From the Database of Home of the Underdogs
GAME DESIGNER:Oleg Petrov
GAME DEVELOPER:Space Dream Factory
Copyright 2003, Space Dream Factory
One of the best fanmade game ever made and definitely a strong testament to what a group of dedicated fans can do, Danger and Opportunity is the amazing – and completely free – “preview campaign” for Babylon 5: I’ve Found Her, a fanmade 3D space sim. The project was started by Oleg Petrov, Russian designer who created “I’ve Found Her,” a popular fan-fiction set in the Babylon 5 universe. After a halt in middle of 1999, development of the game went back on track after Sierra cancelled Babylon 5: Into the Fire computer game. And now, more than three years in the making, fans of the hit TV series and space sims in general can enjoy the fruits of Oleg and his team’s labor of love.
Danger and Opportunity is a full space sim campaign that offers at least 6-7 hours of enjoyment, great storyline, and a very faithful atmosphere to the show. The storyline, taken from the fan-fiction of the same name, covers events of over a thousand years starting with the last Great War against the Shadows. The first thing you will notice about Danger and Opportunity, aside from the whopping 200MB size, is how professional everything looks. The in-game graphics look almost like the exact images from the show; the first time I saw a Narn capital ship in the game, I was amazed at how much it looks like “the real thing.” Aside from drop-dead gorgeous 3D graphics, there are numerous little touches that show how much Oleg and his team love the show. For example, ships that come through jumpgates exit hyperspace in a sudden, “snap out” motion just like on TV. Soundtrack and many sound bites have been taken straight from the TV show, from the ghastly wailing of hyperspace to various engine hums. In true Babylon 5 fashion, the game boasts an intriguing storyline, with some “foreshadowing events” that are explained only at the end. Voice acting, used in various short cutscenes that intersperse between missions, is of much higher quality than many commercial games.
So the production value is top-notch, but how does it play? DaO does not disappoint here, either. You get to pilot a Starfury ship, the staple starfigher of the Babylon 5 station. The ship’s handling is very true to the show’s spirit, and game mechanics are based on real-world physics. With enough practice, you can engage in dogfights with squadmates and pull off a lot of cool maneuvers you see in the show. The AI of enemy ships is reasonably intelligent, although your squadmates’ intelligence leaves a bit to be desired – not unlike most commercial space sims. The interface is transparent and easy to learn, and the balance between plot development and space action is struck very well.
There are very few gripes I can think of about this game. First, the tutorial missions are a bit too boring – and you have to tolerate them before getting into the real game, where the fun begins. Second, hyperpace travels are more tedious than fun – although fortunately you can press CTRL+A to use autopilot and speed up this sequence so you won’t have to die of boredom. The last gripe is that the game is on the short side: only 6-7 hours worth of gameplay in total, and the skirmish mode is not yet finished. So if you have a non-flat rate Internet connection on dial-up, that may not warrant a hefty download. Still, with superb production values, Danger and Opportunity is a very faithful homage to the hit TV series that deserves to be in every fan’s collection. Fans of space sims in general will be impressed by the production values and the excellent storyline. Highly recommended, and keep your eyes out for future campaigns that promise to be even longer and better.