''Starlancer'' is the predecessor to ''{{Freelancer}}''. It is a space-combat game which takes place during an intrasolar war between TheAlliance and [[TheEmpire The Coalition]]. It was developed by Chris & Erin Roberts and Digital Anvil, and is a SpiritualSuccessor (or perhaps a spiritual remake) of ''VideoGame/WingCommander'', just as ''Freelancer'' is to ''Privateer''. (The game came out around the same time [[Film/WingCommander the Wing Commander movie]] did, and—whether by coincidence or not—the spacecraft in that movie would look more at home in this game than in their own franchise.)

As the product of the creators of one of the most acclaimed Spaceflight SimulationGame franchises in history, you'd think this game would have got somewhere. It was released simultaneously on the {{Dreamcast}}; it had decent graphics (even today); it had non-crappy voice acting, sound and music; and—a big deal at the time—it boasted online connectivity for not just CompetitiveMultiplayer but CoOpMultiplayer through [=GameSpy=], one of the first flightsims to offer either. Despite this, it met a tepid reception, possibly due to questionable gameplay decisions made due to the game's [[RecycledINSPACE World War 2 IN SPACE]] setting. Planned sequels, linking the property to ''Freelancer'' more overtly, were scrapped.
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!!''Starlancer'' provides examples of:
* AcePilot: several, on both sides of the line. The most notable allied ones are probably Klaus Steiner of the Vampires and Col. Tanner of the Pumas.
* AlwaysChaoticEvil: Everyone in the Coalition, from the Top Brass and Government to the lowliest {{Mook}} are, to a Man, war criminals. The closest thing to a moral compass any of them shows is a Communication Officer giving a shocked raised eyebrow when [[BigBad Admiral Kulov]] orders the mass execution of prisoners of war.
* ArtificialStupidity: IN SPADES. Your wingmates start off dumb, and get worse. It's entirely possible to lose the game because the computer screws up an objective. (''You'' still get in trouble, of course.)
* AsskickingEqualsAuthority: played straight, as these games are wont to. Promotions, and thus access to new ships, are scheduled according to when you hit a certain number of kills. (Top rank is "Squadron Commander" at something like 300.)
* BackFromTheBrink: Inversion, as the player character's efforts on behalf of the Alliance turn out to be a delaying action to allow colony ships to escape to [[strike:the next game]] the Sirius system.
* TheBattlestar: The Carriers from both sides are the biggest warships with the most weapons in the fleet. The enemy also has cruisers, which are just smaller Battlestars, since they carry fighters too.
* ChainReactionDestruction: The best way to take out enemy torpedoes, is to destroy one right as it's being launched. Kills the bomber and it's other torpedoes in the process. You just need some afterburner fuel.
* CharacterSelectForcing: Wouldn't the medium fighter with the OneHitKill beam be useful in the EscortMission part of the last mission, where you have to defeat those enemy fighters quickly? Yeah, probably, shame that without the cloaking ability of the light fighter to avoid the OneHitKill from the enemy Ion Cannon you won't ever get that far.
** To a lesser extent, while ships with the Blind-Fire ability are always useful, they are all but mandatory when you need to protect friendly ships from incomming torpedos, which happens every other mission. Although any mission briefing that promises escorting capital ships or having your [[TheBattlestar carrier]] duke it out with a Coalition capital ship is a clear signal that torpedo defense will be necessary, a few missions briefings [[GuideDangIt give no warning you're going to need to intercept torpedoes]].
* CoolShip: The Yamato is a definite upgrade from your previous [[TheBattlestar home carrier]], the Reliant. Even the interior is much sleeker, as you can see when you walk from your bunk to the briefing room. Not that the Reliant itself doesn't qualify either.
* ColonelBadass: Maria Enriquez, commander of the 45th. [[InformedAbility Or so we're told.]]
* TheComputerIsACheatingBastard: In Mission 15, enemy bombers are able to drop out of warp, practically at point-blank range, and ''immediately'' launch their torpedoes. The resulting increase in difficulty is partially excused by [[RuleOfFun Rule Of Gameplay]] (that, and not getting penalized for losing any of your [[EscortMission carrier]]'s ancillary support ships).
* CreatorKiller: Chris Roberts would leave the gaming industry for a time, [[http://www.robertsspaceindustries.com/ before returning in 2012.]]
