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If one imagines the human race will be able to put aside its differences once they begin occupying the vast empty darkness of space, they're sorely mistaken, according to StarLancer, the space combat simulation from Digital Anvil. The Cold War has gone hot in the massive vacuum above, with the villainous Coalition (who speak in Russian accents but not in actual Russian), brutally attacking the shaky Alliance, bringing murder and bloodshed back to the starry canopy. In StarLancer, you take on the role of a nameless rookie in the 45th squadron, populated by civilians and lacking in respect from the rest of the fleet. Along the way you'll have to blow up the bad guys, get your name high up the kill board, and help to assure the freedom of the solar system ... at least until the next bloodthirsty enemy comes along.
StarLancer is a space sim in the same vein as the Wing Commander series, which is unsurprising given that the Roberts brothers, who created those games, founded Digital Anvil, the company that produced the original PC version of StarLancer. Players battle it out in the void of space from the cockpits of various star fighters, engaging in one-on-one dogfights and massive melees with the wicked enemy ships, as squadmates streak through space doing their best to keep their friendly fire away. Throughout the game you'll be charged with keeping space free and safe, either by supporting envoys containing capital ships, protecting them from guerilla strikes from the Coalition, or by directly assaulting the enemy, destroying their supply chain and crippling their ability to lash out at the Alliance.
The PC version of StarLancer had a fairly extensive control scheme, with multiple targeting options and all sorts of extras that were suited for the expansive possibilities of a joystick and keyboard. With the Dreamcast, however, there is nothing but the controller to work with. The result is that some of the more minute controls have been removed altogether, as the overall feel has been streamlined and simplified for the console market. Controls such as brakes, acceleration, and missile or beam firing have been given their own buttons, and the secondary options are assigned sub-menus activated by two different buttons; hold down one button and you have the option to now perform tasks like rolling, strafing or targeting various enemies.
StarLancer has a variety of modes, although the main focus is the storyline-driven main game, where players progress through a series of missions based around the Coalition/Alliance war. Briefings takes place via static screens that explain the mission in the simplest of terms. Most of the narrative is presented in the game itself, via radio messages from your squadron, friendly ships or the enemy. The game is chatty in this regard, no doubt in an attempt to heighten immersion into its world.
While the missions are linear, how well you complete them will affect how people regard you. If you play the part of a wet-behind-the-ears rookie, not accomplishing your objectives and letting capital ships bite the dust, don't expect to get a terribly warm reception from your peers. But if you can prove that you're bad enough to hang with the best, you'll be accorded a certain modicum of respect, slowly moving up the kill board until you can be looked upon with the title "legend." You get these precious kills by engaging in two distinct types of missions. The most plentiful are defense-based, where you'll be protecting your own capital ships from enemy forces and their dreaded torpedoes. The other missions are direct hits on the enemy, as you do your best to decimate both their fleet of fighters and as their capital ships.
StarLancer has a few more tricks up its sleeve, however, to go along with the mission-based play. The first is the Instant Action mode, which forgoes the niceties of storytelling in favor of straight-up fighting. Pick a ship and drop into immediate combat, as you battle off wave after wave of enemy squadrons on your own. Keep in mind, though, the clock is ticking; the faster you blow up the enemy, the more time you'll be rewarded. This mode is broken up into multiple rounds, with capital ships acting as level bosses. At the end of each round, after the destruction of these ships, missiles will be replenished and bonus time awarded.
StarLancer also comes Internet-ready, and can be played over Sega.net or your own ISP. Although cooperative multiplayer has been removed in the porting process, players can still fight it out over the 'net in deathmatch mode. This mode is slightly different than the others in the game, throwing you and five other competitors into various locales, then tossing in different types of power-ups. These icons are up for grabs in an intense melee where only one can survive. ~ Jon Thompson, All Game Guide