Gaming Made Me: Frontier: Elite II

By Craig Pearson on November 9th, 2011 at 5:40 pm.

You now have Blue Danube in your head

I still can’t remember why I wanted it so much. I hadn’t played the original Elite, and didn’t even really think about picking it up when that want started. I wasn’t even a space game fan. But I can remember asking my mum for it, and after a long, long wait it landed in my hands.

Frontier broke me. My understanding of how open it was didn’t actually prepare me for how lost I would get in it, and how much that would taint other games (of its kind and tangentially similar) in my starstruck eyes. From the moment I looked back durning my first take-off, watching the Earth congeal on my screen, the bulk of planet sliding in from the edges, other space games were utterly ruined.

I was off on my first mission, flying into space to deliver a small package. Really. It was mundane, unexciting, but wrapped so completely up in a universe that felt so overwhelmingly large that I started to feel part of it. I missed out on the real world, my school’s summer holidays, as I ferried packages between Sol and Barnard Star, earning a meagre wage as part of the Federation Military.

Its simplicity is often overlooked. Most space games are brutal on the fingers, but Frontier managed to pull off an RPG where you defined your own rules in a world of 100’000’000 stars without ever feeling complicated. Even with a Newtonian flight model. Not knowing any better, I just adapted to it, not realising just how remarkable the feats it was asking me to pull off were.

Delivering packages is one thing, but further along my military career I’d pick up missions that involved warping into enemy territory, the hated drug-smuggling, slavers of the Empire, and photographing their military installations. Frontier models solar systems, stars, planets, moons and asteroids. After arriving at a solar system a pinprick lightyears away would reveal itself to be a huge gas giant: terrifyingly large, hanging like a mallet over a nut over the moons it had captured in its gravitational pull.

On one of those moons there’d be an Empire base. I’d angle the ship, pulling the nose up to float into the atmosphere. I remember it was usually easier to cut the engines, gliding over the base in silence, floating down towards the planet. The base would detect me, scramble its fighters as I was snapping the photographs, waiting for the right moment to pull up and kick in the engines. Even though I liked snarling dogfights in the upper atmosphere, I’d usually pull up and out and engage the jump drive as soon as possible, and hope that they couldn’t follow me.

But even those missions became slightly mundane. I cut my ties with the military after a bit, role-playing for the first and last time in my life, to move into a more mercenary business. The bulletin boards would offer up assassination missions. They’d offer up a time and place where the target would be, leaving a planet in a ship and it was up to me to decide when and where they’d die. If I messed up, they’d have an entire universe to escape into.

That excited me. Pondering the possibilities, looking at the nearby systems they could escape to, the type of ship they were in and what it was likely to be capable of. I fetishised every little detail up to the hit, which were often wonderful clusterfucks: parking my ship outside a spinning space station, watching the clock tick over, looking for the docking bay door to slip open and the target to emerge, I remember getting so excited I charged right in, not caring about the local police response. I leant too much on the thruster and slipped past the ship I was aiming for, ending up dashing my ship against the rear of the bay.

It’s what gets to me about games that were inspired by the Elite series. Their complexity comes from dynamic economic models, ships with interlocking systems, politics. It drowns the genre in detail when all it needs is a nicely docking bay back wall to crash against.

The box is still on my desk. It has the manuals, the short story collection, the planetary Gazetteer and a card that I wrote a wormhole bug equation down on. Right now those numbers mean nothing to me, but back then I remember scanning the huge galactic map, exploiting my way further and further away from my home system. The last time I played it, I took my ship and warped and warped and warped and still the universe kept growing.

Every time I look over at it I want a new one that’s exactly the same as the old one.

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101 Comments »

  1. stahlwerk says:

    No actually I have the Frontier Elite 2 theme song in my head, thank you! :)

  2. chunkynut says:

    I absolutely loved this game, I wrote a poor guide about it on a website I made when I was about 15. Every so often I look into David Braben and his attempt at Elite 4. I ashamedly admit I was an Imperial Slave trader, but damn the money was good!

    • Caleb367 says:

      Elite 4. Now that’s a thing i’d preorder right now.
      Actually, one of my fondest gaming memories comes from my very first game of Frontier. Start on Barnard’s Star in a nice, cozy spaceport, check the market, speak with people, the usual. Then look up and see that gas giant occupying half of the sky. I looked at that in awe.

  3. Richie Shoemaker says:

    Pioneer isn’t the only one – but it could develop into the best.

