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Heresy War Demo: Impressions

The internet has the arrogance to carry on when I was away from it. Damn it. However, I've decided to be magnaminous and actually pay attention to what's be up since I've been absent. Namely, a 150Mb demo for Heresy War, a space-combat simulator set in space (as is the wont of space-simulators). It features an instant-battle mode and four (count 'em!) missions, and is in the Freespace/X-Wing mode. And, since it's been a while since we last had one of them, I figured it was worth a crack.

And it's pretty fun, if showing the signs of its (presumably) relative low-budget. The voice-overs, for example, sound like a bunch of random Northern blokes. While oddly this is fine with the friendly ships, it caused me to wonder why the people threatening our lives sounded so genial. Who's side are they on?

It stays close to the dog-fighting formula, with your ship being particularly manouverable - it's not quite as complicated as something like X-wing - the shield system is a general reservoir which is depleted from all hits rather than a area-specific one - but it's nippy and brutal. Once I realised you can skip to a combat mode and holding onto the right mouse button lets you swing around crazily, I was picking pirates from the sky with ease. And being rewarded by particularly enormous explosions. Win! Also, there's battles against heavy ships, with individually selectable areas, and you trying to stay out of zones of defence and so on and so Luke Skywalker.

Main problems? For some odd reason the basic roll-commands seem to be the wrong way around, but that's redefinable. The health bar is displayed as a curve beneath the model of your ship, which initially gives you the wrong impression it's your rear shields, which is the sort of UI confusion we could do without. But mainly - and the reason why I stopped playing - is that the quit-mission button doesn't have a "Are you sure Y/N" thing, which lead to me quitting out right at the end of the third mission when I was trying to look up the controls in a hurry. Those sort of slightly naive game design errors, really, which will either get polished out as we progress or just reinforce its position as a B-game.

But it's a B-game in a genre that's been almost abandoned and its heart is in exactly the right place. And, in size, the demo offers a good chunk of blowing pirates into chunks. I liked it and suspect anyone who's been lamenting about Freespace's absence from our lives will too. Get it here.

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