Review: Escape Velocity Nova

Among some of the most cherished games of all time is the EV series (July 23rd, 2002)

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Product Manufacturer: Ambrosia Inc.

Price: $30

The Good

  • Great longevity, good graphics, easy, great for all ages.

The Bad

  • Unextraordinary sound.

Among some of the most cherished games of all time is the Escape Velocity series. Thrown into a complicated and often dangerous universe, you must fend for survival your own way while shaping the universe by completing various missions. None of the games in this series fall into a specific category; you can literally be anything you want to be. The third in the series, Escape Velocity Nova, is no different. Not to say it's more of the same, but its unique style hasn't been marred.

Mount your positions Although EVN permits you to play the game as a pirate, trader or mercenary, to name a few, it's advisable for you to stick with one of the game's six storylines. As in the previous games, things don't start immediately. You begin in a medium shuttle, which, quite frankly, isn't adequate to really play the game. Don't worry -- this is a good thing, as you'll find out.

Ca$h-in Inevitably, you'll have to make some cash before getting into the game's story lines. Sadly, this is about the only part of the game that builds up slowly. Another part of this game that makes it so flexible is the many ways to make loot. You can pirate other ships, trade commodities or carry out deliveries. After doing a few dozen deliveries you'll then be able to buy a meatier ship-this is a must as few missions are available unless you have some combat rating. The people at Ambrosia seem to condone cheating, though. In a certain system is an unbeatable trade route between two planets in the same system. Don't be tempted and pick up one of the plug-ins that remove this route.

Revision So, what's so hot about EVN over EVO and EV? Firstly, the graphics are all 16-bit 2D. This adds so much to the feel of the game that it's hard to tear away from it. The AI is also much better; carriers call back fighters after they've used their missiles, heavy ships will hold back and fire their arsenal from afar and pirates disable and board you instead of blowing you to pieces. Another added complexity is the nature of armor. Instead of regenerating, it stays damaged until you land while the shield recharges. This puts more power into the hands of those with good shields over armor.

Final word This is an extraordinary game. Some problems persist such as cheap dialogue and a smallish universe, but it can't be beat in terms of re-playability. Sure, it isn't perfect but what is? It doesn't put a huge emphasis on any discipline-you don't need to have a great strategic mind or a deft trigger finger. Its basically up to you to shape its universe. So go ahead and download the unregistered version and play it a bit. Maybe the two of you will hit it off, maybe not... but it will be fun either way.

by Matthew Stoton


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