The consequences of death in Escape Velocity: Nova are also within the player’s control from the very beginning. Players can choose to use a Strict Play option that will eliminate any reincarnations or continue from where they perished, only losing a bit of their progress. Once you die, there’s no coming back in Strict Play, making it a favorite of hard-core fans of the Escape Velocity series.
If a player chooses not to play in this mode, death becomes something entirely different. The game will be over, but the player will be taken back to the main screen and can reenter the game from a “save point” the program creates. Basically, the game watches the player, tracks the last point they were safely docked somewhere before they died and restores the game at that point. It’s a bit of a step backwards, but you aren’t dead and that is always a nice thing.
The most notable change between the games is that Ambrosia Software’s Matt Burch has given the Escape Velocity graphics engine a massive upgrade and it shows. The color palette available to ATMOS and its designers has gone from 8-bit to 16-bit while the ship and planet models allow for more pixels and a greater level of detail that provides something of a 3-D appearance. If you thought Escape Velocity’s and Override’s graphics were good before, the upgraded graphics engine will leave players’ keyboards covered in a fine film of human saliva. The new ships and planets are incredible, complete with a level of detail that will leave players practically drinking in the minute details of the ships and worlds before their eyes. In my own case, I found myself flying my ship closer to raging battles between opposing fleets to see the dozens of beautifully rendered ships duke it out, despite the dangers of being caught in the crossfire.
If the game itself doesn’t improve, then was a sequel really made, grasshopper? Escape Velocity: Nova’s gameplay upgrades are significant to say the least. New items, features and ideas have the power to completely change how the game is played and even though these haven’t been finalized, there are some amazing differences to be seen.
Small changes in the options available to the player make all the difference in Escape Velocity: Nova. For example, in the past two Escape Velocity games, if a player disabled another space ship, they could always try to board it to take supplies, credits, cargo and fuel from the ship. This was done at the risk that the ship would have a self-destruct system that might take them with it if this was attempted. Escape Velocity: Nova’s system provides more active resistance to boarding efforts, which leads to players wanting to pick up a Marine Platoon item in a shop. This bloodthirsty but well-mannered group of soldiers will ensure that the boarding and capture of an enemy space ship goes off without a hitch, the platoon taking a portion of the seized booty.