Game Review: Space Rangers 2

I wrote a review of Space Rangers 2 (UK version) a couple months ago and posted it at Pinoy PC but wasn't able to put it here. But I'll post it now to celebrate the release of the North American version.

Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators
(8.7 of 10)
Platform: Windows (PC)
Developer: Elemental Games
Publisher: Cinemaware Marquee


Space Rangers 2: The Dominators is probably the most obscure game of 2005. I’ve never come across any previews about it on any gaming website before. I’ve only learned about it when some Russian guy, apparently struggling with his English, started a thread on some forum that had a topic: “Space Rangers 2, English version out now, great game”.

As a cynic, I doubted his every word. Nevertheless, I searched the web to learn more about the game. It turns out that the game is an open-ended 2D space strategy with strong RPG elements. Just think Pirates! meets the X series, with tons of additional features, and you’ll get the picture.

After 200 years of peace since the Klissan War (from the first game), the galaxy of the five races is now threatened by the Dominators, a race of intelligent machines hell-bent on the destruction of all organic life-forms in the galaxy.

The vast galaxy of Space Rangers 2

The Space Rangers, a corps of pilots that was dismantled after the Klissan War, has been reformed in the hopes of protecting the galaxy and pushing back the advancing Dominators.

As the player, you will take on the mantle of a Space Ranger and help protect the galaxy from the terrorizing grasp of the Dominators.

The World of Rangers
You start the game by choosing one from five races and five occupations. The races and occupations will not give you any bonuses, or special ablities, but will rather determine the type of your starting ship, the amount of wealth, and your relation with other races. You will also get to choose two from six different skills (Accuracy, Maneuverability, Technical, Trading, Leadership, and Charisma), and two starting equipment.

The character creation screen.

After you created your character you’ll be thrown in a randomly generated galaxy map that consists of 60 star systems, each with its own revolving planets and space stations. At first, only a few star systems are accessible to your character. But you can purchase star maps on some planets to open up new sectors of the galaxy for you to explore. Planets also offer ships and equipments, repairs and refueling, buying and selling trade goods, and government missions. There are also different kinds of Space Stations. They also offer trade goods and equipment but each kind of station have a special purpose.

Jump into the Hyperspace
Making your way through the galaxy depends entirely on your approach, whether you seek fame, wealth, or glory.

Trading illegal goods can lower your reputation in some planets.

Trading, by far, is the most common and least dangerous way of earning money. When a good profit becomes difficult to earn, Business Centers, a space station that can be found on several star systems, can provide you with a list of good trades. Sometimes, a fellow trader will be helpful enough to provide you with tips. Intergalactic news, that is accessible when you dock in planets, will also provide you with reports regarding business.

A nasty Dominator fleet can easily wipe out an ill-equipped Ranger.

Helping with the war against the Dominators is a good way to earn ranks, gain experience, and sometimes money, but it is no easy task for the ill equipped. Nonetheless, there are methods in defeating the Dominators. For a price, Military space stations will send a fleet of battleships and fighters, on your account, to liberate a system under the Dominators. Intergalactic news will also report on which system needs to be liberated by the military, and all you have to do is jump in and help. Science facilities will also pay a high price for any Dominator junk you have to use on their anti-Dominator research programs.

Taking missions from a Faeyan Government.

Doing planetary missions is the most enjoyable part for me. Each mission is different and can vary from pirate hunting to delivering a toothbrush, and from real-time planetary battles to persuading a “Maloq” prince to visit one planet. Hunting and delivering missions are timed, and with you on your ship out on the space jumping from system to system. It’s not hard at all if your ship have the speed or power to do the mission on time. Some missions are text-based, “Choose Your Own Adventure”, type, which reminds me of the games I played many moons ago. These missions are fun and challenging, and more than half of it requires logic and math to accomplish. There's even one mission that sent me digging for my old geometry book from the garage.

Entering the Fray!
There are three variations of combat in Space Rangers 2.

The Infocom can be used to threaten pirates...or not.

For the most part of the game, you’ll be engaging in Space Combat. It’s a turn-based combat in which one combat action and movement takes one day at a time. You can assign all of your weapons to take down one target within the reach of your weapon’s radius or you can divide your weapons to target everything inside your radius.

The Arcade Battle is like a Pac-Man/Galaga Hybrid.

Arcade Battles are only available if you enter Black Holes. It is always in real-time combat and requires the use of keyboards, and the controls are really awkward. Inside the Black Hole you will be in a maze-like universe (ala Pac-Man) with opponents and all sorts of bonuses (life, power up, etc.). Sadly, I don’t know much about the Arcade Battles, since the badly translated manual offers less information about it. I only tried it once and did so again just for this review’s sake.


This is probably the least encountered type of combat in the game. Ground battles, another variation of planetary missions, are real-time strategy combat. Your mission is to capture all Dominator bases on the planet. You’ll assemble and command a battalion of robots. Each robot can be outfitted to fit your strategy. Make a fast and suicidal robot armed with grenade launchers; or rather make a slow but well armored robot with plasma blasters. There’s also an option to manually control a robot, to give you a third-person over the shoulder view.

Paint and Hum of the Hyperdrive
The interface is perfect. Everything in this game is only a push of a button away. From trading to targeting, each has its own respective buttons. Even mapping out your hyper jump route couldn’t be any easier. Intergalactic news provides you with current events happening throughout the galaxy, and if some report caught your attention (like a planet that sells cheap luxuries or an important event), just pressing the “I” button will automatically transfer that report to your navigation panel like a digital “post-it”. The interface also provides you with a useful search function that will allow you to find equipments and other valuable information.

The Intergalactic News provides useful information.

The graphics of Space Rangers 2 is not intended for graphic mongers who play games just to get the most of their 7800s or X850s. However, the old school 2D artwork is beautiful (especially the planet views) and the 3D characters blend well with the background. Although the ships and weapon effects looks nothing more but glorified pixels from “Galaga”.

The planet views are the most stunning artwork in the game.

The soundtrack is remarkable, and varies from ambient to techno which depends on where you are at. Unfortunately, the sound effects such as engine sounds and weapon effects are really dull. In addition, there is no voice acting (even if the characters are opening their mouths) in the game save for a really bad one in the intro movie.

Space Rangers 2 is rather bug free and well-polished game. I've never encountered any problems while playing the game. However, the manual is badly translated, and so's the in-game texts. Sometimes, it's a pain to understand the instructions of a very complicated puzzle because of poor translation.

Docking in planets is the most uneventful part of the game.

Space Rangers 2: The Dominators is the biggest surprise for me this year. I mean an open-ended space simulation that has strong RPG elements, and has tons of features like text-based adventure and RTS planetary battles. Who can pass that? Not me. I wish I had more time to include all of the smaller cool things in this review. But sadly, it’s impossible to do so. My last advice, go grab Space Rangers 2, you won't regret it.