Ur-Quan Masters
Written by Angelo M. D'Argenio   
Sunday, 09 September 2007

Sometimes, things are just good enough to be redone.  Case and point, Hollywood.  Rocky Balboa, Live Free and Die Hard, and the upcoming John Rambo are all examples of hits in the past that were just so good that they needed to be brought back for people of this generation.  Unfortunately, a lot of these redos, these second, third, and fourth times around are little more than sequel-fied garbage. 


But what does this mean for the videogame world?  Well, sometimes, there is a videogame that was just so good in its time that it needs to be done again.  This time, that game in question is Star Control II.  A 3DO port of a DOS game, Star Control II holds a place in PC gamers hearts as one of the more innovative games to arise out of the turn of the gaming century so to speak.  Sci Fi fans everywhere became addicted to the game, and played it for hours at a time.  So now, many years later, are we just supposed to let it slink away into quiet obscurity?  The response from the gaming community was a resounding Heck No!  Thus the idea to make a PC port of the 3DO port of the DOS game was born, and this port of a port is called Star Control: The Ur-Quan Masters.

Think back for a second, Star Control II was a game of the eighties and early nineties!  How much of gaming in that era do you really remember besides Mario and his assorted cohorts?  My guess is not much.  In fact, you probably don’t even remember Star Control II from when it first came out.  So that being said, Ur-Quan masters is NOT a new Star Control game, its purpose isn’t to make people say “WOAH star control is back!”  No, this remake, or perhaps I should say “update” is not meant to reinvent the series, rather it is simply meant to help Star Control II withstand the test of time.  As such, it’s hard to review this game, without first knowing about the original SCII, so lets review that first shall we?

Star Control II was an… interesting game to say the least.  It took elements from all different genres and sorta mashed them together in one Sci Fi amalgamation.  Its story is very RPG like, involving going to several different worlds, speaking to the right people, and gathering the right items and pieces of information.    The combat, however, is very arcade like, harkening back to the Flight and Space sims of old.  Through all this, there are still elements of resource gathering and management, used in both trading and in upgrading your ship, making it feel a bit like a trading sim or real time strategy.

The final object of the game however is really quite simple.  You are in command of a starship, and all of earth is counting on you.  It’s up to you to trade, and fight and explore enough, so that you get more powerful and have the ability to upgrade your ship (and its tiny surrounding fleet).  You do this, all the while revealing more story, until you have the ability to go and kick the space butts of the Ur-Quan, the generic space bad guys, and the uhm… things that this game is named after (the name was changed mostly due to trademark reasons).

The story of Ur-Quan masters is very engrossing.  I really can’t tell you much without spoiling it, but I can tell you that it will have you hooked until the very end.  It’s one of those things that starts on a very small scale and ends up involving things MUCH bigger than yourself.  In fact if there is anything that keeps you coming back for more, it’s the classic, epic, and somewhat goofy at times, Sci Fi story.

But lets get down to the nitty gritty shall we.  Ur-Quan masters is a remake so what exactly was remade.  Well first of all, not much has changed from the original 3DO version.  There are a few very minor graphical touchups and some optional music tracks, but most if not everything was taken directly from the 3DO.  This is fine though because for its time, the graphics and sound were enjoyable, so since you are playing a retro game anyway, none of this will really bother you very much.

Another interesting thing that comes with UQM that didn’t come with the other Star Controls is the wonder of the internet.  UQM grants you the ability to have online play, allowing you and your friends to participate in gigantic melees.  Several modifications have been released to the multiplayer mode, allowing several different game experiences to be had… or just allowing you to get your butt kicked by overpowered and broken ships.  The creators of UQM actually encourage modding, and wanted one of the key focuses of the project to be moddability.

All in all there really isn’t much to say about UQM.  It IS Star Control 2, plain and simple, and Star Control 2 was a really good game for its time.  I mean it won’t blow the tops off of anyone who is looking for the next Final Fantasy or Devil May Cry or something, but it is certainly enjoyable.  People who played the original Star Control 2 will love it for the retro factor, and newcomers will like it just due to the fun gameplay and the story.  Most noted however, is that the internet play will have you coming back for more far after you have completed the single player mode.

Overall this is a game I would recommend to anyone, simply due to the sheer amount of ways it could be played, and I’m not talking about game modes.  UQM works wonderful as both a dedicated gaming endeavor, and as a sporadic time waster.  It works good alone or with friends, or heck with strangers.  It could be a game you devote all your focus too, or a game you have running in the background while you work, and honestly none of these options actually reduce the play experience whatsoever.  It’s not phenomenal, but it’s damn good, so I would have to rate it at a solid 8.5.  Give it a try, I doubt you will be disappointed.

”Screenshot” ”Screenshot” ”Screenshot” ”Screenshot” ”Screenshot”

Related: Supernova: Galactic Wars, Alpha Centauri
Developer: Ur-Quan Masters Sourceforge Project
Website for Game: http://sc2.sourceforge.net/
Publisher: N/A
O/S: Windows 2000/XP/Vista, OS/X 10.4/10.5
Cost of Full Game: Free
Where to get:
Click here to download
Year of Release: 2003

Tested on:
Intel Core2Duo 1,86 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Windows Vista


Comments (1)
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1. 10-09-2007 05:09
The Ur-Quan being "generic space bad gu
Has the reviewer uttered The Words to the Kohr-Ah or bought all historical info from the Melnorme? If it is so, why would they be "generic space bad guys"? As far as I know, generic baddies are those "absolute evil" characters, generally possessing little backstory, and having plans of "world domination" just for the sake of it. None of these fit the Ur-Quan.

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