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Posted on Mar 27, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Starships Unlimited 3 – Game Review (PC)

Armchair General

subox.jpg* * * URGENT COMMUNIQUE TO SOL FLEET COMMAND * * *

"18th March, 2392, 19:22 hours. Commodore Bentley reporting from flagship Cruiser Ark Royal. Following our recent orders to explore the Metis star system, we have encountered an alien civilisation. Having analysed their transmissions, they appear to call themselves the “Ents”. As ordered, we are deploying the Fleet to engage and destroy the enemy. Cruisers Aurora, Encounter and Griffin are supporting Ark Royal in the attack. All hail the Emperor!"

And so it came to pass, after 300 years of exploring the western spiral arm of the galaxy, the Human race encountered its first alien superpower. Oh sure, we’d met the occasional alien ship as we’d explored space, and we’d mercilessly swept them aside, but this was the first race that appeared to harbour ambitions similar to our own – nothing less than the total subjugation of the galaxy. If we were going to survive as a species, they had to go…

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But I wasn’t worried about the Fleet, although he was half a galaxy away, I knew Commodore Bentley could handle the situation. After all, I had taken the trouble to equip his ships with the best weapons, armour and engines researched by our Scientists, not to mention the top-notch crew I had trained for his vessels. He had his own Security personnel, Scientists Engineers and Naval specialists and to all intents and purposes, he was more than capable of taking care of the enemy.

No, what I was worried about was the long-range scanner trace that appeared to show an unidentified vessel heading across the gulf of space for the one planet we could not afford to lose – Sol III – the Earth itself. Based on the information supplied by Commodore Bentley’s Scientists, it could only be an "Ent" vessel.

su32.jpg su36.jpg
Diplomacy can be the order of the day, or you can slug it out with the enemy – but combat graphics are rather blocky and basic

You see, things were not going well on an economic front for the Empire, in a desperate bid to explore as many star systems as possible and gather ancient alien artefacts to further our cause, we had built ourselves a large fleet of warships to claim territory for ourselves, but alas, the cost of maintaining them meant that we were running at a deficit. Things were gradually turning around, our freighters were running at optimum capacity to generate revenue between the star systems under our control, and our researches had recently upgraded them to level 4, meaning greater capacity and speed. We would soon be turning a profit once again. What’s more, we had just reached the Fusion Age, even more advanced technology was coming on stream every month and since constructing advanced laboratories on the Earth, our research times were getting faster and faster.

But the Earth was only defended by a series of orbital nuclear mines and surface laser cannons – and the "Ents" were an unknown quantity – would it be enough?

Reluctantly, I had no choice but to order the fleet to cancel its attack in the Metis system and return at maximum speed to the Sol system to mount a defence. It would slow down our expansion of course, and might mean that the enemy would gain more of the ancient technology left by races long since dead, but defence of the Earth was of paramount importance. Would our Fleet get there in time?

As the months unfolded, we watched our galactic scanner screens to see the unidentified blip heading inexorably for the Earth, tailed at some distance by the four Cruisers of the Imperial Fleet. The tension mounted and then…by some miracle, our ships began to close the distance. This was excellent news, it could only mean that our ships’ propulsion systems were better than the enemy – and this would bode well for the battle ahead, for if Human technology was more advanced than that of the "Ents" in this aspect, maybe, just maybe, we mounted more advanced weapons as well…

And it seemed this fact was not lost on the crew of the "Ent" ship that showed on our scanner – as our vessels got closer and closer and as it became more likely that Commodore Bentley’s fleet would arrive above Earth before the enemy, they changed course, diverting instead to the Aries system, one full only of uninhabitable hunks of rock, albeit one with an economic benefit for the Empire.

The Earth was, for the moment, safe. The resulting attack on the Aries system by the single "Ent" scoutship was of course a setback which it took our already fragile economy a while to recover from, but we could sleep safely in our beds. And as Commodore Bentley’s Cruisers pursued the "Ents" from our space with vengeance in their hearts, the people of Earth vowed to smite their menace from our skies once and for all…

* * *

[continued on next page]

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