Space Shootitudity: Dark Horizon Demo


We haven’t mentioned Quazar Studios-developed Paradox Interactive-published Dark Horizon before. Why not? Because we were scared. We saw the word “Dark” and shunned away, fearing the influence of Satan. But hearing that a 700Mb-or-so demo has been released has made us inch closer to discover after the word “Dark” came “Horizon” which shows the blessed touch of our Saviour. Hurrah! Anyway, the demo is six levels of the space shooter and if you want a better feel for it, there’s two videos of it in action beneath the cut…

Initial impressions from video: Ptoo! Ptoo! Ptoo!

Also: I probably should give it a shot. And Free Space 2, too, for that matter, as there’s a box with its name on within eyesight of where I’m sitting. Also, it’s up on Good Old Games.


  1. Nallen says:

    Is this Freespace 3?

    Please, tell me it’s basically Freespace 3.

  2. Alec Meer says:

    It’s not.

  3. BC says:

    Dark? Well, I can’t make anything out in them videos

  4. gioppe says:

    Speaking of space shooter, anyone knows what happened of Glyn Williams? He practically invented the genre with Warhead and (later) I-War / Edge of Chaos.

  5. Feet says:

    I seriously doubt anyone will make a space shooter better than Freespace 2 or Tiefighter.

    Every now and then I’ll blow the dust off my joystick and give either of those a go and that’s fine with me. Having watched the videos I’m not convinced this is going to change that view.

  6. MeestaNob! says:

    This looks rather pretty, and I’ve been craving a space sim for years, cant wait to try the demo. Thanks RPS!

  7. ThePhotoshop says:

    Isn’t this the same game as Tarr Chronicles? Are they different? I’m confused.

  8. Heliocentric says:

    I was going to say this on the X3:TC post, but its true here too, “I DUN NO OW TU PLEY DEES DAMM SPASE GAEMS”

    With anything other than a flight stick they desolve into RSI, and with a flight stick my controls feel needlessly imprecise. I cant help but feel that the NPC ships seem to want to be shot or, end up getting stuck in spiralling space fights (a symptom of nose mounted turrets and small skirmishes).

    I dont want to be a fighter damn it, stick me in a corvette, I’ll have an npc manning the tail gun while I evade missiles, or hell, Co-op it!

    Better yet put me in command of a Frigate, I’ll simply issue the order to fire and set the waypoints while the crew plan a mutany against me.

    Homeworld 2 had some lovely skirmishes when you were forced to split your force over multiple objectives. A fighter-bomber force pulling in to support while a torpedo frigate or 2 skirmish with an outnumbering force, the destroyer taking the brunt of the enemy fire.

    Why am i always a fighter :(

  9. Malagate says:

    @Heliocentric, you’re a fighter for the same reason you’re almost always a grunt in every FPS, because it’s an action game and you need to be where the action is.

    However, a co-op game with some flying and some manning turrets, maybe even one running around fixing stuff inside the boat…damn that would be so sweet.

  10. Heliocentric says:

    When i play battlefield 2 or a number of other FPS i am not a grunt I’m the sniper hiding in the grass half a mile from the fight giving my squad not covering FIRE but covering instructions. “Wait… They are in the open near the road, hit them on 3, 2, 1. Now!”
    Or the engineer wiring the bridge to explode, not when the first man crosses it, but while the last men in a squad cross it to maximise the suprise and impact.

    But yea, when its a singleplayer game, i can see why this is that way. Having read up some about X(n) games I see that they support more turret and squad based action so maybe I could get into that. But thats just it, let me be a fighter, sure but dont force me, give me a budget for my hardware, if I want to fire mercenaries to back me up, and make my profit on the strategic level (securing areas etc) let me.

    I dunno, I just never wanted to be the X-wing pilot, give me a star destroyer any day.

  11. m. says:

    Play Freespace 2. Everybody should play Freespace 2. Twice!

  12. Crane says:

    And the “Derelict” campaign mod.
    That’s Freespace 2.5

  13. Turin Turambar says:

    It’s the sequel of Tarr Chronicles, ThePhotoshop.