  4. Njordsk says:

    Oh great, now I want X rebirth, good job !

  5. Inglourious Badger says:

    I never played either Elite but I’ve always been looking for a game that matches what I think they must have been like. Freelance, Eve, X games. They’ve all seemed a bit limited but perhaps I’m expecting too much. Does Frontier hold up now at all? I should probably just play that

    • felix6 says:

      For me it definitely still holds up ;) elite and X-com are my favorit games from the good old days, before they invented graphics :P But since I played it so much as a kid I honestly cant say if its just nostalgia or not. But I don’t have many friends today who would even consider playing it.

      But there are some mods out there that makes the game quite beautiful with hi-res, if you feel the graphics is whats holding u back. I would recommend this one; http://www.frontierastro.co.uk/Hires/hiresffe.html#ffed3d
      Though I aint 100% sure its complete and bugfree yet. It was a russian work in progress last time I tried it (2-3 years ago).

      Cheers ;)

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Thanks Felix.

      Well a lack of graphics didn’t stop me loving X-Com when I finally played it a couple of years ago. Will have to try Frontier (good to know there’s hi-res mods in case it’s too much of an eye sore!)

  6. hjd_uk says:

    An entire Galaxy in 1.44Mb.
    Spent so much time in that game, anyone else find the Empire planet that paid you to take away their waste gemstones?
    Or finding out that there was a glitch whereby you could jettison ‘nothing’ to increase your cargo-hold size?
    Mining was so incredibly boring, but the manual landings were fun (if you didnt die ofc), and skimming stars for fuel almost certainly ended in falling into to the star and being crushed to the size of tin can.

    • SAM-site says:

      Yep, I remember that system well – the reason they paid you to take them away was because they were illegal, and almost without exception it’d get a little hairy once you took off to go make your illicit profit.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Eight entire universes in 48kbytes if I remember right for the first Elite. The etymology of the word “universe” flying right over heads but I can forgive that.

      But yep, this whole series is most definitely what made me. And (I suspect in common with many authors in this series) really *made me*. Not just defined me as a gamer but inspired and directed my childhood. My entire life is in some way shaped by those games.

      Bet Thatcher was a Monopoly fan; me, I’m Elite baby. Grrr.

      (actually I’m not sure I ever got further than Deadly. But still. Grrr)

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      IIRC the original Elite used a Fibonacci-generated list of numbers to create a massive, procedurally-generated galaxy. Clever stuff really.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      if anyone is interested this site goes into the elite way of generating a universe (http://wiki.alioth.net/index.php/Random_number_generator). Anyone tried oolite which sounds like a rather faithful remake based on this: “For example in classic, This planet is most notable for Tibediedian Arnu brandy but ravaged by unpredictable solar activity., whereas in Oolite: This planet is most notable for Tibediedian Arma brandy but scourged by deadly edible grubs. “?

    • Perjoss says:

      What really used to blow me away was when you were given a contract to go kill someone, it said they would be leaving a certain space station very far away in about a week from now in game time, after travelling and waiting there for this person and then there they were right on schedule, really brought the world to life. That and of course the sheer size of the galaxy you were allowed to explore.

  7. Brian Rubin says:

    Ah yes, they’ve not really made a game like Frontier since. I still have all the manuals, the map and so on, still loving it to death.

    Badger, those games you mentioned are much more limited than Frontier. I find it still playable, but if you’re not up to early 90′s graphics, you might wanna try Pioneer — which is linked to in the article — a more updated homage to Frontier.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Not the same of course, but space rangers 2 had many of the things i enjoyed about Elite2. And it was mental to boot.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Thanks Brian, didn’t notice where that link went. Pioneer looks stunning, can’t wait to try that. Will have to give Frontier a go in the meantime.

      @Eddy – SR2 was great fun. Not really Elite but the text based mini games were ace. Loved the Prison one. You could be jailed a penniless loser and leave as multimillionaire gangster respected by criminals across the galaxy

  8. subspace says:

    Nothing but positive memories about Elite and its progeny.

    I remember the elation at finally being able to afford the docking computer, and the skill needed before this expense to successfully dock. There was a ‘roughness’ to space, that no game since has ever been able to achieve for me.

  9. MythArcana says:

    One of the best games in its time! And ohhhh…we have some open source legacy action on the horizon, as well! *Claps* I will be watching that project fo’ shizzleen!

