Winter!: Prepare for holiday gaming!
Simulation/Space Combat Simulation
MATURE, Realistic Blood & Gore, Realistic Violence
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Wing Commander: Privateer 2 — The Darkening represents a significant change from the open-ended gameplay of its predecessor. You complete missions such as hiring and escorting a freighter to deliver cargo to earn money for upgrades, buying better fighters, or hiring wingmen. The freedom to fly the cargo runs yourself, though, has been stripped from the mix of possibilities, as you're limited to flying only fighters, albeit customizable with unique weapons and systems.
The story is revealed through high quality FMV cut-scenes, but unlike the original, you're restricted to following the main story with little or no communication with other ships or the chance to make meaningful decisions. The MS-DOS game requires heavy tweaking and perseverance to run under Windows and is known for its tendency to crash often. The lack of a floating save option guarantees loss of significant playtime when you die before a save point.
You play as Lev Arris, an amnesiac who awakens in a hospital knowing only that he was pulled from a crashed freighter and found in a damaged cryogenic pod. Your memories are gone, but you have a sizable bank account. Solving the mystery of who you are, and what you're trying to accomplish is the crux of the story.
The Darkening can hold little claim to the Wing Commander: Privateer title, as the familiar cast of characters and races is gone, replaced by cardboard contenders. Inexplicably, designer Erin Roberts ignored the rich history of the Wing Commander: Privateer universe so lovingly crafted by his brother Chris in earlier installments. The lack of open-ended gameplay, so crucial to its predecessor's success, coupled with low sound and music quality, flagrant loss of continuity, and the game's propensity to crash, detract from the nice graphics and smooth framerates.
As unfulfilling as the game is, the highpoint is without doubt the superb acting of Christopher Walken and John Hurt, but even that can't overcome the lamentable separation from its solid roots. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide