Difference between revisions of "FreeSpace 2"

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Latest revision as of 17:27, 4 May 2021

FreeSpace 2
After over 20 years, it's still one of the best shooters ever made.
Protagonist: An Unnamed GTVA Pilot
Genre: Flight Simulation
Platforms: Microsoft Windows
Release Date: September 30, 1999
Developer: Volition
Publisher: Interplay Productions
Franchise: FreeSpace
Previous Game: Descent: FreeSpace - The Great War

FreeSpace 2 (stylized as FREESPACE 2) is a space shooter flight simulation developed by Volition and published by Interplay Productions. The game was released on September 30, 1999 for Microsoft Windows to critical acclaim, but poor sales. In 2002, Volition released the source code for the game online for non-commercial license.


32 years after the collapse of the Terra jump-node, much has changed. The Galactic Terran Alliance and the Parliamentary Vasudan Empire have joined together to form the GTVA, the Galactic Terran Vasudan Alliance. Despite the alliance, there is still opposition on the Terran side, and those rebels have come to form the NTF, the Neo-Terran Front. Hoping to end the conflict, the GTVA set up a campaign against the NTF and find that one of the most decorated of the GTVA's leaders, Admiral Bosch, is leading the front. The effort to stop him ends badly, and the GTVA begins more strikes against the NTF. However, before they can commence, they discover the Shivans returned, along with a strange artificial jump-node. Scientists believe that if they can harness the node, they may be able to find away to open up a gate back to Terra. Once they secure the node, they discover a nebula crawling with Shivans, along with an NTF crusiser known as the Trinity. However, efforts to capture the Trinity are futile and it is destroyed by the Shivans.

Stopping the Shivans soon becomes the focus of the GTVA, but eventually, the efforts of NTF become high-priority once again. Eventually, the GTVA begins an attack on a large NTF space station with their biggest super weapon, the GTVA Colossus, the largest and most powerful battleship ever created. The attack is successful, and a major part of the NTF resistance has been destroyed.

After the victory against the NTF, war efforts are again focused on the Shivans in the nebula. This begins the opportunity to test out many new weapons against the Shivan offensive. Using the new tech, the GTVA manages to destroy one of the Shivan's Ravana-class ships. Later, Bosch launches an assault on the artificial jump-node. While the NTF loses many ships, Bosch gets away into the nebula. While chasing him, the GTVA discovers the Shivans are working on their own super weapon, the Sathanas class dreadnought. The dreadnought soon enters Terran-Vasudan space, but after a desperate offensive, the Sathanas proves no match for the Colossus. However, heavy losses are amounted on both sides.

As the GTVA resumes conflict on the NTF, but soon discover Bosch has been contacting the Shivans. The GTVA realize that the artificial jump-gate was created by Bosch, who had been taking artifacts from archaeological sites looking into the Ancients, and hoped to contact the Shivans and present them with the artifacts. The Shivans reply to his message. They take Bosch and destroy his cruiser. The GTVA manages to save some of the crew and pursue the transport carrying Bosch, and discover a second artificial jump-node. They attempt to secure it, but their efforts are stopped by another Sathanas-class ship. The GTVA is forced to retreat from the nebula.

The GTVA creates a plan to stop the Shivan invasion while they evacuate civilians from the nearby sectors. They decide if they can try to create a meson explosion inside the two jump-nodes by detonating old Great-War era vessels, they can collapse the nodes and stop the invasion. The plan works, but with heavy losses. The GTVA loses the Colossus, and the remaining forces try to defend the evacuation while the ships detonate. However, the remaining forces detect many Sathanas-class dreadnoughts, which then detonate the system's star. This causes it to go supernova, destroying all friendly and enemy forces in the system. The player can chose to escape the system, or die protecting the evacuation. In the end, the player's commanding officer, Admiral Petrarch, discusses everything the GTVA lost in the conflict. However, he ends by saying the GTVA is now able to create their own subspace gates, which may lead to being able to get back to Terra.

