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Back in the 80's, Elite was one of my favorite games on the Commodore 64. I spent many days exploring the galaxy and fighting against space pirates in deep space. I was so addicted by the game that time no longer existed. When Gametek announced a sequel last year for the PC called Frontier: Elite II, I was very excited. The game took over 5 years of development by only one man, David Braben. However, although the game had some fascinating features (100,000,000,000 solar systems with planets for example), looking at the game was a bit outdated because of its huge period of development. That is why David Braben gathered a team to help him carry out a new project. In the ten months following this decision, the team had grown from three to eight members to create a new sequel to Frontier: Elite II named Frontier: First Encounters that will be published worldwide by Gametek.
Fifty years after the episode of Frontier: Elite II, new technologies exist with new ships and technical innovations. Political changes occurred with the growth of Frontier settlements and new people took the power.
Now the game features texture-mapped ships and cityscapes, space stations and docking bays have been re-rendered to provide an extra-realism. Planets are real with texture-mapped mountains, deserts, moors and polar ice caps with oceans and bays. No planet has ever been so real in a previous existing game!
The user interface has been redesigned too with the ship's cabin completely rendered in 3D Studio, and maps, bulletins, inventories are displayed on a head-up screen in front of the player.
Some extra views have been added like missile views, left/right with the other already available in the previous episodes. New weapons have been included also and a combat computer will be available as an upgrade for the ship.
Another new feature is the 5 on-line journals updated monthly and available by subscription in the appropriate systems. Those modern newspapers will include over 100,000 words giving the player a lot of reading material that will be influenced by actions of the player.
The Thargoids are back in the game as they were everywhere in the original Elite and nearly absent in its sequel.
Code of Frontier: First Encounters has been re-written to take advantage of 32 bit processors, and the CD-ROM version will be optimized specially for the 386, 486 and Pentium. The CD-ROM version will also include live video footage of human actors.
If Frontier: First Encounters holds its promises, it might be the game of the year!