  10. Rockettgirl says:

    dah dadada daaaah! dah dadaaah!

    dah dadada daaaah! dah dada daaaah!

  11. BuboNulus says:

    Ahh, the 80-sectors-just-1t-of-fuel “feature”. It was great for getting to the border of the galaxy.

  12. klaim says:

    Feels the same about Elite 2
    Didn’t knew Pioneer, looks like awesomness put in a game.

    Also, it’s not exactly Elite-like but it have some similarities like the sensation of HUGE : http://www.infinity-universe.com/Infinity/

    Take alook to recent videos…

    • squareking says:

      Looks rather promising!

    • BobsLawnService says:

      I think that you are over-complicating things. An important thing to remember is that gamers want everything which is not possible. Your best bet as game designer is to shut out the external noise.

      Also, something I don’t understand is why smaller developers ignore Wing Commander style space sims. They’re all trying the open world trading, fighting, kitchen sink design. Surely there is a large market for mission based sims and they are easier and cheaper to code. Don’t be so over-ambitious because over-ambition is a huge cause of disappointment.

    • Prime says:

      DON’T get excited for Infinity. The author has basically admitted he’s not going to produce the game any more, he’s just looking to develop and license the game engine. A dead end.

  13. cheeley says:

    I bought this whilst in my 2nd year of Uni. My degree suffered because of it. Inexcuseable really, but there you are, I was a stupid man-child.

  14. El_MUERkO says:

    I have the same memories of Frontier, the game has made every other space sim feel small and restricted in comparison too it.

    I’ve waited too long for a sequel actual or spiritual that’s worth the name.

  15. mike2R says:

    What was the best ship in Frontier?

    Once I’d traded for more money then I’d ever need, I went looking for ships to do missions in, and ended up flying a Cobra Mk3, same as in Elite.

    • Archonsod says:

      The Cobra mk III was the best imho. Nippy and manoeuvrable enough that it was handy in a fight, but enough cargo space to make the odd smuggling run or fed ex job profitable.

      The Panther was kinda fun too. Not so much to fly, but combat became rather easy – you just sat there and let the enemy paste themselves across the hull.

    • kordos says:

      I always loved the rotating engine animations of the Imperial Courier (from the intro) and Trader. Even more fun if you weren’t working for the Empire.

    • dansdata says:

      If you kitted out the biggest freighter – the Boa or the Python, I forget which – for war, you could be indestructible. Park right in front of a station, shoot it, watch the police ships zip out and smash right into you, exploding instantly and doing you no damage at all.

      As I recall, though, this ship was perfectly useless for missions, because there was no way to make it fast enough to get there within the mission deadline. Apparently absolutely nobody in the galaxy ever wanted to hire an indestructible ship that could blow up anything blow-uppable in a few seconds.

      “You want me to photograph your enemy’s base? How about I just raze it to the ground? For free?”

      “Nope, we just want photos. Very soon. We’re actually looking for a likely lad in a Krait with a mining laser.”

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Imperial Explorer, no question.

  16. Maxheadroom says:

    god these stories make me feel old. Not played the original? Asking your mum for it?? I was working in a local computer shop when this came out and would roundly mock anyone who hadn’t played the original!

    Yeah,I was quite pretentious back then I suppose :)

  17. Arona Daal says:

    It must be 20 years since i played it and i still can remember sitting there,with activated Timecompression,observing the blinking Lights of my mining robots in the darkness,while a Gas giant wandered over the Night Sky.

    Or miscalculating my Fuel reserves and being stranded in a giant Binary System far away from any Outpost.
    It took me *Weeks* in Game time to cross the giant system on normal Drive,a long time even with fully activated Stardreamer,and refuel at the Surface of one of the Suns.

  18. spindaden says:

    This game also made me – i never got the hang of the fighting, and never got far in the military, I just pottered around doing trading runs, thrilled to get my first turret – now those pirates are gonna be sorry!
    Working my way up to the huge panther class ship.

    I replayed it a year or 2 ago and managed to get that ship in about 2 weeks :/

  19. jonfitt says:

    Gosh I put so much time into Frontier. I tried everything I could think of from spying, mining, and bounty hunting to loading up a Panther with the best military engine and a fuel scoop and just seeing how far I could go.
    I must admit it would have been nice to learn of the jump distance glitch! But this was before many were on the Internet, and everything I knew about was from war stories traded with peers.