Why It Rocks

  1. The game improves all of the previous game's systems, as well as fixing some of its flaws, such as updating the graphics and making the multiplayer more stable.
  2. Beautiful graphics that hold up well, even today. All of the spaceships look detailed, even the smallest ships have their own visible emblems and plating effects. The explosions in particular, especially from the biggest ships, are amazing to watch, and have their own particle and wave effects from them. Finally, the varied space backdrops look detailed and are nice to look at.
  3. Unlike most other space combat games, where the action revolves around the player, the gameplay revolves around the player being a small part of a larger battle in most missions, such as fighting enemy squadrons alongside large cap ships fighting against each other.
  4. Large amount of level variety. Some of the missions range from simple, such as protecting a cap ship or exploring a nebula. However, later missions are more complex and can affect later levels, such as destroying the beam cannons of a large cap ship in one mission to help a friendly cap ships chances of survival in the next.
  5. Well designed AI. Not only do the enemies do whatever they can to get on your tail or head you off in normal fights, they also adapt to the larger space battles, such as trying to send the player crashing into capital ships.
  6. Many different types of ships to fly, from quick and easily maneuverable light fighters to heavy and slow bombers that can carry tons of missiles. Even some ships from the original game return, with some minor differences.
  7. Large amounts of cannons, missiles, and bombs to customize your fighter with. Each of the guns have their own different stats, such as rapid firing heavy guns or well rounded lasers. The missiles and bombs also have their own abilities, such as powerful non-tracking missiles and accurate bombs that disable subsystems. Besides ship customization, you can even customize your wingmen's fighters and weaponry.
  8. When in space flight, you have many different control options when flying your ship. Some of these options are basic, like targeting a craft in front of you or switching and firing your guns. Then there are the more advanced options, such as diverting power between your three subsystems and communicating with your wingmen. In fact, there are so many options, the many different controls take up almost the entire keyboard.
  9. The large cap ship battles are amazing to watch and are made even better by the looks of the graphics. You watch the ships fire missiles and lasers at each other and even spectacular beam cannons that cut through the ships like butter.
  10. The nebula missions. Unlike the standard space missions, the nebula missions rely on scout and exploration missions that take advantage of the nebula environment's defining feature: the limited visibility.
  11. The communication system is really deep and intricate. You can communicate with all of your wingmen to do different options such as attacking your target or subsystem. You can also call in for reinforcements and even a craft that can restock your missiles, but it will leave you vulnerable.
  12. Unlike other combat flight simulators, where you can just destroy the enemies, you can also target the subsystems of any enemy craft. You can disable them to do different effects on them in battle. For example, you can disable an enemy's engine subsystem to prevent them from recharging their shields. You can do the same with the large cap ships, but you can also destroy or disable their turrets. Be careful though, as your foes can also disable your subsystems if you aren't careful.
  13. Over thirty levels in the campaign. In addition, many of the missions are very memorable, including:
    • Feint! Parry! Riposte! - Attack two NTF cruisers, hoping to lure the NTF admiral's flagship in the open.
    • ...But Hate the Traitor - Part of the three mission "SOC Loop 1", your cover as a spy is blown halfway through the mission. It's now a pure dogfight.
    • Endgame - Fend off the NTF's blockade until the arrival of the GTVA Colossus.
    • High Noon - The epic confrontation between the Colossus and the Sathanas. Performance from the previous mission affect which version of the level you get.
    • Clash of the Titans II - Escort the Bastion to the jump node before it's destroyed. Homage to the Clash of the Titans mission from the previous game.
  14. A great story that is even better than the original game. While the main Shivan plot is slightly generic, the NTF side-plot in particular is very interesting and is a good break from the main story.
  15. In addition to the great story, the in-game cinematics look and feel awesome. The opening title screen cinematic in particular is amazing to watch, which shows and epic space battle against the GTA and the Shivans, with a well done chase scene between two fighter craft.
  16. Based on your performance in the missions, you may be awarded with medals and increase in your rank. These are gained by following mission objectives perfectly or by completing a secret objective. You also gain Ace pins for destroying a large amount of enemies. While these medals don't really serve any purpose, they are a nice and fun way to show your skill.
  17. Just like the original game, the presentation of the game menus is very nice, mostly in the main game menu. You select your campaign menu, quit the game, and look at game information in a menu that resembles the interior of a starship. The way the menu is presented even changes based on where your player has been assigned to in the campaign.
  18. The voice acting, while not perfect, is very well done and effectively puts the weight of your mission on your shoulders.
  19. Well balanced difficulty, allowing the game to be easy to get into for newcomers, while also providing a fair challenge for FreeSpace veterans. In addition, there are five difficulty modes, just like the original.
  20. The soundtrack sounds better than the original and it gets the blood pumping. It ranges from ambient tones to intense and rapid beats.
    • In addition, the soundtrack is dynamic, meaning the score changes based on what is going on in the mission, similar to Wing Commander.
  21. Just like the player ships, there are a lot of variety in the enemy ships. These range from the Shivan bomber craft to the pirate versions of the Hercules fighters from the original game. In addition, the enemies even have access to weaponry that is not accessible to the player, such as the all-powerful Shivan Heavy Laser.
  22. Fun multiplayer modes. You can play with other players using LAN or over the internet to do PvP deathmatches, or cooperate in multiplayer missions, such a team trying to destroy the opposing team's cap ship. You can even join matches that are already in progress. Finally, there are also leaderboards to track your stats. And, similar to the single-player missions, you can select any ship and weapons for the match.
  23. The game even comes with a level creator called FRED2, allowing you to create your own levels and campaigns with the in-game assets. It's not a simple level creator either. You can create missions that have the same complexity as the levels in the main game, with allowing you to create event triggers, set AI levels, and even add your own voice-overs to your custom mission briefing.
  24. Lots of modding support for the game, despite being over 20 years old. The game has even been given unofficial fan updates over the years such as the FS2Open mod, which enhances the game's graphics and sound, gives you a few extra campaigns, and even puts the original FreeSpace in FreeSpace 2's engine.
  25. While it is a little generic, the credits scene is nice to look at, with still in-game pictures and some concept art for the game's ships and creatures.

