Growing up I loved the Wing Commander universe. Humans vs Cats in a battle for space supremacy scratched my Star Wars loving itch. To hear of an open-ended game that took place in that universe was extremely exciting, but my limited computer and dos/windows compatibility nightmares prevented me from experiencing what I could only imagine was sci-fi crack.
Living in the present golden age of gaming and having the means to play just about anything means I can easily knock classics off the nostalgia bucket list. A quick download from GOG and the purchase of a flight stick was all that separated me from 1993’s Privateer.
So how does it hold up now?
The 90’s version of myself would have given it a perfect score, but 23 years has obviously changed expectations.
Firstly the graphics aren’t great.
That digitized blocky grey mess is a capital ship, but you’ll have a tough time feeling the scale of large ships as the 2D sprites used to represent them never seems to get much bigger. Tie Fighter was released in 1994 and holds up much better with it’s bland but useful 3D polygons.
Tie Fighter blows Privateer away in terms of graphics, control, and overall execution, but Privateer still has some redeemable qualities.
It’s greatest strength is its immersive open-world and unlimited random mission generator. There’s a mainline quest of course, but gamers can spend as long as they want escorting, patrolling, bounty hunting, or buying/selling resources. Players can helpfully take on multiple missions at once as you never know when a certain pirate might pop up, allowing you to collect a valuable bounty. This system does a fantastic job of making the world feel lived in. As if life would continue without you, while you can still play an influential role.
Complete missions, earn cash, and upgrade your ships in the closest thing to a Han Solo simulator you’ll ever see.
I’ll give it a solid 7/10 and a hearty recommendation to any sci-fi space sim fans looking for open-ended action.
I’d still give Tie Fighter a 9/10 in 2016