  20. SAM-site says:

    There was a time in around ’93 that for 3 months my college house mates and I were all playing Frontier individually, and we’d pop in and out of each others’ rooms while on a long run to get the latest travel guides. I was something of a freelancer myself, zipping around in an Imperial trader and generally turning a profit, whereas one of my friends had a career (so he said) in piracy with the other owning a Python and hauling computers between Barnard’s Star and Sol.

    He got a bit shot up at one point and despite only losing 30% of his hull strength had to rig up an elastic band system to keep the mousebutton held down for the two hours it took to repair.

    Good times.

    They don’t make em like the used to.

    Cool story bro.

    etc :)

    • MrKip says:

      I remember doing the Robots/Computers run between Sol and Barnard’s Star to try and earn enough cash to by a decent ship for the military missions. However, as soon as I had earned enough I would think ‘well, if I earn a bit more I can get an even better ship’. This logic went on pretty much for ever and I spent months, if not years, playing Elite II as a glorified trucker, just shuttling peacefully between the two systems.

  21. JackDandy says:

    I should really give these a go sometime. Got ‘em nice and cozy on my dosbox, but haven’t started playing them yet.

    Say Craig, have you given the Evochron games a try? They’re pretty neat, and very similar to Elite.

  22. frymaster says:

    In contrast to everyone else, my problem with frontier was how small the universe felt.

    Yes, you could go anywhere in the galaxy!

    But it’d all be the same when you got there, aside from a small number of unique worlds (mainly the capital systems of the Federation and the Empire)

    It was very possible to land (via accelerated time) at a spaceport on a planet that was so dense, at normal time your thrusters weren’t strong enough to lift you off again. You’d hit the “take off” button and pancake into the ground, unless you could hit “take off”, then immediately rotate 90 degrees into the sky and hit your main thrusters.

    Even that wasn’t any good if you had one of the huge ships with “only” 8G or so acceleration.

    In my experience, almost all the interesting missions were bugged, or flawed in design.

    Don’t get me wrong, I played the shit out of it as a kid. But the one thing I learned from it is that procedural generation is no substitute for content, and a sandbox needs to have constraints to be anything other than formless.

  23. Electric Dragon says:

    If I remember correctly whenever you initiated docking, the music automatically switched to the Blue Danube Waltz.

    The sound track also had
    Baba Yaga and Great Gate of Kiev from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition
    Night on Bare Mountain (also Mussorgsky)
    In the Hall of the Mountain King (Grieg)
    Jupiter (Holst)
    Ride of the Valkyries (Wagner)
    all rendered in magnificent tinny MIDI sound.

  24. Jabberwocky says:

    Woah, look at all those pretty colours! My memories are of the original elite in all its 3D-wireframe glory, not this high tech stuff. ;)

    I wrote up a gamasutra blog called Challenges of Designing a Space Sim for anyone who is interested in the thoughts of an indie space sim developer.

    It all started with elite. I think I chased that stolen experimental ship for a week.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      That’s a really interesting post… I feel bad about wanting Newtonian flight models and properly scaled space now :(

      Seriously though, I’m not joking: it did make me pause and reflect on the issues that developing in this genre entails… O_o

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Godspeed on your project, Sean, it looks rather lovely.

    • bill says:

      The screenshot looks rather nice (except being in 3rd person! ;-p )

      I’m not sure I agree about some of the challenges though – while it’s true there are lots of difference types of flight sim, that’s true for any genre. A 3rd person arcade shooter is very different from a realistic 1st person shooter (Vanquish vs Arma) and have different audiences and goals… Rogue Squadron vs X is the same.

      I’d say that the challenge for space shooters is to differentiate themselves from all the others – without losing their fans.

      Again, to compare with 1st person shooters: While it’s true that many of those games have very similar mechanics, they can differentiate themselves with their worlds, their stories, their characters, their animation, etc… be it space marines or ww2 soldiers or being on a tropical island or in new york or the middle east. Sure the modern warfare thing is getting overdone, but they can at least go snowmobiling.

      It’s really hard to differentiate space games. It’s space. It mostly looks the same. It has no people, no buildings, no mountains. The “characters” tend to be little boxes in a corner, or confined to between mission cutscenes, and the story tends to be limited by the setting. You end up with weird things like the live action cutsceneness of Wing Commander or The Darkening.

