I remember when I was a kid, I used to close the door to my room, fire up the old DOS-based computer that booted up off a floppy disk, and then pretend that I was controlling my own space ship with that computer. Without any cool graphics or special effects, I had to use my imagination – with the help of the night sky outside – to imagine that I was the captain of my own Starship Enterprise, confronting Romulans and other dangers at every turn.
As I mentioned in my review of Vega Strike, I got addicted to games like Sentinel Worlds and Wing Commander. While the arcade quality of these games was fun, what made them really cool was that they involved some form of space exploration. So, while I was sifting through SourceForge for another great space exploration game, I was pretty excited to discover Vega Trek – a fan-made complete remake of Vega Strike.
Explore New Frontiers With Vega Trek
Vega Trek is 100% space exploration. The entire theme of the game is that you are the captain of a starship, and you decide what missions and activities you and your crew are going to do. There is no defined path to the game – you basically make your own adventure. If you love the idea of exploring space as the captain of your own ship, then get your uniform on and sit in the captain’s chair.
Configuring the game is as simple as running /bin/setup.exe and making all of the selections that you prefer – such as resolution, music, lighting and more.
Once you launch the game by running /bin/vegastrike.exe, you’ll find the main screen where you can either load one of your saved missions or start a new game.
Most of the time when you’re playing this game, you’ll be in the captain’s chair, where you have full access to the console. At the upper right you’ll see all active weapons, just below that is your target with a view of the ship, the bottom console includes energy levels, radar, and your current speed. The large center display shows all of space outside your ship, with a HUD targeting system and center crosshairs.
The manual that comes with the game will give you an overview of all of the controls, but basically you can tap the “+” or “-” key to speed up and slow down, or tap A to activate warp drive to speed through space to your target. You’ll see your speed and warp level increase as the range to the target decreases. Don’t get carried away with warp speed or you’ll catapult right by your target (I speak from experience).
As you arrive at your target planet or space station, make sure to disable warp at a large enough distance so that you have time to slow down. Then use +/- speed controls to approach the target.
Once you get close enough, your ship will automatically dock or land, depending on the planet or the object that you’re approaching. Keep in mind that along the way you could encounter hostile forces – read the manual to make sure you understand how enabling the weapons systems and firing them works. Once you have the weapons selected and a target in your sites, the space bar will fire them.
Depending where you land or dock, there are different options available. For example, at Earth you’ll find a major Federation hub, where you can accept official Federation missions, or take on Mercenary or Merchant missions. Missions earn you credits and experience, and of course each mission you complete can move you further along the overall story line of the game.
Once you really get into this game, it’s easy for hours to pass as you travel through space from one star system to another, completing missions, escorting other ships or completing other missions for the Federation.
Different locations offer opportunities to interact with some characters as well – those conversations can offer you some clues and hints as to other important missions you may want to explore for a bit of excitement. Pay attention to mission instructions, because if you warnings about hostile forces, you may find yourself caught unprepared while on an escort mission that you thought was perfectly safe.
This is more of what I would call an “intellectual” game rather than an arcade game. At times it can be somewhat slow moving, as your ship travels at warp speed to distant destinations. It would almost be best to play the game on a second PC, so that while you’re hurtling through space, you can get other things done on a second PC – sort of like you would do if you were actually the captain of a starship.
Let us know what you thought of this game, was there enough action? How’s the quality, provided that it’s a full-length, free game? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.