Privateer 2: The Darkening

a game by Electronic Arts
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 6.0/10 - 2 votes
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Although the teim "interactive movie" mspiies disgust hi most gamers, Origin's proven prowess with the Wing Commander series marks Privateer 2: The Darkening as a promising prospect. I ike its popular predecessor, this Privateer blasts oil with a combination of space warfare, equipment trading and upgrading, and full-motion video adventuring that stars luminaries like Christopher Walken and John Hurt. In between storytelling sequences, the gameplay focuses on completing combat-laden missions like hunting down crooks and reconnoitering planetary systems.

Download Privateer 2: The Darkening

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Overview

The gaming world was taken by storm in 1993 with Privateer, a game that combined the intergalactic shoot-'em-up with the strategic trader/smuggler, all based in the ever-popular Wing Commander universe. It was non-linear and original, and more fun than a barrel of floppy disks. It carved an indelible place into many gamers' hearts, and it was obvious that Origin would give us more of what we wanted. _Privateer 2- (originally titled simply The Darkening) is just that, with enough of the old to get us excited, and with enough original features to make it worth the money.

Origin, while presenting it as a sequel, stresses more on how new the game is, rather than how similar it is to the original, and rightfully so: "Strap in tight and jump into the ultimate space combat trading experience! In Privateer 2, there are no rules. You can fly over 100 different missions in 18 different ships. Check out whatever you want -- unique planets, space stations, bars, prison pits and more. But without money, you're nothing. Ship upgrades, loadouts, repairs, wingmen, information -- everything here costs money. You'll have to hunt, trade and fight to get it. Only the fastest and most savvy survive. Incredible new space combat engine enables hi-speed battles between bands of pirates, greedy police, desperate privateers and you."

Gameplay

This is where the widest diversity in opinions comes in. Gamers who have not played the original will most likely be very pleased with the game, although other Wing Commander veterans may be disappointed that the game is practically unrelated to the original universe depicted in the series. Instead, we see little that is familiar other than planet names. While this is a let-down for avid Wing Commanders, this is even more so for players of the original Privateer.

This game is missing many of the original elements of the original Privateer. There is no slave trading (of captured enemy pilots), you can't pilot cargo ships and you don't have to maintain relations with any outside factions. These "oversights" have upset a lot of avid fans who expected a high-tech version of the original with a few additions and nothing removed.

I, however, am not one of them. While I miss some of the classic touches of the original, I really enjoyed this game a lot, along with many of the enhancements from the original game. The acting is excellent (if at times a little overdone), there are many available missions, cargo pilots and co-pilots, and the plot is non-linear. Even after you have won the game, it continues on, and there are still several side-plots and missions developing (several with full-motion video) from that point out. Although I don't think it is as classic a game as the original, it is still definitely very enjoyable.

Interface

The interface in Privateer 2 is both fresh and impressive, but it is fortunate that you can turn parts of it off at times. Don't get me wrong -- the first time I played the game, I was really taken aback by the obviously well-thought-out interface, the excellent landing sequences, the beeps, bells and whistles, and the transitions from different locations and menus. Unfortunately, after seeing and hearing the exact same sights and sounds twenty times, it can get a little irritating. However, almost all these items can be activated or deactivated. I found myself deactivating most of these features after a couple of days, but actually began to miss them later on. While the transition movies and interface sounds are excellent, I am very glad that for once a company has given the user the ability to choose which ones he/she wants.

Graphics

Privateer 2: The Darkening features quite possibly the best 3D space flight engine available, with the possible exception of Darklight Conflict, which is also produced by Electronic Arts, Origin's mother company. Both the speed and the look of the engine surprised me, running smoothly under all but the most straining conditions on a P133. The ships are not the blocky, squarish hulks they used to be. This game features smoothly-shaded, well-designed ships, as well as many excellent visual effects. Beyond the newer (but not uncommon) effects like lens flaring and Gourad shading, there is obviously attention to details, as in the smooth flash that occurs when a shot or missile disperses itself along a ship's defensive shields. The full-motion video is about the same quality as that in Wing Commander IV but, unfortunately, the intended film noir effect makes for a video that is way too dark to see well in places. Still, this game has set a new standard, and is especially commendable for doing so in spite of its emphasis on the trading and interaction that occurs planetside as well.

Audio

The sound itself is done well in most places of the game, although the music is lacking at times. Battles sound rather good, enough to make the neighbors complain of the low bass thump of a torpedo rupturing the hull of a capital ship. On the other hand, the music is all MIDI (non-Redbook audio), and while it is not totally annoying, it is a step below mediocre on occasions.

The most lacking area of audio in this game is in the video sequences. There are multiple places in the game where plain poor direction and editing step in, as an actor will say something in a low voice as he turns away from the camera, right as the background music builds up. It is something like trying to understand someone talking with a mouth full of crackers, except with the crackers, you know that they'll eventually swallow, and you'll figure out what they were trying to say. This is an obvious blunder in my opinion, since no matter how you try, you simply cannot understand what is being said in certain parts of the game. Fortunately, this does not happen all that often, and not in really crucial parts of the game. All in all, while the audio has its sparkling moments, there are a few oversights that detract from the quality of the game as a whole.

Documentation

The documentation is pretty much standard for a game of this type; sufficient enough to play, but not enough to keep you from searching either the web or your local computer bookstore for a guidebook. While Privateer 2 has a nice map and some decent documentation, it is obvious that just enough was left out to make a strategy guide desirable. All in all, the manual deals with all the basic facts you need to know to play the game -- it does little more than teach you the fundamentals and point you in the right direction. While this is not uncommon in manuals nowadays, it would be nice to have a little information in the form of either strategies or tips.

System Requirements

Windows: Intel Pentium 75, 8 MB RAM, 40 MB hard drive space, 2X CD-ROM drive, local bus video card which meets the VESA 1.2 standard (capable of SVGA 640x480x256), SoundBlaster/SB Pro/SB 16/Ensoniq Soundscape/Pro Audio Spectrum /Pro Audio Spectrum 16/Gravis Ultrasound, mouse (joystick HIGHLY recommended)

Bottom Line

Privateer 2 : The Darkening is a very fun game. The game does have its share of shortcomings: the AI is often mediocre, the game is DOS-only, there is no multiplayer support, and the video is dark and the audio hard to hear at times. In addition, fans of the original Privateer will likely be upset by The Darkening's lack of resemblance to its predecessor. However, this is a game that doesn't need to stand on the strength of the original, and is probably even more fun if you think of it as a new, totally unrelated game. The movies are well-done, the graphics are satisfying, and the game has an altogether great feel. If you enjoy a good blast-'em-up and don't mind smuggling a little extra cargo in the hold, this game just may be for you.