Bad Qualities

  1. Because the game is a flight simulator and therefore being built around playing with a joystick, it can be hard to play without a peripheral of some kind.
  2. Due to the way the game is designed, it can take a long time to take down capital ships with your wingmen.
  3. The many different control options can be overwhelming.
  4. Just like the original game, there are no level checkpoints. If you fail a level, you have to start the whole mission over again which can be annoying for some players.
  5. Even though the story is really excellent, the main story of the game is still the "defeat the evil alien that's going to wipe out humanity" trope that's common with most of these games.


FreeSpace 2 received critical acclaim from critics and gamers alike. Unfortunately, despite the acclaim, the game was a commercial failure. The game has a score of 91/100 and 92% on Metacritic and GameRankings respectively. Sales totaled 26,983 copies by the end of 1999 in the U.S. The game currently has a 7/10 and 4.8/5 on Steam and GOG.com respectively.

Over the years, the game would develop a strong cult following and is a popular game for modding.

Game Tips

  1. Whenever you are in an escort level, the Shivans will usually send both bombers and fighters against your forces. Always go for the bombers, as they will do the most damage to what you are protecting. Then send your wingmen to attack the fighters.
  2. If you are in a normal fighter, it may not be a good idea to attack a cap ship, as standard fighters don't have enough power to destroy a capital ship. However, they can be useful for picking off their cannons and subsystems to help your teammates take out the cap ship easier.
  3. Ships are seperated into two main types: fighters and bombers. They each have their own weight types.
    • Light fighters are best for exploration missions and smaller battle focused missions. They have the fastest speed. Ships in this class are the Ulysses, Pegasus, and Myrmidon.
    • Medium fighters are good for most situations, but are mostly best for escort and battle focused missions. These ships would be the Loki, Hercules, and Perseus.
    • Heavy fighters are good for strike missions against large forces, as they have heavy armor and can carry lots of missiles. These ships would be the Ares, Hercules Mark II, Erinyes, and the captured Mara.
    • Bombers should only be used for attack missions against cap ships. They are virtually useless everywhere else. The Artemis, Medusa, Ursa, Zeus, and Boanerges are bombers.


  1. The game took less than a year to develop.
  2. FreeSpace 2 was originally supposed to have some atmospheric battles in the campaign, but the idea was dropped due to time constraints, along with some weapon types.
  3. Unlike the previous game in the series, there was barely any marketing for FreeSpace 2, as there were no press releases or contests to help promote the game, which may have contributed to its financial failure.
  4. A FreeSpace 3 was going to be developed, but was cancelled, leaving the rest of the storyline unfinished.
  5. In addition, Volition was interested in creating expansions to FreeSpace 2, but their publisher Interplay rejected the idea.

Notable Mods

  1. Beyond the Red Line and Diaspora: Shattered Armistice: two Battlestar Galactica themed mods.
  2. Wing Commander Saga: a fan-made total conversion extension the Wing Commander games.
  3. Star Fox: Event Horizon, a fan extension to the Star Fox game series.
  4. FreeSpace: Blue Planet, a total conversion mod and a fan made sequel to FreeSpace 2.



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