PC/Mac/Linux
enfrdeitptrues

Developer/Publisher[/b]:StarWraith 3D Games / StarWraith 3D Games
Release Date: February 5th, 2009
ESRB Rating: N/A
Available On: PC 
Retail price: $24.95
Genre: Space Combat Simulation.
Number of Players: 1 offline, up to 32 players online or over LAN
Strong Points: Fantastic graphics, massive universe, tons of gameplay options; challenging but fun combat.
Weak Points: Steep learning curve, universe feels almost too massive at times.
Moral Warnings: The game allows you to be a pirate, much of your time is spent fighting with other ships.

 



(From the game website)
"Evochron Legends is the sequel to Evochron Renegades with a lot of design aspects heavily influenced by player feedback and requests. It is a first person 3D space combat, trader, and mercenary simulation designed for \'lone-wolf\' survival gameplay.  Evochron is the only freeform space-sim that lets you buy, trade, negotiate, bribe, spy, race, transport, mine, explore, recruit, design your ship, and protect in an open, seamless universe (without loading screens or sudden environment flipping) also without system \'walls\', \'rooms\', or required jump/warp gates."

The game includes a tutorial mode which I strongly recommend playing through, as it teaches you most of the basics; navigation, combat, mining, and trading. I also recommend reading the manual that comes with the game and the strategy guide that can be found online, which both provide many tips and hints that a new player will find invaluable.

Upon starting the game, you\'ll find yourself sitting in a tiny ship in the Sapphire system, which is located in the middle of Evochron. Close by you\'ll find a space station that dwarfs your ship and is itself dwarfed by a truly massive green-blue planet. The game\'s universe is divided into systems, which are further divided into individual sectors of space. At first the largeness of space may seem intimidating, but once you learn the intricacies of navigation you\'ll be flying from system to system with ease. The Sapphire system has a friendly rating and there are very few hostile ships to watch out for, which makes it a good system to hang around in until you\'ve gotten to grips with flying your ship, and learned a few combat maneuvers. Most players start out making money by mining ore from asteroid fields, and this will give you valuable practice flying between station and asteroid, but it can get boring quite quickly. You can also make money taking contracts to clean solar panels, destroying asteroids and delivering cargo to transport ships, all of which are relatively easy and much more interesting than mining.

Evochron Legends is a space simulation that continues the time-honored tradition of Elite- like in the classic, you play a lone mercenary vying for reputation and wealth. There is no carrier-flying or empire-building, you play as a lone pilot. You can hire some friendly AI-controlled ships to serve as wingmen and assist you in combat, but that\'s it.  As previously mentioned, EvoChron Legends has an impressive list of features, including a seamless universe, realtime planetary descents(no cutscenes or loading screens once you\'re in the game), direct control of your ship with mouse, keyboard or joystick, a dynamic economy, commodity crafting, realistic Newtonian physics, mercenary and military roles, total customization of your ship and its equipment, hundreds of different systems to visit and explore, multiplayer that integrates seamlessly with the singleplayer side of the game, and extensive moddability. The website for the game lets you download a customization kit that details modifying the game\'s graphics, sounds, and universe.

Evochron Legends includes an optional story that involves tracking down large beacons scattered across the universe by an unknown person or persons. Each beacon provides more information about the origin of the beacons and a clue that leads you to the next one. At the end of the trail are some hidden locations and a few special weapons and resources.


Moving on, the two main factions of humans in the game are the Alliance and the Federation. The Alliance is the more powerful of the two and controls many systems in the Evochron sector, but there are several under Federation control.  During the time period Evochron Legends is set in, the Alliance and the Federation are no longer at war with eachother, but there is still hostility between the two groups. As a result of this, Alliance-controlled systems are usually friendly to the player but systems loyal to the Federation will often be very hostile to the player.