* DifficultbutAwesome: With it's sharp learning curve, TrialAndErrorGameplay.
* DirtyCommunists: Played in deadly earnest, to the "amusement" of some reviewers. While there are Middle-Eastern and Chinese forces involved in the Coalition, almost every enemy character is a Russian (including the {{Mooks}}, if you trust the voice-acting).
* DistantPrologue: the whole ''game'' (and its franchise) is this to ''Freelancer''.
* DodgeByBraking: some ships have "Reverse Thrust", which basically allows you to do this.
* EscortMission: many, many, many of them. Made worse by the fact that your targeting system is very low-tech; if something needs destroying, you need to wade through the list item by item to find it. (Assuming it shows up at all: Mission 7 requires you to guard allied escape pods which are ''really'' hard to locate, unless you've [[GuideDangIt memorized the controls for your fiddly radar]].)
** Many overlap with LuckBasedMission, since there's no quick way to see, much less target, the fighter going after the ship you need to escort. Your best bet is to fly close to them, hammer away at 'Target nearest' until a fighter comes closer than the closest enemy capital ship (which you can't destroy and is rarely a threat but counts as your closest target all the same) and hope for the best.
* FaceHeelTurn: [[spoiler: Colonel [=McGann=]'s Cobra Squadron and Viper]] join forces with Coalition deserters to become [[SpacePirate Space Pirates]].
* ForgotAboutHisPowers: In the final mission, your allied torpedo bombers turn out to have an InvisibilityCloak, just like the Coalition bombers. In every EscortMission of those torpedo bombers up to this point (and there've been a few), you tried and often failed to shoot down half a dozen enemy fighters within the minute it takes for one of those fighters to tear your slow, fragile torpedo bombers apart. The bomber's pilots do nothing but insult you or scream as they died instead of, y'know, cloaking.
** Potentially justified in that other ships have received upgrades such as warping; It might be that those bombers never could cloak until that mission.
** There's something about that cloaking technology that makes people forget to use it: During the game, the Coalition only uses it to cloak their best fighters and torpedo bombers for about half a minute. [[CutscenePowerToTheMax During the intro movie]], they cloaked an entire fleet of capital ships for a far longer time.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: Mixed with StockFootage. One of the post-mission news reports that crops up features footage from the Film/WingCommander film. It's easy to miss if you're not looking.
* GameplayAllyImmortality: your flight always comes with a CO (first Viper; [[spoiler:later Bandit and Diceman]]) and a Number 5, who is called upon for [[ExpositionFairy science-officer]] duties (first Bandit; [[spoiler:later Diceman and Hawkeye]]). Because they always have lines, no one can kill them—not even you.
** GameplayAndStorySegregation: they still get to give you orders, even when your rank exceeds theirs.
* GlassCannon: The gamma-wing torpedo bombers. Can destroy an enemy carrier with a single salvo, but sitting ducks with paper-mache armor. And sadly, they don't remember nearly as often as the Coalition torpedo bombers to warp in at striking distance, launch all torpedos and immediately leave. Now guess which ships are the subjects of at least every third EscortMission.
* GuideDangIt: in the final mission, if you don't fly a Shroud, you ''will'' die. Nowhere in the game is this made clear.
* GuyInBack: your backseater, Mike "Moose" Horrigan. He's like [[{{Halo}} Cortana]], but without the snark or the sexy.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: in between missions, you can view news reports on how the war is going, where your squadron's exploits are mentioned alongside that of NPC forces. More often than not, the game introduces those [=NPCs=] there, which means you can suddenly find yourself suddenly flying alongside the AcePilot you just saw on television. It's kind of cool: makes you feel like there's a war going on ''besides'' what you personally are doing.
* HitAndRunTactics: The Coalition torpedo bombers make a lot of use of this, warp in at opposite sides of their target, fire all their torpedoes, and warp out. If you go after one of the bombers, you won't be back in time to shoot down the torpedo's from the other side. Sadly, your own torpedo bombers use this tactic only about a third of the time. [[EscortMission At all other times...]]
* HopeSpot: The ''entire second half of the game becomes this'' when you take the story of {{Freelancer}} into account.
* IAmNotLeftHanded: A captured Coalition admiral reveals there is an [[WaveMotionGun Ion Cannon]] in the final stages before completion, and you're send in to destroy it before it comes online. Only... well, Alliance intelligence didn't watch [[StarWars Return of the Jedi]] apparently.
