Our Top Five Space Games of All Time

Space may be the final frontier, but through the magic of video games, we have crossed through the void countless times. Titles that took us to explore and fight in distant alien star systems were all the rage in the late ‘90’s, and although the last ten or so years have seen a drought of space sims, the genre is coming back in a big way. Here is a list of our five favorite. Some are old, some are new, but all are classics.

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Freelancer Logo

What We Like

  • Successfully combines aspects of the space shooter and RPG genres.

  • Simple point-and-click controls make the game very accessible.

What We Don't Like

  • You can't skip over the long cutscenes.

  • Some of the voice acting sounds a bit awkward by today's standards.

Many know Chris Roberts as the man behind Star Citizen, but he has been in the gaming business for almost thirty years. Freelancer released in 2003, and it attempted to do many of the things that Star Citizen is attempting to do now. A dynamic economy, plenty of ships to fly and outfit, and a unique and large solar system were the key features that Freelancer was to have. Unfortunately, the technology of the time could not provide the tools Roberts and his team needed to make such a game, but Freelancer is far from a failure. The game has over 46 star systems, four empires with their own heritage and ideals, and a compelling single player campaign. It is still a huge amount of fun, even today, and is sure to tide you over until you can get your hands on Star Citizen.

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EVE Online

Eve Online Ship Firing

What We Like

  • Helpful tutorials ease new players into the game's vast world.

  • The game is still being updated 15 years after its initial release.

What We Don't Like

  • Steep learning curve may deter casual gamers.

  • The majority of non-player characters lack distinct personalities.

If there is a Wild West in space, you can be sure it’s the systems making up New Eden, the setting for the MMO Eve Online. Unlike many MMOs, EVE’s ruleset is small and the possibilities are endless. This leads to a frantic feel to everything you do, and it is very easy for marauders to vaporize a ship you spent a year working towards owning in the blink of an eye. For a brutal and player-driven example of what life amongst the stars would be like, look no further than EVE Online.

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Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos

Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos Ship Firing

What We Like

  • Multiplayer battles are still a blast if you can find other people to play with.

  • Enough depth to keep hardcore sim gamers busy for hundreds of hours.

What We Don't Like

  • The controls take some time to configure and get used to.

  • Severely dated graphics and voice acting.

If you have ever wanted to live the life of a star smuggler, living in an asteroid lair, then Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos is the ticket for you. Taking the role of a young boy whose father has been killed under mysterious circumstances, you find yourself heading to your smuggler aunt’s asteroid base. IWAR 2’s story is out of this world (literally), and the gameplay has held up surprisingly well for a game from 2001. One word of warning though: The CGI cut scenes have not held up well, and are laughably bad. However, if you can look past the cheesy effects, IWAR 2 is one of the best space operas of all time.

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FreeSpace 2

FreeSpace 2 Ships Battle

What We Like

  • Cinematic sequences are well integrated into the gameplay.

  • Generous difficulty curve encourages players to persevere when they fail.

What We Don't Like

  • Ally and enemy AI is occasionally frustrating.

  • While it greatly improves upon its predecessors, it doesn't introduce anything new.

Not only is humanity’s continuing struggle against the Shivans enthralling, but with FreeSpace 2 you get the option of playing countless other stories as well. In 2002, Voliton released FreeSpace 2’s source code to the public, allowing endless mods to spring up. One of the most exciting things about FreeSpace 2 isn’t just the game itself, but the genius modding community that’s sprung up around it. You can play whole campaigns in the Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and even original universes. The versatility alone makes it one of the most iconic space sims ever.

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Elite: Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous Ship in Flight

What We Like

  • Diverse selection of ships and roles to experiment with keep gameplay fresh.

  • Smooth UI and control scheme is inviting to genre newcomers.

What We Don't Like

  • Space exploration can feel repetitive.

  • If you're looking for action-packed space battles, you best look elsewhere.

Elite: Dangerous is the newest entry on the list, and it is still receiving new content and updates. Like IWAR 2 and FreeLancer, you’re thrown into space and it’s up to you to make your way. There’s no main story mode and the game is an MMO, but you may go days without meeting anyone in the vastness of space. It’s up to you to seek out friends, hunt bounties, or trade your way to the top, as well as choose your side in the factional metagame.