I actually prefer X2 to X3 for some reason.
I actually prefer X2 to X3 for some reason.
Y'ever play Escape Velocity Nova?
X2 was dreadful. X3 is better, but still requires more time and dedication than just founding your own business and turning that into a trading empire.
Evochron mercenary is a tutorial dump that'll tell you about 300 things in 2 minutes and then drop you into the game. I've tried to play it a couple of times now and found myself switching off in frustration very quickly, due to a combination of terrible navigation controls and an apparently broken save system. I looked forward to buying it for ages, and badly want to like it, but it's so hatefully frustrating to even get anywhere that I've never so much as got into a dogfight before switching off.
Privateer is available on gog now. It's probably your best bet, but it is very old and hasn't aged wonderfully. I-War 2 is much more recent and better in some ways (note that you're basically forced to play with your nose on a string for the prologue, but after that it leaves you to get on with things as you like), but as has been said, you're not a trader per sť, but a pirate.
Darkstar One is a strange one. I can't actually say that any aspect of it is really bad (apart from the writing and main bloke's voice and massive stupidity, but they're not a big deal), but I got bored of it after clearing out a few systems (you progress through a main story mode that unlocks other star systems, but can fart about in and between any open system for as long as you like). I think it's basically that there was never any sense of threat - I was tooled up as a trader, but I still utterly obliterated every theat I came across, even when I stumbled unprepared and inexperienced across a 'notorious pirate' and his gang.
There are some quite imaginative side missions in there, and the trading system gives you a very basic indication of whether a price for a good is low or high (as opposed to having to memorise 30 price ranges like in most games). It's not a bad game by any means, but it just lacks something that I could never quite put my finger on.
Other than that, do give Freelancer a try.
Meanwhile, I'll sit here waiting until someone makes a space trading/exploration game under the Freespace 2 Open engine. Or at the very least, a space trading/exploration game that uses the Freespace 2 combat engine and physics. :)
I do think that you might want to rethink your requirements, though. I don't think there exist that many 3d with-joystick space trading games. Play Freespace 1/2 for the combat and joystickyness, then play some 2d topdown game like NAEV or Space Rangers 2 for the trading bits.
Space Rangers 2 is fine but it's not really a combat game and doesn't have any real flight mechanics.
Darkstar One is... well, pretty bad. Once you've seen the first few systems, you've seen pretty much everything the game has to offer. Most systems are carbon copies of each other with a different background. For a game that proclaimed to be "Freelancer done right", they sure missed the biggest drawcard of Freelancer: exploration!
Evochron: Mercenary is pretty good in many ways, but combat is unforgiving and has a really odd style which basically amounts to an AI exploit, which doesn't sit well with me. At least it's an open universe, but there's not much in the way of structure.
Apart from the X games or Freelancer I can't really think of anything else. Vega Strike has been in development since forever and IMO it's still not up to scratch. I'd suggest you reconsider the X games though; the learning curve looks like a vertical climb, but it's mostly that way when you get towards the higher level stuff (like fleets).
I haven't found X3 as impenetrable as it's said to be, but it certainly does require patience to get anywhere.
But I'll put another vote in for Freelancer, easy to get to grips with, a couple of great story moments and just a great deal of fun to explore and trade in.
I love EV: Nova, but it's priced much higher than it should be. It costs $30 for the digital download, which is the only way to buy it. The dark side of digital distribution.
Great game, however.
Oh wow, I didn't realize they hadn't lowered the prices, it IS a great game, but should be in the $5 range now.
It should be ported to the iPad... they could make a killing
Anybody know if there's a graphics upgrade option for Freelancer similar to Freespace 2's Open Source project?
Edit: Or indeed any worthwhile mods in general?
Can I suggest Hardwar?
It's not in space, it's set on Titan but apart from that it's one of my fondest memories. Flying your ship around, upgrading your ship, trading, missions, a storyline (that you can ignore) pirateering, great fun.
I've no idea where to get it now since the devs went bust, or if it would run on today's machines, but if you can get a copy somewhere then you owe it to yourself. Time to dig out my old CD...
Edit: Oh, I understood it wasn't available but you can buy it on DotEmu. I've never heard of this site, is it legit? The description says "enemies will be various and nombrous on your way".
Beware, if you don't have a P166 or more than 16Mb RAM it's going to run like a dog.
theres alot of info on space sims on this site. Theres even a comprehensive games list with links etc
in general there has been a dearth of A list space sims developed in the past decade (certainly last 5 years). Its not a popular genre with consoles and so isnt invested in.
i guess it depends what age game you want (what do you expect in terms of graphics) Independance war is roughly equivalent to freelancer. Rather causual, story driven openworld.
the X series are essentially sandboxes with a fully simulated economic and political universe in which you can rise from a privateer style fighter pilot to owning a fleet and many stations. The X series are not causual games tho, they require a good 4 hours or more of learning. The interface takes abit of effort to get round.
Personnally my favourite space sim is Hardwar, which is set in hover craft in blade runner esc city on Titan rather than in space.
Hardwar is indeed excellent. I can't believe I'd forgotten about it to be honest. A really unique game.
There's a project in the works to remake Hardwar using the Ogre3D engine, although it seems to be going fairly slowly at the moment. They are looking for more programmers though, perhaps someone around these parts might have some time and skills to spare?
Is anyone rich enough to go and buy that version of Hardwar, see if it really works on new machines/really is in English?
It's $6.99, I'd buy it but I'd have to sell some of my shoes. I'm willing to do that if it really works on Win7.