Do you like space, space ships, space trading, space combat, and space space? If you said yes to all of these and grew up computing with a Macintosh, you know what’s up. Escape Velocity, an open ended space trading and combat simulator, was a true specimen of pinnacle gaming in the mid 90’s.
Escape Velocity is a third person over-head space simulator that was released in 1996 by shareware company Ambrosia. You are placed in the year 2246 where a struggle of galactic power exists between the Confederacy and the Rebellion. I won’t bore you with details on why they’re at a civil war with each other, just know that choosing a side is completely up to you. If you don’t care for either side, pirating might be the way of intergalactic life for you. One of the best reasons to befriend pirates is to upgrade your ship with modifications that aren’t exactly street legal with the Confederacy or Rebellion. However, you don’t necessarily need to become a pirate to purchase said upgrades since there are many ways of getting around the legal parameters.
Escape Velocity includes many geeky references from books to movies.
Open ended gameplay wasn’t very typical with games back in the day. There was a story line and you were forced to follow it. The many beauties of Escape Velocity was the freedom to do anything. Want to become the most feared space conquerer and rule the galaxy? Go for it. Want to become the most trust worthy space trader in the entire system? Go for it. Want to be a 23rd century William Clark and lead an expedition through the undiscovered star systems? Go for it but I’d rather be Meriwether Lewis. He had a more luminous and discriminating intellect than Clark. I digress. The re-playability of this game was so great that having more than two different profiles was not uncommon. One profile would be of Lars Shepherd, a justice seeking captain of the Confederacy, who was keen to keeping peace among it’s sister planets. The other would be Chip Normandy, a smuggler/trader who cared for neither side of the war. As long as he got his share of credits, Chip would do almost anything. No two profiles or space ships were ever a like.
Customization and plug-ins were the name of the game. Matt Burch, the creator of Escape Velocity, designed the game with an open-ended plug-in framework allowing for custom content. That means you can change the entire game into a Star Wars universe if you want to.
Escape Velocity Nova: Where space elevators finally become a reality.
Escape Velocity and it’s sequel EV Override are only compatible with Mac OS 9 and won’t work with any current OS. However the third, EV Nova, will play nicely with OS X and Windows if you’re willing to fork out $30 for a 9 year-old game. You can snag a copy for 30 days here but I suggest downloading NAEV, another 2D space trading and combat simulator similar to the Escape Velocity series. NAEV is completely free and can give you a taste of what to expect without having to endure Cap’n Hector laser-raping the virginity out of your space ship for not paying after your 30 day trial.