Aside from humanity, there is only one other known race in the galaxy, the mysterious Vonari. Very little is known about this alien species, other than the fact that they are very aggressive. Previous games have involved the Vonari attacking the Sol sector, trying to destroy Earth itself, and other campaigns against systems in the Evochron sector.  In the previous Evochron games, the Vonari were confined to several far-off systems of their own, but in Legends there are war zones, areas of space between human-occupied systems and the Vonari systems where Vonari ships clash with the Alliance Space Navy.  The player can enter these war zones and fight with the Alliance against the Vonari as a mercenary or by joining the military and flying special military ships that are optimized for combat but have no cargo holds and no room for crew members.


A great thing about Evochron is the lack of RPG-ish \'classes\'. If you want to mine, you can go and install a Mining/Tractor Beam and start mining away. If you get bored of mining and take a fancy for the pirate lifestyle, you just load up some missiles and a Cargo Scanner and start blasting away ships carrying valuable cargo.  There are no menus to go through, or skillpoints to be distributed. What matters is your personal skill at things and what you want to do.  If you find mining boring, it\'s completely optional and there are many other ways to make money. If you need to brush up on your combat skills, you can fly into a system with weaker enemy ships for an easier challenge. And if you feel like exploring deep space to find hidden planets, cargo containers, or old shipwrecks, it\'s as simple as docking at a station and building a new ship in the Shipyard that\'s specialized for exploring.


Ships come in a number of different frame styles with different armor, energy and assembly levels and the Shipyard found at all stations allows you to build your ship just the way you want it.  Larger and more expensive ship frames have better armor, a larger energy supply and more assembly points, allowing you to customize your ship with better shields and faster engines, but at the expense of decreased maneuverability.  The Shipyard allows you to customize virtually everything about your ship, from the size of the fuel tank to the speed of the engine to the number of cargo bays. You can even paint the ship a different color, although this is limited to several presets.  Also, the Shipyard allows you to resize and reposition every single part of the ship excluding the frame itself. You can supersize the wings and position the cargo hold right in the middle of the cockpit if you wish.


The most important thing that makes Evochron Legends stand out is the "go anywhere, do anything" philosophy. Unlike in some other games, everything you see can be visited in realtime and nothing is there just to look pretty. If you see a star, you can fly to it and suck particles from it to fuel your ship. Be careful though, because stars and planets and black holes have realistic gravity and can suck your ship into fiery oblivion.

 


Asteroid fields can be mined, and you can obtain contracts to clear them out of the way by shooting them to lovely bits. Planets can also be mined, of precious metals, oxygen, water, or even plant material.  Several gigantic hollow asteroids can be found in Evochron, these usually have a station with special equipment and commodities for sale, and special containers hidden within their tunnels.  The nebula clouds found in many systems are invaluable for hiding from enemies as they limit sensor ranges and radar. Then too, many companies hide containers of valuable commodities in nebulas, which, if found, can provide a rich source of income for the player.  Black holes are dangerous, massive, and often churning with the remains of AI ships that have ventured too close and gotten sucked in - something which will happen to your own ship if you fly too close. Why then would you want to fly near a black hole?  Special wormholes which lead to far-off uncharted locations can often be found formed at the very center of the black holes, making exploring them a rewarding venture if you have the requisite skill.


Controls are semi-intuitive - like any simulation, the initial learning curve can be a bit steep, but once learned they become almost second-nature. Evochron Legends supports a wide range of control setups, including keyboard, mouse, joystick-gamepad, and even TrackIR support. TrackIR is a relatively new device that allows you to move in the game world by moving your head in the real world.  I higly recommend reading the game manual and the strategy guide as they go into detail explaining how to fly your ship. The Newtonian physics system in Evochron Legends allows a wide range of maneuvers including rolling, jaw, pitch, inertial slides and inertia-based movement such as flying in one direction while shooting at a target in the opposite direction.  


Moving on to combat, in Evochron Legends other ships in the game have three threat levels. Green ships are friendly, yellow ships are neutral, and red ships are hostile. This is identified on your HUD, as green ships will appear as a green blip on your radar and likewise red ships will be identified with red-colored text and target indicators.  Ships have armored hulls and shield arrays protecting them. Shield arrays recharge slowly after being weakened but ship hulls do not, they must be repaired either at a station or by installing a repair system on your ship.