      Not that it’s impossible to overcome these, but it’s very very hard – particularly without losing the fans of the genre that you want to attract. Make it too different and they won’t play. Make it too similar and they’ve already played freespace 2.

      I am/was a huge space-sim fan. But I can’t say I feel the need to play one very often, as they all feel very similar in many ways. I can’t say i envy your task.

      PS/ The other problem, which you mentioned, is controls. This IS maybe unique to the space sim genre…. and I don’t know what you can do about it. For me M&KB always feels wrong. Gamepad ALWAYS feels arcadey. Joystick is the only way to play a space sim – and I don’t have one anymore, and no-one I know has one anymore.
      I tried playing Freespace 2 without a joystick and I had to give up after one day, it was horrible.

  25. celozzip says:

    i can never get into these games coz they always seem to have you permanently glued to the captain’s chair. throw in some rpg style wandering around talking to people and it’d be perfect. are there any games like that?

  26. metalangel says:

    I was interested when I first saw it… in PCG issue 2 back in 1993. Then I forgot about it for five years, when I rediscovered it and finally got it. I lost weeks and weeks to it. My Adder became a Lion as I discovered just how lucrative smugging luxury goods into Barnard’s Star was once you managed to get a mission there that got you the entry permit.

    People clamour for a new version, but for now EvE fills that gap for me. Imagine if they’d applied some of Privateer’s planetary production values to Frontier back in the day, though?

  27. arqueturus says:

    Frontier made me.

    My initials are ARC and I was delighted to find a star system called Arcturus in the game, adopted it as my online monikker but as time went by, it became more and more common that it was taken already (I think I can lay some blame at the door of Starcraft for that) so I altered the spelling to what it is now, even though the pronuciation is the same.

    I’ve been searching for a replacment for years but nothing has quite come close, although it did lead me to Eve so I’ve got that to thank it for too.

    • iamseb says:

      Same here Arq. Frontier is the only game I spent more time playing than Eve.

      I remember the day I begged a tenner from my mum to buy it because there was a second hand copy on sale a bus ride away from where I lived. I have never worked out why its original owner got rid of it, but I had that box far longer than I had my Amiga.

  28. dogsolitude_uk says:

    I loved that game. I recall that me and two or three friends would often sit together in someone’s room at Uni and take it in turns to fly, navigate and discuss what we were going to do next. It was a bit like having our own spaceship.

    What I liked most about it (and what galls me most about modern space sims is that none of them seem to have got this right) is that Braben and Co showed due respect to the sheer *size* and *scale* of space. Even planets in the same system were a blimmin’ long way from each other in Frontier, and stellar systems far more so. There was none of this ‘every planet is a big ball in the sky’ stuff, nor were systems restricted to tiny ‘rooms’ with exits at the North, South, East and West. I’ve always hated jumpgates in space games…

    I also liked the Newtonian flight model. Performing a manual landing, through an atmosphere, from orbit, was always very satisfying.

    I like games where you can just pootle about and do your own thing, like STALKER, Morrowind and so on. Frontier allowed me to pootle with a vengeance, with my own ship, and make loads of fake money.

    But… Why oh why oh why did they paint space blue?

  29. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I started playing Elite in 1986, and stopped playing Frontier in 2000. I will never dedicate so long a span of gaming time to a single series again, I’m certain.

  30. jstar says:

    This game is still the greatest thing ever made.

  31. buzzmong says:

    I like Elite 2, really having given it a proper go only a couple of years back (on an upgraded Amiga as I own one. Then on an emulator for convenience) and although I get Frontier, I was so terribly bad at it I can only assume I was doing something terribly wrong as I never had any of these massive adventures people write about and couldn’t really get anywhere.

    Everytime I went on cargo runs, right from the off, I’d be accosted by space pirates trying to shoot me the moment I turned on accelerated time alongside the autopilot in my Eagle. Either I’d *just* win and spend my meagre earnings on repairs and end up broke in short time or I’d be blown to smithereens.

    I’m not discounting the fact copy-protection may be bugged on my emulated rom, but I had a similar experience the few times I used it on the Amiga (and I had the manual infront of me!).

    Am I just terribly rubbish or was that everyone’s initial experience?