* ImprobableAimingSkills: If your aim is terrible, be sure to stick to ships with the Blind Fire ability. The fire systems on such ships have a greater tracking scope and will automatically correct your aim when you're shooting at a target.
** However, Blind-Fire only works for ''one'' set of guns at a time. Select single-weapon on the most powerful gun on your ship and enjoy! It is a trade-off, guns that don't have this mode do a lot more damage.
* InvisibilityCloak: On four ships. Not 100% effective; they stop appearing on your radar and you can't target them, but you can still ''see'' them. ([[HoistByTheirOwnPetard And shoot them.]])
* ItsUpToYou: In stark contrast to the storytelling aspects, actual gameplay falls squarely into here.
* KillSat: the Ion Cannon, which unlike most {{Wave Motion Gun}}s is basically a pinpoint I-Kill-Fighters machine. Either you get out of its range, get in ''really'' close to the satellite's hull, (if you're flying a Shroud) use your InvisibilityCloak, or, umm, die a lot.
** Exacerbated when Moose's OhCrap message gets delayed by other radio messages.
*** There is a big red LaserSight beam that connects you to the tip of the cannon, which is ''very'' visible if your camera is set on Chase-Plane mode. But if not...
* KineticWeaponsAreJustBetter: Torpedos are the only weapon that can destroy capital ships (not counting the WaveMotionGun). When in battle, capital ships will fire at each other with fancy looking energy projectiles, but their only use is the occasional OneHitKill of the player if you fly between the two ships and didn't check your blind spots.
* LazyBackup: Oh yes very so. Your wingmen are good at defending themselves, to the point of even being able to KillSteal at times, but ''attacking'' something that isn't actively bothering them seems to be beyond their grasp. You are actually expected to give them orders to attack targets.
* MacrossMissileMassacre: your hard-points can accommodate both single missiles and multi-round pods. The pods fire basically as fast as you can pull the trigger.
* MultipleEndings: every mission in the game has several objectives, some of which are mandatory (pass/fail) and others that simply add to your reputation, optional medals and rapidity of promotion. Even the first mission has this, by providing a BonusBoss in the form of a [[InvisibilityCloak Basilisk]] which [[TimedMission retreats if you don't kill it fast enough]].
* MoralMyopia: While the Coalition seems to have a villain only hiring policy, your squad-mates' anger over the cruelty of the enemy seems a bit dishonest when they will actively mock and taunt enemy pilots about their friends they just killed, and how much they screamed while dying.
* MoreDakka: Just about every fighter in the game has multiple rapid-firing guns, and is expected to use them for everything. Poo on missiles.
* NintendoHard: Mostly from TrialAndErrorGameplay. Got the wrong ship? Tough. Didn't bring enough extra afterburner fuel to get to your objective in time? Try again.
* NonstandardGameOver: Three examples, which depend on how you fail the mission and/or which mission you're playing.
** If you eject your plane within Coalition territory, an enemy vessel will retrieve your pod and bring you to their base. The last cutscene shows you strapped to a chair, waiting to be tortured for information.
** If you commit friendly fire too many times, your co-pilot will take over the controls and send you back to base. The next cutscene shows you getting court martialed, and then getting gunned down by firing squad.
** If you fail a story critical objective, you'll get disbanded from the squad after returning from the botched mission.
* NumericalHard: DifficultyLevels only change how much damage your guns do. Wing-men are just as stupid, EscortMission victims are just as frail, {{Timed Mission}}s are just as short.
* OneHitKill: When it comes to shooting down enemy torpedoes, RammingAlwaysWorks. Though it never works twice. (Now keep in mind that [[NintendoHard the smallest number of torpedoes you ever have to deal with is six]].)
** It is however ''occasionally'' possible to find torpedoes flying sufficiently close together that blowing up one will set off three or four others with its PlanarShockwave.
* PointDefenseless: The capital ship's WeakTurretGun will shoot down the occasional torpedo, but for the most part there's only one decent anti-torpedo defense in this game: You.
* PurelyAestheticGender: you get to decide whether your character is going to be male or female, and enter a call sign (which nobody ever uses). That's it as far as CharacterCustomization goes.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: The 45th Volunteers, later nicknamed "The Flying Tigers" after a RealLife equivalent; the ArtificialStupidity of your wing-mates is [[FridgeBrilliance suddenly kind of justified]] when you realize that they consist of anyone the Alliance can find with a pulse and a pilot's license.
