suppose you could call Star Trader the poor man's Elite.
You have space trading and space battles against pirates.
That however, seems to be where the similarity ends!
let's start with the 'epic' space battles. I have a
feeling that this part of the game was never intended
to be the main focus point of the game, but seeing as
people would have probably bought the game or will play
it because of this element, we'll take a closer look.
Hmmmmm...... the fantastic flight model! Picture Elite,
take away the ability to roll, take away the tactics
you might have employed to destroy those pesky Kraits
or Thargoids (there ARE no tactics in this space battle
baby!), replace the wireframe 3D with flat, blocky 2D
sprites, introduce the use of just one weapon (that
I came across anyway). There you have it! Dodge the
missiles the enemy shoots (ie. make sure they don't
hit your screen) and try and guide your laser shots
(lasers??? hmmmm they look and travel exactly like missiles
to me!). You can encounter these rogues by just flying
between planets (you are taken to a planet automatically,
no navigation), and failing to pay a toll.
further ado, we'll move onto the 'real' aspect of the
game, the 'trading' and 'interaction' part. OK, this
is a little more involved, with you being able to visit,
on the various planets you travel to, shops, the spaceport,
pub, hotel, and... thats it! The stores allow you to
purchase trading goods (prices differ from planet to
planet ala Elite), buy some supplies for your ship (the
General Store), visit the pub (bar) to catch up on some
gossip (not much that I have found), food, drink and
a room for the night. When playtesting, I always seemed
to find the hotel closed... strange! Also, the shops
always seem to close after you have visited them. Is
this because they are so happy for your custom that
they go down the pub to celebrate??). Almost forgot.
you get a wonderful image of the section you are currently
in..... ohhhhh the shopkeeper... scary!!! Is that an
invisible man standing at the bar in the pub?
is a slight danger element to landing on planets, when
you land, you can store some cash in a safety deposit
box for a small fee. 'why?' you might ask.... well,
you can get mugged! whoooooo. Also, you need to keep
in good shape by eating, drinking and sleeping regularly.
Failure to do this can eventually lead to death (you
also need to be in good health to fly your ship, you
cannot fly whilst hungry (?)). I found that after a
short flight of one day, I needed to eat 5 meals before
my hunger left me, and was able to fly again (funny,
every time i had food or went to the pub, i had to order
a beer..... 7 beers in total.... you are now healthy
and can fly!!! hahahaha).
Elite it most certainly isn't.... But, however, it does
hold a certain appeal and i do remember playing this
quite a bit. The gameplay is rather shallow, but if
you can handle more than 10 mins of playing Star Trader,
you might just continue with it. You can look up your
progress, compare against the other players (yes, you
can play up to 8 players... kind of turn based). Best
to forget the music.......
by Tony Peters
- a.k.a "Red Snapper" (20 July 2000)
"Games of the Week!"