Starpoint Gemini 2 is sort of like a modern version of Freelancer, but the galaxy's looking pretty lifeless these days.
Had Starpoint Gemini 2 somehow tumbled through the void to land on my computer back in those days I would've called it a miracle.
But it's ultimately an empty sort of experience, and not just because space is vast and cold and indifferent to humanity.
There are dozens of factions, but after hours with the game I couldn't tell you what any of them stand for. Freelance jobs quickly become repetitive, without even a veneer of flavor text to distinguish one from the other.
But outside of the campaign there's not much in the way of lore, of tailored boutique content, that would get you invested in your ship and your character and your role in this galaxy. Starpoint Gemini 2's effort to tell this story is hamstrung by poor voice acting and scripting, however, not to mention some extreme swings in difficulty.
It's a shame because the underlying lore of the Starpoint Gemini 2 universe is (if you dig outside of the game) pretty fleshed out and fantastic. PCWorld helps you navigate the PC ecosystem to find the products you want and the advice you need to get the job done.
Five years agoa€”hell, two years agoa€”the space sim genre was more empty than the cold vacuum of space itself. And yet in 2014 the space sim is (to my complete surprise) alive and wella€”so alive and well that I've even looked into joysticks again.
Some task you with destroying random ships, while others have you scanning anomalies or ferrying people between two distant points in space. You can completely blow off the campaign and play in freeroam mode, which tasks you with basically imagining your own story as you fly around the universe.


I spent many hours of Starpoint Gemini 2 with a cup of hot tea nearby, classic rock or folk music playing in the background (the in-game soundtrack wears out its welcome pretty fast), watching my ship crawl across the stars from the camera's remote third-person view (Tip: Hit F11 to hide the ugly user interface).
There are just people who like me and people who don'ta€”no readily accessible lore to tell me why the Empire hates me but the Iolian Pact thinks I'm a pretty okay dude.
Every "Assassination" mission, for instance, features the same exact texta€”"[Random Name] wanted dead or alive! I spent plenty of time floating around space casually dogfighting and exploring parts unknown, blowing up asteroids for easy money and capturing ships for slightly-less-easy money. You're upgrading your ship because the game's central treadmill requires upgrading your ship.
Accents are all over the place, some characters talk about the end of the universe with all the passion I'd muster for the technical specs of a light bulb, and it all combines to disrupt any sort of emotional punch the story might otherwise have. None of that comes through in the game itself though, whether pertaining to the main story or the environment or the political machinations of the galaxy. That was enough to make me enjoy Starpoint Gemini 2 for a while, even with its clumsy (not to mention outdated-looking) UI and broken tutorials and awkward save system. Occasionally a lone title ventured into that frontier again, but it was rare enough that Freespace 2 (a game from 1999) was still one of the titles recommended most. There's a campaign (more on that later) but most of your time is spent exploring a fairly large space-sandbox. Even doing the campaign, however, you'll spend most of your time aimlessly wandering the galaxy and picking up odd jobs. The playable space is nowhere near the size of Elite: Dangerous's crazy recreation of the entire Milky Way, but there's still a ton of space to putter around.
The story itself is okay, in a generic space opera waya€”you play as the last surviving member of the Faulkner family, part of the legendary Gemini League.


It's actually frustrating because Starpoint Gemini 2 feels mechanically like a framework for a great game, but outside of the central stat-grind treadmill the content is missing. Space is huge and dead, but that's not what makes it interestinga€”it's the pockets of life, the little unique moments, that make it worth exploring. You'll encounter various factions, mine some asteroids, dogfight, ride through a few wormholes, and mostly sell garbage to space stations so you can make money to buy new ships. No explanation of why [Random Name] is wanted by [Random Faction] or any other flavor text that would, you know, actually get you invested in this side content.
Your dad was killed off in suspicious circumstances, and it's up to you to track down the threat facing the universe. It's pretty, and you can spend hours upon hours aimlessly flying through empty space completing odd jobs and even completing the campaign if you can bear the acting.
There's no reason not to do the missions, since they're short and pay well, but there's also no reason to cheer when your opponent's ship is finally engulfed in flames. New planets and new space stations are largely interchangeable, outside of the specific items they're trading. You can sort of "write your own story" across the universe, but there are only so many stories that can be told with the limited actions at your disposala€”basically pirate or do-gooder, rugged ruffian or peaceful trader.



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