    • Lemming says:

      Yep, you were doing it wrong. (From memory…) Best method is start the game in Ross 154, sell your missiles, gun, atmospheric sheild and scanner. get the fuel you need to go to Barnards Star or Sol (which ever one is closest I forget), then once there get Robots and Computers (from Barnards Star, Robots take priority), sell them in Sol, buy luxrury goods (priority) and animal meat and sell that back in Barnards star. Land in orbital stations only. You don’t have atmospheric shielding, remember? Also, when you get to Sol, sometimes check a the bulletin boards on a couple of different stations incase someone is paying more for your cargo than the standard market price before selling it.

      Repeat ad naseum until you have enough cash for a kitted out Viper Defence Craft, then try to find more profitable trade routes in the more pirate-covered systems (pirates which you shoot, not run away from), or add Ross154 to your ‘trade triangle’ and just repeat until you can get better and better ships, then move down to the Empire, get an Asp Explorer and do a trade route between three of their main systems, getting more powerful and bigger ships as you go.

      Then the galaxy is your oyster: Assassinations, military missions, Mining…

      At least, that’s how I used to play it. Man I loved that game.

    • Jams O'Donnell says:

      Nah, Black Market’s what you need. Import drugs, slaves, and illegal weapons from Imperial planets to the Federation. The money you make will far outweigh any bribes you might need to pay to get rid of the officials on your back.

      Of course, you’re screwing up relationships with the Federation then, but the Imperial military has the most attractive ships anyway.

  32. leeder krenon says:

    i spent fucking hours on this, just hauling goods between the same 2 planets, trying to get more cash for better spaceships and more interesting missions. i still only got as far as the spying missions…

    great game. couldn’t imagine playing anything like this as a mid 30s something though :-(

  33. Starky says:

    Like many of you I spent hundred of shours in this game, and can only echo the sentiment that no other space trader like game has got it right, because of one simple thing.

    The made them too complex.

    Every single one of them failed to grasp that adding ever more complex intertwined systems only turned away from the charm that made frontier (I also never played the original elite) so damn good – and still pretty fun today.

    In fact the only game that came close was probably Freelancer – because it was so stripped back with such simple and fun mechanics it managed some of the charm – sadly it didn’t manage the open world sandbox element (you could do that stuff, but it wasn’t the same).

    God what I would not give for a decent space trader combat game, I’d even accept an mmo so long as it had proper flight.

  34. Zanchito says:

    I think you will then enjoy Vega Strike, gentlemen:

    http://vegastrike.sourceforge.net/

  35. Telemikus says:

    Completely agree with all the nostalgia and memories of this incredible game posted above.

    for a really quaint but also decent website dedicated to the obsession that is Frontier, check out Jades FFE site.

    http://www.jades.org/ffe.htm

  36. lamurt says:

    I believe the gaming industry is spying on RPS very closely and i wouldn’t be surprised if a big time dev house or evil corp follows suit of bethesda ea and take 2 and decides making an Elite 3 in third person shooter fashion just to ruin the names and all the great memories associated of those past times….

    • GenuineEntropy says:

      Coming soon, Elite 4: Space man shoot!

      We are proud to present the long awaited and inappropriately titled, non-sequel to the classic Elite series!!

      Elite 4: Space man shoot! will involve at least 100% more corridor-based space-man-face-shooting that previous titles as well as incredible quick-time events, rhythm puzzle sections and overly elaborate, hyphen-laden sentences!!!

      Want to mine something or perhaps work as a space trader? Just tap your space-bar along in time to the X-factors latest slop and watch those space bucks roll in!!!!

      Interested in assassination missions? You’ll feel like the universes most accomplished gun-for-hire as you hand over your credit card info for the forthcoming “be able to do stuff” DLC!!

      Want to explore the universe and enjoy unlimited freedom? Of course you dont, which is why we guarantee no less than 20 spaceman-faces to shoot per spaceman-corridor!

      The (spiritual) successor to the Elite saga has arrived at long last, REJOICE!

  37. Undermind_Mike says:

    Oh my god it’s my childhood

  38. Ocelotspleen says:

    I still have fun loading this up every few years and flying straight down to Imperial space and reluctantly being paid 3000 credits per tonne to illegally export precious metals and gemstones…

    Gutted that nothing ever bettered it, any decent space game over the last few years didn’t seem to have the ability to fly into planet atmospheres and explore them. Sometimes I wish I managed to get into EVE (tried several times) but it just didn’t feel anything like as fun.

    Did have a lot of bugs though, one of the most stupid I remember being that you could purchase a tiny Gecko fighter, buy 1t of rubbish and click *just* under the jettison button and it would actually jettison and free up 1t of space in your hold and was endlessly repeatable. Class 7 Hyperdrive & Large Plasma Accelerator on a speedy Gecko!!

