Developed by: Particle Systems
Published by: Infogrames
IWar2 official page: http://westwood.ea.com/games/emperor/index.html
Estimated Release: Q3 2001
It was with eyes wide open that I found myself approaching the massive, 200MB demo of Independence War 2. Having missed out on the original, it was interesting to see just how different the I-War games are supposed to be. The key difference between I-War and most any other space sim is that you do not fly a fighter or similarly single-piloted craft, but rather a larger, corvette class ship with all the advantages and disadvantages inherent to a ship of its size. In the original, you were involved in a war on the side of Earth against the Indies, thus the game had a decidedly military flavor to it. If Independence War was Wing Commander, then Independence War 2 is aiming to be Wing Commander: Privateer.
I-War 2 takes place a century after the original. You are Cal Johnston, an escaped prisoner. The man who originally imprisoned you is Caleb Maas, incidentally the same man who murdered your father, and is also, quite incidentally, the owner of a major corporation currently making a large bid for power. With several fellow escaped convicts, you hijack a ship and make a run for it. The demo starts you off in the ship, in a heated discussion with the crew about how to get away from the authorities. A plan is made to visit an ex-con with a facility that can refit ships and then see Cal's pirate grandmother and her space station. Can you sense the homegrown country flavor?
Your first, junky ship
Gotta love narration
Slugging it out
All controls not related to flight are rather complex and not particularly well explained in the manual, but if you want any hope of passing this demo, you will certainly need to memorize the keymap. Unfortunately, the training part of the demo only teaches the easiest part of the game, namely flying. The menus and actual navigation around the solar system must be learned by your lonesome. Some controls interfere with each other; for example, enter cycles through guns and backspace through missiles. However, enter and backspace are also the yes/no and accept/cancel keys for most menus, so if you just left a menu with a backspace, you will have a missile selected to fire. Keep that in mind before you get hasty with the trigger, as a self-respecting sim, you've only got a (realistically) limited supply.
The mining laser,
hard to aim as always
Funky targetting effects
With that quick warning out of the way, here's another - the demo is huge. 200MB huge. More than half of the demo is taken up by the 116MB of CGI movies that are played at the start of the game. Obviously this wasn't meant to be released on the internet (it came on a magazine's demo CD first), but it would have been nice if Infogrames had released a movie-free version available.