Escapist's Not Feeling Privateer (July 21, 2014)

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
To coincide with the completion of the Wing Commander series on GOG, Escapist ran a series of reviews last year that covered almost the whole franchise. At the time they skipped over Academy and the Privateers, but they've circled back around with a Good Old Review for Gemini Sector pilots. It's the same reviewer that thought Prophecy was pretty good and loved WC1&2, but in this case, he just can't get into Privateer. The author finds himself noticing where it fails to keep up with Wing Commander 2, but that's kind of an awkward comparison since they're intentionally pretty different Wing Commander games. Maybe the writer who hated WC3&4 but wasn't nearly as harsh on Armada would've been the prime candidate for the Priv article. I appreciate that the author tried to grasp for some positive aspects towards the end, but "the game's faction system, in turn, was also a high point"? I like finally figuring out how to befriend the Kilrathi as much as the next guy, but that's a funny part of the game to single out. You can read the complete review for yourself here. Thanks to Matthew Khouzam for letting us know about this one.








For all their flaws, the mainline Wing Commander games hooked me by dropping me into the shoes of a hero that I found innately interesting. In Wing Commander 1 you're the rookie trying to prove themselves. In Wing Commander 2 you're a disgraced pilot trying to prove their innocence in the midst of a war that is going poorly. Playing as that person and in those roles motivated me. It made me want to kick more ass and see what came next. Playing as some guy trying to make a buck while searching for a random space object, just didn't do it for me. ...

For all my complaints, I will say that Privateer does do a good job of providing varied ways to play the game. You're given complete freedom from the word go to play as a law abiding citizen, a murdering pirate, or some shade in-between. You can make your money running cargo, taking on mercenary jobs, or blasting other trade ships out of the sky and stealing their goods. Doing that last bit will naturally make you enemies with the lawful authorities, but you can always just find a friendly pirate base to land at if the local militias become too much of a pest.

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Original update published on July 21, 2014
 
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Rylex

Rear Admiral
Privateer is one of the best games ever... it's definitely one of my favorite games of all times.
When I played the GOG version last time last year I really LOVED it more than ever!

Anybody who says that Privateer is not an addictive game doesn't have a clue!
 

Dyret

Super Carrot!
Next up, why The Escapist thinks puppies are 'so over.'

Yeah, games journalism in general isn't all it probably should be, but I can understand that guy being unimpressed if all he cares about is the story, though I personallty found the inferred stuff in Privateer quite interesting.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
I think privateer is great... but when I think back to when I first played it, I came into Privateer late. By that point I had already played WC2 and 3, so jumping into Privateer and seeing weird ships, not really flying against kilrathi, and not being presented with the story at the outset, It didn't really draw me in the same way. It wasn't until I was finally able to play it on my own PC with myjemm in win98 that I finally *got* privateer. Before that I was never really able to sit down with the game properly since I had always been playing on a machine belonging to someone else. But without a good feel for what it means to make your own way in the galaxy and expecting more... story, my initial impression was definitely just "it's ok." (And without a joystick at the time it was also near impossible to play with a mouse the way I played through WC1,2.)
 

Dondragmer

Rear Admiral
(And without a joystick at the time it was also near impossible to play with a mouse the way I played through WC1,2.)

Yes, the mouse controls in Privateer are terrible, and the keyboard controls are even worse. There doesn't seem to be any excuse for this, since WC1 and WC2 engineered both quite well. The difference is that WC1 and WC2 apply some acceleration to keyboard inputs, so if you tap a key you turn a little but, but if you hold down the key your rotation accelerates to the maximum possible. The hand on your screen helps illustrate this happening. In Privateer, all rotation is at the maximum possible rate, which is too fast for lining up on things. They also supply an on-screen cursor when you move the mouse, while in Privateer it's possible to go into a spin and not know which direction to move the mouse to center it.

I played through WC1 to WC4 entirely on keyboard. When I bought Privateer on GoG a few years ago I rapidly gave up on keyboard, briefly tried using a gamepad as joystick input, then concluded the mouse was the best of three bad input methods. I completed the original Privateer story, but my experience was much as the reviewer described: tedious repetition and dying a lot to random spawns. Even when I survived, shooting down Talons took far too long due to the ropy controls. In turn, this made the storyline feel sparse and labored. I assume that people with proper joysticks and experience in steering them found the combat satisfying and the storyline well-paced.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Yeah, I picked up a cheapo gravis 2 button stick way back at a garage sale for a few buck... The privateer experience was immensely improved with it over playing with a mouse. I had a better stick that my brother absconded with so it had to do at the time.

Maybe it's because the 'story' begins in the game manual and not the game intro?

By the time I picked up Privateer, mine was the gold version that came in a small box with pretty much *just* the CD jewel case inside. There was no manual. I imagine if there had been my experience with the game the first time around might have been a bit different.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Anybody who says that Privateer is not an addictive game doesn't have a clue!
Maybe they just don't like trading games? I prefer the generic war hero scenario too, just like the reviewer

By the time I picked up Privateer, mine was the gold version that came in a small box with pretty much *just* the CD jewel case inside..

Pretty sure that was originally bundled with a CD-rom drive/sound card kit.... (computer builders took the kits apart and sold the games+hardware seperate to increase their margins... But.. (in my case at least), inside the jewel case, in the inlay is a scanned copy of the manual.
 

pigsonthewing

Rear Admiral
Maybe they just don't like trading games? I prefer the generic war hero scenario too, just like the reviewer
I'm with you. All great truths begin as blasphemies, and I didn't want to post it until someone else did so we can be sacrificed together to the cult of Grayson Burrows that exists around here.
Privateer is the Wing Commander i revisit the least.
 

cff

Kilk'dymga'qith laq Ik'vikvi
Ah, don't forget Privateer 2 ... That is the WC game to revisit the least ;-) But I wholeheartly agree. That whole open univese thing also didn't do much for me, I am also more the storyline guy. And even in sandboxish games IMHO there are better ones then Privateer. Its ok, never mind, but ...
 

Silverain

Rear Admiral
While WC1 was the first series game I saw (brother of a girlfriend was playing it one time I was... err... visiting their parent's house.. yeah), Privateer was the first in the series I actually played.

Coming new to PCs off the back of my parent's C64, I grew up a big fan of the C64's Elite, so was already a fan of the game type. Even moving on to other like space sims (and looking forward to Star Citizen - once I can afford to replace this 5yr old rig), I've returned to Privateer & RF a couple of times over the years.

About the only gripe I ever had (minor) was how easy it was to accrue credits flying mercenary missions. Coming from Elite (where you really only made money trading - and small margins at that) it truly was a major accomplishment to just upgrade from a Pulse to a Beam laser on the nose of the Cobra Mk3 - let alone getting the money together to buy a Military laser.
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
Yeah, games journalism in general isn't all it probably should be

I think "gaming journalism" isn't really a thing, its just something the internet agreed needed to exist because people need to identify what they like to consume as important.

(It does, however, usually deserve as much respect as my putting the term in quote blocks above.)
 
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