Speaking of repair systems, your ship is able to hold five different pieces of equipment. There is a wide variety of equipment. Repair systems, Cannon Relay Systems which provide more energy for your cannons, Shield Boosters which improve your ship\'s shield capabilities, Cargo Scanners that tell you what another ship is carrying in its cargo holds, Fuel Convertors which convert particles from stars and nebulas into fuel, and Stealth Generators that can cloak your ship and make it invisible to radar and [i]nearly[/i] invisible to the eye.


Weapons in Evochron are standard space combat fare. Your primary weapons are energy cannons which use energy from your ship - the larger a pool of energy your ship has, the more shots you can fire before the pool is expended and you must wait a few seconds for it to recharge.  There are two kinds of cannons, particle and beam. Particle cannons are more powerful, but their projectile moves slowly and can miss the target if not aimed properly, while beam cannons shoot at the speed of light and hit your target instantaneously. Beam cannons are much weaker than particle cannons, but are invaluable additions to your arsenal as they drain a ship\'s shield much faster.


Ships come with mounting points for a single particle cannon and a single beam cannon. They also come with a series of hardpoints for mounting missiles. Smaller ships only have a few hardpoints, thus can carry fewer missiles. The larger ships have more hardpoints, up to a maximum of eight. When it comes to missiles, there is no "best missile", each one is suited to a different use. The cheaper missiles cause less damage, but fly much faster, thus making them harder to evade.  There are several specialized missile types, such as EMP missiles that disable the target\'s electrical system, taking their weapons and engines offline and making them an easy target.  Another missile worth mentioning is the Excalibur missile system. The Excalibur consumes all eight hardpoints and the missiles it fires are relatively weak. It makes up for this by firing eight extremely fast missiles simultaneously and recharging itself within thirty seconds - thus you never have to buy more Excalibur missiles.


All missiles track their target except for torpedoes. Fulcrum Torpedoes are "dumb" missiles, they fly straight in the direction you fire them. Fulcrum Torpedoes are powerful enough to destroy a carrier with a single blast and will destroy the ship that fires them if it does not get out of the explosion radius quickly enough.  Other secondary weapons include proximity mines that detonate when another ship comes within range, stealth devices that cloak your ship for sixty seconds, and probes that scan a sector of space and inform you on the whereabouts of other ships in that sector.


When it comes to the actual fighting, there are two main things you need to learn to become an ace pilot: inertial-off mode, and countermeasures. Normally your ship flies with the help of computer-controlled thrusters that adjust your speed. You can turn these off by hitting the default Spacebar key, which turns off your Inertial Dampening System(IDS). In this mode your ship will drift at whatever speed you are currently travelling in whichever direction you were heading at the moment you turned your IDS off. This is very useful as it allows you to fly in one direction while shooting in another direction. You can also change the direction of your ship in this mode using an engine thruster on each side of your ship. This is critical because when you are flying at high speed at an angle to incoming enemy ships, they will have an extremely difficult time hitting you with cannon fire.

 

Countermeasures are essential to surviving any fight. When an enemy ship fires a missile at you, you have two options to neutralize it. You can drop flares to confuse the missile(default C key), or you can try to shoot the missile down with your cannons. The trick to using flares is to turn directly away from the missile\'s path so it is behind you and then drop three or four flares as soon as the missile gets close to you. You can only carry ninety-nine flares at a time, and they are automatically refilled whenever you refuel your ship at a station.

 

Your second option, shooting down the missiles with your cannons, is a bit trickier, but well worth learning, especially since you may run out of flares during a long battle. To shoot missiles down, head away from the missiles and then turn your IDS off and turn your ship toward the missiles. Wait til they get within range(your cannons have a range of approximately five-hundred clicks, but there\'s no rangefinder for missiles so you have to guess), then aim directly at them and fire. With multiple missiles inbound you may want to drop flares simultaneously to ensure that none of them hit you.


In combat engagements with groups of enemy ships, I strongly suggest that you make several passes at the enemy - keeping them at a distance - just to shoot down/destroy the missiles they fire at you. Doing this at long range will give you ample time to destroy the missiles without any threat of enemy cannon fire. You will find it much more difficult to evade missiles when you\'re in the middle of a close-range dogfight.


In addition to weapons and equipment, you can hire crew members to fly with you on your ship. They are not essential but to provide some valuable help in certain cases.  There are Navigators, Weapon Ops, Science Ops, and Engineers.


Navigators assist you with your flying. Basically, they move waypoints to safer positions so you don\'t jump into a planet and destroy your ship.  Hiring a Navigator is a good idea if you\'re a new player. They will save your ship quite often from splattering itself against an asteroid or planet. Personally I don\'t employ the services of a Navigator because I can\'t prevent them from changing waypoints and I often need to jump into risky locations.


Weapon Ops improve your cannons\' firing abilities, making them fire faster and use less energy per shot. Worth every penny to hire one of these guys, you need all the help you can get in combat.  Science Ops will scan the surrounding sectors and notify you about nearby cargo containers and locations with items of interest or valuable commodities. If you\'re exploring, a Science Ops officer is almost essential. They don\'t pinpoint the location of containers exactly, but they provide enough information for you to figure it out with a bit of math.


And lastly, Engineers. If you have an Engineer aboard, your ship\'s shield arrays and hull will repair themselves faster. If you\'re flying a civilian ship, you have room for four crewmembers and you can only hire one from each profession. Military ships however are much smaller than the civilian ships and only have room in the cockpit for the pilot.


As Evochron Legends is an indie game that is not very well known, multiplayer is not bursting at the seams with players, but this is offset by the fact that the few pilots you do find online are for the most part friendly and helpful. Evochron Legends can be hosted through the game itself or with a dedicated server program available from the game\'s website.   The dedicated server program requires a 3D card on the computer it runs on, which may present a problem if you rent a computer in another location for server use, as most of them either have no 3D card or have no drivers installed for it.

 


The game itself has been very stable on all of my computers, with not a single crash or glitch. This is not to say it is bug free, and many bugs have been reported on the game website, but all of them have been fixed thus far by the developer.  It\'s worth mentioning that the developer is a one man operation, which makes the speed at which he fixes reported bugs very impressive. He\'s been known to release bug-fixing updates for his games the very day that someone posts about them on the forum.


There is no language, sexual content, or anything supernatural in the game itself. One of the main activities in the game involves fighting with other ships. In Evochron Legends you can choose to take a somewhat evil path and become a pirate; preying on weaker ships, blasting them into space dust and looting their cargo.


For fans of the previous games in the series, Evochron Legends will be a welcome and much-loved addition. If you\'re a newcomer to the series but loved games like Elite, Terminus, Wing Commander: Privateer, or Independence War 2, you\'ll be right at home. Anyone new to the space sim genre may find the learning curve initially steep, but if you\'re willing to invest some time into it, EvoChron Legends is a game that pays back in spades. 

Game Score:

Gameplay 17/20
Graphics 8/10
Sound 8/10
Stability 5/5
Controls/Interface 4/5
Game Score total: 42/50

Appropriateness Score:
Violence 5/10
Language 10/10
Sexual Content/Nudity 10/10
Occult/Supernatural 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10 
Appropriateness Score total: 45/50

System Requirements:
Minimum:
OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista 
Processor: 2.0 Ghz
Memory: 1 GB RAM 
Graphics: 128 MB
Hard Drive: 150 MB free hard drive space 

Recommended:
OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista 
Processor: 2.4 GHZ 
Memory: 2 GB RAM 
Graphics: 256 MB 
Hard Drive: 150 MB free hard drive space 
Sound: DX 8.1 Compatible Audio

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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