  39. Bradderz says:

    I had Elite2 on the amega 600, but god bless my n00b sox i was way to young to understand it.

    a few years down the line i found a game called Hardwar, which ignighted some deep memory of brush with perfection i had experienced a long time ago on an operating system far far away.

    I have never got into the X games, largely over a fear i suppose that they will not match up. I long for a remake of Elite, but if it was combined with some of the simple dynamics of freelancer (I love STARLANCER btw [this game is on par with TIE to me, just gripped me]).

    I just believe that any redux of elite will have to be made by fans and as such will only be known to the ardent few.

  40. Saiko Kila says:

    Eh, Imperial Courier. Bit on the heavy side, but the best mix nonetheless. Actually, the memories of Frontier (on Amiga) were the reason to play X3 on PC…

  41. sinister agent says:

    I never understood what was so fronty about Elite.

  42. Barrelfox says:

    Sol – Barnard’s Star robots/computers milk run all day every day.

  43. geldonyetich says:

    I’m sure they’ll patch Frontier: First Encounters into stability any day now… any day now…

  44. Okami says:

    I remember beein 16 or 17 and getting the game from a friend of mine. The first thing that blew my mind was, that it came on one 3.5″ disc. Or maybe two? I think it was 1.

    It took me some time get into the controls and manage to start a game that didn’t see me dead or broke after an hour of play, but at some point I managed to survive long enough and make enough money to buy a new ship, better weapons and equipment and then the galaxy really opened up to me. And I got lost in it.

    This was also the time of my first real girlfriend and I once borrowed a Vangelis “Greatest Hits” cd from her mother that I had looping while playing the game. My personal Frontier soundtrack were songs like Spiral, To the Unknown Man and Albedo 0.39

    To this day I can’t listen to this music without imagining the view from my cockpit into the vastness of intergalactic space. In my memories, I transport goods for hundreds of lightyears, with this music playing in the background.

    Youth, where did you go?

  45. Lucretiel says:

    No way you can talk about modern open-world space sims without bringing up Shores of Hazeron http://www.hazeron.com/

  46. adonf says:

    I tried to love this game but the combat was too hard for me. How do you chase enemies when it takes a billion kilometres to turn because of the Newtonian physics? I still don’t get it.

    Also, there’s a remake of Elite (the first one) on the Android Market. Don’t know if it’s any good but it looks like they tried to be faithful to the original.

  47. Diving Duck says:

    This game has ruined pretty much any other space based game (and a lot of non space ones too) for me. The ability to pick a star and keep going was awesome then and is still brilliant now. As someone else said, Oolite is an option or even trying the varied mods, but I really want something new and shiny.

    I would preorder elite4 the second it was available. Unfortunately, Frontier developments seem to be more interested in churning out cutesy shovelware these days than producing a serious game that their company is named for. A huge shame.

    I truly hope that should a follow up be produced, it doesn’t become all consolised and pew pewy. I just want the same, but bigger and prettier.

    One day I hope my bi-annual check of their forums will bring new hope.

  48. datom says:

    Aargh doublepost

  49. datom says:

    Only one mention of OOLITE?!?!?!!?

    Go here
    http://aegidian.org/bb/

    1 – Download Oolite
    2 – Download hundreds of xps that add epic galaxy crossing missions, controllable NPC squads, massive space-Communist architecture, Thargoid invasions and battle fleets, space taxis, U-haul corporations and anything else you can feasibly think of
    3 – Edit config to give yourself auto-dock machine
    4 – Relive childhood for hours and hours, except equipped with a new surprsing universe full of user-generated content

    Seriously, DO IT NOW!

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      I still love to fire up Oolite.
      It’s the nostalgia and the pace. I can nip to the fridge for a Red Stripe or make a quick phone call whilst my docking computer takes care of business all without breaking my “I’m a space buccaneer” reverie.
      A nice change from my usual shoot a man fix.

    • Prime says:

      I’m sorry, I just can’t get past Elite’s rubbish control system. I wish they’d do a Pioneer-style revamp of them; even adding mouse control would help enormously. The solar system models in the game are weird too – the game becomes an infinite rinse-and-repeat series of jump to system, appear near sun, spend five\ten\fifteen minutes heading to planet (depending on piracy traffic), align with station, dock.

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