** Justified, yes. Forgiven, no.
* RammingAlwaysWorks: ah, Captain Foster and his [[HeroicSacrifice Naval Piercing]]...
** In the final mission, [[spoiler:Klaus Steiner]] pulls the same thing, though at least his ship comes with an EjectionSeat.
** Pretty effective for you as well, if your DeflectorShields are still up. (Caveat: only on fighters.)
** And very useful against the sentry satellites. They're tiny, so you need to be very close to hit them anyway, and they have no armor or shields so ramming them is an insta-kill that doesn't dent your own armor.
* RecycledINSPACE: WorldWarII, right down to the Pearl-Harbor-style attack which opens the game and cripples the Alliance war effort. Even better, the PlayerCharacter's unit is the 45th Volunteers, later renamed the Flying Tigers.
** Actually, the so-called "Deimos Betrayal" that kick-starts the plot comes over more like a shameless rip-off of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}''.
*** More specifically, WorldWarII mixed together with the ColdWar proper mulched together with (if you squint) the VietnamWar RecycledInSPACE!
* RedShirt: Anybody in your squadron who ''isn't'' CO or Science Officer can get blown out of the sky. And will. [[VideoGameCaringPotential Screaming for mercy]]. [[NightmareFuel And not getting it]]. Fortunately, friendly pilots often eject, and get recovered by Nanny Ships.
* StoryDrivenInvulnerability: Two Aces in particular—Ivan Petrov, TheButcher, and his brother Nicolai—have PlotArmor in your first encounters so that they can be [[RecurringBoss Recurring Bosses]].
* StupidityIsTheOnlyOption: It's game over should you kill the enemy admiral before your allies capture him. Even though the only thing he does before escaping admidst the corpses of Alliance personnel is give intelligence that sends you into a trap.
** Your squad-leader will order you to destroy two Kurgen ships with Alliance prisoners on board, saying they have 'no choice' as the Kurgens are attacking a rescue vessel. It is in fact not difficult to destroy their [[WeakTurretGun 3 turrets]], leaving the ships harmless. But the mission won't proceed untill you destroy them.
* SubsystemDamage: If you get your shields and armour chewed up you start taking damage to either your engines, shield generator or weapons.
* TalkingIsAFreeAction: Sadly averted. If anyone else is busy talking over the radio, your co-pilot will wait untill they are finished talking before warning you that, for instance, the enemy WaveMotionGun is targeting you and you should have cloaked 5 seconds ago if you wanted to survive.
* TimTaylorTechnology: You can re-route extra power to engines, shields and weapons depending on whether you want to be more of a FragileSpeedster (to get somewhere fast; see Mission 7), GlassCannon (to shoot something fast) or MightyGlacier (while strafing {{Weak Turret Gun}}s). Other than in the situations just described, this feature has no use.
** Well, it ''is'' nice when you want to go faster without wasting afterburner fuel.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Further games in the series, and stronger links to the ''Freelancer'' property, were planned. See [[WhatCouldHaveBeen/VideoGames the trope entry]] for more details.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Bandit is inexplicably replaced with Diceman as the Tigers' squadron leader with no explanation, nor any mention of where Bandit went.
* WhatTheHellPlayer: too many friendly-fire incidents and Moose forcibly stands down your plane. (A friendly-fire incident includes accidentally shooting a ship that was already going boom.
** Made obnoxious when a friendly ship dies from a torpedo that you were trying to shoot down. If you fail, the last few of your tiny laser shots meant for the torpedo will probably hit the exploding ship, and Moose will immediately decide you just destroyed the ship on purpose.
*** There's a bug in one mission where, after a certain point, if your wing-mates die from hitting a mine, ''you'' get blamed. Cue Moose standing you down, and hauling you back to the Reliant. That's right, glitch in the game gets your character arrested and ''shot for treason''. Mix in the artifical stupidity mentioned above, and, well...
* WeakTurretGun. All capital ships have them. An AcceptableBreakFromReality, since the final missions shows how difficult it can be to keep your small fighter alive in the presence of an effective anti-fighter gun, even if there's only one and it has a long charge cycle.
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