  14. Dizet Sma says:

    Hmm, Paradox Game… lemme see, yup, patches ahoy, just a few weeks after release!

    <blockquote cite=”
    The new patch, DH_PATCH_2_FONT.exe, solves:
    – Font not found error
    – Mission 19 error”

    I do wonder about the quality control of anything released by Paradox. I am a mug tho’, owning both Hearts of Iron I and II which had the same issues with patches/tweaks.

    However, I stopped before they sold the same game to me a third time (Doomsday) and shudder to see that another HoI III is in the pipeline.

  15. Urael says:

    Tarr chronicles was not bad. Presentation was smooth, graphics were rather colourful and imaginitive and the dogfights were reasonably thrilling at times. Never could get the hang of that quirky upgrade system, though, probably more a failing of mine than the game’s.

    What hacked me off, though, were the bland, unskippable cut-scenes. I kept dying in one mission and had to watch the same stupid bit of nonsense story every single time. REALLY grated after a while, enough for me to give up on the game.

    Will maybe pick this up when boredom next strikes, and pray they’ve addressed the problems and not just churned out a cookie-cutter sequel.

  16. Pags says:

    More space sims to make me feel hopelessly out of depth and guilty for not enjoying their endlessness.

    Wait a second this actually looks okay. God I love being a shallow gamer who just likes to shoot things.

  17. Dr. Wily says:

    The posts in this thread have confirmed a deep suspicion I have held for quite a while- I should be ashamed with myself for having never played Freespace 2.

    Off to GOG, then, to rectify this situation.

    One question though- do I need a flight stick to properly appreciate the game, or is it playable with mouse+keyboard.

  18. AbyssUK says:

    Why isn’t there a new x-wing or tie fighter… I demand justice. Also I haven’t tried Freespace 2 is it on par with tie fighter?

  19. BC says:

    You’ll need a flight stick to get the most out of Freespace 2 and the like. I don’t think you can even use mouse+keyboard …you can’t in the X-Wing series. Try any kind of controller with analogue controls in the meantime. I know of people who use xbox pads.

    As a game Freespace 2 is probably a bit better than the X-Wing series, but just doesn’t have that extra-little Star Wars spark that I prefer.

  20. foo bar says:

    As for FS 2:

    First, yes, FS2 is playable with mouse and keyboard, and I recommend that you play it that way.

    Second, you can get FS2 for free from FS2Open (yes, it’s legal, as FS2 had a generous “you may copy this game and give it to other people” clause in the license). They’ve got a nice web installer that will automatically download & install the newest version, igh res texture packs & models etc (See link to for a complete guide to installation, choosing texture packs etc.).

    Even if you want to buy it from GOG, I’d still recommend installing the FS2Open version – The GOG version is only the latest retail patch, and FS2Open brings tons of bugfixes, AI fixes, vastly improved graphics, widescreen resolutions, improved/fixed sound & cutscenes and fan-made content etc. into play.

    PS.: FS2 is the greatest space game ever made.
    PPS: Why is the space genre more or less dead anyway? You’d think that the “blow stuff up” aspect would do well on consoles?

  21. FreezerBag says:

    @foo bar

    The developers released the code for free, not the game files, if you want to play it you still need to buy the game.

  22. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    @ Foo bar: Despite Freespace 2’s greatness, its sales at release were dismal, crappy, spectacular suck. They were so bad that the entire industry practically gave up on space shooters then and there. It truely is the best game that noone played, you fuckers!

  23. Heliocentric says:

    A 360’s analogue would be great for a space game. Why didn’t i think of that. 1 for angle one for stafe (whatever its called in aircraft) and the 360’s analogue triggers for thrust. I’m gonna go reinstall free allieigance (space game but with rts elements like natural selection)

  24. Heliocentric says:

    Crap what about piveting? Foiled.

  25. Conquests.of. says:

    Looks and feels boringly arcade gamey for kids.

    pewpew! swoooesh!

    I am old , i need a mature space-flight game.

