Originally Posted by Desticato
Space Rangers 2 is easily one of my favorite games of all time. I find myself frequently returning to it between big releases, and it's one of the first games I install on any new machine I build.
The order changes depending on what I had for breakfast, but here's my Top 5:
Space Rangers 2
Depths of Peril
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Kohan: Ahriman's Gift
As others have stated, the superfluous text adventures, ground-based robot-building real-time combat, arcade-like hyperspace battles and anything else that wasn't the galaxy-exploring, ship-outfitting, Dominator-busting, trade-for-profit portions of the game were appreciated but unnecessary. What you're suggesting with your as-yet untitled space game sounds nearly perfect. However, since I haven't actually answered your original question, here's why I heart Space Rangers 2:
Randomness. I consider replayability the Holy Grail of Gaming, and randomly generated galaxies, conflict and loot makes SR2 a pleasure to play, since each session will feel familiar but be completely different than the last.
Dynamic universe. The tug-of-war battle between the Dominators and the rest of space makes the game feel much more alive than most anything else I've ever played. (Soldak's titles are some of the only others that spring to mind.)
RPG with a sci-fi sheen. When people ask what kind of game SR2 is and I answer RPG, they typically respond with a slightly bewildered look. No, it's not an action game. It's not a top-down space strategy game. It's an RPG, where the only real difference is that instead of Ilumminating Greaves of Illumination that increase your light radius, you're installing a TR52 Pulsing Sensor that allows you to see 3km farther than your old LV23 Strobing Sensor. Weapon slots = gun slots. Shielding = chest armor. Ship hull = (hybrid) defense and inventory space. Destroyed ships drop loot or the galactic equivalent of gold. You get quests from NPCs. You sell stuff you've found for stuff you want. It's a classic RPG hidden beneath a facade of galactic space-faring. And it's better off for it.
Turn-based exploration and combat. This one's tricky. The game is clearly turn-based, but it conceals this beneath a very fluid Auto End of Turn mechanism that gives the illusion of real-time. I understand that this is one significant area in which your game will differ, and I'm not really concerned about the more hectic nature of Soldak's offering. However, SR2 and its ability to pause nearly anywhere and change ones approach based upon how a dynamic scenario changes in a living galaxy (e.g. a mostly-cleared system is suddenly infested with Dominators or a pirate decides to take advantage of your hobbled ship by opening fire on you as you're limping back to a Ranger base) is often a godsend. If it were twitch-based, those situations might not be nearly as survivable.
Customizable difficulty. This is one of the biggest selling points. I may want a galaxy swarming with Dominators but I'll likely also want access to better ships and technology early in the game to effectively counter their numbers. I may loathe constantly repairing my ship but enjoy never really having enough money to buy the best equipment. SR2 lets you, with a click-of-the-mouse, modify any one of eight settings (each with four 'levels') to make the game as easy or as challenging as you want. The fact that these affect your overall score makes their presence that much more appreciated. The high-score screen is a great way of chronicling your exploits, and there's a certain amount of pride in hitting the top of the list with a difficulty in excess of 100%.
Sci-fi setting. Self-explanatory, but so refreshing! Especially in regards to the aliens, their diplomatic or warlike tendencies and their respective technologies.
Loot-system. Like Soldak's games, the nearly limitless amount of gear available for your ship--both purchasable and salvageable--makes one strive to always have the best tech the galaxy has to offer. I'm constantly switching out engines, scanners, ship hulls and weapons in an effort to maximize my lethality and profitability. The fact that the developers provided a built-in search engine for the best gear only makes the hunt that much sweeter. Although it's physically painful to 'google' the location of the best weapon in the game only to find that, once you arrive, the planet or station in question is SOLD OUT. Awesome tension, though! The game has a constant lure for better stuff, managing to implement the 'carrot on a stick' more effectively than any other game I've ever played.
Multiple endings. Some people may not know this, but with diplomacy, technology and circumstance, each of the three boss battles can have up to (if memory serves) three outcomes. This means that not only are you fighting in a randomly generated universe with Dominator and coalition forces dynamically fighting for different areas of the galaxy, but once you get close to the endgame you will have multiple solutions to each of the game's biggest three problems. And you can even accomplish a partial victory, depending on how those encounters go. Check the high-score page for a hint of what could happen, but only if you don't mind mild spoilers.
There are tons of other reasons I love Space Rangers 2. I have high hopes Soldak gives me as many to post about regarding their game once it's released!
In parting, here are other good-to-awesome space games I enjoy:
Escape Velocity: Nova
Weird Worlds (sequel to Strange Adventures in Infinite Space)
Starfarer (curently in alpha)
S.P.A.Z. (Space Zombies and Pirates, currently in beta w/ demo)