Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters was released in 1992 by Accolade. It is the second and final game in the series created by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III. The original version was created for PC, but later an alternate version was released for the console 3DO, which allowed for the inclusion of speech and a modernized intro. In a similar fashion to the original Star Control (which was mainly a story-less strategy game), the full game is made up of two parts, one being arcade spaceship combat called Melee. The tactical gameplay in Star Control 1 has been replaced by an adventure game, where the player travels through the universe and encounters all sorts of challenges.
There is an open-source, free version of the game at http://sc2.sourceforge.net/, simply called “The Ur-Quan Masters”.
Speaking to the Yehat, a race of Scottish Pterodactyls. That’s exactly as awesome as it sounds.
Star Control 2 is an anomaly among games. It possesses not only a free-roaming mechanic, but a surprisingly deep and complex story, with choices that changed the outcomes of major events, and a total of 10 hours of dialog. There were optional events, a customizable ship and fleet, and it was loads of fun.
For maximum trolling, name yourself Shepard, and your ship the Normandy.
The game was years ahead of its time. If you have played Mass Effect, you would immediately recognize the traveling mechanic when inside a planetary system. You steer your ship around from planet to planet in whatever fashion you choose. Mass Effect bears many, many other similarities to Star Control 2, down to and including an optional sexual encounter with a blue woman. Seriously, Mass Effect is one of the greatest game series of all time, and Star Control 2 is Mass Effect 0.
You owe it to yourself to play this magnum opus of a game. It manages to both be silly and serious at the same time, and pulled off throwing in a load of tongue-in-cheek off-color material, making for a colorful and interesting world.
But bring a friggin’ notebook and write down EVERYTHING ANYONE SAYS TO YOU.
Additionally, there is a Super Melee mode, where you can select the ships of the various races and participate in the combat portion of the game without having to play the campaign. This operates as a 1 on 1 space-battle, with gravitational effects from an omni-present planetary body, and each ship plays differently, yet manage to be balanced - such high yet balanced gameplay variance being an anomaly for games before Starcraft, really. Again, this game was way ahead of its time.
Surely you are now wondering why you never heard of it. Well, it was 1992, so good luck looking it up on the internet, time traveller. It did come out on the Genesis (which was a poor port, unfortunately), and the 3DO (which no one owned because DANG it was expensive), but those who do know of it are loyal and dedicated, and if you sit down and play it, you’ll understand why.
Do yourself a favor. Play one of the greatest games ever made.