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Game Info:

Evochron Mercenary (PC)
Developer/Publisher:StarWraith 3D Games
Release Date: 
ESRB Rating: Not rated.
Available On: PC 
Retail price: 24.95
Genre: Freeform Spacebox Space-combat Simulator.
Number of Players: 1 offline, up to 35 players online or over LAN

System Requirements
• OS: Windows XP/Vista/7
• Processor: 2.0 Ghz or equivalent processor
• Memory: 1.5GB System RAM 
• DirectX: DirectX 9.0c
• Graphics: 128mb video RAM and Shader Model 2.0 Minimum GeForce 6600
• Hard Drive: 750mb or more free space
• Input: Keyboard and mouse, Joysticks, TrackIR

Do you like space combat? Does the thought of piloting a spaceship through the cosmos, mining and fighting and trading and exploring the stars appeal to you? Do you love to dig your teeth into the intricacies of a simulator with a Newtonian physics system ?

If the answer is no, then this game is not for you. Don\'t buy it. But if your ears perked up and you thought "Heck yes!", keep reading!

Evochron Mercenary is the tenth or twentieth in a long line of freeform space games, but it is hardly suffering from a bad case of sequelitis. This game is literally the equivalent of a Ford Mustang that has had its V8 engine replaced with a nuclear reactor.

Quick rundown on the whole series: Evochron is a large section of space between the Sol sector - where our solar system is located - and the Vonari sector - where the aliens are located. It is divided up into several dozen sectors, all connected with jumpgates. Each sector, while different in its own way, generally has a few planets, a few moons, a star, some stations, some asteroids - big and little, a big bubbly nebula here and there, and perhaps a black hole; which some pilots refer to as "The Vaccum of Death".

Highlights:

Strengths: It's awesome.
Weaknesses: There are none.
Moral Warnings: Space combat violence

Evochron is populated by several different factions. The Alliance, the Federation, the Richton Clans, and the Vonari. They "own" different sectors. The Alliance are the good guys. If the Alliance control a sector, you\'re usually safe there. They keep the pirates and space scum under wraps and the Vonari out of the rest of Evochron. If you fly into a Federation or Richton system, you\'re going to run into dozens of other pilots who want to kill you. And if you fly into a Vonari sector, heaven help you. True, they just want to kill you like most of the humans, but the Vonari can\'t be bribed or threatened into submission, the loot in their cargo bays is subpar, and most importantly. They never. Stop. Coming.

The Vonari are murderous aliens that look like wolves, according to the Alliance. Allegedly they were the result of genetic tampering thousands of years ago by foolish human scientists. Whatever the case may be, they have some of the most high-tech ships and weapons in the universe and they are trying to exterminate all of humanity.

The core gameplay involves flying around making money while admiring the scenery and trying not to get killed. How do you do this? Well, not getting killed is going to involve a lot of luck and some flying skills on your part, but making money is a lot easier. You can use a tractor beam to mine valuable stuff from just about anything solid floating through Evochron, including other ships - though you have to blow up the ships first. Unless you\'re terrorizing not-so-helpless miners, mining is one of the easiest ways to make money, but it can also get pretty boring unless you have a hobby like photography and bring along a camera.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score: 95%
Game Play: 19/20
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 10/10
Stability: 5/5
Interface: 5/5

Morality Score - 90%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

More exciting wealth-creating schemes include racing other pilots(if you kill them you lose the race), spying on the big capital ships(better find a stealth generator first), trading guns and missiles and precious metals between various planets(dangerous unless you have the right equipment), and just generally shooting up a boatload of enemy spaceships. The last is the most exciting, but please, whatever you do, don\'t just jump in your ship and fly off to Space Pirate Central(also known as Cerulean). You will get killed. Over and over.

You start out in the Sapphire system. If you\'re new to the game, stay right where you are until you\'ve learned how to fly your ship. Once you can fly it without banging into other pilots every five minutes, don\'t make any travel plans. Upgrade your ship and weapons and then start attacking friendly pilots in Sapphire. Take them on one at a time, because combat gets a lot harder when you have more than one opponent. Don\'t just fly up and shoot missiles at them either. Read the combat section in the manual and the strategy guide. If you use your cannons and lasers properly you can destroy ships very quickly, and you\'ll have to be good at it to survive in Evochron. There are ways to avoid enemies, you can fly around cloaked or put up a space shield, but combat is really fun when you get the hang of it, so you\'re missing out on a large part of the game if you always run and hide.

People often complained that the previous games were too complicated and didn\'t explain various things very well. The tutorial has been updated and expanded tremendously. If it can\'t get you up and running pretty quickly this time around, this probably ain\'t the game for you.

Pro tip: There\'s a time limit on the demo, but you can fly around for an unlimited amount of time in tutorial mode.


Okay, so that\'s what the games are like. But how\'s Evochron Mercenary different?It\'s prettier. A lot prettier. Take a look:

Shaders, better textures, larger textures, shinier textures! This is one of the prettiest space games ever made, if not *the* prettiest. And it supports multiple monitors too! Three times the prettiness!

It\'s also bigger. The Evochron quadrant is an ongoing colonization effort and there are several new systems in explored space and even more hidden systems.

Lastly, there\'s more ship equipment, more weapons, new weapons, more ships, new planets(gas giants!), new nebulas(they\'re prettier!), a new music system(with real music! And it sounds really good too!) and so much more than I have space to list here. If you want a rundown on that you can check it out on the Evochron website. This is a review, not an advertisement.

On that note, how is the game? It\'s awesome. I had a few issues with the earlier games myself. Combat was awesome, but the weapons were very short-ranged and the missiles were expensive and hard to find. Enemy ships had a tendency to warp in like crazy and fire thousands of missiles at your ship without the local Navy blinking an eye(they even helped).
Lest I forget, the collision model would make me get stuck on objects and leave my ship banging around helplessly like a baby goat in a giant hamster ball.

Evochron Mercenary fixes all of these issues and adds on a layer of spit and polish so shiny it makes my eyes hurt. It\'s space combat perfection. The controls, the combat, the music, the graphics, the ships, the weapons, the asteroids, the planets, the stations, the nebulas, and of course the Vonari, they\'re all awesome. 

Lastly, how\'s the game on the appropriateness scale? No swearing, no blood and gore, no gratuitous nudity - the only violence occurs when you shoot other spaceships with a laser cannon and they explode in a ball of fire(a very pretty ball of fire). It\'s a very clean game, so aside from the space fights, there\'s nothing here to raise any eyebrows. No space prostitutes, no brothels on the planets, no foul-mouthed pirates.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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