the original disks.

    After a couple of days playing reboot I have to say, it’s a subtly different game. They Diablo-ed it up a bit. A bit! There are some missions which are bonkers though. There was a ship defence RTS mission that was brutal. Never did win it.

    Too many, oh it’s 4 am in the morning, how did that happen moments.

  34. alex says:

    Me two. One of the best gaming experience I ever have. Love it.

    Truth is, the first time I play it, I thought it was crappy game. I always couldn’t be patience enough to try out new game. But when I saw how my friend try play it from my PC, I thought it was fun and start play it for real. And toward the end, I couldn’t count my manhours wasted for this game. It was incredible addicted to finish it. Though, how the game end quite disappoint me. The boss is defeated and game over with high score? Is this some kind of arcade game? I’m always hope for different kind of ending like open play after the game end. But still, you could try play it back with higher difficulties. I try it but sometimes lose it at early game.

    Kudos to the developer of SR2.

    • alex says:

      I never take the RTS mission. Only the first ranger mission, only. Then after that I never take any RTS. Too hard and time consuming to complete. Cannot save game while doing RTS. And reward is not that much. Better do delivery or text based mission. If you think text based to hard to beat, try find walkthrough. It really easy actually to beat text based mission. Some of the fun text based mission is that holiday resort. Make sure to save game before taking quest.

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