There's dozens upon dozens of controls and keys to know. This is more a simulation than an action game. You can live without knowing all these controls, but they come in so handy. Not a one time I was wishing "Damn, I wish I could…" only to find out that I can.
Action is fast and furious, and the more the merrier. Be they computer ships or live pilots, hairballs in FreeSpace 2 are fun. Check your six, save your ammo and pick the right target at the right time. =)
Best of all, it has proper mouse support!!! I haven't seen this since… TIE Fighter. Good Lord is it easy to snipe your foe with your mouse when he's jumping up and down with a joystick that's sure to pull one way or another. :)
Transport cant take more
I hate those bombers
Hey! It's good! This is exactly where I was expecting the demo to fall flat on its face… and this is exactly where I have to apologize humbly to the boys over at Volition (http://www.volition-inc.com) for being a lamer and missing the first FreeSpace.
With that out of the way, let me describe the gameplay as best I can. If you've played space games before, think of Wing Commander like Quake, X-Wing: Alliance like Quake II, so that makes FreeSpace 2 into a Half-Life. No, it won't scare you as much, but it sure makes you use your judgement a lot more. In the first of the two demo missions, you are in a nebula and that is just nasty! Screws up your sensors, you'll be flying around looking for the enemy, and suddenly, out of nowhere, this huge Shivan ship appears in the middle of your screen, weapons blazing and its escort of fighters coming at you full speed. The rippling, flashing pink-white is distracting sometimes and makes combat more difficult, but isn't annoying at all. It just adds atmosphere.
But I know better than to hold in my anger
Kickass Vasudan ship its HUGE
In the second mission, you are part of an escort for two transports, trying to get away from 2 Shivan cruisers. As you enter, 1 cruiser is taken apart but the other is alive and kicking, and Shivan reinforcements have arrived at the same time. Your job is not the cruiser. You have to take out both the bombers coming at your transports, and their fighter escort. Don't stray too far or you'll lose big time. Trust me, this is not an easy mission.
Get used to the 3rd dimension, that's all I can say. :) Fortunately, the clean interface and good tracking of targets makes it easy. There are lots of cool options like auto-match speed and auto-target, which while they have their drawbacks, make life a lot easier for the newbie.
PXO (Parallax Online) is actually a good proprietary game server! I don't think that I'd ever have said anything nice about proprietary servers… but here I am. Heh. Rankings, ladders, scores - you name it, it has it.
You can play two missions in FS2 - one co-op, the other a free for all. Both are fun, and the co-op especially will reward good strategy.