Rayland Interactive's Bang! Gunship Elite hearkens back to that simpler time, throwing out the system and ship management that have become standard on most space combat sims. It looks good and plays fast, but lacks the refinement and complexity that space combat fans have come to expect. Still, Gunship can be good for a quick spin around the galaxy.
Even in the vast reaches of space there isn't room for everyone. Now the Sektar, a race excluded from The Alliance years ago, are back with their Morgoth allies to fight for control over Kha, the energy source used in space ships. Since the Alliance has taken heavy losses early on in the battle, it's up to you, often flying alone, to defeat the enemy and secure space for peace loving citizens everywhere . . .
Sounds like pretty standard space sim fare, and it is, but the beauty in Gunship Elite is its simplicity. There are no real esoteric controls here, and flying in Gunship is very basic: you can't even use a joystick hat switch to look around! Managing ship resources is a minor issue since you can pick up arcade style powerups to replenish ammo, shield energy, and life. The only drawback is that you have to manually activate your shields by holding down the designated shield button. It's certainly a departure from the norm where your shields remain activated all the time.
That's not to say that Gunship is a walk in the park. In fact, underneath the relatively simple interface is a game that is quite tough by today's standards. You'll have to deal with waves of enemy fighters that seem to multiply at will as well as capital ships that have very accurate gunners. However, the enemies aren't very good at dogfighting, and basic tactics can shake them off your tail and into your sights easily. It's more a measure of how many ships you can destroy rather than a real test of piloting skills. Overall, Gunship provides a decent variety in mission structure with objectives ranging from escort duty, to destroying capital ships, to all out dogfights.
The real treat in Gunship is the graphics. Excellent background art with detailed nebulae, starfields, and asteroids make the nicely modelled ships stand out. Explosions are convincing with good particle effects that emphasise their energy. You'll also notice excellent lighting and smoke from weapons fire. The downside is the audio. With stiff voice acting that makes William Shatner sound like William Shakes-peare, and repetitive exclamations from enemy pilots, Gunship has much more eye than ear candy.
Space sim veterans won't find much to challenge their dogfighting skills in Gunship, but the overall difficulty of the missions makes up for it somewhat.
Product: Bang! Gunship Elite
Vary your speed to shake attackers. Hit the boost to put some distance between you, then brake and turn sharply. More often than not, you'll wind up with a good shot.
Save your shields for when you're attacking capital ships at close range. Their big guns and fast missiles can do a lot of damage very quickly.
Don't just shoot everything in sight. Pay attention to your radio, and listen for instructions. If you try to blow up a target too soon, it could cost you the mission. Better to wait for the OK from HQ first.