Christmas invariably means gifts though some are more utilitarian than others – socks will always come to mind and I took great pleasure in giving my good lady a couple of pairs of fluffy ones to keep her feet warm. But new toys don’t only arrive at Christmas. In the run up to the festive season Railworks invariably run a sale. So Epi treated me to a couple of newly available routes in readiness for Christmas – simple rule… No driving on those until Xmas day! I’ll not bore you with further details for a minute or two 😉
Also in the run-up to Christmas came a new version of a very old favourite – Elite. This game first appeared on the BBC model B micro-computer in 1984 and appeared on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum the following year. As a Speccy owner I looked forward to its release back then with eager anticipation and I have to say that it didn’t disappoint. At a basic level Elite is a space trading game – Alasdair has already cheekily described it as Railworks in space and you would be forgiven for thinking that he is right when tasked with delivering cargo from one space station to another. But the reality is somewhat more.
Elite gave you a ship at a starting point and some credits to set you on your way. The aim of the game was to rise up the status ranks of pilots from Harmless to Elite but how you chose to do that was entirely up to you. You usually started off trading for profit but the temptation was always there to make more money by carrying contraband (with the cops breathing down your neck and pirates looking to steal it from you). You could also make money by bounty hunting – though that was usually incidental rather than a deliberate choice. The universe was huge and you just went your own way.
The latest version released in December 2014 builds on the strengths of the original with wonderful graphics and some heavy tweaks to the original idea. Again you start with a vessel and some credits but now there are missions you can choose to take which will pay quite well in addition to choosing to trade (not every space station has a market in the new game so trading at some locations is not an option). Through your choices you can become a trader, bounty hunter, pirate, miner or explorer (or a mixture of these) and you can choose to allign yourself with any of the three major factions in the game. The game used to have a huge ‘Universe’ but the new version now maps the whole of the Galaxy we live in using real astronomical data to create 400 billion star systems. If you want you could carry out a pilgrimage back to the Sol system and view Earth.
The other huge difference between the original and the new incarnation is that this game is now hosted on the internet and in open play you will meet fellow human pilots as well as computer animated clones – each will have their own agenda that may involve attacking you! I decided that I would wait out the initial launch period and allow time for the glut of ‘I have a space ship with guns’ syndrome to quieten down. The robotic ships are less likely to attack for the fun of it 😉 So, I’ve only just taken my first tentative steps in the new world today, nearly a month after the game was released. It’s clear that the game has a few ‘bugs’ still and like with other online games I expect fixes will be happening on a regular basis. Successfully completing that first ‘job’ delivering 3 canisters of scrap metal to a remote mining outpost for close on 2,900 credits felt really good (especially when dealing with a space station which had its landing pad configured the wrong way around!).
For those who remember the original Elite – good news!!! Docking with a space station on the Spectrum was a real pain and more likely to kill you than a squadron of pirates… Docking in the new Elite is still hard but so much easier than of old because you have so much more control of your ship – experienced hands will find it a breeze!
Back to Railworks – those two routes were South London Network and West Highland Line. Getting to grips with those too and wondering if there will soon be a North london Network available 😉 Please see below for some Coriolis Space Station shots and a vista from the South London Network route near to Clapham.
Find out about Railworks at http://www.railsimulator.com/ and Elite: Dangerous at http://www.elitedangerous.com/ and for those looking for a fun space shooter, Alasdair’s favourite is Warframe at https://warframe.com/ … Enjoy 😉