  26. Shadowcat says:

    FS2 had a generous “you may copy this game and give it to other people” clause in the license

    FS2 is not and never was freeware. FS2 was released with a generous “you may copy this game and give it to other FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES” clause (which was subsequently retracted), but unfortunately, the internet is not your personal circle of friends and acquaintances, no matter how popular you think you are, and so the FS2Open installer was never a legal solution.

    So. Buy FS2 from, and use FS2Open to make it better.

  27. lumpi says:

    The whole atmosphere (the only thing that would have made me check this out) is basically destroyed by the pink engine trails and glowing HUD.

  28. D says:

    I second Conquests.of.’s comment. Someone step up and produce a space sim for adults – not that “just shoot” isn’t fun at times. But after finding out how much fun flying an f-16 in falcon4 is, I can’t go back into spacegames and follow ships around with my mouse button held, and enjoy it.

    It’s funny, because it’s actually only a few things that make jet fighter piloting interesting and challenging, like for instance, beyond visual range tactics solely exists because of a radar “bug” – the nessesary filtering of non moving targets (so an aircraft at a right angle to the radar beams cannot be seen by it).

    Similarly, dogfighting is made interesting by optimal corner airspeed (whatever causes it) and God’s hand (gravity).

    It not many things the real world had to implement to make war in the air challenging. Someone (else) with imagination should have no problem thinking up some fun gameplay with that kindof simplicity in mind.

  29. Him says:

    @ D – Go now, download and play the demo of Beyond the Red Line. That’s as close to simulation as a space-based dogfighting games come at present.

  30. sfreeman says:

    what the…how could nobody mention the old Origin Wing Commander games? they’re classics.

  31. Foo bar says:

    (warning, simulation nerd ahead)
    Re: Falcon 4.0 :
    Actually, the F-16’s AN/APG-66 radar does not suffer from the doppler radar-related problems that you mention. You cannot lose radar lock that way (and you cannot cause others to lose radar lock), at least not in F4.0 (e.g. you can lock on to a hovering helicopter with no problems, even though it’s stationary and close to ground clutter).

    In fact, I’ve found that air to air combat mostly comes down to solving complicated math & physics problems in split seconds (like: Can I afford to bleed enough velocity to maintain the required turn radius in this engagement? At what angle will the interference from my ECM be worth the risk of HOJ missiles? What altitude-airspeed combination will give me optimal engine performance in this situation? When should I fire my BVR missile and start evading the inevitable hostile missile, given the performance envelopes of my (and my enemies) fighter and missile?)

    Also, converting bullseye calls (radial coordinates) to coordinates relative to my aircraft is still a pain in the ass.

    What I’m trying to say here with this overly long rant is that games like Falcon4.0 will never be simple, and it’ll therefore never have mass appeal, simply because of the enormous amount of learning required – I know I still have plenty to learn after almost ten years and over 600 F4.0 hours logged.

    As for space sims, I’d love to see a combat expansion for Orbiter, but I’d probably be the only person who’d play it (spending hours setting up orbit transfers and synchronizing before you even get in range? DO WANT). A “space trader” expansion would be fine too.

  32. Jesucristo says:

    Him, this is an arcade, if you can try domething a bit near simulation in sci fi sims, try I-War 2. Orbiter is probably too much, is not sci fi, is something like X-Plane in space.

  33. Weylund says:

    Looks fun. Makes me want to play Tie Fighter. Sure, X-COM, Wasteland, Fallout – but Tie Fighter is in a class by itself. Best game ever. I sold my soul for a joystick for it when I was just a wee youngster.

    So worth it.

    I might play this, but I warn you, I’ll just be thinking of Tie Fighter the whole time.

  34. Erlam says:

    I’d really like a Space Sim that actually uses space physics, and allows a variety of ships (I.E. Homeworld, with fighters, bombers, corvettes, etc).

    Oh man… to captain a Corvette with 4 other crew… awesome.

    Basically, make us a tank-sim, only in space.

  35. Jochen Scheisse says:

    You should try a good sub sim with four people in a dark room, Erlam , only lit by the screens and the conveniently placed red lightbulb. That’s as close as you’re going to get any time soon, and it’s not a bad substitution.

    If you don’t find a dark room, the internet also works.

  36. Heliocentric says:

    Multiplayer tank sims i’ve never played but red orchestra has a lovely sense of being trapped in a metal coffin. Added to it is the choice to pop your head up, and knowing its a terrible idea.

    A modern combat tank sim style combat can be found in the project reality tanks. Sure, i’m a heli pilot by preference, but a tank gunner yelling at me but not angry, just desperate. Most tank combat is settled in one shot over a kilometer in some maps.

    But yes, relic make homeworld 3 have the option of tactical control, make a coop campaign where i can command the carrier and resource operations. Then slip into the role of a boarding marine frigate pilot, dodging missiles and trying to crash into the target not too hard. All the while being covered by my friends leading a fighter wing and frigate.

    Its all good. :) remember that article moaning about other people? I never really enjoy a game as much as i do when its been with others. And meaningfully too.

  37. Erlam says:

    I’d LOVE a game, say an MMO, where you’re in space, and you can be the following people:
    Frigate captain
    Frigate pilot
    Frigate gunner
    Corvette Captain
    Corvette ”
    Corvette ”
    Boarding ship pilot
    Boarding ship MARINE.

    And so on. Then you could literally be FPS fighting to capture a major enemy vessel, with the pilots of your other ships desperately trying to avoid fire from it before you take command, while your fighters hold off their bombers from sinking their own ship, while your.. and so on.

  38. MeestaNob! says:

    I’d like to point out at this opportunity how disappointed I am that the Babylon 5 space sim never made it out.

    I hated Sierra for years after that.

  39. D says:

    @Him Thanks for that, I’ll be downloading now.

    @Foo bar: Nice one. I’m less than 100 hours into Falcon so I’m just a noob compared to you, obviously – though I can see simple systems at work when I look for them :) Not that I’m saying Falcon is simple, oh no, just that the underlying mechanics facilitating all that complexity are, well, not complex. I’ll try to point out some mechanics that could be translated to a space sim:

    – Nose movement causes energy loss
    – Limited amount of fuel provides energy
    – Some missiles require lock (radar or some scientific bogus)
    – Missiles have different deployment envelopes
    – Missiles can be defeated by movement
    – Guns.. Are also there. And bombs/torpedoes. And missile defence platforms.
    – Enemy factions/types have distinct weapon loadouts and these are known and can be planned against
    – Radar lock / sight can be defeated by movement
    – Radar lock can be denied by jamming
    – Some missiles can home on jamming, defeating jamming
    – No all knowing HUD – gameplay requires situational awareness
    (which is for me, the most exhausting part of Falcon)
    Somethings are not applicable, like fuel consumption at different altitudes (no altitudes in space), but most mechanics transfer over easily. In addition, the scifi settings will allow for other interesting weapons and mechanics. If just someone would want to fund it :(

  40. Deuteronomy says:

    TIE Fighter *is* the best game ever made, probably the best game that will ever be made for the PC.

  41. yoho says:

    fs2’s engine source code was opened and volition released many of their proprietary fs2 assets

  42. Chemix says:

    Freelancer anyone?

  43. mashakos says:

    um, does it support force feedback? Someone please say yes!!

  44. luckystriker says:

    If this thread is going to turn into a TIE Fighter Vs FS2 greatest game evah!!!11 thread, then I’m going to have to jump in on the side of FS2. FS2>all!

  45. Nick says:

    I love them both, but I prefer TIE Fighter – having replayed it through (collectors edition) about 5 times, FS2 only once and never felt like replaying it.

    There really hasn’t been a space combat game since FS2 or Xwing Alliance maybe that I geniunly enjoyed, which is sad. I mostly blame this on LucasArts becoming a steaming pile of shit delevoper.

  46. Droniac says:

    @ Malagate: a co-op space sim with one person flying and another manning turrets? Taking command of capital ships or even the entire fleet? Or just hopping into a scout or fighter plane and blasting everything in sight?

    Dude, this game exists already – and it’s even free to play: Allegiance. It’s a team-based multiplayer game that even has some RTS elements to it. Bit of an older game (by Microsoft, back when they still did cool games) that was made available for free a couple of years ago. Google it!

    Hell, here’s a link: Allegiance